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Palmetto State Armory PSAK-47: The Best American AK? [Hands-On Review]


More popular than vodka, communism, or caviar, the AK-47 is Russia’s greatest gift to the world. 

While the AR-15 family and its cousin, the AR-180, have dominated small-arm design in the West, it cannot be denied that the AK is culturally, socially, and politically one of the most impactful tools ever devised by man.

From the multi-million-man standing army of the Soviet Union to child soldiers of African warlords to the American basement LARPer, everyone has an AK-47.

While I think most people would agree that AKs made in old Soviet factories are some of the best in the world—if for no other reason than they are totally badass—owning those rifles can be a problem. 

First, they cost an arm and a leg these days. Second, despite hundreds of millions being made, they can be a bit hard to find right now. And getting harder.

And if you’re like me and you like buying your guns from domestic manufacturers, you’re kind of out of luck.

Enter Palmetto State Armory.

PSA has been a huge manufacturer of AR-15s and other firearms for a long time. Their story with the AK is almost as long and not entirely filled with roses, but this is 2023, and their PSAK-47 GF 3 has become the gold standard for American AKs.


  • Gas Nitride 4150 steel-treated barrel
  • Stamped steel receiver
  • Hammer Forged Front Trunnion
  • Hammer Forged Bolt
  • Hammer Forged Carrier
  • Side Scope Mount
  • 7.62×39 Caliber
  • 1 in 9.5″ Twist
  • Std. 800-yard rear sight leaf
  • Classic Polymer Furniture, Multiple Options
  • 30-round magazine (1)


Let’s be fair here, the PSAK-47 isn’t the same thing as a true Soviet Kalashnikova. But it’s close enough for the casual enjoyer.

Internal and external parts are almost entirely interchangeable with AKM parts. From forends to buttstocks to side optic mounts to kind of nerdy stuff like the cleaning kit in the buttstock and the cleaning rod, almost any AKM pattern part will fit the PSAK-47.

You might have some fitment issues here and there, but that is par for the course when it comes to AKs in general. So far, with my limited modifications made, I haven’t run into any issues.

Something critical that the PSAK-47 and the AK-47/AKM share is the use of forged parts. With a hammer-forged bolt, carrier, and front trunnion, the PSAK-47 is built to take a beating and keep on ticking. 

You also get a couple of parts that are basically upgraded from the standard pattern of AKM. The safety lever and a side-optics rail.

Side-mounted optic rails aren’t as convenient as 1913 Picatinny, but they’re better than nothing. You’ll still need an optics mount and an optic if you want to go that route, but the PSAK-47 at least gives you the hard point you need if you want to start adding cool stuff onto the rifle.

The safety is more of a flat upgrade that just makes life nicer. PSA’s safety adds a shelf mid-way down the safety lever so you can change the status of the rifle without breaking your grip.

I won’t pretend I went out and blew through tens of thousands of rounds to test it because, frankly, I doubt I’ll ever shoot that much 7.62×39 in my life. But thankfully, others have done it for me.

According to Battlefield Vegas, they put 17,025 rounds through their full-auto PSAK-47 GF 3 before it started to keyhole. Keep in mind that full-auto fire radically shortens the lifespan of a barrel.

They also reported nothing else with the rifle was malfunctioning or broken. No repairs, no replacements. They also consider ~17k rounds of full auto to be the expected lifespan of the rifle. And again, that is full auto.


When I get a new gun, I can’t help but change it. I love to upgrade and tinker. But this time, I stopped myself. Almost. I picked up a BFG AK sling and hit Amazon for a TACFUN buttstock cleaning kit and cleaning rod. Not that I really ever plan on using either of those, but still. None of it is meant to be clone-correct or anything; it’s just close enough to satisfy my AK itch. 

I have about 500 rounds through my PSAK-47, and I have nothing interesting to say. The rifle just ran. No malfs of any kind, no issues, just bang, bang, bang.

Accuracy was better than I expected, but nothing that is going to win championships. I’m not the best with iron sights, AK iron sights are pretty meh, and my 5-year-old poorly stored grab bag of Tula and Wolf steel case 7.62×39 is better than buckshot but only barely.

Still, I had no problems ringing a steel torso at 100 yards 30 times in a row with a 30-round mag.

Coming from an AR, recoil can feel stiff off the PSAK-47. But that’s just how 7.62×39 and a hard buttplate work. A long day at the range left me a little sore but in a good way.

PSA’s trigger feels better than my old WASR did, but it’s not much to write home about. The pull is long and mushy, but the wall is fairly crisp. Again, this isn’t a competition trigger or anything, but I would call it better than mil-spec. 

Fit and finish inside and outside of the PSAK-47 are nice and much better than I expected for the price point. All of the parts fit together well, everything comes apart and goes together with ease, and so far, the finish is holding up to my light abuse. 

The polymer forend gets pretty hot after a couple of mags, but that’s normal for the AK design. Just be careful when you mag dump if you’re not used to an AK.

Besides that, it just ran. Nonstop, no issues, no special lube, no problems. 

It’s green, and it’s an AK. I love it.


Something I find pretty fun about the AK world is the weird and wide variety of magazines you can get. Since the AK was made by about half of the firearms-making nations in the world in some form or another, there is just a boatload of magazines out there.

From surplus mags to steel mags to polymer, slab-side to waffle-side, reinforced to crush-it-in-your-hand, you can make a whole hobby just out of collecting all of the AK mags.

Since I’m not that into AKs, I only have a few options. US Palm, Bulgarian polymer (they’re green!), Magpul, and KSI “Steel” mags – but mine only hold ten rounds, so we’ll ignore those.

For me, none of these brands have been a problem. All of them have fun flawlessly, all of them feel great to use, and all of them feed reliably. 

For looks, I really dig the US Palm translucent mags. But the Bulgarian magazines are green, so clearly, they win.

Prices for AK mags range from dirt cheap to kind of silly. You can choose to drop $100 per mag if you want, but I prefer something in the $9-12 range and getting 8-10 mags instead.


Is the PSAK-47 the best AK ever made? No, of course not. And honestly, if you’re an AK enthusiast, you’ll probably look down on it because you’re a snob. It’s okay; that’s how I react when I see a Savage rifle at a PRS match.

The PSAK-47 is to AKs what PSA AR-15s are to ARs. A quality firearm built at a price that almost anyone can afford while ensuring you’re getting a decent product.

For years, the WASR-10 was the standard for a starter AK. I bought one in 2018 for $700. I sold it during the pandemic for $1,200. Now, you’re lucky to find them for under $950.

A full-price PSAK-47 is $850, and they are commonly on sale for about $600. That’s cheap. Like, really cheap.

If you want a first AK, want to support American manufacturers, and have money left over for ammo and accessories, I think the PSAK-47 is a great option.

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