Are PSA’s low prices too good to be true?
For years I’ve heard of Palmetto State Armory and their ultra-affordable AR-15s. The only negative things were some finishing issues and shipping delays here and there.
But… for a long time I was a little obsessed with name brands and scoffed at sub-$500 rifles.
I finally bit the bullet…
I got three of their uppers (16″ 5.56 with front sight block, 16″ 5.56 free-float rail, 18″ stainless .223 Wylde), one of their lowers, and shot a lot of rounds through them.
By the end you’ll know if a PSA rifle/upper is right for you…and the best model to get based on your use.
*Update* We have a full video review on PSA AR-15s too!
If that helped, please subscribe to our YouTube channel since we’re adding new videos every week!
Table of Contents
Who Is It For?
- Budget-conscious buyers who want something that works and can overlook some details like perfect finishing and dead-on accuracy
- Someone who wants a lot of options in terms of barrel length and handguard
- People who can wait a while for something to go into stock or ship
Why Is It So Cheap?
PSA sent me these three uppers and one lower for testing.
But they are going through the same testing procedures I do for all my other guns.
And at a higher round count since reliability is key when I recommend more budget-friendly options.
I spoke with PSA and the reason their AR-15s are so affordable is due to full vertical integration. From raw metal to the finished product…they do it themselves.
And now…we’ve hands-on tested almost all their models…from their AR-15s to AR-10s and AK series. Check out all our PSA reviews here.
Fit, Feel, & Finish
PSA has their Freedom line which is their most affordable and is pretty much mil-spec (meets military specifications).
However, as I outlined in our AR-15 Buyer’s Guide…I like a mid-length gas system way better than the standard carbine-length.
It gives you more rail space and a softer shooting impulse since the gas tube is longer and gas block is more forward.
Unless you’re going for the pure M4 look…I’d opt for something in the mid-length arena. Or at least their Magpul MOE furniture models so you can add some rails in the future.
Barrels & Gas Systems
For my upper with an FSB (front sight block…that triangle thing you see above), I went with a 16″ mid-length Magpul model and Nitride-coated barrel.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
This gives me a longer handguard (with M-LOK), ability to add rails, Magpul rear flip sight, and a nicer barrel finish compared to phosphate.
Since it has a pinned FSB…it’s a little front-heavy….but that’s the nature of the beast. The FSB is pinned well and the handguard is really on there. You can see my segment of Picatinny I added to the handguard’s M-LOK attachment points.
The next upper would be my favorite overall setup. 16″ mid-length with a 13.5″ M-LOK free-floating barrel and Nitride barrel.
Now you get the benefit of not having an FSB which helps the weight balance and also having a free-floating handguard that increases accuracy by taking away contact points on the barrel.
For absolute reliability I’d still opt for the FSB model…but free-float AR’s are now the standard, you can attach a lot of stuff, and the gas block is really on there.
The last model is the 18″ .223 Wylde which is a relatively new chambering that will shoot BOTH 5.56 and .223 but offers a slight accuracy edge. Usually, you’ll see the more accurate barrels in stainless which is what we have here.
This comes in an even softer shooting rifle-length gas system and 15″ M-LOK free-floating rail.
All came with mil-spec A2 bird-case flash-hiders that were installed correctly and didn’t require superhuman strength to take off and switch for some compensators.
PSA seems to have three tiers of barrels.
- Premium: chrome-lined or CHF (cold hammer forged) that are made by FN
- Standard: Nitride, Melonite, and stainless barrels
- Basic: phosphate coated
The two 5.56 uppers I received were Nitride coated instead of regular phosphate…while the Wylde was stainless steel.
Nitride (two left black ones) is smooth while stainless is…stainless. The BCG on the right gives you a sense of what the rougher texture phosphate looks like. Nitride is supposed to be a little tougher and I like the smooth look.
I took apart the free-floating 5.56 and Wylde. Straight gas tubes…
And at least 35 in-lb of torque on the gas block with some sort of weird spill on the 5.56.
There’s not too much to say here…everything is where it’s supposed to be.
- Ejection port door works
- Forward assist works
- Charging handle feels mil-spec and works
- T-Markings present and easy to read
- Evenly phosphate coated
If I had to nitpick…there’s some super small machining marks on the forward assist for two of the uppers I had. Not even sure you can see them in the pics.
The Magpul mid-length polymer handguard is what it is. A great update to the mil-spec plastic handguard that can’t attach anything.
The free-floating M-LOK handguards work too. The thin profile feels great in the hand…but could use a little more TLC in the CNC to get rid of sharper edges.
Also the 13.5″ is a little on the purple-ish side and a little off in orientation between receiver and handguard…but nothing an Allen wrench and a small turn didn’t fix.
The more “premium” Wylde upper was properly aligned and colored.
BCG + Charging Handles
As mil-spec as they come. Everything is as it should be and the gas-keys are properly staked.
The 5.56 uppers had phosphate coated BCGs (mil-spec) while the Wylde had a Nitride coated one.
If I had to nitpick again…the coating is a little bumpier than other phosphates I’ve used, but since only the rails of the BCG contact anything…there’s no real downside.
I found that the mil-spec phosphate BCGs were not MP marked (magnetic particle inspected) while the more premium .223 Wylde one was.
All the bolts were listed Carpenter 158 steel (mil-spec) but I’ve seen some PSA models where it is 9310 steel. Fine for civilian use but if you really want mil-spec…go for the Carpenter 158. The carriers were all 8620 steel (mil-spec).
Charging handles were mil-spec as well.
Since I’ve gone with aftermarket charging handles…I cannot go back (Best AR-15 Charging Handles).
I built the lower as a kit so I added a few dings here and there (How to Build an AR-15 Lower). I got the Magpul kit which has their buttstock, grip, and trigger guard.
This one also comes with PSA’s EPT trigger which is silver compared to mil-spec phosphate black. Much less grit!
But for this one, I did have a little trouble threading the grip screw initially. I’m thinking the coating was a little thick since I had to muscle my way through the initial turns.
Otherwise, everything installed as it should.
How Does It Shoot?
What really matters…right?
I took a bunch of ammo, a buddy, and the two 5.56 uppers to the range. With the goal of putting as many rounds downrange as possible.
I cleaned the barrels but otherwise did not do any break-in procedures. I started with ~300 rounds of Wolf Gold (Best AR-15 Ammo) through each one before the accuracy tests.
For the 16″ with FSB…there were two failures to load a new round after a magazine change in the first 40 rounds. However, after that it shot without a hiccup.
For the M-LOK free-floating version, there was one failure to load on the first magazine change and no more problems afterward.
This is likely due to all the parts breaking in.
Recoil was standard and mild for both 5.56 uppers. After a few mags, I was easily hitting 12″ plates at 100 yards with my EOTech.
But still made me realize how spoiled I’ve been with adjustable gas-blocks and compensators (Best AR-15 Upgrades).
For the free-floating version, if you grip around the gas block like I do…you’ll feel a little heat when dumping rounds. Not enough to burn…but enough to have a red hand after 500 rounds.
Here’s my buddy and me at our second range day. I’m running my competition lower with a much better trigger (Best AR-15 Triggers).
*Update* A newer (and prettier) video of the MLOK PSA AR-15…still running great after several thousand more rounds.
The uppers worked flawlessly after the initial break-in on the following lowers:
- Aero Precision (x2)
- Daniel Defense
While the lower worked with the following uppers:
- Aero Precision (x2)
- Daniel Defense
The 5.56 barrels are the middle of the road for PSA. Let’s see how they fare.
I let the barrels cool down and then ran through Wolf Gold, PMC Bronze, American Eagle, and Federal Gold Match.
I used my standard testing platform for all my AR-15 stuff…
- Lead Sled DFT ($200)
- Schmidt & Bender PMII 5-25x Scope with Larue Mount ($3500)
- Hiperfire Eclipse Trigger ($230)
Targets were placed at 100 yards and I shot at a pace of around 1 shot per 10 seconds. 10 shots each group.
Mil-spec is 3-4 MOA which means 3-4 inch groups at 100 yards. The FSB version falls within that (targets are 8″). With PMC Bronze doing the best of the plinking rounds at around 3 MOA.
Gold Match does the best but keep in mind it’s about $1 a shot. If you’re shooting that on a regular basis you’re probably looking at other rifles (Best AR-15s).
All in all…it’s as I expected. When there’s a front sight block there’s a whole lot of stuff touching the barrel which doesn’t help accuracy. Let’s see the free-floating model.
Much better! Looks like all the groups closed up. PMC Bronze and American Eagle are pretty even at what looks like 2 MOA. Gold Match is still the ultimate winner but it’s not THAT much off from PMC and AE.
When you have a free-floating handguard there’s less contact with the barrel and the accuracy shows.
Now, how about the .223 Wylde we’ve forgotten?
Since this is a more premium barrel and made for accuracy…I did a break-in procedure with it as well as with PSA’s .224 Valkyrie (coming soon).
I cleaned the barrel and shot 1 round through before using copper solvent and a brush. Repeat the shoot and clean for 5x total. Then I changed it up to 5 shots before cleaning. Repeat 5x.
I then plinked ~200 rounds.
Finally, I was ready…
I used a different lower with a Triggertech trigger which I might actually like more than my Hiperfire (Best AR-15 Triggers). I started running low on Gold Medal so the last group only has 4 rounds.
It really looks like the FSB version instead of something that uses a tighter chamber and a free-floating handguard.
I’ll continue testing but right now looks like I would stick with PSA’s regular 5.56 offerings (free-floating of course).
The thing with PSA is that they are always in and out of stock of everything. And they have almost every combination under the sun…which makes it nice but also a headache to find what you want.
No fuss of building anything…out of the box ready to go.
I again like mid-length gas systems and it looks like their Nitride barrels are GTG. Their more premium selections (CHF) should be great as well if you have a little more to spend. I haven’t spent time with their regular barrels (phosphate), but other reviews vouch for them.
I personally like free-floating M-LOK handguards since they give you added accuracy and lots of space to put stuff. Unless you really want the look of an FSB…go for free-floating!
Already have a lower and want an affordable upper? There’s a bazillion options again…so here’s a search for 16″ mid-lengths to narrow it down a little:
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
Remember to choose the options with BCG (bolt carrier group), CH (charging handle), and Magpul MBUS (flip backup sights) if you need them.
PSA has just released a new generation of their AR-15 uppers with some major changes! We’re going to get them in-hand to test soon but so far the changes look great.
- Dimpled Stainless Steel Barrel
- Toolcraft BCG
- 7075 T6 Charging Handle
- Updated Gas Tube, Barrel Nuts, and Anti-rotation handguards!
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
Looking at complete lowers? I prefer the Magpul editions…mil-spec buttstocks and pistol grips are not great.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
A little something I learned recently…retailers must add on an 11% tax for fully assembled firearms.
PSA has rifle kits which…if you’re a little handy…will save you a bunch when you build your own lower.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
And be sure to get a stripped lower since the kit will contain everything except that.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
Follow our How to Build an AR-15 Lower guide to put it all together.
By the Numbers
After some minor break-in to loosen things up…my PSA uppers were fully reliable at my current round count of 1500 across all three.
It’ll do its job within mil-spec with regular plinking ammo, and seems to like PMC Bronze overall the best (Best AR-15 Ammo). Little bummed out that the .223 Wylde didn’t perform as well as it should.
Magpul kit makes it pretty good with the buttstock and pistol grip. Free-floating handguard is thin but a little too sharp around the edges.
Pretty average here but could use more consistency in color.
It’s an AR-15 with M-Lok so the sky’s the limit. Check out my list of the Best AR-15 Upgrades & Best AR-15 Optics if you need help.
Bang for the Buck: 5/5
You can get a fully reliable AR for under $500…and even lower if you get the kits.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
The PSA AR-15 offers spectacular value in an entry-level AR with utter reliability across three tested variants. Accuracy and looks are decent with some slight variations in black anodizing. But with a price point of under $500 for a complete rifle with lifetime warranty, it’s a no-brainer.
So…the online legends are true.
Based on my testing I can totally recommend Palmetto State Armory for an affordable AR-15 that will go bang every time.
My favorite would still be their mid-length free-floating options…but their more M4-looking FSB ones also fit the bill.
For now…stay away from their Wylde and soon I’ll have reports on even more PSA goodness. Plus I’m going to put much more rounds in all three and update if anything changes.
And once you get one…check out our AR-15 Definitive Resource for everything AR.
What do you think of the review? Is a PSA AR-15 on your horizon? Or if you already have one…how’s it working out for you? Looking at other PSA stuff? We’ve hands-on reviewed almost ALL their guns.
101 Leave a Reply
I bought my first pistol online, and my first in over 20 years from PSA after shopping around for about a week. they weren't the rock bottom lowest price for the gun itself, but the free shipping and discount coupon for accessories put it overall less than the 3 other places I found it at lower prices. I knew nothing about online gun sales prior to this. years ago I had a few handguns and a couple of hunting rifles but all were purchased locally. When I went to the FFL to pick up my G2C, they had a PSA AR on consignment in the display case for $649 and it was pretty nice looking. I decided it is time for an AR, my first, so I went shopping and after about an hour of research, I ended up at PSA and ordered a freedom 16" PA-15 carbine complete "blem" model for $429 out the door. (plus sales tax) My G2C was at the FFL in a little over a week. The PA-15 will be at the FFL tomorrow, Fri, 12/8/22. I placed the order 11/23/22 but was informed of up to 15 business days to ship because of Oregon's new laws and holiday orders. It will have been only 9 business days with thanks giving thrown in the mix so I'm satisfied. I will continue to do business there based on this and given that the reviews of their PA-14 are accurate, which I am confident that they will be.
I discovered PSA back in 2012 while looking for some hard to obtain Ammo, and the more I’ve bought from them the better I like them. I built a 308/7.62 a good while back with a lot of Aero stuff including a complete upper. During the first test shooting one of the hand guard screws fell onto the table, and when I went to replace it I found 3 more that were loose. Their literature said lock-tite use would void the warranty so when I called to order more screws I asked the young lady if I could use blue lock-tite and not void the warranty. I got a pretty firm “no” and was told how many inch pounds to use. When I responded that she probably needed to give that info to the person who assembled my upper she wasn’t pleased. I put a touch on every one of those tiny little screws and it’s been fine since. That experience did make me decide to go with PSA on a 556 I wanted to put together for my wife around the time this article was done. I ended up matching my lower to one of their 18’ stainless 223 wylde uppers. I got a lot better groups than you guys did my first test session with zero break in. I was using IMI, MEN, Hornady and Winchester. All brands and weights gave me sub 3” groups. Not one hiccup so far. Loved it so much I decided to try one of their “blem” PSAK47 G3’s. Loved that so much I bout another .223 upper just like the wife has for me but instead of a Geiselle SSA trigger, I’m using the PSA 2 stage. Like that so much, I jumped on one of their Dagger / 10 mag deals. I’ve had nothing but good luck with them so far. The only things I can come close to bitching about is one of the buffers I’ve bought from them was 1 ounce lighter than it should have been and sometimes the packing isn’t up to UPS/FedEx/USPS ability to wreck a steel ball in a sandbox. Look forward to seeing more reviews of their stuff … like the G5 AK !
Just going to drop this right here, check out BCA ( Bear Creek Arsenal) Uppers, lowers and complete rifles......maybe do a review on them..... I love mine, was all I could afford, kick in the pants to shoot, and accurate if I would only do my part better.....but, it is a polymer rifle and I know they are looked down on at times.
My first AR build was PSA. As a beginner I couldn't afford "on the job training" with anything else on the market. My sons have now given up plinking with their 22s and have graduated to the AR platform as their rifle of choice and I used PSA uppers to build their rifles. However, PSA stopped making their 7.62x39 upper and that's when I found Bear Creek Arsenal. I brought their side charged upper and it arrived the following week. I haven't been back to PSA since. I agree with Gene, give BCA a look and a review and introduce them to the PPT community.
I built 2 AR's from Palmetto.They both shoot well with no problems at all.Bought a handgun and it was not as descibed. The term of service say that is to bad for you. Norton protection is just another layer of BS and they will not do anything for me. Will not buy from them again.
Both my AR platform rifles are PSA and they have never given me any issues with several hundreds of rounds down range using Federal American Eagle or PMC 55gr FMJ and 62gr penetrator rounds. Primarily iron sights but both are equipped with either a holographic or red dot sight. No regrets with either.
Both myself and one other friend have used PSA as the base of our AR-15 builds. We did notice a bit of a "Break-In" period, usually less than 100 rounds, after which the rifles would just chug along without fuss. The exception to this is their premium line of uppers, those ran like sewing machines out of the box with steel and brass ammo. If you are looking to "Buy once, cry once" then start with Aero Precision or Bravo Company if funds permit, the difference is obvious. This said, you can use PSA as a fantastic and affordable jump off point for any sort of build.
All of my AR guns are palmetto state. I like the price and the bang. Im the kid that took all of his toys out of the box and into the sand box. I really enjoyed the review. The nitride chrome moly barrels are the only way to go, unless your brazing muzzle devices on, then go with stainless. Cycling rounds sub sonic and the faster one, buffer springs work. Unlike some name brands out of the box. I've been nothing but pleased with PSA. Thank you!
Great article. I have the PSAK 47 and love it. Just received my PSA AR-15 in 5.56 lower and upper and put the together last night . Hope to break it in this weekend .
I just finished building a PSA 5.56 AR. I bought the Liberty lower and the BLEM 16" upper kit. I added a couple of accessories (TRS-25 red-dot, UTG Picatinny 1" risers, Magpul mags, 9-slot Picatinny for the lower M-LOK rail, VTAC 2-point wide sling and VTAC low-profile QD sling mount, and the weapon is awesome and came in at $983. It's a beautiful light and extremely functional weapon. I did have one issue - the buffer catch hole, buffer tube threads, and BCG had so many tiny steel balls (from the mfg. shot-peening process) that it took a couple of hours or meticulous inspection and cleaning to make sure nothing bad would happen when bullets went bang in it.
I am a fan boy of their products. Now they are offering some upper tier builds which work well and are competitive with other brands on price, build, and accuracy with the right ammo. I highly recommend their products and service.
Stopped reading after “fan boy” lol
Built my rifle based in no small part to this article. So far it has held up well even though tge ammo crunch is slowing me down.
Are the PSA uppers still holding up? If you wanted to maximize the reliability of the PSA ARs where would you start?
Our PSA uppers are still going strong thousands of rounds later! I would probably get a fancy BCG if I wanted to boost the reliability of my PSA. Something like a KAC Sand Cutter BCG is not cheap but is a major boost to the reliability of any AR-15 in adverse conditions. Take a look at the Best AR-15 Bolt Carrier Groups for a lot more info and options!
Just found this article, and am sorry now I didn't see it before I ordered my 18" PSA upper with the .223 Wylde stainless bbl. My groups so far have resembled yours, and although I haven't tried any quality match ammo (as if you can find any now...) or handloads, was still wondering if I would ever find anything the gun shot well. I guess it's time to go barrel shopping. On the plus side, the gun has run perfectly with everything I have put through it. Since I bought it for competition use (2-gun, 3-gun) however, where I might need to take the occasional 300-500 yard shot, the current level of accuracy is unacceptable.
Just wanted to follow up on my previous comment regarding the 18" .223 Wylde upper. As I noted then, I was not impressed with the accuracy to that point; however, I did also note that I had not put any match grade ammo through the rifle. I decided that before I went shopping for a replacement barrel I would at least try some good stuff. I was finally able to find a couple of boxes of Hornady Frontier 55 gr. JHPBT ammo that wasn't stupidly expensive (just kinda expensive @ $18/box), and then got the chance to test it out this past weekend. Well, I'm pleased to report (I think) that the rifle loved the Hornday ammo. The worst group it shot with it was the first string of 15 rounds, which was just over 3-1/8" for the 15. I then settled down and fired 3 5-shot groups that went 1", 1-1/16", and 1-5/16". I'll take that from an AR-15 all day long. The last, 10-shot, group grew to 2-3/4", but with a couple of clear fliers I'm blaming the shooter for. Old eyes and a 6x scope you know... Anyway... needless to say I will be keeping the PSA barrel, and will have to live with it needing good ammo to do its thing.
Thanks for this. I just purchased the 18" .223 Wylde build kit for my first AR build and I was bit disappointed with the results the author had. So you think it's more of an issue of using the right ammo with this setup?
Just read a few of your articles. You're doing a great job, well written, logical, thorough. Keep up the good work. Much thanks.
I have several %80 lowers and and a matching number of PSA uppers. All work well. Been building and shooting for two or three years. Never had a problem with anything from PSA. They are a 10 in my book.
Yeah they are good.However I had purchased a AR15 complete upper from them.But when I got it I found it wouldnt fit on my Aero lower.Pins holes didnt match up and upper was bit to big.To PSA credit they allowed me to return it and they gave me my money back.
Before buying from Palmetto, read the reviews on ResellerRatings.com. Basically 400 reviews with an average rating of 1 star. That's really hard to do. I would never buy something from these guys. The guns might be alright, but the company is shit.
Well said, PSA is not something you should invest in.
I recently ordered an "80% Arms" anodized 80% lower for an AR15 build along with the appropriate jig for machining. I preferred a metal lower overall poly one. I've already paid for the items, but they are on back order and I might still be able to get a refund. After reading this article about PSA AR15s and having trouble finding a complete upper that I liked and might be available I looked at PSA's products, several of which I liked and seem to be more available than elsewhere. My question is whether my "80% Arms" lower receiver will be compatible with the PSA complete upper. The 80% Arms lowers were not listed in your preferences for compatibility with PSA's products. Please let me know if they are compatible. Thanks.
Does anyone know if an "80% Arms" billet lower will work with PSA's complete upper's. I was hoping for an answer from Eric at Pew Pew, but have not heard back from him since my original post?
George, I don't have first hand experience putting a PSA upper onto an 80% lower. That said, it is my understanding that, unlike the AR10 platform, AR15's are fairly uniform across manufacturers. I cannot guarantee that it'll work, but I don't see any reason why it wouldn't.
Hey guys i own a few of PSA's guns! one complete rifle and two uppers. The rifle is a 5.56 kit i think it was the Freedom kit?Then the uppers are a .224Valkrie and another one in 5.56 but a differemt twist rate! All are great guns and have always went bang! lol i love them so much i purchased enough spare parts to replace everything once! lol in some cases two or three times.I also purchased a spare 5.56 BCG when i saw PSA had them up for an unheard of price of 49.99 and i should have bought two!I have a complete lower built now for yet another AR lol but cant make my mind up for what to put on it?Its all mil-spec with a nickle boron TG.Which is what i put in all of them.Better then a mil spec trigger and cost pennys on the dollar compared to the name brand high end drop ins.I am seriously looking into a 6.5Grendel as im the only person i know that shoots that dosnt have one yet?LOL what length of barrel do you guys suggest? I was thinking the longer the better?Looking to get a complete upper but cant decide on length of barrel? Since i have started in the hobby of shooting i have shopped PSA and others.There are very few out there that match up in quality.And thats not quality for the money just plain quality ,at a great price in my opinion.I dont like some of PSA's policies when it comes to online sales but i do live in a "BLUE" state :>/
Palmetto State Armory sucks!!! They make a sub par item with the worse customer service in the gun industry...You can't even get a reply from customer service or I'm my case the owner!! I wrote 4 letters,endless emails and voicemails to their corporate office...NOT ONE REPLY!!! Don't waste your time or money on PSA.Want a low end weapon buy a Diamondback..Lifetime warranty, made in Florida, great customer service...
I bought the 18" Wylde & I was either lucky with that barrel or you were unlucky, hard to say with a small sample size. Well under MOA with a couple of 69MK factory loads and 62 grain Fed. Fushion.
Maybe a few more uppers need to be tried, I have been eager to sing it's praises but maybe I should wait.
PSA policy does not recognize federal LEO’s so would not ship two, 60 round AR magazine to Colorado (state restrictions) even if official email with credentials and Supervisor letter. PSA policy only recognizes local and state officers as LEO. I found the same magazines at a lower price and mailed to me in Colorado from Proven Arms Outfitter.
Ordered this item on 5/11, PSA informed me that it had been "shipped" on 5/18. Unfortunately, only a label was created which means nothing. As of today, 5/24, the item still sits at PSA with the shipping label being a week old. Don't try to call PSA- there are no operators available. All you can do is send messages which are responded to with canned unhelpful info. This is deceptive and I will look anywhere else next time I need anything pertaining to weapons, gear and ammo.
PSA has been a lifesaver for me I love their stuff. I have read some of the comments and I see people getting frustrated.....they need to understand that since this corona problem, and people panicking the amount of sells have gone through the roof on top of that this BS social distancing crap has reduce production inside many companies that are still producing. I think they need to have patience and stop acting like a bunch of spoiled brats. PSA has been setting the pace and continues to move a long despite restrictions mention above. I don’t work for the I don’t make a dime from them I AM JUST ANOTHER CONSUMER THAT IS GRATEFUL TO HAVE THE ABILITY TO COUNT ON GOOD SERVICES AND RELIABILITY. My go to rifle is a freedom rifle and hoping to add more to the collection. Grow up
AR stores are a dime a dozen, half of them now selling parts mfg in China. I used to consider PSA a cut above, next to Brownells, MidwayUSA, and my favorite, Primary Arms. However, their quality has slipped and there is no longer any customer service. The most recent and final issue I have with them is I bought a $75 PSA 2-stage trigger that is not working. I tried to call them but now they just direct you to file a complaint online. So I did. After a week I got an email asking for more information, which I promptly supplied. It is now past 2 weeks and going on 3, and I have heard nothing from them. I don't even give a crap any more, I'm done ordering from them. This trigger is going in the trash bin.
I ordered the S&W AR from them.The order said pending so I thought I was good. I waited the two weeks they said it might take to ship and called and they said will I take it without the mag and I said yes. Waited a few more days and they said it was approved. Waited a few more days and they said it was on backorder and did I want to wait. I said yes. In a few more days I get an email saying the order was cancelled as they didn't know when it will be back in stock. So I go online and it says in stock just like it did when I ordered it as they changed it to temporarily out of stock while my order was pending. So I call back and finally got the guy to admit they wouldn't ship it to me because I'm in Cook Co. So a month later I'm back to square one. I get why they're recommended as their prices are good and apparently they have a good product. Guess I'll never find out. But I have to say their customer service sucks. They could have just told me up front and not wasted my time after lying to me several times. Not to mention sitting on my money for a month.Very disappointed.
I'm in Grundy Co and simply sent CS an email asking about shipping to Illinois, before ordering. They replied the next day & explained that they won't ship anything to Cook Co. and 2 cities outside of Cook. My 18" .223 Wylde upper(wish I'd read the review 1st) shipped to my home in 3 days & the MOE lower w/2 stage trigger was ready for pickup in 14 days at my local gun shop. Everything looks great but I haven't put rounds down range yet. I'd suggest always contacting PSA CS & your local FFA before placing any order
Eric, I live 3 miles from a PSA store and everyone I know that shops there has a love/hate relationship with them. Great value, quality above average, availability sucks, mostly friendly and accommodating sales staff (in stores), 800# warehouse customer service - not so good or consistent but, what they are doing in vertical integration gives them an huge edge (back end). They're not an "over-priced" Daniel Defense (mil-spec is mil-spec) nor are they bargain basement junk, they're just what the average Joe Civilian would need in an AR. I've had great experience with all of their stuff.
One note on the .223 Wylde 18" SST upper: I had similar disappointment with accuracy which I theorized was due to 2 things: bulk mil-surp ammo and a not-so-perfect barrel crown. After putting a local gunsmith's touch on the crown to give sharp rifling edges and taking some quality Hornady ammo to the range, this upper shoots like a champ. No, not a Camp Perry gold medal gun but I don't want or need that. Thanks for your commentary.
Just bought a complete PA 15 16" free float barrel model with a 1:7 barrel twist ratio, which helps accuracy for higher grain cartridges. I have heard that PSA rifles are cheaper because they under-gas the gas system for cheaper rounds. For accuracy at longer distance would I want to use 55g or 62g of 5.56 ammo, and would higher grain bullets damage the gas system?
Sounds like you've run into some bad information, the idea that PSA rifles are intentionally under-gased is total nonsense. With a 1:7 twist you'll do best with 65-77 grain bullets. However, for short range plinking, the cheap 55grain stuff will be just fine! We have an article on Rifle Twist Rate that has some more info!
Ive read several of your articles on the net for some time now. Thanks for all your time and shared experience. You are always nonbiased and informative. i wish i could shoot as much as you have!
Hi Tom, thanks so much for your comment and glad I could help out! Now when I go to range it's "work"...but no complaints from me :-)
PSA are the best price, quality, large inventory and best of all they’re made here. I have several ar15 uppers and just got a killer deal on a AR10 in 6.5 creedmoor.
Well you should have gotten the PSA upper in .224Valkrie! lol i was talking to a ton of shooters and they all said the same thing,that .224Val was more accurate then .223Wylde lol anyway i have a few ARs to say the least and i was like you and spoiled with the name brand rifles and finally purchased a PSA and its quite well maid and very affordable!The only issue i have is they wont mail complete lowers to my state and its just a company policy not illegal.......?Anyway i just purchase my uppers from PSA and buy my complete lowers from another company!lol
I have purchased two PSA carbines . Both are worth the money ,considering entry level. So far5,000 rounds down the road things are good. Only one major caution their Customer service SUCKS. Hard to deal with and very frustrating. I’m done with them and will just move on.
Forgot to mention I was shooting hand loaded Ammo in that Bushmaster’s V-match
I don’t think I’ll be buying one soon , maybe for a truck gun but for any serious coyote work, nope. I have a old, 15 yr at least. Bushmaster carbine v-match that groups sub moa
With a chrome lined barrel and no threaded for a flash hider on end. I like PSA but don’t like the accuracy results that was shown. Should have been better. PSA should do there own testing and show it. It may just be the shooter. Sorry, just saying.
So what was your actual MOA results with the free float and and preferred ammo? I dont understand why you went through all the trouble of vicing it down and using multiple ammo types only to ommit the results.
Great review, and thanks for all of the add'l information. I see a lot of negative comments regarding PSA, so I just thought that I would share experience with them. I have bought many firearms, and equipment from PSA. They are what they are, and I personally, have had great success with everything I've bought from them. I've only had two small issues, if you can even call them issues. One was with a loose free-floating M-LOK handguard/rail system on an upper kit, and the other one was one of my pieces didn't have a great finish, but I bought it as a blemish, and for a great price. I tightened the M-LOK handguard up myself, and haven't had a problem since. Also, I've never received anything "used" from them, that I can tell. Otherwise everything has worked flawlessly. I get that their customer service might be a little difficult to deal with at times, but for those prices, I am willing to overlook a few things. I'm a big fan.
I'll second that endorsement, like you I have purchased a great deal of products from Palmetto State Armory and I find their products to be a great value.
PSA is a joke. They will not ship completed lowers to Maryland because of their company policy, not by law but because they not to.
I found out after a 2 week wait that they also do not ship to registered ffl’s in upstate ny
I was a fan of PSA until they decided to cut off all AR and AK related products of any kind including firearms and any accessories to the people of Colorado. The firearms are banned in only three cities: Denver, Vail and the peoples Republic of Boulder. So what does PSA do? They tuck their tales and run. Why did PSA do this? I wish I knew but it seems they have a natural dislike and distrust for people out west. In my last email I asked them why they were doing this and in typical PSA fashion they decide to not respond at all. That’s what I call great customer service. Hey PSA, we are not California. Look it up, Colorado is even spelled differently than California. Good luck with your business model of pettiness and perhaps a little bit of laziness too.
They did it to piss off potential voters, like yourself, in hopes of getting the laws reversed.
Exactly correct my friend
PSA is trash. I've had a "new" upper arrive with noticeable wear and tear, as well as, several components never arrive. It took the company over a month to resolve either issue.
I bought 1 16" chrome lined barrel upper with standard front site post and basic hand guard about 6 years ago and paired it with a blemished lower. I got the 2 halves, 6 aluminum magazines, a case, and 1000 rounds of ammo for... Less than $1000. I had to wait about 4 weeks on shipping but since the world didn't end during that time, no biggie. I put a Bushnell ar 1x4 optic on it that I got from PSA later for $87 dollars. 87.
This "entry level" rifle is better than anything the army ever handed to me.
Last month, I bought another PSA. This is a stainless 16" pencil barrel, mlok free floating hand guard, mid length had system. Again, another solid rifle. Came with Magpul mbus front and rear...total cost, $490.
So, I bristle at the term "entry level." These are capable rifles. Would spec ops be able to thrive with these? I certainly hope so.
My old statement "if you can't shoot pool with the bar cue, you can't shoot."
But I wouldn't call these " bar cue" ARs where the weight is rattling around and you have to deal with the condom tips... These are "work truck"ARs .
They do the job without the snob.
If you wanna be a PX Ranger, PSA prolly isn't for you. If you want a solid, reliable firearm that you aren't afraid of beating up, PSA is the ticket.
PSA is America's Armory!
P.P.S. I am purchased a PSA upper so I have no problem with PSA and I likewise have no concern about the materials because steel is not a religion to me and I am more concerned with manufacturing methods, heat treat and surface finish than any absolute dogma relating to numbers printed on a sheet of white paper as much can be missed when looking just at number's! Kind of like looking at MSDS sheets and thinking you know everything that must be known after looking at one! LOL
Why would anyone want Carpenter 158 steel when they can have 9310 steel? Milspec is just a well defined standard and it is a minimum. Milspec is meant to be a standard not an absolute everything is worse, equal to or better than milspec. I spent 23 years witht he Army and I am well aware of both the good and the bad of "Milspec"! 4140 and 4150 steel is not the best steel to use in the manufacture of barrels it is the lowest common denominator and anyone not aware of that is either ignorant or poorly informed in the world of steels. Finding anything other than 4140, 4150 and 416R is difficult though in the USA especially! That is why they had to use surface treatments. Steel has moved on but government standards have not kept pace in this regard. Outside of the USA you will find that many nations like to add in some nickle, silicon or vanadium at the very least. In point of fact the Milatary is also huge on CHF barrels while 99% of the shooting public in America think CHF barrels are in league with SATAN and only Button Rifled Barrels can be accurate. So fact vs popular belief do not always reflect science and truth! Cheer's! -John
Looking to purchase my first AR and this was very helpful in forming an informed decision and at the same time not costing me an arm and a leg. Many thanks!
Awesome review. Thanks for the guidance!
I bought a pair of the 5.56 16" mid-length free float uppers and a pair of the PSA lowers with the boron upgrade trigger, one for me and one for the better half, largely on the strength of this review. I have about 400 rounds through each of them now.
Mine got two FTF jams in the first two mags and smoothed out since. I got one more last weekend but I suspect a poorly loaded magazine as it was a double feed. Hers got one FTF jam on the first mag, none since. The triggers are still gritty, but better than they were. I think they'll smooth out with some more use as well.
The first time I cleaned mine I had the receivers separated and dumped the trigger like an idiot, neatly shearing the paddle on the bolt release. Got a new part in 4 days from PSA-- shipping was more than the part but the local Cabelas was out of stock-- and fixed it in 5 minutes. Time for some BAD levers, I'm thinking. I am currently running them uncleaned to get 500 rounds through each, see if they'll lock up.
Mine wears a UTG 3-9x40 and at 100 yards-- longest range conveniently available-- I can get 1-1.5MOA from the bench all day long; about double that off hand. Not all that bad for an old pharte with arthritis and failing vision. I'm using 62gr ammo (Remington UMC) as that was on sale at Lucky Gunner when I bought them, and suits the 1:7 twist rate in the barrels. I now have enough brass handy to make it worthwhile firing up the Dillon 650, and am planning to mush up some 55gr fuel. I think the groups will spread a bit, but we'll see.
Hers is wearing a Sightmark red/green dot reflex with a 3x flip-up. She was worried about the zombie apocalypse or a civil war or something, so I got her combat sights. She hates them, though, so she usually shoots mine (until the Nikon 3-9 comes in and I can install it) and I've been shooting hers. Even with the red dot I can hold minute of bad guy at 100 yards, meaning on the paper with NRA 100yd smallbore targets. I am expecting performance similar to my rifle when I get a better long range optic on it.
On the whole, I am highly pleased and echo the review; I can recommend them to anyone with a clear conscience. A top drawer 3-gun machine it is not, but it goes bang when you step on the gas, and is about as accurate as most people can shoot. Milspec grade, yes... but milspec is good enough for the Army, and not bad at all, at all.
Eric, I already have a PSA lower. Do you have any experience putting BCM 12.5" upper with the PSA lower? Just curious if I should stick with PSA or Daniel Defense for upper or if BCM would config well. thanks
Worse customer service twice on Fernedo road Columbia Sc yesterday went to store ask manager about the PSK 47 GEN 2 HE DIDN'T EVEN KNOW WHAT I WAS TALKING ABOUT OK 3 YEARS AGO MY WIFE AND I WATCHED FROM THE GUN COUNTER AS EMPLOYEES TALKED ON CELL PHONES AS WE WAITED FOR SERVICE FINALLY I PO PAYED MORE AT SPORTSMAN'S WEARHOUSE 1/2MILE DOWN THE ROAD FOR OUR GLOCK PALMETTO STATE ARMORY IS THE WORST PLACE FOR VETERANS TO BUY GUNS #GOLFCOMPANY #USMC SECOND BATTALION RECRUIT training
Any update on the wylde barrel? Any more testing?
Only a little...I want to get a few hundred more before doing groups again.
I just bought their Wylde kit! Looks like the same upper you reviewed. I'm excited to get it and try it out!
I bought the .223 wylde upper referred to above and with my handloads I can repeatedly get .75 MOA. Even my plinking reloads are typically .9-1.2 MOA. It's disappointing that your upper fared so poorly during initial testing. Mine has been a tack driver. Let us know if you have the time to break it in some more and do another set of testing!
Regarding your PSA .223 wylde- I didn't notice how many grains your ammo was. If it is 55 grains it is too light for that 18" barrell with a 1 in 7 twist. It will shoot ok but will not have the accuracy. Better to have at least 62 grains, and even better to shoot 69 or 75 grain match ammo.(.223)
i bought an spr upper about 2 years back. I've had nothing but greatness from it. I hand roll m262 mod 0 for it. 75gr hornady bthp match over 24.5gr of h4895. 1.5 or solid moa all day long if i do my job. I've got old eyes and only a 3x9 nikon. Took it out to 400 once with the same above ammo and no dope to use on it. Even with that, I hit steel 4 out of 10 times. Could barely see the target. Now that i've got the stuff chrono'd and know the scope better, I think my score would improve.
Have a 7.62 psa upper shoots .75 to 1..25 groups at 100yrds....1000 rounds through it and 1 fail to fire..i use a p308 scope.....have the 556 freedom kit on a runner runner lower with a sparc red dot.1000 rnds plus,not 1 issue at all and will shoot the dot all day at 100.fun and inexpensive.i would definately use them again.rather build 3 or 4 decent ars than have 1 high end 1..thanks for that 223 review.....
Have a PSA 18 .223 Wylde 1:7 in 4150 vs stainless that shoots MOA with IMI m855 62 grain, maybe you have an off barrel. It's picky and does not like 55 grain at all, but heavier rounds stabilize well.
I also have the PSA .223 Wylde 1:7 18" in 416R stainless with free float. It does not like 55 grain. I shot them in-door at 10 yards! I think it's best to avoid the 55 gr with that. I'll have to see how it does with 62 gr and heavier/longer bullets when I get a chance at outdoor.
The products are good, just beware of customer service. An item ordered went on sale (past the 24 hour period) but even before the item shipped, and they would not refund the difference ($30) I was told to fill out an RMA when I finally get the upper and order another. I won't bother - with a customer not being worth $30 - I'll return in and go with another supplier.
PSA's so called customer service = Complete DOG-SHIT!!!!
Would you be able to do a review on PSA’s AR-10 sometime in the future? I have several PSA AR-15s, and they’ve been reliable and accurate, and have been looking at their .308/6.5CM rifles but they seem to have much more hit and miss feedback than their AR-15 line. I would be interested in a thorough review by PewPew. They actually run a little cheaper than stock DPMS rifles, but with a lot of upgrades included.
The high cost has kept me away from AR-10s thus far, but this might be a great budget way to enter the field.
Connor...you're in luck! I have a .308 and 6.5 in my safe. Review should be out in a month or so. 224 Valkyrie too!
Terrific, thank you so much. I’ll be keeping an eye out for the reviews on all 3. In my region (swampy southeastern NC) it’s hard to find a place to shoot past 400-500 yards, but the 224 Valk still seems like an interesting and well thought out cartridge. As illustrated in your article, the hype train stops for no one. ;D
Thank you, this is refreshing. I'm so frustrated by the trend in the gun community to see who can outspend each other. Boutique manufacturers seem to be a dime a dozen without much rhyme or reason. We constantly tout the AR platform as a "modern sporting rifle" but in house it's a war machine upon which freedom depends and any penny pinching is reckless if not treasonous. We're saved from answering for this hypocrisy by the public at large being relatively clueless about firearms generally. I have no doubt in the quality of the parts made by many of the leading companies, but I struggle to find justification for the price tags. PSA and others offer a dependable and affordable weapon that meets the demands of average consumers and I'm embarrassed when I see weekend warriors shaming their customers with an Aero slung around their tactical muffin tops.
Please do a follow up on the .223 Wylde. I stumbled on your post while specifically looking for the accuracy and reliability of this barrel because I have it in a current build. I'd be interested to any changes, good or bad.
We're keep shooting all of the rifles and updating with round counts as we go, dont worry!
I have 4 Daniel Defense and 4 PSA ARs. For the money you can't beat the PSA AR, especially the PSA uppers with the FN CHF barrels (these are my favorite). They are all amazing. I usually buy the upper and lower off of their Daily Deal section where they are on sale at very low cost. And I usually run a BCM BCG for extra reliability. I agree with everything you've said above. Their Nitride finish is a little too gritty but for the cost.. Even Battlefield Vegas, a full-auto gun rental range experience in Las Vegas uses some PSA uppers with the CHF barrels and has had very good things to say about them, and they are running very, very high round counts through them, in full-auto! So they would know.
Mr. Gunsngear - Battlefield Vegas Visit & Extreme Round Count Failure Points (AR-15, AK-47s, 1911s, Glocks, etc):
AR endurance findings, at a rental range (PSA is mentioned in this article)
Thanks for the helpful links!
The lottery aspect of PSA is part of the fun. You can put your email on a list for out of stock products. If you're in a hurry to build anything, you're doing it wrong. Often during the wait I change my mind a few times regarding other components. Whenever I'm considering a build, Palmetto State Armory is my first mouse-click.
Shopping at PSA is like playing bingo! I DO appreciate that you can request email notifications when parts you're looking for are restocked. I must say, I use their polished trigger kit on one build, and for $30 it's a decent step up from standard mil spec "grit." Over all I like and recommend PSA.
We’ve built 3 PSA ARs. They’re fun to shoot, easy to build and have been very reliable. I’m more of a pistol guy, and only recently (when California said I couldn’t) started getting into ARs. They perform well enough for me to turn in decent scores at America’s Rifle Challenge.
For no particular reason I bought PSA’s 300 Blackout dissipator upper last year. I switched the flat top to an A2 upper receiver with Axelson bcg. Had an extra Bushmaster lower with A1 stock. The lpk was also from Axelson. Using a standard Military zeroing target the weapon zeroed in 6 shots @ 30 meters!!
I’ve witnessed some pretty good shooting by people using “budget” weapons.
As always, great article.
I have high end AR’s and mid range. Ordered a 7.5 inch upper from PSA will be here tomorrow. That said you cannot beat PSA prices for what you get. I have used their BCG’’s and a little soaking in quality lube and they are good to go. Prices on ammo beat all with free shipping. Part of my morning routine is to check PSA daily deals and Primary Arms. Pays off in big savings if you are patient. Companies like PSA are needed. Just remember you push the buy button they hold you to it. Accidentally bought two of their premium BCG’s and tried to correct it within minutes and no can do. In hindsight glad I got both for a wooping 79 buck each. No complaints here
Haha I check their daily deals section every day when I wake up. It’s addictive.
I'm glad I'm not the only one hooked;)
Another great article! My first build was a complete PSA 8.5" upper, Aero Precision lower, KAK Shockwave and a Vortex Sparc AR red dot (which came with 10 30rnd Pmags). I also added a flashlight and crosstac sling. I've put about 500 rounds through it. Zero malfunctions, very decent accuracy and all in price was about $700 (that also includes 3 20rnd Pmags).
Thanks so much Jeff! I hope to try one of their shorties soon too.
With no knowledge/experience with rifles and AR-15's, I bought a PSA Freedom rifle with some "upgrades", magpul furniture in FDE for about $450. It's a great rifle for self-defense use (I need a red dot for it), is reliable, decent trigger, etc. Friends and neighbors think it's a pretty good AR, especially for the price. I haven't shot it any further than 25 yds., but I'm confident in my family's safety with it in my house
Thanks, George! It definitely is great for the price.
Before I started only building my own ARs from parts, I had used several PSA uppers ranging from 16" FN CHF 4150, 16" FN 410SS CHF, 20" FN 410SS CHF, and 16" 'Premium' versions. My shooting group of friends has around 20+ PSA uppers between the group members (mostly FN CHF 4150, and FN 410SS CHF, a few of their .223Wylde 410SS units, and a couple 416R 16").
As a group we've never had a return or function issue that wasn't related to break-in. Several have been out to Front Sight's 2 and 4 day 'Practical' and 'Skill Builder' courses (we live within an hour's drive of Front Sight so its easy to get there) and not had issues with their builds during those courses (and you'll definitely find 'weak builds' during those classes, heh)
All have been between reasonable and excellent in accuracy (the 410SS units being the top of the pile easily capable of sub-moa with a good skill and good ammo).
There have been a few instances of 'assembly issues'. Loose hand guards, an tilted FSB, and a few other minor and easily-remediated issues, but it does speak to a need for improved QA at PSA.
Since I build all my own now I've sold or given my PSA uppers to friends and family and they've continued to have good use of them.
That said, I have no issues in recommending PSA for an affordable and competent build. New shooters on a budget can trust PSA for an affordable, reliable solution.
Heh, and wait times are way, way down from their peaks after Sandy Hook, but you'll often still wait a week for uppers to ship. Its a PSA thing. If you've ordered from them over the years its just part of doing business with them.
Nice, thanks for vouching with 20+ uppers!
Thanks for a great artical! I have three PSA uppers (5.56 16", 7.62 16" and .22LR 16"). I have had not problems with any of them! I also built two Anderson lowers with PSA complete lower kits, which were very easy to build, with some help from the internet.
The two things I see the most on the internet is a dislike for PSA and Anderson. Either I'm very lucky or the complaints are total hog wash. Then again a lot of the builders on the internet think that if you don't spend $2000+ it's not a real AR. I use many types of mags on the 5.56, but only use C Product mags for the 7.62.
As a side note I went with a .22lr upper instead of a conversion because of the proper twist in the barrel and I've see where the conversion can mess up the gas tube on your 5.56. All I can say about the .22lr is that it is more fun than the law allows!!! Ammo is 1/10 the price and I still get to use the same lower. The grandson loves it too.
Thanks again for a great artical.
You're so welcome, Mike and thanks so much for your input. I too love my poverty ponies (Anderson) and now PSA.
Is your 7.62 a x39 or x51? Either way, how’s the reliability and is it over gassed at all? I’ve heard their .308/7.62x51 uppers are often very overgassed, and haven’t heard anything about the 7.62x39, but know that they (AR 7.62x39 uppers) often have mag/feeding reliability issues.
Looking at both, let me know how yours has performed.
Hey Connor, mine is the 7.62x51 and it's probably overgassed...but no reliability issues on my end so far. Looking to test it some more and have a review out by the end of the month.
Haven't had the chance to try out any x39 ARs.
Interesting, i have a 18" 223 wylde barrel from PSA as well, i got fantastic grouping with everything from 55-77gr. I was shocked by how well it shot. Easily MOA for me, but perhaps i just got lucky.
Thanks for your input, Patrick. Looks like it might be luck of the draw since both David and I didn't get the most accuracy Wylde barrels.
Maybe I missed it but do you think that maybe the .223 Wylde barrel might like a little heavier bullet?
I know the federal is a 77 grain but in your opinion what do you think?
It might help but Eric's test reflects my own experience with PSA's Wylde 18" upper also. I tested my upper across about 10 different ammo types in every weight from 55gn to 77gn, never got better than around 2 MOA.
Great plinking/2-gun/3-gun/training rifles though.