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Palmetto State Armory AK74

Caliber: 5.45x39mm

Price: Not really certain but generally around $1000 IF they are available.

With the whole Russian/Ukraine thing going on lately at the time of writing this review (or rather first impression since I don’t own this rifle), there is no better time to look at the AK74 than now. So in a nutshell, the AK74 is an AK platform rifle but chambered for the smaller 5.45x39mm cartridge. What is achieved from this change from the original 7.62x39mm round from the AKM/AK47 is that the shooting experience is much more pleasant and you can carry more rounds in the field while shaving off the weight of carrying a larger round. This particular model isn’t a Russian made AK74 nor anything from the eastern bloc but rather a replica manufactured in the US by Palmetto State Armory.

For a replica, it’s kind of similar to what you may find in the conflict in Ukraine with the black polymer furniture and all. If you can shoot and operate an AKM/AK47, you can shoot a AK74. One of the biggest things you’ll notice is how soft and smooth the shooting experience is. I’d go as far to say it shoots nicer than a basic AR15. Anyone can pick up an AK74 and make accurate hits at reasonable distances without struggling too much. It’s also not very heavy either though I think that has to do with the polymer furniture more than anything. The AK74 is probably one of the best rifles I’d ever shot.

I would love to own one if it weren’t for the fact that it’s made by Palmetto State Armory (PSA). Now normally I don’t have a problem with PSA (I have a rifle built with their parts) but when it comes to AKs, their quality control can be mixed. This particular rental has a very loose front sight. I also heard the longevity of these rifles isn’t up to AK standards either with parts that are destined to fail around the thousand round mark. For the price you would pay for these rifles, you’d expect better quality control and build quality. Supposedly the new production of AK74s by PSA addressed a lot of the issues with the first production line though they aren’t exactly in stock these days. Top it off with the recent Russian ammo ban and sanctions and I don’t see 5.45x39mm being as available as it used to be. At the very least, not too many people own rifles in 5.45x39mm and if you do come across some bulk ammo, it’s a lot cheaper than 7.62 or 5.56 for a box of 20 rounds for $10.

I know Zastava makes an AK platform rifle chambered in 5.56 which is probably what I would lean towards since the ammo is going to be readily available in the US and I think even Kalashnikov USA (KUSA btw is not the real Kalashnikov of Russian origin but rather a US manufacture that makes AK style clones) is making one just like the Zastava one. Yeah it kind of sucks to be an AK owner these days.

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