And Now for Something Completely Different… A DYI AK! READ MORE
Will Dabbs MD
Down here in the Deep South where I live failure to build an AR-style rifle with your children before they finish high school can be mistaken for child abuse. Gene Stoner’s inspired contrivance is the most versatile firearm ever conceived. There are estimated to be between five and ten million of the guns in circulation in America. Nobody really knows how many for sure. It is this remarkable fact that keeps the Forces of Darkness from fomenting totalitarian designs on our great land, just like the Founding Fathers envisioned.
One of the most remarkable attributes of the AR15 is its modularity and, subsequently, the ease with which the guns may be bodged together at home. However, sometimes it is kind of cool to be just a wee bit different from the guys standing on either side of you at the range. Now, thanks to Palmetto State Armory, you can craft your own AK in your dining room with no more hassle than might be the case with an AR. They call their DIY smoke pole the PSAK-47.
The gun is 100% made in the USA and would more realistically be described as an AKM. The receiver is pressed steel, and PSA does the heavy lifting for you by mounting up the trunnion, barrel, and riveted bits. The receiver is the serialized component that transfers through your FFL. All that remains is to install the guts and bolt on the furniture. As this is Palmetto State Armory they naturally offer scads of options at very reasonable prices.
Installing the entrails of an AKM is easier than finishing out an AR lower. Fitting the sundry springs normally takes three-and-a-half hands with milspec internals, but the kit comes with a proprietary retaining plate that makes that chore lots easier. If you get stumped there is always the miracle of YouTube.
Furniture options range from 1960’s-era retro chic to Information Age Magpul awesome. Just like your AR, a single chassis can serve as host for a wide variety of options. Each has its own personality. Truth be known it is not philosophically dissimilar to Barbie for gun nerds.
The PSAK-47 runs just like any one of the other 100 million Kalashnikov rifles in service around the globe. The ranch-gate safety sucks, but that hasn’t stopped the rifle from becoming the most successful Infantry weapon in the history of mankind. Magazines have to be rocked in place, but the subsequent mechanical advantage makes it easy to seat a fully-loaded mag with the bolt closed. Try doing that quickly with your favorite Stoner rifle. The sights were state of the art back in 1947, but they still drop your bullets where you want them. The PSAK-47 comes with a Combloc-standard scope rail on the left aspect of the receiver if you’d like to add something sparkly and electrical.
The big .30-caliber 7.62x39mm rounds can be a handful in the absence of proper technique. However, that’s all relative. Truth be known even a child can run it, and, in your less-respectable war zones, many have.
Palmetto State Armory consistently has the best prices on gun build kits in the industry. As a result they move quite a lot of iron. An unfortunate byproduct of this fact is the dreaded “Temporarily Out of Stock” appellation to be found at the bottom of several of the entries on their website. Many’s the gun-nerd dream has been shattered by that fateful phrase. Regardless, be patient as their stock does indeed rotate. At present they offer a variety of completed guns even though the build kits might be sparse. Their prices are always great, even for the turnkey AK’s, and their quality is unimpeachable. The USSR wished they could have fielded AK’s that were this awesome back during the Cold War.
Blondes or brunettes, Mustangs or Camaros, steel pistols or plastic: it is in our many manifest differences that true diversity begets strength. If AR rifles set your heart aflutter then, by all means, craft the race-gun of your dreams on your diningroom table, go forth, and be well. However, if you find yourself in the mood for a little Combloc chaos then the PSAK-47 offers Kalashnikov brawn along with the delectable capacity for individualization. Any three-thumbed ape can build one, and the subsequent sense of ownership is mighty satisfying.
I tested three loads through my PSAK-47. Group size is best 4 of 5 shots measured center to center fired at 100 meters over open sights from a simple rest using 51-year-old eyeballs. Velocity is the average of 3 shots fired across a Caldwell Ballistic Chronograph oriented 10 feet from the muzzle.
Results: Red Army Standard 123gr FMJ, 2.25 inch group, 2316 fps; Wolf Performance Ammo 123gr FMJ, 2.25 inches, 2399 fps; Russian Steel Case 123-gr HP, 4.25 inches, 2385 fps.