Century Arms VSKA Review

by Dave Chesson

November 6, 2022

0 comments

4.7
(18)

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.

VSKA Features

Features of the Century Arms VSKA
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.

VSKA Variations:

There are a few different VSKA variants that might interest you if the “traditional” look does not.

CAI VSKA Review – Our Take

American wood on a USA-made VSKA

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.

Century Arms VSKA review: close-up of receiver.

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.

Century Arms VSKA Review: rear sight post.

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.

Shooting the VSKA for a review.

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

Report Card

Shootability

A-
Reliability

B+
Ergonomics

A-
Accuracy

B+
Value

A-
VSKA-AK-review-grade-card

Our Grade

B+

Reviewed by Dave Chesson

Reader’s Grade

B+

Based on 18 Reviews

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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.

Gun Deals

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. .

Zeroing and Training

123gr Wolf PolyPerformance

Marketplace
Cost
Gun.Deals Varies
Palmetto State Armory $0.21/round
FEDERAL Federal American Eagle, 7.62x39mm, FMJ, 124 Grain

124gr American Eagle

Marketplace
Cost
Gun.Deals Varies
Palmetto State Armory $1.15

Loose Rounds

Inspecting a VSK-100
The Century Arms VSKA shouldn’t be confused with the VSK-100, although the latter is an interesting weapon. AK rifles and accessories are manufactured in numerous places worldwide and used in vast numbers; this rifle is assembled in Belarus from parts made in Russia and used in places as far away as Pakistan. (Hat tip: @squinting_archivist)

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. 

Upgrades and Accessories

Below are a few suggestions we recommend to get the most out of your new firearm.

ALG Defense Enhanced AK Trigger with Lighting BowCheck price
Midwest Industries Railed AK Gas Tube

For your optics, lights, and lasers.

Check price
10-Pack of Magpul AK Polymer Mags

You cannot have too many magazines! Probably.

Check price
AK Ranger Plate for Magpul AK Mags

You’re getting some PMAGs for your AK…might as well make ’em easier to access.

Check price
Bulti polymer mags with reinforced steel lugCheck price
WOLVERINE! Pattern Camo Sling

Everything COMBLOC goes better with Red Dawn movie Russian camo.

 

 

Check price
Vickers AK Sling

The classic Blue Force Gear AK47 sling from LAV.

Check price
Haley Strategic D3CRX Chest Rig

You need a way to haul your mags. Haley Strategic is a source for very good stuff.

Check price

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.

Two different versions of Kalash style rifles made by CAI.
AK variants built in the USA by Century Arms.

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:

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About Dave Chesson

Dave Chesson is prior Navy with a specialty in international arms dealing for the US government across multiple countries. Having traveled the world and abided by ATF and ITAR, Roy has a unique background in legal as well as practical capabilities of weapons deployment and use.

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