The Centurion 39 rifle starts as an eleven-pound block of 4140 steel. It is them machined out on a numerical machining center, computer-controlled and identical to each other. Once the receiver is done, it gets the other parts installed.
The barrel has a Century-designed muzzle brake on it, their V-shaped Chevron brake, to dampen felt recoil. Now, the recoil of the 7.62X39 is not all that oppressive. And at a bit over eight pounds (hey, it is a milled receiver, remember?) the round is not going to push you around. But a brake is better than just a flash hider for a lot of people. If it offends your sensibilities, then you can just swap it out for the flash hider or slant brake of your heart’s desire.
The safety, receiver cover and internal parts are all normal AK parts, and made here in the US. And that wasn’t so hard, since a lot of the internals were already being made here. You see, the incremental steps by the anti-gunners to try and control the AK importation simply made it incrementally possible to begin parts production. The trigger mechanisms are already being made, and have been for a decade. Ditto the gas piston and the furniture.
The furniture is all synthetic, black, and the forearm upper and lower have rails included in the mold that makes them. So you get black synthetic furniture, rails ready to go, and all in an all-US made AK.
Looking at it, the only parts that really took some work were the bolt and carrier, gas tube and the front sight. Pretty much everything else was already being made, including the receivers.
The Centurion 39 is a solid and basic AK-47, and as such is amenable to any level of modification and dolling-up you’d care to subject it to. As long as you keep in mind that AK dimensions and specifications wander all over the place, you’ll be able to fit just about anything you’d want to it to make it the AK you desire. Or, swap out the synthetic furniture and muzzle brake for wood and a slant brake, and have an AK that is a clone of a pre-1950 rifle.
Function? Let’s not be silly here. It is an AK, which means it shot everything I had to feed it, shot to the sights, shot as well as you’d expect surplus ammo to shoot, and it never failed.
Cost? Here you’re going to balk. At $800 or so, it is priced higher than that of the imports. However, if you are going to be serious about “Made in America” you owe yourself to take a look. And the price of the imports won’t stay down forever. One day you’ll wake up, and realize that there are no more “cheap Romy-made AKs” to be had, and if we haven’t built up an American manufacturing base for AKs, then we’re all out of everyone’s favorite blaster.
This article is an excerpt from the Gun Digest Book of The Tactical Rifle.
Recommended Tactical Rifle Resources
Gun Digest Book of The Tactical Rifle
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About the Author: Patrick Sweeney is the author of many of Gun Digest books' best-selling titles, including Gun Digest Book of the 1911, Vols. I & II; Gun Digest Big Fat Book of the .45 ACP, Gun Digest Book of the AR-15, Gun Digest Book of the AK and SKS, Gun Digest Book of the Glock and Gunsmithing: Pistols and Revolvers, among other titles. A master gunsmith, Patrick is also Handguns Editor for Guns & Ammo magazine.
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