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Posted: 9/3/2008 4:32:58 PM EST
I recently picked up a Century built Tantal, serial number 45XX. I knew about the problems people were having but pulled the trigger anyway. Well today I went out with various types of ammo and a hopeful attitude. Unfortunately it didn't take long to smash my high / wishful hopes. After getting a magazine down range I started seeing the key holes. Didn't matter what type of ammo. Now I'm in a quandry. I have an e-mail into Century to see what they will do. But I hate to roll the dice with a replacement. Other than the barrel problem this gun is beautiful. The trigger is the nicest I've ever shot on an AK. The gun runs 100% reliable. The finish is nice.

Has anyone else sent their Century guns back? How about rebarreling? Anyone done that? Ant options, thoughts or advice appreciated.

Thanks,
Wedge


SEE PAGE TWO FOR RECENT UPDATES
Link Posted: 9/4/2008 4:41:33 AM EST
1.Bring it back and collect refund/credit
2.Waste your time w/ Century
3.Sell it @ a fun show or Gunbroker, w/ keyholing in descrip
4.Spend ~250 and get her rebarreled
5.Sell it to one of these guys that swear keyholing is from the Ammo


If i couldnt return it, i would sell it on EE or Gunbroker for ~$100 loss.  I would be honest and reply that it keyholes.  If that didnt work i would sell it @ at fun show for what i paid for it.  It functions perfectly, but not as accurate as you thought. If they ask if it keyholes = yes.

After it is sold, buy an Interarms tantal and call it a day.
Link Posted: 9/4/2008 10:45:26 AM EST
I got a Yugo underfolder from Century, looked great. Got it home and notice the the front sight tower was canted. Took it back for a different one. Did that three or four times. The last one was still canted but close enough I could get it sighted in. The worst part was I didn't get to have it for the wedding pictures.
Link Posted: 9/4/2008 11:35:58 AM EST
Link Posted: 9/5/2008 4:12:32 AM EST
Well, I finally got someone who knew what they were doing at Century. They want me to ship the gun back for repair and/or replacement. So it goes out Monday and I'll keep my fingers crossed. I'm curious to see what they do.

Wedge
Link Posted: 9/5/2008 4:53:08 AM EST

Quoted:
send it back to Century, they are putting new barrels on them now, for FREE


so are they now putting the proper groove/land barrels on? chrome lined?
Link Posted: 9/5/2008 6:29:11 AM EST
That's the question.  No on knows or can say definetively.  There are constant reports of newly purchased guns that still keyhole.  This is long after the problem was identified, and supposedly fixed.  I had a new Century Tantal in my hands last week at a local gunshow, and put it down.  I would have bought it if I thought the barrel was in spec.  It was a great looking gun.  

Quoted:

Quoted:
send it back to Century, they are putting new barrels on them now, for FREE


so are they now putting the proper groove/land barrels on? chrome lined?
Link Posted: 9/5/2008 6:48:53 AM EST

Quoted:
That's the question.  No on knows or can say definetively.  There are constant reports of newly purchased guns that still keyhole.  This is long after the problem was identified, and supposedly fixed.  I had a new Century Tantal in my hands last week at a local gunshow, and put it down.  I would have bought it if I thought the barrel was in spec.  It was a great looking gun.  

Quoted:

Quoted:
send it back to Century, they are putting new barrels on them now, for FREE


so are they now putting the proper groove/land barrels on? chrome lined?


Well at least the OP is getting some resolution most have been dusted off from what i hear,. I guess the real other question is why would'nt CAI just use the original barrels and be done with it? and yeah they are really sweet looking rifles I wouldnt mind having another 5.45 in the inventory myself
Link Posted: 9/5/2008 9:49:47 AM EST

Quoted:
................  I guess the real other question is why would'nt CAI just use the original barrels and be done with it? and yeah they are really sweet looking rifles I wouldnt mind having another 5.45 in the inventory myself


Because all new AK kits have a barrel ban in place when imported. The original barrels are chopped when the kits are received.
Link Posted: 9/5/2008 10:03:11 AM EST
Link Posted: 9/23/2008 7:04:50 PM EST
Sent the old one back and they received it on 9-15-08. Today, 9-23-08, Fedex showed up with a brown box for me. Century opted to replace my gun with a new, in the box one. The build is just as nice as the old one. Everything is nice and tight and freshly parked. I even got an additional mag out of the swap. The barrel does not appear to be chrome lined. But what I find interesting is that it's a six groove barrel as opposed to the old four groove (?) Possibly a new barrel supplier?

The real test will come this weekend when I get some rounds down the pipe.

The new gun is in the 41XX serial number range.

More to follow.......

Wedge
Link Posted: 9/24/2008 1:17:19 PM EST
They just received mine today. Hopefully it'll only take two weeks to get it back.

Let us know how it shoots!
Link Posted: 9/25/2008 7:31:36 AM EST
Can they send you a new (different) serial numbered gun without an FFL involved?

B
Link Posted: 9/25/2008 7:54:48 AM EST

Quoted:
Can they send you a new (different) serial numbered gun without an FFL involved?

B


I guess so. I was kinda surprised by that myself. But the nice young lady at Century told me that since it was a direct replacement it was OK.

Wedge
Link Posted: 10/1/2008 10:41:18 AM EST
Well I made it to the range today with the replacement gun, some Russian 5.45 and a positive attitude. I was hopeful that Century had gotten it right with this one. As you can see in the picture below the gun looks pretty good.



So I started off at 25 meters to get it sighted in. A little tweaking with the front sight and I had it dialed in after 10 rounds. I finished off the magazine at a steady pace. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had a nice 30 shot group with 30 neat little ROUND holes on my 5.5 inch target. AK, minute of man accuracy. So far, so good.



Now it was time to see if this dog could hunt. I put up a new target and stacked the loaded mags. I burned through three, thirty round mags, rapid fire into the center of the target and the final mag, rapid fire into the head. From my shooting position I could see things didn’t look good. As you can see below, once the barrel heats up, all bets are off. Welcome to Keyhole Hell !!!!



As a last ditch I pulled the brake, even though there were no indications of bullet strikes. Two mags, rapid fire at TEN yards equals more keyholes.




So, lessons learned.

Do a little better research before buying.

Century’s customer service is great. Unfortunately their products don’t seem to be.

I love the 5.45 AK platform and I can’t wait to get a good one.

Now I have to decide what to do with this rifle.

I won’t sell it without full disclosure to any prospective buyer. So I’ll lose my ass on that option.
or
Century offered to send yet another gun to replace this one. Fool me once……
or
Century will give me a credit at the distributor, Centerfire Systems if I return it. But a perusal of their web site didn’t reveal anything I wanted.
or
Find a real Tantal barrel and have it replaced by the local smith.
or
Part it out, keep the receiver and buy a kit with the Tantal barrel.

Anybody know where I can get a true Polish Tantal Barrel?

Any other ideas ?????????

Decisions, decisions, what to do………..?

Learn from my mistake folks. If you hear Century, RUN AWAY FAST !!!!!!

Wedge

Link Posted: 10/1/2008 11:12:30 AM EST
Sorry to hear  Same thing happened to me w/ a WASR.

I would not try to fix that rifle again.  Sell it and buy an Interarms tantal.  I recently acquired another tantal from a kit and it shoots perfect.  Sell!!!!!
Link Posted: 10/1/2008 12:09:09 PM EST
wow man, i've seen a rifle keyhole before but yours is just fucking ridiculous!!!!  That is insane....I hope you work everything out and good luck..
Link Posted: 10/1/2008 2:49:11 PM EST
Something is amiss here...and I think you should try to look at this a little "scientifically"...note that ALL the rounds didn't keyhole, most of them still were stabilized and flew straight. Note that the keyholed rounds with the brake on were all on the outside of the target, brake off: inside of the target. Now if you've ever fired a machine gun with an extremely overheated bbl the rounds that keyhole are all over the place, in fact most would not hit even the target, not only that, but the rounds that did hit would rip the target to shreds, and few would cut a perfect bullet shaped hole, most would be an elongated tear. What I'm getting at here is what in any bbl could cause such destablization? Much less two different type bbls in two different guns? My guess is:...it could be the ammo. Smoothbore shotguns rarely keyhole slugs, even when hot. Really bad pitted worn out bbls rarely keyhole. BBls that DO keyhole often have badly eroded rifling directly in front of the chamber. Maybe some of the bullets arent seated properly in the casing? Or maybe some of the bullets are somehow being pushed back into the case as they are chambered? Some Tantals keyhole, some don't seem to, or were those "good" rifles gotten really hot enough? What ammo were they useing? Obviously something changes when the weapons really hot. Something expands too far, chamber or bbl or both, or maybe the bolt isn't locking up consisitantly. I'd look into this some more, maybe with a good 'smith before I make any decisions on what to do with the rifle. Keyholing in any rifle is highly unusual. This is an intreuging problem. Just my .02 and good luck.
Link Posted: 10/1/2008 6:17:37 PM EST
Ak 74 barrel-

http://www.copesdistributing.net/product_info.php?cPath=101&products_id=913
Link Posted: 10/2/2008 9:29:19 AM EST
i'd send it back again.  no.  i wouldn't.  i'd bite the bullet and replace the barrel with an original like the one from copes.  edit - are you using 70 grain or 52 grain surplus?  
Link Posted: 10/2/2008 11:52:03 AM EST

Quoted:
I'd bite the bullet and replace the barrel with an original like the one from copes.  edit - are you using 70 grain or 52 grain surplus?  


Unfortunately the barrel dimensions between the Bulgarian and Polish are different enough to make it more headache than it's worth. Fortunately I've got a line on an original barrel. So I'm gonna swap out the Century barrel for an original Polish barrel. Duracoat/Duraheat the metal and put a fixed, laminated 74 stock on it. I should have a nice rifle when everything is done.

Ammo-wise I tried Wolf 70 grain and Russian milsurp. Both key holed once the barrel heated up. I've used the same ammo in other 74's with no problems. From what I've read on the different forums and seen first hand the problem is the Century barrels. The bores are slightly over size. Some think it's because they were cut to be chrome lined and never were. Others think they are actually 5.56 barrel blanks. I haven't slugged mine yet. But it will be interesting to see how it measures out. All I know is that if I keep the rate of fire slow and the barrel warm it's very accurate. But if I dump a mag or two rapid fire then the key-holing begins. Once that barrel gets hot, bullet stabilization goes out the window.

Live & learn,
Wedge
Link Posted: 10/7/2008 12:28:58 PM EST
Makes sense to me, since the barrel, being made of steel, would EXPAND when hot. This effectively enlarges the bore diameter, ever so slightly. If you start with an extremely marginal barrel (like these Century 5.56mm "5.45" barrels), a slight amount of expansion is enough to cause a lack of stabilization, resulting in some keyholing.
Link Posted: 10/10/2008 8:45:39 AM EST
Send it back again why not let them waste money not you, who knows maybe third time will be a charm.
Link Posted: 10/11/2008 12:39:32 AM EST
I so wanted one of these and I am not going to buy one now. That sucks big time. The rifle looks damn good for a century , too bad it wont shoot worth a shit! Why cant century get shit right, They could get someone to make the barrel correctly and at low cost for the number they buy. Century arms you need to get your shit together now!!! I dont mind if the barrel is US made and non crome lined if it shoots straight. My yugo shoots great with a US made tube and there is no reason for this kind of crap.
Link Posted: 10/24/2008 9:24:01 AM EST
Those ARE very interesting targets.  I've seen bad barrels and those targets ain't it.

You have two "populations" of impacts, with a bad barrel you have multiple, everything from a front-on/rear-on round hole to a full profile with everything (oblong) in between.

If you shoot until you get the first keyhole, is every bullet afterwards a keyhole?

The odds of the gun/barrel shooting one shot keyhole and another shot a second later end-on is unlikely if the barrel is the only source of the problem.  

How many manufacturers of 5.45 bullets?  Are all bullets from various manufacturers coming from the same production process?

Link Posted: 10/24/2008 10:49:05 PM EST
Damnit, I just ordered one of these. I hadn't heard about the problems. I am gonna call tomorrow and see if it has shipped and cancel.
Link Posted: 10/27/2008 5:13:43 AM EST
Well since I'm not planning to do anything soon with the rifle I decided to send it back for version 3.0. It went out last week so I should have a replacement in a few weeks. Once I do I'll take it out for a torture test. I'll post my results.........



Wedge


Link Posted: 11/4/2008 5:35:04 AM EST
Have you tried any of the other surplus ammo's? Bulgarian & such?

I've got the same rifle.. heat it up.. no keyholing. I'm shooting the bulgarian 52 grain surplus.
Link Posted: 11/5/2008 5:49:55 PM EST
Holy crap.  My M70 underfolder story EXACTLY (minus any weddings).

Fourth gun absolutely rocks, however.

My Tantal is only a month old, does NOT keyhole, but the front sight piston is sticking out about 1/4" after adjustments.  Neither front nor rear sight base look canted, however.  I'm a bit confused.  Accurate and nice trigger and no keyholes, however.

I shoot Wolf.
Link Posted: 11/8/2008 7:44:45 AM EST
Quoted:
Holy crap.  My M70 underfolder story EXACTLY (minus any weddings).

Fourth gun absolutely rocks, however.

My Tantal is only a month old, does NOT keyhole, but the front sight piston is sticking out about 1/4" after adjustments.  Neither front nor rear sight base look canted, however.  I'm a bit confused.  Accurate and nice trigger and no keyholes, however.

I shoot Wolf.


Is your Tantal from Century? What bullet weight of Wolf are you shooting out of your Tantal? What is the serial number range?

TIA,
Wedge
Link Posted: 11/9/2008 2:38:17 AM EST
Did you guys read the post...not sure where about  Century having (2) different barrel twists....someone said that could be the cause of the keyholing.

They are listed on Centuries site...maybe you need to shoot a llighter grain bullet to see how that woeks?...or heavier.....good luck

Just thought I would post this if you have not heard of it yet...not good with links...or I would hook you up, but it shouldn't be hard to find.
Link Posted: 11/9/2008 3:00:51 PM EST
My first day at the range:

http://i13.photobucket.com/albums/a273/IANALY/photo.jpg

No keyholes until the fourth mag.
Link Posted: 11/10/2008 7:52:07 AM EST
Quoted:
My first day at the range:

http://i13.photobucket.com/albums/a273/IANALY/photo.jpg

No keyholes until the fourth mag.


Dude, I feel your pain. What bullet weight/type were you shooting? Do you know the barrel twist?

Wedge
Link Posted: 11/10/2008 7:58:18 AM EST
Well the Big White Truck arrived with Century Tantal Version 3.0. Interestingly enough it's clearly tagged as a 1:9 twist barrel. I knew they had started selling two different barrel twists, 1:7 & 1:9. When I called to replace version 2.0 I requested a 1:9 barrel but was told they could only do a direct replacement which was a 1:7 barrel. So I don't know how I ended up with the 1:9. But it's cool maybe, just maybe I'll have a good shooter. Overall the gun is very nicely constructed. I'll be heading out this week to give it a try. I'll post my results.....

Wedge
Link Posted: 11/11/2008 4:09:05 AM EST
I'm definitely watching this thread closely.  Good discussion here, Wedge.
Link Posted: 11/11/2008 4:36:26 AM EST
Ian-

What ammo were you shooting and what is your serial range?
Link Posted: 11/12/2008 8:12:22 AM EST
Well, like I said earlier, replacement rifle number three showed up. Got her unpacked and went over it real good. This is the nicest of the three. Good construction and finish. I threw on a Polish pistol grip and wrapped the stock with paracord. Regardless of how she shoots I'm going to keep her. Probably have to rebarrel it at some point. This is the latest greatest product improved model from Century. 1:9 barrel that supposedly cures all the keyhole issues. Century told me they tested them and there were no more issues. That remains to be seen..........



Loaded up some mags with Russian surplus and headed out to the range. I started at 100 yards slow fire to see if the sights were on. Amazingly enough they were dead nuts on. Things were looking good at this point. So I sighted in some other rifles at 100 and then headed over to the 25 yard range for some mag dumps. I only had three mags left so I did a rapid fire drill at 75 feet. As I got into the third mag the rounds started key-holing. Not as dramatic as the earlier guns but I don't think I got the gun as hot as before. With the earlier guns the hotter the barrel got the more dramatic the keyholes.



So am I disappointed? Yea a little. I had hoped Century had their shit together by now. Third time is not a charm for me. So I think I'll keep her around for a fun gun. Eventually I'll run across an original Polish barrel and I'll re-barrel her. If I keep the round count slow the accuracy stays in place. I'm going to take her up to Camp Perry in a couple of weeks for the pop-up target match. I'm curious to see how it shoots. I think the round count is low and slow enough that the barrel won't get too hot.

So final notes for all you guys considering a Century built Tantal. BUYER BEWARE !!!

Learn for my lesson instead of the hard way......................

Later,
Wedge

Link Posted: 11/12/2008 3:58:52 PM EST
Wow, what a disappointment!!!

I just ordered one from Aim last week and hope I don't have the same trouble.

I would suggest, however, that you keep sending it back to Century as it's their problem and shouldn't be yours.  Obviously though you're a big boy and can do as you wish but I'd keep bugging them.

I once returned a out-of-alignment SAR-2 to them and they managed to get it right and it only cost me $10 to ship it back.

I wish you well with whatever you choose to do, it certainly is a looker,
Scott
Link Posted: 11/12/2008 4:55:07 PM EST
Quoted:
.

I would suggest, however, that you keep sending it back to Century as it's their problem and shouldn't be yours.  Obviously though you're a big boy and can do as you wish but I'd keep bugging them.



I think Century is finally sick of me. When I talked to them last they said that if they sent me this gun it wasn't returnable for key-holing. They insist that it's an ammo problem............
Link Posted: 11/12/2008 6:29:09 PM EST
Quoted:
Quoted:
.

I would suggest, however, that you keep sending it back to Century as it's their problem and shouldn't be yours.  Obviously though you're a big boy and can do as you wish but I'd keep bugging them.



I think Century is finally sick of me. When I talked to them last they said that if they sent me this gun it wasn't returnable for key-holing. They insist that it's an ammo problem............


Well that's really nice of them, way to stand behind your product.  I had one of the first SEAKs and it had to go back to ORF a couple of times to get some feeding issues out of the way (ORF was very, very good about the whole issue) and then once it was up and running I found it key-holed occassionally (with Wolf I believe).  I sold it off but made sure the buyer was aware of the issue.  It bothered me to have this really nice looking AK in my safe that I couldn't count on if necessary (unlikely I'd ever have to count on it but still....).

On another note, where on your Tantal does it indicate the twist rate of the barrel?  If Aim ever gets dug out from their back-log and mine gets shipped, I'd like to know where to look.

Thank you and again, my condolences on your plight,
Scott

Link Posted: 11/13/2008 5:14:11 AM EST



On another note, where on your Tantal does it indicate the twist rate of the barrel?  If Aim ever gets dug out from their back-log and mine gets shipped, I'd like to know where to look.




There are NO barrel markings to indicate barrel twist. The reason I know mine was the white plastic hang-tag attached to the gun. It listed the serial number and barrel twist along with a bar code for inventory purposes. Also on the receipt it will show the model number. RI1436 is a 1:7 barrel and RI1436-B is a 1:9 barrel.

Unfortunately I don't think the problem is the barrel twist. The normal twist on an AK-74 is approximately 1:8. Faster or slower by an inch isn't going to make much difference. I can shoot 55 through 75 grain bullets out of my AR's with a 1:7 barrel with no loss of accuracy or keyholing. However if I try the heavy bullets out of a 1:12, M16 barrel then the problems start. I'm convinced that the problem is an over sized bore on the Tantal replacement barrels. I really believe that they were cut to spec for chrome lining but never chromed. That little bit of difference doesn't show itself until the barrel gets hot, expands and the bullets stop making what minimal contact there is with the rifling.

Incidentally I also noticed that with all three Tanatls accuracy at 100 yards was marginal and inconsistent. It was running right around 8 to 10 inches. I attribute that to the oversize bore also. Even with a cold barrel bullet to rifling contact is minimal resulting in marginal bullet stabilization.

But since I'm not an engineer, I only play one on the internet, this is just my personal theory. I have no hard facts to back it up......Your mileage may vary.

I'm really curious to hear from some owners of any of the "Certified" Tantals that have been selling recently as test fired. I'm curious to see if that Certification stands up after 3 mag dumps ??????????

Wedge

 
Link Posted: 11/13/2008 8:51:20 AM EST
damn. I was looking into getting a Tantal.
Link Posted: 11/13/2008 12:12:53 PM EST
Quoted:

I'm really curious to hear from some owners of any of the "Certified" Tantals that have been selling recently as test fired. I'm curious to see if that Certification stands up after 3 mag dumps ??????????

Wedge
 


I'm hoping to find out soon. We will see.

Link Posted: 11/13/2008 1:30:40 PM EST
Quoted:
damn. I was looking into getting a Tantal.


Don't shy away from a Tantal. Just make sure it has the original Polish barrel and not a replacement barrel. All of the 74's that I've shot with original barrels are lasers. Get a good parts kit and a Nodak receiver and have a smith build it for you. Or find a nicely built gun.

Wedge

 
Link Posted: 11/13/2008 4:55:10 PM EST
I got lucky I guess... 3" groups is about normal shooting bulgarian surplus.

Just we know... not to suggest its just "ammo"... what loads did you shoot? Have you tried any other loads besides the russian surplus?
Link Posted: 11/14/2008 4:17:14 AM EST
Quoted:
Quoted:
damn. I was looking into getting a Tantal.


Don't shy away from a Tantal. Just make sure it has the original Polish barrel and not a replacement barrel. All of the 74's that I've shot with original barrels are lasers. Get a good parts kit and a Nodak receiver and have a smith build it for you. Or find a nicely built gun.

Wedge

 


So after reading around it seems the Interarms rifles are ok and only the Century builds have this issue?
Link Posted: 11/14/2008 4:56:18 AM EST
BDA-

Did you get the rifle hot at any point? I guess you are saying that you have experienced no keyholing?
Link Posted: 11/14/2008 6:32:46 AM EST
I'd be interested to see just how long the barrel has to cool down before the keyholing goes away.

Link Posted: 11/14/2008 2:14:33 PM EST
Quoted:
I'd be interested to see just how long the barrel has to cool down before the keyholing goes away.



That's a damm good question. I never bothered to find out. Once the keyholing stated I quit shooting the Tantal and moved on to another gun. I'll have to test it out next time I go to the range.

Wedge

   
Link Posted: 11/14/2008 9:40:12 PM EST
Anyone have any idea on what is causing the keyholing???????????

The obvious would be a burr or nick at the end of the barrel. Anyone say they see anything flying (like jacket parts) or any strange blast or sound when they keyhole?

I can not imagine that from three different barrel manufactures.

Are we sure it is not the ammo?
Have we tried several different brands?

Could this be a 5.56 barrel in disguise or tooling for that barrel used to make these?

Any chance it could be harmonics in the barrel? I am thinking with three different barrel manufactures and with different twist rates that this probably is not the problem.

My old school Steyr Maddi, Poly Legend, Norinco underfolder, and a couple of Mak's all shoot straight and true and I can free hand shoot standing and stay on a 8" target at 100 yards easily and can put most on paper at 300 yards.

With the way yours shoots I would not trust it beyond 30 yards that it would hit anything.
Link Posted: 11/15/2008 7:39:26 AM EST
Quoted:
BDA-

Did you get the rifle hot at any point? I guess you are saying that you have experienced no keyholing?


Yes... I have gotten it hot... and no keyholing. I haven't dumped 4-5 mags as fast as possible... as I prefer to aim & shoot, but have had extended range sessions, where I would shoot a lot within a short time, with enoung heat coming up from the barrel & gas tube to create a haze... and kept decent accuracy. Hot enough to require the rifle to sit for 15 minutes to be cool enough to put in its case..

Like most of my AK's.. the groups start to string vertically when hot.. but no keyholing.

My rifle is in the 00600 range, if that means anything. DC receiver.. century build. I've been shooting the wasp ammo exclusively.

I agree on everything said here... just wondering if certain ammo is making the situation worse.


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