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Old 08-21-2012, 08:57 AM   #1
MyGrassIsBlue05
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Default Replaced my Century Tantal barrel, big props to "The Dark Knight"

I haven't yet read any reports from anyone who's rebarreled their Century Tantal, so I figured I would make this as detailed as I could. Sorry, it's lengthy.

In 2009 I purchased my first AK rifle, a Century Tantal. I had read that these rifles were prone to keyholing, but also began reading reports that Century had began correcting the issue by revising their barrels with (what they said was true-to-spec) 1/9 barrels. Obviously I know now that this was all crap. Granted, there were those at the time who were saying “... but mine shoots nice, little round holes”. So, I called Century to get the scoop.

I was told by Cheryl Brokaw. (yes, I still have her name and extension written down in my file for this rifle), that there were some “initial barrel issues”, but they had all been resolved by the new 1/9” twist barrel. She even put me on hold and transferred me to someone who she claimed worked in the shop. This guy acted like he really didn’t have time to talk to me, but claimed that they hadn’t had ANY guns with a 1/9 twist sent back. Yes, I know. Lies. All lies. Also, the claim that “Guns which have serial numbers beginning with a Y are good” isn’t necessarily true either. My Tantal has a Y prefix, and was still out-of-spec.

Well, I gambled, and I lost. At 25 yards, the rifle would make small, oval, shaped holes that would *somehow* correct themselves at a longer distance. It never, ever made the dramatic “keyholes” we’ve all seen in similar topics and threads, and the accuracy wasn’t great, but I could’ve hit something within 100 yards if I had to. I figured it wasn’t bad, so why worry. As soon as I picked up my Saiga 5.45 this year however, I knew immediately that my Tantal was not right, and my Tantal began to irk me.

Here is the Saiga barrel doing the “bullet test”, followed by my Tantal barrel.





Granted, over the past 3 years, I have probably put over 4k rounds through the Century gun. It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t awful and it was still fun to take to the range. I’ve allowed friends who had never fired an AK to cut their teeth with it, and they’ve all enjoyed shooting it. However, living with such a rifle in my safe was not something I was particularly happy about now, and I had read all kinds of comments regarding new barrels being crap, especially Green Mountain barrels. I had read comments such as, “Get a kit with a surplus barrel, not a new GM POS”, and “new American-made barrels are crap”, etc. Then I found this article: http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_4_95/12...re.html&page=1

After reading the comments from the GM of Green Mountain, Rick Sanborn, I realized that Century had been getting their Tantal barrels from different sources – not just Green Mountain. But, due to interest, Green Mountain was stepping up in an effort to make a correct 1/8”, 4 groove Tantal barrel. He also addresses the "soft steel" issue....

So, did my Tantal come with a GM barrel? I don’t know. But from what I saw in that particular thread, and the subsequent testing, Green Mountain had maybe, finally, gotten the barrel right, and it was being chrome-lined. I went to Green Mountain’s website, and ordered my new Tantal barrel.
For some reason, I felt again as if I was rolling the dice.

Here’s what I received:






As you can see, the barrel arrived with the extractor cut, gas port drilled, as well as the FSB, and GB pin cuts, and handguard cuts made. It also arrived parkerized black.

You can also see that it passed the bullet test.


I contacted several gunsmiths who quoted me at various prices to do the work, which would involve shipping the gun back and forth, etc. Then I found The Dark Knight’s thread regarding barrel work on the AkFiles, and after seeing he only lived 20 minutes away, decided to send him a message to see if he’d be willing to do the work.
The Dark Knight stated that he had no problem doing the work, quoted me a price, and told me that I could come down the next day. By 6PM the next day, my Tantal had a new barrel. I was even allowed to hang out and help in the shop, gaining valuable experience and learning quite a bit along the way. DK is very knowledgeable regarding AK’s, and taught me many important things such as: how to determine headspace, how to prevent galling, and most importantly, that anti-seize paste is your best friend and and worst enemy.

I have to give him props for being 1., A fellow WV’yun who offered to help me out in a pinch, 2. A really nice freakin’ guy who knew his stuff and who can eyeball barrel straightness like nobody's business, 3. Having a plethora of tools, machining equipment, and a bunch of other stuff I probably couldn’t even identify with my limited experience in a machine shop. He got my old barrel out, and new one in hardly any time at all. There were a few difficulties since Green Mountain made ALL the cuts to the barrel, but nevertheless, DK was able to install it with a few minor fixes here and there.

Saturday, I took the rifle out to zero in, and although I was unable to really do the accuracy testing I wanted to, found it to be plenty accurate with NO keyholes, NO oval holes, nothing but small .22 caliber round holes in the paper where I was aiming. I am extremely happy with the new barrel, and although I wish the rifle had initially arrived with the correct barrel, I feel as if I got enough use out of the old one, and really didn't mind spending the $ to fix it up after 4k rounds.

I hope that someone finds this informative, as I've been wondering about Green Mountain AK barrels for some time.
I will say this: I will never, ever, roll the Century dice again.
DK - Thank you man. I appreciate your time, services, and you allowing me into your home. Still glad I passed the "crazy test"
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Old 08-21-2012, 09:45 AM   #2
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Nice report and write up. Glad you got r done and have a nice shooting Tantal. Good info on the new generation Tantal barrel from GM.
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Old 08-21-2012, 10:15 AM   #3
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Odd that they cut the cross pin grooves.
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Old 08-21-2012, 02:59 PM   #4
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Mygrassisblue,

Thanks for the kind words, you're very welcome.



Quote:
Originally Posted by valleyrat View Post
Odd that they cut the cross pin grooves.
Yeah, that made the replacement more difficult. The location of the pins always moves up or down and where green mountain cut the grooves did not line up. If a builder tried to install the pins without drilling the grooves again the pins wouldn't even make it to the other side.

The journals were all slightly undersized as well.

But, overall the barrel was high quality, it all worked out and I'm happy.
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Old 08-25-2012, 08:08 PM   #5
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Glad it worked out for you!
I have a Century Tantal that does not keyhole,however I have the chance to pick one up from a friend that has one ("Y" prefix century) that shoots slight keyholes and want to trade for auto/home improvement work (would cost me about 8hrs or so of my time/skills)and he buys all materials.I was wanting the Green Mountain bbl also for a replacement.Does anyone know or would it be better to get one that did'nt have all the cuts for a better fit ect?This Tantal will have to have a new bbl regardless.
I might call onto 'The Dark Night' to tackle this job IF I decide not to install the "pre" cut bbl myself.
Sound like DK know his stuff and I prob should have him do it if prices are right.
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Old 08-25-2012, 08:47 PM   #6
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I just purchased a USA made Yugoslavian M70 chromelined barrel from Brownell's during their sale for $100. It is finshed exactky like your Tantal barrel and the crown and chanber face looks exactly the same. It is very good looking and appears high quality. Time will tell when I build with it to see how it shoots and holds up.
It is the GM as well.

http://www.brownells.com/.aspx/pid=4.../AK-47-BARRELS
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Old 08-26-2012, 03:24 PM   #7
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That's a really nice looking barrel.

Yeah, it is weird that they drilled the pin channels. Those will probably never line up with any pre-drilled block, and not much use for a non-drilled block.
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Old 08-26-2012, 03:58 PM   #8
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Why doesn't anybody with a goofed tantal take up a civil case with Century? I know a good lawyer. Hell why don't a few of them start a class action lawsuit? probably would get the rifles fixed plus enough money to buy a new Arsenal rifle and ammo.
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Old 08-27-2012, 05:55 AM   #9
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I got the (gooffed bbl) Tantal in hand yesterday for trade from my friend...
He said that Century had agreed to replace the junk bbl on it but did'nt do it...After he had talked to someone else who sent their Tantal back to Century for bbl replacement that got a differant "non" matching #'s Tantal w/o the NDS receiver back in return and was not happy w/it he said f@*k it!
The Tantal from friend that I got is all matching #'s in MINT condition w/NDS receiver (its put togethr perfect).
I can kinda see where he's cominig from...Why not have the junk bbl replaced from someone that can do it right (or do it yourself) and keep the Tantal a "all" matching rifle w/a good NSD receiver instead of receiving the "unknown"! He also said "taking a chance with Century was too nerve racking" and that's why he never sent the Tantal back to them.
Oh well, it's mine now so time find a barrel for it!
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Old 09-02-2012, 03:13 PM   #10
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I have a WASR-2 that does the same thing. The holes are sometimes oblong at 25yrds, but fine at anything further than that.

I read a report of an original bulgarian barrel doing this too, and this is the second report of a "fixed" tantal doing it. I bet most people don't notice the issue because they are either shooting heavier commerical Wolf, or shooting past 25yrds.
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