Saturday, December 31, 2011

Century Arms Centurion 39 Sporter AK-47 7.62x39 Review

Century Arms Centurion 39 Sporter AK-47 7.62x39 Review

During the early 1990s shower of $99 Chinese AK-47s I decided to pass when they hit the shelves at my local dealer.  I wanted an AK-47 but there were a few details holding me back such fit and finish. A friend had a $99 AK and although 100% reliable, it was a total piece of crap from a craftsmanship perspective and felt like something made from junkyard parts. “Fit and Finish” of 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 and easier to shoot and accessorize as needed. Then of course if you buy an imported AK-47 you also have worry to assure 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 however they typically offered little more than cheap imports.  Century Arms must have heard my thoughts and developed an upgraded, updated, affordable, and 100% American Made AK-47.

AK-47 are generally known for reliability but looks. The only beauty in the beast is that the design permits, shall we say, a large margin of error is 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 one of the most well crafted and fit AK-47 I have yet to handle.  Definitely a far cry from the garage sale parts assembled quality and 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... must be the 100% US manufacturing.

The original AK-47’s typical blocky wood stocks were serviceable but are about as ergonomic as 2x4s and the wood buttstocks were about an inch shy of fitting an average American stature. Century tackled these ergnomic 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 along 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 most stamped steel AK-47 suffer from.  With the fit and feel, solid milled steel billet receiver, and nicely blued parts throughout the Century Arms Centurion model feels much 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 up front, a quad rail picatinny forend.  The updated polymer quad-rail forend provides easy mounting, finally, of the accessories the modern war fighter 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, however my version was a standard AK front sight pin. The front sights 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 were the inclusion of two very high quality US Made TAPCO 30 rounds magazines.  Generally extra magazines like the proven polymer TAPCO mags are first on a buyers upgrade list after walking out of the store and 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 American 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. 

As would be expected of even the most cheaply assembled AK-47s, this high end Century Arms Centurion 39 Sporter was perfectly reliable any ammo feeding through the included TAPCO, and a few standard steel magazines, as well as some US Palm magazines I will talk about in a future article.  It really did not matter what I feed into the Century Arms Centurion 39 Sporter, and those gloriously famous tapered 7.62x39 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 other than I found all the parts factory tight which required a little wilggling versus the loose fitting I have found on other AK-47s.

My best groups were from the Hornady Zombie Maz ammo (good stuff, funny name) which is very close to Hornady’s top grade 7.62x39 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 a 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. The scope I was using went south, so at some point I will bolt on a new long relief scope and see the best case group the Centurion Sporter 39 can deliver and post detailed group data at that point.
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.  I have really enjoyed this AK-47 and am actually proud to own and show it off and get a lot of “that’s the nicest AK I have ever seen” at the range.  Finally a AK that looks good, feels good, shots well, and is even American made, I think Century Arms has a winner.


  • 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


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Century Arms

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Model 731303

In the world of one pound red dot sights many of us want something light, tight, durable, and simple. When you add the word affordable in the equation the field of available small and light red dots shrink further. Fortunately for us the price of quality red dot sights are coming down and from a value perspective the Bushnell TRS-25 has led the pack for a while now. The Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot sight is all of the above, an affordable sub-$100, small and light sight which provides all the the features of a full sized red dot in a waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof unit rugged enough for any application from air guns, to shotguns and everything in between.

Like all Bushnell product the fit and finish of the Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight is excellent.  At 3.7oz, it is waif-like compared to atypical full sized 12-18oz red dots, however the sight feel heavy and dense for its size.  At 2.4” in length and with a .87” internal exit pupil TRS-25 is a little larger than I had imagined from photos.  This is a good thing as it provides a large field of view will still remaining compact.
The Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight’s integrated rail based will securely attach to any Weaver or 1913 Spec Picatinny rail and in my testing returned to zero after being removed and re-mounted several times even on other guns.  Once mounted and zero’ed on your favorite handgun, rifle, shotgun or any other firearm, operation of the Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight is simple; remove the included rubber bikini lens covers, adjust the red dot to the intensity you need for your shooting situation and start shooting.

The TRS-25 mounted solidly on everything from my Gamo Airgun, to my Ruger Mark III .22LR pistol, to the forward picatinny of my Century Arms AK-47 Centurion 39 Sporter and the TRS-25 handled the shock of all guns fine without any loss of zero when returning back to its home on the Ruger Mark III pistol.  Bushnell includes with the sight, a very nice lens bikini cover, lens cloth, and a battery so you are ready for use right out of the store.  

The TRS-25 proved very user friendly with one exception. Bushnell needs to offer co-witness and bottom ⅓ riser for AR mounting as the only riser which seems to provide a true co-witness is the UTG Medium Height .83”.  A more typical .75” riser will come close but be a little low. UTG’s High Height or other 1” risers will provide a lower ⅓ co-witness. The available UTG mounts work fine, however I would like to see Bushnell offer higher quality risers options than currently available to make AR mounting simple and easy.

The dot strength dialed up high enough for bright sun light shooting and low enough for night shooting.  The Bushnell TRS-25 is powered with the same readily available CR2032 lithium battery that powers most electric optics.  Over the last four mounts of shooting, I am still on the same original battery so I would believe the 3000 hour/125 day battery life claims. My only concern is that the front glass if pretty exposed, however I did not have any issued with it becoming scratched. 
Functionally this was an awesome red dot sight with plenty versatility on a variety of firearms.  Sights can get expensive and most folks are not willing to spend hundreds on a sight especially on a .22.  Typically priced at around $80, this is one of the best sights for .22 action shooting and it has found a permanent home on my Ruger Mark III.  

In the sea of red dot sights, the TRS-25 provides shooters with an affordable widely available option in most stores for any type of firearm that tight light and durable.  An outstanding sight option for well under $100... big thumbs up to Bushnell.


  • Model 731303
  • Use Any firearm
  • Optics Multi-coated optics
  • Amber-Bright™ high contrast lens coating
  • 100% waterproof/fogproof/shockproof construction
  • Dry-nitrogen filled
  • Power CR2032 battery
  • Power / Obj Lens 1 x 25mm
  • Finish Matte
  • Length (in / mm) 2.4 / 61.8
  • Reticle 3 M.O.A. Red Dot
  • Field of View Unlimited
  • Adj Range in@100yds70"@100yrds
  • Weight (oz. / g) 3.7 / 106
  • Exit Pupil 22mm/.87”
  • Eye Relief (in / mm) Unlimited
  • Mounting Length 1.1" / 28mm
  • Model 731303
  • Click Value .5" /14mm

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper .22 Cal Air Rifle Review

Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper .22 Cal Air Rifle Review Model 611004925554

I have a long history with air rifles dating back to the age of five.  Yes, it was a very long time ago.  Thousands of pop cans, dead starlings, junk birds, crows, squirrels, rats, mice, ground squirrels, and even a few raccoons and feral/wild cats later, I have learned a few things here and there about what makes a good hunting air rifle.  Back when I was a kid they were just starting to offer quality .177 pellet guns, however most lacked the take down power for larger birds and four legged critters.  Heavier .22 caliber air rifle pellets packed the punch needed to do the job properly and humanly. I ended up with a Crossman 2200 Magnum pump .22 as my first real airgun in the late 1970s which touted up to 700 f/s with ten laborious pumps. I am sure I exceeded velocity with a few occasional extra pumps. It proved fairly accurate with my 4X scope and devastatingly effective gun when loaded with Beeman domes (the only quality pellet available to me) for the invasive critters around our acreage. It took forever to pump back up and reload; follow up shots?... “forgetaboutit”.  
What seems like light years ahead in technology we have the pinnacle of air gun technology in the Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper .22 Caliber Air Rifle.  It is actually quiet thanks to an integrated suppressor, a single cock barrel break open action for pretty quick follow up shots, utilizes modern materials to increase strength and reduce weight, is accurate, very powerful and the quality is excellent.  

There are a couple factors here.  Airguns are a little more socially acceptable if you need to take care of rodents and pests as garbage starts to accumulate during infrastructure break downs. They are also significantly quieter and less messy compared to capping a 3lb rat with you AR15 or even .22LR.. less noise equals less social headaches. By law as long as suppressors are integrated and permanently attached to an airgun they are legal, so a few manufacturers have added suppressors to airguns such as the Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper .22 Caliber Air Rifle I am reviewing here. Powerful airguns also provide you a hunting resource for small edible critters all while conserving your live ammo.  For around $75 you can pick up 5,000 quality pellets which would last a very long time in a survival situation and greatly extend your ammo supply.
Gamo has as long history of innovation as a premium airgun manufacturer and this solidly built gun is no exception. The Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper .22 Caliber Air Rifle has a nearly complete synthetic exposed exterior with the exception of the steel receiver. In this type of airgun which will be beat up, scratched, and most likely eventually painted the tactical type textured black finish is perfect. Look for a future article where I make some tweaks to this rifle including a camo paint job. Obviously the internals are steel, however for survival purposes, Gamo’s use of a lot of plastics including the polymer jacketed barrel reduces overall weight to 7.15lbs which is several pounds lighter than comparably powered rifle.  This makes lugging the air rifle along with a primary weapon less challenging.  

As is typical with most barrel break high power airguns, the Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper has a longer length at 43” which is long but manageable due to the very light weight of the gun.  Part of this additional length is the 18” barrel and integrated sound suppressor. My fit and function problems centered around the scope. It performed perfectly until about 50 rounds and started stringing shots further and further to the right with each shot.  Removing the scope and shooting a 20 shot string with the fiber optic sights delivered a great group and assured the problem was scope related. I eventually diagnosed that every time I shot, the windage knobs on the scope were turning 2-3 clicks right under recoil.  This is obviously an odd situation and is why companies offer warranties. After talking with Gamo, the scope went back and I had a replacement scope in my hands in less than a week under their one year warranty.  Duct taping the windage allowed me to complete the initial testing with the scope and after the new scope was mounted I revalidated my results. This time after hundreds of rounds I have had no issues with the new scope.
The Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper .22 Caliber air rifle integrates a number of very nice features.  Gamo lists the Silent Stalker at 975 Feet per second with PBA Platinium ammo (Gamo’s light weight alloy pellets).  With lead pellets that number will be less but still in a very powerful 800 f/s range which is a little quicker than .22LR rimfire CB ammo with about as much power.  The air rifle comes with 50 of the PBA Paltinum pellets with the airgun, however those go quick and you will definitely want to pick up a couple extra pellets tins before leaving the store.
The Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper .22 Caliber air rifle works in the same mechanical manner as a spring pistol air rifle but uses Inert Gas Technology (IGT) which compresses a gas piston instead of a spring.  This provides a number advantages.  First it is significantly quieter because there is no “twang” as the spring is released and when paired with the integrated suppressor delivers one of the quietest airguns I have shot.  IGT also provides more power, less weight, consistent 32lb cocking effort, has a longer life than a spring system, and higher accuracy due to less vibration and more consistent shot to shot power. Unlike springs systems, IGT is a memory-less power plant which can be left compressed/cocked nearly indefinitely without loss of power. Another benefit is that the IGT powered Silent Stalker Whisper is not affected by the cold, so your power and zeroing will remain the same regardless of summer or fall weather. 
The barrel mounted fully adjustable fiber optic sights are excellent and very easy to see in low light situations.  The front sight is also hooded to provide protection from bumps and hits.  As most airgun shooting is done under the 25 yard range, many may find the sights a better and lighter weight option than using the scope.
As noted earlier, I had a defective 3-9 powered scope, however the optics were clear considering the overall price of the gun and only started to distort slightly at the 9X power range.  The Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper .22 Caliber air rifle’s adjustable SAT (Smooth Action Trigger) 3.74lb two stage trigger is excellent and better than many real rifles I have.  Although I am used to thumbing my AR safety or fingering a guard mounted button safety, the manual activated Gamo trigger safety is right in front of the trigger and is quick and easy to use.
Gamo refers to their integrated suppressor as the ND52 (Noise Dampener 52% reduction) which coincidentally reduces sound levels by as much as 52%.  Suppressors/silencers do not make a gun silent, they make them quieter. Gamo trademarks the Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper air rifle as “The Most Quiet Gun” and I believe that is true.  Although you will not piss off your neighbors, they will still know you are shooting something or at least think you really have a fetish for electric staple guns.  It makes for very comfortable indoor practice shooting. The air rifle is available in .177 and .22 caliber versions, however the .22 caliber version will be quieter because regardless of pellet choice it will always shot sub-sonic. Once a bullet passes the 1200 f/s mark the bullet becomes supersonic (faster than the speed of sound).  Once this happens you get a supersonic crack even if there is no other sounds made by the gun and typically this supersonic crack is the most audible report with pellet guns.  Bottom line is the .22 version will be both quieter and more powerful for back yard shooting, hunting and survival purposes. 
Setup.  Most people will yank the gun from the box screw on the scope and start shooting, however I would suggest applying removable LockTite on the screws for the scope rings, scope mount, and rear fiber optic sight elevation adjustment.  Airguns actually have some severe recoil due to the two way recoil effect of piston type airguns and can really loosen things up without a little LockTite.

The function is simple, click the safety on, grab the end of the barrel and pull down to cock the gun, drop in a pellet and close the barrel back up.  Aim at your target, release the safety and fire, repeat until you are out of pellets... couldn’t be simpler. At this point I have shot about 1000 pellets and found the gun simple, easy, and effective to use.

On all my guns I usually start with a 2” low zero at 10 yards.  This gets me on the paper fast and greatly reduces headaches of zeroing at the 25, 50, and 100 yard marks.  For this airgun I ended up zero’ed at 25 yards which should give me a 1” low at 10 yards, zero’ed at 25 yards, and about 1” low at 75 yards depending on pellets.  I will note, you definitely need to pick one pellet and stick with it as the zeroing will change sometimes by 1”-” at 20 yards when switching pellets.

As with all guns, you need to figure out which ammo the gun likes the best and then buy all you can find of that ammo so you don’t have to continually re-zero your rifle.  I picked up a .22 caliber Gamo combo pack tins of the TS-22, Magnum, Hunter, and Master Point pellets and along with the 50 PBA Platinum pellets included with the rifle I had a good cross section for testing.  Generally I have found that match pellets produce the tightest groups followed by domed pellets and then the pointed pellets.  Here the Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper air rifle surprised me with a .75” 25-yard 10-shot group with the modified point/dome TS-22 long distance pellet. The Hunter pellets delivered 1” average groups and the pointed pellets provided 1”-1.25” average groups.   I did not have any flat match pellets on hand, however I hope those would provide even tighter groups.
As a powerful airgun, I give the Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper air rifle high marks. Sure I had an issue with the scope, but you can't hold that against a manufacturer as long as they replace it without issue - defects happen. Gamo sent out a replacement quickly so I guess I have tested their warranty as well.  The accuracy is very good and the gun delivers very good power.  It also checks all the boxes from a power, weight, accuracy, and sound perspective to make it a great survival air rifle and the IGT (Inert Gas Technology) just makes it more durable, powerful, and more accurate than spring piston driven guns.  After packing up the scope for replacement, I have had quite a bit of time to test the fiber optic sights and I am impressed and actually like it a little better because the weight drop to 5.45lbs without the scope.  Obviously accuracy is better with the scope, however I can still keep all my shots in the 1”-1.5” range with the right pellets.  Gamo has a couple models of this air rifle but this is the only one at this point witht the IGT technology. If you are looking for a great pellet gun, I can highly recommend the Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper air rifle.  It is truly “The Most Quiet Gun”

-Velocity: 975 feet per second (fps) with PBA Platinum.
-Single Shot
-Break Barrel: Single Cocking System
-Automatic Cocking Safety system
-Barrel: Fluted Polymer Jacketed Steel with ND52 technology
-Cocking Effort: 32 lbs
-Trigger: Second Stage adjustable
-Manual Safety

-Stock: Tough All Weather molded Synthetic
-Butt Plate: Ventilated rubber pad for recoil absorption
-Cheekpiece: Thin cheekpad molded on each side for both Right hand and Left hand shooters
-Checkering: Non-Slip texture design on grip and forearm

-Scope Ramp: Raised Rail
-Scope: 3-9x40 air rifle scope with rings.
- Fiber Optic Adjustable Front & Rear sights

-Weight: 7.15 lbs
-Length: 43’’
-Ammunition: Any .22 Pellet
-Caliber: .22
-Trigger Pull: 3.74 lbs
-Barrel Length: 18 in

Gamo USA

Merry Christmas from Major Pandemic

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 Rifle Review

Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 Rifle Review

One of the most resilient .22LR caliber designs has to be the AR-7 originally designed by famed M16 designer Eugene Stoner.  The interesting story is as Armalite was being formed by Lockhead and Fairchild their first actual developed and released firearm was the AR-5/MA-1.  This was a bolt action 4-shot .22 Hornet survival rifle for the US military and was the immediate bolt action precursor the AR-7.  It was an odd looking design where the barrel and action could be fully and compactly stored in the high tech stock which would float, a handy features if you were a pilot downed in water. The AR-5 and AR-7 are of the same design with the exception of the semi-auto action and .22LR caliber changes.
To that date the massive plastic stock and aluminum receiver on the AR-5 was one of the most significant uses of plastics and aluminum on any gun... it was a groundbreaking innovation like none other.  As Armalite submitted the design to the military, they realized through the development of the AR-5 that polymers, plastics, and light weight allows were the new future in firearms. That spark of innovation started by a goofy looking little rifle lead to the first AR10 prototypes a year later in 1955-1956 and then later AR15 series of rifles using new space age polymers and light weight alloys. Yes, the AR-5 and AR-7 spawned the AR15 and the plastic gun revolution. 
Meanwhile, the AR-5 was a hit and civilians were screaming for a similar handy little take down survival rifle.  Armalite responded and developed the .22 caliber semi-automatic AR-7 design in 1959 we see today. The AR-7 still is and was designed first and foremost as a ultra-light packable survival rifle with features unlike any other rifle. ArmaLite produced the AR-7 from 1959-1973 at which point Charter Arms purchased the rights and took over AR-7 manufacturing from 1973-1990.  At this point problems started for our little handy AR-7 as it was kicked around from manufacturer to manufacturer.  Most consider the Charter Arms ownership of the AR-7 brand the dark period. It was never an expensive or exceptionally reliable rifle, however it went from good quality at Armalite to cheaper manufacturing at Charter Arms and was riddled with reliability and quality issues.

As a kid, a friend of mine had a Charter Arms Pistol and it jammed every other round and provided woeful reliability. It was cool as hell though when it did work. To say Charter Arms damaged the AR-7 reputation was an understatement. The 1990-1997 Survival Arms ownership neither restored or improved the reputation and quality of the AR-7. Survival Arms did attempt to focus on just the quintessential AR-7 rifle and nixed the whole AR-7 pistol idea Charter Arms had launched.  Like the Henry Repeating Arms brand, the AR-7 was rescued by Mr. Anthony Imperato and his family owned firearms business.  Henry reworked the design to increase reliability and further update the rifle with today’s manufacturing and high tech materials.  The base of the original design exists and many older parts are still interchangeable however the rifle has undergone a fairly significant barrel and stock upgrade under Henry Repeating.

The re-risen Henry Repeating Arms, now famous for the stunning impeccably high quality Henry rifles everyone lusts after, have tackled the task of resurrecting the original idea and reliability of the ultra-light packable inexpensive AR-7 survival rifle. 

What’s the point of a $200 2.5lb gun with a plastic stock, plastic steel lined barrel with a checkered past?  The AR-7 was purpose designed as a extremely light weight compact take down survival rifle, not as heirloom rifle, a brute of durability, a showpiece, or a target gun. If you purchase the gun as one of the lightest .22 you will ever handle, a fun hunting, plinking, and survival rifle to always be in your pack, you will be pleased with the rifle and it will perform that task admirably. If you think a $200 light weight take-down gun will match the accuracy, durability, and any ammo reliability of your $700 Golden Boy or $400 Ruger 10/22, you are both missing the entire point of the rifle and a hopeless optimist.  The bare bones Henry AR-7 obviously can, but probably will not, take the place of a full-sized & full-featured rifle. It simply lacks the features and refinements a more expensive rifle provides.
Where the AR-7 exceeds is when going for a day hike in the middle of nowhere or having a rifle packed in you trunk, boat, or pack in case you get bored, scared, or hungry wherever you end up. The Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 is a far better option than lugging a 5-7lb rifle for just in case.  As some folks frown on you brandishing a rifle or pistol on hikes, on boats or other publicly populated areas, the Henry AR-7 is a more socially acceptable firearm.  The AR-7 is also unique in that it is considered legally stowed, cased and disassembled when everything is packed into the stock.  It is far easier to explain an Henry AR-7 survival rifle for “just in case”, vs why you are carrying a regular rifle. Then of course the feathery 2.5lb won’t make it feel like you added a lead ingot to your pack. Many might argue, why not pack a pistol instead.  Frankly if you are cold, lost, and staring, I can guaranteed you will be a better shot with a bare bones rifle than with a expensive pistol and some places have extra restrictions on handguns vs rifles.

The fit is a substantial step up from the the old Charter Arms and Survival Arms versions.  The Teflon coating is nicely consistent throughout and it would seem Henry took a little more care in re-creating the dies for the receiver. The newly updated Henry US Survival stock is a big step up from the old versions from a style, fit and finish perspective.  The old version was a cheap rifle, but also felt and fit together really cheaply.  Today the new Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 feels much more solid and well made considering its price and intent.
This rifle is a feathery 2.5lbs. and is without a doubt the lightest .22LR rifle I have ever shot.  Despite its durability and the chunky nature of the stock, the AR-7 feels delicate due to the weight.  We are all used to swinging around 6-8lb rifles and the AR-7 feels like a super-soaker. The balance is very good once the AR-7 is assembled and the right sided offset on the stock to receiver mounting (which allows room in the stock for the barrel) looks odd but is ergonomically fine.

The Henry U.S. AR-7 stock design carries throughout the original AR-7 intent plus a number of new updates that modernizes the rifle. The Henry US Survival AR-7 comes with two 8-shot magazines, but I would suggest picking up a few more from Henry as I did (a word of caution non-Henry Magazines may not perform well).  The AR-7 has a new more modern stock design that more securely holds the barrel, receiver, and magazines when disassembled and now holds up to three loaded magazines, two in the stock plus one left in the receiver via the new safety orange stock insert. Parts still do rattle around in there slightly, however you do still have room to stow a pocket knife and some fire starting extras under the stock pad/cover to dampen the rattle. One nit pick is that like the previous designs, the Henry AR-7 does not have a last shot bolt hold open, so expect to hear the click and no bang exercise where the 9th round should be.

The barrel is an ABS plastic steel lined barrel coated in Teflon for complete protection from the elements.  This is not a new idea in barrels, Ramline and Desert Eagle both had 22 pistols with ABS barrels and they worked phenomenally... I had the Desert Eagle model. Today steel lined polymer, carbon fiber and aluminum barrels are not prolific, but available as a barrel option and provides a huge weight reduction for a rifle design such as the AR-7. Eugene Stoner would be proud of this barrel innovation and use on the Henry AR-7.  The aluminum receiver is also coated with Teflon as well to assure complete corrosion resistance.  The barrel keys into the receiver and hand tightens firmly in place with the barrel nut easily.

The internals are made from stamped steel and... well pretty much left that way.  The trigger feel is regrettably long, heavy, and not so great which affects accuracy. The trigger is the primary reason why you would not want the AR-7 as your primary gun. After testing I began tweaking and completed a simple "polish the parts" trigger job on the AR-7 which greatly improved both the feel and accuracy.  I will do a how to Henry AR-7 Trigger job in a future article. What I do like is that the internals are so simple your could make replacement parts with a hacksaw and file if you had to - truly a survivalist rifle.

The Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle sights carry on the rugged peep sights from the previous versions and offer windage elevation via drifting the safety orange front sight and elevation via the rear peep sight.  I have mixed feelings on the front sight, the color is great, but the sight can be moved with a very hard shove of the finger to change windage.  From one perspective this would be handy in a survival situation enabling a tool-less tweak to the sights as needed, on the other it could loose zero after a hard whack on something. Most likely I will Lock-Tite the sight in place once I am happy with the zero’ing. The rear peep sight can be flipped for a small or large peep aperture, however that would require re-zeroing and the large peep would be my preference anyway.  The sights functioned great and picked up naturally by the eye as you shoulder the gun. The receiver does also feature small .22 rails for scope or red-dot mounting, but extra optics would need to find another place for storage in your pack. In a future article I will pop on optics to see how good the accuracy of the new AR-7 can be.

Assembly is straight forward. Snap off the stock pad and remove the barrel, magazines, and receiver and snap the pad back on. Screw the receiver to the stock via the attached wing-nut on the stock, key in the barrel into the receiver and tighten the threaded locking barrel collar, slip in a magazine, charge the gun by pulling out on the bolt handle, and you are ready to shoot.

The question everyone wants to know is whether Henry has finally made a reliable AR-7 so I will go into more detail here than I typically do.  The answer is that after break in you will have the reliability you are hoping for with the occasional light hammer strike.  It should be noted that I did not have a single failure to feed, stovepipe, or eject.  

UPDATE - Since the publish of this article, I have continued to have light hammer strikes and on occasion, this has caused a failure to fire. The remedy was as simple as bending the hammer spring's lower legs, which rest on the trigger pins, about 1/2" to increase tension. The result has been Ruger 10/22 level reliability firing and cycling anything I have feed the AR-7. At a recent range visit, a couple hundred rounds proved the reliability of this rifle. This is a simple fix that anyone with a screwdriver and a little patience can accomplish. Gone are the previously noted issues light hammer strikes with light holds and issues with standard velocity ammo, it feed and shoots everything well now, not just the quality ammo.

Originally I thought that un-supported holds were the culprit of light hammer strikes however as it turns out the hammer spring was a little light and can thankfully be tweaked with just pliers.

Quality hyper-velocity ammo will produce a highly reliable shooting experience. I tried the CCI Shot Shells, and as CCI states, their .22LR shotshell ammo will not cycle most semi-autos or in this case the AR-7, but from a survival perspective will still go bang and are still very handy for snakes even if they do become a hand feed option.
Historically the previous AR-7 version have produced average accuracy with most groups in the 2” range at 25 yards, however the Henry U.S. Survival Ar-7 version seems to have improved those figures.  My average 8-shot 25 yards groups produced solid 1.25” groups.  I could keep my 1.5” and 2.5”  spinner targets going pretty consistently off hand which is accuracy good enough for a survival rifle.

I really love this little Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 rifle.  It is not the fanciest, prettiest, or most accurate rifle and after a minor tweak, it consumes any .22LR ammo reliably. That said it performs the task of a dependable, packable, and light weight take-down rifle like no other rifle on the market and is plenty durable, accurate and totally reliable with the right ammo in stock state. It’s also a fun gun to pull out at the range, because EVERYONE will have questions about it. It is so incredibly light that it will definitely become a permanent part of your hiking, trunk, camping and bug out pack. 

Assuming you feed it good ammo, it could even take the place of a dedicated 22LR rifle. For around $200 this is an inexpensive, unique, fun, and handy rifle to have around which it sure to provide you with a rifle when the need arises.  Congratulations Henry I think you have broken the cycle of the AR-7 and restored the honor of the Stoner AR-7 with your updated version of Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 Survival Rifle.

  • Model Number H002B
  • Action Type Semi-automatic
  • Caliber .22 LR
  • Capacity  8 round magazine (comes with 2)
  • Length 35" assembled
  • 16.5" when stowed
  • Weight 3.5 lbs.
  • Stock ABS Plastic
  • Sights Adjustable rear, blade front
  • Finish Teflon coated receiver and coated steel barrel
  • M.S.R.P.* $275.00

Henry Repeating U.S. Survival
Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle