Palmetto State Armory (PSA) AR-15 Review

Photo of rifles and ar-15's

Palmetto State Armory firearms are a “MADE entirely IN America” firearms manufacturer that has created a stand out product within an industry full of products. There have been dozens even hundreds of AR15 manufacturers within the United States, among these, there are few that hold up to the full expectations of what an AR15 can be.

Modern AR15s can be extremely reliable, accurate, and versatile firearms. Palmetto State Armory is one of the few manufacturers that has consistently turned out a product I am proud to own and use.

It should be noted that I have at NO point received compensation or product from Palmetto State Armory for writing this article, in fact, I have purchased out-of-pocket the large percentage of reviews I do.

Please remember this when commenting, I am disabled, 40 years old and write reviews because you all deserve to have honest reviews in your corner. Even when a product is received gratis (as is not the case with this article) I provide completely honest reviews. Lying only hurts the liar in the end!

Personally, I discovered Palmetto State Armory AR15s a few years ago when I purchased one from a friend. After using this one for quite a bit I quickly discovered that it was an amazing piece of hardware. I then decided to purchase from Palmetto State Armory myself, and did so, purchasing the following items over the course of two years.

  1. PSA 16″ 5.56 NATO 1/7 Mid Melonite 11″ Keymod Freedom Upper – w/BCG & CH
  2. PSA AR-15 Complete Blem Lower – Classic Edition
  3. PSA Freedom Complete 6 Position Mil-Spec Diameter Buffer Tube Assembly
  4. PSA 5.56 Premium HPT/MPI Full Auto BCG, No Logo & PSA Charging Handle with Tactical Release Latch
  5. PSA 5.56 HPT/MPI Bolt Carrier Group
  6. PSA 5.56 Premium HPT/MPI Full Auto Bolt Carrier Group
  7. PSA 10.5″ 5.56 NATO 1:7 M4 profile carbine length gas tube

Interestingly I have not yet had a negative experience and this is, to be honest rare. After all, everything man-made can and does eventually fail especially firearms. I own several Glock 19s, and have had maybe 4 failures to fire and or feed or eject, in almost all cases it was ammunition related, in two cases it was gun related, I had failed to perform the necessary replacement of springs/ parts that wear out first. Like changing the oil in your car, maintenance is essential in firearms.

photo of two ar-15 rifles a bolt action and glock handgun

For instance on my Glock’s I change barrels every 30,000 rounds, firing pins every 50-60,000 and pins and springs every 5-10,000 rounds, on the gun and in magazines. This ensures continued relatively flawless reliability. Additionally, I do not use sub-par ammunition.

Especially when practicing, I use Aguila, Speer Lawman or MEN German milsurp for practice purposes. And Speer gold dot for self-defense. With my rifles, the same is approximately true, with variations in some rifles depending on the amount of use.

This means that in a given year I could change barrels as many as 4 times if I run a gun hard enough, obviously for 22lr firearms this is not such a large issue, and I have easily gone well over 50,000 rounds before needing to change out springs etc., barrels, if maintained well, will outlast me.

photo of an AR-15 rifle and rifle parts

In my high-pressure carbines and rifles such as the AK and AR variants specifically from Palmetto State Armory, I have found I need to do less maintenance while still seeing exceptional performance overall. The only other brand firearm that even came close in longevity and quality was my Delton Sport model which had a little over 65,000 rounds through the barrel before I replaced gas rings, barrel (it had begun keyholing) and buffer assembly.

It is still running like a mule today, accurate, wonderfully reliable and an amazing firearm. Now, to date I have only been able to put around 28,000 rounds through my oldest Palmetto State Firearm, (prior to melonite/ barrel is chromium steel mix) however, it is still running hard, it is not my defensive tool, as to be honest I am running it specifically to see what fails first. The only issue I have seen is the gas stake on bolt loosening (I tightened and used loc-tite) but no failures overall.

ar-15 scope

I called Adam Ruonala the Chief Marketing Officer for Palmetto State Armory to ask some serious questions about their processes. (On a side note, he is like all of the individuals working with Palmetto State Armory approachable, and honest!)

  1. Do you make your barrels in-house?

Yes, we make our barrels in-house. Exception for the hammer forged barrels, all other barrels stainless, and nitride barrels –

  1. Are all major components (eg., stripped lowers/ barrels and bolts) machined in-house?

Bolt carrier groups currently are outsourced, however, we are in the process of bringing it in-house to keep all – they are made in the United States!

  1. Does the same apply to AR10s and your Ak47 line?

Yes, absolutely the same applies to all firearms made and or stamped Palmetto State Armory!

shooting 100-yard milk jugThe reality is that AR and AK platforms are adult lego’s they are not difficult to put together, in fact, there are dozens of videos showing people building AK47s using shovels and AR’s using a plethora of parts from a dozen different manufacturers.

What is a not well-kept industry secret is that your name branded AR carbines like Spikes Tactical, BCM, and even COLT have many if not all of their parts outsourced and simply stamp their name on it and then raise the price 200-500% and make crazy claims of infinite reliability?

The reality is quite different, comparatively, I have run my Delton and Palmetto State Armory guns against all of the above and in almost every case have continued to run long after they began having failures, feeding, firing, and more.

A popular YouTube channel that destruction tests both AR and AK rifles called The AK Operators Union recently proved that Palmetto State Armory is, in fact, the ONLY all American made AK rifle to date, to pass their stringent 5000 round destruction testing.


They also destruction tested the AR15 Freedom model, currently going for under $450 through Palmetto State Armory – and guess what, it passed again!


And the AR’s I have tested, well, lets just say that as it stands today I have yet to be disappointed. In fact on August the 6th I will be doing the 1000 yard milk jug challenge with a Palmetto State Armory AR, specifically the PSA 16″ 5.56 NATO 1/7 Mid Melonite 11″ Keymod Freedom Upper – w/BCG & CH the only specialized adjustments I have made are adding a Bushnell 4.5-18x40mm BDC AR scope, P.O.F. trigger (made in Arizona) single stage 4.5lbs and a CVLife 9”-13” Bipod, everything else is exactly as it came from the factory – To make this an even better event, I am using 69 grain IMI MatchKing ammunition, each round being used will be weighed and measured to ensure continuity in load but they will be as loaded by the factory.

The 6th of August is my 40thbirthday and I plan on making a bit of a splash by completing this challenge from the Long Range Shooters of Utah Association with what amounts to a stock AR15 with a 16” barrel – something I think will be a first. And yes it may take a week, as my editing skills are atrocious, but after letting the officials review the video, and editing it, I will post for all to see!

Here is the thing folks, regardless what name brand you are currently in love with, from Ruger through Colt, the odds are the barrels are made by Palmetto State Armory or one of the other 2 or 3 actual builders of barrels in the country and re-branded. In some cases the parts are outsourced too Taiwan or Korea, while Palmetto State Armory keeps its parts entirely in house, or are in the process of bringing everything under one roof! AND THEY DO IT FOR LESS than anyone else on the market today!

What are the pros to owning a PSA (Palmetto State Armory) AR or AK over any other brand name –

  1. Pricing, they offer regular daily deals that are far lower than most manufacturers and do so while ensuring a product that functions well easily 97% of the time (all man-made-products can and do fail at times)
  2. They offer an in-house 1911, AK47, AR10 and AR15 – and do so with components made IN HOUSE!
  3. They have absolutely great customer service, I have never had a single member of their staff be rude, and in fact when I am down South again plan on stopping in and meeting them, I am that impressed with their services.
  4. Quality, overall their quality as has been proved by myself and many independent individuals is second to NONE, in fact, I would suggest to any new owner or older owner looking for a backup piece, go to their website, sign up for daily alerts and take advantage of their daily deals!

Cons –

  1. For the first time, I have none, absolutely NO cons to owning a Palmetto State Armory part of the entire firearm!

So do you have anything to add, what are your experiences, and by all means feel free to share FIRST hand experiences with me. Comment below and if you enjoyed this article and want to see others, share and thanks again!

Free the mind and the body will follow…

Jesse Mathewson

Arizona since 86', lifetime prepper, camper - criminal justice advanced degrees, numerous certifications, 1+ million rounds (shooting for decades), prior contractor, instructor, current volunteer, disabled, honest, father of two husband of one - all budget and prepared. Jesse Mathewson reviews because regular people need someone in their corner as well!

10 Responses

  1. Daddio7 says:

    I enjoy your reviews and general comments. One question, how do you afford all that ammo?

    • Jesse Mathewson says:

      Daddio7, buy bulk- most of my firearm reviews are conducted over a 2-4 year time span at a minimum. I spend 5-10% of my monthly budget on ammunition/preps – I miss the pre 2008 days of $60 cases of 556

  2. Jack says:

    Jesse, it is great to know that American companies still offer top quality products at an affordable price point. We had to “get on the list” when my good friend was mating the barrel and action for me to create my dream cannon, a 45-70 Siamese Mauser. One run of .45 calibre rifle barrels were made each year and when they were sold out, you had to wait until next year. I guess I was lucky in that my wait time was less than two months to receive my new barrel because it was “that time of year.” Superior craftsmanship truly does make a difference. Very good read Mr Mathewson

    • Jesse Mathewson says:

      Jack, that 4570 mauser…sounds very fun! Would love to have a 45 70 anything some day, again, I sold my lever gun in 45 70 a few years back and kick myself now

  3. JP in MT says:

    I have not bought a full gun from Palmetto, but I have bought some components. Orders were filled promptly, shipping was reasonable, the quality has not been an issue.

    • Jesse Mathewson says:

      JP, ^^ exactly while they are NOT generally tack driving sniper quality they have always been well within milspec and function is superb

  4. Jesse Mathewson says:

    It should be noted this review is dated. I replaced the bcg’s in the long running one – PSA replaced it for me as for the last 4 years or so they have staked all bcg’s

    I have a few others as well now. And actually use two for defensive tools –

    I can compare them to colt 6920le and a bcm setup I have and I am perfectly satisfied with their reliability

  5. Travis Humphrey says:

    Just be careful when you get one of their &0% lowers. They are harder aluminum than the lowers you get from 80% Arms and you need the Palmetto State Jig as they are not really compatible. You can make it work with the 80% Arms jig, you just need to make sure the safety hole is lined up properly before drilling.

    • Jesse Mathewson says:

      Travis. I honestly didnt know they made 80% lowers, and have never seen one…which is saying something because I am a budget guy…

  6. Keith Plymale says:

    I am doing there A2 20″ rifle length version, 16″ mid length M-4 version and a 10.5″ pistol a part at a time. Upper and lower is basic PSA in all cases. BCG are from a company called Cryptic Coatings out of Denver, NC. They use Toolcraft BCG’s and put there coatings on them. Charging handles are Geissele SCH. Carry handles are FN manufacture.