[Review] Palmetto State Armory (PSA) 9mm PX-9

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Looking for a cost-effective and reliable 9mm in the AR-15 platform?

PSA 9mm PX-9
PSA 9mm PX-9

Look no further than Palmetto State Armory’s new PX-9 where you can get a full carbine for around $500.

I got my hands on one and review it for fit/feel, shootability, accuracy, reliability, and more.

Best budget AR-9
PSA Complete AR-9

PSA Complete AR-9

Prices accurate at time of writing

By the end you’ll know if it’s the right choice for you…whatever your end purpose.

Table of Contents

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Who Is It For?

Pistol caliber carbines (PCC) have been all the rage and there’s plenty of them in their own platforms (Best Pistol Caliber Carbines).

But there’s something comforting in having one in the AR platform.  You get to use almost all the same furniture and manipulations are in the same place.

Here’s some reasons why a PCC makes sense:

  • Same mags/ammo as your pistol (if you’re packing a Glock)
  • Enough power for home defense
  • New PCC competition classes in USPSA (normally just for pistols) that are super fun

Fit, Feel, & Finish

Like I said in my previous PSA review of three of their AR-15 uppers…they are so affordable because from raw materials to the final product…they do it in-house.

PSA 5.56 & .223 Wylde
PSA 5.56 & .223 Wylde

But sometimes there’s some discoloration or slower than average shipping times.  The shipping has gotten a lot better through the years though.

How does their 9mm fare?  Pretty darn good.

There’s only the complete lowers listed for sale…but I got mine special for good ole California.

PSA PX-9 Lower
PSA PX-9 Lower

It was easy to put together due to the extractor and magazine release already installed.  Plus the integral trigger guard.

Another perk…the rear takedown detent pin is very smartly accessed from the bottom along with the safety detent.  No more yelling at the end plate (How to Assemble an AR-15 Lower).

PSA PX-9 Double Detent
PSA PX-9 Double Detent

Magazine well custom cut for Glock magazines worked but was a little tight in the beginning.

PSA PX-9 Glock Magazine Magwell
PSA PX-9 Glock Magazine Magwell

I wish for maybe a little flaring of the bottom for easier insertion.

My package came with the Magpul STR stock which gave a nice cheekweld.  Pistol grip was Magpul as well.

Magpul STR Stock on PSA 9mm
Magpul STR Stock on PSA 9mm

But I went with a Strike Industries Mega Fin for CA featureless compliance :-(.

My one nit-picky complaint is that the front of the lower is a little sharp.  If you like to hold your rifle there…it’s not the most comfy.

PSA PX-9 Sharp Lower Receiver
PSA PX-9 Sharp Lower Receiver

Now onto the upper…

PSA 9mm Upper
PSA 9mm Upper

Much better feeling handguard compared to the kinda sharp AR-15 ones in the previous review.

PSA 9mm Lightweight Handguard
PSA 9mm Lightweight Handguard

It looks pretty cool, was slim, and easy to grip in hand.

Standard comes with a flash-hider but I went for a featureless model with thread protector.  9mm is relatively low speed and gas so a compensator doesn’t really help.

PSA 9mm Upper Flash Hider
PSA 9mm Upper Flash Hider

Barrel is nitrided so it isn’t the rough standard phosphate covering.  Makes it a little more premium looking and has some corrosion benefits too.

PSA 9mm Upper Barrel and Handguard
PSA 9mm Upper Barrel and Handguard

You’ll also notice that there’s no gas block.  9mm ARs work by blowback…so no gas block is needed but you do feel it more.

And though I don’t have a picture of the buffer and spring…make sure to use the one they give you (or some other 9mm version) or else you can break some stuff.  You need a strong enough buffer to dampen the blowback.

The bolt is also specific to 9mm and looked well-machined (see how there’s no gas key).  The charging handle was standard mil-spec.

PSA PX-9 9mm Bolt and Charging Handle
PSA PX-9 9mm Bolt and Charging Handle

Upper receiver has some nice cuts to it that make it look a little different from a regular AR-15.

PSA PX-9 Upper and Lower
PSA PX-9 Upper and Lower

However…a little discoloration matching between the upper and lower.

How Does It Shoot?

What really matters at the end of the day!

Check it out during one of my recent night competitions.

Recoil

One thing to keep in mind is that 9mm ARs has more recoil out of the box…thanks to their gas blowback system.

However…the PX-9 was milder and more pneumatic feeling.  Not loud and violent like the Stag Arms I previously reviewed (until I found the right load).

Stag Arms 9mm AR-15
Stag Arms 9mm AR-15

Though this doesn’t give you the full effect of shooting…here’s how the reticle moves when I shot it in a sled:

Once you got the hang of it…you could easily bring it back and hit 100 yard steel with a 1x optic almost 100% of the time.

Plus if you start upgrading with a captured spring buffer or lighter loads…you can make it really soft shooting.

Manipulations

The magazine release was really stiff at first.  But once I oiled it and broke it in by dry-pressing it a couple dozen times…it was just like any other release.

PSA PX-9 Magazine Release
PSA PX-9 Magazine Release

Same with magazine insertion…it’s just gotta wear in a little.

Magazines dropped free from the get-go although it was a little hard to insert a full mag on a closed chamber.  But it’s doable (not like the Stag).

My one big complaint is that there’s no last round bolt hold open (LRBHO).  If you’re competing with this…you’ll want to make sure you’re counting and reloading before emptying a mag.  Or just go with ridiculously hi-cap magazines.

Dirtiness

I ended up with a lot of unburnt powder sitting on top of the BCG and magazine.

PSA PX-9 9mm Bolt and Charging Handle
PSA PX-9 9mm Bolt and Charging Handle

Everything still went bang every time through the 500 or so rounds and various brands of ammo…but I will make sure to at least wipe everything down before the next shooting session.

Dirty Glock Mag
Dirty Glock Mag

Accuracy

PSA 9mm Testing
PSA 9mm Testing

Standard testing procedure for me to eliminate most human error:

I went with the Rise Armament trigger since it was in my Stag review and is a great value for a drop-in trigger under $100.  Perfect for PCC where 100+ yard groups don’t matter as much.

Plus the EOTech EXPS-2 for a fast close-up optic.  Check out more at Best Holographic Sights.

Top Holographic Sights
Top Holographic Sights

I shot 4 brands of ammo (Best 9mm Ammo) at a pace of about 1 shot every few seconds once I was back on target.  Waited for barrel to cool down between each brand.

I tested it out to 50 yards…which is a good distance for 9mm.

PSA 9mm 50 Yard Target
PSA 9mm 50 Yard Target

And the results:

PSA 9mm Groups
PSA 9mm Groups

The first set was Remington and I was getting depressed thinking this gun was going to be junk.

But turns out…it’s just a little finicky with ammo.  But it does LOVE American Eagle 115 gr!

Best 9mm Range Ammo
American Eagle 9mm 115 gr

American Eagle 9mm 115 gr

Also pretty good with our favorite home defense round of Federal 147 HST.

Best 9mm Self-Defense (147 gr)
Federal HST 9mm 147 gr

Federal HST 9mm 147 gr

And somehow it didn’t like my light shooting 147 reloads that I usually use for my 9mm 1911.

Main takeaway…try out a couple brands of stuff in your barrel.  When you find it…load up the truck!

Recommended Models

Thank goodness there’s not the bazillion models of AR-9s as there are for AR-15s.

Best budget AR-9
PSA Complete AR-9

PSA Complete AR-9

Prices accurate at time of writing

PSA has complete AR-9s…but if you know PSA, the best way is to build your own from uppers and lowers.  That way you save some taxes on complete firearms.

Let’s start with the lower…they only have complete ones for now…no stripped.  As of today…there’s a more bare-bones mil-spec one or one with a better Blackhawk buttstock.

Update: PX-9 is the one PSA forges themselves and what they are transitioning to completely in the future.  It’s currently only guaranteed to work with their upper.  I’ll test with some other ones and report back.

PSA PX-9 Complete Lower

PSA PX-9 Complete Lower

Prices accurate at time of writing

For the upper…there’s a couple more options.

Best Budget 9mm Complete Upper
PSA Complete 9mm Uppers

PSA Complete 9mm Uppers

Prices accurate at time of writing

My specific one that I have and heavily recommend since their handguard is pretty comfy is the 16″ 13.5 lightweight handguard version.

PSA 9mm Upper
PSA 9mm Upper

By The Numbers

Reliability: 5/5

A little breaking in with the magazine release and magazine insertion.  Otherwise performed flawlessly over 500 rounds and 4 types of ammo.

Accuracy: 4/5

Picky with its ammo…but good knowing that it really liked American Eagle 115 gr.  I’d still check with your own barrel since it might be different.

Ergonomics: 4/5

Handguard feels much better than PSA’s AR-15 models I tested.  But wishing the front of the lower receiver wasn’t so sharp and that it has a flared magwell.

Looks: 4/5

Handguard looks pretty cool and futuristic with cosmetic cuts.  Same with the upper receiver which sets it apart.  But loses some a point for slight mismatching color of upper and lower.

Customization: 5/5

It’s an AR platform with M-LOK so you can do anything to it.  I added in a new trigger, flashlight, and holographic sight.

Bang for the Buck: 5/5

You get entry into the PCC world for right around $500 that takes Glock mags!  Only caveat is that there’s no LRBHO but it’s relatively easy to plan around even in competition.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Conclusion

Cheap ammo, (hopefully) existing Glock mags, and familiar AR-15 ergonomics…what’s not to love?

PSA 9mm PX-9
PSA 9mm PX-9

Besides no last round bolt hold open and not perfectly matching in color…the PSA PX-9 lower and 9mm uppers are an awesome deal that’s so far performed admirably.  I’ll keep this updated as I shoot more (and compete with it).

Until then…what’s your take on the PSA 9mm rifle?  Is it on your radar or do you have another favorite PCC?  Check out our reviews of three of their AR-15 uppers too.

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M in N. TXthomas mitchellPhatroyEric HungJoe L Recent comment authors
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Joe L
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Joe L

I’ve been considering a PCC AR for some time. Thank you for this review. I am curious regarding the blow back depositing… stuff on the magazines. Did your test include the Pmags that Magpul for Glocks? If so, did the blow back melt or otherwise deform the polymer? I have a polymer magazine for my Rem 597. While it is just a .22LR, Its blow back cycle has taken its toll on the magazine’s feed lips. I don’t own a Glock handgun, so a PCC would mean buying dedicated mags for it, and Mapgul Pmags would be an obvious choice… Read more »

TomC
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TomC

The most obvious glaring question about 9mm ARs (ANY 9mm AR) is “WHY?” Once upon a time in the 19th century into the beginning of the 20th century, there were practical reasons to want a handgun and a rifle both chambered in the same cartridge, particularly when your whole ammo supply was tucked in little loops on the back of your belt. As we moved into the 20th century, those reasons applied less and less to the average citizen. With the transition from revolvers and lever action rifles, to magazine fed semiautos the “Pistol Caliber Carbine” still made practical sense… Read more »

Jeff82
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Jeff82

PCC’s can be shot at handgun only ranges and on close range steel where many rifle caliber firearms are not allowed. Most organized shooting disciplines are based on handguns PCC’s mesh just fine in these environs. Carbines/rifles not so much.

John Napiorkowski
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John Napiorkowski

It makes sense to me as someone thinking about getting into rifles. I currently shoot a Glock 9mm and being able to share ammo and magazines saves a lot of cost for me and lets me get into it at a lower price point and commitment. Maybe down the road if I take to rifles I might get a dedicated platform and sell the carbine to another. Or maybe I decide I prefer handguns but don’t mind keeping the carbine around as another home defense option that is cheap to keep because of ammo/mag sharing. Seems like a reasonable option… Read more »

thomas mitchell
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thomas mitchell

You discount home defense, but that is exactly where these 9mm PCC/Braced Pistols shine. It is probably the most versatile caliber to defend one’s family/home/vehicle/business etc. The 9mm round is hardly an “emasculated” choice. It is an excellent blend of velocity/energy/controllability/capacity/suppressability and serves many of us just fine. When fired from a carbine length barrel it provides energy similar to a .357 magnum handgun, yet without the flash, sound, and recoil. The modern braced pistol architecture provides advantages to a handgun as it can be fired from the shoulder if needed, is easier to mount optical sights and lights etc.,… Read more »

M in N. TX
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M in N. TX

I have a Palmetto Glock Mag AR9 in pistol form with about a 12 inch barrel (including the KAK can on the end). It is great for our local range that only allows pistol calibers on their steel range (about 25 yards). It is also not too front heavy for younger shooters to use at the range and with the sigbrace on the back to use as a cheek rest it works well for other new shooters who want more than a 22lr but don’t yet want the “blast” of an 5.56 from a short barrel. It’s also at least… Read more »

Notlima
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Notlima

“My one big complaint is that there’s no last round bolt hold open (LRBHO).” . PSA does make a LRBHO lower for Glock mags, however, you are better off without it. Much like the QC10 lower upon which it is based, the LRBHO feature is unreliable, at best. This is a common complaint for the particular method those two LRBHO Glock lowers use to pop the bolt catch. Without consistency myself and a few range friends just disabled the feature. Better to just get used to the different feel of the last round. Just like your normal AR you will… Read more »

Notpinto
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Notpinto

Ummm…….on a “normal AR” the bolt holds open on the last round.
It does feel a bit different but I and almost everyone else prefer and have gotten spoiled to having the bolt hold open. PSA’s 9mm would be perfect if it had this feature. I’ve heard about their early LRBHO models malfunctioning but other manufacturers have gotten it right.
FX-9….etc.

Phatroy
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Phatroy

I got a spikes tactical glock lower, and it fits perfect and the lrbho works flawlessly. It looks just like the PSA but with a different logo.