PSA Dominates With PSAK at SHOT 2020
January 21st, Las Vegas Nevada – One of the fastest-growing arms makers of the 21st century has extended the reach of its tentacles even further, with the addition of several new product lines like the PSAK.
Previously, Palmetto State Armory or PSA, was known almost exclusively for making a wide variety of budget-friendly DI carbines, rifles and large-format pistols. These are available in standard rifle calibers as well as a few pistol chamberings.
At one point, they purchased the machinery and stock of Destructive Devices Inc or DDI, an up and coming AKM manufacturer. They made this move to catapult themselves into the AK market. PSA’s initial venture into the AK market was fraught with issues initially, but after a few months and honoring warranties, they established themselves as a solid budget-level AK manufacturer.
Problem was, they only really make one type of AKM. A stamped receiver, fixed stock 7.62x39mm. And while this was enough for 90% of shooters, the remaining ultra vocal 10% demanded PSA expand their AK line to more modern variants.
Last year, PSA released a 9mm AK, the AKV, that became a resounding success offering fans of the Russian Vityaz a more affordable option than those from Kalashnikov USA. But this weapon was still a direct blowback firearm, and not a long-stroke piston gun like true AKMs. This made several shooters very happy, but AK fans still wanted more AK options.
Clearly, PSA listened. Because they unveiled four new AK variants this year – two of which haven’t been seen in more than a decade.
Palmetto State Armory AK-103
The first big one, was their AK-103 clone. This is the most modern version of the traditional AKM chambered in 7.62x39mm. While functionally identical the original AKM, the modernized version includes several upgrades that make it a more competent option for modern militaries.
For instance,it replaces the fixed wooden stock of older models, with a polymer folding one for easier storage and maneuverability in tight spaces. Additionally, it replaces the simple slant cut compensator with an AK-74 style single port muzzle brake. This brake is substantially more effective on select fire AKs. Other improvements include the use of polymer handguards and magazines to reduce overall weight.
The reason other manufacturers haven’t been producing 103 clones, has to do with the added cost of the rear folding trunnion and stock, and the limited availability of 100 series parts kits. Thankfully, that’s not an issue with PSA. They are manufacturing all their components in house, on American shores. So their products aren’t affected by political turmoil or parts availability.
This is impressive in its own right, but PSA didn’t stop there. They also introduced a 5.56mm modernized AK that combines several desirable features into one gun for a price point lower than any modern AK has even been offered.
PSA PSAK 5.56
The PSAK 5.56, is the latest AK carbine offered by PSA. It is 100% AK under the hood – meaning, a locked-breech, long-stroke piston-driven semi-automatic rifle built around a folded-steel receiver.
But where the PSAK 5.56 differentiates itself from the competition, is in it’s combination of very desirable features that are rarely seen on the platform.
To lower the cost of ownership, the new gun doesn’t feed from rare 5.56 AK magazines but standard pattern AR-15 mags. This STANAG conversion is accomplished with the use of a bolt-on adapter attached to the magazine release/trigger guard.
Forward of this adapter, the gas tube is modified on the AK 5.56 to accomodate a regulator valve. The valve is rotated to select among three settings: full, suppressed and off. These settings allow the shooter to ensure reliable operation of the gun even with the increased back pressure of running a suppressor.
What’s really impressive is that PSA unveiled two additional models, and several sub-models of existing AKs too. Which suggests that for the first time in the history of arms making, an american company is poised to dominate the AK market. Especially given the market-shattering ultra low price points on PSA guns. It will be very interesting to see how their competitors react, and compete now that PSA isn’t limiting themselves to basic style AK firearms.
Jim is a freelance writer, editor, and videographer for dozens of publications who loves anything and everything guns. While partial to modern military firearms and their civilian counterparts, he holds a special place in his heart for the greatest battle implement ever devised and other WW2 rifles. When he’s not reviewing guns or shooting for fun and competition, Jim can be found hiking and hunting with his wife Kimberly, and their dog Peanut in the South Carolina low country.