Century’s Classic Romanian AKM — The WASR-10 By: David Higginbotham

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Now is a fantastic time to find a wide selection of AKs. If you’re looking for a classic AKM, check out Century’s WASR-10. This is a classic import that has been rebuilt to a standard AKM pattern.

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The Century WASR-10 in 7.62 x 39.
The Century WASR-10 in 7.62×39. The mag is a Bulgarian steel version.

Century International Arms

Century International Arms is currently one of a growing number of gun companies based in Florida. The company was founded in Vermont, back in 1962—but after more than 30 years in the Northeast, the company did what many in that area do and bought a pair of white shoes and moved the HQ to Boca Raton.

The move has been good for the AK industry. They make some guns here in the states. These are immune to the 922r regulations that govern the number of American-made parts that have to be counted on any non-sporterized AK build. These rifles can be built closer to Kalashnikov’s original vision.

The WASR-10 has a stamped receiver
The WASR-10 is a stamped receiver—a simple, classic design.

Century also imports guns, like this Romanian build, that do require some attention to be paid to compliance.

What is 922r?

I could write a dissertation. This is one of many really confusing gun laws that have evolved around the premise that certain guns don’t have “sporting” purposes. Bullshit. I’ve hunted hogs with AKs in south Florida, and was thankful for many of the rifle’s more controversial features—including, but not limited to, a muzzle brake, a pistol grip, a folding stock, and a stack of standard capacity AK mags.

The WASR-10 gas tube
The gas tube. Again, simple stamped steel. Railed versions are available for those who might want to add an optic way up on this end.

Yet politicians are going to politic. Title 18 USC, Part 922r, states that no more than 10 imported parts may be used in an AK-style rifle build. The list of parts identified by the regulation looks like this:

  • Buttstock
  • Pistol Grip
  • Handguards
  • Barrel
  • Receiver
  • Trunnions
  • Bolt Carrier
  • Bolt
  • Gas Piston
  • Muzzle Device
  • Hammer
  • Trigger
  • Disconnector
  • Magazine Body
  • Magazine Follower
  • Magazine Floorplate

Sporterized and the WASR

As noted above, the standard AKM build has military roots, so it can’t have any sporting uses. Not one. But if you put in a single-stack mag, mover the trigger back and eliminate the need for a pistol grip, and don’t get too fancy with muzzle devices, then this passes muster as a solid sporting rifle.

These WASR-10 import rifles come into Century in a “sporterized” form, with single stack mag wells and (likely) thumbhole stocks—elements that clear the import restrictions on scary black rifles. Century then replaces some parts, makes sure they’ll pass 922r, and sends them out.

The front sight of the WASR-10 is a simple pin and is protected by steel wings that also serve as a ghost-ring of sorts at close range.
The front sight on the WASR is a simple pin and is protected by steel wings that also serve as a ghost ring of sorts at close range.

There’s one thing to consider, though. Century is good about 922r. If the rifle is stamped with the company name, it is going to avoid any kind of close scrutiny. Some companies use the magazine as part of the American-made part count, but I can’t find where the WASR-10 does.

If you start swapping out parts, pay attention to where they’re made. This is one of those rules that has yet to be enforced, though. If you want to get really confusing but sometimes accurate amateur legal advice, jump into any of the very long threads on the AK forums.

What’s a WASR-10?

For those new to AK culture, the names and numbers and companies of origin can be inscrutable. Kalashnikov designed what would become the AKM which is what most everyone recognizes now as the AK-47. Though there are numerous evolutions of this design, the AKM is the standard model.

rear sight elevation marks
The rear sight has elevation marks. With some training, these are useful. Most of us, though, won’t mess with them.

After the Soviets began aggressive Cold War era ideological expansion, they outsourced AKM production to allied countries like Romania, Yugoslavia, and others. These factories have continued production which is why there are so many Romanian and Yugoslavian imports.

What is state-controlled production in Romania, though—once the Soviet overseers are less involved—becomes an opportunity for an import license, and that’s where Century comes in. These WASR-10 rifles are built in Romania by the Cugir Arms Factory.

WASR-10 Romanian AKM
Though the barrel is short, the whole build is less than compact. This is why folding stocks have become so popular, even on the WASR.

The WASR part comes from the 1996 Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies —a group of countries that came together, if my limited understanding of this is correct, to oversee arms exports and set some informal, but agreed-upon rules. At the time, Romania was part of the club, so they made sure to protect some of their exports. WASR (which is often pronounced like “washer,” but without the h: “wasser”) is easier to pronounce, if hard to unpack (politically).

There have been numerous design changes and part swaps over the years. Triggers have been upgraded. While the rest of the rifle seems to be based on the stock AKM, the trigger is one step up.

The RAK-1 Trigger

The WASR-10s are now being built with a solid single-stage trigger. This is a slightly different design that addresses some issues the AK has seen over the years.

To start, the hammer has been cut down slightly, allowing more clearance for the bolt carrier. The connector surfaces have been machined for a precise fit. And there’s no perceptible trigger slap with this build—something that others have noted in early WASR builds.

RK-1 trigger
The RK-1 trigger is a solid improvement and a nice compliment to the WASR build.

I’ve worked with some really nice AK triggers, and I’m not going to put this one up there with some of the nicer aftermarket drop-ins. It still feels, to me, like a standard trigger. The take-up is minimal, and it breaks under six pounds, but there’s some spots that could be smoothed out.

If you’re a die-hard AK snob, odds are you’d want to jump in and polish a few surfaces even further. I’m more inclined to apply oil and the repetitive stresses that come from long sessions of live-fire. If experience is any guide, these spots will work their way in. While I’d never make excuses for any gun, or say a rifle needs “a break-in period,” these are really simple machines.

WASR Controls, furniture, etc.

This is an entry-level AK, no doubt. The WASR-10 is built well, by a group that has been making these guns for decades. The design has seen little change in its history, and Century has kept this rifle close to its roots.

The furniture on these guns is available in either wood or plastics. As this is a gun I intend to monkey with, I wasn’t too particular. I tend to like the classic wood or steel folding stocks. What you see here will soon be replaced.

Working on AK skills, even with experienced shooters, requires new skill sets.
Working on AK skills, even with experienced shooters, requires new skill sets. Unrelated, the guns ship with US Palm mags.

The barrel is cold-hammer-forged, which will contribute to its lifespan and accuracy. Everything else–and this isn’t intended to be a slight on Century or to be reductive–is really standard.

Running the Basic AKM

Here’s where those new to the AK platform either fall in love or not. There’s no bolt hold open. Mag changes aren’t fast, or not as fast as they can be on an AR. And the iron sights on the AK seem more antiquated by the day.

There are upgrade options to fix all of these. Training is the best way to get proficient with mag changes and the use of the right-side charging handle. And there is a side-mount for a scope, if you really want to stay within the AKM tradition.

traces on steel target from Copper frangible ammo
Copper frangible ammo, like Inceptor, leaves traces on steel that are visually stunning.

For me, the AK has always been about shorter distance. The 7.62 x 39 is a great round, but it isn’t known for its flat trajectory. I ran this gun in some close drills, then moved out to 100 yards. At that distance, I could predictably break clays sitting on the berm.

The Century WASR-10 with a US Palm 30 round mag. Standard capacity.
The Magpul mags work well, too.

Like any gun with iron sights, you will learn its patterns through repetition.

Like a lot of guns that are prone to a potential gun ban, the WASR-10 price will fluctuate. They start in the mid $800s but will be impossible to find if there’s ever any political flak in the air.