Bulgarian Milled Imports (Resource Guide)
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    Bulgarian Milled Imports



    Arsenal of Bulgaria (Factory 10) officially started production of the AK-47 assault rifle in 1956, with the first Type 3 specimen being released in 1958. Since then, they have produced millions of quality assault rifles for military, law enforcement, and civilians, throughout the world. Aside from their standard line of military assault rifles, Arsenal of Bulgaria (Kazanlak) has also produced rifles for their civilian market for quite some time. It’s unclear when the production of civilian rifles began, but best estimates are that production began in the early 1990’s. An early offering was the SA93, which was a 7.62x39 caliber semi-automatic rifle with a standard 415mm (16.3”) barrel and a wooden thumbhole stock set that was painted brown. The part number designates “SA” as Semi-Automatic, and “93” as the initial year of release, in similar fashion to the designation of the original Soviet AK-47; Avtomat Kalashnikova 1947.

    Arsenal SA93


    Between (1993-1994), a number of these rifles were imported into the United States. There were various importers, but the main importer appears to have been Dominion Investment Group (D.I.G.), a major firearm importer based out of Virginia Beach, Virginia. This was a group headed by a gentleman who was actually an attorney. Years later, he passed away from a heart attack, so associates assisted his wife in continuing the business by partnering with Intrac. Together they formed Intrac/Dominion Importing. Additional importers of the SA93 were Dunav International Trading, Inc. (Lynnwood, WA), and Sentinel Arms (Detroit, MI), but there is no clear data as to how many or during what years.

    The SA93 rifle originally sold new for about $379, but today (2011) they sell new for about $900 - $1000. Used rifles can be had for $700 - $800. To this day, the SA93 is considered one of the most desireable of the AK imports, especially for collectors of Bulgarian Kalashnikovs. This is because they were a 100% Bulgarian-made Kalashnikov with a milled receiver and had the classic features of the original Bulgarian Type 3 AK-47 (AKK), which include a heavier/thicker barrel, as well as a 45 degree gas block and vented gas tube. Aside from being a semi-automatic rifle, the only real difference from the military AK-47 was the stock set, lack of a lower tang, lack of a threaded barrel, and lack of a sling loop on the left/rear of the receiver.

    Upon expiration of the Federal Assault Weapon Ban (9/19/2004), SA93 owners could legally convert them back to military configuration and have a semi-automatic Bulgarian Type 3 AKK rifle. This process, typically referred to as Debanning, entails threading the barrel, replacing the Front Site Base (FSB), the Gas Block (GB), the lower handguard retainer, installing a lower tang on the rear of the receiver, installing a sling loop on the left/rear of the receiver, and replacing the thumbhole stock set with a Bulgarian milled stock set. Collectors would also like to obtain a correct wood bayonet and Factory 10 leather sling.

    Arsenal SA93 conversion to Type 3 Bulgarian AK-47 with bakelite/plastic stock set


    Reference Photo: Arsenal Military AKK with bakelite/plastic stock set


    Upon debanning the rifle, one merely needs to ensure the rifle is 922r compliant, which requires replacing (5) Bulgarian parts with (5) US-made parts. Three parts can be satisfied by installing a US-made Fire Control Group (FCG), which consists of a trigger, hammer, and disconnector. The two remaining parts can come from a US-made muzzle nut and gas piston. Once 922r compliant, all the collector would need to complete the project would be to get their hands on an early pattern Bulgarian bayonet and Bulgarian brown leather sling, which is Arsenal-marked with a Factory 10 stamp. In today's market (2011) a deban conversion of the SA-93 has an estimated value of about $1400 - $1600, depending upon condition and authenticity of conversion parts. Due to their rarity, their value should continue to gradually rise.

    Note: Stamped receiver AK's require (6) US-made parts to be 922r compliant, while Milled receiver AK's only require (5) US-made parts to be 922r compliant, which is due to the front trunion being part of the receiver.

    The SA93 was soon phased out and Arsenal created an extensive Hunting line with three sub-categories; Semi-Automatic Hunting Rifles (SAR), Bolt-Action Repeating Rifles (BARR), and Self-Loading Hunting Rifles (SLR). There was a demand in the US market for the SAR rifles, but due to the Assault Weapons Ban (9/19/1994 – 9/19-2004), only rifles from the SLR line could be imported. This was due to their configuration, as they could be categorized as Sporting Rifles. They had thumbhole stocks (opposed to a pistol grip with rifle stock), non-threaded barrels, and no bayonet lugs, which were all deemed as "military" features.

    The SLR rifles were available with wood and synthetic thumbhole stock sets and were available in two barrel lengths; standard 415mm (16.3") and long 508mm (20"). They were also available with muzzle brakes and side scope rails for mounting optics. In the SLR line, Arsenal designates these three options with a post-fix added to the model number; Long Barrel (L), Muzzle Brake (MB), and Side Scope Rail (H).

    Two models from the SLR line were imported by D.I.G. between (1994-1998); the SLR-95 and the SLR-96. Unlike the earlier SA-93, they had a 90 degree GB and a non-vented gas tube. The SLR-95 was dressed in a black polymer thumbhole stock set, while the SLR-96 was dressed in a painted wood thumbhole stock set. Similar to the SA-93, the prefix of the part numbers “SLR” stand for Self-Loading Rifle, while the second part of the part number again probably designated the initial year of production.

    Update: It has been brought to my attention that the SLR-96 was imported in two different variations. One has a 90 deg gas block and non-vented gas tube as shown in the picture below, while the other variation has the classic 45 degree gas block and vented gas tube. It's not clear which variation was imported first, or if the classic variation had the thicker Type 3 barrel. My guess would be that it does have the thicker barrel, due to the 45 deg gas block being of Type 3 design.

    Arsenal SLR-95


    Arsenal SLR-96


    Of the two imported rifles, the SLR-95 was the more prevalent model. Two versions of it were actually imported; one with a muzzle brake pinned to the barrel, and one without. Both rifles originally sold new for about $300 - $350, but today (2011) sell new for about $800 - $900. Lightly used rifles in good condition can be had for $600 - $800.




    Aside from the SLR-95 and SLR-96 rifles imported by Dominion Investment Group (D.I.G.), Arsenal, Inc. (Las Vegas, Nevada) also imported a rifle from Arsenal of Bulgaria; the SLR-101. They were virtually identical to the SLR-95, except for the fact that they only accepted non-military single-stack magazines. Arsenal, Inc. sold them in this stock configuration, as well as in modified forms, and grouped them all into an SLR-101 series.

    Arsenal SLR-101


    The stock rifle was designated as an SLR-101-S. There was an SLR-101-SB and an SLR-101-SB1, which were both dressed in black stock sets with NATO-length buttstocks (1.25” longer). The SB was converted to accept double-stack military magazines, while the SB1 was not converted. There was also an SLR-101-SG and SLR-101-SG1. Their configurations were identical to the SB and SB1, with the only difference being that they were dressed in OD Green stock sets. The SLR-101 series of rifles offered by Arsenal, Inc., particularly the SB and SG variants, gave US buyers a change to own a Bulgarian AK-47 very close to the true military versions. They even had side scope rails for mounting various types of optics.

    Arsenal SLR-101-SG


    In late 2012, after about a 10-year layoff, Arsenal Inc. started importing the SLR-101S rifles from Arsenal of Bulgaria again. They were dressed in three different colored stock sets (Black, Plum, and OD Green), and initially ranged in price from $1019 - $1039. All were in no-ban configuration, to include a removeable 14mm muzzle brake and bayonet lug. The Plum and OD Green versions came with a NATO-length stock (1.25" longer), while buyers had their choice of a Warsaw or NATO length stocks on the Black version. Upon receiving them, buyers would often complain about having a difficult time removing the "removeable" 14mm LH thread muzzle brakes. It was soon discovered that this was because Arsenal Inc. had painted the rifles with the muzzle brakes attached. The solution for most buyers was to slip a thin screw driver through the side ports of the muzzle brake and turn it hard enough to break the paint seal.

    Arsenal SLR-101S with Black stock set


    Arsenal SLR-101S with Plum stock set


    Arsenal SLR-101S with OD Green stock set


    Shortly after the re-release of the SLR-101-S, Arsenal Inc released the SAM7 series of rifles, which were virtually identical to the SLR-101-S, and initially sold for about $1299. Apparently, the series number was changed to increase sales, as some anti-gun states had banned the SLR-101 series by name. Anyway, there was initially some confusion among buyers as to whether or not the rifles were made in Bulgaria or made in the USA. Many buyers were claiming they were made in Bulgaria, while existing owners of the rifle stated they were made in the USA. All of this confusion came from Arsenal's confusing part numbering of the rifles. In the past, Arsenal Inc. offered a SA M-7 series of rifles, and were now offering a SAM7 series.

    The SAM7 rifles were made by Arsenal-of-Bulgaria, then shipped to Arsenal Inc. (Las Vegas) and moded for 922r compliance, then distributed by Kvar and other distributors. Meanwhile the Arsenal SA M-7 rifles were built with imported Bulgarian parts using US-made receivers that were actually imported from Bulgaria as incomplete 80% receivers (not yet a true gun per ATF) and 20% completed (now a true gun per ATF) in the US to Arsenal-of-Bulgaria spec. Since they were not 100% Bulgarian-made receivers, they could not be engraved Made-in-Bulgaria, hence they were engraved Arsenal, Las Vegas, NEV, USA. As with the SLR-101S rifles, buyers again complained about the difficulty they had with removing the "removeable" 14mm muzzle brakes.

    Arsenal SAM7R with Black stock set


    In early 2013, Arsenal Inc. started importing a unique (100% Bulgarian-made) offering from Arsenal of Bulgaria; the SAM7K Pistol (SAM7K-01) which initially sold for $1099, then quickly increased to $1199. They also offered the pistol with a new generation tac light for $1499. This pistol was a spin off of the original Bulgarian AR-M4 SF produced by Arsenal of Bulgaria, which is a 7.62x39 milled AKS-47U with ambidextrous safety lever and new generation dust cover with rear peep sight. The original AKSU has a 215mm (8.46") barrel and right side folding stock with a right-side retainer latch for the stock, which folds to the right. The imported pistol had a 267mm (10.51") barrel and rear sling loop rather than a folding stock. A unique feature of the pistol was the left side ambidextrous safety lever, which allows for manipulation of the safety with the thumb. As with the stamped receiver AKSU pistols that Arsenal Inc. imported in 2012, many purchased these milled pistols with the intent of converting them to Short Barrel Rifles. They were imported with an un-threaded FSB and fake booster that was pressed and pinned on, so a proper conversion of the front end entailed swapping out the FSB and shortening of the barrel. On the rear end, one needed to remove the sling loop plate, and replace it with a stock of some sort. And as with all SBR conversions, one would need to have already obtained a Tax Stamp from the NFA Branch prior to preceeding with conversion to SBR.

    Note: Arsenal Inc. offered a US-made rifle version of this pistol back in 2007 (SA M-7-SFK) both with and without the tac light. It initially sold for about $2500, and only about 25 units were made.

    Arsenal SAM7K Pistol (SAM7K-02)


    Arsenal SAM7K Pistol (SAM7K-01)


    Reference Photo:
    Arsenal Military AR-M4 SF (7.62x39)



    In August 2013, Arsenal Inc. started importing another unique offering from Arsenal of Bulgaria; the SAM7SF (SAM7SF-84) which was released for an introductory price of $1349, soon increasing to $1449. This was a 922r compliant, semi-automatic clone, of the original Bulgarian AR-M9F assault rifle produced by Arsenal of Bulgaria. It was a 7.62x39 milled rifle with ambidextrous safety lever and right-side folding stock. It came with a newly designed 10-round magazine. Differences from the original military assault rifle were the AK-74 style muzzle brake, the handguard set, and the pistol grip. Arsenal Inc. offered this rifle (SA M-7-SF) in the past (2005) for about $3000 with a US-made receiver. However, this new SAM7SF had a Bulgarian-made receiver, which made it much more appealing to buyers. A few weeks after its release, the price increased to $1449. About 6 months later, in early 2014, Arsenal Inc. started offering the SAM7SF rifle with stock sets in OD Green (SAM7SF-84G), Plum (SAM7SF-84P), and Desert Sand (SAM7SF-84D), each of which were $1469.

    Arsenal SAM7SF (7.62x39)


    Reference Photo: Arsenal Military AR-M9F (7.62x39)



    In April 2014, Arsenal Inc. released the SAM7UF-85 underfolder, which was a Bulgarian-made 7.62x39 caliber semi-automatic clone of the original Bulgarian AR-MF military assault rifle. Although the original underfolding assault rifles came in different variations, this offering had a 14mm threaded muzzle and 90 degree gas block. The SAM7UF had an introductory price of $1299. It was similar to the US-made SAS M-7 that Arsenal released about 7-8 years earlier, which initially sold for about $900 - $950. The rifle was very appealing to those buyers interested in underfolders, although some were disappointed that it did not come with a classic 45 degree gas block like the original AR-F assault rifle, a 24mm muzzle like the original AR-M1F assault rifle, or with both features like the original AR-1F assault rifle. Reference photos of the (3) mentioned Arsenal-of-Bulgaria rifles are below.

    In May 2014, Arsenal released a limited edition of the SAM7UF for $1349, which had Bulgarian blond wood handguards similar to the "Classic" series of rifles that Arsenal Las Vegas released in the past. Only 30 units were released, so they sold out quickly. Unfortunately, the rifles came with a standard black pistol grip, instead of a matching blond wood pistol grip. The matching grips were thicker and had checkering on the sides. Providing that the SAM7UF was not a Type 3 design, many chose to pass on this offering.

    Arsenal SAM7UF (7.62x39)


    Arsenal SAM7UF (7.62x39) Blond



    Bulgarian Milled Import "Builds" - (SLR-100 & SLR-100H)


    A particular Bulgarian import that has been the cause of much confusion over the years is the SLR-100 & SLR-100H. The rifle is a Type 3 milled AK-47, that looks similar to a debanned Bulgarian SA-93. The receivers are engraved with the model number, the 7.62x39 caliber, the importer, and "Arsenal Bulgaria". For this reason, many assume they are 100% Bulgarian-made imports similar to the aforementioned SA-93 and SLR imports. But the fact of the matter is that the SLR-100 rifles were not imports, but instead contracted custom builds for the Intrac Company, an importer based out of Knoxville, Tennesse. The rifles were actually demilled 1950's Hungarian AK-47 parts kits built on new Bulgarian milled (SLR-100) receivers. The receivers were imported from Bulgaria between 1999-2000.

    They were assembled in the US by four different AK builders; Gordon Technologies, Blue Ridge, Ohio Ordnance and MSC. The Gordon Tech (G-Tech) builds were considered (by most) to be the best in terms of quality and workmanship, as well as quality of the parts kits. They should have a "G" proof mark on the barrel under the lower handguard, which means the rifle passed a rigorous Proof Load Test by G-Tech. This consisted of checking head-spacing, then firing an extra hot load through the rifle, then rechecking the head-spacing and inspecting the action for any damage. Quality of the Hungarian parts kits varied from builder to builder. Some had worn out barrels and worn/cracked stocks. Intrac also sold the receivers as stand alone items for other shops and private parties to use in AK builds. Therefore, if an SLR-100 rifle does not have any manufacturer engraving on the receiver, then there is a good chance that it's a private party garage build.

    SLR-100 (MSC) with Bulgarian leather sling & Russian slabside mag (Photo by AR15.com member cottontop)


    As stated above, Arsenal of Bulgaria added an “H” to the end of their model numbers in the SLR line to designate a side scope rail. Unfortunately, this does not apply to the SLR-100 rifle builds in the US, as many of the builds engraved with SLR-100H do not have a side scope rail. Because the two rifles are the same, it has been unclear as to what the “H” designation means. Some speculate that the "H" might have been added to designate the rifle as being built on a Hungarian parts kit. Being that the receivers would not have been engraved until after arriving in a US bonded warehouse, this is a definite possibility.

    Arsenal SLR-100 Receiver



    To gain a better understanding of how the SLR-100 rifles came to be, we must look at the Global Trades Company (GTC) and Armory USA (formerly Arsenal USA), which were based out of Houston, Texas. GTC was one of the largest US importers of AK and associated firearm parts. In 1998, Armory USA (AUSA) was formed and became one of the largest manufactures of AK’s in the US. Their head designer, Ivan Kolev, was actually the former head design engineer for Armory Co. in Kazanlak, Bulgaria going back to 1989.

    In late 1996, Armory had obtained an import permit to import the SLR-95 which was already being imported by Arsenal, Inc. Unfortunately, the then managing director of Arsenal of Bulgaria, Mr. Krum Khristov, refused to allow Armory to import the rifle because Arsenal, Inc. was already importing it, and he had a policy of only allowing one seller in each market. But due to Armory having a Bulgarian partner, Ivan Kolev, that Mr. Khristov was fond of, he offered to produce an entirely new 5.56x45 caliber milled rifle to be designated the SLR-100. Prototypes were available by late 1997, so Armory immediately submitted an import application to Washington. Unfortunately, Armory was immediately notified that all import permits for semi-automatic rifles were suspended by executive order "National Health Emergency".

    After sulking for a while, Armory realized that the prohibition was only for the importation of complete rifles, so with enough importable source parts, they could legally proceed with assembling the rifles in the United States. By late 1998, Armory had all of the necessary permits and licenses in place and was ready to proceed, but just as they were ready to start production, Mr. Khristov died from complications stemming from an auto accident. So Armory reps went to Bulgaria in late 1998 to complete the arrangements and buy the kits to build the rifles in the US. They signed a contract with the new director and proceeded with builds designated as the SSR-99 and K-101.

    The initial production was actually a contractual joint collaboration with Gordon of Gordon Technologies who had a background in machining and an excellent reputation for building flawless weapons. All later production of the rifles was done by Armory's in-house staff. After that point, Gordon Technologies also began their own complete in-house production of rifles using the aforementioned SLR-100 receivers which required conversion from 5.56x45mm to 7.62x39mm.

    Arsenal of Bulgaria did eventually proceed with production of the SLR-100 rifle, which is basically the 5.56x45 caliber version of their SLR-101 rifle. Like the rest of the SLR line, it's available only with a thumbhole stock. There is a base model (SLR-100), a scope rail version (SLR-100H), a scope rail with muzzle brake version (SLR-100-HMB), and a long barrel version (SLR-100L). The 7.62x39 caliber SLR-100 rifles built in the US on imported SLR-100 receivers are not to be confused with the 5.56x45 caliber SLR-100 factory built rifles.

    There were (4) builders of the original SLR-100H: Gordon Tech, Blue Ridge, MSC, and Ohio Ordnance. Most regard the Gordon Tech as the best and Blue Ridge as the second best, but that is, of course, subjective. If the rifle is not engraved with one of these builders names, it's a private build.
    Last edited by Tactical_T; 05-01-2016 at 12:49 PM.
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    Re: Bulgarian Milled Imports (Resouce Guide)

    I've been gathing information and photos on factory built Bulgarian-made Milled Kalashnikovs for quite a while. The thread above is what I've finally completed. Hopefully some of you find it useful. I'm no expert, nor do I have any notable credentials, so if you notice an error somewhere, please feel free to mention it. And feel free to post any additional info and/or photos that you might have. As new variants become available, I will try to update the thread.

    Cheers to the Big Guy for designing a fine assault rifle, and Cheers to Bulgaria's Factory 10 for making such fine variations of it.

    Last edited by Tactical_T; 11-07-2015 at 01:18 PM.
    "When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny." -Thomas Jefferson

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    Re: Bulgarian Milled Imports (Resouce Guide)

    Great write up = Sticky
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    Re: Bulgarian Milled Imports (Resource Guide)

    Check out this thread from a couple of years ago.


    viewtopic.php?t=35868

    There were a lot of SLR-100 and 100H builds with no markings that were built and refinished by Blue Ridge and sold by Classic Arms as barreled receivers. So not all unmarked rec's were garage builds. We also built at least 300 RPK's on SLR-100 rec's.I am not sure how many of those if any were marked. IIRC BRP built at least 1500 SLR-100/100H rec's into complete rifles and/or barreled rec's.

    Hope some of this helps.

    Ask and I will answer to the best of my ability. Time and age have not been my friends. LOL

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    Re: Bulgarian Milled Imports (Resource Guide)

    Thanks for the info. I'm not shocked by there being unmarked receivers, but a little surprised the SLR-100 receivers were also used for RPK builds, as I thought that RPK receivers were of a different cut than standard AK-47 receivers.
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    Re: Bulgarian Milled Imports (Resource Guide)

    Not the milled ones. The most stamped RPK's have a bulged front trunnion, but the milled rec's were all the same as far as I know.
    Here is mine.



    Here is a Blue Ridge SLR-100 and my RPK


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    Re: Bulgarian Milled Imports (Resource Guide)

    I found a pic of one of the SLR-100's we converted to underfolder config. This happens to be the one that was turned into a dealer sample and has since been destroyed, but it is the only pic I have of any of the 4 that we did.


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    Re: Bulgarian Milled Imports (Resource Guide)

    Gordon Tech SLR-100H.



    Manufacturer's information on the receiver plate:



    At the top is one of the Bulgarian milled receivers that were used in the SLR-100H project. The receivers had a light gray phosphate coating from the factory, but G-Tech used dark gray for their builds.



    I'm not sure why, but the "virgin" receivers have the importer's information on the left side while the completed rifles have it on the right. This one's marked "SLR-100."



    "G" mark on the barrels to indicate their proof-load firing test.



    I have several Hungarian AK-47 parts sets, and none of them have the rifle's serial number stamped onto the barrel itself, so I presume that G-Tech stamped these. It matches the serial numbers on the accompanying Hungarian parts set.

    The barrel was originally threaded into the Hungarian receiver, while the Bulgarian receiver is press-and-pin. Perhaps this added serial was meant to help reunite the barrel with the other parts after the lathe work to turn the threads off was performed.



    The 922r compliance parts are the gas piston and the FCG. The FCG was made by FSE.



    These were assembled during the "Ban", so muzzle threads and bayonet lugs were forbidden. The muzzle nut was permanently affixed with a spot of weld, and the two prongs that an AK-47 bayonet locks onto were ground down.

    Popinski, Soda likes this.

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    Re: Bulgarian Milled Imports (Resource Guide)

    Excellent SLR-100 reference pics Richard...!!!
    If we're lucky, maybe you'll post some pics of your Debanned SA-93 dressed in its correct Bulgarian bakelite and wood furniture.
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    Re: Bulgarian Milled Imports (Resource Guide)

    Thanks, and thank you for the very nice summary of Bulgarian imports.

    I modified my Sa-93 with a lower buttstock tang, new mag catch, rear sling slot, and military barrel components. Had the synthetic furniture on it at first, but have since switched it to old school Bulgarian wood.




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    Re: Bulgarian Milled Imports (Resource Guide)

    Nice writeup.

    I have an additional importer for the first model SA-93, as pictured (I own one, since retroconverted).


    DUNAV INT’L
    LYNNWOOD, WA

    Rifle is otherwise identical with same model designator. Came with oil bottle, 5 round plastic magazine, and sling.

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    Re: Bulgarian Milled Imports (Resource Guide)

    Interesting....I was under the impression that D.I.G. was the sole importer of the SA-93. After reading your post, I did a quick search and it appears that DUNAV INT'L, refers to Dunav International Trading, Inc., which was an importer based out of Lynnwood, WA. They apparently imported various Bulgarian items, to include a .22 conversion kit for the Makarov. If you get some free time, please post a close-up photo of the importer/manufacturer engraving.
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    Re: Bulgarian Milled Imports (Resource Guide)

    Mine's a Dunav rifle, too. I had to cut the rear sling swivel slot through the markings.

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    Re: Bulgarian Milled Imports (Resource Guide)

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard W.
    Mine's a Dunav rifle, too. I had to cut the rear sling swivel slot through the markings.
    Cool.....I'll update that section of the thread. And if anybody has an SLR-95/SLR-96 that was imported by someone other than D.I.G., please let me know, so I can update the thread with that as well.
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    Re: Bulgarian Milled Imports (Resource Guide)

    tag for great info
    WTB: russian t3 matching kit, izzy non refurb tg, tula non refurb rsb, late tula nos tc, T2 blued trigger guard
    will suck dick for russian milled T2 top cover & tube П П 8773



 

 
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,
sa93
,

sam7uf 87

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