CENTURY ARMS AK-74 5.45x39mm

AKs are steadily gaining ground with domestic shooters, thanks to…

AKs are steadily gaining ground with domestic shooters, thanks to the efforts of importer/manufacturers such as Century International Arms, who have made the design both available and enticing to the American shooting public. An increase in adaptability, utilizing aftermarket accessories such as this LaRue Tactical FUG (below), keeps contemporary AKs in step with competing weapon designs.

The nobility of the modern self-loading rifle currently falls to three separate kingdoms — the Garand, the Stoner, and the Kalashnikov. The Garand and Stoner are distinctly western and all but universally embraced by the American shooter. On the Asian continent, the Automat Kalashnikova is the supreme monarch.

Yes, I know that some Europeans would argue with the previous statement but facts are stubborn things. From the years leading up to World War II on to the middle of the Cold War, rifles and carbines of the Garand design (M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, M14, Mini-14) all dominated the American self-loading market. During the last four decades Eugene Stoner’s design has built momentum steadily and has yet to peak in popularity in the U.S.

However, outside of the North American continent the AK-47 and its numerous offspring are the hallmark of simplicity and efficiency. For a machine that is pushing 70 years, the AK shows little signs of age and can still hold its own against many modern designs.

century-arms-ak-74-545x39mm-bMidwest Industries makes rail system that looks surprisingly at home on the Century Arms AK74.

Reliability is the name of the game and few makers can lay claim to the efficiency and simplicity built into the AK design. Mr. Kalashnikov was once quoted as saying “To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complicated.” That one sentence sums up the genius of Kalashnikov’s design.

Though Mikhail Kalashnikov actually campaigned against it at the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Military introduced an AK chambered in the 5.45x39mm cartridge. Using lighter, faster moving projectiles, many said this was simply a move made to “keep up” with the NATO 5.56mm. Today that point is a bit moot, as the die has been cast and hundreds of thousands of rifles built for that round are in service.

Several bullet weights and designs are available. However, they all share one distinct quality — the projectiles are long and narrow. These bullets are made to travel at super-sonic speeds and come apart rapidly when they encounter resistance.

If you consider 1974 as the official birth date of the 5.45x39mm cartridge, it’s not exactly the newest round on the block. Nonetheless, many western shooters still view it as something unusual. Just today I had a hunter who is also a Navy veteran ask me “What round is that?” regarding the 5.45mm.

Load Comments
  • robert

    i own an ak74m, it shoots quite nicely , just wish for a chrome lined barrel and brake. 5.45×39 is offered in HP, FMJ, SP and hornady V-MAX ballistic tip

  • Mr. NoNeoCon.

    The 5.45 is in no way “Hotter” than the 5.56. & all this made up folk lore about how the 5.45 is so much more deadly than the 5.56 is nothing but regurgitated soviet propaganda. Vickers did a gel test on ‘Tactical Arms’ The 5.45 does not fragment. It bends & tumbles & performs similar to a 5.56 FMJ. The most important difference is there are tons of different hollow point & ballistic tip offerings for the 5.56. (Along with endless reloading components) Where as you’re stuck with corrosive, steel case, inconsistent FMJ that smells like cat piss for the 5.45. Not to mention the fireball that that 4” muzzle break gives off. Low recoil? Yes. Not lower than a 5.56 carbine & at the cost of an extremely obvious flash signature that directs the blast to either side of the shooter, & hence at anyone standing on the firing line. & don’t bother unless you want to be ordering all the ammo online.

  • Mark W

    I purchased the Century arms AK-74 from a dealer and it has been a POS. Initial inspection a spring was missing inside so brought back. Took out to range with targets all set up and got 2 clips through it and then it locked up completely with one in the chamber! I purchased at the dealer, didn’t order it in and they wouldn’t even send it in for me for warranty so now I have to deal with it on my own. I was a very good customer at the dealer (Element Arms) and they will NEVER see me again. Now will see how Century handles it to know if I would buy something else with their name on it. If it was life or death I would be dead with this pile in my hands!

  • Conrad Kulatz

    I see nothing on your website about the Polish AKMS or the Centurion UC-9.

    Why did you place an ad without info on your website?????

    Seems rather stupid to me.

  • lance

    well i bought an arsenal 31-61 and it had badly canted sights shot way to the left with sights adjusted all the way sent it back paid for shipping transfer and the new rifle was worse fsb and rsb cant buttstock tweeked and trigger stuck to the rear on every shot called arsenal they said this was russian spec fsb and rsb cant etc..
    and did nothing so i just ate $1200 after all was said and done so beware of arsenal and the russian specafication excuse they give free rifles to peaple and gun magazines who give theyr aks good reviews

  • travis

    I recently purchased the AK-74 CAI, I have not shot that many rounds through it but so far so good. The 5.45 is a really good round it has been around since 74 but it was new to me. I have heard of some reviews that the gun keyholes but I have not encountered that problem yet

  • Kirk

    im very surprised at the other two comments concerning th Ak 74 from Century Arms.I am still shooting my AK 74 with absolute delight!.No misfeeds, No jams, NONE!. I recently even scoped it to try the accuracy ( old eyes ). It was a bit of a pain to zero in, but is holding groups under an inch and half at 50 yds, and under two inches at 150 yds from a bench.I would suggest that if you are considering this weapon, buy it from a dealer you know, who will be there for you if you do run into problems. I also picked up VZ 2008 from Century through my dealer and am very happy.One suggestion, dont over lube the Ak 74, and keep it clean(complete takedown) after firing, regardless of the amount of rounds fired.

  • Mike

    I had the same loading problem with my rifle from Century Arms. Unfortunately I did not have a positive result from the company and I would have to pay out of pocket to have it fixed. I spoke with several gunsmiths and the fix would be a few hundred dollars. I will be buying from someone else next time. Good luck to you. I hope you have a better experience than I did.

  • mcgyver

    Recently purchased CAI Bulg. ak74 from J&G sales.
    Upon initial range firing (only 8 rounds) each time it cycled for next round the carrier does not fully contact next round and just stops short, trigger does not fire the round and weapon had to be cleared after each shot. Discontinued use to investigate. After breakdown, it was clear there was excessive binding in the carrier/piston function. With the gas tube off, the piston was reinserted, as it was pushed forward it offset the gas block by nearly 7/16″. It was also evident of the binding by the wear patter of the left inside of the gas tube not allowing free movement. I have taken pictures and will present these to CAI for poor workmanship and warranty issues. Hope problem can be resolved. Await any other comments or resolutions.

    Highly Disappointed Shooter

  • Kirk Hartley

    I recently purchased my first Ak 74 rifle from Century Arms. I am very satisfied and extremely surprised at the reliability of this weapon. So far with over 500 rounds i have not experienced a single misfeed or misfire. I find the 5.45×39 round to be potent and “hot” compared to the 5.56.
    I plan to make only a few changes to the rifle such as the buttstock. i am a fairly large frame guy and the buttstock need to be longer to be really comfortable. I am very glad the 5.45×39 Ak is here and i am especially glad to find these comments on your site and hopoe mine are encouragilng.