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BOOK OF THE AK47

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7.6 2x3 9v

USA/CANADA $8.99

DISPLAY UNTIL 11/30/2015

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BORN IN THE

USA CENTURY’S U.S.- MADE AK PUTS THE RED IN RED, WHITE AND BLUE. BY TOM MARSHALL PHOTOS BY SE AN UTLEY


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The traditional side mount rail allows the use of larger optics and quick-detach mounts such as this one from Midwest Industries.

AK47  gunsandammo.com

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n 2014, after a series of aggressive foreign policy moves by Russian armed forces in Ukraine, the United States enacted a series of economic sanctions against the former Soviet mother-state. An undeclared and little-discussed provision of these sanctions was an embargo on all commercial arms and ammunition produced in Russia. With the literal stroke of a pen, our (not so) faithful and earnest politicians dropped an iron curtain on the domestic AK market. Much like the multiple AR panics of recent years, prices skyrocketed and the clock started ticking for fans of the “peasant’s rifle.” Luckily, American ingenuity and its free-market economy have triumphed to fill the void and helped consumers keep some of their hard-earned dollars. Century Arms has released a line of AK rifles built entirely in the USA out of 100 percent U.S.-made parts, right down to the springs and rivets. Century’s first foray into this genre was the C39, a milled-receiver variant. Now it has released a stamped version. Enter the RAS47.

R A S47 The rifle’s outward appearance is attractive for an

AK. The fit and finish on my sample was excellent. The metal is finished in black nitride, which gives a very uniform matte-black finish. The factory furniture is blonde wood that offers an aesthetically pleasing contrast, if that matters to you. Even if it doesn’t, the nitride finish offers excellent resistance to dents, dings and corrosion. Beyond that, the rifle’s looks are standard fare for an AK-pattern firearm. What you see is what you get. One of the biggest gripes about the original C39 is that its dimensions are proprietary, and thus it is not compatible with standard

AKM-pattern furniture. The RAS set out to fix this with a 1.6mm stamped receiver. The aftermarket parts I installed were hit-or-miss in terms of fitment — I’ll come back to this in a minute. The RAS features the traditional optics side rail, also lacking on its milled counterpart. For the American consumer, I think the side rail boils down to personal preference. There are a number of aftermarket optics mounts that utilize the gas tube, upper handguard or top cover. However, I see no reason not to have it, and I’m glad that the RAS has this option. The muzzle threads are standard 14x1

metric threads concentric to the bore and include a traditional AK detent. These traditional features are great for backward compatibility, but there are also a number of decidedly modern touches. The magazine release is enlarged with lobes on both sides that give it a distinctive “T” shape. It’s a little more forgiving when you start groping around forward of the triggerguard, which could be especially helpful

for AK first-timers who may be unfamiliar with the Kalash manual of arms. The safety lever also has a bolt hold-open notch. At first, this was kind of a take-itor-leave-it feature to me, but it does come in handy at ranges that require bolts locked back to swap targets or go cold. My local range has this requirement, so I ended up using the holdopen notch a fair amount. It could also help if you need to lock the bolt back

to inspect or clear one of those rare AK malfunctions. (I didn’t have any in the course of my testing.) Perhaps the best two upgrades Century has made in the RAS47 are the trigger and barrel, likely the two most important parts of any rifle. The trigger group, called the RAK-1, is a vast improvement over the stock AK trigger. Century bills this as a single-stage trigger, but, honestly, the takeup is so distinct and the break

Century’s own RAK-1 trigger group provides a smoother, lighter pull than stock AK triggers.

The safety lever includes a bolt holdopen notch, useful for chamber inspections and range safety.

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is crisp enough that it feels more like a two-stage affair. However you want to classify it, I’m a fan. It breaks cleanly, averaging 4 pounds, 9 ounces on my Lyman scale. I experienced no “slap” whatsoever. If you’ve already got an AK-pattern rifle, this trigger set is available separately. The other noteworthy addition is a 4150 barrel with a 1:10-inch twist. One of the most widely accepted AK stereotypes is its lack of accuracy. This was not the case with my test gun, as I consistently averaged 2 to 3 MOA across all loads tested. While the factory furniture is pleasing enough, it’s far from ideal. I found the metal end cap on the buttstock particularly displeasing when shooting. So, after some basic familiarization shooting with the standard wood, I set out to accessorize the RAS in a more functional manner. If you have that poster in your garage that reads, “Keep that crap off my AK!” you might want to skip the next couple of paragraphs.

TAILOR- MADE The AK aftermarket has come a long way in recent years. One company well known for its AK accessories is TDI Arms. It makes high-quality polymer and metal replacement parts for AK stocks and furniture. In fact, its products are so rugged that they’ve seen continuous use among Israeli and Russian armed forces. There are a number of well-circulated photos of Russian SOF shooters

using TDI-enhanced AKs. Specifically, TDI was generous enough to loan me its LHV-47 handguard set, UPG47 modular pistol grip and stamped-receiver stock extension. The original Russian-made stamped AKM receiver is 1mm thick. The RAS, as previously stated, uses a 1.6mm receiver. Some may gripe at the departure from original Soviet blueprints. Others may argue that a thicker receiver makes a more durable rifle. My experience looked like this: The lower handguard and pistol grip required a decent amount of working-over with a hand file, but they did fit. The upper handguard fit right out of the box. The receiver extension, made of aluminum, would not seat in the back of the receiver, and my hobby-level hand file was not up to the task of modifying it. Having said that, AK tolerances tend to vary widely, and almost anybody who makes accessories for them warns that some fitting may be required. It was only a deal-breaker with the stock extension, and I was able to get around this with the help of Vltor, which also makes an AK receiver extension. This extension comes with a packet of shims of various sizes to account for the wide range of receiver dimensions. The great part about this system is that the shims are made of Kydex, so even if none of them fit, you can take the closest one and file it to size. The smallest-size shim fit without modification, and the Vltor receiver tube popped right into place.

AK47  gunsandammo.com

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The Hi-Lux 1-4X turns the AK into a highly-capable, general-purpose rifle.

This forward grip was modified by Echo93 to facilitate smooth mag changes. Also note E93’s own seat belt sling in the background. In addition to onboard storage, TDI’s UPG47 grip has interchangeable front- and backstraps.

MODDED CENTURY R A S47 T Y PE

Long stroke, gas piston, semiautomatic

C A LIBER

7.62x39

C A PACIT Y

30 rds.

BA RREL

16.5 in., 1:10 in. twist

OV ER A LL LENGTH

37.25 in.

W EIG HT

7.8 lbs.

S TOCK

Vltor IMOD

G RIP

TDI UPG47

H A N DGUA RD

TDI LHV-47

TRIGG ER

RAK-1, single stage, 4.5 lbs.

OP TIC

Hi-Lux CMR4 1-4X

SA FE T Y

Two position

MSRP

Custom project

M A N U FAC TU RER

Century Arms 800-527-1252 centuryarms.com

The enlarged, T-shaped magazine release greatly assists in rapid or lowlight reloads.

To me, the receiver dimension wound up being a nonissue. With about 30 minutes of filing and trial and error with different accessories, I was able to achieve the configuration I wanted. All’s well that ends well. However, if you purchase a RAS with your heart set on a specific combination of parts, the tight tolerances may become a hassle for you. I appreciate the fact that the top cover, buttstock, gas tube and handguards have absolutely zero rattle. The RAS47’s makeover was finished with a two-point Seat Belt Sling from Echo93 and a Magpul

RVG, also customized by E93. The Seat Belt Sling is exactly what it sounds like, a sling made of seat-belt strapping. I’ve used this sling on other test guns, and I really like it. It’s wide and smooth, capped on each end with HK-style hooks that clicked right onto the RAS’ forward sling loop, which is mounted on the gas block as opposed to the handguard retainer. The rear clip was secured to a QD sling loop I had lying around. The Vltor stock tube has a QD socket on each side, as does the IMOD stock that I got with it. The Magpul RVG you see here was chopped and finished by Echo93

as well. That slant cut on the backside allows you to mount the grip farther back on the rail while still leaving enough clearance to facilitate rock-and-lock mag changes. I think it’s a pretty clever hack, and Echo93 was cool enough to perform it on a spare grip I had in the parts bin. The SureFire G2 and GG&G mount it’s sitting in were also surplus parts I had on hand. Accuracy testing was done with a Hi-Lux CMR4AK. This is a 1-4X variable scope with an illuminated reticle. Said reticle has a horseshoe dot for close-in work with a crosshair below it that’s drop-compensated


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for the 7.62x39 round. I think this feature is a particularly good match for the RAS47, which shows great potential for accuracy at ranges beyond the AK’s normal envelope. My only gripe about the CMR is that its adjustment clicks are in MRADs, a unit of measurement that, in my opinion, is much too fine for a 1-4X optic and any round that ends in “x39.” This is the third rifle I’ve mounted the CMR to. There were no issues with durability or maintaining zero. Optical clarity is also very good. I mounted the CMR on a Midwest Industries side-rail mount. The MI mount offers a very low mounting option with a unique locking lever that can be adjusted to account for the less than exact dimensions of various AK side rails. Due to some extenuating circumstances, I was only able to group the rifle at 50 yards. I would have preferred 100, but I still walked away with a good appreciation of what the RAS47 is capable of. I tested three loads, and all shooting was done off a daypack. The first load was Century’s own Red Army Elite ammunition. This 123-grain FMJ is produced in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It turned in the most consistent groups, with my best measuring about .8 inch center-to-center. Next up was Silver Bear Match by TulAmmo. Match-grade 7.62x39 always seemed a bit of an oxymoron, but this combination of ammo and rifle made me a believer. My best three-shot group

SOME MAY GRIPE AT THE DEPARTURE FROM ORIGINAL SOVIET BLUEPRINTS.”

was 1½ inches, with one very distinct flier. If you discount the stray, I put two rounds into a half-inch at 50 yards. The last load tested was Hornady’s 123-grain SST. The SST is a great bullet offered in a number of calibers, and the 7.62 Russian loading did not disappoint. Groups fell steadily between 1½ and 2 inches. Though I have no empirical way to prove it, the SST felt distinctly softer than the other two loads. Once my accuracy testing was complete, I replaced the CMR4-AK with a legacy EOTech. I’ve heard repeated arguments that EOTechs have no place on an AK.

When using a forward-set optics mount (gas tube/ handguard) I agree. However, using the MI side mount places the optic in a more traditional position, about where you’d have it on an AR in relation to your eye. Unlike a gas-tube rail, this configuration results in zero heat transfer from the rifle to the optic, so don’t worry about your optic overheating. The only issue I had was that the EOTech sat just high enough that I could not achieve a proper cheekweld. I ended up shifting to a sort of “jawbone weld” instead. Since red dot and holographic

sights are not dependent on eye relief or head position, I was still able to put rounds quickly and accurately on target. Again I experienced no malfunctions although I admit to only running 200 to 300 rounds through the rifle (without cleaning or lubrication of any kind). This is hardly a reliability test for any AK-pattern rifle. The Red Army Standard-47 rifle is not a purist’s gun. However, with an MSRP of $659, it’s an affordable, accurate option for those who want the Kalashnikov form and function at a highly attainable price.

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