The Zastava PAP from Century Arms (bottom) is an AK-47, with some important changes that make it a much nicer gun overall. Notice the long and fat Yugo M70 sized forend, and the full length stock. These are brand new guns made from 100% new parts, made in Serbia. The PAP is only sold by Century Arms.
The internals of the PAP are just like a standard AK, but you can see that they are not crude like the Romanian and Chinese guns. The PAP is different from many Zastava guns because the receiver is straight cut, not slanted.
The furniture on the PAP is made from stained maple, not laminated plywood, and it is very pretty, as AKs go.
The front barrel and gas assembly replaces the generally unused bayonet lug with a cleaning rod and sling mount.
The dust cover release has a special button that holds it in the open position. This eliminates the frustrating method of forcing the dust cover down to close it, which is usually a wrestling match.
The AK-47 is not a target gun by any stretch of the imagination, but we managed to get it into the Lead Sled regardless. Don’t try this at home we ended up bending a magazine.
Very few people shoot high end ammo in an AK, and this Winchester white box, really just cheap range ammo, was the best we could get. Most shots fell within 5 inches or so, using a Nikon 1-4 scope mounted on the rear, and somewhat wiggly rail. You would have to put a quad rail on the front and mount a scope-type scope on it to see what the best accuracy would be, probably around 3 MOA.
The safety on the PAP is easy to engage and disengage with one finger. It throws the brass forward right, about 30 feet, right into the drainage pond. Hmmmm. Drainage pond… AK-47.
The safety is unique among factory AK-47s. Unlike most AKs that don’t have a bolt hold open, the PAP safety has a notch for the charging handle and it is easy to “show clear.”
Even though we let the water drain, shooting it produced a visible spray of water on every shot. When the gun was later taken apart the gas system showed no signs of ever having been wet, so this may have been the source of the water.
We did what you would do in real life, dunk the gun in the water to clean the muck off, then shoot it. We used the magazine and ammo that was in it for the tests.
You can see that the gun was still dripping when we shot the picture for this. Overall, the gun ran. Every several rounds the sand in the magazine would cause a failure to feed, but it was easily cleared, and the gun stayed in the fight. The accuracy quite as good, but the scope faired a lot worse than the rifle and is still fogged up today.
Electing to leave the PAP dirty and wet was a great idea, because that is what would happen in real life. Nobody carries a gun cleaning kit in their ready bag, or grabs one when the flood waters start coming through the front door. With all of the new legislation keeping the government from taking our guns in the event of natural disaster, it could be a week or more before the gun is no longer a requirement. Almost all of the sand and much fell out of the PAP when we shot it, and though the trigger has some scratch and the bolt feels scratchy, the gun looks and works like brand new.
Century International Arms
If you could make a list of all the things wrong with the AK-47 platform, what would it be? First off, you would probably say the stock is too short, the trigger is lousy, and you never know if you bought a gun made of old, worn out parts. There are also little annoying things, like getting the dust cover back on once you take it off, and it is a pain to shoot an AK at the range because the bolt doesn’t stay open. The AK is also known for not being accurate. “It’s a spray and pray gun.” All of these things are true to some degree, and all of them have been fixed in a new Zastava PAP build of the AK-47 currently being imported by Century Arms. It is still an AK-47 of course, but we found this gun to be the absolute best of the AK bunch, and it held up to legendary AK reliability when we threw it in the pond and covered it with muck. The $700-800 street price Zastava PAP from Century is a brand new gun made from brand new parts, and is about as much gun as you are going to get in a true AK-47. In the wake of the floods of Isaac, if you are going to strap one rifle to your back, the Zastava PAP is a good option.
All that floodwater from Hurricane Isaac brought a lot of people back to the aftermath of Katrina. It makes you reconsider the AR-15 as the ideal “ready rifle.” Most ARs these days are built for the best accuracy you can get from the platform. Most of us will never shoot at anything besides targets, and everyone likes to hit what they are shooting at. Accuracy comes at a price though. Accuracy equals tighter tolerances equals less tolerance for foreign matter, and a more finicky gun. We have all seen “AR-15 Torture Test” articles, but these are generally done with high end ARs from companies with big ad budgets. The AR-15 is known to be finicky, and I’ve always questioned the veracity of such tests. Reliability in extreme conditions has always been the home of the AK-47, and few would argue that there is gun more able to withstand even the worst of what our Creator has to offer.
The ultimate question on this Cadillac of AKs comes down to cost. The Zastava PAP is an expensive AK-47 in comparison to the generally well under $500 Romanian AKs that Century also imports, and that generally work fine. There are also plenty of MAK-90 Norincos (another Century contribution) out there in the market that also work just fine. Is a high end AK-47 worth roughly the cost of a low end AR-15? Depending on where you live, and what extreme emergency you may have to face with only a rifle on your back, an AR might be fine. But if you really, honestly, feel that you need a gun that can really, honestly, fight after being slogged in water, mud, sand, whatever, then the AK-47 is the gun for you. This high end AK from Century addresses a lot of problems with the standard AK-47 design.
The PAP is made from all new parts, including the U.S. made compliance parts. That means you aren’t shooting a pieced together parts gun that was disassembled in another country and put back together here on a US made receiver. Everything, including the barrel and every last little spring and pin, is new. The stained maple stock is longer than a standard AK stock, with a 13 1/2 inch length of pull similar to most deer and sniper rifles. Zastava made the famous Yugo M70, and these rifles have forends the same size. It is bigger and beefier than a standard AK and requires different sized furniture if you plan to upgrade the gun with a quad-rail. The PAP is also called the M70, to be clear that the UTG and other quad rails made for the Yugo M70 also fit this gun. Century also has a polymer thumbhole stock version of the PAP as well, including a low-cap version for New York state, but it also has a wooden forend. For heat resistance, most people prefer the traditional wooden forend. The alternative is a quad-rail with a front grip.
The Picatinny rail on the dust cover is stable enough for close quarters battle optics and sights, but is not rock solid stable enough for real optics. It wiggles, which is nearly unavoidable, so if you want a genuinely stable optic to get the most accuracy out of the gun possible, you will want to buy a quad rail and forward mounted scout-type scope. There is also a nifty catch button on the dust cover clip that allows you to remove and replace the dust cover much easier than you can with a standard AK. We mounted a 1-4 Nikon .223 scope on the PAP and while we were able to hit a man sized target easily at 100 yards, the gun would probably do much better with a stable scout scope on the front. A real AK is never going to be thought of as a great long range weapon, even with optics, but we were able to get 4-5″ groups at 100 yards with good repeatability even with the dust cover mounted Nikon.
Probably the coolest feature on the gun is the safety. We have all been to the range with our AKs and had to stick a spent round of brass in the gun to “show clear.” The folks at the Zastava factory, in today’s modern Serbia, built a notch into the safety on the PAP to hold the bolt back, like a real gun. It still doesn’t have a last round hold open, but at least you can put the gun on safe with the bolt open and drop the bolt on a fresh mag, just like an AR. The safety is also not at all stiff like your standard Romanian AK. You can reach forward with one finger without releasing your hold on the pistol grip to both engage and dis-engage the safety, which is a huge tactical advantage often thought to be the biggest weak point of the standard AK.
Soooo, that brings us to “why did we throw the Cadillac of the AK-47s in the drainage pond?” The answer is simple – if you make a better AK, with tighter tolerances, where the safety doesn’t stick and the trigger actually breaks clean, do you sacrifice reliability under the worst conditions? The only way to answer this is to thrown the gun in the pond, repeatedly, which we did, then cover it with muck and step on it, underwater, which we did. And then of course we have to shoot it again, which we did. It worked pretty well, actually. Everyone loves to see what could be an urban myth proved out in person, and the no-matter-what reliability of the AK appears to be not a myth at all.
The results were surprising and real. What we found was that it isn’t like Rambo coming up out of the water shooting and the gun works perfectly. It did fire, with a spray coming out of the receiver on every shot, but the muck and sand in the magazine hung the PAP up once in a while. These were easily cleared, and then the gun continued to run. The steel cased Russian Tula ammo didn’t fail, and downrange, the shots were on target, but not grouped well. The Nikon scope didn’t fare as well as the gun. It is still cloudy. Probably should have just dunked the gun on that one. Live and learn.
As you can see from the pictures, we did let most of the water run out of the gun before firing it, which is what most people would do in a real life situation. The water did not permeate the gas system apparently, even though it was left underwater for several minutes, several times. Water may have actually gotten in there, but was blown out completely when the gun was fired. The soot inside the gas tube where the push rod goes looked to be undisturbed, however.
Once you throw your rifle in the pond (oh yea, Century will probably want us to buy this gun), you might as well just let it air dry and see what happens. This is what we did, and the results were shocking. Not one speck of rust formed anywhere on the gun, and besides a little bit of sand here and there, you would never know that gun had been dunked. The rails and Tapco trigger group will eventually be detailed with Q-Tips to get the sand particles out, but look at the picture. It doesn’t seem to be any worse for wear at all. The bolt assemblies on the PAP are chromed, which is why they didn’t pick up any surface rust, but seeing it in action isn’t like reading it in theory. If you need it to fight after you just swam away from your house, the Zastava PAP will be ready today, and tomorrow, even if you had to stay on the go and couldn’t sit down and get the gunk out.
As extreme as all of this may sound, we must all remember that these situations happen. You won’t see an AK-47 standoff between a business owner and a gang of looters after a flood. The anti-2nd Amendment media wants us all to believe that only drive by gangs and terrorists own AKs. But the reality is, this stuff happens all the time, everywhere. A regular, Romanian or Norinco AK-47 is the most affordable and reliable firepower on the market, but if your budget allows it, these Zastava PAP guns from Century might be a better, Cadillac style option. Brand new, they cost what a used, bottom of the line AR-15 costs, and while they won’t give you perfect one inch groups at the range, they are brand new, reliable, and ergonomically better than most AK-47s. It is hard to ever recommend an AK-47 to someone who plans to shoot a lot punching paper or clanging steel, but when it is you and a gang of looters, there is no better friend than a ready to rock AK-47, and the Zastava PAP from Century is the best AK-47 on the market.
Century International Arms