PSA AK Updates: VLTOR Handguard & JMac Customs Folding Inventory

The subject of a mass-produced, American-made AK is one which by no means fails to upset the hornet’s nest of die-hard AK lovers on the web. Admittedly, their response is not totally unjustified. A number of the earlier makes an attempt by American corporations to supply home AKs have been riddled with numerous metallurgy, design, and high quality management points. When it was doable to purchase a brand-new WASR for lower than $600, that was usually the default selection. Nevertheless, this state of affairs could also be altering. The costs of imported Russian and Jap-Bloc rifles — to not point out the imported ammo for them — have been rising over the previous decade, and the struggle in Ukraine has solely accelerated that pattern. On the similar time, Palmetto State Armory has labored exhausting to deal with recognized points and solidify the popularity of their American-made AKs. Regardless of the way you take a look at it, the PSA AK is steadily changing into a extra viable selection for many who are at the moment available in the market for a brand new AK.

A Conventional Begin for Our PSA AK

These of you who observe our journal and/or website constantly could recall our “blue collar” AK mission from a number of months in the past. That mission was primarily based on a PSA GF3 AK with a triangle side-folding inventory, “cheese grater” handguard. MSRP for this setup, as seen above, is at the moment $949. We modified that rifle whereas sustaining a comparatively conventional aesthetic, together with customized Kalashnicarver wooden furnishings, a cantilevered flashlight mount, and the unique triangle inventory.

After taking this setup by way of a 3-day Haley Strategic D5 Kalashnikov class (writeup coming quickly) I discovered that I favored some facets quite a bit, and wasn’t as keen on others. In the course of the class, I used to be capable of shoot respectable teams out to 200 yards. The gun ran reliably by way of 1,000 rounds of steel-case ammo with no single malfunction, except for these we intentionally induced for coaching functions. Functionally, the PSA AK was off to a strong begin.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t precisely snug for me. I am properly over six toes tall with lengthy arms; on an AR-15, I usually run the buttstock nearly fully-extended and place a foregrip near the entrance of the handguard. On the AK, the quick size of pull of the triangle inventory and the position of the wooden handguard left me feeling like I used to be capturing a rifle made for somebody half my measurement. I wanted extra size of pull and extra handguard actual property, so I made a decision to take the PSA AK in a brand new course.

The Updates

Beginning with essentially the most obvious supply of discomfort, I started in search of a full-length handguard that might enable me to maneuver my help hand ahead. At SHOT Present 2022, I discovered that VLTOR had launched an M-LOK model of its CMRD (a.ok.a. “Comrade”) AK handguard. The VLTOR CMRD is constructed from three items of 6061-T4 aluminum with a hard-coat black anodized end, and it spans all the size from the entrance of the receiver to the again of the entrance sight put up.

Surprisingly, this considerably bigger handguard solely weighed 4 ounces greater than the 10-ounce wooden handguard and “cheese grater” that had been on the PSA AK earlier than. Set up was comparatively straightforward — except for utilizing a Dremel to chop off the sling loop from the unique decrease handguard retainer, it merely bolted collectively.

The VLTOR CMRD options quite a lot of M-LOK slots on the highest, backside, and sides, in addition to some 45-degree slots on the entrance portion of the higher handguard. I used these to put in a JMac Customs HRD Prolonged handstop and Arisaka Protection 300 Collection flashlight. There was no want for a cantilever mount this time, so it is hooked up on an Arisaka inline mount.

I additionally added three rubber B5 Techniques M-LOK rail covers to enhance grip and insulate my hand from the warmth of the barrel and gasoline tube. The muzzle gadget — a JMac Customs RRD-2C 14F X37 brake with a BDS-37 blast defend — stays unchanged from the final part of the construct.

Transferring to the midsection of the rifle, I made a decision to strive a distinct optic setup. American Protection Mfg. lately launched a brand new lower-third QD mount for the Holosun 510C, so I used it to connect a green-dot Holosun optic to the Sabrewerks KOP system that was already on the rifle. I just like the heads-up place of the optic and the huge, unobstructed area of view it gives. The shake-awake characteristic and photo voltaic backup additionally make sure the battery will final a very long time, and if it does, the QD lever will enable me to take away the optic and use the backup iron sight notch constructed into the KOP rail.

Because the wooden handguard was gone, the wooden pistol grip was swapped out for a Magpul MOE AK+ rubberized grip.

Lastly, in quest of further size of pull and a extra snug inventory, I swapped the usual triangle folder for a JMac Customs ST-6 Folding Inventory Mount (particularly, the PSA GF3 side-folder requires a 4.5mm pin model). It contains a light-weight, skeletonized 6-position tube machined from 7075 aluminum, and has built-in QD sling loop sockets on either side. Set up was so simple as utilizing a small pin punch and mallet to knock out the pin from the unique folding mechanism, dropping the adapter into place, and tapping the pin again in.

The JMac ST-6 will settle for most AR-style shares and braces, however I went with a B5 Techniques Bravo inventory. This supplied the power to realize a most size of pull of 14.5 inches, a full inch and a half greater than the 13-inch LOP with the triangle inventory. It offered an immediate enchancment to consolation, since I now not felt like I used to be capturing an undersized gun, and it had a rubber butt pad not like the exhausting metallic triangle inventory. Higher but, the telescoping inventory may be adjusted all the way down to an 11.25-inch LOP, so it will nonetheless be snug for shooters with a lot smaller frames.

Though I will proceed utilizing the Bulgarian metal mags seen within the earlier configuration, these XTech MAG47 polymer mags from GunMag Warehouse match the fashionable aesthetic just a little higher.

Closing Ideas

I am pleased with these modifications, since they made the AK really feel way more snug and balanced in my palms. Weapon ergonomics, to not point out the capturing stance that accompanies them, have come a good distance because the Nineteen Forties. We now not dwell in an period the place weapons must be configured for “one measurement suits all.” The addition of an adjustable, interchangeable inventory and M-LOK forend enable the weapon to be configured for a selected consumer.

Though I am conscious that some purists will sneer at this PSA AK as a result of it is made within the USA, that does not hassle me a bit. It has to this point confirmed itself to be dependable and (comparatively) correct, even below the stress of working three days of back-to-back drills through the aforementioned Haley Strategic class. I shot it susceptible on a floor of positive Arizona mud that coated each nook and cranny, together with the within of the receiver (and the within of my lungs). I used numerous varieties of polymer and metal mags, and ran a case of Tula 7.62×39 by way of it with out a lot as a periodic wipe-down or a drop of oil. I watched different college students’ imported AKs malfunction on the road, and but the PSA GF3 saved plugging away.

Clearly, that is my pattern measurement of 1, and points might all the time crop up sooner or later, as they will for any weapon. However for now, I am glad. Regardless, it nonetheless will not be the primary rifle I attain for in a defensive state of affairs — that’ll all the time be an AR, a platform with which I am way more acquainted and proficient.

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