Steve Coulston takes us behind the scenes of Faxon Firearms to understand the evolution of the ARAK-21, and what might come next.
2014 hopes to be a banner year for Faxon Firearms. Bob Faxon is the mastermind behind the highly talked about ARAK-21. Originally debuted at SHOT Show 2013, the ARAK-21 is a dedicated upper receiver designed to mate with any mil-spec AR-15 lower receiver. The upper features monolithic billet 6061 aluminum housing and sports an adjustable, long stroke piston, reversible, non-reciprocating side charging handle and removable barrel and rail sections. The bolt rides on hardened steel rails for zero carrier tilt. No buffer spring is required which permits the ARAK-21 upper to be used with a folding stock or without a stock in a pistol configuration.
Fast-forward to SHOT 2014, Bob Faxon has expanded Faxon Firearms offerings while upgrading the ARAK-21 based on user feedback. Upgrades to the ARAK-21 include a new billet upper receiver made of 7075 aluminum. The firing pin retention system has also been enhanced with a second spring to keep the retention lever from releasing during the firing cycle. This phenomenon has actually happened to me twice in the past year. Each time the firing pin comes loose the firearm locks up and is rendered useless. The additional spring keeps the firing pin in place and the firearm cycling properly. Faxon also put some more thought into the ejection system. They added a second ejector in the bolt face, which really launches the brass clear of the ejection port.
Another user complaint originally voiced by yours truly back in April of 2013 was the fact that battery assist levers and oversized bolt catches would sometimes not work due to the recess cut into the side of the ARAK-21 not being long enough. This conflict would result in the bolt catch always being activated. Faxon will enlarge this recess to accommodate these aftermarket parts. Much appreciated, Bob, much appreciated.
As the ARAK-21 is a multi caliber platform, Faxon promises to add at least two more calibers this year. Currently they offer 5.56 and .300 blackout. While Bob would not spill the beans on the new calibers, I think it is safe to say that a lot of people would like to see 7.62×39, 5.45×39 and .22 LR. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!
Faxon will also begin offering the ARAK-21 as a complete rifle. They have partnered with Mag Tactical and will use their magnesium lower receivers. The complete rifle will weigh in at 7.7 lbs with an unloaded magazine, have Teflon coated interior parts and come with a lifetime warranty. Initial colors will be FDE and Black. The rifle will also come packed in American made cases. Faxon is also in the process of developing their own lowers that will be made in house like the rest of the ARAK parts. This lower will be made of 7075 billet aluminum to match the monolithic ARAK-21 upper.
As Faxon currently makes all their ARAK-21 barrels in house it only made sense for them to begin production on standard AR-15 barrels. Currently they offer barrels in stainless steel or QPQ Nitride finishes. Barrels can be had in an M4 profile or fluted. Lengths are 7.5”, 10.5”, 12.5”, 14.5”, 16”, 18” and 20” respectively. All barrels come with a 1:8 twist and are threaded for the typical ½-28 TPI muzzle devices. It should be noted the AR-15 barrels are not compatible with the ARAK-21.
Currently, the ARAK-21 is not compatible with full auto lowers, however we have seen working full auto prototypes and Bob confirms the FA upper should be available this year. Probably the most anticipated addition to the Faxon family will be the ARAK-31. Not much is known about this upper other than the fact it will be chambered in .308. This will open the door to larger, heavier calibers for distance engagements. Stay tuned for more info.
Lastly, Faxon has continued to improve upon its manufacturing processes, cut down lead times and improve customer service. Their dealer network is growing and they will start private labeling soon. While the first half of 2014 is behind us, I will be anxious to see what the next 6-months hold for Faxon.