PSA AK-104 3000 Round Review

Rusty S.
by Rusty S.
PSA AK-104

Palmetto State Armory was kind enough to send us one of their AK-104s to test out, specifically their 12.5″ barrel model. The PSA AK-104 is a stamped receiver model with a hammer-forged front trunnion. Its standout cosmetic features are a folding stock, 90-degree gas block, and extended-length pinned and welded Krink brake to keep customers from having to buy a stamp. This particular configuration currently has an MSRP of $999.00.

PSA AK-104
Specs, per PSA:
  • Caliber: 7.62×39
  • Barrel Length: 12.5″ (16.2″ with Pin & Welded Extended Krink Brake)
  • Barrel Twist Rate: 1:10”
  • Barrel Material: 4150 Steel
  • Barrel Finish: Gas Nitride
  • Muzzle Device: Pin and Welded Spiked Extended Krink Brake
  • Muzzle Thread: M24x1.5 RH
  • Receiver: Stamped Steel
  • Front Trunnion: Hammer Forged 4340AQ
  • Bolt: Hammer Forged
  • Carrier: Hammer Forged
  • Handguard Type: Classic Upper/Lower Handguard, Black
  • Grip: Classic AK Grip, Black
  • Stock: Classic Polymer AK-47 Side Folding Stock
  • Fire Control Group: Single Stage, Single Hook
  • Sights: 90 Degree Combo Sight/Gas Block, 800 Meter Rear Sight
  • Magazine: 30 Round Magazine (1); Where Allowed by Law
  • Includes: Side Rail Optics Mount
  • AK-104 w/ Stock Extended: 34.75”
  • AK-104 w/ Stock Folded: 25.5”
  • Cleaning Rod Included
PSA AK-104

Initial Impressions

Out of the box, the PSA AK-104 was overall cosmetically good-looking. It represents a nice configuration of a stamp-free 12.5″ AK. However, there were some initial issues that needed to be addressed by PSA. The top cover was a bit short for my liking, with enough gap to see daylight. The safety selector was loose enough that I could bump it off safe by smacking the grip, and the muzzle device, though pinned and welded, had some play and rattle.

Pinned and welded muzzle device
Magazine compatibility was not an issue

In my initial 500 rounds at the range, the PSA AK-104 performed well enough. The rifle functioned fine with seven different magazines including a drum magazine, polymer and steel. There were zero failures to fire with several different kinds of ammunition, and I was able to get groups of about 2 MOA at 100 yards, which is more than acceptable for an AK.

PSA AK-104

For accuracy testing, I used a rail mount I already had with a Trijicon RMR. This mount, plus another mount I had in my shop, fit snugly on the side rail just fine with no issues.

PSA AK-104

I did, however, encounter another couple of issues: The tail of the bolt carrier mushroomed to a degree that it contacted the bolt body. That, and the trigger had a gritty reset, which would sometimes hang up and need to be bumped forward.

A little bit of carrier tail mushrooming is nothing to worry about, and can happen with some types of carriers. Then again, I have AKs from several different countries of manufacture with over 5k (and in some cases 10k rounds) through them with little to no carrier tail deformation. When the deformation starts to make contact with the bolt body itself, that is too much.

PSA AK-104. Note bolt tail deformation

I contacted PSA about these issues, and they took the firearm in for assessment and repair. They were immediately responsive to my issues, repaired some of the issues in a timely fashion, and were kind enough to send an additional 1500 rounds for use in this review. When I received the rifle back, the safety selector was properly tensioned, and the trigger pull broke at a consistent 3 lbs, with no grit or hang-up on the reset.

The PSA AK-104 3000 Rounds Later

With PSA’s provided 1500 rounds plus another case of mine, I was ready to crank a lot of ammo out of this rifle. I headed to the range with quite a few magazines, chest rigs, and enough ammo to fill them all.

All set for the range

With the repair work done, I was able to crank 300 rounds out of the PSA AK-104 nonstop with zero malfunctions. The rifle was hot enough to melt away the snow I dropped it in to cool it but again was able to hit silhouettes at 100 and 200 yards. From there on out, I fired a total of 3000 rounds through the PSA AK-104.

PSA AK-104. Note the snowmelt impression next to the rifle

So how did it handle the 3000 rounds? Around 1500 rounds without cleaning (after I received it back from repair), the rifle was very dirty and expectantly sluggish. When I went to remove the top cover for a quick wipe-down of the bolt, I noticed the recoil spring assembly was somewhat difficult to press forward in order to remove the top cover.

The recoil spring assembly stuck in position due to rear trunnion deformation

After removing the top cover, I realized that the bolt carrier had been impacting the rear trunnion hard enough to create two “ears” on the rear trunnion which impeded the movement of the recoil spring assembly for disassembly/assembly. This could be a tuning issue, but I surmise this is a product of the rear trunnion being too soft.

Rear trunnion deformation circled in red

After doing some quick basic maintenance, I fired the rest of the ammunition. The problem with the sticky recoil spring assembly button and the rear trunnion deformation was slightly worse, but the AK-104 still functioned well enough and retained enough accuracy to hit a silhouette at 200 yards.

The PSA AK-104 can retain a minute of watermelon even with a smoking-hot barrel

Overall Impressions

The PSA AK-104 has its pluses and its minuses. On one hand, it is a very reasonably priced and cosmetically good-looking short-barreled AK as far as today’s prices go. If you are looking for a shorter AK-104 configuration rifle with no need for a tax stamp, and don’t have the budget for something like an RD70, it’s probably a good buy. If you don’t plan on firing a lot of rounds through it, the durability issues probably won’t matter.

PSA AK-104

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a very durable AK platform that can properly handle an intense firing schedule without parts wear, I would advise you to look at other options at this price point like something from Zastava or save up for longer to obtain the shorty AK of your dreams.

Objectively, the PSA AK-104 was reasonably accurate, compact, and worked with all magazines tested. It did have some reliability/durability issues, however. Subjectively, I found the PSA AK-104 to be cosmetically appealing and feature-rich, but also found the build quality on my sample size of one to be somewhat lacking in important respects.

PSA AK-104
Pros:
  • Compact at 25.5″ folded with no need for a tax stamp
  • Looks good
  • Compatible with over 7 different polymer and steel magazines tested
  • Better than average accuracy for a 7.62×39 AK
  • Rapid customer service
  • Reasonably priced AK-100 series side-folder

Check Prices on PSA AK-104 Rifles and Pistols

Cons:
  • Initial issues with build quality
  • Issues with bolt carrier tail
  • Issues with rear trunnion
PSA AK-104

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Rusty S.
Rusty S.

Having always had a passion for firearms, Rusty S. has had experience in gunsmithing, firearms retail, hunting, competitive shooting, range construction, as an IDPA certified range safety officer and a certified instructor. He has received military, law enforcement, and private training in the use of firearms. Editor at Outdoorhub.com

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