Your Next Deer and Hog Rifle is an AK-47
Major Pandemic 11.05.13
If we look at the ballistics of the infamous Russian AK-47 7.62×39 round, we see that its energy and trajectory look just a bit better than the most famous deer cartridge ever, the 30-30. I have often heard “experts” note that no one hunts with the 7.63×39 or AK-47, but why not? After all, the original AK-47 even had a wooden stock, which (if you listen to politicians who go on about evil black stocks) should make it a “hunting rifle”, right? With better ballistics than the 300 Blackout and 30-30, why indeed would we not consider the most dependable rifle design in the world as a fine deer, hog, or scout rifle.
The problem, of course, is that the AK-47 has an image issue as the firearm of thugs, warlords, and communists. But a new 100% American made AK-47 may change your mind about what it could do for your next whitetail and hog hunt.
During the early 1990s, I decided to pass on the shower of $99 Chinese AK-47s that hit the shelves at my local dealer. I wanted an AK-47, but there were a few details, such as fit and finish, holding me back. A friend had a $99 AK and, although 100% reliable, it was a total piece of crap from a craftsmanship perspective. It felt like something made from junkyard parts. The many affordable AK-47s presented to me over the years have also lacked the quality to gain my attention. They also lacked and omitted some obvious modern refinements which could have made the AK more comfortable, easier to shoot, and accessorize as needed.
Finally, the other problem with importing an AK-47 is that you also have take care to assure that you are compliant with the magic ten imported parts of the ambiguous Title 18 Chapter 44 Section 922R code for imported firearms. Continuing my search for an American made AK-47 seemed like the better option for a gun which may be called into service as a defensive gun. Of course, US made AK-47s are not uncommon, but they typically offered little more than the cheap imports. Century Arms must have heard my thoughts, because they’ve developed an upgraded, updated, affordable, and 100% American made, quality AK-47.
Fit and Feel
AK-47s are generally known for reliability but not looks. The only beauty in the beast is that the design permits a large margin of error in manufacturing tolerances without affecting reliability. Usually this slop manifests itself in a fit often tuned by pliers. The Century Arms Centurion Sporter is a giant leap for AK owners with the most well crafted fit of any AK-47 I have yet to handle. Definitely a far cry from the garage sale parts-type fit of most AK-47s. Century Arms has made a reputation for quality AKs, and the American Centurion appears to be made at even a higher grade than their other AK-47s in the line that I have sampled. It must be the 100% US manufacturing.
The original AK-47’s typical blocky wood stocks were serviceable, but are about as ergonomic as 2x4s. The wood buttstocks were about an inch shy of fitting an average American stature. Century tackled these ergonomic issues with an very comfortable ergonomic polymer grip and 1” extended polymer buttstock length. The wood to polymer stock conversion does also drop a little weight while drastically improving handling.
With the 4140 machined ordinance steel receiver at the core of the gun, the Century Arms Centurion 39 Sporter has a much more solid feel than any of its stamped steel receiver brethren. While shooting the Centurion, it feels more solid instead of the typical shoot’n wiggle flexing that most stamped steel AK-47s suffer from. With the fit and feel, solid milled steel billet receiver, and nicely blued parts throughout, the Century Arms Centurion model feels supremely more solid and of higher quality than any other AK-47s I have shot.
The Century Arms Centurion 39 Sporter features a number of upgrades, updates, and changes to what we think of as an AK-47. For improved tactical handling, the Centurion is fitted with a shorter 16.5” barrel with a removable chevron design compensator to reduce recoil. Ergonomics are upgraded with comfortable polymer grip, 1” longer buttstock than typical, and a quad rail Picatinny forend up front. The updated polymer quad-rail forend provides easy mounting of the accessories the modern warfighter, hunter and shooter wants/needs. You have 3, 6,9, and 12 o’clock Picatinny rails for attachment of bipods, lasers, lights, red dots, and scopes – all in a very secure, stable forend.
Century Arms notes the Centurion comes with high visibility sights, but my version had a standard AK front sight pin. The front sight only handles zeroing for elevation, while the Centurion’s rear sight are fully windage and elevation adjustable up to 800 yards. This is a little different as the original AK handled windage zeroing duties up front. The Centrion’s rear sight is windage adjustable via a set screw which allows drifting of the rear sight.
Another nice touch is the inclusion of two very high quality, US Made TAPCO 30-round magazines. Generally, extra magazines like the proven polymer TAPCO mags are first on a buyer’s upgrade list after walking out of the store. Starting with two quality mags in the first place is a step in the right direction on an upgraded AK. Beyond its very prominent “Made in America” and American flag labeling, the most significant upgrade on the Centurion 30 Sporter is the billet 4140 receiver, which significantly increases the core strength and accuracy of this AK-47.
Function and Accuracy
As would be expected of even the most cheaply assembled AK-47s, this high end Century Arms Centurion 39 Sporter was perfectly reliable on any ammo feeding through the included TAPCO mags, a few standard steel magazines, and US Palm magazines. It really did not matter what I fed into the Century Arms Centurion 39 Sporter, as those gloriously famous tapered 7.62×39 shells just kept feeding and firing with perfection.
Once I was satisfied with the functioning and accuracy testing, it was time for cleaning. Field stripping was the same task and process as with any AK-47 and offered no surprises. I found all the parts factory tight (which required a little wiggling), which is opposite of the loose fitting I have found on other AK-47s.
My best groups were from the Hornady Zombie Max ammo (good stuff, funny name), which is very close to Hornady’s top grade 7.62×39 steel cased ammo. With the regular $6-a-box Herters/Tula/Wolf ammo, I saw around 4” groups at 100 yards off the rest with an un-magnified Bushnell TRS-25 red dot sight. However, with the Hornady rounds my best group was 1.5”, with most in the 2” range at 100 yards. Add in a magnified 1-4x 3Gun scope with one of the numerous aftermarket scope mounts, and you have the makings of a very deadly deer and hog gun out to 300 yards. When hunting hogs you can even use the 30 round mags.
Add up all the upgrades, great fit and finish, and the 100% American made quality, and Century Arms has delivered an excellent handling, high value AK-47 package with the features we are all wanting. Even more, it delivers in a globally proven platform of reliability that will still shoot in the worst of conditions (even after taking a spill during an improperly executed fence dismount five minutes into the hunt). The AK will always work and this one will even look good as well.
I have really enjoyed this AK-47. I’m actually proud to own it and show it off. I get a lot of “that’s the nicest AK I have ever seen” at the range. We as hunters need to start asking these great, often misunderstood firearms to join us on the hunt. It makes for a great story, a more challenging hunting experience, and definitely puts a different image on a this great rifle. Finally, a AK that looks good, feels good, shoots well, and is even American made. I think Century Arms has a winner to become another great American hunting rifle.
- Name: Century Arms Centurion 39 Sporter AK-47
- Receiver: Machined 4140 ordnance quality steel
- Rear Sight: Adjustable for both windage and elevation
- Front Sight: High visibility front sight post
- Buttstock: Longer polymer buttstock for better comfort and handling
- Forend: Picatinny rails
- Barrel Length: 16.5” with a 1:10 twist
- Overall: 37.25”
- Weight: 8.2 lbs
- Included: Two TAPCO U.S. made 30 round mags & Manual
- Model: RI1622-N
- MSRP: $1090.00