Faxon Firearms: Customizable AR-15, AK-47 Blend Comes to Market

By Oleg Volk

Ohio-based Faxon Firearms came into the gun business from the background of contract machining. Excess industrial capacity plus an interest in guns added up to the decision to make rifles. Much of the design of the ARAK-21 (AR-AK, two in one) comes from prior art. The gas system and return spring are recognizably SIG SG 550; the piston and bolt carrier are quintessentially AK; and the magazine well and bolt could be descended from their AR counterparts. Various minor features—and, most importantly, the sum of their parts—are uniquely Faxon. Having a fresh approach has paid off in novel and functional results.

Each barrel and gas tube forms easily interchangeable units. It’s not a true quick-change barrel system, as seen with light machine guns, because tools are required. That said, it’s far quicker than most barrel change systems, as a hex wrench is the only tool required, and removing the lower handguard that keeps the barrel in place takes half a minute. A damaged barrel can be replaced with no fuss. No individual headspacing is necessary. A caliber change, currently between .223 Remington, 7.62x39 Russian and .300 Blackout, can be done as quickly. Swapping an overheated barrel for a fresh one would be possible but a little hazardous to the hands. On the plus side, a short pencil-thin barrel can be swapped for a long heavy fluted one before start of mission, so the rifle is readily configurable to fit diverse tasks. Extra barrels weigh and cost less than complete uppers, and the dismounting of barrels also allows for compact transport when discretion is necessary.

The Faxon ARAK-21 is a long-stroke rifle with the piston a part of the bolt carrier. It has fewer moving parts but more reciprocating mass during each firing cycle than either a short-stroke or a direct impingement design. In a semi-auto rifle, the extra mass dampens recoil nicely. Despite the hefty reciprocating mass, the automatic variant of ARAK-21 is very controllable with a slow rate of between 500 and 600 rounds per minute. The piston is attached to...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V22N3 (March 2018)
and was posted online on February 9, 2018


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