Has ANYONE had a good experience with a Century Fal or CETME


Golden Hound
September 10, 2008, 06:12 AM
I have heard and read nothing but bad things about Century's FAL and CETME. Cheap, low quality parts, unreliable, worthless, etc. Not a good thing anywhere. I'm not contemplating buying one but I do wonder of the opinions of those who do own them. Can anyone refute these, or is it true what they say?

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September 10, 2008, 06:57 AM
I worked at a shop locally during the last half of the ban during the heyday of clones, and was the go-to guy in fixing them and their mistakes.

I wouldn't buy a Cetme. Failure rate was just too high, and inability to use accessories etc plus just general clunkerdom ruled it out. Problems were often multi-systemic - you've get trigger packs/shelf issues plus bolt gap plus alignment problems all in one rifle, and diagnosing and fixing was a nightmare at best.

The FALs, I never saw one I couldn't fix with $20 worth of parts or less and a half hour of time. Most often it was bad gas FSB/regulator/tube issues. I bought and sold a bunch personally, and still own several plus my beloved unissued STG-58 kit builds.

Would I pay $650 or whatever market is on Century guns now? Yes, if I didn't already own several.

Don't expect wonders out of Century FALs, in that the compliance buttstock/furniture is horrid. Don't expect great fit/finish. Expect to tweak the gas to fit your ammo more than, say, a new DSA. For the money, you'll likely get a working rack-grade equivalent rifle.

September 10, 2008, 07:48 AM
Century Ass-embled CETME?

Quoth the raven "Nevermore!"

Had one for 18 months. 17-1/2 of those months were spent in 1 of 3 places
(1) In transit to Century Service
(2) On the bench at Century Service
(3) In transit from Century Service

Golden Hound
September 10, 2008, 07:53 AM
Grr...sounds like they're the Jennings of rifles.

Myself, I'm going for the Springfield SAR-3...Greek-made, early model HK91 clone. They say it's literally an HK91 that happens to say Springfield.

September 10, 2008, 08:05 AM
I have a Century FAL, bought back before I was familiar with their reputation. I've honestly had no problems with it. I've only had one stoppage (after getting the gas tube set properly) in over 1000 rounds through it, and that was a minor one corrected by pogo-ing the rifle on the spot.

It is definitely not as nicely made as my DSA para, but it runs.

I don't know that I'd recommend Century though -- lots of people seem to have had problems with them, and I guess I've gotten luckier than many.

September 10, 2008, 08:18 AM
The only problem with cetme is century's inability to install parts that are up to spec and do it correctly in the rifles they produce. If you want a good one DIY or find an experienced smith.

September 10, 2008, 08:23 AM
Century did assemble some of the L1A1 FAL Sporters on IMBEL recievers.

I bought one back in 1996-97 or so. Never had any problems with it. One of my favorite rifles infact.

September 10, 2008, 10:52 AM
Like many other mfgr's, you can get a good one, and it's good for life. Or you can get a bad one and it's a consistant nightmare. There seem to be more good than bad.

Rio Laxas
September 10, 2008, 11:20 AM
I had an excellent experience with my Century CETME. I bought it for a low price and then traded it for a Ruger #1 in .45-70.

Seriously though, the one I had didn't have anyting major wrong with it. I just didn't like the ergonomics of the rifle.

I also had a FAL breifly. That rifle was just fine, though I only shot it on two occasions and then traded it for a Kimber 1911.

September 10, 2008, 11:23 AM
Do yourself a favor.....DSA or PTR91

Avoid the hassles and headaches.

September 10, 2008, 01:32 PM
Yes, I have a Century FAL and it has been flawless with one exception. If I install a DSA scope base/dust cover and tighten down the screws, I get FTE's. Otherwise, in stock condition, it has been flawless over 500-700 rounds. Pretty accurate, though I have never benched it.

This is my "play" 308. You know, empty five mags as fast as possible, blow up cinder blocks, etc.

September 10, 2008, 04:11 PM
I had one of each. Neither one would cycle. It's a shame as both are incredible rifles when they are put together well. The CETME especially showed some real potential, but it was a single-shot Century rifle.

September 10, 2008, 05:24 PM
My Century FAL is built with the dreaded Hesse receiver and has still never had a problem since I purchased it in 2001.

September 10, 2008, 07:09 PM
I have a Century "Black Widow" CETME. I've never had a single problem and it's now my "ladies gun" as it is the most pleasant shooting .308 I've ever fired. I personally prefer my kit-built FAL, but wouldn't hesitate to grab the CETME at need and it gets shot quite a bit. I've heard lots of complaints about them, but other than the fact that it eats up brass and throws empties with excessive authority and range it's been great.


September 10, 2008, 07:10 PM
I have owned two CAI CETME rifles, and two CAI FAL rifles. All four have been 100% in my limited use. I have not poured 10K rounds thru them in a continuous torture test, but each has seen usage and been quite satisfactory.

Having said that - it is worth noting that I picked these four out of a larger potential pool. I simply did my homework before I bought, and made sure that the CETMEs has an adequate bolt gap with an unground bolt and that the FAL has the widows peak feed ramps, etc. One of my CETMEs had a miscontoured magazine catch, but it was a simply fix to remove the catch, taper it such that the magazines would slide into the mag well properly, and refit the pieces.

You can find decent CAI rifles, if you are willing to be picky. Not all of their production was crap, but their QA was sufficiently bad that an observable percentage of them were.

September 10, 2008, 07:51 PM
I have a couple of CAI CETME rifles...

Both work very well indeed...

Having said that, I've seen some real lemons too...

But mine aren't...


September 10, 2008, 07:56 PM
I have seen and heard the horror stories of the Century Cetme's. I'm glad I did not hear about it befor I got mine. The CETME I have is a sweet shooter and was only $350. No bolt problems & accurate as hell. Plus I got an ass load of 762x51 when it was going for 109.99/1k.

September 10, 2008, 08:00 PM
Century FAL's are typically okay, not really all that bad, if they are assembled on Imbel or Argentine receivers. Nothing to look at, but they shoot. The Hesse receivers could have feeding issues, but mine did not when I had it. The biggest problem with Century FAL's was the two-piece gas piston, which was a cheap and easy replacement to make.

CETME's, on the other hand...


September 10, 2008, 08:35 PM
I have a Century FAL. It is the L1A1 version assembled by Century. I have had no problems with it other than figuring out where to set the gas regulator. Other than that it has run nonstop for me.

September 10, 2008, 08:40 PM
The L1a1 sporters were actually pretty good, if not very pretty, rifles.


September 10, 2008, 08:47 PM
At present I have two Century Cetmes and three FALs, one of them assembled by Century on their receiver. I think the CETME is a poor design using poor materials, compared to the FAL. But there are many gun nuts with infinite patience and and gunsmithing skills who love the CETME. More power to them. If you must have a CETME, get one with a stainless receiver. You are likely to have fewer problems with these. If you get a Century FAL, get one with an Imbel receiver--this is the heart of a good, solid FAL, in my opinion. To get my FAL with Century receiver to feed properly, I had to spend many hours modifying mags. Century FALS are often out of spec and simply do not allow the rifle to work reliably. My two FALs with Imbel receivers--neither assembled by Century--have been trouble free. In my opinion, the FAL is superior in design and more durable than the CETME, which uses stamped receivers and other more cheaply made parts.


September 10, 2008, 08:47 PM
I had a CETME back in the late 90's, and like one of the previous contributors, I spent as much in shipping as I did for the rifle in sending it back repeatedly to get it to work right, and the sights would just not align.

That experience has cooled me from ANY CAI rifles ever since.

Until my Yugo AK, which was accurate and reliable.

I disagree with the previous poster's comments that the CETME is constructed of cheaper parts and such than is the FAL. A Mars Cetme is a thing of beauty to behold, as is a custom built Cetme. The bolts, carriers, and other small parts are made to exacting tolerances and are very durable. Just 'cuz it's a milled receiver doesn't make it more durable... Several Garands have out of tolerance receivers due to wear. If you can wear out a CETME stamped receiver, I will tip my hat to you. It bears no loads at all sufficient to cause any wear. Any wear in the stamped receiver isn't in the receiver itself, but the trunnion or locking piece or bolt head. ;)


Janos Dracwlya
September 10, 2008, 09:26 PM
I, too, got a Century FAL before I had heard their reputation. Mine was built with an Imbel receiver. It has never given me a single problem and is at least adequately accurate. I'd buy another like it if I could.

I'd love to have a CETME someday.

Cmdr. Gravez0r
September 10, 2008, 09:47 PM
Heard a guy talking last weekend about how his Century FAL was stretching in the receiver area and he kept having to to some kind of build-up to keep the head-space right. Hadn't fired it recently for fear of KB.

September 10, 2008, 09:55 PM
never a problem. works like it should. feeds everything i throw at it. is just as good as my buddy's DSA that he paid 3 times what i did for.

September 10, 2008, 11:20 PM
I have a Century FAL with an Imbel receiver. Rifle has been 100%.
Disclaimer: I bought the rifle used and the store clerk (who I trust) told me the seller was big into FALs, so I have no idea how much work, if any, it took the seller to make it reliable.

evan price
September 11, 2008, 03:06 AM
I have a Century-made FAL which is an IMBEL kit on a Century receiver. Bought it off a THR member here. It had some issues with cycling.
Total cost to fix it up right was less than $20, and an hour or so of my time.

The gas piston was undersized and had been packed with black grease. Picked up a used like new gas piston from the internet. Cleaned out the grease.

The recoil spring was twisted/bent, and the tube was packed with black grease. Replaced the recoil spring and cleaned out the black grease.

I had to lap the receiver rails where the mag went in.

I had to remove a little material where the gas piston comes through the upper above the chamber.

Presto, suddenly a gun that was a jamomatic was now 100%.

I owned an L1A1 kit Century with the Bell & Carlson butthole stock, and it was 100%. Inch gun that took metric mags- best of all worlds!

I also have built several FALs myself from parts kits on Century receivers. Now that I know what I am doing, all of them ran 100% right off of my bench.

As far as CETMEs go, I haven't owned one, but I've seen some with ground bolts and other issues. Century just slaps 'em together and makes 'em work as best they can, with no test firing.

September 11, 2008, 09:00 AM
my century FAL is awesome.

September 11, 2008, 01:17 PM
I have a Century C91 sporter bought during the ban. I picked it up for around $350 and I've never had any problems with it. I have of course heard everyone berate Century to no end, but in my limited experience with this one rifle, I don't see a basis for it. Maybe I just got a good one.

I have always been and continue to be disappointed that they simply chopped the flash hider off the end of the barrel and there is considerable muzzle jump I believe due to that. One of these days I will thread the barrel and put on something appropriate. The only other issue of note is just cosmetic on the bolt carrier group; a minor ding and some rust stains, but as it functions perfectly and is accurate enough (about 3-4 moa) that never bothered me.

September 11, 2008, 01:29 PM
I have an R1 parts FAL (no brake) built by Century as well as a couple CETMEs (one of which is stowed away, the other used regularly). The Century rifles that I shoot seemed to function fine. The CETME on rare occasions does misfeed sending the round into the corner where the chamber and receiver meet and was welded together slightly crooked at the trunion (you can see the very slight bend if you look down the side) but it surprisingily shoots straight without any windage adjustments ever needed. Seems OK for a $300 beater.

September 11, 2008, 08:09 PM
I have one of the early SS CETMEs that has always been 100% and is also quite accurate. Maybe I'm just lucky, but I am a very satisfied owner of one of their M70AB2 Yugos, too. After hearing of all the CETME issues over several years, I would never purchase one without giving it a thorough going over.

September 11, 2008, 08:38 PM
I have had 1 of each and never a problem of any sort.

September 11, 2008, 09:00 PM
I've owned a Century L1A1 for years, no issues.

Got a Century WASR-10 hi cap last year, very minor issues with the rear sight, perfectly servicable otherwise.

Just bought a Century C15 Sporter. Basicaly a military surplus M16A2 refurbed into a semi-auto only 'A2. This one is less than 2 weeks in my ownership, however it's passed muster so far. Perfectly functional and decently accurate. Looks like a new AR15A2.

I'm happy with my Century gear, but I missed the episodes with the Cetme's and French .308 MAS 49's!

September 11, 2008, 11:18 PM
I have a CETME 'Black Widow" and haven't had even a hint of a problem from it. I have a scope mounted on it and use it deer hunting. It handles commercial ammo very well and is quite accurate with it or milsurp.

September 12, 2008, 02:36 AM
I have a Century CETME from the very first batch they assembled and sold, back *before* the price drop to $350, and the later rise on price.

The gun runs fine. The only problem I've had is the mag well was too tight at first. Once I finally got a mag in and out a couple times, that was fixed.

The wood stock set was brand new. The parts were either new or nicely reparked. The gun runs fine with a couple different kinds of mil surp ammo.

Now, it does feel a little crude compared to my custom FAL, and I don't shoot it as much as my FAL, but so far I haven't had any problems.

I admit that Century guns are a crapshoot though as the problems with them are well documented.

September 12, 2008, 09:49 AM
My Centure L1A1 Sporter runs fine. At least it does on 40+ year old (I think Austrian?) 7.62.

September 12, 2008, 10:02 AM
I own a Century cetme and also a Century Fal L1A1 sporter. Bought the cetme new and at first seemed like a nice gun (no FTF, FTE), but as time went on discovered that it required constant cleaning to keep it operational. I even went as far as buying some spanish 308 ammo, to no avail. Now it is just a dust collector only seeing daylight to be cleaned. The Fal on the other hand I bought used for less than $250 complete. Took some blasting of the upper receiver and all parts to clean-up, but has since been extremely reliable. Wanted to check for reliability prior to refinishing, still haven't made time to get it parkerized. Here is a pic of the Fal.

September 12, 2008, 11:03 AM
Yes, had very good luck with a CETME. Bought it for $150 and sold it for $300.......

September 12, 2008, 11:37 AM
I've had a Century CETME for about 6 years and haven't had any problems with it, other than it's kind of a PITA to clean. On the other hand, I don't shoot it very much because it doesn't really do anything I need from a gun that I don't have a gun that does better.

I've probably put ~500 rounds of mostly milsurp through it without any issues and with reasonable accuracy.

Disclaimer- I'm getting ready to sell it to fund completion of the FN PBR barreled action I just bought.

September 12, 2008, 11:39 AM
I had a Century C91. Its like the CETME

Other than being ugly as sin its always been 100%

September 12, 2008, 01:40 PM
I've got one of the L1A1 FAL Sporters that Century assembled on an IMBEL reciever. It eats any ammo I feed it, at any gas setting. Only problem is I don't think the accuracy is all that great - maybe it's just me...

I recently scoped it, and will be trying that accuracy thingie again... Oh, and I bought it when they were real popular, and paid too much for it.

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