Adventures with the Palmetto State Armory GF3

Before I begin, I must confess that I am one of those people that infuriate AK lovers with the comment of “I like my SKS better than my AK”. I don’t say this to make people mad, it is just the truth.

I owned my SKS for a few years before purchasing my AK. I was young, in college and rediscovering the sport of shooting after taking my teenage years off from it. So, of course, I bought into the hype that the MADDI was the closest thing to a Russian AK and bought one. When I got to the range to test fire it, things just went wrong and my disliking of this stamped metal rifle was born.

The rifle consistently shot to one side by a couple of feet from the center of the target. I bought a front sight tool and began to move the windage to get on target. I kept pushing the sight and slowly the shots began to show on paper.


The product

The Palmetto State Armory PSAK-47 GF3 is a made in the USA AK patterned rifle made of a stamped steel receiver featuring a side scope mount point and a hammer forged bolt, carrier and front trunion.

My evaluation rifle came with a Magpul 30 round magazine, grey Magpul furniture that consisted of a polymer handguard, Magpul Zhukov stock, and a Magpul AK-47 polymer grip.

The fun part

Trying to do an evaluation of anything gun related in the middle of winter in Montana is challenging at best. I found a break in the weather and took the rifle out to run it. With the temperature in the high 30s and the range covered in anywhere between 12 to 18 inches of snow, it was time to see if I could shake off the AK curse.

I had a chance to shoot several hundred rounds before the sun went behind some clouds and the temperature started dropping again. The ammunition I shot was a combination of Remington and some 25-year-old Russian steel cased surplus ammo that I had laying around.

I am not a big optics person so I was shooting iron sights. Our harsh winter weather in Montana tears up the target stands so I was forced to shoot on the steel Oxy tanks at 50 yards. I decided to start off with a 5 round mag shooting Remington ammo. To my surprise, the tank rang with my first shot. A repeat shot gave me the satisfaction of another ring and I felt the ghost of AKs past start to flee. To be honest, I don’t even remember the next 3 shots. I do remember saying to myself, oh yeah, these things don’t stay open after the final shot.

Now it was time to move onto the Russan surplus ammo. I just started to run 30 round mags and slowly increasing the speed of my shots. By the 3rd magazine, I was just squeezing the trigger just make the rifle run and still hearing about 75% of the shots ringing the tank. The ghosts of AK past had truly left the range. My evidence of this is the following picture.

Impressions and ratings

Look and feel – 4.75 out of 5

Finishing the rifle off with Magpul furniture was a wise decision for the GF3. Magpul gives this rifle a modern twist that is appealing.

I love the Zhukov stock. For those of us that are a little taller and have longer arms, it allows us to fit the rifle to our frame similar to an AR. Plus, add that it is a side folding stock, Bonus!

I like the Magpul handguard. Even though I tend to keep my front hand closer to the mag than other people, if I want to get a longer grasp I can. Plus, there is a stop at the end of the handguard to keep your hand from slipping off the front and touching the barrel.

The rifle doesn’t come with a cleaning rod. However, the storage spot for one is there. I know it is petty but I would prefer that a rod occupy the storage area so that you don’t have this mysterious hole and lug hanging off the bottom of your barrel.

The GF3 was tight and there is no noticeable rattle indicating loose components (yes I shook the rifle when I unboxed it).

The bolt carrier moved freely with no binding and magazines from different origins gave a solid connection.

Features – 4.5 out of 5

For an AK in this price point, having the Magpul furniture is definitely a step up from wood. The Magpul furniture not only lightens the rifle a little but also, gives you a better grip of the rifle since it is not a smooth surface.

For me, the real winning feature of the rifle is the addition of the optic mount point on the side of the receiver. Even though I am an iron sights person, it is nice to know that I can add a mount and put on a red dot or scope should I want to.

The slant break does little to control the muzzle but it is a classic you just can’t get away from on a rifle of this price. I do like that it is easily removable without tools so that you can change out to whatever you want.

A strong trunion is critical to the life of an AK and Palmetto State Armory is making sure that this rifle will last by putting in a hammer forged trunnion instead of a cast trunnion.

Shooting, ergonomics, reliability and accuracy – 4 out of 5

Trigger pull was extremely smooth and the hammer breaks at 3.5 lbs. I wish the trigger travel was a little shorter than 1/2 inch. However, the smooth and light trigger pull almost makes up for the travel.

I ran a laser bore sighter through the rifle prior to taking it to the range. Everything checked out so I knew that I would be on target the first shot. At the range, it proved to be.

Recoil was a little heavier than I remember 7.62×39 being. However, it is not to the point of bone-jarring. Add the recoil to a cheek weld that is less than ideal, it actually knocked the batteries loose inside my right earphone. I wish the Zhukov stock had an adjustable cheek weld on it to make ergonomics slightly better. However, as I mentioned before in the look and feel, the Zukov stock is adjustable giving the shooter better ergonomics than the average AK.

There were no jams, failure to feeds or failure to fires during shooting. So far this rifle is living up to the legendary reliability of an AK.

Unfortunately, due to the weather, we were unable to fully see how accurate the rifle truly was. However, with my shots hitting the tanks at 50 yards with iron sights right out of the box it is accurate enough to get the job done. I would equate my missed shots were shooter error as I was getting trigger happy.

Affordability – 5 out of 5

With an MSRP of $799 you get a lot of quality for the price. However, at the time of writing this article, they are currently selling for the incredible price of $599.

This gives us a composite rating of 4.56 which translates into a highly recommended rating.

Closing

I was skeptical about if I could ever like an AK. I knew I wanted to like them but with my past, I just couldn’t bring myself around. However, I can honestly say I am a fan now. After all, doesn’t this picture sum it all up?

I shot a few different brands of ammo and magazines through the rifle and no matter what I threw at it the rifle just kept running.

I would love to have this rifle longer to get shots on paper to see exactly what it can do which could affect this score up or down. Unfortunately, the weather is working against me for a few more months.

How much did I like this rifle? I liked it so much that I asked Palmetto State Armory if I could purchase the test and evaluation rifle they sent me. We will see what they say. Maybe, there will be a follow-up article in the future for this rifle.

Update 2/7/19

Palmetto State Armory agreed to sell me the rifle. I was contacted by sales during lunch and I paid using my credit card. Looks like there will be follow-up articles and videos!

Disclaimer

This is an unbiased article. However, I do have an affiliate relationship with Palmetto State Armory and am a preferred transfer dealer for them with my company Eagle Eye Shooters Supply.

That being said, I have not been compensated for this article other than being lent the product to test and evaluate which must be returned.

As usual, I do not advocate bypassing (breaking) federal, state or local laws or ordinances. Living in Montana I have no laws or ordinances that required me to modify this rifle’s features and that I may talk about or show you items that may not be legal where you live.

If you like the work that we do here at The Rogue Banshee, please consider supporting us for free by clicking on our affiliate links before purchasing gear, parts and tools or donating to us on Patreon.