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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Since I'm a gambler, I decided to grab one of these recently. They are supposed to be complete junk, but the price was fair and I like to trouble shoot stuff. The box was marked "RI-1593X", so I assume that is the model of Tantal. Century makes these was several different barrels (for some reason), and my gun appears to have the 5.45 diameter barrel with 1 in 8 twist on it. Others (I've heard) have a 1 in 9 or 1 in 7 twist. Early ones apparently had the wrong bore diameter altogether, and tended to keyhole wildly.
Overall:

Stripped:


Initial Observations:
The receiver is by Nodak, I believe, based on the markings.

Serial is Y005XXX. I believe its fairly recent production, as the dealer had just gotten it in from Century, thought I can't confirm the date, as it is missing the tag.

Gun has selector markings on both sides, but the right side does not have notches for some reason. This has no functional effect, but it is odd.

The side safety/selector works, but is stuff, and I won't use it regularly.


The trunnion was sanitized, but the circle 11 can sorta be seen.

All parts are mismatched, and the gun is very heavily parked. I stripped the gun to all its parts, and cleaned everything up. The action was rough because of the heavy park, and this seems typical for a newish gun. The barrel is non-chromed, but the piston looks to be the original Chromed Polish piece. The gun cycling smoothed up a lot after some shooting. Its not Bulgarian smooth, but its pretty good. The gun shipped with steel mags, two used and one new one that I ordered. The used mags fit well, but the new one was sorta snug because of its thick paint. There is minimal wobble, and the receiver is correctly dimpled. The top cover one mine fits pretty tight, and the top cover retainer is a little stiff because of the heavy park job.

I was disappointed when I did the bullet check with the muzzle, as it seemed to eat up a Soviet 5.45 round, as well as a US 5.56. This seemed really wrong, so I checked harder. Apparently, the crown is slightly recessed into the muzzle, meaning that the bullet engages the rifling deeper into the muzzle, making it look like the barrel is wallowed out. When I noticed this, I redid the test with a flashlight to look more closely, and everything checked out. I used a micrometer to verify the bore, and it seems to spec. So yea, these guns will fail the bullet test if you aren't looking closely, so don't be surprised by that. Closer examination is needed if you are going to do check this yourself, and good light and sharp eyes will help.

I oiled the gun up and took it to the range with some Wolf 60 gr and some 1982 dated Soviet 53 gr surplus. I choose to shoot at a piece of plywood so that I wouldn't have the "flapping paper" keyhole, as it was slightly windy.

I fired 10 rounds of each with a cold barrel to test the gun for function and keyholing while cold. None occured. I loaded up several mags, alternating between 60 and 53 gr for a total of 150 rounds, getting the barrel to smoke and the oil to cook out of the action. Still no keyholing. I'll get some target pics up in a few days/a week, as I was too tired to carry a piece of plywood home, and the camera wasn't with me. I swear though, no keyholes. The range was probably 50 yards, though some shots were taken around 30 as well. I cleaned the bore very carefully afterwards, as it is not chrome and I was shooting nasty rotten-egg smelling surplus.

Analysis:
Given the history of Century's Tantals and their problems, I'm surprised that they even make these anymore. The gun has an ugly finish, typical of a mass builder who just wanted to put a gun together. They are priced really cheap, but the corners appear to have been cut during assembly rather than during parts sourcing. The receiver is from a good maker, the tapco trigger group, and the Century grip seem to be well made, and the sights are aligned pretty straight. My gun has a more or less correct barrel. I plan on replacing the grip at some point, to look more stock.

The gun functions very well, and I didn't have a single fail to feed, fire, or eject of any kind during my range trip. I expected this gun to shoot patterns like a shot gun, and I expected it to jam at least a few times because of the thick parkerizing. It did none of this. It kept a tight group both cold and smoking hot, with two different kinds of commonly available and cheap ammo. It accepted all three of my mags with no tweaking, and had very minimal recoil. The stock locks up tight and swung smoothly once I oiled it and cleaned everything up.

I wish the gun had a chrome barrel, and that it had the matching numbered parts kept together during assembly. The grinding and mismatching means this won't ever be a collector gun, and I think its priced accordingly. That being said, I am very pleased with the gun for its low price point, and would consider buying another if it was from this same batch. However, given the history of these, its impossible to know if that will be the case. Many people have spoken of problems with these, and I fully trust that bad ones exist, but I got a good one. Maybe they have finally fixed them, or maybe I got lucky, who knows. I won't be selling this one any time soon.
 

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Sounds like you got a good shooter.
I think the Tantal problems were solved pretty long ago. They did put a black mark on an otherwise interesting 5.45 variant. Along with the barrel ban that dried up the chromelined barrels as a slight negative.
US barrels are becoming more and more chrome lined as an option.
The selector can be smoothed up by slightly bending the selector outward from the pivot., or light sanding or filing on the nub that contacts the receiver. Makes it easier to engage or move.
When you swap the grip verify your parts count.
The receiver and barrel are 2., grip makes 3 and if the FCG is US that is 6 that you need. A US vs imported piston change is an easy swap to replace the US grip. Just an FYI.
 

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Nirvana:

Good review. :thumbsup:
 

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Excellent review.

I agree that an otherwise neat AK variant was tarnished by wrong bore diameter some time ago and that has shied me away from seriously considering one. I know we can verify if it is ok or not, but I just lost I interest.

I'm interested in seeing pics of the plywood.

Again, great review. Looks like you got a good one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks all. I do need another compliance part to switch grips, and will probably go the piston route. However Apex sells a muzzle break as well, which would be easier to install. I already have a spare Polish grip to slap on it, and as you all can tell the gun is currently sporting a Polish sling. The gun came with the cleaning rod, though no bipod was included.

As far as the target goes, I was actually a little spooked once when inspecting it. It had a larger hole that looked different from the rest, but it was actually where a few/pair of rounds were clover-leafing. On the back, the splintering showed two exit holes had merged. The impact holes with the dirt were nasty though, as the bullets tumbled on impact and opened up pretty heavy cavities in the dirt.
 

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One other small nuisance with a Tantal. The odd barrel configuration with the extra barrel extension forward of the muzzle for the brake attachment creates a void where any corrosive primer material can accumulate. If shooting milspec ammo be sure to remove the brake and clean this area thoroughly. Though this should be common to clean this area., it will get pretty messy if neglected for any length of time.
 

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I just recently purchased a Polish Tantal, serial number TTL-C012XX from Classic Arms out of Indian Head, NC about 2 weeks ago. I took it out to test drive it and found that it shot perfectly using that Russian 52 grain 5.45x39mm ammo. Right out of the box, on the first round it shot right next to the bullseye firing from a bench vise. The next 2-3 shots hit up at around 1 o'clock. So I turned my front post out 1 half of a turn and all remaining rounds that I fired hit right next to the bullseye...just to the right of it as you look at the target. I shot at around 85-90 yards.

So I really cannot nail down any one particular arguement above as being the problem. I cannot say whether or not the barrel has the 1 in 8" twist rate. I did however mic the end of the muzzle and it is NOT .214 to .218 diameter like it should be. But then, why do all of my rounds fly straight as an arrow? When I push a live round down into the muzzle, the rifling grabs the bullet and cuts lands into the diameter of the copper washed bullet. SO I know that the rifling IS grabbing the bullet.

All in all folks, I place Russian surplus 5.45x39mm 52 grain FMJ ammo into the chamber, fire them and it shoots to point of aim every single time and makes perfectly round little .22 holes in the paper. Can't say whether or not my rifle was made during the week instead of on a Friday evening or Monday morning like you can get with new cars. But it shoots fine for me.

I just hope that THEE answer to all people's woes regarding the Polish Tantal gets resolved soon...so you ALL can enjoy your rifles. $400 is a lot of money to gamble on getting a good rifle or a bad rifle. Just my .02.

Kim in NW GA.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The thread bump reminded me that I had pics on my camera of the target I was shooting a few weeks back....

I didn't have a paper target on me, so I picked a spot on the board and gave it some rapid fire shooting.
Unsupported, pretty high rate of fire, 50 yards, 1982 dated USSR surplus.

Before, note the mostly unshot area:


After, note cluster of holes:


Close-up of holes.


Works for me. The scatter of holes around the rest of the board are from 7.62 nato, 5.56 nato, and 5.45. Some shots took place after the board and nearly fallen over, hence the weird angles and spatter of dirt. They aren't the 5.45 keyholing.
 

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any trick to removing the muzzlebrake?
Not reallky., standard left hand commbloc threads. Unless it was fired with corrosive primed ammunition and not cleaned in that area afterward. The unique Tantal brake and barrel at the muzzle configuration can create a rusted, pitted and carboned up brake thread area and be difficult to remove. Cleaning and oiling this area is a must for good maintenance.
 

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Have any trouble with the steel mag

One came with my interarms Tantal and when I inserted it empty it fits good...when loaded it will not fit and when it does the bolt will not move
Interesting. The steel Tantal mags work fine for me.
When loaded it will not fit? What does this mean?
Bolt will not move?., like it is striking the mag., or what? Some fitting or a little file work may be needed.
Next time you are in a safe area.., range etc Try the mag again empty and then one round etc., and try cycling the bolt & carrier. Have the top cover off and no recoil spring., just push the bolt & carrier and observe what is happening in the feed part of the action.
 

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Interesting. The steel Tantal mags work fine for me.
When loaded it will not fit? What does this mean?
Bolt will not move?., like it is striking the mag., or what? Some fitting or a little file work may be needed.
Next time you are in a safe area.., range etc Try the mag again empty and then one round etc., and try cycling the bolt & carrier. Have the top cover off and no recoil spring., just push the bolt & carrier and observe what is happening in the feed part of the action.
When the mag has a full load..30rds...it will not fit in the mag well.....fits well when empty

If I manage to get the mag into the mag well......only done it twice......I can not pull the bolt back
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
When the mag has a full load..30rds...it will not fit in the mag well.....fits well when empty

If I manage to get the mag into the mag well......only done it twice......I can not pull the bolt back
Sounds like the mag is overloaded. When you place the mag into the gun, there is actually downward pressure applied to the cartridges in the magazine by the bolt. The is because the bolt and carrier are actually designed to go across the magazine when stripping and loading a round. If you load the mag with fewer rounds, it should fit in.
 

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Thanks for the review. I've been looking for a beater type 74 and a local store has these Tantals for $425. THey look nice and the price is tempting but I just cant do it. Its hard for me to trust Century after averything they've done with the Tantal. First all together wrong barrel and now 3 different barrel twists? Why? Why is it so hard to just copy what the Russians did, or in this case the Polish?

Sorry Im off my soapbox now!

Thanks fo the review!
 

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I quite like mine. No keyholes, it also has the 1:8 twist rate. Serial Y004XXX, bought it last spring. There was 4 on the rack, this one had the nicest finish/build quality by far. Still has the circle 11 stamp

(obviously it has some add ons)
 

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