Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Century Arms NDS-2 AK-74 Rifle

Back in November I picked up a Century Arms NDS-2 AK-74 rifle. This is a typical semiauto-only Kalashnikov made from a mix of surplus and newly made parts.

The NDS-2 is built on an American made NoDak Spud stamped receiver with a scope rail and a new barrel. It also has a Tapco G2 fire control group (trigger, hammer, and disconnector), American made black plastic furniture, and an American made barrel. The remainder of the parts a Bulgarian surplus. The rifle is finished with a nicely done, even parkerizing.

I finally got to shoot the rifle this past weekend. As expected it ran like a top. I put 120 rounds of Russian surplus 5.45x39mm 7N6 ball through it with no malfunctions, feeding from a couple Bulgarian surplus magazines. Whenever I shoot a new rifle for the first time I try to do so at 25 yards to ensure that it’s on paper, and then move back to 100 yards to fine tune the zero. Since I didn’t feel like picking up an moving my stuff I stayed at 25 yards for this outing. I’ll finish zeroing it the next time I get it to the range.

Shooting the rifle is a pleasure. The G2 FCG has a nice, consistent, light pull. The 5.45mm round has minimal recoil, which is made even less by the very effective muzzle brake. The brake does result in a rather pronounced muzzle blast, however. I have a Bulgarian flash hider which fits the 24mm front sight base of this rifle and may give it a try.

The American made furniture is craptacular. Since Century or their contractor had to setup a mold to make the furniture anyway, I don’t understand why they didn’t just use a set of surplus furniture as the model and copy it. Instead, the butt has insufficient drop for use with iron sights, while the handguards lack a heat shield. I’ve read of other people melting them in sustained fire. So, I ordered a set of olive drab K-Var furniture that will not only look a lot better, is of much higher quality.

Unlike some Century Tantals, I saw no evidence of keyholing due to an oversized bore.

The barrel is plain carbon steel, not chrome lined. Since I’m not taking this rifle into battle with the potential of not being able to clean it regularly, it’s not a problem for me. Even though military surplus 5.45x39mm cartridges are corrosively primed, as long as I clean the gun the same day I won’t see corrosion.

I did run a few patches wet with Hoppe’s No.9 through the barrel, and also wiped the bolt face down before I left the range. Despite Internet myths about cleaning up after corrosive primers, all you need is either Hoppe’s No.9, MPro-7, or USGI Rifle Bore Cleaner. Hoppe’s No.9 was introduced in the early part of the last century and has always been rated for cleaning up after corrosive ammunition. Back in the late 1980s/early 1990s, the only ammo I shot in my SKS was Chicom 7.62x39 with corrosive primers. Hoppe’s was all I used for cleaning and I never had any rust.

Despite the lack of a chromed bore this rifle with better furniture is a good choice for a defensive carbine. New production non-corrosive 5.45mm ammo is available, but even in most SHTF scenarios it’s not an issue. If you can stock up on ammo you can lay in a decent supply of solvent and a cleaning kit.

Aside from the light recoil, the 5.45x39 round has the reputation for better accuracy in AKs than the more common 7.62x39 cartridge. Also, it’s currently the cheapest centerfire round available, if you buy military surplus ammo. For example, AIM Surplus currently lists a 1080 spam can of 7N6 for $139.95 + shipping, or $10 less if you buy more than one can. At that price you can afford to stock up.

AK-74 magazines are a bit harder to find than AK-47 mags. At one time they were very common and as cheap as dirt but that’s no longer the case. That being said, some time spent searching online will find magazines available for sale. I would stick with military surplus magazines for serious use, however.

Overall, I am quite pleased with the NDS-2.

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