Warming Up to the Kalashnikov Platform, Part 1 – The CIA RAS47

RAS47_000I have to say that it has taken many, many years to convince myself that I actually needed a Kalashnikov-based long gun. I am still not convinced. It took me not quite as long to warm-up to the “Stoner” platform (The AR-15 based on the 7.62 mm AR-10 designed by Eugene Stoner, Robert Fremont, and L. James Sullivan of the Fairchild Armalite corporation). Even though I carried an M16 while in the military, the platform did not excite me then and I still don’t get a chill up my leg when I shoot mine now. I have accepted the Stoner-based platform, and a good one it is, but the Kalashnikov-platform has taken me awhile, and I am not sure that I am there quite yet.

The Mosin-Nagant 91/30 introduced me to COMBLOC firearms, and a couple of years ago I found a nice SKS rifle and that helped in introducing me to the 7.62×39 cartridge; I have warmed up to it nicely. In fact, it is one of my preferred cartridges. A second SKS rifle was purchased as a C&R (Curio and Relic) gun. Slowly, both rifles were made 922R compliant and they are both great shooters. Still, a Kalashnikov-platform long gun was not on the near horizon.

I tried to sort out what Kalashnikov-platform firearm would be a good choice. I researched and handled quite a few; Russian, Bulgarian, Romanian, and Chinese. While I would have liked to find an “all serial number matching” AK, it seemed like most that I found were a hodge-podge of parts from various places unknown. I discontinued the search after seeing what was available from importers and deciding that if a Kalashnikov-platform firearm was to be mine it would come to me in its own time.

In the meantime, I looked at and handled Kalashnikov-platform firearms from various manufacturers including the Century Arms Model 39 (7.62×39mm), InterOrdnance AKM247, I.O Inc. M214, and Palmetto State Armory PSAK-47. However, most suffered the common malady of misaligned sights, poor manufacturing, and overall poor quality. However, everybody who liked the AK-platform would bloviate about how their particular AK was the best ever. To tell you the truth, I was getting lost in all of the rhetoric. When I learned that AK-variant rifles were to be manufactured in the United States by Century International Arms, as 100% American Made products, my interest peaked slightly.

Recently, I handled the Century International Arms RAS (Red Army State) 47 at my local gun range. Century International Arms has never really had a good reputation for some of their products, and while sources of importable surplus firearms have become scarce, Century began manufacturing their own firearms. I liked the looks of the RAS47, although it was not a true replica because of the missing bayonet lug and cleaning rod. Without those items; however, the RAS47, looked more like a “sporter version” of the AK and I was alright with that. This gun was not to be a collectable; it was to be a shooter. I was impressed by the general look and feel of the rifle and some more researched ensued when I arrived home. Most reviews that I found on the RAS47 were positive and videos with it featured were impressive. I did some price comparisons on it and decided that if the range would work with me, I just might bring a RAS47 home. Let’s just say that I got it for a good price, but I probably still paid too much. However, and since the range has treated me well over the years, I don’t mind spending a few extra bucks with them. Aside from that, it seems as though firearms are not getting cheaper and waiting until the “right one” came along just might take a bigger chunk out of the firearms budget at a later date. Perhaps, it was the right time for me to decide on an AK-variant. Did I say that the Century Arms RAS47 came home with me?

THE BASICS:

R12250CA-N_SPECS
Correction to the above specification: Although my particular RAS47 was a California model, it came with two Magpul 10-round magazines and no bullet button. The range also gave me a free 30-round Magpul magazine because they were not going to let me walk out of the store with a 10-round magazine. This is Georgia, after all!

WOOD and STEEL:

RAS47_001My particular RAS47 has blonde Maple wood furniture that lends quite a contrast to the dark Nitride finish of the steel. The stock and upper hand guard seem to be of the same piece of wood while that lower hand guard has a definite change in grain and color. While it is tempting to change out the wood furniture to a more modern polymer set, I just may refinish the wood, at some point, with a nice stain that would compliment the rifle. The existing wood furniture is nicely matched to the metal with no gaps between wood and metal with the exception of a slight mismatch where the wood meets metal on the tang of the rifle; the angle where the all of the wood meets the metal could be improved upon. The wood is squared off at the edges and a mild application of very fine sandpaper, applied at a slight angle, would help blend the wood into the metal better. However, compared to a lot of the wood-to-metal mating that I have seen on other Kalashnikov-platform firearms, CIA has done a most admirable job with the RAS47.

The Nitride finish is uniform throughout the external and internals of the RAS47. The Nitride finish adds an appealing look to the firearm while providing maximum protection.

The Chrome moly 4150 nitride treated 16.5-inch barrel comes with a 1:10 twist and concentric LH 14×1 metric thread and ready for a variety of muzzle attachments. The barrel is mated to a 1/16″ stamped 4140 steel receiver. A canted muzzle break is standard and is locked into place by a captive pin, which when pressed, allows the removal of the muzzle attachment while also serving to lock the muzzle attachment in place.

One thing that impressed me was the uniformity of all of the rivets used in the receiver. There were also no depressions where the rivets meet the receiver, as seen on many stamped AK receivers. Outwardly, it seems that CIA has stepped up its quality game.

Wolf springs are used throughout the RAS47, including the RAK-1 Enhanced Trigger Group. I am not sure if the Wolf XP (Extra Power) recoil spring is used but one will be used when it comes time to change out the recoil spring.

SIGHTING SYSTEM:

One of the complaints with earlier C39 sighting systems, especially with the adjustable rear sight, is that the rear sight fell apart under fire. That was not good. CIA has upgraded the rear sight on the RAS47 to a sliding-scale rear sight similar to that found on the Mosin-Nagant and SKS rifles, among others. To elevate the sight, push in on the two side locking tabs and slide the scale forward as needed. 800 meters is the highest setting; a rather wishful thought considering the ballistics of the 7.62x39mm cartridge. The rear v-notch is a sight for sore eyes because my eyes get sore when using it. The rear sight sits forward of the receiver and is not unlike many other sights on long guns.

The front sight is fully adjustable (with the appropriate sight tool) for windage and elevation. From the factory; however, the front sight was spot for windage, but needed correction for elevation.

I think that it is important to interject some information about the SAR47 rear sight, which is also common to the AKM and SKS rear sight with minor differences.

The rear-most notch of the sight is called the “Battlefield Zero” position. When the sight is in this position, it is the same height as the “3” mark on the sliding scale. This essentially means that it is at the same height as a 300-meter zero. Sliding the rear sight to the “1” position drops the rear sight for a 100-meters. Consequently, sliding the scale to the “2” position slightly raise the rear sight and sets the rifle for a 200-meters. In battle, the soldier was to leave the rear sight in the “Battlefield Zero”, which allowed him or her to engage targets from 300-meters and less without adjusting the rear sight for each estimated distance. The soldier would simply use the necessary “Kentucky” elevation adjustment on the target to compensate for varying distances. The logic behind this was that if the soldier aimed at the midsection of the target, from close range out to 300-meters, it would result on a hit on a 16” target that was anywhere within the window of UCAP and 300-meters distance.

SAFETIES:

RAS47_Safety_002The RAS47 incorporate the ubiquitous lever safety on the right side. A right-handed operator may have difficulties reaching the lever without changing the grip on the rifle. Of course, there are aftermarket safeties on the market that alleviate this problem of reaching the safety without changing one’s grip on the gun. Being a left-handed operator, I simply use my right hand to operate the safety. The safety operates smoothly in both directions.

RAS47_BoltOpenThe safety prevents the bolt from being pulled to the rear when the hammer is down and blocks the trigger when the hammer is cocked. A cut-out in the safety lever allows the operator to lock back the bolt, which is a two-handed operation; a handy feature when the range demands an open bolt when off the firing line.

I need to interject information regarding a lawsuit against Century Arms regarding a safety issue. I am not going to go into detail as details can be read here: http://www.outdoorhub.com/news/2016/02/09/century-arms-sued-5-million-defective-ak-47-safety-levers/. The lawsuit; however, involved the Century Model 1980 chambered in 7.62x39mm and not other models that I am aware of. Regardless, the RAS47 is a safe firearm to operate as long as the operator follows safe operating practices with the firearm.

However, I will say that the RAS47 does not suffer from safety issues. While it appears that the safety lever malady included imported AK rifles that were converted from select fire to semi-automatic fire only, the internals of the safety lever on the RAS47 does not come close to the Trigger Sleeve and will not cause the hammer to fall should the safety lever be moved to a vertical position. If any ND occurs, it is the operator and not the firearm.

INTERNALS:

RAS47_006RAS47_011RAS47_007The Bolt carrier is heat treated to ensure maximum performance and life and is a phosphate treated item. The bolt is robust and ensures positive extraction of spent cartridges. The firing pin is free-floating. Both the Extractor and Firing Pin are held into place by pins and can be easily removed and installed by a competent operator with the proper tool to do so.

Bolt action is very smooth even when new. A dab of quality grease in all the right places makes the action smoother still.

Russian AKM Front Trunnion Example

Russian AKM Front Trunnion Example

The front and rear trunnions on stamped receiver AK firearms seem to be an object of consideration when it comes to wear. Front and rear trunnions are cast items, are replaceable, and are subject to the forces of recoil (rear) and chambering (front). The front trunnion is what guides and helps to rotate the bolt into place for complete lockup. The rear trunnion blocks the bolt carrier’s rearward movement while serving as a mounting point for the stock, recoil spring guide assembly, and the rear of the dust cover. What can prevent damage to the trunnions? Ensure that the recoil spring is in excellent shape and proper lubrication of metal-to-metal contact points of the front trunnion. I have no concerns with the trunnions installed on the RAS47. As with the SKS rifle, if the bolt carrier is battering the rear of the receiver, you have a serious weak recoil spring issue in most cases. I’m sure that this applies to many, if not all, semi-automatic firearms that utilize recoil springs.

The upper hand guard gas tube is ported and there is a reason for that; the AK is over-gassed. Hot gases are, of course, sent upward in the gas port of the barrel. The hot gases push against the end of the gas rod, which pushes the gas rod rearward against recoil spring pressure. Once the head of the gas rod clears the gas block, pressure is relieved by the gas ports and further movement of the bolt carrier and bolt rearward is against the recoil spring tension. The gas ports simply allow hot gases to escape from the hand guard area into the atmosphere instead of being trapped within a closed gas tube.

The bolt carrier also has lightning cuts to reduce the weight of the bolt carrier. The bolt carrier is phosphate coated, unlike many that are chrome-plated, to prevent corrosion.

TRIGGER GROUP:

The RAS47 incorporates the Century International Arms RAK-1 Enhanced Trigger Group.

  • 100% American made single stage trigger group with machined release surfaces that offers a smooth and consistent trigger pull unlike anything you will find on standard AK triggers.
  • The top profile of the hammer has been optimized to eliminate the bolt carrier hang up that occurs frequently with other hammers and provides a smoother operation without the need of polishing the hammer.
  • The trigger uses a double hook design with an innovative relief cut which allows it to be used in receivers designed to only accept single hook triggers. This gives the operator the option to have the strength and control of a double hook trigger in firearms originally designed to only accept single hook triggers.
  • The disconnector has also been optimized to eliminate trigger slap and “folding” of the engagement surface seen on many other trigger groups during high round count tests.
  • The RAK-1 Enhanced Trigger Group has been properly heat treated and hardened to minimize wear and passed a 15,000 round endurance test.
  • Each trigger group will include a Hammer, Trigger and Disconnector which count as three U.S. 922r compliant parts. The RAK-1 Enhanced Trigger Group will also include a Hammer Spring, Disconnector Spring and a Trigger Sleeve which allows the Trigger/Disconnector to be pre-assembled before dropping into the rifle.
  • The RAK-1 is a great upgrade to any AK style rifle while maintaining the traditional reliability of a stock trigger.
  • The RAK-1 trigger group fits the WASR, C39, RAS47, AK63D and many other AK rifle and pistol variants.

Read more about the trigger in RANGE TIME.

MAGAZINES AND MAGAZINE RELEASE:

The RAS47 accepts all standard AK magazines and comes with two, 30 rd. PMAG magazines in approved states. Otherwise, two 10-round magazines are furnished with the rifle. I actually like the 10-round magazines for range work when bench resting and reserve large capacity magazines for large capacity work. Ammunition for this beast may be inexpensive as compared to most, but it is still an expense and I am not one for performing magazine dumps at high rates of fire.

The magazine release lever has been extended on the RAS47 and that is welcomed by many. Magazines lock of in a positive manner and release in the same manner. Since I am a left-handed operator, my right hand works all the essential control like the safety and magazine release lever while the shooting hand maintains a constant grip on the handle.

While magazines lock up tight, there is some side-to-side play of the magazine within the magazine housing. I have read numerous mentions of how this peeves people off like there is nothing worse in the world than a loose fitting AK magazine. Considering that a slightly loose fitting magazine contributes to the overall reliability of the firearm should make them rethink their position. And, considering that most magazines for the AK are not precision devices, I think that some slack should be cut in this area considering the loose tolerances that the AK is built to, and while not adding to the accuracy tree, certainly keeps the bullets a-flying while other rifles are a-jamming due to too tight tolerances when operating in the mud, the blood, and the fear.

PERSONAL UPGRADES:

Hogue Monopgrip

Hogue Monopgrip

Prior to range time, two upgrades were made. The first was replacing the pistol grip with the Hogue Over-molded rubber grip with finger grooves. While the pistol grip that came with the RAS47 is probably adequate for most operators, it did not fill my hand the way I liked. In five minutes time, the grip was exchanged with the Hogue unit and is much more to my liking.

UTG Butt Pad For Increased LOP

UTG Butt Pad For Increased LOP

The second upgrade was the UTG AK47 Combat Butt Pad. There are two standard butt stock lengths for the AK-based firearm; short and too short. For someone like myself, who has a 6-foot wingspan, trying to get up close and personal with an AK-based firearm presents quite a challenge because holding one is usually too up close with the dust cover. I like some distance in my relationships as much as I do with my long guns.

The UTG AK47 Combat Butt Pad provides the LOP distance that I need while mounting the butt of my CIA RAS47 into the shoulder. Extending the LOP of a WARSAW Pact stock one inch made a world of difference to me and the UTG AK47 Combat Butt Pad is an inexpensive means to do that without resorting to other more expensive options. Also, I like the wood furniture and really wanted to keep it.

While not being the prettiest butt pad ever made, it certainly does the job for extending the LOP to a desired length and also assists in managing felt recoil. The UTG AK47 Combat Butt Pad is a heavy, rubber unit that is nicely textured at the shoulder end to provide a secure purchase. Five slits in the pad provides additional cushioning. The overall 5.25-inch length provides a nice footprint against the shoulder to help distribute the push of the recoil.

The unit slides easily over the stock and also removes just as easily. Some have complained about this, but I see it as an advantage. If I am wearing heavy outer clothing, I can elect to remove the butt pad should the LOP be too long. Conversely, I can place it on the firearm should I need it. Granted, an adjustable butt stock may serve me better, but at what cost? The unit just doesn’t fall off the stock like some would lead you to believe; it does mount securely for the most part. Besides, I have yet to find an adjustable buttstock that does not move around when the firearm is mounted. The UTG AK47 Combat Butt Pad provides a sold feel and I like that. The UTG AK47 Combat Butt Pad also protects the base of the buttstock from damage. I also like that.

I have yet to figure out the purpose of the slits on each side of the pad. Perhaps they serve as another air gap? I really don’t know. Regardless, the UTG AK47 Combat Butt Pad works as expected; increase the LOP and assist in felt recoil management. That’s what we are paying for, right?

The UTG AK47 Combat Butt Pad, coupled with the Hogue over-molded pistol grip (Hogue AK-47/AK-74 Rubber Grip with Finger Grooves, Black – HOG74000 ), makes the RAS47 is a pleasure to shoot.

While not an upgrade, the UpLula loader for the AK47/AK74 is almost a necessity when loading (and unloading) 10-round or 30-round magazines. Pull the lever up and push it rearward, place the front of the loader in the front groove of the magazines, snap the rear latch into place, roll the lever forward to press the magazine follower down, and simply drop the first round into the magazine. Roll the lever back to load the second cartridge. Then, continue rocking and rolling (use my thumb and forefinger) until the magazine is full. Lift the rear catch off of the magazine, lift the loader up and forward to remove the loader from the magazine. Repeat on subsequent magazines. When finished, pop the lever down to its storage position.

Granted that the preferred method of unloading a magazine is to shoot the contents, but there may be times when unloading the magazine manually is more preferred – such as for cleaning or storing the magazine empty. Unloading a magazine is just as simple; however, the lever should be positioned to the rear at the beginning of unloading the magazine. Rock the lever back and forth and the contained cartridges virtually fall from the magazine when the loading chute of the magazine is facing downward.

I normally just rest the base of the magazine against me and use my left hand to rock the lever as my right hand drops in the cartridges. Quite boring, really!

Solid, polymer constructions makes the Magazine Loader, Lula, AK47/Galil easy to carry and easy to use. A small ring on the base of the unit allows you to attach the unit to a clip, if desired.

Every time that I use a product like the Magazine Loader, Lula, AK47/Galil, it makes me want to sit down and sob. It is so easy to use, and so simplistic in its design that I wish that I could have designed it myself; I would be a rich man basking in the South Caribbean sun, sipping drinks with funny umbrellas in them, while knowing that I have pleased the masses who load their magazines in less time than it takes to consume my drink with its funny umbrella.

Whether you load an occasional magazine for range use or a lot of them for warfare, training, or competition use you owe it to yourself to have one (or more) of these Lula loaders.

OTHER PERSONAL UPGRADES:

RAS47_UTG_002RAS47_UTG_001It is obvious to me that a decent optic will make a difference for these old eyes. It comes down to what mount and what optic to use. I pondered for a week while weary and decided that an upper hand guard mount was not to my liking. If I had to add weight to the RAS47, I would rather it be as much centered and to the rear on the firearm as possible.

I finally decided on the Midwest Industries AK Railed Scope Mount with American Defense Throw Lever, Black (see RESOURCES). Some other optic mounts had dual-mounting rails that one could attach a flashlight, laser, or beer can holder on. I just wanted a simple mount for an optic (I have to admit that a means to attach some Slim Jim snacks to eat while shooting would be nice). This unit has very positive reviews and, since I like simple, the mount seems like it will do the job. The drawback is that the mount (and sight) would have to be removed to accommodate removal of the RAS47 dust cover. Only time and use will tell how this arrangement is going to work out.

The second part of the sight equation is the sight itself. Since I had used the UTG 6.4″ ITA Red/Green CQB Dot Sight with 1-piece QD Rings (see RESOURCES) on several firearms (read my review at: http://guntoters.com/blog/2014/11/22/product-review-utg-ds3068-6-4-inch-ita-redgreen-dot-sight/), I decided to take another chance on it for the RAS47.

Added weight with both units mounted is 14 ounces (7.3 for the mount and 6.7 for the sight), which makes the RAS47 7.69 pounds (unloaded). The addition will also make the RAS47 more top heavy. By comparison, that is 0.81 pounds lighter than the SKS (unloaded), 1.11 pounds lighter than the Mosin-Nagant 91/30 (unloaded), and 1.19 pounds heavier than the Ruger AR-556 (unloaded). Not to worry because I’m still a manly-man. If I feel weak and wimpy on any day, I’ll go with the AR.

For the initial range session, the open sights that came with the RAS47 were used.

RANGE TIME – DAY 1 – IRON SIGHTS:

I had four boxes of ammunition to work with, as my supply of 7.62x39mm ammunition is limited:

  • Brown Bear 123-grain HP (AB762HP)
  • Silver Bear 123-grain HP (A762HPN)
  • Monarch 123-grain FMJ
  • Fiocchi 124-grain FMJ

RNG_SB_010716

RNG_BB_010716

RNG_Fiocchi_010716

RNG_Monarch_010716With the exception of the Fiocchi brand, all ammunition was steel case. Twenty rounds of each were to be fired, which I hoped to give me a good indication of how the RAS47 was going to perform.

I used silhouette targets placed at 25-yards distance (the limit of my local indoor range), one for each box of ammunition, which would at least serve as an indicator of accuracy at that range. Ten-round magazines, each loaded with different ammunition, would provide a baseline of firearm/ammunition compatibility. Bench resting dictates the use of short magazines. Note that I do not use the “Slam-Bang” method of removing magazines that seems to be the “tacti-cool” thing to do these days. The “Slam-Bang” method is where the operator takes the replacement magazine, slams it against the magazine release lever, and then bangs the spent magazine out of the magazine well. With the extended magazine release lever on the RAS47, I simply grab a new magazine, push the magazine lever forward with my thumb, and use my thumb to push the expended magazine free of the well. It is a “no muss-no fuss” approach.

No offhand shooting for this first session, because I needed to know where my bullets would impact with as solid a hold as only bench-resting can provide without locking the firearm in place. Point of aim was the same for each target – center of the bulls-eye as close as I could place it. Since my local indoor range is not renowned for its bench rest equipment, I had to make do with what I could put together on my own, which meant using my rolled up hunting jacket laying on top of my gun case. Not a solid shooting support by any means, but much better than my off-hand shooting.

Initial range time, for me, is not just about trying to put a lot of little bullets into one hole; it is also about determining how the firearm operates, handles, and recoils under fire.

The object here was to shoot one box (20 rounds) of each type of ammunition and run a bore snake through bore after each box was fired. I was really interested in comparing the Fiocchi ammunition against the other brands as the Fiocchi was the most expensive of the lot. Does more expensive mean more accurate?

Note that the overall grouping of the Brown Bear should not be taken as indicative of the ammunition, because I was trying to find my way around the firearm. Overall, Brown Bear did well.

The Monarch (sold by Academy Sports) held its own with the “Bears” while, of the lot of them, the Fiocchi gave the best group and smoothest cycling; the RAS47 really favors the Fiocchi – and so do I; albeit, it is the most expensive of the lot. However, the Fiocchi brass can be reloaded, and I just happen to know somebody who reloads them.

Felt recoil is very mild. I would say that it is about 1.5 times that of the AR and with a gentle push into the shoulder and is far less violent than my .30-30, although the 7.62x39mm and the .30-30 are similar in ballistics. Between the gas-pistol powered system, an excellent Wolf recoil spring, and the UTG AK47 Combat Butt Pad, felt recoil was no problem at all. The 7.62x39mm cartridge is not a powerhouse of a cartridge; the muzzle does jump a bit, but is relatively easy to get back on target after firing.

Saying that the RAK-1 Enhanced Trigger Group is an upgrade is an understatement. While I have not shot a lot of AK firearms, I have pulled the triggers on quite a few in my wandering among them. The RAK-1 Enhanced Trigger Group is the smoothest of any trigger that I have encountered on any AK to date – and that includes the TAPCO V2.

Once past the initial take-up the trigger is consistently smooth until the hammer falls. There is no “wall” per se so it is difficult to discern, at times, the trigger break-point. After working the trigger during the first range session, I realized that the “grittiness” that you find in some triggers was simply not there. Also not there was the trigger slap that is common to some of the AK rifles, and that made my trigger finger really happy.

The near 5-pound trigger pull (10-pull average) is what I consider close to the optimum trigger pull weight for a firearm used for defensive and sporting purposes. For precision work, it is lacking but the RAS47 is not meant for precision work.

Always a concern for left-handed operators is how, and in what direction, a firearm expels expended casings. I experienced no problems with the RAS47 extracting and ejecting expended case; they all went out the right way and in the right direction. If anything, I was bonked on several occasions from spent shells bouncing off the wall of the lane in which I was firing, but all spent casings (with the exception of one when my thumb managed to interfere with the bolt’s rearward travel) were expeditiously expelled well out to the side of the ejection port.

RAS47_Safety_001My last point about the range experience is with operating the safety. I am a left-handed operator of long guns and, in being so; it would seem that I am at a disadvantage in some respects with running right-handed rifles. With the RAS47, or any AK for that matter, any disadvantage is minimal when operating the safety – I simply use the thumb of my right hand. Given that my hand is in close proximity of the magazine, if not holding on to it, I simply extend my thumb to the safety lever and push it up (safe) or down (fire) as needed. The left hand never changes its position on the pistol grip. I can also release and install magazines with my right hand very quickly. At the range it is; push safety up (safe), release the magazine, remove the magazine, install the new magazine, push safety down (fire) and I am ready to shoot again. The trigger finger is resting at the bottom edge of the trigger guard or somewhere out of the trigger guard. In real-life encounters, safety lever operation is dictated by conditions.

Note that the dust cover on the RAS47 traps the safety lever in the up position. The Dust cover’s design prevents the safety lever from going above the dust cover. This is a safety issue with AK and AK variant rifles built elsewhere. On some, if the safety lever goes past the dust cover, the internal portion of the safety can catch the trigger internally and trip the hammer. If a round happens to be chambered, a ND will occur. Century International Arms has wisely decided to address this issue on AK variant rifles that they produce. This improvement in the safety may stem from a man in St. Louis that has filed a class-action lawsuit against Century International Arms over allegations that certain AK-47 rifles by the manufacturer came with defective safety selectors (see SAFETIES for link).

RANGE TIME – DAY 2 – IRON SIGHTS

The intent of the second range day was to finalize zero with the RAS47 using iron sights. Since rounds were impacting high on day 1, which was a test for function rather than accuracy, I moved the rear sight into the “Battlefield Zero” position (see SIGHTING SYSTEM) and had previously adjusted the front sight one full turn counter-clockwise; thus, raising the front sight to lower the point of impact.

Since I had a good group results with Fiocchi 124-grain FMJ the week prior, I decided to use this ammunition for zeroing purposes. The Fiocchi 124-grain FMJ bullet was impacting slightly higher than the Brown and Silver Bear 123-grain ammunition by about ½-inch, but I could compensate for that difference easily.

The top of the front sight is real close to 2” from the center line of the bore as it could get. At this setting, and for a 100-yard zero, the bullet would need to impact the target between ½-inch and ¾-inch below the X – or essentially at my POA on the target.

Using a 3-shot evaluation, I ended up increasing the height of the front sight by a second turn of the adjustment tool. This placed most of the rounds at center of the bulls-eye with the POA being slightly lower at 25-yards and which would put the rounds high at 100-yards. I loaded up with two 10-rounds magazines of Brown Bear 123-grain SP, dropped the rear sight to the 100-meter line (“1” on the sliding scale). The rounds impacted about ½-inch low of the “X” and would get me on paper at 100-yards with this ammunition. Windage remained as close to center on the bulls-eye as I could hold it with iron sights.

RANGE TIME – DAY 3 – RED/GREEN DOT SIGHT

RAS47_UTG_002Day 3 at the range included sighting in the UTG DS3068 6.4-Inch ITA Red/Green Dot Sight that was mounted on a Midwest Industries AK Railed Scope Mount, which locks into the side rail on the RAS47.

Obviously, some time was spent mounting and centering the sight prior to range day three. I have to say that mounting and leveling everything was an easy task and was made easy by using tools intended for that purpose. The Midwest Industries AK Railed Scope Mount simply slides into place easily on the side mount on the RAS47 and is then locked down by a locking lever arrangement. The UTG DS3068 6.4-Inch ITA Red/Green Dot Sight was leveled using the Wheeler Engineering leveling system. And, yes, even red dot sights may need leveling to ensure that elevation and windage adjustments move in the vertical and horizontal plane.

The UTG DS3068 6.4-Inch ITA Red/Green Dot Sight, when mounted on the Midwest Industries AK Railed Scope Mount, sits higher than the front sight. No co-witnessing is available and the front sight can be seen when looking through the sight. Under normal use of the sight, the concentration is on the target and the dot and the front sight all but disappears from the mind.

As with using iron sights, a three-shot group was fired, the dot adjusted accordingly, and then the process was repeated until I was satisfied with the POI. Initially, my rounds were impacting high and left, but that was quickly corrected within nine rounds and the RAS47’s POI is now POA. I have no doubt that I can hit anything at 25 yards and will zero at 100-yards at first opportunity.

After the sight was zeroed, I removed the mount. Then, I reattached the mount to see if the sight’s zero was retained. The mount did a fine job of holding the sight almost exactly at the same point before it was removed. Close enough for government work, anyway. The position of the optic and mount, along with the position of the side mount on the RAS47, kept everything pretty well balanced with the majority of the weight directly over the receiver and centered on the RAS47. I am satisfied with the optic setup with the exception of loosing some cheek weld on the rifle. However, I loose the cheek weld on the SMR with an optic mounted as well. Again, this rifle was not intended for pin-point accuracy.

The rail for the optic is also not centered on the rifle; it is slightly to the right of the centerline of the dust cover. Unfortunately, there is no means to adjust for centering of the sight rail to the rifle.

At this point I cannot say if the optic and mount will be standard equipment; they may be an option, because the iron sights seem to work fine with general accuracy for general shooting. Time and use will tell. There are some things that are better left alone; the RAS47 may be one of those things. With that said, a magnified optic may serve me better and a tactical scope is still an option.

FINAL OPINION:

RAS47There are many advocates of the Kalashnikov-based long gun platform and I can see why. The AK platform is a pretty straightforward design that was to replace the SKS and was based on the best of the American M1 and the German StG44. Where the SKS is an excellent battle rifle, it does suffer (according to some) from an internal box magazine that limited capacity to 10-rounds. The Ak47, indeed, has a long history of development and use.

The Century International Arms RAS47 is a good version of the Kalashnikov-based long gun sans bayonet lug and cleaning rod. In short, the CIA RAS47 is a civilian version of a most popular platform. It is well constructed of premium parts that are made in the U.S.A. While there are very minor issues with wood-to metal “blending” these are not game changers and can be easily rectified by replacing them with modern furniture or reshaping the edges with a sanding block and some very fine sandpaper.

My only complaint (if you want to call it that) is the short stock that came with the firearm. Folks who are stocky with short arms probably won’t have a complaint, but long-armed folks like me feel really cramped when shooting the CIA RAS47 and other guns like it. Of course, that is easily rectified by adding a slip-on recoil pad or NATO-length stock to increase the LOP. With that said, it is far easier to exchange a slip-on recoil pad according to seasonal clothing or gear demands, in my opinion.

When it comes down to it, the rear sight is no further from my eyes than would be if I held a handgun at full arm’s length. In fact, the rear sight is closer than holding a handgun at arm’s length. In bright daylight, I have no problem with the sights as they are. With indoor range lighting; however, lining up the sights is a challenge. However, that is me and not the RAS47.

I am not going to get into the AR vs. AK debate as both are excellent platforms. I will say; however, that the AR platform seems to be more accurate and precise than the AK platform at this point with me. I went into the Kalashnikov platform with no high degree of accuracy expectation. However, there is quite a selection of ammunition with which to determine what works best provides the best accuracy. The 7.62x39mm round has taken plenty of man and game since its inception and is a proven cartridge in battles between man and beast. As with any ammunition, the round is only as capable as the person operating the platform from which it is launched.

At heart, I am a bolt-gun type of fellow. However, I am also intelligent enough to realize that at times firepower is needed over accuracy and precision at times. The Kalashnikov-based long gun platform can deliver plenty of firepower in a quick manner even in semi-automatic form, and that is reason enough to own a carbine in the AK platform.

So, where does this CIA RAS47 fit into my scheme of things? I have warmed up to the platform due to its simplicity, as I also have to the SKS, MSR, and other platforms. Although this particular Kalashnikov-based firearm does not have a history, there is history in its design and use and was intended as an assault rifle in wartime and is still regarded as such today due to the propensity of nations to war against its own and others. One point about the AK47 that lends to my liking the firearm is that in 1949, the year of my birth, the AK-47 was officially accepted by the Soviet Armed Forces. And, I guess that there is a bit of nostalgic sense in that fact.

In my mind, the Century International Arms 100% American-made RAS47 is a well made representation of the Kalashnikov platform, a lightweight, affordable carbine that allows me to enjoy it for what it is – a sporting firearm, and I can only hope that it stays that way. No changes are planned for it aside from upgrades mentioned in this article and I really don’t want to get caught up in the AK upgrade madness. While considered as an entry-to-mid level AK, I am at the exit-level in my life and I simply want to enjoy the Kalashnikov platform before my exit.

THE “JUST DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT” SECTION:

RESOURCES:

About Taurian

Taurian is a U.S. Army veteran and former LEO and Defensive Tactics Instructor. Taurian also has over fifty years of experience as a Technical Writer and Training Program Developer. After leaving home at the age of ten without any shoes, Taurian continues on with many years devoted to the keeping and bearing of arms.

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