Starting out as just an ammunition and magazine website. It didn’t take long for PALMETTO STATE ARMORY to become a fully operational service that supplies its own firearms as well as distributing for a wide variety of other brands.
So we decided to let you know all about them and what they do in this in-depth Palmetto State Armory AR-15 Review. So let’s get all fired up and find out…
Who would buy PSA?
PALMETTO STATE ARMORY is perfect for new shooters who are getting into the sport and don’t want to drop stacks of money on their first gun.
How is that possible?
This is because PALMETTO STATE ARMORY offers complete AR15s at ridiculously low prices of under 500 USD. Also, if you are an active shooter, you can get cheap uppers for your favorite lower rather than buying a whole new rifle. This gives you lots of options on barrel length at a much cheaper price.
So how do they manage to keep the prices so low?
Palmetto State Armory chooses to stay in-house without out-sourcing. This keeps the company in control of suppliers, distributors, and retail. This allows PSA to reduce the cost and as well as improve the manufacturing efficiency. Vertical integration is good for businesses, but it usually means that more time is taken during the logistics and delivery stages.
However, if you are not in a rush, then this shouldn’t be a problem for you.
So for this review, we have decided to cover five complete kits that are available from the company:
The first is the PSA PA-15 20” NITRIDE A2 RIFLE-LENGTH 5.56 NATO CLASSIC AR-15 RIFLE and the longest on the list.
Second, we have the PSA 16″ MID-LENGTH 5.56 NATO 1/7 NITRIDE 13.5″ LIGHTWEIGHT M-LOK MOE EPT RIFLE W/MBUS SIGHT SET. A mid-length rifle and the second-longest on this list.
Next up is the PSA PA-15 16” NITRIDE M4 CARBINE 5.56 NATO CLASSIC AR-15 RIFLE. This was selected for its competitive pricing, and it’s the cheapest on their list of complete AR15s
Nearing the end, we have the PSA 10.5″ PISTOL LENGTH 300AAC 1:8 PHOSPHATE 12″ SLANT M-LOK MOE EPT SBA3 PISTOL. A little more expensive, but still very affordable.
Lastly, the PSA 8.5″ PISTOL-LENGTH 300AAC 1/7 NITRIDE 7″ LIGHTWEIGHT M-LOK MOE EPT SBA3 PISTOL. The shortest of the PSA offerings and a great addition for your CQC collection.
So, let’s run through them and see what you get for your money…
Top 5 Best Palmetto State Armory AR-15 Reviews
1 PSA PA-15 20” NITRIDE A2 RIFLE-LENGTH 5.56 NATO CLASSIC AR-15 RIFLE
Forged by 4150 chrome moly vanadium steel and chambered for the popular 5.56 NATO with a 1 in 7 twist rate. This comes with an M4 barrel extension and has a rifle-length gas system. This system is ideal for long barrels and helps reduce recoil. To top it off the barrel has a nice melonite finish to keep it durable and withstand heat.
The handguards are the classic 12inch polymer M-16 style guards and an f-marked front sight base (FSB) and a classic fixed A2 muzzle break.
The bolt is made from carpenter 158 steal which meets military specifications and is capable of firing fully-automatic with its full-auto profile carrier group. It uses Grade 8 screws to keep it together and Staked per mil-spec. The M-16 profile carrier is also chrome-lined and is made from 8620 steal and is phosphate treated.
The upper receiver is machined and forged from 7075-T6 materials. The upper also includes a dust cover and a forward assist that meet military standards and is made in the USA.
Made from high-quality 7075-T6 aluminum, the lowers are also hard-coat with an anodized finish. Marked MULTI for caliber, so it has no problem taking a variety of calibers if you need to swap out the upper. On the buffer tube, you get a classic A2 buttstock and an A2 pistol grip. Overall, the length comes in at 35inches and weighs 6.5 pounds.
- Low recoil.
- Light polymer handguard.
- Looks antique.
- No good for CQC.
- The back sight not included.
2 PSA 16″ MID-LENGTH 5.56 NATO 1/7 NITRIDE 13.5″
The PSA 16 is a modern-looking rifle. Its barrel is forged from 4150 chrome moly vanadium steel and is a mid-length gas system. This will shoot smoother than a carbine-length but is a little harder than a rifle-length gas system. The barrel is chambered for the 5.56 NATO with a 1 in 7 twist rate which is ideal for heavier calibers.
For the rail system, you get a 13.5inch PSA M-Lok Free-float handguard which has been cut into to keep it as light as possible.
The profile carrier group is fit for full-auto and shot-peened with a carpenter 158 steel bolt. The bolt goes through gas key hardening and is fastened with grade 8 screws. While the bolt carrier is 8620 steel M-16 for fully automatic profiling. All requirements meet military specifications and are made in the USA.
This has a functional forward assist and a dust cover. Made from 7075-T6 materials, the A3 AR upper meets mil-specs and is anodized for an extra hard coat. The uppers aren’t made by PALMETTO STATE ARMORY, but they have US manufacturer who produces the uppers for them, and they fully meet military specifications.
Made from 7075-T6 aluminum and anodized, these lowers were made to take a beating. The buffer tube is made by the same material and has a six position stock. This is customary on all PALMETTO STATE ARMORY lowers.
The stock is by MOE as well as the Magpul pistol grip. In addition, the Enhanced Polished Triggers adds a nice feel to it. The lower is also marked with MULTI, so it can be used with uppers of larger or smaller calibers.
- Free-Float rail.
- Mid-length gas system.
- Enhanced Polished Trigger.
- MOE Carbine Stock.
- Magpul MOE grip.
- Magpul MBUS sights included.
- No side rails.
3 PSA PA-15 16” NITRIDE M4 CARBINE 5.56 NATO CLASSIC AR-15 RIFLE
The first thing to discuss is the barrel. For the length, it measures at 16 inches made from chrome-moly vanadium steel with a nitride finish. Fit to chamber the 5.56 NATO, with a 1 in 7 twist rate. The gas system is at a carbine-length with an F-marked FSB gas block measuring at .750 inches.
This model gives you an M4 style handguard as well as heat shields and weighs in at 6.8 pounds and a length of 32 inches.
The bolt is made from carpenter 158 steal, which is the preferred choice. This bolt is capable of firing fully-automatic. It is fitted by using Grade 8 screws and meets all mil-specs. The M-16 profile carrier is made from 8620 steal and is nitride treated.
Moving on to the upper receiver, it is an M4 type forged from 7075-T6 materials. As to be expected, you’ll have a functioning dust cover and a forward assist. The rest of the details are minor and aren’t really worth discussing, but they meet the military standards. However, if there is a fault, it’s that the small machining marks and trimmings could be better.
The lower receiver is made from high-quality 7075-T6 aluminum and has a hard-coat anodized finish. It’s marked MULTI as is can take a variety of calibers of your choosing. The T6 buffer tube is made from the same materials.
- Slightly less recoil.
- Front iron sight.
- No side rails.
- Uncomfortable pistol grip.
4 PSA 10.5″ PISTOL LENGTH 300AAC 1:8 PHOSPHATE 12″
The PSA 10.5 has a heavy profile and made from a 4150V Chrome Moly Steel with a phosphate finish. Fit to the 300AAC and a 1 in 8 twist rate, a short pistol-length gas system, and a low profile .750 inch gas block. At the tip, you’ll get a fluted flash can rather than a regular A2-style muzzle. For the rail, you get a PSA 12 inch Light-weight Slant End M-lok FF rail (Free-Float).
The bolt is made from carpenter 158 steal and is fully automatic. Held together with Grade 8 screws and mil-spec stakes. The M-16 profile carrier is nitride treated and made from 8620 steal.
The A3 AR upper receiver is made in the USA from high-quality 7075-T6 aluminum and has an anodized hard-coating.
Made from the same material as the upper receiver, it can chamber a variety of calibers. The buffer tube is made from the same 7075-T6 aluminum. The PSA 10.5 has a Magpul MOE pistol-style grip that has an extended beavertail and an SB Tactical SBA3 adjustable pistol brace.
And it has a little extra finesse with an Enhanced Polished trigger, which is purely for aesthetics.
- Modern looking.
- 10.5-inch handguard.
- Enhanced Polished Trigger.
- Magpul MOE pistol grip.
- No iron sights.
- No side rails.
- Heavy recoil.
5 PSA 8.5″ PISTOL-LENGTH 300AAC 1/7 NITRIDE 7″
The PSA 8.5 is even shorter and is perfect for CQC, but it will have a heavier recoil because of its shorter gas block. Made from 4150 chrome moly steel, it is durable, and can easily chamber the 300AA blackout with a 1 in 8 twist rate. The pistol-length gas system is what gives it a heavier recoil because of its length of 4.5 inches.
It also comes with a barrel extension and the whole barrel is treated with a nitride finish. For the handguard, you get the PSA 7-inch lightweight M-Lok FF rail. And a low-profile gas block measuring in at .750 inches and a classic looking A2 muzzle.
The bolt is Gas Key hardened and meets the USGI specs and is fastened together with Grade 8 screws. Compatible for full-auto carrier group and shot-peened, this bolt will take 1000s of rounds and meets military specification.
The A3 AR upper receiver is as expected made from 7075-T6 and hard-coat anodized. This gives it durability as well as helping to protect it from scratches.
The lower receiver is also forged from durable 7075-T6 aluminum and can be adapted to chamber different calibers. You can tell by the MULTI mark on the lower. The buffer tube is made from the same aluminum as well as being hard-coated anodized.
Much like its older brother, the PSA 10.5, this model comes with an SB Tactical SBA3 adjustable pistol brace, a Magpul MOE pistol grip and an EPT.
- Short barreled.
- Modern looking.
- SBA3 brace.
- Comfortable pistol grip.
- Strong recoil.
- No iron sights.
Now that you have seen what PSA has to offer, you are probably wondering if the fact that it is so much cheaper than its competitors hinders its performance. Well, not to worry! The next section should clear any doubts you may still have.
Therefore, the million-dollar question is…
Is PALMETTO STATE ARMORY any good? And what about its performance?
To answer these questions, we will break it down into two sections. The first is a stress test to check the durability and the craftsmanship on these entry-level rifles. Then the second part will be the accuracy-test to see how well they fare with precision shooting.
- The Stress Test
These rifles have no problem being exposed to dust, water, or mud and won’t have any feeding or jamming issues. As for dropping from the chest height, they take the fall well without any rattling. Out of the box, you won’t have to worry about any malfunctions. It may take a few mags to break-in, but it is well worth it.
- The Accuracy test
Accuracy depends on many variables, such as bullets, trigger, and optics. Without the aid of an optic, the PSA can hit targets up to 250 yards without a problem. A little further you may have to strain your eye a bit more, but that’s because the iron sight will cover almost a 3rd of the target.
With the Free-float rail, you will get a little more accuracy and repeatability when taking shots. As mentioned above, you can get straight to the range out of the box without even have to clean the barrel or even oil the bolt.
Therefore, it seems that Palmetto State Armory has done a good job on these entry-level rifles.
- But what if you are an avid shooter and you are looking for a little diversity when it comes to barrel length?
Well not to worry, if you already own a few lowers that have the perfect pistol grip and stock set up, then you can attach your preferred length PALMETTO STATE ARMORY upper and barrel without a problem. After breaking it in, the uppers will work without a hitch with lowers such as Daniel Defense, Colt or even Anderson.
This also works the other way as well; if you have an upper receiver that you prefer but you need a secondary lower then PALMETTO STATE ARMORY lowers are compatible with uppers like Daniel Defense, Colt and Aero Precision.