U.S.A. -(AmmoLand.com)- Should you buy a 9mm PSA AK-V?
Based on the fact that Palmetto State Armory can’t keep them in stock for more than 20 minutes, the answer seems to be yes for most people. But why?
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On paper, the AK-V is just a simple direct blowback firearm that utilizes an AK receiver and controls. There are dozens of blowback 9mm pistols and carbines on the market today. Why would a shooter choose the AK-V over something like a Kel-Tec Sub2k, or a 9mm AR-15?
That’s a very good question that I haven’t seen many reviewers tackle. So let’s take an in-depth look at the 9mm AK-V pseudo subgun from PSA, and find out.
Palmetto State Armory AK-V – What is it?
Before jumping into the review, let's start out with the basics of what the gun is, it's core functions and features, as well as a little history. Just so everyone is on the same page.
The Palmetto State Armory AK-V is a semi-automatic, direct blowback firearm available as either a pistol or carbine. It's chambered in 9mm parabellum and feeds from detachable, stagger-column box-type magazines. The model reviewed ships with a single 35-round PSA-made magazine, but more are available for cheap online in a variety of capacities ranging from five to 50 rounds – but more on that later.
Ostensibly, the AK-V is a miniature AKM, but that's not even a fully accurate statement – it's much more than that.
A more accurate summation is that the PSA AK-V is an American take on a Russian civilian version of a Soviet submachine gun that was based heavily on the AK-100 series of assault rifles. Yes, that is incredibly convoluted, but it boils down to American shooters getting their hands on a semi-auto AK submachine gun from a manufacturer capable of meeting demand at a price that won't scare off most shooters. I could go vastly more in-depth, but a six-page introduction would probably bore most readers to tears. So we'll leave it at that.
9mm PSA AK-V Review criteria
While all reviews are subjective, I'll try to be as objective as possible with this piece. To ensure this, I'll be evaluating the PSA AK-V based on four key factors that are in my opinion, critical to commercially successful firearm designs.
- Accuracy: Mechanical and pragmatic accuracy. Not just how precise the firearm is, but how precise within the efficacy of its round and whether or not it's sufficient for its role.
- Reliability: Real-world reliability. Meaning, when neglected but not necessarily abused, does the gun keep running with either no, or limited maintenance.
- Ergonomics: Somewhat subjective, but whether the gun is comfortable and intelligently designed for ease of operation to a wide variety of shooters.
- Cost of Ownership: Cost beyond initial price. An affordable gun that uses extraordinarily expensive proprietary magazines and ammo represents a high cost of ownership. This is especially important to shooters on a limited budget.
With that all out of the way, let's delve into the nuts and bolts of this all American pistol-caliber Kalashnikov.
Shooting the AK-V for accuracy could be somewhat tricky with the stock iron sights. While very serviceable, the post and notch AK-style irons of the AK-V aren't designed for precision work. Thankfully, the gun ships with a fully-railed dust cover allowing shooters to mount whatever optics they want to the bite-sized Kalashnikov.
Back to the sights for a moment, one thing to take note of is that while the front sight is adjustable for windage and elevation (with an AK sight tool), the rear sight is simply a fixed notch.
The PSA AK-V was fired from aLyman Bag Jack rest atop a shooting bench at 50 yards. To minimize human error, a three times magnifier was used in conjunction with a Vortex UH-1 Gen 2 holographic weapon sight. Five round groups were fired with 10 seconds between shots and 5 minutes between groups. The test was performed 3 times (15 rounds) with three varieties of ammunition.
To get a good sample of the most common loadings, I tested Winchester 115gr FMJ, Hornady 135gr +p Critical Defense, and Browning 147gr JHP. All ammo types produced groups around two minutes of angle or roughly one-inch groups at 50 yards. Given the effective range of 9mm parabellum fired from a 10in barrel, this is more than adequate. All in all, the PSA AK-V is more accurate than most shooters could be with irons or a reflex sight.
Originally, I intended to fire roughly 250 rounds through the AK-V without cleaning or lubrication as a test of the gun's dependability. But, since buying the mini AK, I've fired more than 1,200 rounds through it. Throughout this, the gun was flawlessly reliable with every ammo type except one – old HPR 90gr frangible rounds. But given that these don't run in my MP5, MPX, or Kel-Tec Sub2k, it seems to be an ammunition issue.
One important aspect to note is that during this procedure, I fired at least 250 rounds through the AK-V with either an Innovative Arms 9mm suppressor or a SilencerCo Osprey 45 provided by SilencerShop without cleaning. In fact, the gun has yet to be cleaned despite having more than a case of ammo fired through it. And while it now gets smokey when it heats up, it still runs fine and ejects positively.
Here is the one aspect of the gun that I could argue comes up a little short. The AK-V is an AK. And when it comes to ergonomics, the AK isn't as high-speed as an AR-15. By which I mean it doesn't have an easily accessible fire selector that shooters can engage without shifting their firing grip, and magazine changes require both hands.
Additionally, charging the weapon can be difficult for shooters who want to keep their firing hand on the pistol grip, and the charging handle violently reciprocates when the gun is fired.
But guess what?
It's an AK – That's to be expected. And despite the fact that the AK-V is an AK, the engineers at PSA went to great lengths to improve the user-friendliness of the design to better suit Western shooters accustomed to the AR-15. So despite the fact that the AK-V uses a paddle magazine release, PSA augmented the controls with a number of ergonomic features. These include a last round bolt hold open, a bolt release, and a multi-position brace to allow shooters to tailor the gun to their body type.
Overall, the AK-V will still take some training to get used to for shooters primarily trained on the AR, but after a few hours of dry fire practice, it will become second nature.
Cost of Ownership
Here is one of the best aspects of the gun's design. Yes, the base firearm isn't as cheap as some pistol-caliber carbines or large-format pistols on the market today. But it is vastly less expensive than both the SIG MPX or the HK MP5. But more so, the cost of ownership is insanely cheaper than nearly any pistol caliber carbine except for those that take Glock magazines.
This isn't just because the AK-V can utilize any standard AK handguard and pistol grip (Although those are huge as they open up an enormous aftermarket to owners.) but more so because the AK-V utilizes CZ Scorpion EVO pattern magazines. These are affordable, and easy to find for the majority of American shooters. But even if you can't track down any CZ mags, the folks at PSA have you covered. They actually make their own steel-lined polymer magazines for around $18 apiece!
If that doesn't sound incredible to you, take a moment to look at the prices of MP5 or MPX magazines, which are literally triple that cost! Thrifty shooters can often find the mags for even cheaper if they watch for PSA sales. This means shooters worried about keeping their AK-V supplied with fresh mags can buy cheap and stack deep to future proof it. (For me, I already bought about a dozen mags!)
With an MSRP well under $1,000, the PSA AK-V gives shooters in search of affordable plinking fun a new tool that is great for home defense, camping, or even as a bugout gun. Firing a common, affordable cartridge and using inexpensive ubiquitous magazines further cements the PSA AK-V as a budget-friendly blaster that doesn't skimp on quality.
It might take a little training to get used to the AK controls for AR-lovers, but for shooters willing to put in a few extra range trips or a little serious dry-fire training, the AK-V makes a great companion that won't quit when you need it.
About Jim Grant
Jim is one of the elite editors for AmmoLand.com, who in addition to his mastery of prose, can wield a camera with expert finesse. He loves anything and everything guns but holds firearms from the Cold War in a special place in his heart.
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.