Sunday, March 07, 2010

PSL-54C Range Report

Today I got the chance to shoot a PSL-54C rifle I picked up a couple of weeks ago.  The PSL is a Romanian made sharpshooter's rifle chambered for 7.62x54R.  It feeds from a 10 round detachable box magazine and comes with both iron sights, and a 4x24mm LPS scope.  The semiautomatic action is based on a scaled-up Kalashnikov design.  In the USA the PSL is frequently mis-advertised as a Dragunov, but other than the cartridge for which they are chambered, and their intended roles, the PSL and the SVD have nothing in common.

Other names which the PSL has been advertised under in the US are "Romak III" and "SSG-97."  My rifle, which was made entirely in Romania, is marked "PSL-54C."

Click the thumbnail for a full sized picture of my PSL.

PSL-54C Rifle

I ran about 80 rounds of 7.62x54R light ball (147 grain) through it using a couple different magazines.  Some of the ammo was early 1960s Soviet surplus, while the rest was mid-1970s Hungarian.  I experienced no malfunctions and the rifle's action locked back every time it ran dry.  Unlike most AK variants, the PSL has a last round bolt hold-open.

I started at 25 yards to get the rifle on the paper.  The iron sights were pretty close while the scope required more adjustment to get on paper.  Once I had a rough 25 yard zero I moved over to the 100 yard range.

The PSL has a fairly light, somewhat whippy barrel.  Supposedly groups string vertically when the gun heats up, but I didn't really notice it doing so.  At 100 yards it looks like it's a 2 to 2.5 MOA rifle with milsurp ammo.  Using the iron sights at 100 yards it's easy to keep all the rounds inside of the bull of an SR-1 target.  I can do that with my Yugo AK and irons but the longer sight radius of the PSL makes it much easier.

The 4x24mm LPS scope has very clear optics although there is a slight amber or yellow tint.  At 100 yards I was able to resolve .30 caliber holes if they were in the white.  That's good performance from a 4x scope.  The Dragunov reticle allows for precise aiming and with illumination should be visible in field conditions.

I am glad that I put an FSE recoil pad on the stock before taking it to the range.  This isn't so much for the recoil as to lengthen the stock.  Had I not done so I might have wound up with "scope eye" from the ocular bell hitting my eyebrow.

Compared with a Mosin-Nagant firing the same 7.62x54R cartridge, the PSL is much more pleasant to fire.  The gas operated action of the PSL soaks up quite a bit of the recoil.

Even though the stock is shaped for a right hander I had no problems shooting the rifle portside.  However, the scope is offset to the left and I think I want to replace it with a centered optic, which will be more comfortable.  A centered optic also will avoid the necessity to adjust for windage when shooting past 100 yards, due to the offset of the LPS.

It's just one range session but I am very happy with this purchase.  The PSL is accurate, reliable, and pleasant to shoot.  Right now I think it's the best deal going in a semiauto centerfire rifle chambering a full power round.


Paul said...

Glad to hear that you like what you got. If you don't mind, where'd you get it and for how much? Are you planning to reload for it (and, if so, we'd all like to see the range report on that)?

Dave Markowitz said...

Paul, I bought it off the shelf at Surplus City in Feasterville, PA for $599.

I'm not planning to handload for it for a couple reasons:

1. Milsurp 7.62x54R remains available at relatively low cost and shoots well. I currently have close to 1000 rounds in my stash.

2. The PSL really dings up the brass. For example, I noticed several spent cases with crushed mouths, due to them banging the back of the ejection port upon exiting the rifle.

Tony said...

Milsurp ammunition is not exactly known for its high accuracy. Are you going to run some nicer stuff through your gun? It would be interesting to see what it can do with decent ammo. :)

Dave Markowitz said...

Since I'm already getting 2 to 2.5 MOA I'd say that's pretty good accuracy for this rifle. Remember, this isn't a match grade piece.

That said, I will probably buy some Prvi Partizan 147 grain and some Wolf 148 grain loads to try.

Paul said...

You could also do a bit of a compromise between shooting surplus and full reloading: "Mexican Match" some ammo - remove the Soviet crap bullets and put in some good match or near-match quality bullets. Not too expensive, and the results may be very pleasing (although I doubt you'll see MOA, you might get well under 2 MOA).

Dave Markowitz said...

That's a pretty good idea, Paul. I'll have to look into it. Thanks.

Tony said...

It may not be match grade, but with the right sort of ammunition, who knows? If my AK can do 2MOA at 100 meters, your rifle could perform surprisingly well with high quality ammunition. If it were my rifle, I'd at least test it.

Not sure what you bought the rifle for, but remember that as ranges get longer, having the ability to shoot closer groups gives you a little leeway for making errors. For example in Finland the basic snipers test (part 1) is to hit a 15cm circle located within 300 meters with the first shot. That's a cold bore shot with the field conditions that you happen to have, in whatever shooting position your location and visibility to target dictates, with the distance to target being unknown. A 2MOA rifle will hit that circle at 300 meters, but leaves basically zero room for shooter error. With a slightly smaller grouping weapon system, even if you make a slight mistake in your distance estimate of distance to target, you can still do that shot. The rifle doesn't have to do 0.00000001MOA, but every little bit helps. Just something to think about.

Anonymous said...

I think Dave has stated his case. For slightly more than 500.00 he bought a semi auto rifle capable of threats to 600 or 800 yards. If that chance ever arises, you would be better off using a match grade bolt gun and good binocs and reconnaisance than pot shotting and giving up your position. That rifle will serve you well for what you bought it for