The 9mm AR15 market is saturated. There are many, many options available to the consumer. This is my first exposure to a pistol caliber AR platform, so pardon my observations when comparing it to a 5.56 rifle. Is the first time a charm? Today were going to take a look at the Palmetto State Armory ARV in 9mm. Does it have a place in your inventory? Let’s take a look:
What’s in the Box?
When I pulled the ARV pistol out of the box, what struck me first was the machining. It’s been a few years since I opened my last PSA AR15 and all I can say is that they are getting very good at what they do. I poured over the pistol looking for issues and found nothing of note.
As you can see from the photos, the finish is excellent and it has clean, radiused edges. The receiver is specifically designed to take Scorpion magazines and the gun’s mag hardware is roll pinned into place. Roll pins are a superior solution to set screws or other styles of captured pins. Roll pins don’t come out unless your punch and hammer tells them to come out.
The receiver, bolt, and associated components are all clean and free from machine chatter. The magazine release is stiff, but not too stiff. The bolt release / catch stiff, but not too stiff, and the upper to lower receiver fit is just about perfect. Again, I am impressed with how well PSA has been refining their products.
The rail is a typical clamp style M-LOK rail with two hex bolts pulling the aluminum ears taught against the steel barrel nut. The rail is further secured by an two set screws which rise up from the bottom of the rail and protrude into a groove in the barrel nut. The rail has no anti-rotation tabs but the clamping mechanism as well as the set screws feel tight and the system simple and robust. The rail is very basic, but perfectly functional and aesthetically pleasing.
One thing to note is that the trigger is a coated unit and breaks at a clean 6.5 pounds. I have always had a lingering thought that PSA’s kits come with a pretty OK trigger. I have a bin full of mil-spec triggers and most of the triggers from bygone kits and builds have grit, excessive weight, and generally require work to smooth them out and make the ALMOST OK. The coated trigger that comes with the AR-V is the best mil-spec trigger I have handled out of the box. Its better than the ALG Defense, better than the Spikes Tactical, and better than any standard mil-spec trigger I have ever had. I sold my ALG after it lost a feel test to Spikes coated trigger. Currently the Spikes sits in another gun, but it would get the boot if it wasn’t needed for the PSA trigger.
So that’s surprising. The trigger is good, and a perfect execution of a standard mil-spec trigger. Please comment down below if you have the AR-V. I would like to hear from readers if they have the same experience with the stock PSA triggers or did I get a fluke?
So with that out of the way, lets talk guts. The AR-V has cleanly stamped ejector and is user serviceable. My feed ramp has evidence of test firing as evidenced by the two snail trails of copper left on the ramp. The feed ramp is cleanly radiused and has no sharp edges. The bolt catch is a beefy piece of steel supported by additional aluminum from the receiver. If you have been around the AR15 block, you would remember threads that discus bolt catches breaking in blowback AR’s back in the day. I see that PSA enhanced the support in this area to prevent breakage with a solid design.
So out of the box, the gun has impressed me. It’s really hard to find much at fault here at this price range. Let’s hit the range:
In the Woods:
I took the AR-V out on several range trips consisting on three different days. During the course of fire, I had no malfunctions of any type. The ammo used was all ball of various weights. As I am new to the 9mm PCC platform, I do want to share the recoil impulse: it recoils as much as an AR15. Now this isn’t to say it recoils hard, but for much less muzzle energy your getting the same recoil and same feel as a standard AR15. The recoil is manageable and the gun is pleasant to shoot, but it is something to note.
The pistol handles quickly and gets on target fast due to the low weight forward of the receiver. It’s compact, lightweight, and can bring you from zero to target very quickly.
That said, it’s a 100 yards and in firearm. 9mm drops rather quickly even at 100 yards… your starting to hit very low at down the street distance. While it may be possible to longball some 9mm with something like the Primary Arms 9mm prismatic (with bdc), the feel of this platform leans to close urban or home defense scenarios. With 35 rounds on tap from the magazine, it has plenty in reserve to keep you shooting until the threat is gone. So what two things do you need a self defense platform to be? Accurate and reliable. Let’s talk dirty.
Reliability: Flawless Victory
It was time to give the gun a dip in the soup. The pond mud is akin to adding sandpaper to all moving components of the gun. It’s thick, it’s soupy, and the test wrecked the PS90 and the downed the Daewoo. Tossing the ARV into the muck is something I do with an understanding that not many rifles or pistols will survive the mess unscathed.
Once I pulled the muddy spud out of the water it emptied the full magazine like it didn’t care. The entire gun felt like a friction fest. Every surface that *was* smooth felt like sandpaper after the mud bath. The ARV was nonplussed. It emptied the magazine without a hiccup. That said, the Meprolight M21 failed bigly. The water made me lose the dot until I could clean the emitter. The M21 had to go get a rinse back in the drink before it worked again.
I continued to shoot a few more magazines and the story was the same. No failures of any kind. No cleaning. No rinsing of grime. It kept shooting.
With the mud mess out of the way, it was time to perform an accuracy test. I kind of got this backwards, but I figure if it still hits paper after feeling like crap but running like Usain Bolt then why not? Let’s take a look at the accuracy:
The above group was shot with 124 grain Federal 9mm at 50 yards. I don’t reload for 9mm and I don’t have much in the way of any match 9mm ammo. That said, the pistol is solid from a self defense standpoint, and I can’t ask it to be sub-moa because its not that kind of tool. The red dot on the target is an inch wide. If your concerned about the horizontal stringing, this is the only group that looked like that. Sighting in had no stringing whatsoever so this was a fluke… or was it? Hint: the Mepro21 has me suspicious. Check for that review soon.
That said, I had no trouble keeping the pistol on steel at 50 yards when I didn’t pull the shot. I will update this accuracy test with a better one here with the next range session, so if you want to see the updated review check this review again in a few weeks.
Need a 9mm AR to round out your collection? The ARV 9mm seems to foot the bill and then some. From the robust construction, smooth lines, and reliable operation in adverse conditions… this pistol will perform admirably at whatever task you give it inside of 100 yards. I evaluated this pistol over three range sessions, and so far it has roughly 300 rounds through it. I will be shooting the pistol regularly as it is a affordable means to practice so expect an update if anything blows up. I was provided this gun to review by a site sponsor so we need to clarify the relationship in this review. I received no financial support for this review, however if you click a PSA banner and buy something the blog will receive revenue. I will post a YouTube video to coincide with the review to see the full video of the PSA mud test after I finish the 2nd accuracy eval.