AK Fever: Century Arms C39V2 Zhukov

By Troy

The first Kalashnikov clone I shot was an imported, Chinese MAK-90 which belonged to a friend. I was shocked by the low recoil and by how accurate I was with it. I came down with the “AK fever.” Unfortunately for me, this is not about now I acquired my friend’s MAK-90.

The AK-47 is an iconic and easily recognizable firearm. The Kalashnikov design is the most prolific rifle platform in the world and has a dedicated following in the United States. Due to AK-47, AK-74, and all Kalashnikov clones use by tyrants, criminals, and terrorists, it has a perception by some in the U.S. as a tool for evil. However, as seen in the Matthew Bowman case, it has been used for legitimate home defense in the U.S.

Taking all this into account, I found the right medicine for my “AK fever”: the Century Arms C39V2 Zhukov. This AK-47 clone is an American-manufactured AK for the 7.62x39mm round. This model has a milled receiver made from 4140 ordnance quality steel. The 16.5 inch barrel has a 1:10 twist which is chrome moly 4150 nitride treated. The barrel has a concentric LH 14×1 metric thread and comes with a nice muzzle device.

This C39V2 came with a 30-round Magpul PMAG, extended Magpul Zhukov hand guard and a folding stock. This rifle has standard AK sights, and the ability to attach a side mount for a micro red dot. MSRP on this model is $1,084.99. I purchased mine for approximately $100 less.

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There are two things you quickly notice about the C39V2. The first is the weight. Per the Century Arms website, it weighs 8.65 lbs. The second is the high quality fit and finish. I did not see any scratches or scuff marks on the rifle.

The Magpul furniture fits nice and snug on the rifle. Aesthetically speaking, the extended handguard looks odd to me. However, this is a function-over-form gun and the extended handguard has its benefits. Most notably, the ability to place your support hand further out for greater control.

There are MLOK slots on the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions of the hand guard. The 6 o’clock slots go the length of the handguard. I placed a Magpul MFG on the 6 o’clock position of the rail. The 3 and 9 o’clock positions have 1 full slot at near the rear sight and 2 full slots towards the muzzle end of the handguard. This setup gives the user options for mounting weapon lights and sling mounts.

The folding stock fits securely in the receiver. This stock is adjustable and a QD mount. My only (minor) complaint is you have to purchase a Type 1 or Type 2 QD mounting kit to mount a sling at the end of the stock with a QD point. Other than that, this stock is amazing. It locks into place securely and tightly with no wiggle. When the stock is folded, it stays folded, but easily moves into position. As with other AK clones, the C39V2 can be fired when the stock is either folded or locked in place.

The Magpul pistol grip is nicely textured and has a storage compartment. Like all Magpul grips, it does its job. To me, one of the best compliments you can give a grip is saying you do not even notice it is there. This grip definitely earns that compliment.

The only ammunition I could find at my local gun store for this review was Tul Ammo, 162 grain FMJ steel case. It is not the most expensive ammo you will find as a box of 100 rounds cost me around $30 each. Due to the condition of the ammo boxes, which were taped together, I made an educated guess this ammo had been sitting on the shelf for some time.

Packing up my Magpul PMAGs, ammo, and Tapco sight tool, I went to my favorite outdoor range with the C39V2. I started by zeroing the rifle. The front sight is adjustable for windage and elevation. The rear sight is adjustable for distance. The Tapco sight tool was helpful for the sight adjustment.

My rifle only needed elevation adjustment. I did notice the front sight post adjusts much, much easier than an AR-15 front sight post. There is no distinguishable “click” locking the front sight in place. At first I thought the front sight post would move freely during fire, but this did not happen.

I zeroed the sights from the prone position at 50 yards, as I do any AR-15. I zero at 50 yards because that is the distance my range allows. Since my primary focus with firearms is self and home defense, 50 yards is adequate.

Since this was the first time I have zeroed an AK, it took me longer than zeroing an AR-15. I noticed two things about the C39V2. First, it wasn’t comfortable to shoot prone. There is more recoil than an AR-15. There also felt like less surface contact since the AK magazines are more curved. I think a bench rest would be more helpful to mitigate recoil.

The second thing I noticed was the trigger. This is a smooth trigger. I feels light, but not too light. I do not have a trigger pull scale, but I can say that it is smoother than my IWI X95 or a mil-spec AR trigger. I found that while shooting prone, I had to be more intentional with my trigger press in order to avoid double taps.

Once I zeroed the C39V2 I shot various drills. My targets were hostile QIT targets at distances between 25 yards and five yards. The trigger shined while shooting in a standing position with everything from single shots to rapid bursts. My Magpul PMAGs worked flawlessly. Conducting reloads was not difficult.

The magazine release is ambidextrous by design. I used various reloading methods including utilizing the fresh magazine to activate the magazine release and push out the empty. I was able to conduct save magazine reloads with little difficulty. That said, I was not as proficient as I am with an AR-15. If I were to use the C39V2 for home defense, I would need to train more.

The three negatives about the C39V2 are problems I would have with any AK: the safety, the bolt not locking back, and the sights. Most firearm safeties are on the left side of the firearm, with some being ambidextrous. Most right-handed shooters utilize their right hand thumb to manipulate the safety. Left-handed shooters have various methods depending on the firearm and safety. The AK safety is not easily set to “fire,” the down position. I found myself removing my strong hand grip (right hand for me) to manipulate the safety.

As with your standard AK platform, the bolt doesn’t lock back at all. The only ways to know your magazine is empty is to pull the trigger and hear “click” or to count the shots, which isn’t very practical.

If you’re used to AR-15 iron sights, you might struggle some with standard AK sights. At least I did. Generally speaking, I squint, not close, my support eye while firing. Doing some sight acquisition drills after the range, I discovered keeping both eyes open, the way one should, helped with sight acquisition and alignment. A red should definitely be utilized if the C39V2 is used for home defense.

Despite my struggles with the sights, the C39V2 is accurate at “minute of bad-guy” distances. The muzzle device probably aided in the rifle’s lack of muzzle rise. Shots to center mass grouped well. I made head shots relatively easily.

My final shooting drill consisted of 40 rounds at 15 yards. I rapid-fired a fully loaded, 30-round magazine center mass. I then shot 10 head shots slowly. The rapid fire grouped well, but was not fun. The recoil is noticeable when shooting that many rounds quickly. Moreover, there was a lot of smoke coming from the gas port.

The head shots were decent. Being the end of my range time with the rifle and rather hot, I didn’t expect to do well. However, the grouping was tight elevation wise, just spread out horizontally. I attribute the horizontal distance to my lack of familiarity with the sights.

I wore gloves during all strings of fire. The Magpul furniture made for very good heat shields. I did not feel any discomfort due to heat at all, even at the end during the rapid fire. I have found several AR-15’s with quad rails and modular rails to be warm to the touch, even while wearing gloves.

Disassembling the C39V2 is as simple as any other AK. Push in the rear button, pull off the top cover, remove the recoil spring, then piston and bolt carrier. Finally, flip the switch at the rear sight to remove the piston tube. Cleaning and reassembly are also quite simple. Just do everything in reverse.

I added an MLOK rail at the front of the handguard for an Inforce WML. Every home defense rifle should have a light.

The C39V2 is a solid model of a solid platform. Is it a competitor against an AR-15 of the same build quality? Yes. It is anywhere from $500 to $800 less expensive than an AR-15 of the same quality. It has some of the same benefits as a modern day AR-15, MLOK modularity being one of them.

The only thing that concerns me is finding the right defensive use ammunition. Searches at some popular firearm accessory online retailers yielded much fewer results for 7.62X39mm than 5.56NATO. The fact is, the AR-15 is the most popular rifle platform in the U.S. Ammo selection definitely reflects that fact. However, there is some Remington 7.62×39 Core-Lokt that looks promising. Add a decent suppressor and optic and you have another possibility for a home defense firearm.

comments

  1. avatar Anner says:

    Hornady 123gr SST, great deer round. DokGKR also recommends these for self defense:

    https://www.ar15.com/ammo/project/Self_Defense_Ammo_FAQ/#mozTocId299149

    Edit: to clarify, the SSTs are not on that list, but he provides some other good options.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      I’ve shot a ton of deer and pigs with that SST in my AKs over the last couple of years. In my experience, out to 200 yards, it performs phenomenally well.

      1. avatar Anner says:

        Deer out here in West Texas are pretty small. I’ve never recovered a bullet, just the occasional fragment, but the wound channel shows those SSTs seem to expand/fragment pretty well. They run reliably in a variety of x39 platforms so I’ve taken to loading them in mags for whatever pest shows up.

        On larger deer or hogs down in your area, have you ever recovered a bullet? Does the wound channel or penetration depth make for a good self defense round?

        I figure it’s worlds better than the cheap Russian FMJ or “HP” stuff, as I have no faith that those tiny HP cavities are really designed to expand.

        1. avatar Nightfocus says:

          ‘ cheap Russian ammo’ ?? Lol..its an ak. Its was designed to shoot steel rounds

          You must be new

        2. avatar Ardent says:

          That cheap Russian ‘hollow point’ ammo isn’t really HP and isn’t designed to expand. From a manufacturing standpoint, jacketing the bullet is an intensive process unless you can leave the tip off, in which case it’s faster and cheaper to produce and still basically performs like any other FMJ.

          The cavity it the nose of such ammo is too small and too shallow to really cause any expansion of the bullet. It performs and should be treated like FMJ.

  2. avatar Shire-man says:

    Unless something has drastically changed with the manufacturing of the c39 family at $1,000 all I can say is ouch. Keep a go/no-go gauge handy.

    1. avatar Nigel the expat says:

      A grand for a Century AK variant is…just no.

      I paid under a grand for my SGL21. I can’t see paying that kind of price for a Century (not a Century hater. Have an M85 NPAP, M92 and M70 all from them).

    2. avatar Lost Down South says:

      I must be a cheap bastard, because when I saw the price I spit coffee all over my monitor.

      I can’t afford stuff like that. Or maybe I should say “I don’t want to afford…”

      For $1000 total, I have built an AR pistol, carbine, and tricked out an SKS with a bullpup stock. Plus I can shoot my friend’s pretty nice AK whenever I want to.

      My range doesn’t go out past 200 yards, and at times I’m happy just to ring the 9″ gong at that distance. Minute of bad guy and hitting the target makes me happy.

      To those who can afford a $1k AK, good on you. I’ll drool on yours.

  3. avatar BehindEnemyLines says:

    The locking surfaces on these aren’t heat treated properly. Tim from Military Arms Channel and Rob Ski from AK Operators Union both found their C39V2s would close on a NO-GO gauge around 3,500 rounds and the barrels looked like sewer pipes around 5,000 rounds. For comparison, Rob Ski’s WASR-10 has over 10,000 rounds through it and is still shooting ~3MoA and has no headspace issues. Battlefield Vegas shoots several times that through their full auto WASR-10s before they start keyholing. CAI imports WASR-10s from the Cugir factory in Romania who has been making AK pattern rifles for over five decades. CAI itself has a long history of well documented quality control failures. Buy a WASR.

    It’s possible that CAI has fixed the heat treat on the C39V2, but I won’t believe it until I see evidence. So far, there have been two well documented reports and dozens of anecdotal reports of these rifles having soft receivers. Buyer beware.

  4. avatar Bayonne Bleeder says:

    Anyone have problems with the palmetto state armory model for an American made ak?

    1. avatar BehindEnemyLines says:

      The Gen1 PSAKs had issues with their rear trunnions. The Gen2s don’t have any serious problems that I’m aware of. If I had to buy an all American made AK, it would be a PSAK. I wouldn’t say they’re the equal of a former ComBloc factory AK, but they’re certainly a step up from every other U.S. made AK on the market. I’m looking forward to PSA’s 9mm and 5.56 PSAK variants.

    2. avatar doesky2 says:

      If it’s your first AK and your budget minded just buy a WASR. It’s as easy as that.

  5. avatar Tim U says:

    Almost a grand? That’s the price point for Arsenal SLRs (least it was, and I remember when they were even lower).

    Glad it works for you, but yikes I would never pay that for century.

    1. avatar doesky2 says:

      Kind of makes you wonder….

      Did the guy even take 10 seconds to type “ak47 c39” into google before he bought it?

      I was going to have pity on the AK newbie but then he had to “ggo there” and start bragging about quality. Can’t let that stand.

  6. avatar Dustin G says:

    In all reality, fairness, and honesty this is a good rifle from century. Ive had experience good and bad with centurys imports, wasrs and yugos mainly. So with that in my mind, out of the 3 c39v2’s that ive come across I liked all 3. I think the recievers were better in early serial number count. While the heat treatment process is a concern, i feel as though it is still a very reliable gun. I stress THIS MATTER GREATLY, not one single failure of cheap tula ammo. Cant say that for the wasrs and yugos. Century did its best to bring ak lovers an alternative where importing costs are saved by that amount spent on the quality of the build itself. I know some of you disagree. Not all aks are created equal, there have been some mishaps on the c39v2. The chances of getting a good one, compared to imports are way better. This is my honest opinion. I dont shoot all day every day thousands of rounds through one rifle, so the c39v2 may not be for your endless budget of rifle torture. You can only carry so much to the range anyways, why not have something to appreciate. Good review, great rifle. Congrats. The furniture is expensive from magpul. I feel there is better options out there. Magpul grips and mags are the best for these rifles. I like the shorter handguards. Thank you for your opinion of this rifle, hope you consider mine.

    1. avatar RidgeRunner says:

      “I dont shoot all day every day thousands of rounds through one rifle, ”

      Me either, and I love my Century AK.

  7. avatar J.T. says:

    Congrats. You bought a Century AK that will beat itself to death and become unsafe in a couple thousand rounds for the same price you could have gotten an Arsenal SLR-107R.

  8. avatar Arandom Dude says:

    One interesting feature of the C39 and RAS47 is the expanding bolt.

  9. avatar doesky2 says:

    There is one good thing about crappy Century ras47/c39 AKs…… they reduce demand and therefore prices on good AKs.

    So if somebody wants to blow his money on a Century AK, by all means go right ahead.

  10. avatar Greg says:

    I paid $250 for a MAK 90. Still going strong today.

    $1k no way I’m paying that.

  11. avatar TP says:

    Should have spent the same amount and gotten either a WASR-10 or N-PAP.

    1. avatar Dustin G says:

      The funny thing about all these comments is that they were coming for sure. Arsenal ,vepr this for the same price…shoulda woulda coulda ….century sucks….its hilarious. The truth is that one guy took his time to purchase a rifle and tried to give the general public an idea of what it is. Thats all. The information that is shared with the internet may not always be true. No one really listens to anyone anymore. Evèryone has there own thoughts and opinions of whats best in there life. Deal with it

  12. avatar Not an unsafe AK Operator says:

    STOP THIS MADNESS. After 250 rounds these have been know to come out of headspace, shed parts and become unsafe. Stop promoting this garbage. Do some research. For a grand you could’ve had a REALLY nice Arsenal! Stop doing this!

    1. avatar New Continental Army says:

      I’d like to see some evidence. I’ve never heard of this before, I know tons of people with century AKs. I have a 10/63 That I’ve put literally thousands of rounds through. At least 10,000. I’m not saying century makes “quality” guns, but I’ve never heard of them blowing up.

      1. avatar David Bill says:

        New Continental Army, he’s not talking at all about your Ak. Yours comes from the Cuigr factory in Romania like the WASR 10. He’s talking about Century’s home built garbage like the C39 V2 and their RAS-47. Those two belong in the same league as anything I.O. makes.

        1. avatar New Continental Army says:

          I see. Thanks.

  13. avatar Curtis H says:

    I wouldn’t pay $10 for this garbage!
    If the parts are US manufactured, it’s not an AK or any variant thereof.

  14. avatar Tim Carroll says:

    Sad.
    That’s what I paid for a Molot FM-AK47 Vepr.
    I would get a no-go gauge and check that rifle every 4-500 rounds.
    Good luck with it, be safe.
    TC

  15. avatar raptor jesus says:

    Have one. Love it. It’s the only rifle I ever want to shoot.

  16. avatar Tex Patriot says:

    Unless “Troy” is willing to sign his name to the review, how can we take it seriously? For all we know, Troy works for Century Arms?

  17. avatar truckman says:

    Yall can keep those century aks I still have My Maddi AK long barrel with thumb hole stockgot back in 95 for 200 dollors still shoots fine also have a russian SkS around a 51 year got in 94 for 140. and couple norincos also from back then around 80 each so I will leave all these new guns to yall who wants to spend all that money of course I cant say I have not spentheavy on some guns but that anouther story also if you can find it there is some russian soft point bullets in 123 &154 grain that works good on dear and hog because I use a norinco pined barrel sks with a scope for deer hunting

  18. avatar Richard says:

    Its a good rifle.

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