Palmetto PA-10 Review: How accurate is a $400 AR-10?

I’ll spend countless hours scrolling through my emails looking for a good deal. When Palmetto State Armory recently sent me an email with a $349 PA-10 complete rifle parts kit, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass.

Eagerly, I waited a week for UPS to arrive with my new toy. With a price so low, I didn’t expect much from this basic kit that included an assembled and test fired upper with an 18″ stainless steel 1:10″ barrel, A2 flash hider, standard front sight base, traditional round hand guards, a lower parts kit and a basic old school collapsible stock. The only other parts required for a functional AR-10 style firearm were a lower receiver and magazine. Fortunately, the same email with the budget parts kit also had the stripped lower receivers on sale for $79! That’s a complete AR-10 style rifle with a stainless steel barrel, less the magazine for $428 delivered!

Assembly of the parts was fairly straight forward with none of the parts defective or mismatched. To my surprise the assembled upper receiver was clearly test fired at the factory, a nice touch for a parts kit that was so low in price. It is worth noting there is a little bit of space where the upper and lower receiver meet towards the rear of the rifle.

I cut and pasted the following information from Palmetto’s website below:

New and improved Palmetto State Armory PA10 Gen2 308 Upper is fully assembled and ready for your complete PA10 Gen2 Lower!

With streamlined styling and improved function, the new and improved PSA PA10 is here.  The Gen2 model offers an enhanced chamber and extraction, with a more modern appearance.  

 PSA PA10 18″ Mid-length Stainless Steel .308 WIN 1:10 Upper – With BCG and Charging Handle – 516445344

Barrel: machined from 416R stainless steel, chambered in .308 WIN with a 1/10 twist & mid-length gas system.   Upper has a front sight post gas block, Classic Midlength Handguard, and a  A2-style muzzle device.

Upper:  Precision machined from forged 7075-T6 aluminum, then Black anodize hardcoated to MIL-8625 Type 3 class 2.   

Bolt Carrier Group:  9310 steel bolt assembly, nitride treated for durability.  8620 carrier, nitride treated, with a nitride treated gas key properly staked with grade 8 fasteners.  Charging handle is also included.

  • 7075-T6 Forged aluminum receiver
  • 18″ 416R Stainless Steel barrel
  • .308 WIN Chamber
  • 1 in 10 twist rate
  • Mid-length Gas system
  • A2-style muzzle device
  • 5/8-24 muzzle thread
  • Nitride BCG & Charging handle

The Gen2 PA10 receivers are functionally compatible with the Gen1 upper receivers, however we recommend matching Gen2 lowers to Gen2 uppers for best appearance.  There are external cosmetic differences when mixing Gen1 and Gen2 upper and lower receivers that some may not find appealing.  Gen1 lowers will be available in the future for those who want a cosmetic match. 

While this clearly isn’t a rifle that was designed for precision; it has a standard non-free float hand guard, relatively short barrel, collapsible stock and two-stage mil spec trigger. I wanted to see how accurate it was.

I placed an order for a assortment of various 308 ammunition and mounted a suppressor and optics to the rifle. To mount a Q Thunder Chicken suppressor, I had to remove the factory muzzle brake and install a Q Cherry Bomb brake. Aside from this modification, the rifle was tested with the parts included in the kit I purchased. For the initial accuracy phase of testing, I mounted a Nightforce NXS 2.5-10 scope in a ADM QD mount. I headed to the range with my rifle, suppressor, optic and chronograph to see how well the rifle would shoot.

I had fairly low expectations for this rifle. If it cycled 80% of the time and held shots within a silhouette target I would have been pleased. I chose to feed the rifle with two different Magpul PMAGS, one with a 10 round capacity and one with a 25 round capacity. To my surprise, my initial shots with PPU M80 ammunition all cycled flawlessly in the rifle.

I hung a QIT-99 target at 100 yards and fired a few groups from the prone position with a sand bag. Results are shown below.

Average group size for the loads tested was 3.325″ (3.176 MOA), the best group being Federal 168 Gold Medal at 1.703″ (1.627 MOA) with the suppressor attached. While this isn’t necessarily match winning accuracy, it is good enough for most recreational tasks this rifle was undoubtedly meant for; especially when you factor in the price and design (collapsible stock, standard hand guard and crunchy two-stage mil spec trigger).

So what are my initial thoughts of the PA-10 parts kit?

  • Inexpensive– If you told me five years ago it would be possible to buy a parts kit and lower and build an AR-10 style rifle for $428 delivered I would have never believed you. While there is a lot of socioeconomic shaming in this sport, not everyone has the disposable income to access expensive gas operated rifles. This rifle is an affordable option for the working man.
  • Functions– I’ve been in this business long enough to be leery of deals that seem to be too good to be true. This isn’t one of those. The rifle functioned as it should and represents a solid value for the money- did I mention I’m $428 into it?
  • Accurate enough? With the limited assortment of ammunition I tested, it showed 1.6 MOA accuracy with match grade ammunition and a suppressor. While I have guns that shoot significantly more accurately; for the shooter who wants to plink at the range with his friends, this rifle would certainly fit the bill.
  • Fun! I had a great time shooting the PA-10. When equipped with the suppressor, I had very little gas flowing through the charging handle.

I’ll be heading to the range a few more times with the PA-10 to report back further on how reliable it is.

To view the line of rifles Palmetto State Armory offers, you can visit their website here.