HomeUSATFB Review: Palmetto State Armory AK-105 – An Abortive Part 1

TFB Review: Palmetto State Armory AK-105 – An Abortive Part 1

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Palmetto State Armory needs no introduction; they are one of the biggest names in American firearm manufacturing. Though they started out as an AR-15 supplier, their offerings have grown to include Glock clones, large-frame ARs, and AK-pattern rifles. That AK lineup has expanded from basic AKM rifles to more niche items like the AK-105, a shortened and modernized AK-74. Let’s take a closer look at this pistol and how it runs.


PSA AK-105

Disclosures are an important part of any review. PSA provided this gun to me for review. I bought the ammo. I have done a few reviews of PSA products previously.


I am a fan of the 5.45x39mm cartridge. One of the first articles I wrote for TFB was about the now-obscure 5.45 AR-15. It performs much like the 5.56×45 but with slightly higher ballistic coefficients. The AK-74 family also has a reputation for very soft recoil. Combined with the lighter weight of ammunition compared to the 7.62×39, there are some very real advantages to the 5.45.

Gun Features

The AK-105 is, in essence, the Goldilocks 5.45 AK between the AK-74 and AKS-74U. The 12.5″ barrel of the -105 is short enough to be very maneuverable, but long enough to perform better than the Krink barrel. This shorter barrel length obviously gives up some velocity compared to longer models, but how much? Here are some chronograph results, collected with a MagnetoSpeed Sporter:

  • Tula 60-grain FMJ: 2151 FPS
  • Russian surplus 7n6: 2331 FPS
  • Red Army Standard 69-grain: 2311 FPS

I also attempted to get velocity data from Hornady Black 60-grain V-Max, but for some reason, the chronograph could not get results with that load.

This specific model of AK-105 includes a railed dust cover with a rear-mounted peep sight. A JL Billet M-LOK handguard is also included, with a top rail for optics mounting. It is also equipped with a Magpul MOE pistol grip and a triangle folding arm brace. An ALG trigger comes standard on this model of AK-105.

TFB Review: Palmetto State Armory AK-105 - An Abortive Part 1

The JL Billet handguard has M-LOK on the bottom and sides and Picatinny along the top.


TFB Review: Palmetto State Armory AK-105 - An Abortive Part 1

There is a traditional AK-style optics rail on the receiver as well as a railed top cover.


TFB Review: Palmetto State Armory AK-105 - An Abortive Part 1

An ALG trigger is standard on this model.


TFB Review: Palmetto State Armory AK-105 - An Abortive Part 1

The safety lever has an extended shelf and is easy to manipulate from a shooting grip.

Round 1

The first 50 rounds or so were very uneventful. The gun functioned fine with Tula ammunition. Then the failures to fire began. They could be described as light primer strikes except that the indentation in the primer was pronounced. Hard primers are not uncommon in steel case ammo, but these failures persisted with Tula, Red Army, and Russian surplus loadings. Repeated attempts to fire those rounds were unsuccessful.

I broke the gun down and looked for any obvious issues, but nothing stood out. So I handled it like a real professional and just kept shooting the gun to see if it would fix itself. I was starting to get worried, but then at about 150 rounds fired, the issue just stopped. The rounds that refused to fire earlier all worked when tried again. But at about 500 rounds, the failures started again and this time they were persistent. Every brand of ammunition had failures to fire with what appeared to be light primer strikes. I contacted PSA and the gun went back for inspection.

TFB Review: Palmetto State Armory AK-105 - An Abortive Part 1

One of the many examples of light primer strikes created by this gun.

Round 2

Thanks to the ATF being the way they are, this review hit a snag. Pistols with arm braces became verboten thanks to the stabilizing brace rule. This left the review in a position where the gun did not work and could not be returned thanks to the potential legal problems. The solution was swapping the initial review pistol out for an AK-105 rifle.

Swapping the pistol out for the rifle, and putting a substantial number of rounds through the new rifle will take some time. So I figured the best way to proceed is to adapt the partially-written pistol review into Part 1, with Part 2 focusing on the new rifle. There are many things worth discussing outside of the failure to feed issue, so we still cover those topics here.

Does It Hold Zero?

One of my biggest questions going into this review was whether or not the railed dust cover would hold zero. My first attempt was mounting a red dot on the handguard, shooting some groups, then mounting a red dot on the dust cover to shoot more groups. I could not see any clear pattern, the groups looked more or less the same.

My next approach was putting a magnified optic on the dust cover to see if it made any difference. I used a Brownells MPO 1-6×24 scope (review here) with the included Brownells mount. The groups showed a trend toward split groups, with the overall group consisting of two smaller groups separated laterally. Group sizes did not really increase but the split pattern was apparent.

My best guess is that the substantial weight of that optic caused the dust cover to rock from side to side. This was less of an issue with a lightweight red dot. A short AK is not a benchrest rifle and accuracy standards need to be realistic for a gun shooting steel case ammo. I would trust a red dot mounted on either the dust cover or handguard of this gun to maintain a usable zero.

TFB Review: Palmetto State Armory AK-105 - An Abortive Part 1

The AK-105 with the backdrop of the winter without end.

On The Range

So, away from the lead sleds and shooting benches, how does the AK-105 shoot? In short, excellent. The trigger is an ALG AKT Enhanced Trigger with Lightening Bow. ALG is a Geissele company and the trigger performance reflects that. It breaks right at 3.25 pounds and can run very fast indeed. Recoil is almost nonexistent. One of my good friends has a young son who wanted to fire an “AK-47” while we were at the range. He shot this AK-105 (and displayed great gun safety with proper parental supervision) and loved it because, while it was loud, it was not scary to shoot.

The AK-105 is picky with magazines. I tried a range of options and had mixed success. PSA includes a Magpul PMAG and that is the most consistent option. AC-Unity and Bulgarian surplus mags both worked well. My Bulgarian commercial magazines, Polish Tantal, Romanian steel, and Tapco magazines all had issues. For comparison, my Century Tantal runs well with all of those various magazine styles.

TFB Review: Palmetto State Armory AK-105 - An Abortive Part 1

Certain magazines, like commercial Bulgarian models, did not feed well.


TFB Review: Palmetto State Armory AK-105 - An Abortive Part 1

I only fired 500-ish rounds, but there was no troubling wear.


TFB Review: Palmetto State Armory AK-105 - An Abortive Part 1

There was very little wear with only ~500 rounds fired.


Stay tuned for Part 2 of this review, which will cover the replacement rifle. I still have quite a bit of ammo on hand and look forward to seeing how that one performs. That article will also include the report from PSA on what the issues were with this gun. We’ll see you then.

TFB Review: Palmetto State Armory AK-105 - An Abortive Part 1

AK-105 with the KommandoStore Pattern 84 chest rig.

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