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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The Deuce said...

I have a great Polish made bayonet I would like to mount to the barrel. But with no lugs, this could be a problem. Any ideas or aftermarket parts to allow adding a bayonet to the Sporter 39? I may just mill a lug and weld it on the barrel, but that is easier said than done.

Unknown said...

On the trigger did marks d s a
What mean by d s a

Unknown said...

Where can I find a Stock and Foregrip for this rifle.
How can a Red Dot or Scope be Mounted over the Dust cover without attaching to the Dust Cover.

Unknown96 said...

Most of that is DIY. I've had to custom fit my magpul handguard, There's a side mount you can buy to get a rail to fit up and over the dust cover.