The Other Blue Man Group

During a series of test firings I used a new silhouette combat target offered by Birchwood Casey that I call “ Blue Targets” or “Blue Men” and simulated an advance group of 15 riflemen.  The drill consisted of firing 15 rounds, five at each of three targets, then counting the hits.

The first target was at 100 yards, the second at 150, and the third at 200.  Some would say this is a stretch for the AK and iron sights, but I was counting on the fact that these sights were better then the standard designs found on foreign-made rifles and the rifle was built tighter and more accurate. All shots had to be delivered down range within 30 seconds.

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As a control, my volunteer shooter had military training and experience firing the M1-Garand at Camp Perry. It didn’t help him much.  The game was on after a three-shot group fired at 100 yards confirmed the sights were adjusted correctly.

My test subject hit with two rounds at 100 yards. One round at 150 yards, and blanked out with a zero at 200 yards.  During a second timed attempt he did a bit better but went way over on the time limit.  The 200-yard target was still blank, indicating that he or the sights were the problem. Since most of his hits were a bit off to the left this indicated some trigger control problems.  While the trigger did tend to creep a bit it has a very solid crisp let off at about six pounds.

Blue Man Targets
Blue man targets from 100 to 200 yards. Better sights are required for longer distances.

My turn: I had an edge because I shot and handled the rifle earlier. I ended up with five kills on the 100-yard blue man, three on the 150-yard target, and zero on the 200-yard target. I could not seem to find the kill zone over those basic sights at 200 yards.

With my failure to hit the 200-yard blue man I decided to lock down my Aimpoint M4s TM.  This is a red-dot battle sight with a sniper screen to reduce glare in a combat environment.  The Aimpoint is not classed as a target variant in sighting equipment. Instead it is a tool that can get on a target quickly and keep you there until the threat has been eliminated.  With the Centurion equipped with Weaver rails I had the Aimpoint up and shooting within several minutes while never leaving my station.

The zero work was fast in that the impact point with a test round at 100 yards was about 8 inches low. With windage dead on, I cranked up the elevation a bit, and then planted the next round dead on the target center.   Now with a magazine loaded with 15 rounds I was back at my timed event against those three targets.

The target at 100 yards took five fast hits, and the 200-yard target showed another five kills. Reloading several times I selected random ranges and found the better target acquisition system to be a very distinct advantage.  However, this is where a real flaw revealed itself.  After firing quite a bit that day I noticed that the upper forward hand guard that retained the red-dot sight rail had become loose and sloppy. This was seriously impacting the sighting system.

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A possible solution for this is the attachment of a left-side receiver rail that mounts a quick-release scope base directly in line with the top of the rifle’s dust cover.  An example is of this outfit is common on the 54-C Dragunov sniper rifle.  With this addition I believe the Model 39 could shoot tighter groups and extend its range. If I owned this rifle I would have a competent gunsmith install a side rail.

The Centurion Model 39 is a very solid combat and general defense rifle.   In terms of function there were no issues with feeding or ejection, and all controls functioned perfectly. Furniture needs to be addressed for a tighter fit, and when cleaning it I found the bolt stiff when returning it to the receiver. That is the result of a well-machined receiver and bolt assembly.

When aligned correctly, and that means right on the nose, the bolt assembly drops in like the parts in a Swiss watch. Priced under $800 this is a lot of rifle for the money if you have your sights set on an AK-47.

Recommended AK-47 Resources:

The Gun Digest Book of the AK & SKSThe Gun Digest Book of the AK & SKS

Video: Avtomat Kalashnikova

AK47: The Complete Kalashnikov Family of Rifles

AK-47 Assembly/Disassembly Download

AK-47 Assembly/Disassembly DVD


  1. Accuracy is not much to speak of, then again, the rear sight is still a notch set way too far forward to be useful. The manufacturer should have mounted a peep sight on the rear cover of the receiver. Maybe a good scope and better ammo will help this rifle a bit.