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
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.
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.
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.
About 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.