Gun Review: Palmetto State Armory AK-V 9mm Braced Pistol


Palmetto State Armory AK-V 9mm braced pistol. Image courtesy JWT for

I probably shouldn’t be the person to review the Palmetto State Armory AK-V 9mm braced pistol. I don’t really like semi-auto PCCs. And I don’t like pistol braces. AKs should be chambered in 7.62×39 and the best ones have only been dropped once.

And yet here I am, having an absolute friggin’ ball with this gun.

Palmetto State Armory PSA AK-V review PCC pistol caliber carbine
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I don’t know what it is about the AK platform in general, but they’re all a hoot to shoot. The PSA AK-V is no different. Simple to operate, dependable, easy to move and fire, and in this particular case, adaptable as well.

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Part of that adaptability is the brace itself. This one attaches to the rear of the pistol via a Picatinny rail. Don’t want it? Take it off. Conversion to an SBR is bolt-on easy, and so is just running the gun super compact as a traditional pistol. The brace folds easily and stays in place. It snaps open solidly without any discernible play at the connection point.

The folding pistol brace is made by SB Tactical and in general it works well enough. Strapped to the arm as it was originally designed, it keeps the gun in place and allows for fun, accurate fire, once you get used to it.

I tend to find the adjustable models fit more forearms for a better, more secure hold during single-handed operation of the pistol. I’m just not a fan of pistol braces when shouldered, at least not when compared to an actual stock, but they certainly work better on firearms chambered in traditional pistol calibers, as there’s less motion in recoil to tame from the outset.

Palmetto State Armory PSA AK-V review PCC pistol caliber carbine
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NOTE: Compatibility with the BATFE’s proposed illegal, unconstitutional, convoluted, intentionally vague and confusing rule is impossible to assess as the determination changes based on who’s reading it and on what accessories are attached to the rifle.

Adding something like a reflex sight, or including a brace that’s adjustable for length, both of which are features that specifically make it easier for people with disabilities to fire the weapon safely and accurately, may or may not change whether the gun is considered a pistol or an SBR, according to the new rule.

A lot of my friends are missing fingers, a hand, or an arm and it’s like the BATFE set out to make sure they screw over these disabled veterans as much as possible. But I digress.

Palmetto State Armory PSA AK-V review PCC pistol caliber carbine
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One of the reasons the AK-V 9mm is so much fun is that, with the supplied muzzle brake, there’s very little recoil. Beyond being just fun, this is a perfect firearm for those who are particularly recoil sensitive, but still want or need a lightweight, easy to handle gun.

What’s really great is that the factory muzzle brake screws on and off without any tools at all, using the standard muzzle detent included on most AKs. This one is right-hand thread.

There’s even less recoil, and none of the annoying blast, if you run the gun suppressed.  Target transitions are fast as there’s not a lot of weight away from the shooter’s body, even with a can attached.

Palmetto State Armory PSA AK-V review PCC pistol caliber carbine
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The Magpul forend is at least partially responsible for the easy handling and low recoil of the AK-V 9mm. There’s something I never thought I’d write, but it works on this gun, especially if you run it with the brace folded or removed entirely.

The wide forend, with that big flat ledge at the muzzle end allows your hand to get a full grip on the gun…not to pull back, but to push forward. With a single point sling and a high mounted red dot, it makes fast shots on 19″ silhouettes at 25 yards a breeze.

That wide forend and a relatively light trigger with a hard reset also provides another advantage. It takes a little attention to detail and some practice, but with a bit of finesse, it’s not too terribly hard to push/bump fire this pistol with the brace removed.

With the 35-round magazine and the very low recoil of the 9×19 cartridge, mag dumps fired in this method put a big ol’ smile on my face. At 25 yards, several rounds in the magazine even hit the target!

Palmetto State Armory PSA AK-V review PCC pistol caliber carbine
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I had initially intended the familiarization fire stage of the review to be spread out over a few days, but I ended up shooting the allotted round count much faster. Time (and money in the form of ammunition) just flew by.

Even with the single supplied 35-round magazine, I put 500 rounds through this gun in a hurry. Four hundred rounds were shot in one day. All of those 400 were suppressed, shooting through a direct thread AAC 9mm silencer. I shot lots of assorted 115gr FMJs, some Winchester 124gr +P, many boxes of Armscor’s 147gr FMJs, and some loose rounds of assorted types.

All accuracy testing was done without the silencer and with the supplied muzzle brake. These rounds included the aforementioned Armscor and Winchester rounds, Remington’s 115gr FMJ, IMI’s 115gr Die Cut rounds, and Wilson Combat’s 147gr Hornady Round Nosed cartridge.

Palmetto State Armory PSA AK-V review PCC pistol caliber carbine
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At no point did the gun fail in any way, with or without the suppressor attached. Any time a direct blowback PCC or braced pistol doesn’t fail at all I get a little surprised, as feeding problems used to really plague these platforms. That said, looking back on my recent reviews of these kinds of guns, I haven’t seen any of them with that problem in quite a while.

For a PCC or braced pistol in a pistol caliber to make any sense, the trigger needs to be light and fast. The whole point in using a pistol caliber instead of a rifle caliber is that in close range applications it’s enough bullet to get the job done, and you can shoot a lot of them quickly and accurately since recoil is so minimal.

The pull on the PSA AK-V is nice and light, averaging just 3lbs. 0.5oz over five pulls with my Lyman digital trigger scale. That’s great. What’s not great is that it’s anything but crisp. It’s got 10mm of travel before the sear releases somewhere in there and then it resets hard 5mm(ish) forward. That makes precise shooting a bit difficult, depending on what you mean by precise.

Palmetto State Armory PSA AK-V review PCC pistol caliber carbine
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Using the factory iron sights, precision was acceptable, but nothing spectacular.

A protected front sight post is important on any of these types of guns, as a big part of the draw is their use in small spaces where they are more likely to bump the muzzle. The front sight post is appropriately guarded, but it’s only elevation adjustable. The rear sight is fixed to the flip-up dust cover and isn’t adjustable in any direction. That means there’s no windage adjustment for the gun at all.

Palmetto State Armory PSA AK-V review PCC pistol caliber carbine
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Shooting from a Caldwell Stinger shooting rest at 25 yards, the inexpensive and often well performing Armscor 147gr FMJ bullet averaged 1.4″ five-round groups over four shot strings. That was the best-shooting of all of the rounds I tried, although nothing hit above the 2″ mark at this distance.

At 50 yards, nothing shot less than 3″, but almost everything I shot hovered around that group size. The only round shooting worse was Sinterfire’s 100gr Special Duty Defense round, which was a bit outside of all the others.

The decent but unremarkable accuracy is likely unrelated to any issues with basic components or build quality, but instead a squishy trigger and most importantly, the short 8½” sight radius. Despite the fact that there was no windage adjustment available with the factory irons, all rounds ended up generally centered to point of aim on the vertical plane.

Palmetto State Armory PSA AK-V review PCC pistol caliber carbine
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These guns were made for a red dot optic. It doesn’t matter if you shoot it braced, SBR’d, or simply as a basic pistol, these guns are perfect for any number of 3 MOA or greater red dot optics.

The included Picatinny rail makes mounting a red-dot simple. There’s also enough rail space that, if for no other reason than ridiculousness, you could attach a magnified scope via a cantilever mount. It would be a whole lot of fun to screw on a can, put a night vision-capable red dot on this gun, throw on a set of goggles and take head-shots at wild pigs in the warmer months when you can sneak in nice and close.

Palmetto State Armory PSA AK-V review PCC pistol caliber carbine
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Unlike most AKs, the PSA AK-V has a last round bolt hold open feature when using the supplied magazines. There’s also a bolt release on the left side, similar to where an AR’s would be. That means magazine changes could be a second or two faster with this set-up as opposed to a traditional AK, but you sacrifice some of the simplicity of the platform for it.

The PSA magazines are pretty cheap at $14.99 on the PSA website and they work just fine. The website also says the PSA AK-V 9mm takes CZ Scorpion magazines but I had none to test this with.

Magazines are fed straight in, without the need to rock them into the magazine well. The mag well is huge and funneled enough that it’s hard to miss, and they release with a traditional paddle release forward of the trigger guard.

Palmetto State Armory PSA AK-V review PCC pistol caliber carbine
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I always doubt the utility of these kinds of guns, at least when compared to their intermediate rifle chambered parents. Sure, they have a place, it’s just much more specific than the traditional rifle caliber chambered guns.

But there’s no doubt at all as to how much fun they are to shoot. PSA’s made a good-looking, great-shooting little gun, with perfect reliability and loads of adaptability. For a guy who doesn’t usually like these kinds of guns, it was hard to give this one back.

Specifications Palmetto State Armory AK-V 9mm Braced Pistol

Forged Front Trunnion
Forged Bolt/Carrier
Stamped 1mm Steel Receiver
10.5” Nitrided 4150 Steel Barrel with 1:10 Twist
2 Port “Tanker Style” Muzzle Brake
Picatinny Top Railed, Hinged Dust Cover
Fixed Rear Sight
Enhanced Extended Safety Lever
Fire Control Group: Single Stage, Single Hook
Magpul AK Polymer Grip, Black
Magpul Polymer Lower Handguard with Cheese Grater Upper Handguard
PSA AK Picatinny Stock Adapter with Triangle Side Folding Brace
U9 35 Round Patterned Magazine (Will also work in CZ Scorpion 9mm Firearms)
AKV w/ Triangle Brace Extended: 27”
AKV w/ Triangle Brace Folded: 19”Weight: 6.7lbs
Price: $1,024.99

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style and Appearance * * * *
The finish is smooth and even throughout. The cheese-grater is a nice touch, and since it’s a simple blowback design, it never gets too hot. PSA didn’t try to make this gun look too fancy and ended up making it look just right.

Customization * * * * 9/10
I took something off because you can’t swap out the rear iron sight, but man, that’s being really picky. The PSA AK-V 9mm gives you tons of options right out of the box.

Reliability * * * * *
Perfect with any round I tried, suppressed or not.

Accuracy * * *
Average enough. There’s no reason you couldn’t hit a 19″ silhouette at 100 yards all day long and there’s no reason you can’t hit a 8″ target at 50 yards just as often.

Overall * * * * 
A mediocre trigger and average precision keep it from the five-star category. But have no doubt, just as it is, this is a fantastic firearm, something I didn’t expect I’d say at the beginning of this review.

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