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Romanian PSL sniper rifle

Romanian PSL

PSL Arsenal logo

Cartridge: 7.62x54Rmm; 7.62x51mm NATO

Operation: gas

Locking: rotating bolt

Feed:10-round box magazine

Muzzle velocity: 2723FPS, 830 m/s

Rate of fire: 650 rds/min

Firing mode: single shot semi-auto


Sights: fore, post; rear, U notch; adjustable 0 to 1200 m; Scope 4 x 24 6°

Weapon length: 45.3", 1150 mm

Barrel length: 24.4", 620 mm

Barrel twist: 4 grooves RH, 1:12.5", 320 mm

Weight without magazine: 9 lbs, 4.06 kg

Weight empty magazine: .5 lbs, 0.21 kg

Weight scope: 1.27 lbs, 0.575kg

The Puşcă Semiautomată cu Lunetă (Rifle, Semiautomatic with Scope) was originally manufactured at the Romanian Cugir arsenal starting in the mid 1970s. When Romania started offering their PSL for export, it was then manufactured at the Regia Autonoma de Tehnicå Militarå (RATMIL) factory and had their bayonet lugs removed to meet U.S. import restrictions. After a consolidation of military arsenals when Romania joined NATO in 2004, production of the PSL moved to the ARMS arsenal in Cugir, Romania which was completely re-tooled with all new state-of-the-art modern equipment purchased from Belgium and Croatia. PSLs are exported to the US by C.N. ROMARM S.A. of Bucharest, Romania.

At various times the PSL has been imported into the US by different companies both large and small.

Romanian PSL

This PSL was manufactured in 1997 as a commercial export model with newly manufactured parts and was imported into the U.S. by Armamentos Inc. of West Palm Beach, Florida. Note the lack of a bayonet lug, plus the modern green nylon sling.

Romanian PSL

When the PSL is manufactured in Romania it is not stamped with a model name or number. This allows U.S. import companies freedom to call the rifle whatever they think will appeal to American buyers.

Century Arms International called the rifle a ROMAK-3 (ROManian Avtomat Kalashnikov 3) (early imports) and PSL-54C (current imports).

InterOrdnance Inc. called the rifle the SSG-97 and offered them in 7.62x54R and 7.62x51 NATO.

The Tennessee Guns International rifles are called the FPK and are either assembled in the US using military surplus parts kits, or are imported as complete rifles from Romania.

TGI's US-built rifles are assembled on Romanian or US-manufactured receivers. The Romanian receivers will be stamped with "FPK" or "Dragunov" on the bottom of the receiver in front of the magazine well. The rifles with US-built receivers will be stamped on the right side of the receiver. Romanian-built rifles (imported as fully assembled rifles) will be stamped "FPK Dragunov" on the left side of the receiver.

A new TGI version of the PSL is now being built on a US manufactured Nodak Spud receiver that allows the use of a standard AK style buttstock and separate pistol grip.

PSL from J&G with Nodak Spud receiver

All these versions are PSL rifles.

PSL kit gun markings


The location of this Tennessee Guns marking indicates this PSL rifle was assembled in the U.S. on a Romanian receiver.

PSL military marking

A military PSL manufactured in Romania in 1976. This is the original arsenal markings and cartouche of a military rifle.


Early ROMAK-3 from Century International Arms came with two cut down 5 round magazines, original Romanian LPS scope and green nylon sling.


During the 1960s when Romania transitioned to the 7.62x39 Kalashnikov family of rifles the production of 7.92 x57 ammunition, as well as the Mosin Nagant and Zbrojovka Brno 24 Mauser rifles, were put in reserve.

After 60 years of use the bolt-action sniper rifles in inventory were down to a few hundred scoped  ZB-24 and Mosin Nagant M91/30s mostly in use by military units in Romania's mountainous interior areas. When the need to replace these aging sniper rifles was apparent, Romania considered adopting the new Russian Dragunov SVD sniper rifle. They had already been producing a domestic variant of the Russian AKM under an agreement with the USSR, as was common among Warsaw Pact nations.

However after the events of 1968 when Romania refused to participate in the Warsaw Pact's invasion of Czechoslovakia, as well its open criticism of the event, the Soviet Union reduced its arms supplies to Romania and slowed the transfer of technologies. As a result, the Uzina Mecanica Cugir and the Directia Tehnica a Armatei (Cugir Weapons Factories and the military Engineering Management Group) as a joint venture carried out designs to produce a semi-automatic sniper rifle that would have the same characteristics of the Russian SVD, but would be based on the Kalashnikov series of weapons, which would also have controls familiar to a soldier who was trained to use the standard AK-47 and AKM machine gun.

Trials were carried out from 1970 to 1975 and during development of the PSL engineers from Zastava in Yugoslavia were consulted. Yugoslavia was also looking to produce its own version of a semi-automatic sniper rifle, but decided against using the Romanian PSL design due to the large quantities of 7.92x57 ammunition on hand already. Zastava's answer to the SVD was the M1976 rifle in 8mm Mauser which uses a receiver made from solid machined steel instead of folded sheet metal. The other Eastern Bloc countries still loyal to the USSR adopted the SVD as their primary sniper rifle. SVDs can still be found in use by the militaries of Poland, Hungary, and Bulgaria.

PSL scope rail

The PSL receiver is a stamped sheet metal design which has reinforcements below the barrel trunion and at the rear cut-out to prevent cracks due to the strong recoil. The gas system is like an AK series with the gas piston being attached to the bolt carrier.

PSL stripped

Barrel profile under the hand guards is thin. This reduces overall weight but allows the barrel to flex more than if it were heavier. Some people believe a shorter barrel would flex less and increase accuracy.

The PSL is based on a Kalashnikov design but is not an AK variant in the true sense. The rifle uses a modified Kalashnikov trigger and gas piston system that are specially designed to handle the larger 7.62x54R caliber. The PSL's larger caliber meant the receiver had to be longer than an AK's and the sheet metal was reinforced at the rear with plates riveted to the sides. To reduce receiver twist when fired, the barrel is pressed into a special trunion that is held in shallow channels on the sides of the receiver. Even with these strengthening improvements the rifle can not handle the pressure of heavy ball ammunition. Ideal cartridge weight will be no heavier than 160 grains (10.3 grams).

PSL Italy kit

The PSL is originally designed to have a safety sear just forward of the hammer. This sear acts as an additional safety feature that prevents premature detonation of the cartridge as it moves from the magazine to the chamber. Unfortunately this sear is prohibited by the U.S. BATFE because that part is assocated with rifles able to fire in fully automatic mode. The PSL was never designed to be a machine gun ("PSL" literally means semi-automatic rifle with scope) but in order for it to pass import restrictions, the safety sear had to be deleted. This means the Romanian manufacturer has to assemble the PSL rifles bound for the US on different receivers than PSLs exported to other countries.

PSL in Italy

On this PSL rifle that is owned in Italy, you can see the "third" axis pin of the safety sear just below the middle of the scope rail. The US approved PSLs must only have two axis pins present on the receiver.

CAI receiver with welded hole

Even an axis pin hole that is welded up is still considered illegal by the BATFE.

All recently imported PSL rifles are manufactured in Romania on commercial receivers and assembled with parts from de-milled military rifles that are refinished. The magazines are marked with the receiver's serial number and are often hand-fitted to the rifle. The scopes are also hand-fitted to the side rail on the receiver. Many recent imports of PSLs do not have factory fitted scopes or magazines. This results in scopes that either do not fit the rail or are mounted slightly crooked making the scope reticle off-center, and magazines that will not lock in place or will not feed reliably. Other common problems are canted (crooked) front sights and receivers not drilled for all the butt stock mounting screws.

Don't know if your PSL was built from a demilled kit?
Click for a discussion about PSL kits

Commercial InterOrdnance SSG-97 PSL

An InterOrdnance Inc. SSG-97 with soft green canvas scope cover and instruction handbook printed by Romarm.

PSL Cugir arsenal with tape over serial number

These are actual Romanian military PSLs with the Cugir arsenal cartouche stamp (arrow in triangle). If your rifle doesn't have these arsenal markings then it was built for commercial export.

Military PSL Cugir arsenal mark

The Cugir stamp is similar to the Russian Izhevsk cartouche but lacks the fletching feathers at the bottom of the arrow.

Click here for Romanian LPS scopeThe sniper scope provided with the PSL is the Romanian version of the PSO-1 which has no battery compartment. It is designated LPS 4x6° TIP2 and was manufactured by IOR (Industry Optic Romania) in Bucharest. The reticle is illuminated by mildly radioactive tritium. Almost all scopes that came with commercial PSLs have dead or expired tritium so don't expect to see the reticle in low light. These scopes are normally equipped with a rubber shock absorbing eye piece and a front rubber cover which is held to the scope by a rubber collar around the scope sun shade tube.

Internals of the Romanian PSL rifle differ considerably from the Dragunov design. The PSL, with its stamped steel receiver, has trigger and hammer components that will be very familliar to AK-type owners. The Dragunov design, on the otherhand, has a trigger assembly that removes as a unit from the receiver.

The gas system on the PSL consists of the gas piston and bolt carrier which is one piece, also similar to the AK series rifles.

The buttstock is made from laminated wood and differs from the SVD by having a cheek pad designed into the comb. The SVD has a detachable leather cheek pad. Some owners feel that the comb of the butt stock is not high enough to get a proper cheek weld when using the scope.

The muzzle device is a brake that effectively reduces felt recoil. It is generally screwed on to barrel threads and locked in place with a spring-loaded pin at the base of the front sight. Some PSL rifles imported have the muzzle brake welded in place instead of pinned. Of those that are welded, some have no threads at the muzzle and are simply pressed on and welded.

"WillyP" provided this detailed description with pictures of his PSL rifle.

PSL pinned brake

Muzzle brake with a cross pin seen at the front of the sight base. The brake consists of three banks of four slots designed to vent gas to the sides and top of the barrel as the bullet exits. Diverting the gas to the side reduces felt recoil but increases noise. Shooting the PSL sniper rifle in the prone position may create a debris cloud from the blast.

PSL muzzle brake threaded

This muzzle brake is screwed on to a threaded muzzle and locked in place by a spring-loaded pin.

Para PAL

The so-called "Para" PSL. These short-barreled rifles were sold on a very limited basis and were converted in the US from Romanian parts.

Para PSL

The "paratrooper" PSL before being assembled in to a rifle. These were never used in any military but should be good shooters.

Para kit

Brown pouch holds oil bottle and cleaning tools.