July 18, 2013

Century International Arms WASR-10 7.62x39mm, $900

Gun Tests magazine tested two AK-47 rifles in the May 2013 issue. Here’s an excerpt of that report, used with permission:

With all of the political focus on guns, and specifically semiauto AR-style rifles, shooting enthusiasts have been trying to get their hands on products that are durable enough to last through any of the troubles that might be coming. For this task, the AK-47 platform may be the best place to start. Known for durability and reliability, the AK-47 has been tagged “the rifle of the revolution.” If you have ever seen a movie that has bad guys in it, you have probably seen them carrying a AK-47. There are videos all over the internet of people doing crazy things with their AKs, such as shooting them in pools, firing so many rounds through them at a fast enough pace to set the front end on fire, burying them and pulling them out of the ground and firing them, and the list goes on and on.

We picked out two vastly different AK-style rifles for a head-to-head Gun Tests showdown: The WASR-10 imported by Century International Arms and the 556 Russian (556R) made by Sig Sauer. At first glance, the Century International Arms WASR-10 7.62x39mm, $900 (online pricing from GanderMountain.com), looks like a classic AK design, but it has some refinements American shooters will prefer. The WASR-10 is a post-ban version of the AKM rifle. WASR stands for Wassenaar Arrangement Semiautomatic Rifle. The name comes from a Dutch town where the international agreement on exportation of small arms was born.

As manufactured in Romania, the 7.62x39 mm GP WASR-10 accepts single-column 10-round magazines. At the Century International Arms factory, the rifles are modified to conform with Title 18, Chapter 44, Section 922(r) of the United States Code. After arriving in the U.S., the rifles are disassembled, the magazine wells are machined out to accept double-stack magazines, and the requisite number of U.S.-made parts are installed for BATF compliance. With enough domestic parts included to make it “officially” U.S. made, the rifle can have a pistol grip and accept high-capacity magazines. The added U.S. parts are: 1) gas piston, 2) trigger, 3) hammer, 4) disconnector, 5) buttstock, and 6) pistol grip. Some units also have Tapco plastic folding or collapsible stocks. Beginning in 2007, Century International Arms has installed the Tapco Intrafuse AK G2 trigger group to eliminate trigger slap. These rifles come supplied with two 30-round magazines and a bayonet lug.

Courtesy Gun Tests

Courtesy Gun Tests

In this case, we would rather buy the lower-ranked and slightly cheaper CIA WASR-10 and upgrade it to exactly our liking. Based on the numbers for things that we would like to change on our WASR-10, we expect to add about $250 to $300 in rails, buttstock, and handguards and have an AK that is demonstrably still an AK.

We wanted to see if the Sig was worth the money, or if the handy shooter is better off buying a less expensive model like the WASR-10 and making his own adjustments as time and necessity require and money allows. Here’s what we thought of the WASR-10 point by point:

Cosmetics & Fit and Finish

Like the AKM rifle, the WASR has a stamped receiver, ribbed top cover, and a gas tube without vent holes. The fixed stock was also reminiscent of an AKM. It was made from laminated wood, and the forend matched well enough. The lower forend lacked the raised swells of the AKM design. The quality of Parkerizing on the WASR-10 was even and thorough, with just a few wear marks here and there, but mainly where the safety lever moved up and down. The underlying metalwork was satisfactory, we thought, and in fact looked smoother than most other AKs we’ve examined.

Accouterments

Some WASR-10s come with folding or telescoping stocks, but not ours. That would be a prime upgrade we’d perform on a WASR-10. Of course, the WASR’s buttplate also had a hole in it to allow access to a storage channel cut into the stock that is designed to hold cleaning kits, so that you always have one with your gun when you need it. Needless to say, after firing hundreds of rounds through the WASR-10, our shoulders were more than a little sore.

The hard plastic grip on the WASR was a little too thin and not textured in a manner that was easy to hold on to. The grip had a checkered pattern on both sides and was smooth on the front and the back.

The WASR’s exterior was rough, and after a day of shooting, our hands became pretty raw in places. The safety on the WASR-10 was also very stiff and requires a good amount of force to raise and lower.

Sights

The sights on the WASR were good enough for most field shooting. The post front was adjustable with a special tool for elevation, and by drifting for windage. The rear ladder sight had white-painted numbers ranging from 1 to 10. The rear notch was well mated to the front sight and presented an excellent sight picture. Older eyes will like the placement of the rear sight far out on the gun, making it easier to get into focus. However, that placement also reduces sight radius.

As we noted, the Sig came with the excellent Mini Red Dot Sight (STS-081, $199), so to level the playing field, we bought a Midwest Industries AK Side Railed Scope Mount (CheaperThanDirt.com, #7-MIAKSM, $109) and shot the WASR with the same dot sight. The MI scope mount fits on the rifle using the built-in receiver rail interface and puts a Picatinny rail over the top of the rifle. It snaps into place using an auto-locking system that allows for no-tool adjustment and repeat zero locking. So with the mount and dot sight, our $900 base WASR package would be in the $1200 range.

Courtesy Gun Tests

Courtesy Gun Tests

Yes, that is Sig’s excellent Mini Red Dot Sight (STS-081, $199) riding atop the WASR-10. It’s on a Midwest Industries AK Side Railed Scope Mount (CheaperThanDirt.com, #7-MIAKSM, $109). The scope mount fits on the rifle using the built-in receiver rail.

Takedown

This operation on the WASR-10 was easy. Clear the gun, close the bolt, leave it cocked, press the rear button and remove the action cover. Take out the recoil spring assembly, move the bolt fully rearward, and lift it out of the gun. To remove the bolt from its carrier, push the bolt fully rearward, turn it a quarter turn clockwise, and remove it toward the front. The gas-tube assembly, which includes the top piece of the forend wood, is easily removed by rotating a lever to the right of the rear sight. The hammer can be lowered to get better access to the bottom of the receiver for cleaning. We thought the parts inside this gun were well-enough made, though not as smoothly polished or quite as well machined as those on the Sig. Reassembly was a simple reversal of the above. Make sure the hammer is cocked first.

Function and (No) Failures

The main complaint about WASR-10s seems to be the lack of magazine-stabilizing dimples on the side of the action, coupled with an occasional failure to function correctly. In place of the dimples, the inside of the action has bits of steel spot-welded in place to accomplish what the dimples used to do. Our magazines went into and slipped out of both rifles with no failures of any kind.

Our Team Said: Both of these AK-47s tested great. Neither gun had any malfunctions while testing, and they were both very accurate. As a finished product, the Sig Sauer 556 Russian comes out of the box ready to shoot, but it’s not really an AK — it’s a Sig 556 that shoots the 7.62x39mm round. And that’s okay if you’re the kind of guy who just has to have the tie that matches the shirt. In this case, we would rather buy the lower-ranked and slightly cheaper CIA WASR-10 and upgrade it to exactly our liking. Based on the numbers for things that we would like to change on our WASR-10, we expect to add about $250 to $300 in rails, buttstock, and handguards and have an AK that is demonstrably still an AK.

Comments (8)

Within the last couple of years

Posted by: fashionaccessories | January 6, 2014 1:42 AM    Report this comment

I have a WASR and a SIG 556. Two ultra reliable weapons!! The SIG is more accurate but the 556 round leave allot to be desired. I paid 500 for the AK and 1000 for the SIG. I will take the SIG over any direct gas AR. Just as accurate without the fouling and jams. I have put over 1000 rounds of the cheapest steel ammo I could find and not one failure from either. A bargain for sure on both of them. What's really nice is that once one goes through about 10K the steal ammo save you about 3K...enough to buy two more of each!

Posted by: IanFrog | July 21, 2013 10:31 PM    Report this comment

I have a WASR and a SIG 556. Two ultra reliable weapons!! The SIG is more accurate but the 556 round leave allot to be desired. I paid 500 for the AK and 1000 for the SIG. I will take the SIG over any direct gas AR. Just as accurate without the fouling and jams. I have put over 1000 rounds of the cheapest steel ammo I could find and not one failure from either. A bargain for sure on both of them. What's really nice is that once one goes through about 10K the steal ammo save you about 3K...enough to buy two more of each!

Posted by: IanFrog | July 21, 2013 10:31 PM    Report this comment

At the moment, Graham, they are a bit hard to find. I get the feeling that you might be in Afghanistan. If so, I do hope you make it home safely.

Posted by: Cecil B | July 19, 2013 2:21 PM    Report this comment

Excellent example, first thing a buy when I eventually get home to the States.

Posted by: Graham C | July 19, 2013 2:49 AM    Report this comment

I am guessing some Black Ops Dragon.

Posted by: Cecil B | July 18, 2013 9:26 PM    Report this comment

Now I don't feel so bad about panic buying my WASR in Nov 2008 for $700. I wanted a good replica of the original AK for my collection and that's definitely what it is. The laminated stock had a horribly rough and porous finish on it so first thing I did was tear it down, sand it smooth and hit it with satin clear urethane spray - dang it looks kinda purty! Did the side rail mount with a fair to partly horse$hit red dot and darn if it ain't a dandy. Not what you want to shoot at Camp Perry but it's tough as a Russian tractor and hasn't so much as hicupped even once in several thousand rounds of cheap Wolf, Tula, Brown Bear, etc. crap ammo that would have trashed an AR (don't ask me how I know that).

Posted by: Dragonchow | July 18, 2013 2:55 PM    Report this comment

I bought 2 plus a Draco AND a 556R, just in case. As they say, it is an idiot proof weapon and I pimped mine out with Tapco stocks and grips and scopes. Very pleased. I might point out, however; got mine 2 years or so for around $400. Thanks BHO.

Posted by: Cecil B | July 18, 2013 12:40 PM    Report this comment

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