If I recall correctly it was around late March or early April last year (2021) when word about import agreements between the United States and countries where the vast majority of AK platform rifles and 7.62×39 ammunition are manufactured would not be renewed. This was a move made by the current administration, who is anything but gun friendly, to make the AK platform less accessible state side. The move created a big hubbub that was coupled with a panic buying frenzy that made AK platform rifles sell out and drove the cost of ammunition up. I wasn’t immune to it. In fact, I had developed a mild curiosity about the platform at that time and I decided I may as well pull the trigger as there was no way of knowing how difficult or expensive it would be to get my hands on the platform at a later date. I did what any curious firearms aficionado would do. I did some quick research, figured out what I could afford and ordered a rifle along with a couple of cases of ammo. I ended up with a PSAK-47 GF5 from Palmetto State Armory.
To be honest, I should have written a review on this rifle a long time ago when what was included in the box was fresh in my mind. But I didn’t and here we are. Regardless, I’ll do my best to recall what I remember about the unboxing so that y’all can have an idea of what one can expect for the $979 price tag that continues to be consistent as far as I can tell. Here is what I remember getting:
- A cardboard box,
- a manual,
- one thirty (30) round magazine,
- a cable lock,
- a chamber flag,
- a Palmetto State Armory sticker,
- and the rifle itself.
Starting with the business end of the rifle and working our way back, we find the 45º flash suppressor (or compensator) which my research suggests is traditional for the AK-47 platform. I have no basis on which to compare it in terms of flash suppression or compensation. I can only say that I like the aesthetic. The brake is threaded on the FN “Machine Gun Steel” barrel via threads with a M14x1LH thread pitch.
The barrel, which is 16″ long and chambered for 7.62×39, is made from chrome-moly vanadium steel that has been hammer forged and stamped with FN. This is the same material and process that is used to make barrels for FN’s M249 and M240 weapons hence the nickname of “machine gun steel”. This barrel is also one of the features that distinguishes the GF5 series PSAK-47s from the previous GF4 generation.
Continuing along the barrel we find the front sight post right behind the muzzle brake. The front sight is adjustable for elevation. The bottom of the sight post we find the end of the cleaning rod which is included with the rifle. The cleaning rod is sometimes referred to as the “unjam rod” which is suspect stems from the perpetuated “AKs are prone to jamming” stereotype.
A few inches behind the front sight, we have the gas block which directs the gas from the barrel’s gas port into the gas tube where the piston is housed right behind the gas block.
Following both the barrel and the gas tube back a little more we find the upper and lower handguard which in the case of this particular rifle are black polymer along with the rest of the furniture. Variants of the GF5 are available with various wood furniture as well including, but not limited to, redwood, nutmeg, and plum gloss. Some variants are available with a “cheese grater” upper handguard and others are available with shark fins on the lower handguard. I almost forgot to mention that in front of the handguards there is a sling mount one the left side of the rifle.
Behind the upper handguard we have a standard 800-yard rear sight leaf atop the gas tube latch which is followed by standard bolt cover. Below the bolt cover we have the stamped steel receiver which features a side scope mount on the left side and an extended safety lever on the right. Housed by the receiver and bolt cover we find a hammer forged bolt, a hammer forged carrier, and a hammer forged trunnion.
On the bottom of the receiver we find the polymer grip, trigger, trigger guard, and magazine release. While I still know very little about the AK platform and even less about AK triggers, I was quite impressed with the ALG AKT enhanced trigger found on this rifle. It’s hard for me to describe because it has a very different feeling than any other trigger I’ve manipulated. This is likely mostly due to my lack of experience with this platform. Nevertheless, I will try to describe it.
The trigger seems to have what I would describe as about ¼” to ⅜” of pre-engagement travel which has some tension to it. The trigger breaks following that travel. There is no “wall” that I can discern. Rather it’s a smooth motion of increasing tension until it breaks right around 2 to 2.5 lbs of pressure. The reset occurs after letting the trigger out the same ¼” to ⅜” “pre-engagement travel” distance. It’s a really pleasant experience and one that I was not expecting given my preconceived notions about the platform which I have no idea how I actually formed them since I can’t recall anyone commenting negatively or positively about AK triggers.
At the end of the receiver is the fixed stock which, like the handguards, is black polymer. On the left side of the stock is the rear sling mount. The butt of the stock does include a hole where a traditional cleaning kit can be inserted. However, a cleaning kit was not included with the rifle. Variants of this rifle are available with folding stocks.
Having described the rifle from muzzle to butt all that is left to do is talk about how it shoots and it shoots surprisingly well. Let me backup just a little. Being this is my only experience with the AK platform and specifically with AK-47s I can’t compare this with other AK rifles. So when I say it shoots surprisingly well, I mean that it functioned much better, was far more accurate, and was more pleasant than I expected, again, given my preconceived opinion based on the stereotypes I’ve heard about the platform which describe it as an inaccurate and unreliable weapon. Shooting this rifle dispelled all the myths I had heard about it and it was simply fun.
I did find the rifle to be a little “thumpy” in terms of recoil. While it is very manageable and nothing I would describe as painful, the recoil is more pronounced than what one might expect from the platform it is commonly compared to – an AR-15 chambered in 5.56 NATO. I now hold the opinion that this common comparison is a bad comparison given the platforms have very little in common with each other. Sure there are AKs chambered for 5.56 NATO and ARs chambered for 7.62×39, but even then the platforms are not the same, but I digress. I suspect the “thumpier” recoil is mostly due to the cartridge, but once again given my limited experience with AK-47s I can’t say that with certainty.
Overall, I think this rifle is a good value and one to consider for folks looking to get started with AK platform rifles and I can see its potential as a home defense rifle. It’s certainly not a platform that should be outright dismissed for that use case. It’s far more accurate and reliable than the stereotypes would have you believe.