The GF3: Can PSA Make an AK?

Do you want to stir some stuff up and get some real hate going in comment sections? Mention American-made AKs. There have certainly been some stinkers. Companies like IO have created a rough reputation for American-made AKs. Palmetto State Armory is a massive company that makes a little bit of everything, and they’ve dipped their toes into the AK world for several years. At first, they also weren’t the best representatives of American-made AKs. The original cast trunnions weren’t great, but with the GF3 series, it seems like PSA may have figured it out. The hammer-forged trunnion is certainly an upgrade. 

I’m no AK guy. I think they’re neat, but they’ve never been the gun I go to for serious shooting. I certainly don’t know enough about AKs to judge them. With that said, two men who are AK pros, Rob Ski and Jim Fuller, have had positive things to say about the AK series of rifles. 

The GF3 AK passed Ro Ski’s 5,000-round test, and Jim Fuller remarked that the GF3 series is making decent guns for the money. Keep in mind that Jim Fuller is the American expert when it comes to AKs and makes the highest-end AKs money can buy. If he says something is decent, that means it’s pretty good. With that in mind, the GF3 AK appealed to me, and I was happy to take it for a spin. 

Breaking Down The PSA GF3-E

There are a lot of GF3 series AK rifles. They come in about every configuration you can imagine. This includes classic wood furniture models, the MOE models with Magpul furniture, and my favorite, the unofficial American model. I figured if I was going to go with an American-made AK, I might as well go full-bore American and get the most American AK I could. Mikhail Kalashnikov would assure me that ‘rifle is fine,’ but I do love M-LOK. 

JL Billet handguard
The JL Billet handguard is perfect for a more forward grip and accessory mounting. [Photo: Travis Pike]
This PSA GF3-E is outfitted with a JL Billet long rail that comes equipped with an M-LOK handguard that goes all the way to the front sights. This rail is mounted solid and doesn’t move a hair. There is no shake to it, and I’d imagine you could zero a laser to the thing and it would remain accurate. The gas tube is covered with a JL billet rail, and it’s red dot ready if you want to take that route. 

muzzle brake on AK
This brake reduces recoil, but holy crap is it loud. [Photo: Travis Pike]
At the tip of the barrel sits a mighty long break that’s pinned and welded to the gun. The barrel is only 14.7 inches long, but the pinned and welded muzzle brake brings it up to an easy 16 inches and some change. The brake is a JMAC Keymount brake, so you can quickly attach a suppressor if that’s your game. 

magpul furniture
The rear of the gun is all Magpul. {Photo: Travis Pike]

We have an ALG trigger that is flat-faced and fantastic. A little further rearward, we have a feature a Combloc AK enthusiast will hate: the American AR stock. The gun is set up to utilize any standard 6-position stock and comes with a Magpul MOE stock. The pistol grip is also a Magpul MOE variant. 

To The Range 

The gun comes with a Magpul magazine, which is my typical go-to. Before the range day, I grabbed a handful of various AK magazines to test compatibility. All of my various metal magazines worked, and most polymer magazines worked, including those ancient Tapcos. What didn’t fit were Bulgarian mags. They are a bit too big. 

Other than that, the usual suspects fit with ease. I grabbed my typical steel-cased Wolf, AK food, and went shooting. Right away, I could see why my Combloc AK guys don’t care for the AR-style stocks on their rifles. The comb is just too high. I can use the iron sights, but I have to jam my face to the gun to see and use them. It’s not comfy, and the gun is begging for an optic. 

It was annoying enough that I grabbed a Holosun 403 and tossed it on the gun’s gas tube. I don’t have an AK scope mount, but the gas tube would work well enough for my needs. After a quick zero, I went back to spewing lead. A good zero makes it easy to observe for accuracy and the GF3 is plenty accurate. 

PSA ak gf3
This Americanized AK isn’t for the Combloc boys. [Photo: Travis Pike]
AKs being inaccurate is a myth. It might not be a 1 MOA rifle, but with the ALG trigger and a red dot, a 3 MOA group was easy to make with the little bit of brass-cased ammunition I had on hand. An LPVO would likely clean that group up even more. 

Cutting Recoil 

The AKs aren’t known for their hefty recoil by any means, but the 7.62x39mm variants hit harder than 5.56 rifles. However, the JMAC brake does a fantastic job of reducing recoil. It minimizes the recoil of the AK to almost 5.56 levels. It’s surprisingly light compared to other AKs I’ve handled. Light recoil means it’s easier to handle and easier to shoot quickly and accurately. 

Blasting through the six rounds of a Bill drill never felt easier with an AK. Rapid-fire, double taps, and failure-to-stop drills were super easy to conduct. The dot barely moved. The stock design is much more inline than your typical AK, which helps with muzzle rise. The GF3 gives you a very soft shooting AK as far as AKs go. 

Aiming AK rifle
The GF3 rifle was super easy to shoot. [Photo: Travis Pike]
Ergonomically, my only big issue was the stock and iron sights. Beyond that, the rifle is solid. The safety has an additional ledge that makes it easy to reach and deactivate with your trigger finger. 

The Magpul grip is solid, as always, and the magazine release moves with ease. Up front, the JL Billet handguard is quite nice. As a big guy, I love that I can reach a little further forward on the gun. That also likely helps me control the weapon a little more than average. The M-LOK grip makes adding accessories easy, which could include a forward grip, light, laser, or cup holder. 

Spewing Lead 

I’m no Rob Ski, and I don’t have five thousand rounds of ammo to test reliability. I did have a little over 100 brass and 400 steel I could sacrifice to the lord of American AKs. Oddly enough, in that test sample, I only had two failures to fire, and it was with brass-cased ammo. It was Winchester White Box stuff I’d had forever, and Winchester White Box has continually failed me in the rifle realm, so I’m not surprised. 

AK with modern furniture
PSA makes a ton of AK variants. [Photo: Travis Pike]
Even with the failures, the Winchester White Box brass-cased ammo was still the most accurate option. Ah, the paradox of AK ownership. 

Kalashnikov Approved

I have no idea if Mikhail Kalashnikov would approve, but he seemed like a chap who was plenty pleased with his rifle and the world’s adoption of it. I doubt he’d hate it, and he’d probably be impressed with how his rifle had been upgraded. Whether or not he’d approve, I certainly do. I’m impressed, and it might not be Combloc-approved, but man, it didn’t let me down. 

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

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