Faxon ARAK 21 Torture Test

The FAXON ARAK-21 is a fusion of the AR15 and AK47 platforms and features a Stoner-Johnson pattern multi-lug rotating bolt and a long stroke piston similar to that of an AK47 rifle. The upper receiver is self contained and is available from FAXON for $1,199.00 ready to throw right on your existing AR15 lower.
So how stout if this offering from FAXON? Well, we set out to see just how much abuse this gun can take!

Thanks to our sponsors Grizzly Targets and Ventura Munitions.

Firearms featured:

I would like to add that the dust test was to test the assertion that the FAXON ARAK-21 was intentionally designed with loose tolerances to allow dust into the receiver:

The following is a response received by FAXON regarding the video. They were shown the final cut so that they could comment on the malfunctions and clarify anything they saw fit:

Steve (The Editor) writes: Our standard policy is give a company the opportunity to respond when firearms malfunction during a review, with the explicit caveat that we do not alter the content of reviews (or in this case, video). We append the response to the end of the review.

Faxon responded saying this …

TFB Readers:

A pleasure to see coverage of the ARAK-21 and we always enjoy seeing the rifle put through its paces. We are flattered that TFB shot the ARAK after the previous review, for as a small company, getting coverage is always appreciated. There are many other great companies and products asking for writers’ time.

As customers have seen here on TFB, forums, and other media, it is our policy to always be 100% honest, upfront, and direct with customers. We are always open on the design and performance of our firearms, as we believe that the better informed a customer is on our platforms and capabilities the better customers can make buying decisions and enjoy their purchases.

We are writing this statement at a significant disadvantage, as Faxon has not yet been able to see the rifle in question and perform an analysis. TFB sent over an advance copy of the video, which upon review, we immediately asked for the weapon back to perform said full failure analysis. As part of this offer, we promised to send the full report (pictures, details and all) with full permission to publish with the video. This request was denied as “…we are a bit pressed for time…”.

As such, we cannot provide the detail and analysis that characterizes our typical communication. We apologize to all TFB’s viewers and our customers for this.

We can provide some insight based on the performance that may help answer some questions. The below may not be a complete explanation, but we hope will shed some light until we can do the full tear-down.

General Note:

-TFB requested the ARAK in a multi-caliber configuration. We included the new 7.62×39 kit (not shown in the video) which as part of the configuration, we install a Wolff extra-power hammer spring to ensure reliable ignition of the worst mil-surp ammo we could find. This will be important to note later.


Faxon takes rare pride in producing some of the best value barrels in the industry. We manufacture for numerous OEMs who guarantee 1 MOA or better from match ammunition. ARAK barrels come from the exact same tooling and line as our AR and other MSR barrels.

The ARAK shown was likewise tested prior to sending off to a writer. The barrel performed well within specifications, shooting ¾ inch/100 yards using Gorilla match ammo and a great trigger.

It is well established that barrels tend to “like” certain kinds of ammunition more than others. Combine this with an 8-10lbs pull from the extra power hammer spring and only a 4x optic, the results look to be under military specification for the round (we could not measure the targets). With low magnification, shooting without rear stock support, low magnification, and what most would call a “very heavy” trigger, we are proud of the results.

Further, TFB has previous tested an ARAK with the same barrel configuration. It shot well below 1 MOA with solid ammo: http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2015/01/14/gun-review-faxon-arms-arak-21/


The writer’s statement on weight based off of a heavy fluted barrel does not represent the general rifle. The standard upper receiver with a medium profile barrel is 5.5 lbs. When added with a lower receiver without a buffer system (as its not needed), total unloaded and un-laden weight is typically right at 7 lbs, below even the standard weight of the M16A4 and slightly above the M16A2.

Forward Assist:

We purposefully omit a forward assist. While we do not have full details at the point in time the rifle did not want to go into battery, when the ARAK does not go into battery, the gun is telling the shooter there is an unsafe condition. We do NOT recommend any shooter, on any platform, use a forward assist to chamber stubborn rounds. It is likely they will cause an overpressure and potentially dangerous situation. Forward assist should only be used to push a bolt system forward that is not yet near battery (as a magazine related malfunction, etc.)

From an engineering standpoint, the ARAK is fundamentally different than the AR in the bolt to carrier interface. The AR includes gas rings which add considerable resistance to the system. We do not have them, which if you remove the recoil spring the bolt will naturally fall into and out of battery with gravity. In fact, our internal quality testing is the “tilt test” to ensure there is little resistance in the system and the bolt must go in and out of battery with only 15-degrees of movement.

Some other thoughts on the forward assist:
-Our recoil spring has up to 24 lbs of force on it. How much can a hand do on an AR button?
-Which is faster to run ergonomically? Racking a bolt (even short strokes to clear something) or taking hands off of fire control to press a button?

We know some shooters will want one, but our testing showed it faster to rack a round and keep going. Our thinking was speed and keeping the gun on target. Its a trade-off and we fully respect any opposing opinion.

Trigger Reset & Cleaning:

Without seeing the rifle, we can only surmise that the trigger failed due to debris between the hammer and trigger bar. With the increased power spring, the reset will be heavier and have more resistance which particulate can exacerbate.

Typically, when in a dry and fine dust environments, it is not appropriate to use water to clean a firearm. Doing so with fine dust will cause it to coagulate versus clean and can make an issue worse. This is why the military only recommend light to no lubrication in dusty environments. (Note- dusty not sandy, which is larger particulate, where lubrication can assist with function).

Final Thoughts:

For those looking to see what the ARAK can do in other environments including water, weight, etc, please see TFB’s other articles from AKOU: http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2015/08/10/akou-tests-the-faxon-arak-21/

We again apologize to readers and customers that we are not yet able to go into more detail on this ARAK and TFB’s results. We encourage our customers to watch this, digest it, and ask us any questions. We are an open book.

Please, ask us anything in the comments. We will be there answering questions and look forward to chatting!


Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.


  • Joshua

    Did gon’ be gud.

    • It came off. You can see it rotating in the video. Alex had ton of footage, and some didn’t make the cut; I guess him talking about that was one of the segments that didn’t make it in.

      • Joshua

        Oh ok. At first its there, then next take its gone. Did a double take at first.

    • The MuzzLok is loosely attached when we send guns out to writers. We hope that they will don and doff it to show the flexibility when using a can, etc.

      When torqued to specification, it will not come off.

  • dshield55

    Are you guys any closer to being able to get the RZE multi-caliber magazines?
    Do you have a rough estimate when 6.5 Grendel will be available?

    • Shield-

      We have always been working closely with RZE, being with them since the beginning. They do function well in the ARAK and we use them internally for 7.62×39 testing.

      Rough estimate for Grendel is X-Mas, but AR barrel demand is picking up, so it may be SHOT or shortly thereafter.

      Sadly, no shorter than 12.5″ will be offered in the future. The fixed piston length is set due to our barrel mounting architecture.

  • Shame about the test, but I respect the companies response.

    • Our pleasure to be here.

      All writers and customer’s opinions are extremely valuable to us and we truly appreciate those who take the time to communicate with us with good intent, even if a negative review or result.

      Please contact us anytime!

  • Shmoe

    What a shame. i really liked the idea of a side-charging (forward-charging?) rifle that eliminated the buttstock buffer system I thought it would make for some interesting bullpup conversion projects.

    Couldn’t care less about wether it”s piston gun or not; particularly if it does nothing for reliability. In fact, it just goes to show that there’s nothing intrinsically more reliable about a piston system vs. DGI.

    • A few partner companies are working on similar bullpup chassis. Stay tuned to TFB and other outlets as we get closer to SHOT!

  • wildman0708

    Alex C.

    I’d love to see some Texas topsoil all in and around a HK416? Can you make that happen?

    • 7n6

      Same here. 416 or G36 filled with dirt test. Make sure to fill the fire control group too….

    • dshield55

      It doesn’t matter. If it goes wrong, HK will deny everything and blame it on the ammunition.

      • Joshua

        Or operator error

  • Don Ward

    Faxon? More like Fail-on!

    Amirite guys?

    High Five!

    • We will work on the fail-off portion.


      • Drew Coleman

        I really appreciate you guys being so open and understanding about this. I’ve seen too many companies become hostile the moment they are criticized. A Faxon barrel is in my current AR15 and will probably be in my SBR when I quit being lazy and build one 🙂

        • We have a lot of fun making those barrels. Goals are always, Quality, Performance, Value.

  • Thomas Gomez

    Hey guys. Great video.

    I tested the ARAK-21 for TFB. Details of the test can be found in this article.


    – I found the rifle to be extremely accurate.
    – The muzzle brake fell off very early during testing.
    – I am not sure if the design supports it, but a forward assist would compliment this rifle.
    – I was getting really weird feed malfunctions till I adjusted the gas regulator.

    I would have thrown that upper on a different lower receiver and adjusted the gas. I have several lower receivers in my safe, and the ARAK-21 fit each one a little bit different.

    The rifle itself is finicky in regards to ammunition. Each ammo type essentially needs to tuned to the gas regulator.

    When that gun was paired with good ammo and a proper gas setting it ran really well.

    Hope this finds everyone well.

    – Thomas

    • Thomas-

      We really enjoyed your feedback and actually made some changes to the rifle because of it.

      All writers and customer’s opinions are extremely valuable to us and we truly appreciate those who take the time to communicate with us with good intent, even if a negative review or result.

      Likewise, we will take this to heart and never stop working on the ARAK.


      • Thomas Gomez

        Thank you Sir. I would love another crack at that rifle. Perhaps in the Spring of 2016 after SHOT I can shake it out again.

        Good to hear from you! Great review of the 1911 Vickers class. I hope this finds you well.

    • Alex is the third TFB writer to test the ARAK-21. Here’s my eval, done at the Faxon shoot in Las Vegas in January.

      • We encourage all to view Nathaniel’s article, though vigorously disagree with his conclusions. The issues were due to bad ammunition, specifically ammo running at near proof level pressures, as by the time Nathaniel got to the weapons, we had run through our 5,000 rounds of what we brought. We moved on to the store’s ammunition, and found a box of the Fiocchi was loaded improperly.

        We are flat-out proud of its performance considering all the 5.56 weapons that day handled proof-level pressures, kept shooting, and ensured no one was hurt until we identified the issue courtesy of another writer who noted flat primers, which we promptly took the ammo out of circulation. By that time, five rifles had seen nearly 700 rounds.

        In that case, the huge amounts of material in the trunion and revised bolt architecture held up to the abuse.

        • Firstly, Faxon never communicated this to me during the five months between my sending them the eval and my posting it up on my blog. Secondly, the issues I experienced were very similar to what Alex experienced, with the exception of the trigger issues he had that Oh Five in my eval did not. As an aside, precisely how are failures to go into battery caused by overpressure ammunition, anyway?

          I offered up my opinions regarding the design of the rifle at the explicit request of Faxon Firearms (it was the whole reason I attended the event) and it is therefore troubling to me that the company so readily dismisses my input. One of the suggestions I made as to what may have been a flaw in the rifle did not prove to be true, but I had to discover that for myself by measuring the T&E unit Faxon sent to Alex; Faxon did not address the mass ratio concern in any email, even though they could easily have done so simply by weighing the bolt and carrier.

          I can only speculate as to why a company would go to the trouble of reaching out to someone for their input, inviting them to an event, engaging them, and then dismissing what they have to say.

          • De Facto

            There is feedback on various forums about the ARAK, as well as other reviews by gun bloggers. None of them are anything like yours. You damn the entire weapons system unless redesigned per your feedback. The ARAK has had teething troubles (as all new systems do) but Faxon stands by their products and has top notch customer service – which is more than can be said for many companies in this day and age. If the rifle were truly so fundamentally flawed, one would expect something akin to the R51 debacle of 2014 to have come to light by now. So while it is possible that you are a lone voice of truth crying out in the wilderness, it is more likely you’re an internet blogger with a vendetta.

            I wouldn’t have anything to say to you either.

          • Joshua

            99.9% of shooters will never see more than a hundred rounds a month through their rifles, even fewer will pour sand on their rifle and torture test it in harsh conditions.

            Obviously according to everyone this rifle works fine on a square range in good conditions, and that makes up the vast majority of firearms owner experiences, of course there’s not much out there.

            The issue with the R51 is that it didn’t work in any way, so anyone who purchased one had issues.

            So long as your rifle runs fine in ideal conditions the majority will be happy.

          • Why would I have a vendetta against Faxon? What have they ever done to me? I have had hardly any contact with them. Heck, I’ve had more contact with HK.

  • Good evening, everyone.

    A pleasure to see the video go live. We, as promised, will be in the comments to answer any questions and generally enjoy the feedback!

    • USMC03Vet

      Give me a break. This PR strategy to make a personal connection in internet comments to over come a hilariously bad results video is bizarre. I guess it works though.

      Less responding to all comments posted on the web, more functioning products especially at the price you’re charging for them.

      • Jarhead- I think you have misread this strategy. While you correctly assumed our intent to have a personal connection with customers, its not due to the video or any results. We would have been here even if it was great results. Just look to any other TFB article, forum, Facebook, or anywhere else Faxon is mentioned.

        We strongly believe that the customer is the one to tell us what they want. Having negative feedback is the BEST time to interact with people.

        As to the test results, we are not ashamed of the results nor shyed away from them. The problem with these kinds of tests is that they do not provide context in either a) real-world conditions and/or b) comparison to other firearms.

        We encourage other manufacturers to stand up to the plate and have their weapons put through this wringer. There is a reason most companies do not have torture tests of their weapons out there. We sent our weapon to TFB with no strings attached.

        As many are comparing the ARAK to the SCAR, the only video we could find of a SCAR being torture tested was a mud test which failed on the first round.

        -The Faxon Jarhead.

  • Esh325

    Honestly I some what hate these tests because they aren’t very scientific.

  • Proud 12″ BBL ARAK-21 owner in Italy right here! Thumbs up!

    • Enjoy it and please let us know if we can ever support you and the ARAK.

    • hejhej

      how did you get an arak 21 to europe??

  • Green Hell

    Faxon Firearms, you sound like a cool guys, so maybe you are open to cool ideas? Make a new rifle, AKAR, and base it on the AK platform this time, but with all the modern ergonomical features. I mean, take the standart AK reciever, and add the following:
    – AR style magazine well + bolt catch for 5.56, 5.45 and 7.62×51 versions.
    – Ambidextrous thumb safety/fire selector
    – Gas block with suppressor setting
    – Reinforsed upper/dust cover with full lengh rail
    – Extended M-Lok handguard
    In short, make your own, American version of AK-12/Galil ACE, which sounds close to a perfect rifle for me and many other shooters. Now THAT thing would totally make you famous.

    • An appealing idea.

      Fortunately, our barrels are involved in many similar projects. We look forward to delivering the accuracy many customers will require.

    • Max Glazer

      No need for top rail. Just use side rail adapter

      Mag well – used one on AUG. Had a play around with an AK. AK much easier to insert..

  • Blake

    Awesome transparent response form Faxon.

  • Ben

    Not surprised. The ARAK doesn’t have a great mass ratio, and runs at a very high carrier velocity. These things aren’t conducive to good reliability under poor conditions.

    • The bolt carrier is pretty compact, leading to my initial speculation of a poor mass ratio, but this past weekend I weighed the operating groups of over 30 rifles, including the ARAK-21 Alex tested. The Faxon’s mass ratio turned out to be about average.

      And yes, the Mass Ratio Omnibus will be an upcoming article.

      • Tassiebush

        I am looking forward to that article 🙂

      • Ben

        I look forward to that.

  • Joe w

    As far as the trigger failing to reset, wouldn’t any ar15 have this problem as well considering it’s a standard lower?

    • I’m not sure. It’s possible the reset issue was caused by a dimensional problem. What Alex and I both are sure about is that an AR-15 allows much less debris to reach the fire control group in the first place; both of us have done testing of this type to AR-15s and not experienced this kind of problem.

      • True, but also this testing was not conducted with a significantly heavier main hammer spring, which introduces its own variables. It will be fun to see the issue once the rifle has returned.

  • Bal256

    I think the issue is that the qualities that make the AK reliable, and the AR reliable enough are mutually exclusive. The open spaces on the AK combined with a larger caliber with much more tapered round complement each other. And on the AR side, the closed off nature keeps the finer moving parts, like the FCG clear of debris and able to function, along with the 5.56 round. There were many problems with the early ARs, but the direct impingement system was not one of them.

    • A solid analysis, of which we share the same opinion on the early ARs.

      Both are awesome weapon systems which serve as inspiration for the ARAK. As time goes on, we get better and better and will never shy from criticism.

      Please let us know if we can assist anytime. We’re an open book.

      • 6.5x55Swedish

        Perhaps you could look at something in the style with what the AK5 have to keep dirt out of the ejection port. It is only open while the bolt is open.

  • CommonSense23

    Shouldn’t this say it’s built with geneous clearances and not loose tolerances?

  • mechamaster

    I have little idea for FAXON :
    1. It is possible to add some MSBS Radon / ACR- style fixed (non-spring folded ) ambidextrous ‘non-reciprocating charging handle’ that capable to do ‘forward-assist function’ ?
    2. Added “thumb recessed” in the bolt carrier for manual hand ( thumb ) powered forward assist.
    3. Slightly ‘loose tolerance’ in bolt carrier and receiver ( wobble and flexin like AK so it can shake the dirt / mud / sand) and ‘overgas’ setting to challenge adverse condition as long as the accuracy doesn’t suffer up to 4 MOA
    4. Maybe some ‘trigger group job’ to challenge adverse condition ( the AR trigger group somehow easy to give up in dirty condition )
    5. Maybe some little weight reduction. ^^

    • Mecha-

      Thanks for taking the time to send some feedback. We appreciate it immensely and hope the responses below can shed some light on our design.

      1. Doing so would be a full platform change to incorporate that functionality from the current charging handle position. We can move the handle, but other companies still have active patents on combined devices, so may be difficult in the short-term. Ultimately, though, we do not want to have a forward assist, for the reasons mentioned above. We find having one causes more issues than it solves.
      2. Interesting, as that was a solution for the G3 and other rifles. Since we do not use a dust cover, putting any recess would be a solid path for debris to enter the receiver.
      3. We’ve incorporated many of those pieces suggested into the base design, but no weapon design is ever complete. We’re always looking for ways to make rolling changes.
      4. We will profess to not being trigger experts, having opted for the AR trigger, with its benefits (great pull) and faults (sand issues).
      5. Stay tuned. Many fun things coming, but pencil barrels, which in our architecture stand up to what most would call “medium”, reduce another .3 lbs while delivering excellent performance.

      • mechamaster

        Wow, Thank’s for the great feedback Nathan ( Faxon ) !

        From my ( current ) point-of-view, the current ARAK-21 model and feature, it is more suited as sporting rifle rather than harsh-condition combat ready rifle.

        But I believe in the future, the design could evolve and improved so it can be reliable ( and accurate ) by taking advantage from the both world ( AK an AR ) of course.

        • Enjoyed reading your analysis. The only way we get better is having negative opinions, suggestions, and reviews. Positive ones only tell us we did things right.

      • tempest


        Pertaining to point #3, I think that one option to fixing the problem of debris entering the gun would be not to go for larger clearances, but to go for smaller clearances, so that fewer particles manage to get inside in the first place. As another commenter was saying earlier, a loose upper will just allow debris to enter the gun, where it will stay and muck everything up because the AR 15 lower receiver doesn’t allow debris to fall through, or at least slosh around without gumming up the works, like an AK receiver can. I think that going for a large clearance upper while sticking to the regular AR 15 lower is a recipe for never-ending issues. Of course, even with the smallest clearances possible, there can be even smaller particles managing to get in. However, at least minimizing the amount and size of particles getting in would be preferable to allowing almost everything to get in and having it trapped in there wreaking havoc on the fire control group.

        Apart from this, one other thing that I would do if I were you is to create a M-Lok version of the ARAK 21, similar to the way that’s done in the ARAK 31. I think that may shave some ounces, offer more mounting options and offer a slimmer forearm while retaining accessory mounting capabilities. Currently, if you want it slim, you have to add the rail segments which makes it much thicker than it needs to be. Of course, some may prefer KeyMod instead of M-Lok, but that’s less of an issue and I’m not willing to open that can of worms:).

  • hami

    It’s a shame they didn’t have an AR15 to swap in a new lower receiver. I imagine with all the options out there most customers would buy the upper instead of a complete rifle. That way the double feed/stove pipe jams could be trouble shot (troubleshooted?) more deliberately.

    For all we know, the rifle might have powered through the malfunctions after a few cycles. We have all had weapon malfunctions that eventually work their way out.

  • trumpforpresidet

    First: Awful test done by Tfb. sadly many of your tests feels very badly thougt true and not at all “scientific” or even giving the product a real fighting chance.

    Seriously you could at least changed the lower receiver and fixed the gas. But noooo you spent more than half of a video tinkering with the lower..

    Second: Can you put the upper on a sig mcx? it would be perfect with their folding stocks?

  • TJbrena

    I think it’d be nice to see a control of sorts for reliability tests of guns that claim to be more reliable than an AR. A decent AR being put through the same paces as “AR-beater” systems for comparison would be a fantastic addition to these videos going forwards.

    I get what you’re doing isn’t supposed to be some groundbreaking study with a broad sample size with results that will shock one or more aspects of the gun community. It’s backyard science, and that’s probably the most enjoyable kind. But God knows we have enough “AR is the bestest” and “AR is the worstest” going on.

  • iksnilol

    You do know that gas gets into the chamber of pretty much all autoloaders?

    Sure, a tiny amount but I still wouldn’t dismiss it.

  • Anonymous

    You can’t really test accuracy with a giant target spot (spraypaint) that is on the same order of magnitude of the shot dispersion you are trying to measure. Next time, use a good 10x-20x scope, sandbags (or machine rest), and a sharpie marker or pen.

  • JCoen

    Yelpers are now doing firearm tests and reviews, LOL. Can’t believe that you got those kind of poor groups from such a well supported firing wood block…. Cheese and rice!

  • iksnilol

    Shouldn’t a suppressor “help” with extra gas so that it vents out crud easier?

    To me it seems like it is mutually exclusive. Either you have clean operation or you don’t. I don’t see how you could combine the ease of cleaning that a piston has while keeping the venting thing the DI has.

  • LazyReader

    Who cares…the rifle failed miserably. Back to the drawing board. It was the trigger that was the problem. So beefing up the trigger is the concern that needs to be addressed.

  • RickOAA .

    Looks like the worst of both worlds. Excellent.

  • gdnctr

    No surprise that it didn’t work.

  • One reason for that part of the test was a statement by Faxon that it could take that kind of use and keep on running.

  • rsmitchell

    I owned one of these. It is awfully heavy. Also the fit on all of lowers was not tight. This included a Daniel Defense and an LWRC. When I called customer service they told me to put a wedge in it. Decided due to these factors to sell on GB. Lost my you know what.

  • iksnilol

    “Lastly, there is no perfect weapon. Never will be.”


    In all seriousness, yeah, just go for what works for you and is available. Thus my love for short barreled AKs.

  • The Brigadier

    I used to watch Sons of Guns before it was abruptly cancelled for Will’s deviancy. He was given a chance to make the original melding of the AR and the AK for nuclear reactor security, many in inhospitable places with a lot of dust/water. He was successful, and got the contract and then halfway through production, ran into barrel procurement shortages. The general who gave Will and Red Jacket the contract cancelled it saying he was going with someone else for non-performance.

    Alex is ARAK the company the general gave the contract to and isn’t the basic rifle based on Red Jacket’s design?

  • The Brigadier

    Yeah, but sometimes in a battle it rains and in others sand storms come up. Hard to keep ’em clean when the enemy is still advancing and shooting at you with AKs. The Ugly Duckling will shoot in rain and in sandstorms.

  • Elgonz12

    Hello TFB guys thanks for the video it was a very nice and great to see how was the performance of the rifle specialist a $1300.00 uppers price, shooting is nice and I’ve seen very good groups but when is torture test for any rifle is that when you see how reliable it is, this ARAK21 is good but needs more improvements; the 7.62×39 version is already tested the moe grouping was great but failed on the sand test also the guys from AK operator union 47-74 did a great review too but liked they said is: “NO GOOD AS AK YET…” I would like to seem the performance on the 308 version because for those prices on the uppers you can built your on rifle for less money on AR for the 5.56 or 308 rifles and I would rather to buy a gook AK47/74 rifle and the market is plenty of that right now.