Rifles > Semi-Auto

Century Arms Centurion 39 Sporter Rifle

Here’s a U.S. made, semi-auto version of the most successful 20th-century military arm—the AK-47.


Probably no other 20th-century military arm has been as successful as the AK-47, which was developed by renowned Soviet firearm designer Mikhail Kalashnikov and adopted by the Soviet Union in 1947. Simple to produce and maintain, and extremely rugged and reliable, the selective-fire AK (or Avtomat Kalashnikova) was widely supplied to Warsaw Pact and Third World nations (as well as many revolutionary movements) by the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union during the Cold War era.

Coincidentally, the rifle so often used against American forces during the past six decades utilizes the same basic operating principles as the M1 Garand. Propellant gas bled from the barrel impinges on a gas piston attached to the bolt carrier, which terminates in an angled cam track that engages a lug on the bolt head. As the bolt carrier moves to the rear, the bolt is cammed counterclockwise, turning its two locking lugs out of engagement with the receiver. With further rearward travel of the carrier and bolt, the case is extracted and ejected, the hammer is cocked, and the recoil spring is compressed. Finally, propelled by the recoil spring, the bolt and bolt carrier return forward, stripping a fresh round from the magazine, chambering the cartridge and camming the bolt back into lockup.

Introduced in January 2010, the Centurion 39 is a new semi-automatic version of the AK-47 design, and it retains all the signature AK features, such as the curved 30-round magazine, 7.62x39 mm chambering, and an oversize, right-side safety lever. Unlike other AKs sold in this country, which are usually assembled using foreign-made parts kits, the Centurion is made completely in the United States.

The Centurion 39 conveys an impression of extreme sturdiness, with robust and simple internal components, and a receiver machined from an 11-pound block of 4140 steel. Century Arms states that the rifle is also made to tighter tolerances than the original.

The Centurion, however, incorporates a number of changes to the original design. For example, its 16 1/2-inch barrel terminates in Century’s proprietary three-port Chevron Compensator. Created expressly for the Centurion, this removable unit more effectively directs propellant gas upward to reduce muzzle jump.

Also departing from the original pattern are the Centurion’s sights. On standard AK variants, windage adjustments are performed by moving the front sight. On the Centurion, the square-notch rear sight has been redesigned to allow windage changes by loosening a set screw and moving the rear sight blade laterally. Elevation is adjusted by a slider on the rear tangent sight or by rotating the red-colored front sight post.

The Centurion’s most visually distinguishing features are its polymer buttstock and two-piece polymer handguard. The buttstock has a 1-inch longer length of pull than the original wood stock—better fitting American shooters—and terminates in a ribbed, plastic buttpad. The handguard features four Picatinny rail segments spaced 90 degrees apart for the mounting of optics, lights and other accessories. Molded-in checkered panels on the lower handguard aid grip, while numerous ventilation slots in the upper handguard help cool the enclosed gas tube assembly.

Two TAPCO 30-round polymer magazines come with each rifle. Century Int’l states that the Centurion accepts standard AK accessories, including the company’s own MTL-225 Tactical Fore-end Weapon Light, which combines a 225-lumen light with a vertical fore-grip and mounts on the rifle’s bottom Picatinny rail. Disassembly follows standard AK-47 procedures, as is thoroughly explained in the rifle’s owner’s manual.

We tested the Centurion 39 with three 7.62x39 mm loads, from American Eagle, Winchester and Wolf. Aiming was by way of an EOTech holographic sight mounted on the top Picatinny rail. A Harris bipod, attached to the bottom rail, and Protektor sandbag promoted steady holding.

The rifle created a favorable first impression, with an attractive matte-black finish and no external machining marks. Our test shooter gave the Centurion high marks for ergonomics and particularly appreciated its longer buttstock.

Accuracy was typical for AK-47 rifles, with groups averaging about 2½ to 3 inches at 100 yards. In fairness, the long 30-round magazine required full extension of the bipod’s legs—not the most stable firing position—and an intermittent crosswind bedeviled our tests, as shown by the fact that every group exhibited more horizontal than vertical dispersion. Finally, the EOTech did not afford the magnification advantage of a telescopic sight. With a 4X scope, a tripod front rest and less wind, we’d expect the Centurion to produce groups closer to 2 inches.

During our test-fire session, we had no failures to feed, fire or eject. Nonetheless, reliable ejection of live cartridges was best achieved by pulling the bolt back sharply rather than slowly. As with the original AK-47, the Centurion’s bolt does not lock open after the last round in the magazine is fired.

The Chevron Compensator was highly effective in reducing muzzle jump, allowing the rifle to return to almost the same point of aim with each shot. Also, the Centurion’s 6-pound, 12-ounce, two-stage TAPCO trigger was surprisingly shootable, with a 4-pound, 8-ounce, first-stage pull that left a light second-stage break having only a small amount of creep.

All in all, we consider the Centurion 39 to be a well-thought-out and well-executed semi-automatic-only version of the venerable Avtomat Kalashnikova, with features that make it stand out in the crowded AK-47 market. With a suggested retail price of nearly $1,100, the Centurion is costlier than some of its competitors (though comparable to many higher-end AKs with milled receivers). For many Americans, however, the Centurion’s performance and “Made in U.S.A.” label will make it worth the price.

Manufacturer: Century Int’l Arms, Inc.; (800) 527-1252; www.centuryarms.com
Caliber: 7.62x39 mm
Action Type: gas-operated, semi-automatic center-fire rifle
Receiver: 4140 steel
Barrel Length: 161⁄2"
Rifling: four-groove, 1:10" RH twist
Magazine: 30-round polymer 
box magazine
Sights: front post adjustable for elevation, rear adjustable for windage and elevation
Trigger: two-stage, 6-lb., 12-oz. pull
Stock: polymer: length of pull, 14"; drop at heel, 2"; drop at comb, 111⁄16"
Overall Length: 371⁄4"
Weight: 8 lbs.
Accessories: two magazines, owner’s manual
Suggested Retail Price: $1,090

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35 Responses to Century Arms Centurion 39 Sporter Rifle

Jerry wrote:
November 21, 2014

It is not usually revealed, and it is sad, that C39 does not have chrome-plated barrel. If this technology is not available in USA, the Serbian Zastava has it, maybe the C39 manufacturer can send C39 barrels there for plating? That probably could not be done individually - barrels would become too tight, possibly catastrophically unsafe.

jim wrote:
October 02, 2014

Just bought one new in the book. Took it home, cleaned it and found a nasty flaw in the barrel. I am sure Century will fix it. But it's brand new. Quite disappointed at this time Have not shot one round. Has anyone had this issue?

Jeff wrote:
August 03, 2014

To Wayne Scott: tighten the compensator until tight, then back off until the pin aligns. It might not be perfectly tight/flush. You can get a heat resistant o-ring or a washer, if the slight looseness really bothers you. But, there's nothing wrong with your gun.

silence dogood wrote:
August 01, 2014

I just bought the decked out tactical mode l with dual charging handles...2 30-rd. Poly mags...total out of the door w a s $710...awesome!

Wayne Scott wrote:
July 29, 2014

just got my centurion 39 (R12169-N) I ran 60 rounds through it and now the compensator is loose I press in the spring loaded lock pin to tighten it and now gas vents are at 3:00 instead at 12:00 don't know what happen.Do they make a shim washer for it to line it back up ?? I did not notice any movemrnt of the front sight.which it backs up against.

Louie T wrote:
April 29, 2014

How tight is the top rail ? Anyone mount a red dot, if so, does it hold zero ? Thanks

Deuce wrote:
March 22, 2014

I shot this rifle with the red army 7.62x39 ammo. Rifle was impressive straight out of the box with steal sights only. By purchasing the larger quantity rounds, I paid only .28/rd. Gun was easy to take apart and clean. You must use ear plugs with this rifle. With the accuracy of this rifle, it's worth the money.

Tony wrote:
March 13, 2014

Darrell that poor mans AK is the SKS I know its not made usa but its the next best thing for the money.

Judochop wrote:
February 16, 2014

Picked one up at a gun show this weekend. It was new until today which has left me trouble shooting this on the internet. After about the 150th round the bolt locked shut. After a few guys pulling on it and not being able to move it I set it aside with great disappointment. I later got it open only to find nothing blocking the bolt path and nothing in the grooves. It was still clean. Upon disassembly of the C39S I found that the bolt itself froze up and locked itself at a slight cant. This is a milled receiver right? Tomorrow I'll call Century and start the process of getting it fixed. If I'd known this would've happened I would've spent the 1,100 on the Arsenal/Milled AK. Instead I spent $650 and didn't even get to enjoy it. Not a very good first impression.

whippoorwill wrote:
January 18, 2014

Picked one of these up on Gunbroker for $650. Well made weapon. The workmanship is as good as I have seen on an AK 47

macel wrote:
January 07, 2014

I would like to Apologize for my little rant.I just spoke with a Very Nice lady at Century International Arms and they are more than happy to take Care of any issues and concerns that I have.Very Good Customer Service.

Macel wrote:
December 31, 2013

Mine is a Piece of Crap,Brand New, and I In Good Conscious I could not Pawn it or Sell it OFF to nobody,Am I the only one, is it my luck that I got the ONLY one out of what ever???that is Bad,For as much Trouble as I have had out of this Weapon??? It,s Hard to Believe I Am the only one.I Will call Century after the New Years.Hopefully they will make this right.I am just Dumfounded at all of the good Reviews When My Rifle is so Blatantly on reliable.

Vince wrote:
December 31, 2012

i got mine almost 3 years ago never had feeding problems or anything I've ran almost 2000 rds through it and it started to get really dirty, i cleaned it and its working perfect again. i absolutely love this gun, i only wish there was a way to mount optics on it otherwise its flawless

MrShiggles wrote:
December 11, 2012

Awesome rifle, beat out 2 friends and an army sniper in a shooting comp while missing my front sight. 2 friends were using AR15. Even over heard the sniper say 'damn that thing is accurate' awesome rifle, built to last.

Ace in Havasu wrote:
November 12, 2012

I am looking for a replacement stock,perhaps a magpul? does anyone know where to get one or if they even make them for the sporter? thanks

Ray Zientarski wrote:
November 10, 2012

I buought one a few months ago and have shot brown bear and silver bear in it. It shoots very well. Around two inch groups at 100 yards. Five shot groups, not three shot groups! The only problem I can see is that the forfend cover is loose and moves slightly from side to side. I am going to use metal shims to stabilize it and maybe mount a red dot site, although I find the iron sights adequate for what I'm using it for. Primarily a home defense rifle and varmint control around the house. I've got a coyote problem and this little rifle should remedy that ha ha.

Danny wrote:
October 27, 2012

Great AK. Would like to mount an optic. With my first red dot, elevation would not come down far enough to sight in. I'd like to try a scope. Any recommendations would be appreciated.

Ace in Havasu wrote:
September 28, 2012

I have concerns with how hot it got after only 120 rounds? has anyone had any problems of any sort??

Gabriel wrote:
May 30, 2012

I would like to get the Centurion 39 AK 47 but my questions are: 1.I would like to put a Polymer hinged AK,Left folding stock (UAS -AKP). 2.Place a new Texas Weapon System AK Top Cover (which is a new Picatinny rail cover)with a pip site on it. 3. And third otherwise than to place a two piece/end sling on the AK other than on the stock. ((The first two items can be found on Youtube if you don't know where I got some of the ideas of these items to get)). I really would like to get this American made AK but before I go to my Local Auth. Dealer I would like to look around at the AKs I really would to get with these items to put on it.

John Heinze wrote:
January 29, 2012

I'm trying to find a replacement stock for a centurian 39. Some type of collapeable butt stock.

Bob McCammond wrote:
December 24, 2011

I would like to know if the Centurion 39 Sporter Rifle AK47 is available for purchase in the state of California. And if so, do you have a list of the dealers?

michael bush wrote:
November 21, 2011

i receive my centurion 39 sporter 0n 11/18/2011.i'm very happy with it, it's well biuld i put about 300 round in it had no problem thanks century arms and J&G SALES

Gunner wrote:
August 22, 2011

Byrd, To answer your question concerning who makes the Century 39. The various parts are all US made then assembled by Century Gunsmiths. They chose established makers of AK47 parts and used them to supply all parts. I emailed them yesterday and received an answer today.

Gunner wrote:
August 20, 2011

Century gets a bad rap because of internet forum erroneous and uninformed opinions. As a retired police officer and firearms instructor I know my guns. I write gun reviews now and have tested several Century guns with no problems. As far as getting a response from them on any questions choose tech support when you call. They can tell you who makes it right away.

Mark wrote:
May 08, 2011

Hey Ben, try cleaning your rifle after you shoot it. If you do that, it doesn't matter if you fire "corrosive ammo". Helps a little with accuracy too. After using Corrosive ammo, simply use some windex, on several cleaning patches, ( Ammonia in the windex, neutralizes the salts in that cause any problem, then run a couple patches with a good bore cleaner, and follow by lightly oiling, and run a dry patch to catch excess oil. Takes me about 7 or 8 minutes, then I put the rifle up til next time.

CavScout62 wrote:
March 09, 2011

Check out the BEST American made AK-47. It is made in Goodyear, Az and tolerances are as tight as AR-15. This rifle has become my favorite and shoots with my Armalite NM M-15 all day long. This AK is made by Lancaster. Check it out, you will not be dissapointed. Arsenal wishes thier AK's were this good

Ben wrote:
March 07, 2011

So much for chrome lining the barrel on a gun all too likely to fire corrosive ammo....

Glenn wrote:
February 14, 2011

I would suggest that any prospective buyer read Century's "warranty;" it starts the day the firearm leaves Century's facility. Google and (especially) YouTube are your friend. Read and watch, then make your own decision.

Anthone wrote:
February 08, 2011

Actually, the prices I've seen for this rifle usually hang around $850. I plan to get one. Arsenal's are great, but they only have some of the features I want. This has all of them.

Ryan wrote:
January 16, 2011

For the list price of $1090, you could EASILY purchase an original Russian built AK, imported by Arsenal of Nevada (actually, you could buy the Russian Built rifle for around the $750 mark.)

Tony wrote:
December 22, 2010

I recently bought one at a gun show for $700 (new), which is less than half the price of an AR-15 that I purchased a while back. I don't think you go wrong in buying this AK-47.

Byrd wrote:
December 10, 2010

For the same price you can get a Arsenal and know it's well made. I E-Mailed Century and asked who made the 39. As of now they haven't told me so I figure they are not too proud of the manufacturer that is contracted.

Willie wrote:
October 27, 2010

Hear, hear! Right on Darrell.

TCK wrote:
October 26, 2010

Darrel is right however once the new wears off these fad guns, the prce should drop. Computers did the same thing.

Darrell wrote:
October 25, 2010

for the retired family on a fixed income a grand is like a million, too bad their is not a American made Ak for the poor man!