Palmetto State Armory (PSA) is a very well-known company. They are known for their line of AR-15’s and the PSA AKV, a 9mm AK. I was lucky enough to take the PSA AR-10 for a test drive, it’s also known as the PSA PA-10 which is one of the best budget AR-10’s on the market.
PSA PA-10 Details
|Barrel Material:||416R Stainless Steel|
|Barrel Profile:||A2 Style|
|Chamber:||.308 WIN (7.62×51 NATO)|
|Twist Rate:||1 in 10”|
|Gas Block Type:||Low-profile 5 position click switch adjustable gas block|
|Receiver Materials:||Forged 7075 T6 Aluminum|
|Receiver Finish:||Hardcoat Anodized|
|Receiver Style:||PA10 Flat top with Feed Ramps|
|Stock:||Magpul STR, Black|
|Grip:||PSA rubber over-molded A2 Grip|
|Fire Control Group:||PSA Enhanced Polished Trigger (EPT)|
|Magazine:||20 round Magpul PMAG|
Palmetto State Armory History
Palmetto State Armory was founded in Columbia, South Carolina by Jamin McCallum in 2008. Palmetto State Armory, or PSA for short, gets its name from the official nickname for South Carolina, The Palmetto State. From humble beginnings, Palmetto State Armory has grown into a successful business with in-house production and development of its own firearms. Palmetto State Armory has expanded from South Carolina into Georgia and North Carolina and currently operates seven retail locations.
Palmetto State Armory has grown to be known for their high quality, low price firearms along with being a supplier of all things gun and shooting related.
Palmetto State Armory’s mission states
“Our mission is to maximize freedom, not our profits. We want to sell as many ar-15 and ak-47 rifles as we can and put them into common use in America today. Our focus isn’t to make massive amounts of money but to spread freedom as far and wide as possible. Our legacy will not be about money; we want our legacy to be about maximizing American freedom. And we work every day to do just that. We make high-quality firearms at affordable prices for everyone! Then we back them with a full lifetime warranty.”– Palmetto State Armory About Page
With the current climate towards gun ownership and the 2A in general, it’s comforting knowing that a large gun manufacturer and retail company has pledged to get as many firearms into law-abiding hands.
The mention of common use really hits home as the more people that have these firearms the harder it will be to take them away; whether that be in the courts or otherwise. American Made. For Life.
Many don’t know that the AR-15 wasn’t an all-original design. Many more don’t know that the design for the AR-15 was originally a scaled-down and modified AR-10.
Development of the ArmaLite AR-10 began in the late 1950’s. It was developed in competition with the M14, which we previously covered here.
Unfortunately for ArmaLite, in the testing phase, they ran into some rather rough bumps in the road which ended up having a burst barrel in the middle of the military trials.
That coupled with an already late entry into the trials and not using a strong enough material to make their barrels from ended their hopes of being selected.
The AR-10 would not be adopted into service for the United States but would be further developed and used by Finland, Cuba, Guatemala, Inda, Italy, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Portugal, Romania, Sudan, and West Germany.
The development would undergo slight changes as the years progressed, but the main layout would remain the same.
In 1957 the design was then modified to compete in the military’s new venture for a 6 pound .22 caliber rifle that would be accurate to 500 yards. This design would evolve into the AR-15 that we all know and have come to enjoy to this day.
Because the AR-10 was never adopted into service, there has been no set standard as to what the rifle has become. In practice, there are two main types in today’s market.
First, the DPMS pattern which is sometimes referred to as the LR-308, and then the ArmaLite pattern AR-10.
These two designs have different subgroups in them as well. This vastly complicates things when it comes to parts and maintenance of the rifle.
It is not as easy to switch or find replacement parts as it is for an AR-15.
PA-10 Gen III Features
The upper receiver of the Gen III PA-10 is forged from 7075 T6 aluminum. The upper is anodized to military specifications. This process is common across the industry and is the same process used to manufacture and finish Mil-Spec AR-15s.
The styling of the PA-10 upper receiver is almost identical to a Mil-Spec AR-15 upper besides the glaringly obvious size difference. This is needed to house the beefed-up internals that is required to make the PA-10 run.
The lower receiver of the Palmetto State Armory’s version of the AR-10 is where you will see a visual departure from the more traditional form of the AR world.
Everything is still AR in function and design but there are subtleties that are not so hard to miss.
The lower receiver is obviously bigger to accommodate the .308 cartridge, but there are other changes here as well.
There is a shelf at the top of the lower to meet with the larger upper. This makes the transition as smooth as possible from upper to lower.
There is no fencing around the mag release as you traditionally would find on a modern AR. Instead the mag well is larger and acts as a barrier itself. This is mirrored on the left side of the lower receiver as well.
The trigger guard is integrated into the forging for the lower. It is large enough for a gloved finger to easily fit inside.
The back of the lower forging more closely resembles the LR-308 pattern than the AR-10 pattern.
The lower is forged from 7075 T6 aluminum and is finished in the same hardcoat anodizing that the upper is finished with.
Both lower and upper match in color and texture.
Barrel & Chamber
The barrel on this Palmetto State Armory PA-10 is made from 416R Stainless Steel.
This steel is especially formulated to be used in gun barrels. While it is called a “stainless” steel, it actually is not.
It is still susceptible to corrosion but at a reduced rate. 416R Steel is used when the desired product needs to have a very high degree of accuracy which is why it lends itself so well to gun barrels.
The Chamber of the Palmetto State Armory AR-10 is cut with M-4 style feed ramps.
For those who are not aware, this means that the feedlips of the barrel extend down into the lower reciever to assist with the smooth loading of the next round from the magazine.
The feed ramps on the barrel itself are a high polish which also aids in loading the next round from the magazine.
The chambering for this particular PA-10 is .308 Winchester, or 7.62×51 NATO. This cartridge is the natural selection for this rifle and was the original cartridge it was designed to fire.
The PA-10 can also be had in 6.5 Creedmoor.
The safety Palmetto State Armory’s AR-10 clone is the same safety that is commonly found on other AR-15 style rifles and carbines.
This part is interchangeable with the smaller platform. While the safety that comes with the PA-10 is basic, it gets the required job done well.
If you so choose, you could swap out the safety for any available AR-15 style you choose. This even extends to ambidextrous style safeties.
The pistol grip that comes on the PA-10 is very similar to an A2 pistol grip.
One difference is the shelf that is commonly found on the A2 style grip is absent on the Palmetto State Armory branded grip.
The second, and most noticeable difference to me was the rubber overmold texture that Palmetto State Armory put over the grip surface.
This makes the grip slightly larger in the hand and also makes it feel more secure than the standard polymer grip. I found this to be a subtle but very nice touch.
Much like the safety found on the Palmetto State Armory PA-10, the mag release button can be swapped from an AR-15 to the PA-10.
This cross platform compatibility is really nice as there are a plethora of options available for the AR-15.
You could even install an extended mag release on the PA-10 if you so desired. The mag release button that comes stock on Palmetto’s version of the AR-10 is completely functional and I do not see any reason to swap it out except out of your preference.
Magazine / Mag Well
Palmetto State Armory ships one Gen3 Magpul brand LR/SR 20 round magazine. Magpul has become an industry standard across many weapon systems, and that does not differ here.
The PMAG 20 LR/SR Gen M3 fits well into the open mag well found on the PA-10. The mag well itself is larger than that found on an AR-15 to accommodate the larger and more powerful 308 Winchester ammunition contained within the magazine.
There is a slight chamfer to the mag well that helps with insertion. The internal tolerances in the mag well are such that there is little to no wiggle room with the Magpul magazine seated but loose enough that an empty mag drops free from the gun without any assistance.
For those that have only used an AR-15 this is commonplace, but those who may be more familiar with AK’s or many other foreign 308 pattern guns this is a nice feature to have.
Bolt Release / Hold-Open
The PA-10’s bolt release is located on the left side of the receiver.
The bolt release also functions as the bolt hold-open on this platform. This is in line with the AR-15 bolt release and hold-open as well.
Like many other features on this 308 rifle from Palmetto State, the bolt release / hold open can be swapped over from the AR-15 to the PA-10.
This means that bolt on aftermarket devices such as the Magpul B.A.D. Lever will also work on the Palmetto State Armory PA-10.
The charging handle on the PA-10 is a pretty vanilla affair. It gets the job done, but doesn’t have any frills.
The charging handle is made from the same material and finished off very well like the rest of the Palmetto State Armory rifle.
This is one area where I would suggest everyone who purchases this rifle immediately upgrade.
There are several different selections all from reputable manufacturers.
If you choose to suppress the rifle, I personally would suggest getting a charging handle with a raised shelf to help deflect some of the acrid gasses from your face.
Rail System / Handguard
Like many modern rifles today, this Palmetto State Armory PA-10 employs the free licensed Magpul MLok attachment system.
With the military officially selecting MLok over Keymod and their current RIS (railed interface system) for their next gen URG-I equipped rifles, this system will only continue to grow.
Some useful things to know about Mlok include that it is a space and weight saving system when compared to standard rails.
The absence of rails also makes the design more streamlined and less prone to snagging on gear and kit.
Gone are the days of rail protectors that had to be added to protect your hands from the cheese grater like 1913 style rails.
Mlok works by using the negative space underneath the rail to attach accessories by using a cam nut that applies pressure from underneath the handguard by pulling the attachment toward the rail.
This is a very efficient use of space and ends up saving a lot of weight out on the end of the barrel.
The Mlok rails are located at the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions. The 12 o’clock position is still picatinny rail.
The use of picatinny on the top of the firearm keeps the same line from the upper receiver all the way out to the end of the hand guard.
The handguard itself is a lightweight variant and has lightning cuts across the top and down through the picatinny rail.
This may seem trivial, but with a rifle as heavy as the PA-10 any means of weight savings is a plus. The handguard itself is a slim version that hugs closer to the barrel than a standard rail.
This again is for weight savings. The less overall material used to construct the rail, the less it will weigh. The handguard has anti-rotational tabs on both sides that interface with the upper receiver.
The handguard is made of 7075 T6 aluminum and is finished in hard coat anodizing that is standard for the industry.
Located at the start and the end of the handguard on the 3 and 9 o’clock positions are the quick detach sling points.
Unfortunately the two locations that are toward the rear are obstructed by the chamber extension since the handguard is such a slim profile.
I tried using standard and shallow QD links, but was unsuccessful in getting them to work in these locations. There is also a quick detach point located at the 6 o’clock position on the end of the handguard.
Since there is a second QD point located further out on the handguard this issue is mostly mitigated to a minor inconvenience to those who like to run their slings further in on the rifle.
Optics for the PA-10
Living in the good ole U.S. of A. we have become accustomed to having our choice of just about anything our hearts desire and optic selection is no different.
While you could drop a simple red dot or holographic sight on top of this 308 AR10, that would in no way get the most out of this rifle.
To achieve the maximum potential for this round and rife, you will need to get some magnified glass to set on top. If you wanted to throw on some iron sights you could get 45 degree cant sights or backup iron sights and run a quick detach LVPO.
There are many choices when it comes to scopes, but as this rifle is on the budget side of things, I chose to drop a Vortex LVPO on top.
I feel that for practicality purposes this rifle would more than likely take shots up to 300 yards where I currently live, and if taken hunting in the NC woods, a shot over 50-75 yards would be highly unlikely.
If you live in an area with longer ranges or more wide open hunting options available you could drop any scope of the preferred manufacturer right on top and be good to go.
Shooting the PA-10
Even though we are still in the throes of a worldwide pandemic and an ammunition shortage, proper preparation allowed me to send enough ammunition down range to where I feel qualified to speak on the operation of the PA-10 while shooting.
Having just reviewed the Springfield Armory M1A Scout Squad rifle, I found it a natural benchmark to compare the PA-10 with. Both rifles shoot the same 308 Winchester ammunition, both rifles are semi auto in operation and both rifles competed for the same spot as the official replacement for the armed forces so many years ago.
First off, the perceived weight of the PA10 is greater than that of the Springfield. The thick Stainless steel barrel has a lot to do with this.
The more weight out on the handguard the farther forward the center of balance becomes and therefore the perceived weight of an object can change. I did not find this to be a huge drawback for this platform simply because this is not the rifle I would choose to kick doors in while overseas with.
This rifle is suited to be set up as a DMR (designated marksman rifle).
The recoil of the 7.62×51 NATO ammo that I fed this rifle during my range session was noticeably more than that of an AR-15, but I did observe it to be softer than the Springfield.
The recoil impulse was smooth and straight back into the shoulder pocket, unlike the upward motion of the Scout Squad when fired.
The overall weight of the rifle lent itself to help dampen the recoil of the 7.62×51 ammo to a point where it was not an issue with the supplied A2 style flash hider.
This rifle just begs to be suppressed, so that is exactly what I did next. I used an adjustable wrench to remove the supplied flash hider and then installed a Dead Air three chamber muzzle brake that came with my Dead Air Sandman S suppressor.
This Muzzle brake is very solid, and Dead Air has become a giant in the suppressor industry in the past few years.
The Sandman S felt right at home on the end of the big 308 AR-10.
After installation and visually checking for clearance down the bore of the PA-10, I loaded up a magazine and squeezed off several rounds of suppressed 7.62×51 goodness.
The difference in recoil was not noticeable, which is a very good thing. The PA-10 does have an adjustable gas block, but in my observation and experience, it was not needed.
This is a very nice feature to have if your gun gets nasty after running it suppressed for several hundred rounds or if you choose to neglect the cleaning of the rifle.
The ejection pattern of the PA-10 was a little further from the side of the gun as the increased back pressure from the can threw the cases a little further.
Any additional gases forced back into the upper from the increased back pressure did not reach my face, which can be a problem with this style rifle when suppressed.
The report of the round fired was noticeably dampened, but you definitely knew you were still shooting something bigger than a 5.56 or subsonic 9mm out of this rifle.
Uses for the Palmetto State Armory PA-10
One option for the use of a PA-10 is that of a long-range paper punch. This platform is capable of being chambered in 308 Winchester and 6.5 Creedmoor.
Both of these cartridges shine out of eighteen-inch or longer barrels. Both of these cartridges also are designed to deliver long-range power and accuracy.
If you choose a PA-10 to be your go-to for fun and the long-distance gun range I don’t think you will be disappointed in the slightest.
Another viable option for the use of the PSA AR-10 is that of a hunting rifle.
The AR platform is incredibly versatile and with a few tweaks, it can be made into a very capable hunting rifle that could take any game found in the United States of America.
I would not hesitate to tote this rifle into the deer stand or in a ground blind. For those states that require a large bore caliber to hunt the chamberings offered check those boxes.
Magazines can be had in five-round capacity for states that like to trample on your freedoms while hunting too.
Is the PA-10 capable of being a tactical rifle?
It obviously was designed after one that has a long military pedigree.
I do believe that this question is best answered by the end user.
You and you alone are responsible for making the decision as to what you choose to arm yourself with if your life were to hang in the balance.
That being said, I doubt you will find the PA-10 being carried into battle by any level of operator.
PSA PA-10 Gen III Price & Conclusion
Pricing on the PSA AR-10 can vary. The best thing to do is to head over to their website and browse the different options available. Most of these rifles will run somewhere between $1,000 and $1,400. If you have done any research into the AR-10 world you will be surprised at the low price that these rifles are offered at, especially for the overall quality of the product.
This leads us into the final conclusion. The PA-10 is a well-designed & capable full-size rifle. The application of said rifle is up to the end user. Whether you choose to employ this thumper as a range toy, hunting rifle or for self-defense, I think there are worse choices that could be made. The PA-10 gets decent marks all round and for the price, it’s hard to beat for a starter rifle into the 308 AR world.
Take a look at the brand new PSA Dagger a Glock 19 competitor that comes in a very good price point.