Century Arms C39 AK Pistol: The Ultimate 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, by loose definition, is a long gun kept at the ready in the cab of your pickup truck for general shooting chores. Depending on your locale, a truck gun may be primarily tasked with dispatching meddlesome groundhogs or prairie dogs. Texas ranchers may very well keep a truck gun handy to dispose of marauding feral hogs. Of course, the truck gun is also often viewed as a personal defense tool as protection from both two and four-legged predators.

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The “truck gun” is viewed as a utility tool that is up to 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. By nature of circumstance, a 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 Between Truck Seats

Century Arms C39 Pistol Between Truck Seats

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 that are built upon the original Kalashnikov action under their banner “C39”. The “C” stands for “Centurion”. I tested a C39 pistol a few years ago and the gun was perfectly functional. It was very well made. The receivers on C39 guns are machined, not stamped and folded like your traditional AK.

Made in USA Flag on AK Lower Receiver

Made in USA Flag on AK Lower Receiver

As for specifics, the C39 is not a short-barreled rifle; it is built 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 pistolgrip and a black polymer forend with top, bottom, right and left accessory rails. The barrel is fitted with an M16 style muzzle brake and this model has a “sharkfin” front sight. A traditional AK rear is used. 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. Having been reviewed by the BATFE, the wrist stabilizer 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 screw driver 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. The rear of the sling was looped 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.

The last addition was 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 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. The light is powered by a single 123A Lithium battery.

Inforce Light on Century Arms C39 Pistol

Inforce Light on Century Arms C39 Pistol

Range Testing

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. Zero stoppages or malfunctions have been encountered. As for accuracy, we BZO’d the red dot at 30 yards. Steel silhouettes at one and two hundred yards were smacked with constant regularity. 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 preformed was to lube up the bolt and carrier with FrogLube. AK’s are machines that run well with proper lubrication.

Parting Shots

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.

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Paul Markel

Founder & President at Student of the Gun
Paul G. Markel has worn many hats during his lifetime. He has been a U.S. Marine, Police Officer, Professional Bodyguard, and Small Arms and Tactics Instructor. Mr. Markel has been writing professionally for law enforcement and firearms periodicals for nearly twenty years with hundreds and hundreds of articles in print. Paul is a regular guest on nationally syndicated radio talk shows and subject matter expert in firearms training and use of force. Mr. Markel has been teaching safe and effective firearms handling to students young and old for decades and has worked actively with the 4-H Shooting Sports program. Paul holds numerous instructor certifications in multiple disciplines and a Bachelor’s degree in conflict resolution; nonetheless, he is and will remain a dedicated Student of the Gun.

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  1. Muncy Zuber

    Well done, Jarrod! Since I’m not a NE Yankee, this sounds like a Great Truck Gun & then some!! I’ll give it a look. Thanks super idea.

  2. Marty Krutolow

    I’d love to see the look on the cops’ faces as you exited the Lincoln Tunnel into Manhattan with your C39 hanging from the gun rack in your cab. Ha.

  3. Scott C

    I like the Centurion, but currently have the m92 PAP, and it does make an excellent vehicle gun. Just not sure how law enforcement react to seeing it open carry in the cab here in VA. 😉

    1. Johnny Bailey

      I hear ya Scott. Virginia is getting so iffy now, i won’t bring firearms with me when i go visit any more. i grew up there, and it has changed, and not for the better. If a state boy pulled you over on 81 outside of Roanoke and saw THIS puppy stuck between the seats, you’d probably never be seen again, and neither would your GUN! lol

    1. Johnny Bailey

      I have not, but if you want to attach it to the Centurion pistol above, i would tell you that the pistol is a tad nose heavy. The Centurion pistol is also almost 22 inches long, so holding it up will stress your forerm a tad more than the average bear. Doable to be sure, just don’t know how much it would tork your forearm. It probably works well on some lighter AK pistols like a draco or a MPAP 92. Don’t know if it was designed to be compatible with an AR though….

  4. Johnny Bailey

    The Centurion pistol SMOKES! I bought one a year ago primarily for home defense. I wanted something that was both maneuverable and packed a bigger wollop than I could get from a regular pistol caliber, and something that would also hold more rounds. It travels quite well too, and the beauty of living in Georgia? You could use an AK-47 for a HOOD ORNAMENT, and the cops leave you be! My sympathies to my yankee friends…. lol

    This thing is quite rugged. I was a little wary at first about that shark fin front sight, but mine came in dead on. Adjustable rear sight on it as well if you need to tweak it. That front foregrip is a nice piece of work. Aside from the quad rails on it, it deflects heat quite nicely. You can drop a boatload of rounds through it, and the heat is quite managable.

    Every time i cart this thing off to the range, people just STARE….. It’s like a hot woman at a party; everybody wants to touch it! Folks come up all the time to examine it and ask questions. Visually, it is a nasty looking piece of machinery, especially when you accessorize it and put coupled mags on it. It can get a little nose-heavy, but that doesn’t bother me.

    I CC carry with a traditional pistol, but if it ever starts to really go to hell out there, this bad boy will be coming with, and sitting between my front seats.

  5. Chet Chettington

    This is considered a pistol and can be carried locked n’ loaded in a motor vehicle in MN.

  6. JB

    Thanks for the review…if given the choice between a C39 or a Draco AK pistol, which would you choose, try to ignore the lack of rails on the Draco if possible for this question. Also, with the C39 synthetic/plastic forward hand rails, was their any hint of these melting under continuous fire rates? Thanks

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