An All-American AK? The 7.62x39mm Century C39V2 – Full Review.

Send to Kindle

The C39V2 from Century Arms is a U.S.-made milled receiver AK in 7.62x39mm. The variant tested featured Magpul furniture.

For more information, visit http://centuryarms.biz/proddetail.asp?prod=RI2400-N&cat=134.

To purchase a C39V2 on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=C39V2.

Back in the good ol’ day, if you were in the market for an SKS or AK rifle, your market choices were from places like China, Egypt or Yugoslavia. In the post-Cold War days, it could be from the former USSR (or a satellite state). And prices were not high. You could buy an SKS for just over $100.00, and a semi-auto AK could be yours for around $300.00 or so.

The C39V2 employs a heavy-duty milled-steel receiver. Image courtesy of manufacturer.

The C39V2 is a solid, American-made AK available right now. Image courtesy of manufacturer.

As it tends to do in the gun world, the U.S. government set out to fix a problem that did not exist, starting with the 1989 importation ban. This ban named some guns that were “bad,” and made them illegal to import. This was the source of the ubiquitous (and hated) “thumbhole” stocks for AKs and similar rifles. In addition, in the 1990s, most Chinese-made Norinco firearms and ammunition were banned under a trade relations status. That dried up a major source of affordable ComBloc gear.

As a result of the 1989 importation ban, there is the whole issue of 922(r) compliance, which specifies that you cannot build a semi-automatic gun with more than 10 imported parts from a designated list. These 20 parts are as follows:

These regulations all added up to produce a few unintended consequences. First and foremost, a plethora of U.S. companies sprang up to make parts on the “bad list.” The result was guns being made from a combination of imported and domestically made parts. However, the supply of imported parts has been drying up in recent years, with the effect of raising prices and limiting supply. To answer demand for AK-style rifles here in the United States, some manufacturers set about the difficult task of developing full domestic production of AK rifles. One of these companies is Century Arms, and they are offering their own line of Red Army stamped receiver RAS47 rifles (see our full review here: https://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/the-new-american-made-ak-the-ras47/) and milled receiver Red Army C39V2 rifles in 7.62x39mm. I recently had an opportunity to try out one of the latter for myself.

Anyone familiar with a standard AK will be right at home with the C39V2.

SPECS

  • Chambering: 7.62x39mm
  • Barrel: 16.5 inches
  • OA Length: 34.75-37.25 inches
  • Weight: 8.15 pounds
  • Stock: Magpul Zhukov-S
  • Sights: Notch rear, post front
  • Action: Long-stroke piston, semi-auto
  • Finish: Matte black
  • Capacity: 30+1
  • MSRP: $1,119.99

The Good News

The C39V2 is a 100% American-made gun with no foreign parts according to Century Arms. It comes in a range of configurations, from a basic wood-stocked model with an MSRP of $909.99 up to Magpul equipped models that go up to $1,149.99 (however, they are priced much lower than that here on GunsAmerica). The sample I received came equipped with a Magpul Zhukov-S side-folding stock, MOE AK pistol grip and Zhukov handguard. The core of the rifle is all AK, and everything that comes with it. Simple and robust. A long-stroke piston system (meaning a piston is attached directly to the bolt carrier and reciprocates with it through its full cycle) drives the system.

The heart of the C39V2 is the milled 4140 steel receiver. Note the notch cut out of the safety lever for locking back the bolt.

The V2 at the end of the name of this gun stands for “Version 2”. When I asked about this and how it differed from the original C39 (see our full review of it here: https://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/century-international-arms-c39-sporter-rifle-ammo-shortage-low-ammo-prices-low-gun-prices-100-american-made/), I found out that they changed the stock from a double tang to a single tang design to accept AKM-pattern aftermarket furniture. Then, the geometry of the bolt carrier was improved to increase reliability and durability. Also, the barrel was upgraded to 440 ordnance steel. Finally, the finish went from phosphate to nitride.

The heart of the rifle is the milled receiver, CNC machined from a block of 4140 steel. The rifle is chambered in the tried-and-true 7.62x39mm round and features a 1:10-inch rate of twist. The barrel is topped off with an LH 14×1 metric thread and has a slant brake installed. Inside the receiver is Century’s own RAK-1 fire control group (trigger, hammer and disconnector). The smooth-faced, steel trigger is encircled with a sheet metal trigger guard that sports a large, T-shaped magazine catch. The Red Army C39V2 will accept all standard AK mags, and mine came equipped with PMAG AK MOE magazines.

The left side of the milled steel receiver sports a side-mount for optics. Note the Magpul MOE AK pistol grip.

As one would expect, the safety selector is on the right-hand side, but this rifle features a bolt safety cut-out to hold the bolt open. This is a nice upgrade over the original design that allows you to lock the action open on the rifle.

The sights are of the AKM variety, with a post up front that is both shielded and adjustable. The notched rear tangent can be adjusted between 100 and 800 meters. My sample came with Century’s own Red Army AK side scope rail mount that offers return-to-zero capability, and I set it up for the Aimpoint T1/H1 series. This mates up with the included side mount scope interface mount on the rifle.

The Red Army scope mount resembles the side mount scope of the commie block original design. However, placement on the side of the receiver is where it stops. This two-piece mount is machined from 6061-T6 aluminum then anodized for protection and to match the C39V2. The upper (horizontal piece) is attached to the lower (vertical piece) with two Torx threaded fasteners. The assembled unit is attached to the milled receiver with two additional Torx threaded fasteners that tension the locking bar. This provides a rock sold fit to the 6061-T6 anodized mount that is attached to the milled receiver with three rivets. This is feels like one sold part of the receiver as opposed to the friction lock of the original design. An added benefit you can completely field-strip the rifle without removing the scope rail mount.

The rifle for testing was sent with one of Century’s own Red Army scope mounts that attaches to the side rail on the receiver. Note the notch rear and winged post front sight.

The mount itself has a strip of Picatinny rail on the top that “doglegs” over the top of the receiver for proper optic alignment. For those that are not aware, the AK has a removable top cover design that makes takedown very easy, but does not make for a solid scope mount area. The Magpul side folder on my test rifle swings to the right, so folding is not hampered by this optic mount.

The side-folding, collapsible Zhokov-S stock has four QD sling mounts, modular cheek risers, and a rubber butt-pad. This is a rock-solid stock, with four positive length adjustments. The MOE AK pistol grip has an aggressive texture and storage core, along with a unique backstrap design for proper trigger finger placement. The Zhukov forearm has an aluminum chassis for strength and heat dispersion, with an injection-molded exterior sporting eight M-LOK slots for accessory attachment.

On the Range

I took the C39V2 out to the range during a three-day class that was open to several agencies. I used my standard survey method of passing the gun around and maintaining a stock of loaded magazines for folks to shoot. The gun ate up all the abuse the guys could throw at it; magazine dumps were commonplace and did not present a single problem. The drills required a fair amount of accuracy, which was easily achieved. The sights needed to be adjusted, as the rifle shot a bit to the right and I did not have a tool to push the front sight.

The author ran the gun on the range, and it functioned without a hiccup.

The trigger was one of the most commented-on features of the gun. The RAK-1 Enhanced AK-47 Trigger Group is a single-stage trigger with the release surfaces machined, a “rounded” face hammer for smoother cycling, and a specially designed spring. The hammer and disconnector are designed to eliminate bolt carrier hang-up and trigger slap. There is minimal take-up as you begin the press, with a clean release of the hammer. The parts are made from high-quality steel and heat-treated, and Century claims they have passed a 15,000-round endurance test.

One of the author’s students brought a Chinese MAK90 (bottom) to run against the C39V2.

The author was able to wring out some sub-2-inch groups at 100 yards with the rifle—quite impressive for an AK.

After the first day, one of the students asked if he could bring his AK the next day. I told him not only was that OK, but it was encouraged! He brought in a vintage Norinco stamped-receiver MAK90 Chinese AK with a thumb-hole stock, and just like that we had something to compare the C39V2 to. The shoot-off ensued with great alacrity. Once the dust had settled, there was not even one student who chose the MAK90; the consensus was that the C39V2 won hands down. The MAK90 soldiered on, as AKs do, but its accuracy, ergonomics and versatility were just not up to the C39V2’s standards. This was not a fair comparison at all: A modern rifle vs. a 30-year-old gun. But that was the whole point; the C39V2 is not just an American-made 30-year-old gun, but rather a truly modern rifle.

After the festivities were through, the class and I spent some time evaluating the rifle. The first thing I tested was the trigger pull; it broke at just under 5 pounds, at 4 pounds 14 ounces with almost a two-stage feel due to the take-up. We next set out to evaluate the accuracy of the rifle. I had several flavors of ammunition to test, so I set up my lead sled and got at it. From 100 yards with the ammunition of choice, I shot a group of just under 2 inches using iron sights.

The Bottom Line

I often find that I am forced to confess something by the end of these reviews, and now is one of those times. These confessions are not given to clear my conscience, but rather to let you know how different a particular gun is from what my typical judgment tells me it should be. The AK platform seems to be thought of as either the greatest rifle platform of all time, or a junk gun, with little in-between. I have always held the view that the gun had merit, but it never tripped my trigger. I never questioned its famed durability, but versatility has always been lacking, and the aesthetics akin to a Soviet-era ZAZ-966 car do it no favors.

the C39V2 proved to be a real champ on the range for the author.

The Red Army C39V2 has changed all that; this is a modern gun that offers options for lights, optics, and a pain-free shooting experience for the human holding it. Accuracy has been improved, and reliability has been maintained. To top it all off, this package can be purchased without funding a system that does not have our best interests at heart. This is truly an American gun, for Americans.

For more information, visit http://centuryarms.biz/proddetail.asp?prod=RI2400-N&cat=134.

To purchase a C39V2 on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=C39V2.

The Zhukov-S stock folds along the right side of the receiver and does not interfere with the scope mount.

{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Mookie March 21, 2017, 7:15 pm

    Paid $855 for mine out the door during the pre-election rush. Ordered with walnut furniture which is of very nice quality. I thought it was worth the extra money being a milled receiver. Groups are about 2 inches @ 50 using red army standard ammo with iron sight and old eyes. Never thought I’d see the day when you could buy an AR cheaper than a standard AK.

  • ES March 21, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Milled receiver is what I am looking for when it comes to AK, just personal preference. If you go to https://www.atlanticfirearms.com/ you can see some prices on milled receiver AKs. If I committed a faux-pas by including the URL address it was not done on purpose, please remove if this is against the rules established by GUNSAMERICA.

  • RickyV March 21, 2017, 12:24 am

    I picked up a C39V2 through Sportsman’s Guide during one of their club double discount deals and put it on their buyers club 4 month payment plan. The barrel Century Arms is using for the C39V2 is a Green Mountain Rifle Barrel company’s barrel and it’s pretty accurate for an AK. It came with the Magpul furniture and so far it eats everything I feed it. I like the Magpul furniture on it and will probably keep it on the rifle. Picked it up for hog hunting here in Texas. The trigger is pretty nice and I haven’t had any problems with the rifle so far. I had to do a little modifying to the Tapco smooth side mags to fit but that’s no big deal. I usually use better mags when I go hunting. I really wish they put a bayonet lug on it and for the price of the rifle, included the optic mount with the rifle. The front sight post that came with the rifle was not cut flat and I had to take a small file to the center of the rear sight and refinish it which I wasn’t too happy with. I called Century Arms and complained to them about that because you think they would have better QC since the rifle isn’t cheap. I swapped out the fsp that came with it for a KNS Precision AK/SKS fsp and put some Glow-On super phosphorescent paint on the fsp, dimpled the rear sight and filled the dimples with the paint. Works fine for hunting hogs at night under the SHL Exterminator II feeder light and a lot cheaper than buying tritium sights. I have only had the rifle for 6 months but I do get out to the range a lot with it and I am glad that I decided to give Century Arms a chance since the rifle got good reviews online. Overall it was worth the money.

  • Kevin G, March 20, 2017, 10:02 pm

    Kalashnikov experimented with milled receivers back when the rifle was first made and it was found to be too heavy. This rifle weighs in at least two pounds heavier than a stamped steel version.

  • ES March 20, 2017, 4:11 pm

    I’ve heard the same disheartening rumor control concerning Century. I would be very leery throwing down that kind of cash for something Century makes but with a milled receiver and the trigger assembly… maybe they’ve turned their act around for the better.

    • USNVET March 21, 2017, 7:57 am

      I own a SKS and a Saiga for well over 30 years.
      Only once did the SKS jam when it was new and it was an easy fix with a file
      They are both accurate, very dependable and work no matter how mistreated they are.

      The 7.62 x39 Ammo seller or Normandy is cheap and works great

      For a shot gun I only rely on my Bernilli 12 M-1 and side arm Sig 22 6 (9MM)

  • Robert March 20, 2017, 2:26 pm

    Nice rifle. Great review.. Nice to see a good review from someone besides “Crybaby Clay”..

    • Smitty March 20, 2017, 6:26 pm

      SHUT UP

  • ToddB March 20, 2017, 9:24 am

    Problem I see is the name attached to it. Has Century gotten their act together? Century imported were usually pretty safe, it was anything Century had a hand in assembling where the problems started. We all remember Century assembled AKs with canted sights, or other serious issues. Or the CETME’s they made that often didn’t even work out of the box. Most of us see a rifle in the rack look at the side and it says ‘Century’ we put it back and move on. Few of us want to hope we will get a decent one that works and shoots straight. I know its not everything they make, the early stainless made CETMEs work fine. But thats the problem, you have to know what your looking for so not to get one of the later stamped steel guns more useful as a club. $1000 I will buy an AK made by a more reputable company.

  • Chick March 20, 2017, 8:37 am

    Sounds like Century put together an acceptable AK. The AKs (and SKS) will function if pulled through a mud hole, but had many factors that made the carbine unacceptable to many. It is my understanding that the very first AKs built, had a milled receiver, but that the cost and time to manufacture it, was too high, considering the volume thy wanted to produce. 3 things on this firearm got my attention. Accuracy, trigger and milled receiver.

  • Dave March 20, 2017, 8:09 am

    “Our best interest at heart?” Like Pants suit Queen & the ARROGANT ONE have/had “OUR” best interest at heart.

  • Army127 March 20, 2017, 7:51 am

    I have a C39V2 Magpul and it was 749.00. I see the street price range from 749-899 depending on the furniture. I also agree with the reveiwer that this is an excellent example of the AK and a quality rifle for a good price.

  • Joel Buck March 20, 2017, 7:26 am

    I have had the RAS47 with the stamped receiver for nearly 2 years now. I picked it up for $540 at a gun show, NIB. I replaced the wood furniture with Magpul variety and mounted a Regulate Systems AK rail and Primary Arms red dot. To compare it to an AR it costs the same, weight and size is close, and it takes 30 round Mags. I have both AR10s, AKs, and ARs in 556 and 300 BLK. The differences next are the reasons one would buy an AK over an AR. Cheap ammo, better reliabilty, and cheap ammo. While 556 has dropped considerably in price the 7.62 x 39 can still be had for $4/box of 20. FMJ 300 BLK is lucky to be found for less than $13/box. Nuff said.

  • G Callen Sr. March 20, 2017, 6:08 am

    Should we fit the gun to the round or the round to the gun? To me it’s always been about the round; 7.62 x39mm. My WASR does everything this rifle does. I was hoping for a much more modern take on design and function. Is the barrel chrome lined? I agree with the above comments and the author.

  • Jeff March 20, 2017, 5:59 am

    Honestly, I really have only one question and it’s a rhetorical one at that… At the MSRP of nearly $1200.00 why on earth would anyone choose to buy one of these AKs when they could spend a similar amount, or much less, and get one from Arsenal of Bulgaria? In the end, there is no way I would ever pay more than $600.00 for an AK variant unless it was made by a manufacturer with an impressive history of quality or had some other historic or collector value attached to it. I suppose one could thank Century Arms and Red Jacket for my pessimism but the logic is still pretty sound. Just buy an Arsenal and call it a day 😉

    • Remraf March 22, 2017, 4:59 pm

      Some people insist on comparing apples to frozen pizza. MSRP of a comparable milled Arsenal rifle is $1450. Actual street price of the C39V2 is about $975. Dealer cost of Arsenal is about $300 over the dealer cost of the Century. That is apples to apples.

  • Rich K. March 20, 2017, 5:01 am

    Why bother? The whole idea, at least as far as I was concerned, with buying an AK in the first place ‘back in the good old days’ was that they were CHEAP compared to a commercially manufactured AR. Nowadays, you can build a 7.62×39 AR for as much as this rifle costs, or even less, and if you build it yourself you can spread the cost out over time.

  • Mike D. March 16, 2017, 11:47 am

    Nice looking rifle- I just wish it was in the $700 range. Anybody have an idea what the real world street price will be on these?

    • Rhino March 20, 2017, 10:15 am

      Mike D they’ve been out for years, it’s a 700-800 rifle

    • Bbrown September 5, 2017, 4:29 pm

      Mike D.: A popular vendor is currently selling them for $684 (Google and ye shall find) AND Century Arms is currently offering a $100 rebate until Oct. 1, 2017. That’s a VERY nice AK for $584! 🙂

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend