The marketing department at Century Arms describes the VSKA as the “…true definition of American ingenuity and technology meeting Soviet bloc dependability and history.” That sounds like obligatory marketer-speak, but that doesn’t make it wrong. Take a read through this Century Arms VSKA review and see how accurate their claims are.
CAI VSKA Specs
- Caliber 7.62×39
- Muzzle Device AK style slant cutaway style
- Trigger RAK-1 Enhanced
- Barrel Length 16.25″
- Sights Front and rear adjustable
- Overall length 37.25″
- Weight 7.5 lb
The VSKA’s Background
AK pattern rifles come from all over the world. This AKM, however, is from the United States. Century Arms is headquartered in Florida and builds its rifles in the state of Vermont. While American-made AKs are not a new trend, the last decade or so has seen a substantial rise in both their availability and popularity.
AK-focused shooting competitions and events like Kalash Bash and Red Oktober result from this rapidly increasing interest – an interest they, in turn, contribute to.
Century Arms rifles are among the most affordable of all the available brands of Made-in-the-USA Kalashnikovs. Despite being made on this side of the former Iron Curtain, the VSKA (Vermont Stamped Kalashnikov) presents a classic look with a stamped receiver, wood stock, and traditional lines. This is important to many of those who take the AK side of the AR vs AK debate.
The VSKA (pronounced Vis-Kuh) and other rifles from Century Arms have suffered Quality Control (QC) and “performance issues” in the past. AK owners have seen some weapons lose headspace, shear trunnions, bend pistons, and more. Other weapons cycle without issue. The disparity in reviews has actually been a point of contention among AK owners, which made us wonder.
We wanted to see what our experience would be like.
1 Century Arms RAK-1 Enhanced Trigger
For trigger performance that is superior to traditional AK style weapons.
2 American Maple Stock and Forend
Keeping that classic ComBloc look but using US-sourced wood.
3 S7 Tool Steel
For critical weapon components like the bolt carrier, front trunnion, and feed ramp.
4 Chrome-Moly USA Made Barrel
All CAI VSKA parts are made in the USA; the nitrided barrel is treated for accuracy and corrosion resistance.
5 Enhanded safety selector with bolt-hold open
For superior manipulation under stress and greater ability to reload and put it back into battery.
There are a few different VSKA variants that might interest you if the “traditional” look does not.
CAI VSKA Review – Our Take
The most well-known Century Arms product has been, until recently, the RAS-47, and that’s not a good thing. The RAS got a bad name quickly in AK circles due to several quality issues. They have other rifles, obviously (WASR, Draco, C92v2), but it sometimes takes several accolades to overcome a single Oh $#!t.
So far, the VSKA is working to atone for the RAS37’s misdeeds.
In order to do a full VSKA review, let’s start by looking at the shootability. The VSKA handles well with typical “Local Gun Store” ammunition. This shouldn’t be a big surprise, given the general operations of an AK.
While taking the VSKA out to the range, I found that the gun ran well during my initial evaluation – which, to be clear, was no Forgotten Weapons torture test under Fury Road conditions. I ran several hundred rounds through it with no malfunctions, again unsurprisingly. This number is worth noting for the casual shooter because thus far it’s a low round count. I have not punished the weapon sufficiently to see if it would develop wear patterns on any of the contact surfaces and it’s far to early to tell if the use of billet-machined S7 tool steel instead of hammer-forged parts is as big an issue as the Kalashnicognoscenti believe.
We shall see.
Shooting the VSKA is…well, it’s shooting an AK. It’s neither smooth nor elegant, but I didn’t buy an AK to be a collector’s item, much less this AK. It’s heavier than polymer counterparts, but not enough to make a significant difference in the sort of everyman shooting I do. Would it make a difference in Desert Brutality or a Red Oktober match? Possibly so, I doubt it would be enough to dissuade someone serious about competing.
Some past reviewers on other sites have mentioned some slop and rattle in their VSKAs, particularly the handguards, but I had no such issues. It looks like that was an issue with older production runs, but it’s worth noting.
There are a lot of folks who won’t want to hear this, but here’s the truth. As with most firearms, the VSKA probably has better accuracy potential than the typical person pulling the trigger. That’s not to disparage any Kalashnophiles (or any gun lovers) out there, but it is a fact. I have not (yet, if ever) put this on on a bench and bag to measure precision. In the context of my use, it’s just not that kind of gun.
This VSKA produced sub-3MOA groups easily. That’s hardly pinpoint ballistics, but I’m confident the white space between holes in the target were the result of my shooting and not the gun. It is definitely well within minute-of-Bad-Guy if that’s what you’re looking for.
So, at this point, generally, I’m happy with the VSKA. However, a big question when looking at guns is whether the price meets the quality or worth. Although VSKA is a “budget” options, it is on the high end of the beater-heater price range. I don’t regret spending the money on this, and I would recommend it to friends who were looking to put a foot into AKM shooting.
Gun [Review Model] Pros and Cons
- Affordable and USA made firearm
- AK-familiar manual of arms for Kalashnophiles
- Improved trigger and BCG
- Compatible with AKM accessories
- Machined billet instead of forged components
- Nitride-lined barrel vs. chrome-lined
- Predecessors (C39 & RAS47) have history of QC issues
As you can see, I really liked this AK47 – so much so that I kept this one and have it as one of my two AKs. Furthermore, it made it into our list of best AK47s. Was it #1? No…but pretty close. See who beat it here.
Searching the internet to find your favorite firearm can be a big task. However, we put together a list to make things simple. Check out the links below to figure out where you can find your own VSKA (if you’re planning on doing so, of course!)
Best Ammo for Your Firearm
If you thought finding a gun in stock was difficult, ammo can be even trickier. However, we’ve set up some quick links to get the ammunition best suited to begin using your firearm. .
Firearm Starter Pack
You may be adding to your collection, or this may be your first firearm. Either way, you’ll want to make sure you have everything you need for basic firearm operation. This includes eye & ear protection, cleaning kits, and proper storage.
- Gun Cleaning Kit: Gloryfire Universal Cleaning Kit on Amazon
- Shooting Glasses: Check out our Best Shooting Glasses article to pick the best for you.
- Hearing Protection: Find out which shooting hearing protection best fits your needs at our Best Ear Protection article.
- Storage: For storage, don’t forget to check out our article on the Best Biometric Gun Safes.
Upgrades and Accessories
Below are a few suggestions we recommend to get the most out of your new firearm.
For your optics, lights, and lasers.
You cannot have too many magazines! Probably.
You’re getting some PMAGs for your AK…might as well make ’em easier to access.
Everything COMBLOC goes better with Red Dawn movie Russian camo.
The classic Blue Force Gear AK47 sling from LAV.
You need a way to haul your mags. Haley Strategic is a source for very good stuff.
How to Care for Your Firearm
Whether you’re new to the AK platform or you just want to brush up on your fundamentals, check out this video by our own Graham Baates about breaking the Kalash down.
Important Links and Manuals
Need more info on this firearm? Don’t worry. There’s plenty out there. We recommend you get started with the following resources:
- Learn more about the entire VSKA series.
- Read the US Military’s official AK47 instruction manual.
- Learn more about the VSK-100 from sources in Belarus.
- Read another VSKA review over on Brushbeater.
- Get another perspective from Mike Searson on AmmoLand.
- And a third perspective from Joe Coxe.
December 1, 2023
December 1, 2023
November 30, 2023
November 29, 2023