One of the big things I missed at SHOT this year was the announcement that the Lucznik Arms Factory (also known colloquially as “Radom”), the Polish manufacturer of several different modern small arms, was going to give exporting “sporter” style AK rifles in 5.56x45mm NATO (.223 Remington) to the US market a try.
This was very exciting news for me to hear. I’ve always wanted a high-quality AK rifle in 5.56 NATO but been hesitant to spend money into another expensive AK after I bought my SGL31-47. And while Arsenal, the go-to brand for premium AKs in the US market right now, imports and re-manufactures an awesome 5.56 AK with their Bulgarian-based SLR-106 series, I wanted something a little more unique and set apart from my AK-74M clone.
That’s when I discovered the Beryl, the modern Polish service rifle. It’s a derivative of the AK-74 chambered in 5.56 and with all the bells and whistles of a modern, modular small arm – rails, folding stock and so on. It was like my dream come true. Polish AKs (and Polish small arms in general) have a reputation of being very high-quality weapons, and all the armchair-small-arms-generaling I conducted indicated that Beryls were no different.
But Beryls (or a semi-automatic sporter version of them) were never really imported into the US, apart from a few one-offs that cost a ridiculous amount of money. I swore to myself that if they were ever imported in any number, I’d buy one up in a second. So, the announcement at SHOT was the answer to my longing for a cheap(er) Beryl.
Unfortunately, if the scan of the ad from the magazine Shotgun News below is to be believed, they’re asking quite a large amount of cash for the guns.
$1,500?! That’s more than an Arsenal – about $500 more! I get that these are premium guns and all, but holy cow. Companies like Arsenal have taken their time to fight their way to the top of the AK game in the US and have built their offerings and their prices on a solid reputation and to be quite honest, I.O. Inc has not done anything like that.
As much as I want to be true to my overzealous self and buy one of these up, I simply can’t justify spending $1,500 on an “untested” gun that is asking 150% of the market price for the top-dollar brand and then high prices for the accessories to complete the gun.
So as much as I hate to say it, if the asking price for I.O.’s Beryls remains the same, I’m going to have to pass.