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Meet the PSA AK-103: The Best Starter AK Rifle You Can Get?

PSA AK-103. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Is the PSA AK-103 a Good Starter AK? – I’ll say up front that I typically make it a point to avoid Palmetto State Armory, but I begrudgingly made an exception to get my hands on the PSA AK-103.

It’s been promoted by plenty of firearms influencers as the new hotness, but I’m still not recommending it.

While the PSA AK-103 seems to function fine, the quality control and customer service are still pretty horrendous. If you want to gamble on getting an intact product or even the correct product, the PSA AK-103 might be for you. And if you’re still interested keep reading to get the low-down on the PSA AK-103.

I’m not going to get into the specifics of all the differences between AK variants since this review would end up being thousands of words. I will however say the AK-103 isn’t quite a true 103, but this was something I had to have pointed out to me in the first place. I’m not an AK guy, so I was happy with the design despite it being a clone. Aside from that, all of your expected AK features are present with many of them being made from cold-forged steel. That means you can really put some work in with these rifles.

I do need to mention that the PSA 103 is oddly picky when it comes to magazines. There have been a few different reports of magazines being extremely snug when seated and I wasn’t able to seat P-Mags at all. It feels like a weird oversight to me.

Don’t expect pinpoint accuracy from this either. It’s mil-spec which is really just code for “it functions at least.” You can get 1-2 MOA for the most part, but these rifles haven’t been tack drivers on the range.

The reliability as far as feeding rounds is solid. We can mostly attribute that to the general design of the AK platform. I received my 103 intact luckily, so I was able to feed everything perfectly.

One thing I’m concerned about though is longevity. There’s no chance I’d trust this rifle long-term, especially if you make the ill-advised decision to use it as a SHTF gun. Normally, I’m all over firearms made in the United States, but this time Eastern Europe does it better. A lot better.

The PSA AK-103 is much better suited as an entry-level gun. It’s only $900 so it’s not a huge loss in the context of AK-47s. No, you won’t find other AKs for the same price, but we’ll-crafted AKs will last you a long, long time.

The PSA AK-103 isn’t bad on its own, but there’s zero chance I recommend this to anyone. Palmetto State Armory has awful quality control so there’s not a guarantee you’ll even get an intact rifle like I did. Don’t fall for the hype by influencers that received hand-picked rifles for review. If you want an AK, buy something imported. If you can’t get something imported, drop the extra cash on a quality domestic build. And stay far, far away from PSA.

Richard Douglas writes on firearms, defense, and security issues. He is the founder and editor of Scopes Field, and a columnist at the National Interest, 1945, Daily Caller, and other publications.

Written By

Richard Douglas is a long-time shooter, outdoor enthusiast, and technologist. He is the founder and editor of Scopes Field, and a columnist at The National Interest, Cheaper Than Dirt, Daily Caller, and other publications.