Welcome to the first part of a long-term review of my new Palmetto State Armory AR-15 barreled upper. This review has no deadline, other than the upper breaking or wearing out, me running out of ammo, or the downfall of society as we know it. Since I already have enough reloading components to produce 10k+ rounds of .223 Remington, it probably won’t be the middle option.
I’ve been using Palmetto State Armory products for several years and have generally been happy. They generate both good and bad reviews, as should be expected by a major producer in the firearms market at the budget level. My review will be a sample of one, but it will be extensive.
This first post is about what the barreled upper is, and my inspection of it straight out of the box.
What I bought
I was interested in a fairly basic AR upper, and for the most part, that’s what I bought. The only real upgrade over the most budget of barreled uppers available is the free-float rail. Compared to what is available on Palmetto State Armory’s website as I write this, the free-float rail cost me an additional $30 over a barreled upper with plastic handguards and mid-length gas, and $70 over a barreled upper with plastic handguard and carbine gas.
In the other direction, for $150 more I could have bought a similarly equipped Premium barreled upper with a CHF barrel made by FN. It would have lacked a bolt carrier group and charging handle, which probably would have added approximately $100 more to the total cost.
Unboxing and Initial Impressions
Methodology of Testing
The goal of this test is to be “real world”. As such, I plan to shoot the gun a lot and maintain it like I normally would an AR-15. With this in mind, here are the basics of what I plan to do:
- Shoot the gun in both practice and competitions
- Keep a log on the round count, accurate within a few dozen rounds
- Maintain the rifle as I would any of my other AR-15s
- Correct any minor problems and document them here
- Contact Palmetto State Armory for any major problems that come up during the first 1000 rounds
- Document any jams and stoppages during practice sessions with pictures
- Perform a detailed cleaning at least every 1000 rounds and document the condition of major components with photographs
- Accuracy testing will be performed every 3000 rounds, approximately
Here is a list of the things I do not plan on doing:
- Destructive testing
- Extreme weather or conditions testing that don’t crop up naturally
- Video record every round fired (though some shooting will be recorded)
- Indiscriminately waste ammo
- Conforming to the demands of every random person on the internet
Up Next: Function Testing and Accuracy with Bulk Ammo
The plan is, next week, to go out and shoot 300 rounds (10 magazines) of ammo to test the upper for basic function. Since these are the first rounds fired out of the gun, they will be recorded. I will then test the accuracy of the barrel with four FMJBT ammo choices that commonly get used for practice ammo.