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Old 11-16-2017, 06:52 PM   #1
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Default PSL Observations (carryover of "Tiger Carbine:Gunbroker" thread)

I have been reading with some interest some of the posts on the above mentioned thread-
http://www.akfiles.com/forums/showthread.php?t=322825

Mostly about the PSL and instead of polluting or derailing the thread with more stuff about PSL/SVD comparisons I am starting a new thread here to carryon/start a discussion because this is something that has intrigued me since around 2005/2006.

I got my first PSL in 2002 well l before I was able afford a Tiger or Chinese SVD. Since then I heard many things about PSL some good some bad so I will start by adding some of my observations about PSLs and seeing what others have to say.

Since then I own a few Tigers and a NDM-86 in 7.62x54. I have shot quite a few SVDs and Military PSLs since 2002 so it is of interest to me to see what others have to say.
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Old 11-16-2017, 06:53 PM   #2
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I will start the ball rolling-
I have shot a few military PSL's and there are a few differences from the civilian ones but I am not going to say there are any dramatic differences between them (at least on the surface) but there are a few changes mostly in the receiver rails and the third pin hole. I have not done a side by side comparison between them either as the military PSLs were in places I could not bring civilian ones. There might be a QC difference in the parts but no way of telling without going to the factory and seeing what is good and bad by knowing the specifications for the parts. It is possible some of the parts on civilian guns are rejects from the military contracts though (it would not be the first time it has been done I am sure).

As for the rivets and receiver reinforcements I have seen military PSL's fed a diet of 170 grain commercial ammunition and not seen a single problem surface with receivers over the course of a few thousand rounds. I also saw two military PSLs that both each fired at least two cases each of Hungarian heavy ball and not a single issue surfaced.
Is that proof positive? No! but it has got me thinking perhaps it is possible there may be a difference but as of yet it is only speculation.

The Romanian military PSL manual said heavy ball was on the list of approved cartridges for use so at least some testing was done.
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Old 11-16-2017, 08:08 PM   #3
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I shot PSL in the romy army 30 plus years ago
They were better built than the ones today .

Some parts kits are from old unissued rifles.

But like with any Romanian product it is a gamble to find a 100% shooter
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Old 11-16-2017, 10:02 PM   #4
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Yes yes and yes, if your looking at PSL's you are diffinitly flipping a coin as to how well it shoots. Now also if you check velocity on a lot of the surplus ammo you'll find it's lacking.
The 170 gr stuff was probably only going 2200-2300 FPS. So in reality you can shoot any weight bullets in a PSL if they are loaded back. I've had those hornady's 150 SST's up close to 3000 mark with no problems. The 174's upwards of 2700 FPS. Makes it easy when you can adjust for a particular load.
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Old 11-17-2017, 04:17 PM   #5
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One of the PSL kits I received from Apex many years ago had all the torch cut receiver pieces in it so I did a reweld. The 3rd hole was never an issue as they'd torched right through it. I don't recall the receiver date offhand, might have been 1973. The right rail was lower since it was installed to accomodate the safety sear rail. The torched barrel pieces had the worst bores I've ever seen with the ID running out of concentricity with the OD nearly 2mm at one end of a 3" section and around 1mm at the other. The rifling was abominal too with the lands and grooves being all different widths and depths. The rifle had seen hard use based on the wear on all the parts. I did a build thread on that rifle, the one where I used a heavy barrel with a stainless adjustable gas block and made new furniture out of red oak. I used that rifle for a youtube video on barrel whip, comparing the heavy barrel to a factory Cugir built rifle my buddy owns.

Edit: The receiver date was actually 1974.
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Old 11-18-2017, 10:23 PM   #6
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A few more thing I have seen out there.

I have seen and worked on PSLs and SVDs in the field (and I will say from my experience) that the PSL holds up better than the SVD and requires less maintenance and parts to support and keep operational. The SVD while more accurate requires more TLC than the PSL. I love SVD type rifles (probably more than I should and more than the PSL) but I have come to realize IMHO that especially for long term use that the SVD owner would probably do well to keep far more parts on hand.

Regarding accuracy, ammunition it is the key factor here I wonder if the Romanian rifle ammo shoots out of the PSL better than others? I have seen many other types but experience of the country of its design is lacking.
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Old 11-19-2017, 12:12 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by semper-dissolubilis View Post
Regarding accuracy, ammunition it is the key factor here I wonder if the Romanian rifle ammo shoots out of the PSL better than others? I have seen many other types but experience of the country of its design is lacking.
Not in mine. LPS is the crappiest ammo I have personally used. I have heard that Albanian is worse, but I've never tried any. I gave away the LPS to someone who only shot from50 meters with his Mosin.
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The PSL is like a 1970 ss396 Chevelle. Not really rare, not too fast, turns and stops like crap - but still a classic everyone wants
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Old 11-19-2017, 02:59 PM   #8
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Very few 54r rifles have ever gotten a fair shake in the accuracy department because of the available ammo. I spent several years looking for the holy grail of 54r's both building and shooting. The best rifle in the world won't group with crap ammo, and the majority of surplus ammo is crap.

A tear down of 30 silvertips netted a glimpse into causes of dispersion (sorry about the size of the first pic):



Here is a 100 yard target shot on one day, from one rifle, in order 1 through 8 as shown with different ammo.



Photo of the off center PSL stub with the crappy rifling:



One of these days I'm going to work up a load for my NDM and see what it'll do.
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Old 11-19-2017, 11:11 PM   #9
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Yeah that bore has definitely seen better days-
Interesting notes on the ammo types and their accuracy also, thanks for the info!
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Old 11-20-2017, 03:30 AM   #10
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Here is one of the test videos I made comparing a standard Cugir PSL to my home build with a heavier barrel (.6" vs. .8" OD). The barrel whip difference was obvious, I hadn't planned on seeing so much scope movement.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iJC-E0yPOA

In later tests I found that if I closed the gas block completely off, the barrel whip on the Cugir goes away. Doing the set screw mod to the standard gas block reduces barrel whip equal to the percentage of reduction in the gas port size.

I've never seen barrel whip on my NDM with it's longer slim barrel using a short stroke gas system vs. the long stroke system of the PSL. :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9vmtuI8ITI

I built the Space Gun next using the lessons I learned from the previous tests. Shorter stouter barrel, adjustable gas system with no attachment to the gas block, cantilever scope mount attached to the barrel instead of the receiver. There were a few other improvements too but it's been too long ago to remember them all. The problem with the Space gun is that I used a terribly messed up Prexis barrel (after I repaired the hack job he did on the chamber machining). It was at that time he admitted to me he was using Green mountain .308 barrel blanks. I have a new McGowen barrel blank to replace it, I just haven't had time to work on it. Here was a recent suppressor test on that PSL:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u13dqRcEH_Y&t=19s
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Old 11-20-2017, 11:43 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by semper-dissolubilis View Post
A few more thing I have seen out there.

I have seen and worked on PSLs and SVDs in the field (and I will say from my experience) that the PSL holds up better than the SVD and requires less maintenance and parts to support and keep operational. The SVD while more accurate requires more TLC than the PSL
. I love SVD type rifles (probably more than I should and more than the PSL) but I have come to realize IMHO that especially for long term use that the SVD owner would probably do well to keep far more parts on hand.

Regarding accuracy, ammunition it is the key factor here I wonder if the Romanian rifle ammo shoots out of the PSL better than others? I have seen many other types but experience of the country of its design is lacking.

can you please elaborate on that? i would like to hear how exactly does the PSL "holds" up better than the SVD in the field?

required "less" parts? which parts?

SVD, compared to PSL is far easier to clean and maintain than the long-stroke big-ass heavy bolt carrier of the PSL which when you are done shooting 50 rounds of surplus ammo is dirty as hell and covered with carbon that you will be scraping off the piston for 2 days
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Old 11-20-2017, 03:04 PM   #12
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can you please elaborate on that? i would like to hear how exactly does the PSL "holds" up better than the SVD in the field?

required "less" parts? which parts?

SVD, compared to PSL is far easier to clean and maintain than the long-stroke big-ass heavy bolt carrier of the PSL which when you are done shooting 50 rounds of surplus ammo is dirty as hell and covered with carbon that you will be scraping off the piston for 2 days
Knowing a bit about Semperís professional background I can confirm he has dealt with dozens if not more of both SVD and PSL rifles in austere environments and conducted depot level maintainence. I wonít steal his thunder too much as his field expertise is vastly more extensive than mine.

Under typical rugged field use the following parts fail with some regularity: operating rod spring, snapped handle on the mount for the handguards, broken spring on the gas tube lever, broken leaf spring retainer on the rear sight base (actual milled portion inside snapped), worn recoil springs, damaged ejector, broken bolt hold open spring.

Inside the tigger mechanism Iíve seen lost trigger rod guide plates due to poor spot welds and weak trigger springs.

Coincidentally the Armorers Manual for the SVD provides the exact dimensions and tolerances so almost every single part Iíve listed can be fabricated at the field armorer level. Clearly the Soviets identified the weak points on the rifle pretty thoroughly and planned accordingly.

Iíve never actually encountered a non functional PSL in a military context so I defer to semper on that one. The SVD is a pretty rugged rifle, but itís not in the same league as any Kalashnikov.
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Old 11-20-2017, 03:33 PM   #13
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thanks for the info. I have put by SVD through some serious cold and messed up conditions here in NE PA. In classes that we hosted here, i have seen the exact opposite, where PSLs were chocking, either on failure to feed, or the trigger group , or where extractor broke off.

never anything like this on either Zen's or my SVDs. and we dont baby them by any means.
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Old 11-20-2017, 03:56 PM   #14
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thanks for the info. I have put by SVD through some serious cold and messed up conditions here in NE PA. In classes that we hosted here, i have seen the exact opposite, where PSLs were chocking, either on failure to feed, or the trigger group , or where extractor broke off.

never anything like this on either Zen's or my SVDs. and we dont baby them by any means.
It is one of my great regrets that I never got to do one of Vorobiev’s classes when he was still putting them on. I think he did one in PA at one point didn’t he?

All I can say is that the abuse your average third world conscript or militia fighter can put his weapon through simply boggles the mind. I saw an RPG-7 bent almost in half recently... Still trying to get to the bottom of that one but I’m assuming a truck was involved.
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Old 11-20-2017, 04:23 PM   #15
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yes, we did it at my local range and held another course at my friends farm.
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Old 11-20-2017, 05:39 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WolfmanReid View Post
Knowing a bit about Semperís professional background I can confirm he has dealt with dozens if not more of both SVD and PSL rifles in austere environments and conducted depot level maintainence. I wonít steal his thunder too much as his field expertise is vastly more extensive than mine.

Under typical rugged field use the following parts fail with some regularity: operating rod spring, snapped handle on the mount for the handguards, broken spring on the gas tube lever, broken leaf spring retainer on the rear sight base (actual milled portion inside snapped), worn recoil springs, damaged ejector, broken bolt hold open spring.

Inside the tigger mechanism Iíve seen lost trigger rod guide plates due to poor spot welds and weak trigger springs.

Coincidentally the Armorers Manual for the SVD provides the exact dimensions and tolerances so almost every single part Iíve listed can be fabricated at the field armorer level. Clearly the Soviets identified the weak points on the rifle pretty thoroughly and planned accordingly.

Iíve never actually encountered a non functional PSL in a military context so I defer to semper on that one. The SVD is a pretty rugged rifle, but itís not in the same league as any Kalashnikov.
sounds mostly like springs breaking. . Still be interesting to know how long some of these SVD have been in use.
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Old 11-21-2017, 11:41 AM   #17
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funny you mention this ^^^

about 6 years ago i was able to get (2) items for fairly cheap off gunbroker that i thought could potentially break

- piston spring
- complete trigger groups assembly.

i have a feeling they will be collecting dust though my grandkids lifetimes...
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Old 11-21-2017, 08:51 PM   #18
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Some of what I have run into with a regularity-partswise
SVD:
Broken firing pins
Broken extractors
Worn extractor springs
Collapsed or kinked recoil springs (a similar draw back on the SVT-40 rifle)
Bent piston rods
Collapsed or bent piston rod springs
Broken gas regulator retainers
Broken front handguard retainers
Bent or broken rear top cover retainers
Broken cheek rest latches

On PSLs:
Front sights
Extractors
Extractor springs
Firing pins
Recoil springs

The great thing about PSLs when they are shipped from the factory they include a set of high wear breakage or easily lost items for each rifle; basically 1 set of all the above mentioned parts with the exception of recoil springs.
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Old 11-21-2017, 09:21 PM   #19
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The problem with my question below is going to be a lack of consistent, one variable data, but I'll ask anyway....

Based your exposure to both rifles, what was the level of consistency in the ammo?

I fully believe the SVD is both more able to survive without catastrophic failure, but at the same time experience a failure, with erratic ammo.

As I understand, it was designed around the 151gr 7N1 round, which was held to a higher tolerance than the spam can swill 54R most of the US is used to.

Having said that, I imagine an SVD will have a non-catastrophic failure with consistent ammo of any bullet weight, simply doffing a spring of retractor, vice a PSLs rear trunnions eventually egging out and breaking loose the stamped trunnion.

I say this as a person who has experienced a slam fire in my KBI SVD and been next to Wolfmanreid's SVD when it had an ammunition related issue which split the top cover.

Here's me story: https://www.ar15.com/forums/armory/-/42-432383/?page=1
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Old 11-21-2017, 09:27 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by semper-dissolubilis View Post
Some of what I have run into with a regularity-partswise
SVD:
Broken firing pins
Broken extractors
Worn extractor springs
Collapsed or kinked recoil springs (a similar draw back on the SVT-40 rifle)
Bent piston rods
Collapsed or bent piston rod springs
Broken gas regulator retainers
Broken front handguard retainers
Bent or broken rear top cover retainers
Broken cheek rest latches

On PSLs:
Front sights
Extractors
Extractor springs
Firing pins
Recoil springs

The great thing about PSLs when they are shipped from the factory they include a set of high wear breakage or easily lost items for each rifle; basically 1 set of all the above mentioned parts with the exception of recoil springs.
How does the SVD compare to the maintenance of the M110 SASS?
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Old 11-22-2017, 12:04 AM   #21
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SASS:
Mostly it is
Gas rings
Extractors
Extractor springs

The M110 SASS needs to be clean and lubricated more frequently than the SVD. Funny you mention SASS I was actually thinking about doing an write up on SVD vs original SR-25 at some point in the near future.

Regarding the SVD as with all former Warsaw Pact weapons a lot of it's merits are undone by most of it's available ammunition. I am not fully sure about the SVD being originally designed to shoot the 7N1 cartridge- I don't believe the 7N1 was issued until the SVD was developed and fielded for a few years.
I was in one country that had specifically made 7.62x54R ammunition for rifles that was made in the 1960s by the Soviet Union the cans were marked as such. Most available 7.62x54 ammunition seems almost to be loaded to machinegun specifications for accuracy-was it done accidentally or on purpose I don't know though? The above mentioned ammunition that was available I did not have any rifle to test it out of unfortunately because it would have been interesting to see if it was better. I am willing to guess it was.
I have seen more SVDs fail than PSL's: I can think of at least 6 SVD's that have for lack of a better term failed and blown off top covers amongst other damages and I have yet to see a military PSL evince any similar behavior. It seems that the SVD is far more finicky but that comes with a more precision built weapon and a higher accuracy potential. Mind you most of my experience is in as WolfmanReid said above "austere environments".

One place I visited, they stopped using SVDs because the PSLs were holding up better and required fewer repairs and were less complicated for their troops to use and learn. The SVDs were reserved for the more experienced snipers and were kept running by cannibalizing the other SVD's (not being used anymore) to keep running so that the better accuracy could be taken advantage of.
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Old 11-22-2017, 07:37 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by semper-dissolubilis View Post
SASS:
Mostly it is
Gas rings
Extractors
Extractor springs

The M110 SASS needs to be clean and lubricated more frequently than the SVD. Funny you mention SASS I was actually thinking about doing an write up on SVD vs original SR-25 at some point in the near future.

Regarding the SVD as with all former Warsaw Pact weapons a lot of it's merits are undone by most of it's available ammunition. I am not fully sure about the SVD being originally designed to shoot the 7N1 cartridge- I don't believe the 7N1 was issued until the SVD was developed and fielded for a few years.
I was in one country that had specifically made 7.62x54R ammunition for rifles that was made in the 1960s by the Soviet Union the cans were marked as such. Most available 7.62x54 ammunition seems almost to be loaded to machinegun specifications for accuracy-was it done accidentally or on purpose I don't know though? The above mentioned ammunition that was available I did not have any rifle to test it out of unfortunately because it would have been interesting to see if it was better. I am willing to guess it was.
I have seen more SVDs fail than PSL's: I can think of at least 6 SVD's that have for lack of a better term failed and blown off top covers amongst other damages and I have yet to see a military PSL evince any similar behavior. It seems that the SVD is far more finicky but that comes with a more precision built weapon and a higher accuracy potential. Mind you most of my experience is in as WolfmanReid said above "austere environments".

One place I visited, they stopped using SVDs because the PSLs were holding up better and required fewer repairs and were less complicated for their troops to use and learn. The SVDs were reserved for the more experienced snipers and were kept running by cannibalizing the other SVD's (not being used anymore) to keep running so that the better accuracy could be taken advantage of.
Interesting, seems you have had a little different experience with these weapons than a few of the people Iíve talked to about it. Interesting you mention top covers coming off. My son refused to shoot my PSL and told me I need to get rid of it after something he saw on his last Iraq vacation. Another friend of mine who has spent a lot of time in Afghanistan said most of the SVDs that he saw had been around since the Soviet days and none of them were newer. That said ,none of them were armors and they didnít service the weapons.
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Old 11-22-2017, 07:15 PM   #23
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I have tried to have an ammo supply for my PSL that is standardized on lite ball, due to warnings about heavy ball. I have a variety of brands.

Some time back I read a review on another board from a guy who had gotten a bunch of PPU commercial ammo of recent manufacture.

He claimed that it exhibited signs of high pressure and harsh cycling in his PSL.

I've got some of this stuff and tend to think of it as better than Wolf or Tula. Haven't fired any, though.

Anyone have experience with PPU 150 gr. SPBT ammo made in the last few years.

This looked like a good ongoing thread of PSL info, which is kind of rare these days.
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Old 11-22-2017, 11:22 PM   #24
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One of the possible problems is the powder used in various cartridges for PSLs (and SVD's to a lesser extent)-if it's time pressure curve varies enough over what it was designed to operate in it can have some serious side effects.
I had this problem with a NDM-86 in .308, the gun was giving me fits and starts until I changed match ammo types. Then the problem was solved and it got me to thinking about it.

Most of the SVDs I have handled have definitely seen better days but the same can be said for a lot of the PSLs.
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Old 11-23-2017, 01:22 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by MTS1 View Post
I have tried to have an ammo supply for my PSL that is standardized on lite ball, due to warnings about heavy ball. I have a variety of brands.

Some time back I read a review on another board from a guy who had gotten a bunch of PPU commercial ammo of recent manufacture.

He claimed that it exhibited signs of high pressure and harsh cycling in his PSL.

I've got some of this stuff and tend to think of it as better than Wolf or Tula. Haven't fired any, though.

Anyone have experience with PPU 150 gr. SPBT ammo made in the last few years.

This looked like a good ongoing thread of PSL info, which is kind of rare these days.
I ran the PPU 182gr Match and their 150gr SP and had pierced primer issues with both. These pierced primers are what eventually lead to the fixed firing pin and out of battery detonation.

I took the rest of the PPU and broke them down, saving powder and projectiles, and only use CCI 34 primers in my handloads.

I never had issues with the Win LR primers, but have enough 34s to just use those from here on out.
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