U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- It can be hard to find a decent US-built AK-47. Sure, you can go to one of the big-name custom AK builders who use Saiga receivers as a base to build truly impressive rifles that cost a pretty penny but one of the key points of an AK is the low price. It was not that long ago when AK's cost $250 while ARs were priced at $600+. That model has switched and while ARs continue to drop in price, AKs just keep going higher.
I have reviewed a few US-built AKs over the years and I have to say, most keep getting better as the manufacturers learn from their customers. Although, recently I got in one from Palmetto State Armory and I would put it up against any civilian-made rifle coming out of the former Eastern Bloc: the PSAK-47 Liberty GB2 Classic.
The rifle is offered in a few configurations, so if you prefer polymer furniture, they can do that for you. Personally, I prefer my AKs to look like AKs and that generally means wood or red Bakelite furniture for the most part. The classic red maple wood furniture made by Boyds caught my eye and reminded me of the cover of a Mack Bolan paperback I read in high school 30+ years ago!
Build quality is excellent, the 4150-steel barrel is nitride treated for accuracy and durability and is pressed into a new Billet steel machined barrel block (trunnion) for longevity. The hardened steel 1mm receiver is a complete change from those flimsy sheet metal stampings we used to see on most US made AKs and features a mil-spec style double hook trigger and a side rail scope mount. The front trunnion is engraved with a star to designate the GB2 (Billet Block) model. The hardened bolt is made from billet as well. The stock includes a sling loop and the rifle comes complete with a cleaning rod and 30 round MagPul magazine.
Riveting was properly done and the sights were perfectly centered with no cant. I saw no bad machining or tooling marks with one exception that we will get into later.
PSA torture tested this rifle to 10,000 rounds before they were ready to release them and give them their blessing.
One Complaint – Magazines
Having owned a variety of AKs over the years and a good assortment of magazines from the former Yugoslavia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Russia; I had a problem getting anything to fit except for a 20-round Hungarian, 75-round Romanian drum and of course the P-Mags. The Tapcos would not even fit.
I am not saying this is a problem with all PSA rifles, but it was a problem I encountered. If it happens to you there are three options:
- Use P-Mags only
- Modify the magazines to fit the rifle
- Modify the rifle’s magazine well to accept all other magazines.
The first is probably the easiest option for a shooter who only runs AK P-Mags. Buy a dozen or two and call it a day. The second option is acceptable if you only own one AK-pattern rifle and a lot of magazines. I went with the third because I run multiple rifles and I did not want to buy P-Mags just to run in this gun. The Commie redwood looks too good to not run Combloc mags, particularly my prized Russian Bakelites shipped to me directly from a friend in Tula, Russia over a decade ago.
A little filing on the front end of the magazine catch had me up and running. It is a minor fix and probably my only real complaint about this rifle.
Accuracy was decent with an average group size of 3” to 3.5″ at 100 yards. I know my limitations with AK's and didn't try beyond that. I have never cared for the short sight radius of the AK platform. It is ideal for acquiring a fast sight picture, but not so much for target shooting.
The wood handguards do heat up, but not until maybe the third magazine. The maple wood used by Boyds is better quality than what we see on a lot of AKs. Still, it will make you a firm believer in the MagPul furniture if you like to shoot a lot or run one in a tactical carbine class. Even though I can't stand the look of polymer on an AK; I can appreciate the benefits of it.
Most importantly, I suffered no failures to feed, eject, or extract using 7.62 x 39 Barnaul 123-grain FMJ. It's made in Russia and is steel-cased Berdan primed and non-reloadable, but by God, it works!
After shooting, I took it apart to clean and inspect. In the past, I saw undue wear on a bolt after firing just a few hundred rounds because the bolt was cast. Although the parts seemed very tight for an AK, fitment wise, I saw no undue wear and tear at the 500-round mark.
PSA is really setting a high bar for their US-produced AKs and keeping the price reasonable. I could easily become more of an AK guy down the line if these are the types of rifles that they are producing these days.
- Caliber: 7.62x39mm
- Barrel Length: 16.2”
- Overall Length: 35.25”
- Weight Unloaded: 7.5 lbs.
- Furniture: Boyds Red polished maple, fixed
- Length of Pull: 13”
- Finish: Blued
- Capacity: 30+1
- MSRP: $849
About Mike Searson
Mike Searson's career as a shooter began as a Marine Rifleman at age 17. He has worked in the firearms industry his entire adult life as a Gunsmith, Ballistician, Consultant, Salesman, Author and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1989.
Mike has written over 2000 articles for several magazines, websites and newsletters including Blade, RECOIL, OFF-GRID, Tactical Officer, SWAT, Tactical World, Gun Digest, Examiner.com and the US Concealed Carry Association as well as AmmoLand Shooting Sports News.
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