Anyone looking for a low priced, solid quality rifle needs to consider what we’ve included in this Palmetto State Armory AR-15 review. While these rifles will not be for everyone, they certainly fit into the category of ‘affordable.’ The other major plus comes in terms of flexibility. Take a completed rifle, or build your own – both options are made very achievable.
We will look at general considerations and what you get for your money in terms of individual components. After this, we will review two of the most popular, complete AR-15 rifle models offered by PSA in this Palmetto State Armory AR-15 Review.
Who Should Consider These Rifles?
We offer four categories of shooters that can benefit from using what PSA has to offer. As will be seen, this covers a wide spread of users!
The PSA range of AR-15 rifles is a good choice for those who are looking to get into shooting. Novices don’t necessarily need to dive into the deep end when it comes to the cost of an AR-15 rifle.
Those shooters who are low to average users should also seriously consider the benefits of these well-constructed and completely acceptable AR-15 weapons.
It is a fact of life that there is not always a lot of money to go around. The price points of the PSA AR-15 weapons bring them into the ‘affordable’ bracket. This makes them a solid choice for those on a budget who want their own weapon.
Experienced shooters and gun enthusiasts who want to delve a little deeper can both benefit from what is on offer.
This comes through the ability to purchase a complete rifle as a back-up in your armory, or for those wishing to take the ‘DIY’ route. The latter means you can purchase different parts and construct an AR-15 to your own personal specifications.
Why Are They So Cheap?
At the prices PSA offer for their weapons, it is understandable that people are suspicious about quality and reliability.
Being able to sell their weapons for such a low cost has a very straightforward reason behind it – PSA has cut out the middleman. Their weapons are also so affordable because they produce weapons by procuring raw metal and manufacturing the finished product all in-house.
Progressing from simple assembly of parts to manufacturing is no mean feat, but the team at PSA have achieved this. Their success can be seen by the number of weapons being made and sold.
There Is No Outsourcing Involved
Taking an AR lower as an example, they start out with mass purchased aluminum. They then forge, machine and anodize it themselves. No outsourcing to different companies for the three processes just mentioned.
PSA barrels start life as a piece of straight steel. They then button-broach it, rifle it, and complete the outer contour all in-house. As opposed to other approaches for finished weapons, PSA utilizes a lot of in-house expertise. Basically, they purchase aluminum and steel and produce from there.
This is another reason why many AR-15 buyers find the PSA models so attractive. You have a variety of options when it comes to the type of handguard and barrel length.
These and many other features apply whether you buy a complete AR-15 or wish to build your own.
Flexibility – Let’s Take A Look At Some Standard PSA AR-15 Components
We do not intend to simply list out the PSA offering in terms of complete AR-15 rifles and components. Instead, let’s drill down and individualize some of the major standard components available. After that, we will review two complete PSA AR-15’s which are ready to use straight ‘out-of-the-box.’
We begin at the business end! The PSA upper comes as a standard style A2 flash hider. This has been designed to reduce recoil ‘aka’ muzzle flash. The design concept is certainly not a new one. It is the same used on countless military as well as civilian-use AR platform rifles.
The similarity continues with the AR-15 barrel. This is threaded as the standard 1/2 x 28 thread pitch.
1/2 x 28 thread pitch is seen as the standard for AR-15 barrels and means the diameter is half of one inch (½”) and the thread pitch is 28 turns for every inch.
Note: The larger the thread pitch number, the finer the actual thread pitch is.
Because it is standard size, it is readily available should a replacement be necessary. The other plus is for those who decide they want to change their A2 flash hider. Just about any different muzzle device made for the AR-15 platform will fit. This means your local gunsmith (or your handy self!) can swap these out quite easily.
More On That Barrel!
Coming in at 16 inches in length the barrel has an A2 profile. Again, nothing out of the ordinary, this spec. is tried, trusted, and has long been seen as the industry standard.
16 inches is currently the most popular barrel length. Having said this, military rifle barrels are as short as 14.5 inches while longer barrels stretch to 20 inches.
The PSA barrel construction is 4150 Chrome-Moly Vanadium with a nitride finish.
What Does This Material Offer?
This gives a good mix of weight and durability. By keeping your barrel in good condition through cleaning and lubrication, especially by using the best gun oil, you should expect it to last for many years.
PSA AR-15 Gas System
With its standard barrel length, this makes it suitable for common mid-length gas systems. The combination of muzzle, barrel, and PSA’s gas system means you have an upper which is ready and tuned ‘out of the box’ for:
- 5.56 ammunition.
- Firing 55-grain standard projectiles with accuracy. And the accuracy achieved is seen as acceptable to many.
- The rifling also comes with 1:7 twist rate. This allows for stability when used with bullets of varying weights.
The PSA Designed Handguard
PSA has designed their own lightweight AR-15 M-Lock rail handguard. When considered independently, it reduces weight and offers good handling. On top of this, it is excellent at venting heat.
- Sling mounts.
- Front groups.
You will also find ample top rail space. This gives a choice in terms of preferred scope placement.
The PSA AR-15 upper receiver has a full-automatic bolt carrier.
It may and may not be! While not an advantage to many, it certainly will be to any shooter that goes for a full-automatic lower. By doing so, you can attach the PSA upper receiver and start shooting.
Bolt racking comes as standard and the charging handle is up to military specification. This standard is ideal for beginners as well as more experienced shooters.
There is also the option to upgrade later (and invest more cash!) in a charging handle that is high-speed, low-drag.
The PSA AR-15 Rail
A Picatinny rail covers the full top of the receiver. This gives a variety of options in terms of eye relief as well as placement of accessories. This benefit should not be dismissed lightly.
Already included on top of the rail is Magpul MBUS flip-up sights. These can be a back-up to other optics you will purchase and use. But, as stand-alone sights, they are more than acceptable in their own right.
PSA Upgrades To Its AR-15 Upper
You will find some neat upgrades to the PSA AR-15 upper. These include:
- A brass deflector: This sends those hot loaded (standard!) casings around 2 meters to the shooters right.
- A dust cover which is spring-loaded. This helps keep the rifle clean either when in storage or out in the field.
- A ‘forward assist’ feature: In the event of a malfunction when the bolt is almost, but not all the way in. You can manually intervene and ‘push’ the bolt forward.
While it may be news to those who have only recently taken up AR-15 use, many experienced AR-15 shooters will argue that this feature is unnecessary. They claim that the bolt should always close through its own power. If not, the rifle is telling you that there is a problem. This being the case, they will advise unloading and then reloading in order to resolve the problem.
However, we do not feel that this is a discussion for our Palmetto State Armory AR-15 review. But we do feel it is an interesting topic that many will find worthy of further research.
PSA AR-15 Lower
Let’s consider the PSA ‘standard’ AR-15 lower components first. There is nothing special about this, but it is solid and provides what is required. And it is built to military specification (without the full-automatic selector).
Here we are referring to the magazine well, magazine release, overall profile, and safety features. It is a perfectly sensible starting point for any AR-15 build enthusiast.
You will also find that the receiver comes with carbine buffer as well as buffer tube.
PSA Upgrades To Its AR-15 Lower
Considering the price bracket we are talking about, PSA has made some nice upgrades to this lower.
They have built-in their own upgraded/polished trigger group to the receiver. Many see this as an advance on military triggers, particularly in terms of reset. The PSA trigger is certainly a benefit, beginners should appreciate.
PSA’S Pistol Grip
Many will be pleased with what is on offer here. The standard PSA AR-15 lower attachments go with Magpul. Two benefits from this tried and trusted manufacturer are:
There is a handy compartment built-in to the bottom of the grip. This small holder allows you to place such things as a miniature bottle of rifle lubricant or spare optic battery.
Another benefit; the grips texturing does not have a finger groove.
AR-15 enthusiasts often complain about finger grooves on the majority of grips out there. In this design, Magpul has got around this issue by adding stippling instead. This feature allows the shooter to hold the grip far more easily, regardless of shooting conditions
PSA AR-15 Stock Upgrade
PSA stay with Magpul for their stock on a standard lower. They have included the Magpul CTR stock.
A CTR stock is made for carbine length buffer tubes and is adjustable. It has a lever lock to secure it and a sloped cheek-weld. This latter feature allows for ease of ocular alignment with sights.
For ease of carrying, there is a choice of sling mounting options: QD (quick detach) and standard GI.
The Flexibility Of Choice Is The Key
As can be seen from the descriptions above, our Palmetto State Armory AR-15 review shows the flexibility they provide. Dependent upon needs, you can purchase individual components or go for a fully configured rifle.
With the latter option in mind, let’s take a look at just two of the PSA AR-15 rifles you can opt for.
The company does currently offer in excess of 30 complete AR-15 rifle configurations. The manufacture and designs of these models utilize many of the features we will list below.
Through this consistency, you are certainly getting standardization in terms of a finished rifle.
PSA 16″ MID-LENGTH 5.56 NATO 1/7 NITRIDE FREEDOM RIFLE, OLIVE DRAB GREEN – 5165450007
We will start with a rifle from the popular PSA Freedom range.
- Made from Chrome Moly steel.
- Nitride treated.
- Chambered in 5.56 NATO.
- 1/7 twist.
- M4 barrel extension.
- Mid-length gas system.
- Finish: Classic ODG mid-length handguard.
- F-Marked gas sight base.
- A2 flash hider.
The upper is forged 7075-T6 A3 AR and hard coated anodized. It has been machined to military specification (Mil-Spec) and includes a forward assist lever as well as a dust cover.
This is a full automatic profile carrier. Shot-peened, steel bolt – Mil-Spec (Carpenter No. 158). The Gas Key is USGI spec., fastenings are Grade 8 Mil-Spec. screws. The 8620 steel M16 profile carrier is chrome lined as well as phosphate coated makes up the bolt.
Hardcoat anodized, the quality, forged lowers use 7075-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum and come marked “MULTI” for caliber.
The buffer tube complies to Mil-Spec diameter 70756-T6, it offers six positional adjustments and comes fitted with a PSA designed M4 Carbine stock. In terms of the control group, this is single-stage assembly designed by PSA to a Mil-Spec finish.
PSA PA-15 16” CHF M4 CARBINE 5.56 NATO PREMIUM CLASSIC AR-15 RIFLE, BLACK
This rifle moves up a small notch in price but is another well-respected PSA model.
Constructed from a proprietary FN blend of hammer forged chrome molly vanadium which the company refers to as “Machine Gun Steel.”
Why This Term?
Because it is the required material used in FN’S M249 and M240 weapon models, this hammer forging process hardens the steel and enhances durability. An additional benefit is the chrome process used for the bore. It produces a lining which is just less than twice as thick as that of a standard M16. This enhanced thickness ensures increased durability.
As the model reference indicates, it is chambered in 5.56 NATO, comes with a 1/7 twist, an M4 barrel extension plus a gas system of carbine length.
The M4 profile barrel is phosphate coated to Mil-Spec and has been High Pressure tested as well as Magnetic Particle inspected. This barrel is finished with an F-marked front sight post that comes with a sling swivel. It has standard handguards and A2 flash hider.
This is a hard coat anodized and forged 7075-T6 A3 AR upper. It has been machined to meet Mil-Specs. Included is the forward assist feature and dust cover.
The bolt carrier group is full auto. It is shot-peened, and the steel bolt is Mil-Spec., Carpenter No. 158. The Gask Key is hardened to USGI specs. Fastenings are completed with Grade 8 screws and have been staked to meet Mil-Spec. The 8620 steel M16 profile carrier also comes chrome lined as well as phosphate coated.
Once again, quality made forged lowers are constructed from 7075-T6 aluminum and finished with hard coat anodize. A Mil-Spec diameter 7075-T6 buffer tube offers six adjustment positions and comes fitted with a PSA designed M4 Carbine Stock. The single-stage assembly fire control group is designed by PSA to Mil-Spec standard.
Palmetto State Armory AR-15 Review Conclusion
There is no doubt whatsoever that PSA has established themselves as a force to be reckoned with when it comes to rifle parts, ammunition, firearms accessories and low-cost, good quality complete AR-15 rifles.
Flexibility is the key – Shooters have a choice.
You can take individual rifle sections and build your own rifle or go for an in-house manufactured out-of-the-box solution. Military specifications are met in many instances, and the Magpul additions should certainly be seen as a plus.
Our firm conclusion is that the PSA AR-15 ‘Freedom’ range is an ideal starting point for beginners.
We also feel they have their place for the more experienced users. Anyone wishing to build a personalized AR-15 for their armory will find PSA a solid and affordable way to go.