Palmetto State Armory is working to begin domestic production of steel-cased Soviet calibers, set to help offset the Russian ammo ban with hopes to be fully operational by 2023.
The word is out, whether they were ready for it or not. Multiple sources in the past week shared information regarding Palmetto State Armory’s intention to begin domestically producing three popular calibers of steel-cased Russian ammo, and now PSA has confirmed it themselves.
The CEO of JJE Capital, the company which owns PSA, posted the following on AR15.com:
7.62×39, 5.45 and 54R will be manufactured in the US under our soviet arms brand. This project is a very large construction and manufacturing project that has been going on for about a year. Our current timeline has the first steel cases rounds coming off of the line in 2023. Of course any project this large can see delays. We should be able to make up for most of the missing Russian imports.
PSA has already made a substantial investment into the project, which according to Atlantic Firearms was used to purchase the tooling and know-how from an unnamed Eastern European ammunition manufacturer. It will be interesting to eventually find out the origin of Palmetto’s new machinery and knowledge.
With an undertaking this large, some are understandably skeptical of its chances of success, but it’s a noble endeavor that could help millions of Americans continue training on the cheap. The company may have lucked out by making the deal before the Russian ammo ban was announced, but they now have a prime opportunity to help offset this recent attempt at backdoor gun control.
By 2023, the full effects of the Russian ammo ban will finally have been felt by the masses, and the old supply of cheap, reliable steel-cased ammo will be sorely missed. 7.62×39 has become a very popular cartridge in the United States over the past few decades. Besides the millions of Commbloc guns that use the stuff, there are now ARs, bolt-actions and even Rugers that are chambered for it. 7.62x54r and 5.45×39 are more niche than the ubiquitous 7.62 Soviet, but there are still plenty Mosins and AK-74s out there that need love too. A steady flow of 5.45×39 is especially important for PSA, as they’ve already made substantial investments into their domestic AK-74 development, a project that began when supplies from Russia were still going strong. A 5.45 drought would certainly hurt the PSAK-74's popularity, so it only makes sense that they would work to ensure the supply chain can never be interrupted by import restrictions ever again.
For the American shooter, this undertaking will be a success if PSA manages to deliver a high volume of ammunition at a consistent quality and competitive price. The dream scenario would be if someday the price and quality of PSA’s stuff is indistinguishable from what we used to get from Russia. Price, quality and volume are the priorities, but if they manage to achieve all three without issue there are some further interesting opportunities that they could capitalize on.
There was a period when surplus Soviet 7n6 ammo was being imported by the boatload. Genuine, Russian-made military 5.45 packed in spam cans was the norm, and it was cheap too. This was the golden era of being an American AK-74 owner, but unfortunately, the party came to an end when a company without foresight sought importation approval for a 5.45 AK pistol from the ATF. Permission was granted, but it simultaneously recategorized 7n6 as “armor-piercing pistol ammo”, instantly banning it from further importation. While imported 7n6 may never come again, nothing is stopping domestic producers from mimicking the load. It would be wonderful to see PSA produce not only cheap training ammo, but also steel-cored copies of military loadings like 7n6 and M43.
The deal between JJE/PSA and the mystery Eastern European firm is still in the works, and setting up large-scale manufacturing is difficult. There is still plenty that could go wrong before we see the first PSA steel-cased roll off their line at competitive prices, but for the sake of the American gun community at large let’s all hope that their 2023 prediction proves true.
For more information on PSA, please visit palmettostatearmory.com
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