by B. Gil Horman - Tuesday, February 2, 2016
While importation of some AK-based semi-automatics has been blocked by import bans and voluntary trade restraints, demand for the ubiquitous design by American shooters has not abated. These importation restrictions have inspired various manufacturers to set up shop here in the U.S. and use American-made components along with local labor forces to assemble their own domestic AK platforms.
One such company that has been working to provide its customers with 100-percent American-made AKs for a while now is Century Arms. Among these offerings is the affordably priced Red Army Standard RAS47, a name that gives a nod back to the Cold War-era Soviet Union. which made the AKs one of the most ubiquitous small arms in modern history. This version of the rifle is modeled after the original Kalashnikov design with an eye toward reliability and a fair price.
The RAS47 is a gas-operated semi-automatic rifle that employs a long-stroke gas piston system chambered for the 7.62x39 mm cartridge. This rifle's receiver, made in Georgia, Vt., is stamped from 16-gauge (1/16", 1.59 mm) 4140 sheet Steel and treated with a black nitride finish. On the right side is an enhanced safety selector with a bolt safety cut out to hold the bolt in the open positions. On the left side is a 4" long optics rail. The stamped receiver cover fits tightly into place on top of the receiver without rattling. The bolt carrier, front trunnion and gas block have the appearance of caste components instead of being machined.
The smooth-faced, steel bow trigger is part of Century's new in-house RAK-1 Enhanced Trigger Group. Although the RAK-1 is described as a single-stage trigger, the unit installed in this rifle behaves like a two-stage trigger with a definite take-up and firm resistance before breaking half way through the trigger cycle. Nevertheless, with its smooth feel and trigger pull weight of 4 lbs. 14 oz. it's definitely an improvement when compared to factory offerings. The sheet steel trigger guard supports a T-shaped magazine release lever just in front of the textured, finger groove black polymer grip.
The 16.50" barrel is constructed of black nitride treated 4150 Chrome Moly steel with 1:10" LH four land-and-groove rifling. The threaded muzzle is fitted with an AK type slant brake secured by a traditional barrel bushing block. The sights are of the typical AK variety with a shielded adjustable post in the front and a notched rear tangent calibrated for 100 to 800 meters.
The RAS47 is fitted with a solid Maple shoulder stock and handguards instead of the more common laminated components. This rifle is compatible with AKM furniture if the customer wants to trade it out for polymer or tactical upgrades. The shoulder stock is capped with a steel buttplate held in place by two screws. An integral sling mount is located on the gas block with its mate located on the underside of the shoulder stock.
The overall fit and finish of the rifle's metallic components was good and solid but just a little more attention could have been paid to the wood-to-metal unions. Century opted to build the RAS47 without a traditional bayonet lug, cleaning rod or storage compartment in the stock. Although these omissions are not historically accurate, they do keep the price down for enthusiasts who would prefer to save some cash. It's not uncommon to field strip a factory fresh semi-auto rifle and find grease, metal shavings and dirt inside. However, this rifle arrived perfectly clean without any detritus inside. At the same time, the moving parts were bone dry and in need of proper lubrication before shooting.
Having passed all its bench checks, the rifle proceeded to feed, fire and eject all of the different types of 7.62x39 mm ammunition flawlessly with no malfunctions including loads that ranged from steel case surplus to brass cased hunting loads. Test magazines included the two provided Magpul PMAG AK MOE magazines, the FAB Defense Ultimag, Promag Industries AK-A1 and Tapco Intrafuse magazines. All of the magazine brands rocked and locked in place and fed like they were supposed to. All of the controls worked properly with the smooth RAK-1 trigger proving to be a pleasure to operate.
For formal accuracy testing, paper targets were rolled out to 100 yards. Five 5-shot groups were fired for each selected load with the bench rested RAS47. The factory iron sights were supplemented with a Leupold V-RX 3-9x40 Fire Dot optic attached to the rifle’s scope rail using an AK Double-Rail Side Mount (PAAK0100A) available from Century. The best performer of the group was Wolf Performance Military Classic 124-gr. full-metal jacket steel case loads with a best single group of 1.16" and an average of 1.33". Federal American Eagle 124-gr. full-metal jacket brass case ammunition turned in an average of 1.62" followed by the Red Army Standard Elite 123-gr. full-metal jacket brass case ammunition at 1.90"
As a shooting enthusiast who appreciates the merits of the AK platform, I'm glad that gun companies are building these rifles here in the United States. The Century Arms RAS47 is a rugged, reliable entry-level AK that’s ready to go to work right out of the box at a price that won't break the bank. With a list price of $699.99, it's not hard to find this gun with actual prices closer to $600. This RAS47 ships with a one-year manufacturer's warranty.
Manufacturer: Century Arms
Model: Red Army Standard RAS47
Action: Semi-automatic rifle
Caliber: 7.62x39 mm
Receiver: Stamped 16-ga. 4140 steel, black nitride finish
Barrel: 4150 Chrome moly steel, black nitride finish
Muzzle: Slant brake
Trigger: RAK-1 Enhanced trigger group
Stocks: Maple wood furniture
Grip: Checkered black polymer
Sights: AKM Adjustable, side rail for optics
Barrel Length: 16.5"
Overall Length: 37.25"
Weight: 7.80 lbs.
Length of Pull: 12.75"
Capacity: 30+1, Accepts AK-type magazines
Twist: 1:10" LH
Rifle Grooves: 4
Accessories: 2 PMAG AK MOE magazines, owner's manual
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