I have always been a fan of the AK-47’s design and functionality ever since I began shooting as a kid. Today it’s one of the most widely used firearms around the globe. Its 30 caliber bullet (7.62×39) and shortened case make it idea for CQC (Close Quarter Combat). It’s sort of the cross between a 223/5.56×45 and a 308/7.62×51. In the 1970’s-1980’s firms began importing Russian and Chinese made AK variations into the United States. Most of these semi-automatic AKs were made in the same factories as their fully automatic, war-proven, brethren. Then the US legislators got involved in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and began tightening (and closing down) the importation of these guns into the US. Most recently the US Treasury Department used a Presidential Executive order last week that totally banned the importation of certain Russian made firearms. However, where some see a crisis, others see opportunity. In steps Century International Arms (CIA).
I have to be 100% honest; I’ve been historically underwhelmed with the products CIA has imported/made until recently. Many of their AK variations that they imported from Romania/Poland and other counties were not really what I would consider “battle ready.” Don’t get me wrong, for the money ($400+/- back in the day) they were good beaters and to an average shooter they could brag to their friends they owned an AK (sort of). When CIA came out with their 100% US Made AK, the “Centurion 39 Sporter,” I was intrigued. Don’t be fooled by the name, it’s an AK (don’t tell Dianne Feinstein that though). Curious to see just how good it was I approached CIA at the 2014 Shot Show. I spent some time at their booth discussing the gun with them. Now talking is great, but firing a gun speaks volumes. A few months later they sent me a CIA Centurion 39 Sporter to put through the paces.
Now I do my gun tests a little different than most. I didn’t shoot some lame Youtube video showing me breaking it down as I sit at my couch. It’s an AK people! A 9 year old could break one down. I pulled the Centurion out of the box, checked the barrel to make sure there were no obstructions from shipping, threw in a full 30 rd mag (loaded with CIA “Red Army” ammo) and let it rip. Then I proceeded to fire 3 more full 30 round mags with the Red Army ammo at a fairly rapid pace. The result; it obviously got a little warm near the handrail, but zero ammo malfunctions. I then took it apart and inspected the rifle. The machining lines were very smooth on all the metal surfaces, not rigid as on poorly manufactured AKs from overseas. The bolt and its carrier are two things I always notice on an AK. Some that I’ve seen in the past appear to have been machined by human teeth (at least that’s what it looks like). I was very impressed with the manufacturing process that went into this rifle.
My conclusion; having shot numerous Russian/Chinese made AKs, I can honestly say that this is just as good as the best Russian made AKs, or maybe even a little better. The only suggestion I had for the design team was to nitride the barrel and the other metal features for added protection and that they should provide some sort of lubricant with the gun. When I pulled it from the box I noticed it was very dry. After 120 rds I disassembled the bolt and used Slip 2000 EWL on it. I like EWL because as a weapon gets hotter, the lube penetrates deeper into the metal’s pores. The next 120 rds. cycled even smoother after the addition of a little EWL. The Red Army ammo was also very clean and well packaged. And no, it’s not corrosive ammo people! You’d be surprised how many people think newly produced ammo from Russia/Ukraine is still corrosive. A lot of the surplus ammo from 30/40 years ago was corrosive, but no new production ammo that I’ve seen is. I know with the recent ban on Russian firearms into the US that their price has skyrocketed, but if you want a great AK, just buy a Centurion 39 Sporter instead. For the money, you can’t beat it and you’ll be supporting a great US company. I plan on buying another one, or two, myself. Happy shooting.
Mr. Ags writes for Joe for America and welcomes your feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org and @blackswampradio
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