Until very recently, I was never a fan of the semi-auto AK-47 rifle. Prior to the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, the AKs that were available at the time were inexpensive, reliable, and literally felt like a quickly slapped together sloppy piece of junk. 5- and 6-inch groups at 100 yards would be considered excellent performance.
After the ban’s sunset in 2004, AK imports (sans “thumbhole” stocks) from Russia, China, and elsewhere were selling like hotcakes. In an effort to stop these “crime guns” from washing onshore to our streets to be picked up willy nilly by criminals who found them laying around, the Feds decided to enact new importation rules. Suddenly, U.S. sales of new AK-47s containing more than 10 foreign-made critical parts—such as barrels and receivers—were prohibited.
Ah, the law of unintended consequences and good old Yankee ingenuity! Sometimes it works in favor of the oppressed masses. Companies in the U.S. started making critical components themselves, and the complete AKs that were being imported were stripped of all the parts that made them illegal to sell and replaced with U.S. parts. The end result is that now we have AKs being built with the quality once reserved for AR-15s! In other words, current generation AKs have actually been product improved via Federal meddling! Stuff like that doesn’t happen often.
One of the most product improved AKs is the new Model 39 made totally in the U.S. by Century Arms. It is one of several AK variants Century Arms offers, and is truly top of the line.
Firing the reliable and combat-proven 7.62×39 round, the Century Arms Model 39 comes in several variations including Tactical and Pistol models, and the Classic model that is the subject of this piece. The Classic comes with attractive laminated wood stocks. The buttstock is larger than original AKs, but just to the right point of a perfect fit. The pistol grip is polymer and nicely checkered and shaped. The lower receiver is machined from an 11-pound block of 4140 ordnance steel, and the barrel is chrome lined. Overall weight of the Model 39 is a solid 8.1 pounds. The safety operates smoothly and positively. Sights are traditional AK style and the rear is adjustable for windage and elevation. There is an nice combination compensator and flash suppressor capping the muzzle.
The trigger and magazines are from TAPCO. This is the best trigger I’ve felt on an AK to date. There is some take-up as is typical military, and the actual pull weight broke nicely around 4 pounds.
I headed to the range with a box of Century Arms Red Army Standard ELITE ammo in their new 180-round range pack. The Range Pack concept is sheer genius as the boxes of ammo contained therein are packed 30 to a box! Yep, one box per magazine! The 123-grain lead core FMJ bullet sits in a brass case with a non-corrosive primer.
The Century Arms Model 39 rocked right out of the box, with mid-range accuracy right there with most ARs equipped with iron sights. Cycling was flawless, and the empties ejected well away from the gun. Felt recoil was non-existent. The TAPCO mags loaded easily and functioned perfectly. Two were furnished with the gun.
For home defense (preferably with expanding ammo) or in an RV (where legal) or any other survival or disaster situation, the Century Arms Model 39 excels. There is simply nothing to go wrong with it—which is what makes an AK like this a beauty! Furthermore, it is a lot of fun to shoot. Priced at about $675.
Find out more at: www.centuryarms.com.
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