PSA EPT SBA3 Pistol Lower

PSA Part (1)

This is Part One, of a several part Palmetto State Armory (PSA) 10.5″ pistol build. This part will focus on the PSA lower, other articles will focus on the 10.5″ upper, parts kit and the completed build. This is my first experience with PSA products, so let’s jump right into the PSA AR-15 lower.

PSA 10.5″ 5.56mm Slant Rail w/ Flash-can Pistol

Value:

I purchased the PSA EPT SBA3 Pistol Lower while it was on sale. The sale was for 199.00 and had free shipping. Considering the SB Tactical SBA3 adjustable brace is about 150.00 dollars if you purchase it by itself, this is a screaming deal for a complete assembled pistol lower. The PSA Lower can be found here: (
https://palmettostatearmory.com/psa-ar15-complete-moe-ept-sba3-lower-5165448150.html). The lower also came with PSA’s Enhanced Polished Trigger (EPT) which is a slight upgrade on the trigger.  Of course Magpul grip and trigger guard also come on the lower and is pretty much standard with most manufacturers now.

Packaging:

PSA Lower Box

The PSA lower came in very simple and nice packaging. A padded box and a PSA sticker. Simple, no extras and straight to the point.  The small PSA box is nice if you want to store your lower for whatever reason.

PSA Lower in Box

Specs/Attention to Detail:

Over all the lower seems to be mil-spec in quality and materials and finish.  A few things stuck out to me when I first looked over the PSA lower. I was surprised to see, in a lower priced this affordably, STAKING. The end plate is staked into the castle nut. This is a minor thing but I think it is important and a sign of quality. There are several manufacturers that sell lowers far more expensive than the PSA’s and they do not stake the castle nut in place.

Castle Nut Staking (left)

Castel Nut Staking (right)

The next thing I noticed was the beveled magazine well. Another nice touch that makes feeding the magazine into the lower quick, smooth and easy.  The lower receiver is a low shelf receiver, so if you are someone who is lucky enough to have a drop in Registered Auto Sear (RAS), you should be good to go.

Beveled Magazine Well
Low Shelf

The last thing I thought was a nice touch is the Palmetto State Armory logo on the SBA3 brace itself. In the future PSA articles this will tie in nicely on other parts.  A small marking that shows PSA is tying in all the small details for the purchaser. This has no functional use but makes the buyers experience enjoyable in small matching details.  For someone who checks to make sure every part on a Colt rifle or other manufacturer firearm is marked or stamped properly, it is a nice touch.  Clearly PSA took the time to have  a conversation with SB Tactical to ensure this happened.

PSA SBA3 Marking

Function/Performance:

So let’s get down to what really matters, how does it function. Well the simple fact is 100%.  I have had absolutely no issues with the PSA lower. I have run approximately 750 rounds with the lower, which is not a lot, but a proper built and spec’ed  lower will probably never have issues.  I did change a few things with the lower. I replaced the PSA carbine buffer with an H buffer as I run an H buffer at the minimum on all lowers I have.  I also changed the MOE grip to a Magpul K-Grip as I like the angle better. The safety selector is audible, tactile & smooth when flipping from safe to fire and back.

I used several different AR-15 uppers on the PSA lower. All uppers function 100% with the PSA and I had no issues on the fit or function. The PSA upper I used can be found here: (https://palmettostatearmory.com/psa-10-5-carbine-length-5-56-nato-1-7-nitride-12-slant-m-lok-upper-with-bcg-ch-mbus-sight-set-5165449684.html).

EPT Trigger:

The EPT trigger is a mil-spec trigger but has PSA’s enhanced polishing and a Nickel Teflon finish. Both the hammer and trigger is polished and coated in PSA’s Nickel Teflon finish. Can you tell a huge difference from a stock mil-spec trigger? That is for you to decide. I compared the EPT PSA trigger to several Colt mil-spec triggers.  I could maybe feel a slight difference but all of the Colt’s had thousands of rounds through them. The PSA was smooth right out of the box, very little creep and the break was very nice. I have no complaints and because it was included in the price of the lower, I think it was worth it.  Fast and clean follow up shots felt like a well used, broken in trigger.

PSA EPT


PSA EPT Components

Conclusion:

At this price point, I see absolutely no reason why you should not pick up a PSA lower. Especially if you are looking for a Pistol lower with the SBA3 brace. Hell, pick up a few at this price. I am very happy with this purchase and it should serve me and you well if you choose the PSA lower. If you are in the market for a rifle lower the PSA rifle lowers are cheaper than the PSA pistol lowers. I have seen them as low as 120.00 dollars, depending on stock and grip. If you are building a pistol or rifle I would say you should give PSA a look, especially if you are on a budget.

Duncan. 

Arisaka Defense Scout Light Body and Side Scout Mount

I was sort of caught off guard when Shawn posted about Arisaka Defense the other day as I had just ordered a couple of items from them.

What I got was their mini scout light body and a mlok side scout light mount.

Surefire came out with the Scout weapon light design, and now several other companies make interchangeable parts for them. I picked up the mini scout light body from Arisaka so I could use some extra pieces I had to piece together another mini scout light. This copy does not have the mounting holes for the stock Surefire rail mount claim, but it will work with most any aftermarket scout light mount.

Top is a the Arisaka body, the bottom a stock scout light body.

The mlok offset mount pulled a scout light in close to the hand guard and allows you to offset the light up or down.

You can see the scout light is much closer to hand guard when using the Arisaka mount over a stock mount and rail section.

These are the first things I have purchased from Arisaka Defense and I like them. I would caution to shop around also. I was going to buy a mount for my M620 scout light, but I found Arisaka offering for that was more expensive than the price of the HSP Thorntail, so I went with a Thorntail for the M620 light.

Other than that particular case, Arisaka Defense was slightly cheaper than other options I looked into. Their stuff is well made, and worth getting.

AR6951 part 2

Previously I posted about the all fucked up Colt AR6951 9mm AR15 I received from the scammer David Smith of “Daves Guns” AKA bulletknife (sgteds@aol.com).

Lets recap. The problems are:

  • Bent charging handle
  • Loose functioning bolt catch
  • Incorrectly assembled stock latch
  • Crooked receiver extension
  • Cosmetically blemished upper receiver

We all make mistakes, I know I made one buying from David there. But I think a rifle shouldn’t leave the factory with that many mistakes.

I received the rifle on a Friday. I initially noticed the blemish and the binding charging handle. I figured that the charging handle just needed a little break it. I took it to the range the next day and found out that it wouldn’t break in. On the plus side, once a round was chamber, the gun ran great.

So Monday, I call Colt customer service and ask for a RMA. I had to wait on hold for about 15 minutes. When I finally got to talk to someone, they didn’t seem to believe the issues I was explaining. When I told them the S/N, they told me it was manufactured in 2015, and the CS rep was implying there would be no warranty. I told him the gun was new out of the box. He told me I would have to include a receipt and I told him I had one. The call ended with them telling me they would email me a shipping label.

I never got a shipping label.

It got me remembering the other times I contacted Colt over an issue. I had a gun where the taper pin fell out of the gas block. I called up Colt and asked for a replacement. It took a long time for the guy on the phone to understand that I was talking about a taper pin. He kept insisting I was talking about the gas tube pin. Finally when I got my point across he told me that wasn’t possible. Finally he said he would have one mailed out to me. I never got anything.

I also vaguely remember having a similar issue a long time ago, but the specifics escape me.

So after a week of waiting, a smart person would have called Colt back up and raised hell until they got a RMA. Not me, I decided I’m going to fix this stuff my self.

Charging handle was straight forward. Pull the old one, replace it. I borrowed a charging handle from another upper. Right there they would be enough to get the gun functioning. I tried to get a good picture of the bend in this charging handle, but the photos turned out terrible. I’ll try again some other time. But I did find something of note.

CAGE Code 13629

Fortunately for me this charging handle is marked with Colt Defense’s CAGE code. So I know it is a real Colt part that is fucked up. Some some substitute. In the past, there have been cases of dealers pulling Colt parts of the rifles and swapping them out with cheaper parts like DPMS. That way they could sell the Colt parts separately. In the past this was easy to catch as Colt marked their bolts and carriers. Now they are no longer marking the carriers with the Colt C.

The charging handle is arched down, so it is possible someone yanked up on while it was in the gun bending it. But the only time I have seen issues like that is when people have kicked open the action on a rifle with a stuck case.

On to the next issue.

The bolt catch was flopping around leading me to believe that there was no spring and detent for it. Fortunately I have spare parts laying around. Spare AR15 parts can be a dangerous issue as they have the chance to spontaneously assemble them selves into additional rifles. Fortunately that has only happened to me a half dozen times or so.

That is some glue residue in the hole, not a burr.

I was surprised to see the detent in there. I was also surprised as how much it kicked my ass trying to get it out. Normally that detent pops right out, and lands somewhere in the carpet where you can’t find it. Instead this one was stuck. I made a fancy technical drawing to show the issue:

First I expected to just be able to push it with a punch and have it pop out. That didn’t work. So I tried a magnet. That didn’t work. I tried seeing if I could glue a stick to it, first with hot glue, then epoxy. That didn’t work. The oiled curved surface would not let anything stick to it. I tried a more powerful magnet, nope. I then decided I would drill it out. The hand drill wouldn’t work as the drill bits were flexing off the curved top of this detent. I tool the lower to a machine shop. I still expected that a good magnet would pull it right out, so I was still surprised when the magnetic chuck still wouldn’t. I was forced to give up on magnets.

I stuck the lower in a milling machine and drive a carbide engraving bit into the detent. Then it popped right out.

Original on the left, replacement on the right.

Before I had it out, I figured that the spring was too short, or broken. When it finally came out, and was longer than the replacement I had, I was worried that the hole in the lower might have been drilled too deep. I found the M16 TDP, found how deep that hole was suppose to be, and everything appeared to be in spec.

So WTF happened? I dunno. My best guess is that it got over compressed somehow and the spring kinked or binded. I have never heard of this issue before in an AR15.

In any event, the replacement dropped right in, and I had a properly working bolt catch have that.

As for the stock body, I did the lazy thing and just swapped it out for another Colt M4 stock.

This section has rambled on a good bit longer than I expected, so expect a part 3.

The critical problems have been solved. In part 3 I will talk about the merits of the gun.

A look at the Beretta 21A

The Beretta 21A Bobcat is a small sleek pocket pistol with a special feature. You can tip the barrel up for loading. The Bobcat is available in .22 LR (like the one above) and .25 ACP. There is a larger model the Beretta 3032 Tomcat which is in .32 ACP.

Some years ago I was talking to a friend of mine and he was asking for suggestions for a pistol for his wife. Due to health issues and hand strength, she was not able to rack the slide on most pistols. I suggest he look into these pistols as the barrel can be tipped up for loading. Not that long later he showed me that he picked up one up, and liked it enough he was using it him self.

Now if someone was to get one for self defense, I would recommend the .25 or .32 ACP models over the .22LR. .22 Long Rifle ammunition doesn’t have as reliable ignition as other calibers.

Some years ago I decided if I saw one at a reasonable price I would buy it. Funny story, I was wanting to buy a Colt AR6951 and was trying to find one local. A dealer 2 hours away from me had them listed on Gunbroker, so I swung by to buy one. Turns out they didn’t keep any in stock and were just drop shipping them from a distributor. I was pretty annoyed, but when I left I took the long way home and stopped by ever gun shop I saw along the way. Well, actually I stopped stopping at the gun shops after the tenth one as I had spent too much money.

I saw this new stainless 21A in .22 for sale, right at the maximum I was willing to pay. I hear they are back in production, had I known that I could have probably shopped around and got a better deal ordering one, but I am happy with this one.

While this pistol has the awesome feature of the tilt up barrel, it does have a few quirks that can make it less than ideal for some people as a fighting self defense weapon. The safety is small and on the left side only. I find it easy to flip on and off when I have the pistol in my right hand, but I can barely flip it off when I hold the gun left handed only. It has a long double action pull. Fortunately the small safety can be employed with the gun cocked.

If I understand correctly, the manual indicated that the pistol is not drop safe with a round chambered. That might be a good argument in it self to go with a more modern pistol for self defense.

When I started shooting it I had a couple of malfunctions in the first few dozen rounds. I haven’t had any more since then. One important note is that the Bobcat does not have an extractor. I’ll come back to why that is important to know. I found if I wasn’t paying attention I could stuff 8 round in the 7 round magazines and that would induce a malfunction. I’m not sure if the other malfunctions I had was due to this.

If the choice for someone was no gun or a Bobcat/Tomcat, I would whole heartily recommend this Beretta. But once we start comparing it to other guns, we see the long heavy double action trigger pull, the small safety, the diminutive sights. It is by no means a bad gun, but we have lots of new options in pocket pistols now.

About 7 yards, give or take

I hate to say it, but I was not getting very good accuracy or grouping out of this pistol. But to be fair I was using old .22 ammo that is likely at least as old as I am. I’ll have to buy some better quality new ammo and see what it can really do. The sights leave a fair bit to be desired.

There is one last big point to make about this gun. I used to hear people say they preferred military guns as they were designed to be shot more and take more abuse. Different designs have different pros and cons. This simple design lacks an extractor. That is not an issue if the pistol is clean. But as it fouls, it will eventually stop function correctly. The little 21A is a whole lot of fun to shoot, but it isn’t a gun for shooting bricks of .22 all day long.

I really like the 21A, and I find it a whole lotta fun. The tip up barrel is a great feature, not a gimmick. But I wouldn’t recommend it as a first choice for a fighting gun. Still far better than no gun.

Now some real fun would be throwing a silencer on it.

Review: Colt 36″ Double Rifle Case

Guest Post by Brent Sauer

I have been a Colt AR-15 collector for a couple of years. I typically only take one rifle to the range at a time due to time constraints. As a result, over the years I have used one of two Pelican brand cases that I own for my rifle transportation needs. This year, I decided to purchase a couple of soft cases to use for rifle transport due to the ease with which you can move them around. The fact that smacking the doorway on my way out of the house won’t result in damage to our painted door trim is an added bonus that keeps the queen of the castle happy.

As I began to look at what cases were available, I came across the Colt 36” Double Gun Case, Item #C12-301BL in black on Ebay one night. As a Colt AR-15 collector, buying the Colt branded item seemed like a good idea. Using an Ebay 10% coupon that was available that day, I hit ‘Buy It Now’ and purchased the case. After paying the ‘Buy It Now’ price of $81.00, adding $9.00 shipping, my final cost was $90.00.

Upon receiving the case, a quick inspection of the manufacturing tag indicated that the case was made by a company called Drago Gear which I was not familiar with. They are manufacturing an assorted line of Colt branded packs and weapon cases under license from Colt Manufacturing Company. You can see their Colt product line here: http://www.dragogear.com/product-category/colt-gear/ This 36” double rifle case is the only Colt branded rifle case that is available from Drago Gear. I prefer to buy products made in the USA so I was a bit disappointed to see that this case was a product of China. If I looked close at all the market offerings, I imagine this is probably pretty standard.

The overall dimensions of the double rifle case is 37” x 14” x 12.5”. Looking at the front of the rifle case you will see (from left to right) a 4” wide x 8” tall zippered pocket with a small amount of MOLLE attachment points on the front of it. The zipper has a heavy-duty, nylon, 3” pull string attached to it. The zipper seems to be of high quality. All zippers mentioned in this review are identical to this zipper I just described. There is a larger pocket with dimensions of roughly 8” tall x 6” wide. The pocket has an expandable depth of about 4”. In the center, there is a larger pocket that is 8” tall x 7.5” wide. Its expandable depth is about 5”. To the right of this center pocket is another, previously discussed, large pocket followed by another 4” zippered pocket on the right side. Each of the three pockets are secured by a combination of straps with quick-release buckles (primary) and Velcro (secondary). Each pocket additionally has an adjustable elastic cord with a polymer, spring-loaded tension retainer. See photos or details. There are two retention straps that close over the top of the case after it is zippered closed. The straps are adjustable with quick-release buckles to hold the case closed in the event of zipper failure. Additionally, there is a Velcro retainer that closes around the double handles.

The three large pockets discussed in the previous paragraph are sewn to the front of a larger, double-zipper pocket. This pocket measures 11” tall x 25” inches wide. When you open the pocket it up, it opens with the flap coming towards you, attached at the bottom of the case. The inside of the flap that opens toward you has two zippered, nylon pockets. One pocket is 8.75” tall x 10.5” wide. The second, internal, zippered pocket on the flap has an 11.5” opening but a useable space of 10.5” x 16”. The back of the this larger compartment has two pockets that are 10” x 10.5” with Velcro closures. These are advertised as padded pistol compartments on the Drago Gear website.

When you open the main compartment where your two rifles would be kept, you immediately notice the padded divider. The divider is 8.75” tall x 32” wide and .5” thick. I think the padded divider is a nice, necessary feature to make the two gun case concept an attractive option. As is often preached, rifles are tools meant to be used but I doubt anyone wants their rifles to bang together in transit. There is a 3” tall x .5” thick padded ‘border’ that runs around the front and both sides of the case when it is open. This padded border would keep your muzzle/flash hider or stock from rubbing or pressing on the zipper when the case is closed up. Each side of the rifle compartment has two (left and right) triangular fabric retainers. One is for the stock end, and one is for the barrel end. Evenly spaced on each side is two 11.5” wide x 11” long Velcro retaining straps. Each retaining strap is comprised of two 8” long pieces. However, due to their overlap, you only get about 11” that is usable retention length.

The back of the rifle case is dominated by a pair of heavy-duty shoulder straps. The straps are adjustable for length at both the top and the bottom which will enable you to get optimal fit from the padded portion of the straps on your upper body. The tension can be quickly adjusted at the top of the straps by pulling down on the buckle. Or, if an urgent situation arises, you can completely drop the case by releasing the two quick-release buckles toward the bottom of each strap. There is a metal D-ring on the front of each shoulder strap for your use. There is an elastic, adjustable sternum strap that holds the two shoulder straps in place if you choose to use it. It also has a quick-release buckle.

For my ‘test fit’, I used my 18” barrel (roughly 37” overall length) Special Purpose Rifle and a standard 32” Colt LE6920. The LE6920 had plenty of room. It was almost too short with the stock completely retracted. The SPR was a bit long at 37” obviously but, to my surprise, I was still able to close up the case and zippers without much problem. Once the case was closed up, there wasn’t any movement from either weapon in the case. Additionally, due to the padded divider, there wasn’t any audible evidence of the weapons coming in contact in any way.

In closing, everyone has their own brand allegiance usually. Honestly, the case having Colt embroidered on it was my primary motivation for buying it. A quick internet search turned up equivalent gun cases by 5.11 at roughly $170.00 and Blackhawk has a 44” double rifle case at roughly $80.00. I think the Drago Gear case is well made with good features. If you are just making a quick trip to the range to shoot one or two rifles, this case will serve you well by itself.

For additional information on this case, you can visit the manufacturers webpage for this product at:  http://www.dragogear.com/product/colt-36-double-gun-case/