THE PALMETTO STATE ARMORY AKV:
American Ingenuity in a 9mm Pistol Flavor
Early this month, I was able to go on a trip to the High Bar Homestead in Gillette, WY. It’s no coincidence that this resort, which caters to firearms and the Second Amendment, is called the High Bar. By every measure, the High Bar Homestead raises the bar very high to all other ranges. Between the food, hospitality, and the camaraderie with the personnel that operate this beautiful facility, there are few other places I would rather spend my time, not to mention the excellent ranges available to push your limits as a shooter. .
Everything is Better in America
While at the High Bar Homestead, I was able to get behind some of the latest offerings from Palmetto State Armory for their 2018 lineup. Most notably was their absolute newest addition, lovingly called the AKV for right now. This firearm is in a prototype stage, but a small group of us was able to test and evaluate this pistol. What Palmetto State Armory was able to do with this new firearm is pretty remarkable. The design is based off of the Russian Vityaz 9mm sub-machine gun chambered in 9mm. While importing this weapon into the United States is illegal, PSA was able to effectively reengineer the firearm stateside by using any information and pictures that they were able to get a hold of. While the general feel of the firearm was retained, Palmetto State Armory did make some changes, specifically with the magazine well.
The magazine well really impressed me. Dropping a magazine, and reloading was quick and also intuitive. Not once did the magazine feel like it was too tight, or that it didn’t want to drop free of the pistol. PSA made a very good decision in going with a CZ Scorpion style magazine for the AKV, and an even better decision in making these magazines affordable at a price point around $12.99. The magazine release lever was also large enough to easily be pulled forward toward the muzzle to release a dry magazine. Inserting a new magazine was also painless and did not require a beating into submission.
Even holding the weapon by the magazine did not stop this prototype from firing while it was in my hands. And believe me, it was not by choice when grabbing the magazine well. The heat generated from 6 different writers, and also Palmetto State Armory staff from doing mag dumps made it an absolute necessity because the handguard actually got too hot to properly hold. To my surprise, the pistol chugged along and did exceedingly well popping steel targets at 25 yards and out to 100 yards.
American Made Internals
The guts of this design are made completely in the United States. While purists will point their nose up at an American made AK, people will be pleasantly surprised by the fact that the AKV uses a FORGED trunnion made of 4140 chrome moly steel, instead of a cast trunnion. The bolt is also made of the same 4140 chrome moly steel. While the bolt carrier retains the same shape and roughly the same size of an actual gas piston AK, the AKV is still a delayed blowback system since it is chambered in 9x19mm. The bolt is made this way to add more weight to ensure proper feeding, and to keep the pistol cartridge chambered long enough to drop pressures in the barrel. This also helps with proper cycling of the bolt to keep it reliable. Surprisingly though, the felt recoil on the AKV is minimal and follow up shots are quick and efficient with little muzzle flip.
The fire control group is a standard AK trigger and was also very smooth. I have shot some AK triggers that felt like they were being drug through gravel. This trigger, while by no means a precision match trigger, was smooth and pulled evenly through its travel. The decision to keep the firing control group a standard AK was done intentionally by Palmetto State engineers so that shooters could upgrade to an ALG AK trigger if they chose to do so. I have a feeling that, after release, this could be potentially a standard trigger in “upgraded” models, but time will tell.
The receiver is of typical stamped steel construction, while the top dust cover is hinged. Depressing the lug that locks the top cover allows you to open the system for maintenance like any other AK. On the AKV, a picatinny rail section and integrated rear sight is mounted on the top cover. While I had reservations on this design due to an optic being mounted on it, it did not appear to have any loss of zero with the mounted Aimpoint H1 red dot. Hits were always routine, and a reason for this is because of the special hand fitting of the top cover to the lug that retains it. The whole pistol felt very solid from brace to muzzle.
Multiple Offerings Planned
While at the High Bar Homestead, Palmetto State Armory had three different models of the AKV for us to gawk at. The entry level model was equipped with wood furniture and utilized a folding, skeletonized, pistol brace designed by Palmetto State Armory, and manufactured by SB Tactical. The mid-level model was furnished with a Magpul MOE front handguard, and Magpul grip. The model I was able to handle also came with an SB Tactical SBA3 brace which was solid and performed great. The upgraded model also came with the SB Tactical SBA3 brace, but also came standard with an aluminum handguard with plenty of MLOK sections to attach any kit that a shooter could want. From what engineers and employees at Palmetto State Armory have said, the expected release date for this AK pistol is roughly September of this year. I look forward to its release, and based on first impressions, Palmetto State Armory has really gone above and beyond in manufacturing this pistol. This could really be a game changer for American made AKs.
Specs: PSAKV (Given Name at Time of Writing)
Barrel: 10.5” (Black Nitrided)
Muzzle Threading: 1/2×28 TPI
Action Type: Blowback
Magazine Type: CZ Scorpion
Bolt Material: 4140 Chrome Moly Steel
Trunnion Material: 4140 Chrome Moly Steel
Top Cover: Hinged with Picatinny Rail and Integral Rear Sight
Rear Trunnion: Standard 74 Style (Utilizing “Puzzle Piece” Interface
Fire Control Group: Standard AK
Furniture & Grip: Standard AKM (Will Ship in A Variety of Configurations)
Receiver Type: Stamped Steel