[Review] Palmetto State Armory (PSA) AR-10 Gen 3 (.308)

Can you really get a reliable and accurate AR-10 .308 for around $600?

Palmetto State Armory (PSA) aims to make that a reality.

We’ve been testing their Gen 2 AR-10’s for almost 2 years and now I’m updating this article with their Gen 3 version.

PSA AR-10 .308
PSA AR-10 .308, Gen 2

Different types of ammo, multiple mags, and hundreds of rounds.

PSA AR-10 Gen 3
PSA AR-10 Gen 3

Find out if the new version is worth the wait and if it passes the reliability and accuracy test!

Want to see the PA-10 in action?  Check out our complete video review on the Gen 3:

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Table of Contents

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Who Is It For?

PSA AR-10 Gen 3 with Magpul Bipod
PSA AR-10 Gen 3 with Magpul Bipod
  • Budget buyers who want something that works out of the box that doesn’t always turn heads or shoots half MOA.
  • Someone who wants some options in terms of barrel length, gas system, and handguards
  • Someone who can wait a little for things to be in stock and ship

Why Is It So Cheap?

If you don’t know yet…PSA is known to be the market leader in affordability.  They get that way since they own all the companies that take raw metal to the finished product.

They sent me the AR-10 to fully test out after my review of their AR-15s.

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

I test it the same way as I do with all my other guns.  And for the Gen 2 actually increased the types of ammo through the AR-10 since they are known to be finicky with the gas system.

Gen 3 Changes

PSA Has released a Gen 3 of their PA-10 upper, lower, and complete rifle!

PSA AR-10 Gen2 & Gen 3 Lowers
PSA AR-10 Gen2 & Gen 3 Lowers

Changes include:

  • Broader Compatibility with .308 BCGs
  • Twice Staked Castle Nuts
  • Dimpled 416R Stainless Steel Barrel
  • 5-Position Adjustable Click Switch Gas Block
  • Extra Power Extractor Springs
  • 7075 T6 Charging Handle
  • Anti-slip/Anti-rotation Handguards

Best Entry Level AR-10
799
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

It’s much more affordable when you purchase the lower and upper separately since there’s an 11% completed firearm tax.  Keep going for our favorite uppers/lowers.

Fit, Feel, & Finish

Overall, PSA increased the quality of their finish with the Gen 3.

PSA Gen 2 vs Gen 3 AR-10
PSA Gen 2 (Top) vs Gen 3 AR-10 (Bottom)

While there was some purple-ish hue with the Gen 2…the Gen upper 3 is pure black and matches well with the lower.

Upper

I opted for the shorter 18″ upper in stainless steel (both generations) for a little lighter weight compared to the 20″.  If you’re strictly bench or prone shooting you can get the 20″ for a little more velocity.

PSA AR-10 Gen 3 Handguard
PSA AR-10 Gen 3 Handguard

The lightweight 15″ M-LOK handguard was nicely machined and didn’t have any sharp edges like some in their AR-15s.

PSA AR-10 15 Inch Handguard
PSA AR-10 15 Inch Handguard, Gen 2

Besides better anodizing, Gen 3 handguards also have two additional detent screws on the bottom to prevent rotation/movement.

It wasn’t a problem before but it’s good to have double protection.

PSA AR-10 Gen 2 (top) vs Gen 3 Handguard Screws
PSA AR-10 Gen 2 (top) vs Gen 3 (bottom) Handguard Screws

The barrel looked good and had a centered and tightened gas block.

PSA AR-10 .308 18 Inch Barrel
PSA AR-10 .308 18 Inch Barrel

One of the BIG CHANGES in the Gen 3 is the welcomed addition of an adjustable gas block.

PSA AR-10 Gen 3 Adjustable Gas Block vs Gen 2
PSA AR-10 Gen 3 (bottom) Adjustable Gas Block vs Gen 2 (top)

Otherwise both barrels have a 1:10 twist rate that’s good for most .308 ammo.

1 in 10 Twist Stainless Barrel
1 in 10 Twist Stainless Barrel with Standard Gas Block, Gen 2

BCG was properly staked.  And in Gen 3 the BCG is a Toolcraft (probably the best known manufacturer) with extra power springs.

PSA AR-10, Charging Handle & BCG
PSA AR-10, Charging Handle & BCG, Gen 2

And the bolt was marked MPI (magnetic particle inspected).

PSA AR-10, Broken Down BCG
PSA AR-10, Broken Down BCG

Lower

Colors and fitment matched pretty well in both the Gen 2 and 3.  Nothing much to write home about.

PSA AR-10 Upper and Lower
PSA AR-10 Upper and Lower

But…one big difference is the addition of triangular cuts in the Gen 3 lower that allows for a wider variety of BCGs.

PSA AR-10 Gen 3 Lower BCG Cuts
PSA AR-10 Gen 3 Lower BCG Cuts (Blue) vs Gen 2 (Red)

You can see in the Gen 2 red circle even the stock PSA BCG was bashing into the receiver.  No problems with the Gen 3.

Like their 9mm AR (full review), the pistol grip holds in two detents…the normal safety detent plus the rear takedown pin.  Much easier for install!

PSA AR-10 Lower, Double Detent
PSA AR-10 Lower (Gen 2), Double Detent

My biggest complaint with my lower is that the takedown pins are SUPER tight.  Even after so many installs/removals for break-in…I still have to use a screwdriver and hammer every time.

This problem still holds true for the Gen 3.

PSA AR-10 Takedown Pins
PSA AR-10 Takedown Pins, Gen 2

The lowers can come in multiple flavors.  The more affordable versions came with PSA’s EPT trigger which is surprisingly crisp compared to mil-spec.  But the above Gen 2 is a Triggertech I swapped in for accuracy testing (Best AR Triggers).

If you opt for a higher-end one you get their 2-stage trigger ($99) which has a nice 2 lb first stage and around 2.5 lb second stage.  Great bang for the buck.

PSA AR-10 Two-Stage NiB Trigger
PSA AR-10 Two-Stage NiB Trigger

The variations change time to time, but the 2-stage trigger versions will usually have a nicer buttstock like the STR in the Gen 3.

PSA AR-10 Gen 3
PSA AR-10 Gen 3

Magazine release works well and sometimes the mags were a little tight to get in…but always dropped free.

PSA AR-10 Lower
PSA AR-10 Lower

So far so good…especially for around $600.

How Does It Shoot?

Boom!  Let’s get down to the important stuff…

Break In

I broke the Gen 2 barrel in during a trip to BLM desert land while setting up for night vision (Best NVG Goggles).

Author All Geared Up with Carrier and NVG
Author All Geared Up with Carrier and NVG

I usually don’t do break-in for AR-15s but since this is more of a precision gun…

  • 5x: 1 shot, copper remover, wait 5 min, bore brush, gun cleaner, clean patch
  • 5x: 5 shots, copper remover, wait 5 min, bore brush, gun cleaner, clean patch

Check out Best Gun Cleaning Kits for my favorite gear and brands.

For Gen 3 I didn’t do any specific break-in and didn’t clean the barrel before accuracy testing.

Keep going to see the results!

Recoil

A lot more than the 5.56 AR-15 if you’ve never shot a .308 semi before.

You’ll often read that PSA overgasses their AR-10s.  I think that’s a fair statement.

Here’s the Gen 2 with me standing up:

I broke in the Gen 2 rifle standing up and after those 30 or so rounds I was definitely feeling it…this rifle is more meant for bench shooting or even better…prone.

PSA AR-10 Gas Block
PSA AR-10 Gas Block, Gen 2

Again, one of the big changes in the Gen 3 models is the addition of an adjustable gas block.  It definitely tones down the recoil if you adjust it correctly for your ammo.

PSA AR-10 Gen 3 Adjustable Gas Block vs Gen 2
PSA AR-10 Gen 3 Adjustable Gas Block vs Gen 2

Also easy to reach the adjustment even through the handguard if you have its accompanying Allen key.

PSA Gen 3 AR-10 Adjustable Gas Block
PSA Gen 3 AR-10 Adjustable Gas Block

Otherwise if you forget it (like we did) and have to use a regular length one…it’s probably easier to take the handguard off first.

PSA AR-10 Gas Adjustment
PSA AR-10 Gas Adjustment

I closed off the gas completely so the gun operated like a bolt action.  Then ended up around 3 full turns to get the bolt to lock open on an empty mag with PMC Bronze.

Here’s John with the Gen 3:

Reliability

The Gen 2 AR-10 ate up all 6 kinds of ammo I threw at it…from the cheapest brass ammo I could find, to regular plinking ammo, and several kinds of match ammo.

The bolt always held back on empty with both my Magpul and DPMS magazines.

Magpul and DPMS Mags
Magpul and DPMS Mags

Gen 3 was the same.

For reliability…PSA’s AR-10 was great.

Accuracy

I really hoped the accuracy was going to be good…especially since I spent a lot of time breaking in the barrel.

I set the rifle up in my standard testing rig…now with a chronograph.

Testing the PSA AR-10 .308
Testing the PSA AR-10 .308

100 yards, slow shooting with each group, and about 5 minutes to cool down before the next group.

100 Yard Testing Target
100 Yard Testing Target

And used a bunch of my favorite .308/7.62×51 ammo (Best .308 Ammo)

PSA AR-10 308 Groups
PSA AR-10 308 Groups, Gen 2

The MEN, PMC Bronze, and PPU were my plinking ammo…and it looks like PMC Bronze did the best with probably 2.5 MOA.

For match ammo…Hornady’s 168 BTHP didn’t do as well as I had hoped.

But Federal’s Gold Match in both 168 and 175 gr were excellent at around 1.5 MOA.

Here are the average velocities for each ammo out of the 18″ barrel:

  • MEN: 2622 ft/sec, std deviation: 16 ft/sec
  • PMC Bronze: 2644 ft/sec, 6.5 ft/sec
  • PPU: 2634 ft/sec, 6.4 ft/sec
  • Hornady 168 BTHP: 2593 ft/sec, 7.7 ft/sec
  • Gold Medal 168: 2459 ft/sec, 10.8 ft/sec
  • Gold Medal 175: 2447 ft/sec, 14.4 ft/sec

How about the Gen 3?

It did even better…even with no specific break-in.

PSA AR-10 Gen 3 Groups
PSA AR-10 Gen 3 Groups

All the groups look tightened up.

The most affordable ammo on the list was PMC Bronze 147gr which shot decent and I had around a 1.5 MOA grouping with the heavier PPU 180gr.

With the match-grade Gold Medal 168gr the Gen 3 really shined with around 1 MOA compared to the Gen 2’s 1.5 MOA.

PSA AR-10 Gen 3, Gold Medal 168gr
PSA AR-10 Gen 3, Gold Medal 168gr

Long Range

100 yards is great and all…but chances are if you’re looking at a .308 you want to stretch its legs.

So I went to my local rifle range and set up with a bipod (Best Rifle Bipods).

Long Range Testing PSA AR-10
Long Range Testing PSA AR-10, Gen 2

There’s berms for 100-600 yards.

Angeles Range 100-600 Yards
Angeles Range 100-600 Yards

If you zoom in a little you’ll see the 500 and 600 sections off to the left.

Angeles Range Zoomed In
Angeles Range Zoomed In

And at the very back…my 600 yard targets.

Angeles Range 500-600 Yards
Angeles Range 500-600 Yards

I shot off the bench in a reasonably comfortable position.  No rear bag though…I did forget it.

Video: I hit 9/10 with the 175 gr Gold Medal…and super cool to see the vapor trails!

Not too shabby for my skill level…if you’ve got the range and the skills you should be able to hit out to 800 and even 1000 yards with a .308.

For the Gen 3 we had an easy time shooting in the desert.

And during accuracy tests I shot both at 100 yards with a 1-6x.

And out to 300 yards with a 6-24x.

Compatibility

AR-10s in general don’t play that nicely with each other.  So if you’re going PSA…stick with both PSA upper and lower.

Aero M5 .308 AR-10
Aero M5 .308 AR-10

But if you have any combination of Gen 2 or Gen 3 uppers/lowers…you’ll be fine.  We tested them all out.

PSA AR-10 Gen2 & Gen 3 Lowers
PSA AR-10 Gen2 & Gen 3 Lowers

Recommended Models

There’s not nearly as many models of the AR-10 compared to PSA’s AR-15 offerings.  But it’s ok…you’re pretty much choosing between free-float and going either 18″ or 20″.

If you’re strictly bench or prone shooting…get the 20″.  Otherwise if you want something a little lighter and maneuverable…get the 18″ like me.

I also go for the free-floating variety…especially for a long range precision rifle.

Best Entry Level AR-10
799
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Those are the complete rifles…but if you know PSA…the deals are to be had by separating the upper and lower.  That way you avoid the 11% completed firearm tax.

My specific upper which I recommend is the Gen 3 18″ Stainless with 15″ Lightweight M-Lok with BCG (bolt carrier group) and CH (charging handle).

399
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

While the lower I would heavily recommend getting a better buttstock that has a nice cheekweld.  The one I have is the Magpul MOE STR.

The EPT is a nice upgraded single stage trigger while the Nickel Boron 2-Stage trigger is PSA’s version of Geiselle’s SSA-E trigger.  Great when I tried it out on their 6.5 Creedmoor guns.

179
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

By The Numbers

Reliability: 5/5

Besides really tight takedown pins…the AR-10 performed flawlessly with different kinds of ammo, 2 types of magazines, and hundreds of rounds.  Gas came dialed in from the factory for all the rounds we tested.

Accuracy: 4.5/5

OK with the cheapest plinking ammo and decent with PMC Bronze.  But great with Federal Gold Match in both 168.  Hundreds of yards all day long.

Ergonomics: 4/5

Handguard feels much better than older PSA’s AR-15 models.  Otherwise everything is where it’s supposed to be.  Make sure to get a better buttstock with a wider cheekweld.  Your long distance shots will thank you.

Looks: 4/5

A slight raise from the original 3/5 for getting the coloring correct now.

Customization: 5/5

It’s an AR platform with M-LOK so you can do anything to it.  I easily added in a new trigger, compensator, M-LOK rail, and Atlas Bipod.

Bang for the Buck: 5/5

GREAT deal…especially when the next comparable/affordable maker is Aero Precision and theirs is $1400.  Full review here of that one.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Conclusion

PSA AR-10 Gen 3 Upper and Lower
PSA AR-10 Gen 3 Upper and Lower

A great AR-10 that didn’t give me the problems of other platforms.

And at an unbeatable price that’s about half the price of the next closest competitor!

With the Gen 3, PSA gets the anodizing color correct and also gives you the choice in dealing with overgassing.

Get the complete upper of your choice:

399
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Pair it up with a complete lower:

179
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

And you’re good to go for 600+ yards.  If that’s a little too far…check out our review for other PSA guns.

PSAK-47
PSAK-47

What do you guys think of the PSA AR-10?  How would you modify it to make it your own?  Also…check out more of our favorites in Best AR-10s.

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