AK platform firearms are pretty ubiquitous, with variants coming from all over the world. Despite its popularity in the United States, for a long time there was no major production of a 100% U.S. made model. Century Arms International changed that dynamic with the Centurion 39. Recently, a major improvement of the Centurion 39 came out, the C39v2. For those of you readers that may be leery due to the producer, I get it. If you’ve been burned by a substandard Century product in the past, no need to worry, I can directly empathize with you. I once had an extremely shoddy Golani and fortunately was able to sell it for pretty much what I paid for it. I also have a Centurion 39 that I acquired for use as a test platform for various parts that my customers might have wanted during my tenure as a gunsmith. That being said, I assessed the C39v2 extremely closely for any defects, while trying to put aside my past prejudices in order to be as objective as possible. I urge you to read on, as I was pleasantly surprised by this rifle.
Specs at a glance:
• 100% American made
• Barrel 1:10 twist, concentric LH 14×1 metric thread and ready for a variety of muzzle attachments
• Chrome moly 4150 nitride treated barrel
• Milled 4140 ordnance quality steel receiver
• 1st AK side scope rail mount to offer a return to zero capability, also offers four times clamping improvement over traditional side scope rail mounts and improves sight acquisition for follow-up shots
• RAK-1 Enhanced Trigger Group
• Larger T shaped magazine catch
• Compatibility with AKM furniture
• Standard AKM sights
• Retaining plate
• Bolt hold-open notch on the safety selector
• Proprietary Chevron muzzle brake
• Bolt carrier tail heat treated to ensure maximum performance and life
• Accepts all standard AK mags.
• Comes with one 30 rd. mag.
• Barrel: 16.5″ with a 1:10 twist, Overall: 37.25″, Weight: 8.05 lbs.
(MSRP $909.99, can usually be found around $700-$850)
Upon opening the C39v2’s box, it was immediately apparent that this was a step up from Century’s older milled receiver AK47s. The fit and finish on all the parts was far superior to my older Centurion 39. There were no visible machining marks or blemishes on the finish, and the bolt racked quite smoothly. One of the first things that caught my eye was the safety lever, which has a slot cut out to hold the bolt open. This is a nice stock feature that most other AK models don’t come with, especially in this price range. The safety lever also swept easily on and off, didn’t travel up past the receiver cover, and clicked positively into safe or fire. The C39v2 has a few other differences with other milled AK’s as well. It has no cleaning rod or bayonet lug, and the rear sight is a bit beefier in construction than on most imported AKs. The bolt carrier has lightening cuts. The magazine release is also of an oversize, “t-style”. The release was easy to work with my trigger finger when using Magpul magazines, but required a sweep with a fresh mag to quickly release combloc and US Palm magazines.
The receiver is machined from 4140 steel, and the barrel is made by Green Mountain of New Hampshire. A black nitride treatment is applied to the inside and outside of the receiver and barrel. The barrel itself has a 1:10 twist rate and 14×1 LH thread. The muzzle brake is not of the traditional slant variety, but rather a chevron-style with three ports at the 12 o’clock position forward of the chevrons. I found the wood furniture to be very nicely finish, with no rough spots, chips or cracks. The subtle palmswells on the lower portion of the handguard fit my hands quite well. The only thing I did not love was the smallish pistol grip. I have rather large hands, however, and have put FAL-style grips on all my other AK’s for more comfort.
The C39v2 now comes with a side scope mount rail compatible with Century’s AK Micro Dot side mount. The Micro Dot mount is compatible with Aimpoint’s Micro T1/2 and H1/2, Vortex’s Spark/II, Holosun’s Paralow, Primary Arm’s Micro Dot, and Sig’s Romeo4 series (Unfortunately I did not have one of these optics available and could not test the mount for efficacy). The mount is made from 6061-T6 aluminum. While the rail is not compatible with common AK optic mounts and does not have a QD lever, RS Regulate’s AK-309M works on the rail and can accommodate a much wider range of optics.
The C39v2’s best attribute in my opinion was its excellent trigger. Breaking crisply at 3lbs 4oz, I can say without qualification that it is the best stock AK trigger I have ever tried. On every other AK I’ve owned, and for quite a few of my customers, I have installed aftermarket triggers. Having such a quality trigger from the factory is a real value for potential owners. Known as the RAK-1 trigger, here’s what century has to say about it:
• 100% American made single stage trigger group with machined release surfaces that offers a smooth and consistent trigger pull unlike anything you will find on standard AK triggers.
• The top profile of the hammer has been optimized to eliminate the bolt carrier hang up that occurs frequently with other hammers and provides a smoother operation without the need of polishing the hammer.
• The trigger uses a double hook design with an innovative relief cut which allows it to be used in receivers designed to only accept single hook triggers. This gives the operator the option to have the strength and control of a double hook trigger in firearms originally designed to only accept single hook triggers.
• The disconnector has also been optimized to eliminate trigger slap and “folding” of the engagement surface seen on many other trigger groups during high round count tests.
• The RAK-1 Enhanced Trigger Group has been properly heat treated and hardened to minimize wear and passed a 15,000 round endurance test.
• Each trigger group will include a Hammer, Trigger and Disconnector which count as three U.S. 922r compliant parts. The RAK-1 Enhanced Trigger Group will also include a Hammer Spring, Disconnector Spring and a Trigger Sleeve which allows the Trigger/Disconnector to be pre-assembled before dropping into the rifle.
• The RAK-1 is a great upgrade to any AK style rifle while maintaining the traditional reliability of a stock trigger.
• Fits the WASR, C39, RAS47, AK63D and many other AK rifle and pistol variants.
The C39v2 seemed very well-made, but the all important indicator of quality is how it would perform at the range. In that aspect, the C39v2 did not disappoint. I used the iron sights on this AK, as I did not have a Holosun or Micro T-1 available to use on the optic mount. The sights adjusted easily and smoothly with a standard AK sight tool. The front sight drum was the smoothest that I have experienced, with no halting, hang-ups or loosens during adjustment. The quality components made for easy zeroing. I will, however, change out the sights for tritium units with an adjustable rear sight in the future for better visibility at night.
AK’s can vary in accuracy. Case in point, I have 2 arsenal AK-74 platform rifles, one of which prints 3.5-4MOA on average, and another which regularly holds .8 MOA with factory ammunition. On the whole, accuracy reports of the C39v2 have been very good, with other professional reviewers getting results near the 1.5-2 MOA range. My example was no exception. I brought 6 various loads that I found in my ammunition locker, plus Century was kind enough to provide me with 180 rounds of Red Army Standard 122gr fmj. The rifle easily and repeatedly achieved 2″ 5-shot groups at 100 yards with its’ best performing loads. This was while using the stock iron sights and a front and rear rest off a bench. The crisp, light trigger also aided in achieving very good accuracy. The rifle had a clear preference for Wolf “Military Classic” 124gr HP and Fiocchi 123gr FMJ, both of which are extremely affordable loads. No need to feed this rifle custom loads or high-dollar ammunition! Point of impact did shift 2″ high after 75 rounds fired at a rate of 120rpm. Results by load are as follows, all results are 5-shot groups:
- Wolf Military classic 124gr HP: 1.92″
- Fiocchi 123gr FMJ: 2″
- Herter’s 122gr HP: 2.5″
- TulAmmo 124gr HP: 2.85″
- Cor-Bon 125gr JHP: 3″
- Wolf 124gr FMJ: 3.5″
- Red Army Standard 122gr FMJ: 4″
Accuracy by itself means little if the firearm is not reliable. I tested the C39v2 with magazines from Magpul, US Palm, Tapco, ProMag and Zastava. The Tapco magazines were the only ones that did not function at all, including a failure in which the round slipped to the left of the bolt against the receiver which necessitated a teardown of the action to remedy. Besides the Tapco mags, the C39v2 performed flawlessly with all other magazines. Lockup was solid, release was good, and none failed the “push-up” test. Magpul magazines seemed to lock-up and release the best out of the magazine well, a good thing being that one is provided with the rifle. I brought a ton of mags with me for testing this rifle, and was able to fire 600 rounds straight through the rifle after accuracy testing. The rifle functioned great shooting steel targets, running a “jungle lane”, and clearing a shoot house.
I only had one stoppage at round 445, a failure to eject while bump-firing using a Zastava magazine and the Red Army Standard ammunition. I did need to let the rifle cool off, as 600 rounds in, the handguards started to smolder. without cleaning the barrel, I fired one last magazine through the rifle for accuracy. I was able to hit a mini-popper at 100 yards, clear all seven 3″ targets on a silhouette at 125 yards, hit the “t-box” target at 150 yards, and hit the 500-yard plate. The Green Mountain barrel held up extremely well to prolonged high-volume shooting. I fired a further 200 rounds through the rifle the next day with zero malfunctions. With only one FTE in over 800 rounds with zero cleaning or re-lubrication of the action, I’d say this rifle is extremely reliable.
A Note on Durability:
I would be remiss if I did not address durability concerns with early models of the C39v2. Users were reporting mushrooming, peening, and excessive wear on the bolt tail, bolt carrier tail, bolt face, and lugs. I witnessed none of these symptoms at any point during testing. I can only conclude that Century has resolved this issue through a better heat treat of its US-manufactured bolts and carriers. That being said, if one does run into this issue, relatively low cost Polish milled receiver bolts will function properly in the C39/C39v2 receivers.
The Century C39v2 is an excellent, affordable, 100% US made AK-47. This rifle is accurate, reliable, with premium features and zero worry for US customers about 922r compliance. It represents a serious step up in quality for CAI. If one prefers MagPul furniture over wood, there are models available with either MOE AK or Zhukov-S furniture fitted from the factory. SBR and pistol versions are available as well. Objectively, I have found nothing significant to fault with this rifle; it was accurate, 99.99% reliable and outperformed my Centurion 39 in all categories. Subjectively, I was so impressed by its quality that I elected to purchase it! With the supply of well-made AK’s in the United States currently dwindling from overseas, now is a great time for this rifle to be on the market. If you are looking for a well-made milled receiver AK, I highly recommend the C39v2.
- 100% US-made (a “pro” for those of us who live in the USA)
- Reasonably Priced
- Premium features from the factory
- Excellent RAK-1 trigger
- Smallish pistol grip on the RI2398-N model
- Older models had some bolt/carrier wear issues
Thanks to Aaron Hugston Shooting School for range time, targets and logistical support!