It’s hard not to be a fan of Palmetto State Armory (PSA). It’s a great American company that’s managed to consistently put out a wide variety of firearms, often at some of the best prices on the market. Case in point: the 9mm AR-V.
The guts of the entire AR-V line are simple, but quality-made. A forged 7075 T6 aluminum receiver set houses a straight blowback action pushed by an 8610 bolt.
For this version, Palmetto State Armory chose to go with Magpul furniture and a slimline, very lightweight and skeletonized M-LOK compatible handguard. It’s a great choice.
There are four picatinny slots on top in the front of the rail, four slots at the rear, and M-LOK attachment points everywhere else. The lack of a full-length top rail, and no need to make space for a gas block, means the handguard’s circumference can be very small, just 6” in total. This result is that even folks with relatively small hands can get a solid grip round the front of the rifle.
The AR-V is fed by a single supplied 35-round magazine and the receiver is compatible with still fairly common CZ Scorpion mags. The lower receiver includes a flared mag well that does a great job funneling the mags right into the gun for fast reloads.
The magazine release is a dual paddle-style lever tucked in against the trigger guard. I like to sweep down with my support hand thumb to remove the magazine on a paddle-style receiver, and with this configuration, it works perfectly. That said, if you have very long fingers, you can also simply push the lever with your firing hand index or middle finger to release the magazine. Either way, you’ll need to remove the magazine with your support hand, as it will not drop free on its own.
The AR-V has a last round bolt hold open feature. For a whole lot of folks, this is a huge selling point, and it’s great PSA could accommodate it. The bolt lock/release is that fairly small slider button just above the magazine release paddle on the lower receiver, on the left side. It’s easy to lock in place, and very easy to release.
Maybe too easy. With the bolt locked back, any strike to the buttstock will release the bolt forward, as long as there’s a round in the magazine or the magazine is removed from the receiver. It’s not a big deal, but it’s sensitive enough that, in attempting to reload the gun quickly, there were a couple of times the rear of the gun hit my body while I was reaching for another magazine, and the bolt came forward.
This isn’t a real safety concern, but, of course, when this occurred, it increased my reloading time significantly.
The trigger is a bit squishy, with no obvious breaking point. The pull weight measured 5 lbs 12.2 oz averaged over five pulls from my Lyman digital trigger scale. The reset is strong and short, making rapid follow-up shots easy, if not particularly precise.
Unfortunately, I had a few reliability issues with the AR-V. I ended up shooting 630 rounds through the rifle over four days of shooting. Over those 630 rounds, I had a total of four failures to feed.
Each failure was the same, with the round at too high an angle as it entered the breach. It was never the first round in the magazine and never the last round either. Each failure was from a 147gr FMJ commercial bullet, from two different manufacturers.
All the failures occurred in the first 300 rounds and only one of them happened with a silencer attached. A hard pull on the charging handle and good shake is all it took to get the gun back up and running.
As usual, I sprayed some CLP into the gun prior to shooting, and didn’t clean it or open it up again until the shooting was done. Like all simple blowback actions, the cases were left filthy when they exited the chamber, especially the ones fired suppressed.
The bench-rest accuracy of the AR-V was acceptable, if not exceptional. Shooting from a Caldwell Stinger shooting rest at 50 yards, most of the better five-round groups averaged just over 1″ over four-shot strings. No round shot quite to 1.75″ groups at that range, and the heavier 147 gr FMJ rounds from a variety of manufacturers were the better shooters. All groups were shot using a 10X US Optics scope, in whatever time it took.
The fun of any pistol caliber carbine is in the shooting, and that’s right where the AR-V really shines. The AR-V sports a simple birdcage style flash hider at the end of its 16″ 4150V chrome moly steel barrel. It swings fast, stops fast, and recoil is almost theoretical.
This rifle accepts most AR-15 style triggers, and I’d love to see what it could do with a very light single-stage gas pedal. As it is, it’s still tons of fun.
Keeping to its intended purpose, I twisted off the flash hider, installed a silencer and an Aimpoint red dot optic, and got to blastin’. Very quiet, fast, controlled blastin’.
I spent most of this review focusing on fast follow-ups, target transitions and move/shoot drills with the AR-V. The time — and the round count — ticked right on by. I got far more tired of the moving part of the drills than the shooting part, and found myself hitting my desired round count before my allotted training time was up.
Shooting the AR-V exactly as it is out of the box is great. Really, pistol caliber carbines of all types are just so easy to shoot, it’s hard not to have fun with them. But quiet them with a can and a fast optic that doesn’t have the same parallax concerns as a traditional scope, and the fun is, as the kids would say, a whole, notha, level.
I don’t really have a need for a pistol caliber carbine, at least not semi-automatic one with a full 16” barrel. And yet, the PSA AR-V leaves me wanting exactly this gun. Equipped with a silencer, it’s just too much fun to put down.
Specifications: PSA AR-V 16″ 9MM 1/10 LIGHTWEIGHT M-LOK MOE EPT RIFLE
Barrel Length: 16″
Gas System: Blowback
Barrel Profile: A2
Barrel Steel: 4150V Chrome Moly Steel
Barrel Finish: Nitride
Muzzle Thread: 1/2-28
Chamber: 9mm (9×19)
Twist Rate: 1 in 10″
Barrel Extension: Blowback
Muzzle Device: Birdcage Flash Hider
Receiver Type: AR-V Slick Side Upper
Handguard Type: PSA 13.5″ Lightweight M-Lok
Bolt Carrier Group Included: Yes
Bolt Steel: 8620
Bolt Carrier Profile: AR-V 9mm Bolt Carrier Group
Last Round Bolt Hold Open: Yes
Charging Handle Included: Yes
Receiver: Forged 7075 T6 Aluminum
Receiver Finish: Hardcoat Anodized
Fire Control Group: Single-Stage, Enhanced Polished Trigger (EPT)
Grip: Magpul, Black
Buffer Tube: 7075 T6 Aluminum
Stock: Magpul MOE Stock, Black
Magazine: PSA AK-V U9 35 Round 9x19mm Magazine, Black (Also compatible with CZ Scorpion Mags)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style and Appearance * * * *
The finish is smooth and even throughout. The handguard does a good job of blending to the slick receiver.
Customization * * * *
Just about anything that can go on an AR-15 platform can go here. The paddle release is ambi.
Reliability * * *
It’s rare to get any PCC to run perfectly, and this one had a few hiccups.
Accuracy * * *
Nothing stands out, but 2 MOA groups for a PCC is good enough.
Overall * * *
The PSA AR-V is about as bare bones a pistol caliber carbine as it gets. It’s fun as it is, but throw a can on it and it will very likely outlast the time and ammo you have to put through it. A simple, fun little gun that’s well worth the money.