I have to agree with the many folks that say the Firing Lines receiver prices are too high (IMO).
Though they have gained a reputation for being a quality receiver, it does not excuse the over $300 dealer price tag.
I have heard that they are closer to the Chinese receivers than they are to the Bulgarian one, but in any case, with the Bulgarian receivers being extinct on the market, these seem to be the only alternative.
The Arsenal Inc Company of Las Vegas Nevada, also produces a well made and very well respected American made milled AK receiver. The thing is, they currently do not offer it as a stand alone product. Instead, they only offer it with their complete rifles, like their SA M-7 model. These rifles, and it's receiver, are licensed by the Arsenal of Bulgaria Company. The current FAC dealer cost on a basic SA M-7 is about $534.
While the Firing Lines receiver is known as quality made product, it's made using the milled from barstock method. On the other hand, the Arsenal Inc receiver is produced using the milled from forgings method (from forged AK receiver ingots). When all else is equal, the milled from forgings method will turn out the better overall product.
Here is how the "Queen City Forge" puts it:
"Machined bar and plate may be more susceptible to fatigue and stress corrosion because machining cuts material grain pattern. In most cases, forging yields a grain structure oriented to the part shape, resulting in optimum strength, ductility and resistance to impact and fatigue."
So here is Arsenal Inc producing a complete quality AK specimen, that has a forged and milled receiver, that is made in the U.S. (under license of the Bulgarians),
.............and yet they manage to offer it for not much more than the price of just the Firing Lines basic stand alone receiver.
I don't know how Arsenal Inc does it, but it would seem they have a very desirable product that they keep reasonably priced.
I know the Firing Line does not mill out their own receivers, instead they contract an outside mill shop to make them. Maybe this is part of the reason why they are so highly priced. I know Arsenal Inc performs in house milling on their AK forged receivers, and many (if not all) of their employees were brought in from Bulgaria (folks that used to work at the Arsenal plant). So maybe the in house set up saves some money (while having the added benefit of keeping full control of product quality).
In any case, both the Firing Line and Arsenal Inc receivers need to be machined (milled). With that being said, why does the Firing Line have to charge so much for their product?......I don't know. They may try to say this or that in defense, but the Arsenal Inc offering pretty much debunks whatever they have to say.
I would imagine that supply and demand is a big part of it. I mean, who else is "offering" a stand alone quality milled AK receiver? The forged & milled Arsenal of Bulgaria receivers have dried up from the market, and the licensed Arsenal Inc milled & forged receiver is not offered on it's own.
Supply and demand can bring some harsh realities in a free market.
I don't believe that the Arsenal Inc Company will be offering their receivers as stand alone items any time soon, but I would place a bet that if they ever did, the Firing Lines milled from barstock receiver would be pushed aside very quickly.
With the Arsenal Inc receiver being made from forgings, milled by skilled Bulgy AK techs, made using Bulgy specifications, having the Arsenal name stamp of approval (by being made under license of the Bulgarian Arsenal), and possibly being sold for $100 less than the Firing Lines, the Arsenal Inc receiver would reign supreme.
No one is saying that the Firing Line receiver is not a good product. Most people would agree that in most cases, one does have to pay a bit more for a quality product, but the Firing Line receiver goes beyond that.
You should post this over in the K-Var forums.
I know that K-VAR, Arsenal Inc, and the Firing Line, all have a partnership in using the K-VAR forums. I personally don't feel it would be appropriate for me to post an oppinion over there that may place one of those companies against one of the others. Should I express the oppinion?.........Sure :), but I will not place it right in their own living room. I feel that it is their house, and I am their guest, I will respect that. Others may go to such board forums, and maybe cause that friction,........but I choose not to ;)
I guess another good example would be how most of us respect the for sale boards. We may come in and see someone selling a standard SAR-1 for $700, and we may get a laugh out of it. The laugh is OK, but I won't enter that post with a comment like "Man, you are waaaaay overpriced buddy!".
Don't get me wrong, it would definitely be overpriced. I would be tempted to bring it up somewhere else on another post, but not in the for sale forum, and definitely not in the actual thread it is in. Just an unwritten respect kind of thing.
As you well know, even the Arsenal Inc Representative came in on those boards and expressed how he felt their products are a best buy,..... just plain hard to beat for what one is getting. He has said that he feels their product is a much better buy than someone building a similar product using seperately purchased components. I would have to agree with him completely on that. I really believe the SA-M7 to be one heck of a deal (IMO).
One of the biggest reasons why I feel this way, is because of the cost someone has to pay to build a similar all new component milled receivered gun. The Firing Line Offers a nice receiver specimen, but it is very pricey. Add in a brand new AK component kit, a new stock set, the proper amount of U.S. made components, and possible assembly and finishing fees, and one can see how that could end up being an expensive way to go. The good thing is that it will be exactly the way you imagined it (built the way you wanted it), but for most folks, the ready made SA M-7 will probably be more than enough quality and looks, at a more reasonable price.
Of course it's a free market,........ supply and demand, thats what drives the market. I'm pretty sure that if quality competition pops up from other sources, the prices will most likely drop on the Firing Line's receiver, or, they may be forced off the market altogether if they can't compete on the price.
It's all simple math my friend :)
I bet it would cost them less than $50 per receiver. MAn they would make a killing selling them.
Like I said,.......it's simple math.
Well, I don't know where you could get a number like that, but I think I can come up with a better rough calculation.
Lets look at the Arsenal Inc SA M-7 rifle, and try to get a fair number using that example:
The Arsenal Inc SA M-7 complete component kit (minus receiver), can be purchased through K-VAR for $299. This set includes the American K-VAR Polymer Stock Set and a forged & milled American Fire Control Group.
Now, lets look at the price of a full assembly and final finishing job. Also, lets low ball it to the death!
Lets say...........$100. Now who will fully assemble and finish a K-VAR parts kit for $100?, I don't think it would be possible to find a quality builder for so low a price, but just for ha ha's, lets say you know a good AK smith that would do it for that price.
So what numbers do we have so far:
Assembly & Finish $100
Total so far $399
Now one subtracts that $399 from the $534 dealer cost of the SA M-7, and one gets the amount of $135 left. Now this would be what one would have left to purchase the milled receiver (if we were to stay within the SA M-7's dealer cost).
Even if we leave out the assembly and finishing costs (lets say you can do it all yourself), it still would mean the cost of the parts kit subtracted from the $534 SA M-7 dealer cost would leave $235 for the receiver (again, that would be leaving out all assembly and finishing costs).
Anyway one looks at it, it pretty much proves that the Firing Line's milled receiver is no where in line price wise with what Arsenal Inc is offering.
Now, $175-$200 for a stand alone milled receiver..........that would be more in line with being a fair deal (IMO).
Simple math tells us much :)
"i think arsenal keeps their costs low by getting components for next to nothing from the old country. i don't know their pay scale, but i'll bet $10/hour is about the going pay rate."
The milling on both receivers are done in the USA, whether it's the Arsenal Inc or the Firing Line receiver, somebody here in the US is getting paid to mill it.
I don't know what each pays their employee's, what concerns me is that the quality be there, and the Arsenal Inc receiver has it, seemingly done for quite a bit less money than the Firing Line's. Are they hiring monkeys to build them.........I don't believe so! Most of these guys were brought over from Bulgaria, and they know what they are building (they used to do it back home). So I'm not the least concerned with them not producing an excellent product.
Dollar wise, I think the math speaks for itself. Anyway one looks at it, the receiver on the complete SA M-7 rifle is costing us quite a bit less than what the Firing Line's $300 dealer cost, or in some places almost $400 retail cost is. We are talking receiver only price, and the Firing Line's receiver is too pricey.
As far as grain structure, you say any half ass inteligent machinist will go with the grain, but do you know for sure that this is the case with every receiver? You do with the Arsenal Inc product!
The need for relieving stress on the more dense forged steel product, is just another step in the process to completing a forged product. It, of course, has to be done right, but that is the case with all steps in the process. I'm sure the Bulgarians (and their licensed partners in America) have this down by now........would you not think?! I mean, the Bulgarians have probably only made a million or so AK rifles using milled receivers and all ;)
Maybe if we were talking the old days, (Campy, you can relate to this) ;) That's when many items were Hammer Forged by hand. You would whack it here, and whack it there, now that must have been impossible to relieve the stresses evenly.
But today, and for quite some time now, the forging processes used are not always about banging it a little here, and banging it a little there, but instead, many today use different methods for applying the pressure more evenly onto the metal, and it makes it easier for them today to more evenly relieve the stresses that are imposed on the metal during the forging process. The processes have improved, but the old wives tale that the stresses can not be relieved properly, seem to continue. The Bulgarian receivers, and their licensed American counterparts, are not forged using the centuries old method of forging with a hand held hammer and anvil. Today, the techniques have been considerably honed. No one ever said that milling from Barstock was a bad method. Heck, if the processes are done right, Casting, Milled from Barstock, or Milling from Forgings, can all produce a quality product. When all else is equal in quality though, I will go with the Forged and Milled product.....thank you :)
While there are always all sorts of variables with a subject like this, this is a basic description by a popular website that has no financial interest in the different methods used:
"If you have ever seen a blacksmith beating on a piece of red hot iron with a hammer, you have seen the simplest type of forging. Striking a piece of hot metal with a hammer is forging, and blacksmiths have been doing this for centuries. As blacksmiths experimented with new techniques, they learned that complex shapes could be created by hammering metal into a die. The die contains the shape of the finished product. Modern manufacturers use either a falling hammer or a powered hammer to do the hammering (rather than doing it by hand), and usually use dies on both sides of the piece. This is drop forging.
Manufacturers now use many different techniques to forge metal. Four of the most common include:
Drop forging - Hammering hot metal into dies.
Press forging - instead of forcing hot metal into a die with a hammer blow, it is pressed into the die with hydraulic pressure.
Roll forging - The hot metal is pressed between two rollers.
Cold forging - For smaller pieces, the metal can be pressed into the die without heating it significantly ahead of time.
The reason why manufacturers want you to know that a tool is drop forged is because this tells you something about the strength and durability of the tool. The other two ways to make a tool would be casting it from molten metal or machining it (cutting material away) from a larger block of metal. The advantage of forging is that it improves the strength of the metal by aligning and stretching the grain structure. A forged part will normally be stronger than a casting or a machined piece."
End of quote
In any case, my main point of this thread was the pricing of current milled receivers, and I really believe that a $300 dealer cost for a Firing Line Receiver, is definitely out of line (IMO).
A few years ago, when the Bulgarians were allowed to ship their receivers to the States, they were being sold for less than $100. They now have to make them here in the States..........and $200 would seem more than fair enough (higher wage costs and all).........but $300 or more for a stand alone receiver!! No thank you:)
Simple math my friend :)
Nope. I was saying it would cost Arsenal less than $50 to produce. Not the final market price, maybe $200 at the most. Remember that the final price of $534 includes 2 profit margins, 2 overhead costs, 2 payrolls to cover, ect., not just parts and finishing.
3 years ago a bulgie receiver was going for $50 from a dealer, end cost.
So, you can take out the shipping cost from Bulgaria, since the blanks and the finished receivers have to be shipped to the US. The only diffrence in price would be the milling cost, which are most likly 3-4 times more here.
I would guess that a complete sam-7 does not cost Arsenal more than $350-400 to produce.
Typically, I would guess that labor = 15-20%, profit= 12-15% overhead=20-25%, and parts=40-50%.
So, all of the parts cost somewhere between $150-200. So, that is how you would come up with about a $50 dollar production cost.
I now see where you were getting your numbers from :)
My numbers were based more on what one of us could expect to pay for components if we were building an SA M-7 type rifle (and using all new Bulgarian and American components as with the SA M-7), and getting them from the usual sources (like K-VAR and such).
Using my calculations, or yours.........one conclusion seems to come up. That is that the Firing Line's receiver is one pricey SOB!!! LOL!
Anyhows, maybe we will have some other companies jump in to the fray, and offer them some stiff competition. It happened with the Fire Control Groups, so maybe it will happen with the milled receivers. I mean, we once had very slim pickens in the FCG area, and today we have the adjustable Redstar milled from barstock set, the Arsenal USA milled from barstock set, the Gordon Technologies investment cast set (this set is now owned by Tapco), and the milled from forgings K-VAR set.
Jimmy Streetman, from Arsenal USA, hinted that maybe they will bring back their SSR-99. When I asked about the shortage of milled receivers, he basically replied by saying that since they now have the former Arsenal of Bulgaria designer (Ivan) working for them, they have the main key to make whatever is needed now.
This is how he put it:
"As far as I know, there are no more Bulgarian milled receivers in the US. But remember, with Ivan Kolev here in Houston, there are no mysteries to any Kalashnikov system to our organization.
Ivan is planning a new milled receiver for us. Production later this year or at the latest early next year. It will have a few new wrinkles you will like.
The rest of the parts will be idendical, but at this point we can't buy them directly from Arsenal Kazanak. Like everything else in E. Europe, this is also subject to change.
There would be enough differences that we will probably add a suffix to the model to make identifying the model easier." End of quote
So just maybe.......hmmmmmm..........an Arsenal USA milled receiver?!!
This could be a sign that companies have noticed that the milled receiver idea is not dead in this country yet, and that a demand does exist :)
That would be sweet. The TFL are great receivers, but with no comp. they can price them for a nice profit. Can TFL say monopoly?
I did send and e-mail to arsenal via their web site some time ago about this subject. They replied:
"We do not think so. All of the receivers will be used for our production.
So it looks doubtful they ever will, but ther is always that .000001% chance.