PSAK47 Isolated Quality Control Issue
By James Nicholas
Palmetto State Armory is one of those companies that has a polarizing reputation within the firearms community. It's hard to go into a firearms forum and mention the name PSA without some drama ensuing Threads can quickly devolve into arguments about quality and the love/hate relationships people have with them. Personally up until this article I have never had any issues with any of PSA's products. Not only do I own about 6 different PSA firearms, but as a gunsmith I have customized countless customers PSA firearms in the past. As a dealer, we are happy to be the go to place for PSA transfers and we have yet to have a customer bring any PSA product back. But according to the "internet" you always seem to hear about PSA's bad service and their horrible products. The easiest way to start a flame war is to mention that you like PSA and plenty of people will recall stories about how PSA firearms can fall apart just by looking at them.....this is an exaggeration but you get what I am saying. I am in the camp that has learned to live with PSA shipping times and love the company.
It was big news at the 2015 Shot Show when Palmetto State Armory announced that it would be making an American made AK47. I personally missed it at the Shot Show but was able to get some hands on time with it at the NRA Convention in Nashville TN several weeks later. I was excited as i looked at these display samples and from what I saw the fit and finish was on par if not better than other AK47's on the market. Fast forward several months and I was able to score a parts kit and one of the first 3000 PSA47's as a barreled receiver for a great price. I chose this route because I could come as close to building an AK47 without all of the specialized tooling. It was the same as buying an AR15 parts kit but on the AK47 platform.
Then a couple days later I get an e-mail from PSA's customer service with the subject "PSAk47 Quality Control Photo Request"
Good Afternoon, We appreciate your recent purchase of our new PSAK47. We hope that you are satisfied with your purchase. We are contacting you regarding a Quality Control issue. We experienced an isolated incident with one of our AK47's rear sight blocks. To insure that you are not affected by this we are requesting a side profile picture of your rear sight block. We have attached an example photograph of the picture we are requesting. Please contact us back as soon as possible so that we can verify the state of your product. We appreciate your business greatly and hope you have a great day.
I really didn't think anything about it at first and the email went into the take care of it later pile. Then I get a phone call from PSA asking forget about the photo and if they send me a label can I just send it back to them for a hands on inspection. They were really polite, apologized for my inconvenience and let me know that they would have it back to me ASAP.
So now the email went from the later pile to curiosity about this recall even though PSA is not calling it a recall. I pulled my receiver from the safe and began examining the rear sight block and sure enough mine had problems. Now the picture that PSA was requesting would not really tell them my AK had the problem and really would not have helped. It was not until you looked at it from the top and back end that you can see the issue. I want to note that I never really took the receiver out of the shipping bag and it was well oiled. So when I took it out to take these pictures the oil makes the metal of the gun look weird....Thats just all the oil on the gun.
Picture one shows the right hand side of the rear sight block. Notice the barrel pin sticks out slightly and it almost looks like it dug into the bottom of the front trunnion as highlighted by the red arrow. In picture two notice the gap between the front trunnion and rear sight black. It looks like PSA pushed the barrel pin from right to left (as if shooting the gun) and the jig they were using did not support the front trunnion therefore allowing it to bow out slightly.
Looking down at the top of the rear sight block you can see the gap between the front trunnion and rear sight block. At first glance this may not seem like a big deal.
Now when you look at the assembly from behind you see the true extent of the damage. The Rear sight block is completely crooked. This is just a guess but adding to how they inserted the barrel pin it seems as if their Jig did not support the left side of the trunnion, but did hold the rear sight block on the left hand side. So when they pushed the barrel pin from right to left all the pressure was transferred to the rear sight block causing it to bend. If you have a PSAK47 that is affected they probably have already contacted you, or you can call their customer service at (803) 724-6950 M-F 8am-7pm EST.
The good news is that PSA is aware of this. If you own a PSAK47 do a quick check and make sure that your gun does not exhibit this issue. The other good news is that on PSA's side this is an easy fix with a new jig that holds everything in place and transfers the forces properly. By the time you read this I suspect that PSA has already changed how they assemble the guns. The other positive is that so far PSA's customer service has been top notch and they went out of their way to fix this. Since this has to be an embarrassing screw up it makes me believe that they will add some extra quality control and new AK's coming out of South Carolina will be that much better. I will post a follow up as soon as i get her back. According to UPS it was delivered at the PSA warehouse on Oct 7th 2015 so you can get an idea of how long the fix will take. Please give them a little slack though hurricane Joaquin has devastated South Carolina with all of its rainfall and flooding. They are in a state of emergency with at least 17 confirmed deaths as of this time. My thoughts and prayers are with the them.
Update 1 Tuesday Oct 13th 2015
An update to this original post today, I received an email from PSA this morning:
"I would like to thank you for returning your AK47 to us for inspection. Please accept this 10% discount coupon to make up for any inconvenience this might have caused you.
Coupon Code: **********
Customer Service Manager
Palmetto State Armory | 211 Business Park Blvd, Columbia, SC 29210
Phone: 803.724.6931 | Email:Leonie.Hasell@palmettostatearmory.com
PSA email logo"
On a side note that couple code does not list any restrictions, so I am off to spend some money on Palmetto's website.