A Question for you guys about CETME


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Bavarian_Motorist
November 20, 2009, 04:06 PM
I know there have probably been a good number of questions about this rifle but I wanted the opinion of some educated folks such as yourselves before I proceed in this situation I find myself in.

I was recently offered a deal involving a CETME rifle 2 mags and some .308 ammunition. I do not yet know the make of this CETME but for theories sake lets assume its a Century, Ive read some questionable things about the Century Cetmes..should I stay away? What should I ask about/look for on this gun when I finally inspect it? What are general issues had with this system?


-Thanks Guys

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rbernie
November 20, 2009, 04:34 PM
Do a search in this forum, and you'll drag back a bunch of details. The thumbnail version is that you need to check the gap between the rear of the bolt and the bolt carrier. There are very specific dimensions for this gap, and deviations from that spec can imply significant issues. You also need to make sure that the gap measurement is real and not faked via grinding the rear of the bolt - you do that by making sure that there is the factory chamfer on the bolt face and that the edges of the bolt face are not sharp edges. (Whenever the drunken monkeys ground a bolt to 'make it fit', they never bothered to re-cut the factory chamfer...)

Other than that, just do a normal rifle checkout - clean bore, sharp rifling, safety that works (block trigger when on, doesn't block it when off), and so forth.

Frankl03
November 20, 2009, 07:47 PM
Spend a little more and get a PTR 91. Much better rifle. Ive seen used ones for $800-$850. You will be much happier.

rbernie
November 20, 2009, 07:58 PM
A PTR is a nicer rifle, but (to me) it's not worth twice the price of a CETME. And locally, that's about the ratio. I've owned three CETMEs, and only the first one was not to my liking. The second and third were all quite reliable and accurate. I am not a HUGE fan of the ergonomics of the platform, but they are a decent choice if you really must have a 308 semi-auto.

I forgot to mention - used German G3 magazines are about $5/each or less, so don't assign much value to them in the deal. If you do the deal, I do recommend that you buy a Metric Buttload of the G3 magazines before the supply dries up.

Oh, and one word of caution - the CETME was originally designed around lower pressure ammo, and 'up-rated' to shoot 7.62x51 NATO. I would not shoot a diet of heavy 308 ammo thru any CETME, and surplus worked well thru it. Conversely, PTR91 does not recommend surplus ammo and suggests using normal (not light magnum) 308 loads.

Bavarian_Motorist
November 20, 2009, 08:00 PM
So what kind of ammo do you suggest? and were your three CETME rifles all century?

rbernie
November 20, 2009, 08:19 PM
All my CETMEs were Century builds. I actually shot lots of commercial ammo in my CETMEs just fine, including polymer-coated Wolf ammo. My point was primarily intended to suggest that you just avoid the Hornady 'light magnum' stuff, since the action isn't really made for overpressure rounds.

Frankly - if buying lots of magazines is a goal, the CETME is hard to beat as a choice. If you're likely to have a handful of magazines or less, converting a Saiga 308 back to AK trim is my preference and recommendation. The Saiga 20rd mags cost a fair bit, but overall I think more highly of that platform than I do the CETME.

Publius1688
November 20, 2009, 10:22 PM
This is a great post, I'm flirting with a CETME right now, too. Rbernie- thanks for the tip on the bolt gap.

rbernie
November 20, 2009, 10:43 PM
From a post I made on the subject several years ago:
I have owned three CETMEs. I still have two. None of them have failed to fire commercial ammo, none of them have gone KaBOOM, none of them have done ANYTHING other than place lead in close proximity to where I was pointing the rifle.

CAI in fact did cobble together a LOT of CETMEs from parts kits. Most of them are just fine. Some of them are not. Earlier builds had wood furniture and later ones had the synthetic furniture. There are, as best I can tell, at least three generations of CETME builds by CAI.

The issue with the CAI builds is that CAI tried to press some worn-out receivers (front trunnions, actually) into service when they should not have. These worn trunnions allowed the rollers in the bolt to stick out too far, and the telltale bolt gap to disappear. CAI compensated for these worn out trunnions by milling the back of the bolt flat to bring the bolt gap back into spec. But the gap is a metric of trunnion health, and the trunnions should not have been used.

It is very easy to tell if the CETME you're looking at is safe/good/worth its cost or not. Remove the magazine and flip the rifle over so the magwell is facing up. You will be staring at the bottom of the bolt and bolt carrier. If the back of the bolt (where it bottoms into the carrier) is completely flat, do not buy it. If the back of the bolt has a chamfer at the bottom, it is likely fine and you then should check the bolt gap. If you can slam home the bolt and then barely slip a paper business card in the gap between the bolt carrier and bolt, you are absolutely GTG. If you cannot, then you are OK but you'll may need to replace the rollers to bring the bolt gap into spec. This is a very inexpensive fix.

That's it.

On the plus side - they shoot 308 (just stay away from the Hornaday Light Magnum and you'll be fine; I like the Prvi stuff for moderate power loads), mags are dirt cheap, and the rifles are surprising accurate for military hardware.

On the con side - the ergonomics of the HK91/CETME rifles are an acquired taste (most think that the FAL and such have better ergos), and they're not light. There aren't many cheap ways to get a side folding stock, if you're so inclined, and scope mounting can get creative.

There is no reason to be afraid of CETMEs and many reasons to think well of them. You just have to respect them for what they are.

Oh, and you will find the occasional mag issue related to the fact that CAI had to (by ATF edict) replace the G3/HK91 magazine paddle assy with a button mag release. The CAI drunken monkeys didn't always take the time to properly chamfer the bottom edge of the new mag catch, and sometimes you have to remove this bit and do it yourself to get the mags to insert and release cleanly. Doing this detail allowed me to use allow G3 mags in my CETMEs with no undue force needed to seat the mags, allowed the mags to readily drop free, and stopped the gouging that the CAI mag stop was making in the light alloy G3 mag bodies.


I've also attached a pic (borrowed a long time ago from somewhere on the Internet - I'd give attribution if I knew where) that shows how to tell a ground bolt from one that's not ground.

762minigun
November 21, 2009, 02:13 AM
Easiest thing to look for in a CETME rifle. Look for the importer mark. If it is stamped MARS buy it. LOL I have only ever seen one.

az_imuth
November 21, 2009, 07:22 AM
I bought one of the Century CETME rifles not long after they began offering them. Mine is built on the stainless receiver with a new barrel. The bolt is unground and the gap is good. Of course, when I bought it I was unaware of any of these concerns. I must have gotten lucky. I've been very satisfied with accuracy and reliability, and overall it's been a fantastic rifle. The only negatives are its appetite and the fact that it is extremely LOUD. As advised, just check it out thoroughly before you buy.

Lloyd Smale
November 21, 2009, 09:34 AM
ive had two and theyve both been good guns. Only reason i dont still own them is there just to hard on brass and i cant afford to shoot factory ammo.

<SLV>
December 28, 2009, 11:29 PM
So what are the chances now that Century is aware of the problems and screening them before selling them? I would assume that a quality control issue like this would be quickly resolved especially if there has been a lot of complaints.

nalioth
December 29, 2009, 12:52 AM
You also need to make sure that the gap measurement is real and not faked via grinding the rear of the bolt - you do that by making sure that there is the factory chamfer on the bolt face and that the edges of the bolt face are not sharp edges. You need to measure the bolt itself. If it doesn't match the factory specs, it's been ground. Sometimes, there is a partial chamfer in place, which fools the eye and makes it prudent that you use a measuring instrument to check.

Oh, and one word of caution - the CETME was originally designed around lower pressure ammo, This is sorta-kinda true.

The Cetme modelo "C" (the one that went into wide service with the Spanish army, and subsequently got shipped over here when they surplussed them) is designed to shoot 7.62 NATO all day long. The preceding "A" and "B" models were the ones designed for the lower powered loads.

gotmine
December 29, 2009, 01:04 AM
I've built two cetme's and recently began a third.. Once you've got them tuned they are great, but the main thing to keep in mind with them is that they have had a long service life prior to being demilled and rebuilt. Bringing one into spec can give you a headache sometimes.
Poor brass, lacquer, and dirty burning powder can ruin your day. Keep a BSE in your bag.
1.835"-1.832" is a good measurement on the bolthead.

W.E.G.
December 29, 2009, 01:05 AM
Century CETME's have had issues with:
**canted front sights (its not just an AK thing!)
**ejectors that don't rise high enough (nothing like a single-shot semi-auto!)
**mag catch latches that are too low (Its OK to hammer the magazine into place)
**muzzle devices that are loud and loose
**muzzle device attachment using blind-pin method that dimples the inside of the bore
**ground bolts

...and don't forget the inherent features of the CETME that make it less than endearing.

I had one, and it was fun enough to fix all the Century issues, but at the end of the day, it was NOT the gun I wanted to spend my range time on more than two or three times. After that, the honeymoon was over big time.

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