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Palmetto State Armory JAKL: Hottest Long Stroke Piston Action



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Palmetto State Armory is known far and wide for its AR-15s. Its first fully in-house design, the JAKL represents an interesting step forward for the gunmaker. This long-stroke gas piston rifle doesn’t use a buffer tube, but it does use an almost standard AR-15 lower.

Does it perform? Based on my 1,000 rounds of testing, I would say yes. But is it right for you?

SPECS

  • Long Stroke Gas Piston Operating System
  • 8620 Front Trunnion
  • 4340 Carrier
  • 7 Lug Shot Peened Carpenter 158 Bolt
  • Monolithic 6105 Receiver; Hard Coat Anodized
  • 13.7” 5.56 Nato Nitride 4150V Chrome Moly Steel Barrel
  • Twist Rate: 1 in 7” 
  • Thread Pitch: 1/2×28″
  • JMAC Customs GFHCE-28-S-KM Muzzle Device Pin & Weld
  • F5 MFG Modular Stock System (MSS) For PSA JAKL
  • Magpul MOE SL Grip, Black
  • Black Hardcoat Anodized Finish
  • Black JAKL Knurled Charging 

OPTIC: Swampfox Raider 1x Prism

  • Bullet Rise Compensator Etched Reticle
  • Green
  • 1x Prism
  • Shake N Wake

WHY A JAKL

I’ve been in love with the JAKL since it was announced at SHOT Show some 4 years ago. For me, I just love the design. The inside looks like a weird AR-180 with a little bit of G3 sprinkled over it, and the outside brings me back some heavy Remington ACR vibes that admittedly hold a special place in my soul because of the older Call Of Duty games

Add in the new F5 stock, and the JAKL is very much a “SCAR/ACR/MCX we have at home” looking rifle. 

But if you’re not feeling the aesthetics of the gun, why get the JAKL?

The long-stroke piston is a very smooth way of building a gas system. Even on shorter barrels, the JAKL has a clean recoil impulse that doesn’t jump away from you. The adjustable gas system is great for tuning your rifle perfectly, either suppressed or unsuppressed. 

Finally, the gun is just really versatile. The lower is pretty much nothing special, and with just a couple of extra parts, you can throw the upper on any AR-15 lower. Use AR-15 triggers, muzzle adaptors, magazines, etc. 

And just a little bit of a teaser — PSA has some big plans for the JAKL…

ON THE RANGE

The first thing you should do with a JAKL on the range is double-check the gas system. Don’t be like me and sit there sending round after round bolt-action style because you forgot to turn the gas on.

After my brain kicked in and turned the gas on and adjusted it for my ammo, which took about 3 rounds and 20 seconds; the JAKL has run 100 percent since for about 1,000 rounds. Ammo was provided by AmmunitionToGo.com, so a big thanks to them for that!

From rifle spinners to eating dirt at the bottom ports of a VTAC barricade, the JAKL has run wonderfully. Zero malfs, zero problems, and shooting around MOA with decent ammo. The recoil feels smooth, the forward side charging handle is nice to use.

This makes it harder to write about, but there is honestly nothing for me to hate about the JAKL. In a market where one PMAG adaptor feels much like another, the JAKL was enjoyable to shoot and felt different enough to have flavor but familiar enough to require zero retraining.

Folding stock, sexy look, great shooter, and is smooth to handle — this gun ticks the boxes for me.

Weight

One downside might be that it is front-heavy. This is partly the nature of piston systems and is kind of hard to avoid. If you’re running it fairly minimally like I was with only an optic on top, the weight isn’t bad and not super noticeable. 

However, if you add a light, maybe some NV gear, etc. to the front — then the front gets pretty thick pretty fast. If you’re the kind of person who believes in doing more lifts and using the gear you have, go for it. But if you want something lightweight, the JAKL might not be perfect.

For me, with my minimal setup, I had no issues shooting 2-Gun or half-day training sessions, even with the heavier front end. It was something I could feel, but not something that held me back.

If you’re thinking of turning this into a “truck gun” or something of that nature, you might want to consider accessories that help keep the weight down.

Proprietary Parts

As you might expect, the BCG, piston, barrel, charging handle, gas block, and upper receiver are all proprietary to the JAKL. Extra parts aren’t expensive, so if you want this to last forever, just stock up.

The lower is almost a standard AR-15 lower. Two things are weird about the lower. The first is the rear cap/stock adaptor. Not a shock and is easy to work with.

But one part you would not suspect is the bolt catch. Specifically, the paddle part of the bolt catch. The JAKL upper receiver is a bit wide, so the paddle of the bolt catch needs to be thinner than standard. 

PSA makes and sells a JAKL bolt catch for $20, or you can take a Dremmel to a normal one and hog out the backside until it fits.

Is this kind of a weird quirk and a bit annoying? Yes. 

Does it really make a difference in the long run? Not at all.

SWAMPFOX RAIDER 1X PRISM

The optic used for this review was a 1x Prism from Swampfox, the Raider! I really want to like this optic, but I have one major downside.

Feature set on this is outstanding and durability was rock solid. Even getting thrown around in 2-Gun matches, no issue. The Bullet Rise Compensation reticle is a great feature and makes 5-200 yard shooting a lot easier. Spinning a spinner at almost 100 yards was too easy.

That all said, I found the illumination to be pretty dim. Granted, the Arizona sun in summer is unforgiving, but even at maximum brightness, I could barely make out that the optic was on. It's still entirely usable because of the etched reticle, but it isn't fast on target like a reticle that is truly lit up. Dark reticle on dark steel also isn't wonderful.

If this is a deal breaker for you will depend on your use-case.

LOOSE ROUNDS

The JAKL is cool. Very cool. It looks great, it shoots well, and it runs wonderfully. It has a couple of oddities, but that adds personality. 

If this is your first AR-style gun, maybe the JAKL isn’t the best option for you. But if you’re looking for something new, different, and just damn cool I recommend the JAKL as a solid option that I think most people will like.

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