When it comes to firearms training schools, Thunder Ranch is among the foremost in the business. For almost 30 years, this premier institution now based in Oregon has served to provide top-level instruction for a variety of gun/shooting types and the full spectrum of students. Courses are offered for everyone from individual citizens looking to protect themselves and their families, to military/law enforcement personnel who may have to shoot competently in the line of duty. Thunder Ranch‘s founder and president/director is the inimitable Clint Smith, a veritable icon in the industry.
Augmenting and informing his current status as a full-time professional firearms trainer, Clint is also a US Marine, a Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient, a former law enforcement officer and SWAT team member, and the progenitor of Heckler and Koch’s US training division, having founded the program for them in 1986. Even before he established the now-illustrious Thunder Ranch way back in 1993, Clint’s shooting and teaching curriculum vitae was deeply impressive. It’s little wonder that he and his academy have grown into legend today. Century Arms well understands the gravitas denoted by Thunder Ranch name, as they have partnered with Clint to produce an eponymous special edition of their VSKA AK-47 to his specifications, and emblazoned with the Thunder Ranch logo.
With this rifle, the Devil (Dog) is in the details – that USMC red grip serves an unconventional flourish, and an homage to Clint’s military service.Century brought one of these specialized AKs to TFB’s GunFest 2021, which we recently hosted in conjunction with TFBTV in New Orleans. Based on a previous Century release, the 7.62×39 VSKA, the Thunder Ranch iteration includes a few key features, such as a birdcage-style flash hider with 14×1 LH threads, an enhanced safety and paddle mag release, a 16.25″ Chrome-moly barrel in front of a 1.5mm stamped receiver, S7 tool steel front trunnion, a RAK-1 trigger, and distinctive USMC “blood line” red US Palm pistol grip. The first limited run was released in late 2020 with an MSRP of $1199.99, and all 1500 units sold out in under two days. The next batch should be ready in February 2021, so if you want one of these limited-run AKs, keep an eye out for forthcoming Century announcements and act fast. See you at the range!