Could the Century Arms C39 pistol be the perfect truck gun? For many of you northeastern Yankees, “truck gun” may be a foreign term. Please allow a moment for elaboration and clarification. A truck gun, loosely defined, is a long gun you keep at the ready in the cab of your pickup truck for general shooting chores. Depending on your locale, you may primarily use your truck gun for dispatching meddlesome groundhogs or prairie dogs. Texas ranchers may very well keep a truck gun handy to dispose of marauding feral hogs. Often, your truck gun is also a personal defense tool to protect you from both two and four-legged predators.
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Truck Gun Check List
“Truck guns” are viewed as utility tools up for rough use and abuse. “Pretty guns” and wall-hangers need not apply. If you were to compile a list of attributes or features that a good truck gun must possess, I suppose toughness or durability would be number one. A good truck gun has to be tough enough to operate even when it is dusty or dirty. Naturally, your truck gun is going to get banged around. If you are concerned about protecting the glossy finish on your hardwood stock, leave it in the safe. Truck guns are distinguished by their scars.
Next up on the list of considerations would be size. Your 49-inch goose gun or a long-range .30-06 with a 26-inch barrel are both going to be cumbersome to maneuver in and out of a truck cab. For those concerned with varmints and two-legged threats, lengthy rifles are difficult to maneuver inside of your truck.
Caliber choice is largely open to debate. For many men, the .22LR or .22 Win Mag are the number one choices for truck guns. I’ve known other folks that opted for the .243 or .308 Winchester. The .223 Remington naturally has a strong following today.
Again, cartridge choice is a matter of tasking. The mid-western farmer who is concerned with marmots and the occasional fox will naturally lean toward smaller and faster bullets. Conversely, if your concern is with creatures that surpass one or even two hundred pounds, prudence would dictate that your projectiles are larger and heavier.
Century Arms C39 Pistol
The impetus for this review actually came from a discussion with my friend Mike, the owner of Mississippi Combat Training Academy. When Mike held my Century Arms M92 PAP pistol with the SB47 stabilizer in his hand he declared, “This is going to be my next truck gun.” Mike proceeded to pull his truck on to the range (it’s his range, he can do what he wants) and run some shooting drills beginning with him seated behind the wheel and gun next to him. I picked up the subject of this review, the Century Arms C39 pistol shortly thereafter.
Century Arms has a full line of 100 percent made in the U.S.A. rifles and pistols. They are built on the original Kalashnikov action under the “C39” banner. “C” stands for “Centurion”. I tested a C39 pistol a few years ago and the gun was perfectly functional. It is very well made. C39 receivers are machined, not stamped and folded like your traditional AK.
As for specifics, the C39 is not a short-barreled rifle; I built it as a handgun. The barrel length is 11.375 inches with an overall factory length of 21.375 inches. These guns have some heft to them; the empty weight is 6.14 pounds. All the manual controls are traditional AK design; to include the trigger, ambidextrous magazine release, and the manual safety lever located on the right side of the frame.
Special features on the gun include a black polymer pistol grip and a black polymer forend with top, bottom, right, and left accessory rails. I fitted the barrel with an M16 style muzzle brake, and this model has a “sharkfin” front sight. I used a traditional AK rear. Century also installs a single point sling loop onto the rear of the receiver. All standard AK magazines will work with the gun.
As you can imagine, any handgun chambered in 7.62×39 Russian is going to have a bit of kick to it. The model I had on hand to test included the new SB-47 stabilizing brace attachment. The wrist stabilizer, reviewed by the BATFE, is not a ‘stock’ but a stabilization aid. So, no, you don’t need a Class III tax-stamp
The SB-47 wrist brace mounts directly to the gun between the pistol grip and the frame, no machining or special tools are necessary. Simply a screwdriver or Allen wrench. Adding the SB-47 to the gun gives it balance. As you can imagine this AK pistol is pretty front heavy.
While the Century gun is completely functional as is, I decided to add just a couple of items to make it a bit more practical. First, a Galco SLC strap was affixed to the gun. To make this nylon sling infinitely useful, Galco sewed a large loop at the rear and put a rugged HK clip on the front. Just behind the front sight on the left side of the C39 is a sling attachment point. I looped the sling around the wrist brace.
Atop the front rail, I mounted an EOTech MRDS (mini red dot sight) in the protective housing they offer. This allowed me to zero the pistol with little difficulty. The new MRDS sights allow you to change the battery without removing the sight from the gun. This is an upgrade over older model mini red dots of this sort.
Lastly, I added an InForce tactical light mounted to the left rail. The InForce light is a fantastic tool that I found on the Brownells website. The InForce Rifle/Carbine Weaponlight, powered by a single 123A Lithium battery, has a rear mounted pressure switch that allows you to use your support hand to activate it. The model I used had a dual illumination setting; 175 Lumen for high and 30 Lumen for low. Double-clicking the switch puts it into high strobe mode.
At press time, between Jarrad and I, we’ve put somewhere in the neighborhood of 750 to 1000 rounds of Century’s “Red Army Standard” 7.62x39mm ammunition through the gun. I encountered zero stoppages or malfunctions. As for accuracy, we BZO’d the red dot at 30 yards. I hit Steel silhouettes at one and two hundred yards consistently. A broadside shot on a feral hog from seventy yards should be no problem for a steady hand.
We’ve used magazines from Tapco, US Palm, and numerous surplus units from Romania, the Czech Republic, and Yugoslavia. For those who have only used the less expensive stamped receiver guns, you may have found that the magwell was a bit tight or sloppy. You will immediately appreciate the beveled magwell on the machined C39 receiver.
The only maintenance we performed was to lube up the bolt and carrier with FrogLube. AK’s are machines that run well with proper lubrication.
Perhaps you’ve never considered an AK as a truck gun, perhaps you have. I don’t expect the died-in-the-wool .22 Win Mag guys to be converted by this one review. However, if you are looking for a rugged, reliable, and compact gun that legitimately packs a punch you might take a hard look at this new gun from Century.