I found out from several sources that Arsenal's SA M7 Carbine is only available through Lew Horton's, and is probably only manufactured once a year, around January-February. Arsenal then tools up for other variants the rest of the year.
I had been toying with the idea of buying another one. I like to have more than one copy of my AK's because my shooters invariably begin to look like battlefield pickups; so I like to keep one of each type in mint condition.
For those unfamiliar with the SA M7 in general, it is basically the same gun as the Bulgarian SLR95 but with the pistol grip stock; the SA M7 Carbine is the same gun as the SA M7 but without the muzzle brake, and with the original short AK stock instead of the longer US-made one (see photo: the top one is the SA M7 Carbine; the bottom is the SA M7). Thanks to USMC03 from another board for this photo; I downloaded it with his permission and used Microsoft paint to change the top SA M7 to the SA M7 Carbine.
A year or so ago, Arsenal began installing spring-loaded firing pins in their rifles as a hedge against foreign-made ammo someday being banned. I won't go into the arguments for that here; suffice it to say I want some rifles with the spring-loaded firing pin, and some without.
Since my first Carbine had the free-floated firing pin standard to all AK's, I wanted one with the spring-loaded firing pin. Supposedly, the SLFP should have become a standard feature by now (all of my SAM7S's have them).
So my quest began...
Since the SA M7 Carbine is only distributed through Lew Horton's, I had to go through a dealer that has a good relationship with Lew Horton. This dealer is about 50 miles away.
On K-VAR's forum, Arsenal answered one of my threads stating that Lew Horton's still had some Carbines in stock, so I called this dealer to order one. As luck would have it, they had already ordered them and got them in today! What timing! I couldn't have planned that!
I got off work early and drove to the dealer. They still had two Carbines left. To my surprise, both had free-floated firing pins instead of the supposedly new standard spring-loaded firing pin. All Arsenal rifles have the date of manufacture on the inside back cover of the owner's manual. These said late February 2004. So theoretically both of these should have had spring-loaded firing pins. The dealer and I talked, and we decided that the Carbine may be a special case not manufactured with the SLFP. But then again, another Arsenal rifle in this same store had the FFFP also. What's going on?
Don't get me wrong. I like the FFFP as much as the SLFP. The SLFP is really only important if you shoot Boxer-primed ammo (so you don't get a slam-fire).
So I bought one of the Carbines anyway. But I might have liked to have one of these with the SLFP, too.
The rifle is perfect except for a scuff mark on the receiver cover. Other Arsenal rifles I own have scuff marks on the receiver cover, so this is not unusual. Plus, these scuffs could have happened after the gun left the factory, so I can't blame the manufacturer.
Since I had so much trouble with my Romanian SAR's, I had gotten rid of all of them. Yet, I still wanted a standard length AK but in a well-made example.
That's why I opted for the SA M7 Carbine. All of Arsenal's rifles are quality; some would say overpriced, but you get what you pay for. At roughly double the price of a Romanian SAR, they are "too much" AK for some people.
But I like that milled receiver and that sturdy polymer stock. I'll live with the fact that they're overpriced. I've never gotten an Arsenal rifle with functional problems, although a few have had cosmetic defects like the aforementioned scuff.
I'll probably keep this SA M7 Carbine in mint condition. I think this may be my last assault rifle purchase before the assault weapons ban expires.
You see, I just gotta have an Arsenal rifle with a folding stock... :smile:
Here's the photo comparison of the SA M7 Carbine (top) to the standard SA M7 (bottom):