Century Arms S47 AKs - Russian Ingenuity/Made in USA Quality

Invented by Mikhail Kalishnikov and introduced in the former Soviet Union in 1947, the AK has a lot going for it.

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Back in February, I wrote that the AK-47 was #4 on my list of my top 5 all-time favorite rifles. Invented by Mikhail Kalishnikov and introduced in the former Soviet Union in 1947, the AK had a lot going for it then (especially the true military AK with full-auto capability) and as well as now-some 69 years later. What is remarkable is how little the design has changed, especially when compared to its Cold War competitor, the AR-15.

While admittedly I favor the AR over the AK, that's only to a point. If I could only own one semi-automatic rifle of any kind for defense of hearth, home or country, it would have to be the AK-47. Quality AK's never seem to malfunction regardless of ammunition used, or how little maintenance is performed on it. Parts never seem to break or wear out, and accuracy is adequate for an intermediate range battle rifle. It holds 30 rounds of "powerful enough" 7.62x39 or 5.45x39 ammunition to get the job done, and did I mention, it's just plain fun to shoot?

I have the federal government to thank for my high opinion of the AK these days. Back when all our AK's were made in Russia or China, they were, to put it bluntly, pretty crappy. Yes they worked, but any real workmanship that had been applied to them was not readily discernable. Then-fortunately for shooters-laws and regulations were passed that were somehow supposed to control these so-called "assault rifles". These regulations required that even though semi-automatic AK47 rifles could again be imported into the U.S., they had to contain a certain percentage of U.S. made parts. No, don't ask me what they hoped to accomplish by doing this. I do believe that it wasn't what was intended, which is always what happens when ill-advised and ill-conceived laws and regulations are passed.

U.S. companies were up to the challenge. For a while we had "hybrid" guns for sale after the required percentage of offshore parts were swapped out for U.S. parts, and the guns were declared "in compliance"-they could now be sold at the retail level. Folks started to notice that quality-especially in terms of appearance-had improved and sales were increasing. Cheap stamped receivers were out and machined receivers or high quality stamped receivers were in. As demand for these new AK hybrids increased, some sharp folks decided to upgrade their plants and started making the entire gun over here, instead of wasting time with imports and potential quality control issues. Once such company that is making 100% U.S. made AK's is Century Arms.

I have been evaluating various products from Century for a several years now, and to put it simply, their product line is great-especially their 100% U.S. made AK's (their non-USA models from Hungary, like the folding stock AK63DS rifle and Zastava PAP models are excellent too-don't discount them).

I decided to cover Century AK's because I saw several models on sale in the current Vance Outdoors flyer. After perusing the various models I decided to focus on the U.S. made Model RA S47 in 7.62x39-which is very similar to my personally owned C39, which is also on sale at Vance's for $200 more than the S47 due to enhanced features, such as a Magpul stock and furniture.

Currently on sale for $629.99, the S47 is a far cry from the Russian made AK's of the late 1980's-early 1990's.

The particular model features Maple wood stocks (a Magpul stocked version is also available on sale for $70 more), Chrome Moly 4150 Nitride treated steel barrel, a quality 1/16" inch 4140 stamped steel nitride treated receiver, side scope rail mount that offers a return to zero capability not found on traditional side mount systems, a crisp enhanced trigger group (oh yeah, Century AK triggers are nothing like the old Russian or Chinese pile of mush triggers), larger than standard T-shaped magazine catch, compatibility with AKM furniture, standard AKM open sights, bolt hold open notch on the safety selector, slant style muzzle brake, and a heat treated bolt carrier tail. It comes with one Magpul 30 round magazine but is compatible with all AK magazines.

The RA S47 is a great entry level AK 47 buy. Century Arms U.S. AK's are very smooth shooting, and all models feature enhanced buttstocks that are a great improvement over the old Russian and Chinese models-which was one of my major complaints against those guns. Accuracy is also good due to the great trigger. You should be able to hold 4 inch groups at 100 yards. The former junk stops is one of the main reasons I never bought an AK from that era. Mount a scope if you wish, or go with the quick to acquire standard open sights. I've found them to be more than adequate on my two Century Arms AK's. If you want to upscale your AK, it is easy enough to do yourself with the myriad of aftermarket accessories available, or you can buy one of the more tricked out Century Arms models available at Vance Outdoors. You won't be sorry either way, and will end up owning one of the very best AK's on the market-I know I really like mine and would stake my life on them.