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Palmetto Armory AR-15, shocking results at range..

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by TxRedMan, May 12, 2010.

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  1. TxRedMan

    TxRedMan Member

    May 12, 2010
    First of all I'd like to say long time reader first time poster, much appreciation for the board, and I'm hoping someone can offer some information on what my friend has stumbled on.

    The rifle in question is a Palmetto Armory AR-15. From my research, I determined that Palmetto Armory was a sister company of a larger company that made aircraft parts, and Palmetto Armory was ultimately acquired my Olympic Arms. The rifle is clearly milled, as indicated by the circular marks that can be seen on the patina of the metal. The stock is one of the old metal telescopic stocks. The grip appears to be original. The upper appears to perhaps not have been the original upper (or maybe Palmetto only made receivers, which, is my opinion).

    Upon inspection, the gun appeared to be in good working order. It had sat in a safe for many years. By my friends estimate, due to his grandfathers shooting habits, and collecting habits, it's likely he might never have shot this gun himself and that it could have been in a safe for the last 30 years.

    He put a clip in and on the first pull the gun fired three rounds just like a three round burst gun would. His eyes got big and so did mine, and he fired it again, and that time, two rounds went off, then a very slight pause, and then a third round. I suppose you could summarize the firing of the gun as mostly inconsistent.

    We were both puzzled and concerned about what we'd just seen.

    The concerns I had were: His grandfather owned several companies and this gun came from a safe in his office. In the safe were many, many documents but it is unclear at this time if there is proper documentation of the gun, and this was my primary concern. The gun went back into the safe in the event it is discovered to be an asset of the company etc. My 2'nd concern was the apparent look of a semi auto gun that fired a three round burst, indicating that something had been altered internally. I snapped some shots of the receiver and can post pics if anyone can help identifying if the trigger groupings or whatever necessary parts have been altered to make this gun a three round burst weapon, and, on a slightly other paranoid concern- the pause inbetween rounds...what would cause that? We have a fair amount of shooting experience between us, and I've shot many machine guns, but i've never had a gun/seen a gun do this.

    If anyone has any other information regarding Palmetto Armory please share it, and if anyone knows of a situation like this with this gun or other guns with regard to the three round burst, please advise. If you would like to see pics of the receiver and some internal shots let me know, I will upload and post.

    I apologize for my first post being of an annoying nature, but until it's decided whether this gun was purchased (his grandfathers collection exceeded 200 long guns alone) and never shot or whether it was kept in this particular safe b/c it has proper documentation both of us would like to learn as much as possible about the gun, the manufacturer, and the apparent problem of an unknown 3 round burst and the irregular 3 round burst on the 2'nd pull. I have searched high and low and there is very little information out there on Palmetto Armory.


  2. Guy de Loimbard

    Guy de Loimbard Member

    Oct 2, 2005
    What ammo were you using?

    I was once able to get two and three round bursts by using Federal Benchrest primers in .223 handloads
  3. benEzra

    benEzra Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 25, 2002
    Down East in NC
    Make sure the firing pin is moving freely and is not hanging up in the forward position. If it is slamfiring out of battery, that is a dangerous condition. And make sure you aren't using defective ammunition with oversensitive primers. I have *never* had an AR or civilian AK double and have never seen one do so in the hands of others, so the fact that the rifle in question tripled twice in a row suggests either a serious problem, or modification, but rule out the simple things first.

    Having said that, if the gun IS indeed behaving that way mechanically, definitely be looking to see if there's a Form 4 for it (if it's a registered pre-'86 with a Form 4, it could be worth $15K or more). And if there's no paperwork, put replacement civilian fire-control parts in that lower ASAP and find out how to legally dispose of the current parts or whatever, since you're looking at potential 10-year Federal felony for simple possession if it's an unregistered automatic weapon (and if there are any receiver mods, you'd want to dispose of the stripped lower as well).
  4. anthony-white

    anthony-white Member

    Aug 6, 2005
    Check to make sure the disconnector spring is in it and not worn out. If its gone they will do that.
  5. madcratebuilder

    madcratebuilder Member

    Jul 15, 2007
    Northern Orygun
    What does the marks at the selector switch say? The burst function was not around thirty years ago. A FA would have that marked at the switch.
  6. Evenflo76

    Evenflo76 Member

    Oct 23, 2007
    Was this rifle stripped, cleaned and lubed?

    Please tell us you did not fire a rifle known to be in a safe for decades without more than an inspection.
  7. Gurnemanz

    Gurnemanz Member

    May 11, 2010
    Palmetto Armory made semi-auto billet lower receivers in the 70's and early 80's. Some of these were made into NFA Registered Receivers using a drop in auto sear prior to 1986. If this gun does have papers it is worth a lot of money. The strange firing behavior could be due to the sometimes finicky nature of DIAS's.

    On the other hand, I have had a completely normal semi-auto AR15 develop erratic burst fire capability due to the FCG parts being extremely worn. In this case it was a range rental gun and I almost wet my pants.
  8. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 26, 2002
    Back in the 1980s, a lot of semi-auto AR15s were built using M16 hammers, bolt carrier groups and various other parts. If the disconnector or trigger nose is worn, you can get the kind of erratic firing you describe.

    If the fire control group is worn or has been garage modified, some of the parts may be hanging on each other and unable to keep up with the fast cyclic rate. Just spitballing but you could have the hammer resting on a rounded off disconnector hook and sliding forward after a brief delay (See the xray here to get an idea of what I am describing.)

    Worth checking; but the AR15 firing pin is not long enough to protrude from the bolt face until the bolt is in battery. You can check this by removing the bolt carrier group and collapsing the bolt into its "locked" position and pushing the firing pin forward until it protrudes. Now still pushing on the firing pin, pull the bolt forward with your other hand. Due to the firing pin collar, the firing pin should disappear. If it doesn't then you have a non-standard firing pin with a potential for slamfire.

    Despite this, AR15s still do have the occasional slamfire though if the primer is set too high or is too sensitive. That is mainly an ammunition issue though.

    From a technical standpoint, pictures of the firing control group would help greatly in diagnosing the problem. On the other hand, if you pull the trigger and more than one round comes out with a single trigger pull - that is the ATF definition of a machine gun and the weapon must be registered under the NFA. If this isn't a registered NFA weapon, you probably want to let a gunsmith and/or lawyer deal with this.
  9. RainDodger

    RainDodger Member

    Aug 20, 2009
    Great Northwest
    I also have a Palmetto Armory marked AR, made by SGW (Oly) between '79 and '82. There was a fire at the manufacturer and records were lost, so that's the best they can tell me about the manufacturing date.

    My AR is also milled billet aluminum, it is nicely finished and appears to be good quality. I picked it up used from a co-worker. Mine did not appear to have been used very much and I got it for an extremely good price, so I decided to give it a try. Full 20" barrel and A2 stock. Mine has had no malfunctions at all and works like an AR-15 ought to. No doubling or anything like that at all. I've been happy with its accuracy as well - it has a stainless steel, 5.56, SGW/Oly barrel.

    I'd be tempted to yank out your trigger group and replace the whole ball of wax. You can't be firing multiple shots like that at a public range or you're going to end up in some kind of hassle, as you already know! Offhand, I would guess that someone has messed with trigger group as mentioned above. Perhaps someone tried to unprofessionally smooth or lighten the action and now they've got a sear that's not engaging the hammer consistently, sometimes working right and sometimes not.

    If you need pics or any info off my AR, let me know - PM me or something, and I'd be glad to help you out.

    Btw - I don't think Palmetto Armory was acquired by Olympic, but I could be wrong. I believe Oly (SGW at the time - "Schutzen Gun Works") was contracted to provide either the lowers or the entire rifle to Palmetto Armory, which has since gone out of business.

    Life Member, NRA
    USN, Retired
    Last edited: May 13, 2010
  10. leadcounsel

    leadcounsel member

    Jun 5, 2006
    Tacoma, WA
    Careful what you post on the 'net.
  11. TargetShooter2

    TargetShooter2 Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    DIAS ,, if it has one in it you can see it , it should havve a serial number on it aswell ,, if it doesnt have one , you either have a wore out trigger group with alot of play or you have a very loose upper , i have had both on Palmetto's and in both cases they would double tap , after the old parts were replaced the rifles ran fine in semi mod .

    i have had 2 Palmettos , traded one off but still have the other one .


    SN Range 1st Date End Date Special Notes
    0001 0004 03/14/79 Prototypes
    1000 8845 03/14/79 06/04/82 Cut from aluminum bar stock. Most were made for other manufacturers such as Palmetto Armory.




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