Review: Century Arms’ USA-Made VSKA AK47

VSKA from Century Arms is an American-made AK.

We introduced Century Arms’ new, American-made AK at SHOT Show 2019. It’s the 7.62x39mm-shooting VSKA (pronounced vis-kuh, and, even though it’s made in the USA, it sounds better with an Eastern European accent). I’ve had some time with this gun and I’ve put a few rounds through it, and I’ve carried it around a lot. I like it. Let me show you why.

American-Made

Open the box and the first thing you’ll notice about this gun is that it doesn’t look like it’s been encased in grease and sitting in a warehouse for the last 35 years in a country that doesn’t exist anymore. Nope, this is a beautiful gun, and it’s got a nice feel.

The solid American Maple stock stands out from the laminated stocks on many AKs.
The forend is also maple, and the burl is beautiful.

Now, it’s an AK, and “beautiful” may not be the first word that usually comes to mind. And it’s an AK, so don’t expect to feel the precision machining that goes into a fine bolt gun. But, it is made in America and it’s got beautiful solid American Maple stocks that are highly figured burl with a satin finish, and it’s not covered in shipping grease. The fittings are tight and all the rivets are solid and uniform. Compared with many other AKs and SKSs, this thing just looks like it’s made with the quality and consistency you’d expect from America. Century Arms is ISO 9001:2015 certified.

Everything is just a little tighter and cleaner than other AKs.

Lube It and Shoot It

There’s no grease to be cleaned off, but it also looked a little dry in the action, so I lubed it lightly before taking it to the range. I spoke with a product manager at Century Arms, and he remarked that the best thing you can do with this gun is to shoot it. He says it’ll just keep going, and there are torture tests on YouTube of others working this gun ridiculously hard with zero failures.

Here it is with the dust cover removed.

Century says that they shot 12,000 rounds through several of these guns and experienced no failures and maintained SAAMI headspace specs. If you’re not into AKs, you’d be surprised at the kind of abuse people expect their AKs to go through and still keep shooting. It’s amazing that these guns keep working after the mud, sand, ice, and all kinds of other stuff people put them through. But what’s really incredible is that the people do these things to their guns in the first place.

VSKA fits standard AK hardware, but ships with upgrades like the trigger and PMAG.

Still, the VSKA can keep up with the abuse, and it does it while maintaining a beautiful finish on the wood furniture.

Once I got a feel for the sights, the groups were not bad–that’s a 3-shot group.

I enjoyed shooting VSKA. I was pleasantly surprised to make 1″ to 2″ groups with this gun using cheap steel-cased Tula Ammo. The recoil is extremely manageable, but if you’re going to shoot a whole lot it would benefit from a little recoil pad.

It’s got a standard AKM muzzle device.

Don’t worry, the flash hider isn’t on crooked. AKs tend to rise up and the right. VSKA has the standard AK slanted flash hider that directs the muzzle blast up and to the right to help control muzzle rise, and it’s effective.

Standard AKM rear sight.
A standard AKM tool kit will adjust the sights.

The AKM iron sights were spot-on out of the box and they use the standard tools for adjustment. Century does make a mount for optics that mounts to the left side of the weapon and positions a scope over the barrel, but I’ve not tried it.

Machined S7 Steel

Besides looking good with American Maple stocks, this gun is set apart in the AK world because its high-stress parts are machined from high-quality steel. Many AKs have forged or even stamped trunions which may fail after lots of use. The trunion, bolt carrier, and feed ramp take a beating every time the weapon is fired, and Century has mitigated potential failures by machining these parts from S7 tool steel billets. S7 is rated for high-impact, high-shock applications like jackhammer tips and chisels. It maintains strength and resists deformation at both low and high temperatures. Temps over 500 degrees Fahrenheit don’t bother this stuff; I suspect you’ll damage your barrel before you overheat the trunion.

The trunnion and feed ramp are machined from S7 steel for strength amid high impacts.

S7 doesn’t have a lot of carbon and chromium, so after you’re done throwing your VSKA is mud puddles and salt baths, you should clean and lube to inhibit corrosion. The bolt is case-hardened carburized 4140 steel for reduced friction and durability, and the barrel is chrome-moly 4150 steel. It’s all coated with manganese-phosphate for a grip-able, low-sheen finish.

The bolt carrier is also S7 steel, while the bolt is case-hardened carburized 4140 steel.

The receiver is 1/16″ stamped steel. The standard grip is polymer.

It’s got the classic sling/bayonet/tool slot.

Trigger

VSKA features Century’s RAK-1 Enhanced Trigger Group. It’s a single-stage trigger with a consistent pull. Again, if you’re not an AK fanatic, you’d think it’s spongy and soft. But, firing it is actually quite nice. It is consistent and lets you keep a smooth and continuous stream of fire going downrange.

Century Arms included their RAK-1 trigger group, and it’s a pleasure to shoot.

Century put the trigger to a 15,000-round endurance test. It’s all USA-made and heat-treated for durability and doesn’t need to be polished.

Magazine

VSKA takes standard AK mags, and it ships with a 30-round Magpul PMAG, which is excellent. The mag release is between the magazine and the trigger guard, and swapping mags is smooth and easy.

VSKA ships with one 30-round Magpul PMAG.

Is VSKA right for you?

VSKA is an exceptionally well-made AK. It’s been tested hard by Century, and extra hard by many reviewers. It’s got quality steel components, a decent trigger for an AK, and good looking American Maple stocks. I had a fun time shooting it, and I think you’ll enjoy it, too. You can take comfort knowing that it was made in America and that it has a lifetime warranty — at least you know if you have trouble with it, the country it was made in will still be on the map. VSKA’s MSRP is $735.95 and you’ll find a dealer at CenturyArms.com.

Specs

  • Caliber: 7.62x39mm
  • Barrel: 16.3″ chrome-moly 4150 steel
  • Overall length: 34.6″
  • Bolt: Case-hardened carburized 4140 steel
  • Bolt carrier: S7 steel
  • Feed ramp: S7 steel
  • Front Trunion: S7 steel
  • Receiver 1/16″ stamped steel
  • Sights: Standard AKM
  • Stock: American Maple, satin finish
  • Trigger: Century Arms RAK-1
  • Finish: Manganese phosphate
  • Magazine: (1) 30-round Magpul PMAG included

About the author: Levi Sim is an avid hunter, and an increasingly avid shooter. He strives to make delicious and simple recipes from the game he kills. He makes a living as a professional photographer, writer, and photography instructor. Check out his work and he’d love to connect on Instagram: @outdoorslevi

{ 28 comments… add one }
  • J.D. Smith May 22, 2019, 10:26 pm

    I know this this is a stupid question but I’m going to ask it anyway. It will take steel mags, right? I’m sorry but an AK or AKM or whatever should have steel mags. Let’s face it, steel and wood just looks right.

    • Johnny HICKS March 28, 2020, 11:35 pm

      Yes it takes standard AK steel mags really tight with no wiggle.

  • Ron May 21, 2019, 8:15 pm

    The 7.62×39 is comparable to the 30-30 and both of these rounds fall miserably short of the 30-06 which could be considered the minimum on thick skinned and dangerous game. Personally i wouldnt feel comfortable with anything less than a 300WM for such game.

    • James January 6, 2020, 12:49 pm

      I don’t think he is suggesting this as a “hunting” rifle . Besides , many states do not allow semi-auto for hunting. Although , with an optic and decent soft point ammo , it has accuracy potential to 300 yards . My Galil does anyway….

      • Jeff January 8, 2020, 7:50 pm

        You can use 7.62×39 to hunt with in Wyoming. The round must be 2 inches and longer. Semi auto, single shot, magazine rifles are all perfectly useable on antelopes and smaller. Personally, I wouldn’t go after anything larger than a ‘lope with it. Several years ago I took a ‘lope with a Yugo SKS with hollow points. Took one shot to put it down. Easy to shoot as well.

  • bill weatherholt May 20, 2019, 10:01 pm

    How about making some AK-74s they are a pleasure to shoot maybe some AK-74 pistols

  • Bill Scudder May 20, 2019, 9:52 pm

    Good article on VSKA AK 47. BUT expensive.

  • Tom May 20, 2019, 8:42 pm

    What does it weigh??

  • Jake May 20, 2019, 3:23 pm

    I don’t know if anyone cares but this is an AKM, not an AK-47.

    • Kevin May 20, 2019, 5:43 pm

      An AKM is a modernized variant of the AK-47. Same difference.

      • Jake May 20, 2019, 10:44 pm

        The third model Kalashnikov, the AK-47 has a milled steel receiver and in some cases the barrel screws into the receiver in “normal” fashion. It has no brake or suppressor and weighs about ten pounds.
        The AKM has a stamped sheet metal receiver with a barrel pressed into the receiver. The AKM has a muzzle brake and weighs more like seven pounds.
        Many of the parts would not interchange but they do look and operate the same.

  • Bad Penguin May 20, 2019, 2:34 pm

    Why is it this article used AK-47 and AKM interchangeably? This weapon is an AKM.

  • Graybeard May 20, 2019, 12:52 pm

    Looks like a nice gun. At what distance did he achieve the 1″+ group? At 50 yards maybe so so, at 100 yards impressive.

  • kane May 20, 2019, 8:55 am

    I have a German made AK 47 .22. I’m fine with that and like the inexpensive ammo.

  • James May 20, 2019, 8:38 am

    This gun looks great and appears to be made of quality materials. Century’s previous AKs were not riveted the same as foreign AKs in that, they did not use counter sunk trunion holes and swell neck rivets. Have they corrected this for their new AKs?

  • Ken May 20, 2019, 7:56 am

    It looks good and not as horribly expensive as I was expecting. One thing though, why make everything else military spec and leave out the standard bayonet lug?

  • David W. Lomasney May 20, 2019, 7:47 am

    I am shopping. Would this rifle be acceptable for a Safari Dangerous animal hunt? What is the typical range?

    • The Millionth Counsel May 20, 2019, 5:18 pm

      Assuming that you question is real, the maximum effective range of an AK47 is 400 meters. There are several issues that could occur if you plan to use this rifle on a safari hunt. The first is where is the safari? If it is outside your country, the place may not allow the importation of this gun. Even if they do it may not be legal to use for hunting . I’m not an expert but I wouldn’t trust a 7.62 X 39 on large “dangerous” game.
      Most safari hunts have guides. Maybe it would be best to contact them and ask what they recommend.

    • Brian Onuscheck May 21, 2019, 6:01 pm

      Every country in Africa that I know of that allows dangerous game hunting requires at least a caliber of .375 H&H magnum at a MINIMUM, so no.
      The ones I’ve looked into also do not allow semiautomatic rifles.
      If dangerous game hunting is what you’re really wanting to do, look into a high quality bolt action rifle of sufficient caliber, or better yet a double rifle.

  • James JOSEPH Sims May 20, 2019, 7:45 am

    This is a beautiful weapon, with real craftsmanship. The one thing the AK-47 lacked with the wonderful appearance this weapon has. I love the lines in the wooden stock and would be proud to hand this weapon over my mantlepiece. Now what about the price?

  • Joe May 20, 2019, 7:19 am

    Does the AK fantasy ever die off ?

    • Mike V May 20, 2019, 1:34 pm

      I hope not

    • Doc Cypress May 23, 2019, 12:54 pm

      Fantasy?
      Maybe in your fantasy world the AK is irrelevant.
      Here in the real world the AK has been fighting Wars since before your daddy was born

  • Norman Mckellar May 20, 2019, 7:09 am

    Putting a picatinny rail on it at the factory would have better sense to me,also madw it more desirable.Also offer it with adjustable shoulder stock.

    • Mike V May 20, 2019, 1:38 pm

      I imagine that’s all in the works. They’re probably offering this basic plain one to show that they got the basic AK nailed. Which has been a problem in the past.

    • john kent December 28, 2019, 8:43 pm

      go buy an AR. with a cleaning kit and maintenance manual

      • Timothy Bunn January 6, 2020, 4:00 am

        I believe that an AR is a superior weapon of chambered in a larger caliber, and if it has a piston. An AK is a better weapon for a poorly trained army, or poorly supplied. For a well trained and well supported army the AR is a better design, with the single exception of the gas system. An AR10 with a hybrid gas/piston system would be ideal. Yes, there are small parts to lose, but without the gas pushing trash into the guys of the gun, that isn’t as big of a deal… A

        • James January 6, 2020, 1:00 pm

          I agree . I have both a Galil and a Spike’s AR build ( both 7.62×39). The Galil is a milled receiver tank of gun , upturned knurlled bolt handle . Soft aftermarket trigger . Polished bolt that racks smooth , like grease on grease ( NO ratchety feel ) . The AR is more accurate , but wish it was a piston , as the suppressor pushes all the dirty gasses back into the action and top 2 rds of the mag . So , yes , cleaning is a must. ( I don’t use Russian ammo , but , it’s still dirty ) . The AR is accurate to 300 , chest size grps at 350 .

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