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Palmetto State Armory PSA 20" Upper accuracy test mini review

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by atblis, Jan 9, 2012.

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  1. atblis

    atblis Member

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    I have a pretty good selection of PSA uppers, and there's been lots of requests for reviews of PSA uppers with questions about accuracy. One question that comes up is what which barrel should I buy. I have a couple of the FN HF barrels that I'll eventually test as well.

    Mini review: They all look like 20" Ar15 uppers. They're black. The sights seem to be on straight. They all worked. Done.

    This is by no means definitive. I suspect my shooting abilities and the ammo used were limiting factors. I didn't use match grade bullets. Also, the later groups were noticeably tighter than early groups. I could tell I was shooting better towards the end.

    10 shot groups (give or take) at 100 yards. Sand bags, Zeiss Conquest 4.5-14x44 in a Larue Mount. A2 lower with Geissele Match trigger. The same lower and scope/mount were used for all uppers.

    Load used:
    Hornady 55 gr FMJ/BT bulk bullets. Generally considered a 2 MOA bullet
    26.5 gr of WC844
    Wolf 223 primers
    Brand new LC brass. Touched up with a 0.245 neck bushing and slightly bumped shoulder.
    good for 2950ish fps out of a 20"

    No malfunctions of any kind in any of the uppers. I also did not clean any of the uppers before using them. I did put some Breakfree on the bolts.

    Uppers Tested
    1) 20" Premium 4150 PSA upper. Government profile. Referred to as W1
    2) 20" Premium 4150 PSA upper. Government profile. Referred to as W2
    3) 20" FN upper. Government profile. Referred to as FN 20". This is the button rifled FN barrel that PSA offered (not HF).

    I think the Premium 4150 uppers have Wilson barrels.

    Note that the groups are not shown in the order they were shot. Also do not pay attention to the center of the groups as there were scope adjustments and scope removal/installations between groups.

    These are all the groups I shot. No omissions, No called flyer BS, No 3 round groups, etc. etc.

    Conclusion: At first I thought those were awful groups, but after thinking about it: Government profile, chrome lined, M193 type projectiles--> anything under 2 MOA is actually not bad at all. Planning to revisit this with premium bullets. Basically they all shoot well, and I wouldn't hesitate to buy one of the non FN uppers.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Z-Michigan

    Z-Michigan Member

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    Kudos for using 10-shot groups, the best practical indicator of real accuracy.

    W1 appears to be quite accurate for what it is. W2 appears to be just slightly above my expectations. FN is right at my expectations for this type of upper.

    I suspect your handload is more accurate than most commercial M193 ammo. It's also a bit on the leisurely side for a 20" barrel, which may relate to the good accuracy.
     
  3. atblis

    atblis Member

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    27 gr grains is originally what I worked up to (3050 fps, not quite M193). I was loading mixed head-stamp brass for a while so I backed it off.

    I just noticed I have the same group on there twice, and that I am missing one of the W1 groups. I'll fix that this evening.

    How this went is that the 2"+ groups were shot first. I then got in a groove, so I went back and retested uppers, and that's when I shot most of the <2" groups.
     
  4. Tim the student

    Tim the student Member

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    Good stuff.

    +1 on the 10 round groups.

    I'd be pleased with either one of the uppers. How quickly were you shooting? Did you notice any problems with heat?
     
  5. atblis

    atblis Member

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    That is an inconsistency in my methodology as sometimes I did let the uppers cool between strings, but never a measured consistent amount of time. I don't know if it did matter or not, and even at that I was not consistent from upper to upper. I plan to retest with a bit better organization and methodology.
     
  6. TwoEyedJack

    TwoEyedJack Member

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    I got a PSA upper a few weeks ago with the FN barrel. I am very happy with the way it shoots. The group in the picture is 9 shots at 100 yards with iron sights off a benchrest. The load is over 26 gr. H335 (safe in old hornady manual, over max on Hodgdon web site data), 55 gr. Winchester soft point, Winchester cases, and CCI match primers. The group is slightly larger than 1.25". I normally don't shoot this well with irons.

    [​IMG]

    I have also shot some groups with 62 gr. Federal FMJ that are more in line with what you are seeing.
     
  7. henschman

    henschman Member

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    Thanks for posting. I will probably buy one of their 20" premium uppers shortly to go on my $50 lower I recently bought from them. I will probably go with their stuff for my LPK, too. I just can't find a better deal for what you get anywhere else.
     
  8. atblis

    atblis Member

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    I've used a few of their LPKs. They're good to go.
     
  9. SwissArmyDad

    SwissArmyDad Member

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    Same here, I have their MOE lower build kit that includes MOE stuff, and their LPK. It installed without any issues.

    I'm very very likely to go with one of their uppers, as I've heard nothing but praise for their product and customer service.

    (I had an excellent transaction for the Lower build group I bought, btw)
     
  10. sawcut

    sawcut Member

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    I'd like to add my recent results from testing my Palmetto upper to your thread. First time firing after an initial cleaning.

    20" FN marked chrome lined, not hammer forged, GI profile upper, stock handguards,
    detachable scope mount, 10x basic scope
    Rock River 2 stage NM trigger, very decent, but not fantastic, trigger,

    Ammo = basic PMC 55 grain FMJ ammunition

    5 shot groups, from a good rest shooting moderately, calm clear day, = 2.5", 2.75", 2. 85", 2.4", 1.85"

    The rifle shot without any malfunctions. At the same outing I shot a 16" lightweight barrel from M and A, same scope and ammo but on a lower with a poor trigger, and averaged 2.1" for 2 5 shot groups, so it was doing better it seemed. I thought the Palmetto upper shot well, but it was not exceptional with that ammunition. I am an average to decent shooter only. Granted, PMC is not the greatest ammuntion, so 2 1/2" groups are fine for this combination.
     
  11. FlyinBryan

    FlyinBryan Member

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    hi two eyed jack. what about those two shots over near the very left of the page, aprrx. 1/2" from the left edge? (one directly over the strap buckle)
     
  12. madcratebuilder

    madcratebuilder Member

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    You mean they don't shoot .5 moa!!!!


    It's very refreshing to see a honest range report with real world results. Good job! The 10 round groups tell the truth about the rifle and the shooter.
     
  13. Tim the student

    Tim the student Member

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    Look closer, and I think you'll see they aren't shots - or they are shots from a pretty big bore.

    My guess is they are holes from a 3 hole punch.
     
  14. SwissArmyDad

    SwissArmyDad Member

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    Yup, 3 hole punch. I've got a sheet of paper in front of me that looks exactly the same.
    (minus the bullet holes. :D)
     
  15. SwissArmyDad

    SwissArmyDad Member

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    So would y'all say that the 20" kit is a better all-around rifle than the mid-length 16" carbine?

    I'm about to "pull the trigger" on a PSA upper and honestly can't decide.
     
  16. atblis

    atblis Member

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    If you're planning on deliberate target shooting at the range, 20" rifle is better no question about it. There are practical reasons for the carbines, but they do not include hitting stuff at longer ranges.
     
  17. kwelz

    kwelz Member

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    Why do you think this? Care to back it up with some data?
     
  18. SwissArmyDad

    SwissArmyDad Member

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  19. atblis

    atblis Member

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    The thread was languishing a little. I don't mind a little side conversation.

    -Longer barrel = more velocity = easier hitting stuff at longer ranges. More velocity also figures into bullet stability as well. 77s will often shoot out of 20" 1 in 9s.
    -Longer sight radius if using irons.
    -Less muzzle blast. 4" makes a pretty big difference. Not only is it lessened in intensity, but it is also further away from your face.
    -More mass = less recoil. Minor detail, but still something.
    -Rifle length gas system is softer. Port pressures are lower. The recoil impulse between a 16" middy and a 20" rifle are considerably different.

    Add this all up, and a 20" rifle makes for a more pleasant range session IMO.

    You can see this trend in action. People were doing the dressup mall ninja door kicker commando thing building tactikool carbines. 20"ers have been trending up for a while. IMO, 20"ers are catching on because people are trending back towards actually shooting their guns especially at longer ranges. It's a quality over quantity trend in some ways. People are discovering that 20" government profile rifles are nice to shoot.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2012
  20. henschman

    henschman Member

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    Hell, I consider even a 20" AR to be a carbine! When you're used to an M1A as your main go-to rifle, a 20" seems downright light and handy.

    My ideal AR setup is a 20" with gov't-profile barrel and a collapsible stock.

    If I'm fighting indoors, it will be in my own house, and it will be with a pistol or shotgun. If I actually ever have to use the M1A or AR for their intended purposes, then god help us all... but then that's what the 2nd Amendment is all about.
     
  21. wnycollector

    wnycollector Member

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    +1 on this. I have AR's with 20", 18", 16" and 14.5" barrels. My 20" government AR is still the most pleasant shooting rifle I own.
     
  22. TwoEyedJack

    TwoEyedJack Member

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    Yeah, those holes came from the paper factory. 3 holes so it will go in a binder ...
     
  23. sawcut

    sawcut Member

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    I like the 20" barrels, just for less blast and I like the balance. Really its just preference for most people. For the record, I had a 20" issued to me years ago overseas. it was tougher getting out of an armored humvee with the long rifle and stock. So i went to our armorers, and had them put on a collapsible stock, tube, buffer, etc. off the m4s. It handled alot better like this for me.
     
  24. tundraotto

    tundraotto Member

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    theres plenty of 16-18" midlengths that will shoot under .5"@100 - I am lucky enough to have 2 that do it, but only one is less than 26" -one White Oak 26" Varmint and a Rock River Predator Pursuit 16"....velocity is where the difference is at...you just have to decide whether the velocity loss is that important to you - loudness wise, not a huge difference between a 20" and a 16" - cut it down to 7-1/2" like my AR pistol and thats *&^* LOUD!!!!
     
  25. FlyinBryan

    FlyinBryan Member

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    lol, ya, i was just hackin on ya. :D

    very nice shootin',,,,,,,,,, from both of yuns'
     
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