Everyman Tactical | The Beater Heater (Sub-$500 PSA AK)

We already have a couple of fans of the Soviet Saturday Night Special on staff, but today’s post isn’t from our usual crop of minions. If you’re interested in a cheap blaster, this one is for you. Mad Duo


The Beater Heater

Adam Pini

I wanted to build an AK for under $500. I hate AKs. They’re horrible guns. They’re not as flexible a platform as the AR, it’s a single caliber system so you can’t hot swap the upper…they are what they are. If I can spend the money on an M4, why wouldn’t I buy the one that’s more flexible?

Then again, maybe those are actually some of the AK’s advantages.

Why the $500 price point? Because that’s the most I’m willing to spend on something that belongs in a mud hut somewhere there’s no plumbing and not a Chipotle in sight. I refused to spend any more than $500 on any Kalash.

Against my better judgment, I recently spent some quality time with the Palmetto State Armory PSAK-47. Imagine my surprise to find myself absolutely in love with it (though it’s not without its faults). Here’s how it went down.

Saturday 26 SEP 2015: I buy one on a whim after seeing them for sale on PSA’s website. After doing the math it came out to $480 shipped to my FFL. This intrigued me. I’m an avowed AR snob and have long had the opinion that AKs are commie trash, not worth sullying my hands. I bought a NIB Norinco MAK 90 a few months back just to have in the collection and couldn’t bring myself to beat on it the way I do the blasters in my AR15 stable.

It soon (very soon) arrived at my FFL, and I was off to pick it up. Gotta say ordering it on a Saturday and picking it up on a Tuesday is pretty awesome.


Pulling the receiver out and looking it over (I had no idea what I was looking for), it seemed everything was in order. I checked the ALG Freedom Kit to make sure everything I needed was there, and stuck everything in my office till a buddy could come help me out with the build. The plan for assembly was to get my friend Nick (@SpartanNC on IG) to walk me through it. Nick is a huge AK guy and a great local resource. My buddy Jon (@theguncollective on IG) was passing through while headed to an industry event, so he joined in.

The build was relatively easy and was done in about 45 minutes, pretty much using nothing but our hands and a hammer. I would give it a 6 out of 10 for how difficult the assembly was. Everything on this gun is tight. I figured this would improve as I used it, so at 11pm we test fired it. It ran fine and loosened up a bit.

beater_heater002 beater_heater003

04 OCT 2015: I packed the Beater Heater into my truck and to the range I went. The rifle was ungodly tight, resulting in terribly anemic ejection. It had two failures to extract with the very first mag. But after three mags of Wolf the gun loosened up and throws brass like any Arsenal I’ve ever played with. Accuracy is good as I shot it out to 300 yards and was able to hold minute of steel silhouette the whole way out.

I spent most of this range session burning through ammo to see how it ran with different magazines. Turns out the Beater Heater didn’t care if it was fed by Russian, Chinese, Magpul or even Korean magazines. After the initial full mag it churned every round out of the gun with boring reliability.

After 500 rounds, what are my thoughts? This particular rifle is a win for me. The rivets look good, the gun runs well, and come on, it only cost me $480 shipped with an ALG trigger. For the money it’s a great rifle (especially with that ALG trigger). I like the fact that it’s made in America, and has done everything I asked it to do (for $480!). I put it together with a hammer for Pete’s sake.

beater_heater004 beater_heater005


Made in the USA

Cost under $500

Came with an ALG trigger

The experience of learning assembly of an AK (I know and don’t care that I didn’t rivet this gun together)

Finish is nice and consistent


After the initial assembly this gun was tight to the point we had to mortar it to run the bolt.

No real information out in the world.

I’ve heard everything from I.O. is building it to PSA is doing it in house.

Hope this helps. More to follow when I’ve had time to shoot it some more. I’m still an AR snob, but this AK is starting to grow on me.

Read more of our AK related articles in Vodka Blasters.

AK action gif


Adam-Pini-3About the Author: Adam Pini is a passionate and dedicated civilian shooter who spends hours and hours on the range recreationally, especially with long guns. He frequently outshoots people who don’t expect him to (including a couple of Mad Duo minions), is an implacable competitor, loves Chipotle with a fierce and terrible love and is utterly fearless in the face of snack cakes – in fact he occasionally has dreams of gunfights that involve Twinkies and cupcakes (true story). Pini is a Tier 1 Armchair Commando with SOFA who has provided us with some unexpected but awesome feedback on gear and training in the past, and has truly magnificent hair. He’s a big man with a bigger heart and and a startling, even eldritch amount of “tactical” insight on How Things Work. He, along with a couple of our other workaday friends (a plumber, a construction foreman and and some others) comprise our “Everyman Tactical” pool of writers (though admittedly he has an “industry” background). We make no apologies for adding them to the pool – after all, not everyone can be a former Hunter Killer Omega Force Commando. Sometimes a layman’s view is just what you need.

Grunts: eldritch


22 thoughts on “Everyman Tactical | The Beater Heater (Sub-$500 PSA AK)

  • November 2, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    This reminds me of the James Price thing all over again.

    I know nothing about the author honestly but the sub $500 AK interests me.

  • November 2, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    Yep…see how stupid it sounds?

    If you have a beef with someone, stand up, try to act like a man and say it.

    Otherwise STFU.

  • November 2, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    Says the guy keyboard commandoing.


  • November 2, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    RoflCopter, CWG and John Smith all molested children while in high school.

    I can’t believe they have the balls to talk smack about others.

    Nameless, faceless keyboard commando’s hiding behind their mom’s keyboard.

  • October 31, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    I think the fat comments aren’t necessary at all, that has no bearing on his pedigree to write. That said, this guy has openly bragged about single-handedly sabotaging the American Defense rifle launch, then leaving to go to wars port. It would be interesting to see an article written by Reeder on the selection process for authors and content.

    • October 31, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      You are correct, the insults have zero to do with the content. As for an article about the vetting process, hat’s actually a good idea, for a number of reasons. Because we’ve been asked by several of our readers if they can contribute we’ve discussed opening guest spots up to op-eds “from the field.” As for the “openly bragging” part, I’d love to hear about it — IF you heard it yourself and are willing to explain it without anonymity (if not here then at least to me personally). Did you witness him this admission of sabotage or is just something you heard? See our dilemma? You may be giving us a warning we desperately need. You might just as easily be some asshole who doesn’t like Pini cuz he stole your lunch money in school; we just have no idea. That’s the problem with hearsay and anonymous accusations. Surely you understand that? Anyway, I’ll talk to the guys about the author/content article. I can tell you this – I’m the one who asked Adam to write about the sub $500 AK. I saw what he posted on IG and thought some of our readers might be interested in what he had to say on the matter. That’s how that particular content came to be posted. Sometimes our content comes to us from a roundabout and circuitous path (we weren’t expecting Gunny Williams’ mead article, for instance, but it was great). More to follow (though I’m not sure how soon…many of us are task saturated and responding to all this must necessarily be lower on my list of priorities to some of the other things going on). We’ll work on it. Hope to hear back from you if you have genuine concerns.

  • October 31, 2015 at 9:09 am

    BBC the last year has been a big disappointment. Not from the content itself, but those who are writing it. Anything written by Murr is just a veiled promotion of a product he is involved with. More often than not when he has “publicly” written (not mentioning under “the mad duo”) an article, he either A: has done some kind of “work” with the company, I.e. He did the kinetic dev scar rail review, he is also on KD homepage holding his rifle with, a grip stop which the article also featured. B: anything he writes he tries to add a grip stop to for his own promotion. It’s understandable to try and push. Product you had a hand in, but it’s getting really old and should be left out of journalism. Not to single Murr out, the grammar and quality of writing has been garbage (feel free to criticize mine, I’m commenting on a blog, you guys write for a living) and now you’ve slumped to Pini, he didn’t even finish high school or get a GED. As long as Cowan, and Reeder continue to write I’ll read, please get back to quality Over quantity. JR

    • October 31, 2015 at 10:09 am

      As a Breach Bang Clear writer, I’m offended and outraged by this comment! Maybe everything else about me sucks, but my grammar is flawless!

    • October 31, 2015 at 1:34 pm

      I can’t help it. I never met a comma or a semi-colon I didn’t like. Anyway, it’s Hernandez’ job to fix grammar.

      In all seriousness, I’m watching this but I’m under deadline, have family in town for the Arabian US Nationals and a slab leak in the foundation of my house. Good times. May be a few hours before I can respond cogently. More to follow – but be assured no one is going to pull any articles or dump a contributor, much less assume the worst about him, from a handful of anonymous, clearly related comments on a single article from people who appear to have coordinated their commentary (and certainly not when they begin with insults, end with generalized info and offer no corroboration). There may be a problem here and we’ll certainly take it under advisement. However you would think someone who is truly concerned with our site and/or editorial integrity would contact one of us directly to have a forthright, man to man discussion. This isn’t to come across adversarially (Chris, is that a word?) at all and it is by no means limited to Pini and/or this guest post; we would extend that same courtesy to anyone. That should be both obvious and understandable (or so I would hope).

      On another matter entirely, HTF do I get my picture to show up like it does in Chris’s profile? I can’t figure it out.

        • November 2, 2015 at 2:33 pm

          Dammit, it mis-used the code lol Use (a href embed) but insert your desired image page inside “title=” quotes

  • October 30, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    Im highly disappointed that BBC published an article with someone that has such an abhorrent reputation of dishonesty within the industry. It would behoove you to consider the opinions put forth by your readers who cared to comment here. You have one of the most respected blogs in the industry, please do not degrade the pedigree of your content with the likes of contributors such as this.

    • October 31, 2015 at 5:48 am

      You really hit the nail on the head with this comment. Some people within the industry think this guy is well respected, but most who have dealt with him on a professional level realize its all smoke and mirrors with a large percentage of lies and bullshit for good measure. 3 companies in 2 years with a rather strange progression. I’m not sure what people are thinking sometimes. I have nothing personal against the guy, but professionally this whole thing is a joke.

    • October 31, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      First off, great use of vocabulary. Well done. Secondly, we’re unaware of any such reputation. Now, admittedly, this could mean a little or a lot. As would no doubt agree, anonymous posts leveling accusations against someone have far less weight than someone who stands up and says, “This is who I am and this is what I think.” This is probably why so many of these comments appear on here instead of on Facebook. So, we are reading this and listening, but you and all our readers should keep in mind that, 1) Without clear explanation and evidence, preferably in person, we’re not going to excoriate anyone or lend credence to besmirching their reputation. It’s just too easy to climb on the interwebz and start slinging shit. 2) We frequently run guest articles. This was one of them. Based not just on this response but on some other friendly conversations we’ve had about our growth and development we need to make it more clear who is a member of the “Staff” and who is a guest writer making a guest appearance. We’re working on that. Back to point #1, if we were to disavow everyone accused of fuckery we wouldn’t be able to talk to a significant number of people who’ve been accused of copying or bad business or just being an asshole. SO. We’re watching and paying attention, but if any of those who clearly have an axe to grind want us to truly understand then we’d ask you to contact one of us on the staff (that you trust or feel you’re able to talk to) directly. Hope that makes sense. Kudos again for the superb use of language.

      Grunts: abhorrent

      Grunts: behoove

      Grunts: pedigree

  • October 30, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    Breech bang clear. Wtf are you guys doing. Wtf is is this fat body doing writing anything about gun anything. His experience is hopping from company to company in suspiciously short sequence. Come on, you guys have one of the few untainted blogs on the net. Keep it professional, and use professionals.

    • October 31, 2015 at 12:53 pm

      CWG: Couple quick points. 1) we don’t care that he’s a fat body, we were interested in what he had to say not whether or not he’d survive on a ruck march. The inclusion of his article was an attempt to expand our “everyman” series and honestly some of us thought the idea of a sub-$500 AK was pretty kewl. 2) we thought the AK article was interesting so we asked him if he’d clean up what he’d posted on social media so we could run it. 3) Thanks for the kind words, but (and keep in mind, this has nothing to do with Pini) we’re not always going to use “professionals.” Sometimes it will be people with unique perspectives because of their (frequently non pipe-hitting) background. Hope that makes sense. As for any alleged background, again we’ll say this – we try really hard to give everyone a fair shake and aren’t going to just stop dealing with someone because a few people level accusations against him from behind the anonymous safety of a keyboard — this isn’t an attack against you or anyone else, it’s just a simple fact and it makes sense. The contact information for our writers is on the site. If someone truly wishes to warn us about something, they can do so directly. Otherwise all we have to go on is hearsay. Make sense? In any case, thanks for weighing in and for showing your concern (not being snide, that’s genuine). Please continue to read our stuff, but truly, we can’t just take action based on anonymous accusations from someone who might just as likely hate someone personally as he is expressing a legit concern. Pini could be the bastard step child of Genghis Khan and Al Capone, but there’s no way to determine that based on vague and veiled accusations of tomfuckery — and won’t take action based on hearsay and innuendo. Hope that comes across as clearly as we intend it, and not as some attempt to just argue back and forth with ya (also, it’s breach, just sayin’). Thanks again for your support.

  • October 29, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    Sounds like Roflcopter has been “pini’d” You are only one of many…sadly.

  • October 29, 2015 at 11:36 am

    Don’t you owe multiple people thousands of dollars? Why are you buying $500 shitcannons for photoshoots and talking about how you won’t “sully your hands” with cheap guns when are financially insolvent?


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