AR pistols have become one of the most popular firearm trends in the United States over the last decade or so and I am not immune from the craze myself. While I fully understand the benefits, practicality, and reliability that a standard 16″ or 20″ AR rifle platform offers, there is just some enigmatic draw that AR pistols have that draws me into them. Palmetto State Armory recently sent me over one of their 10.5″ Battlelink AR pistols for testing and evaluation and aside from an LPVO and a sling, I kept the pistol as-is for the entirety of this review. Today we’ll see what PSA is offering with the Battlelink package, how well it came constructed, and how it performed on the range in a variety of tests.
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TFB Review: Palmetto State Armory 10.5″ Battlelink Pistol
What’s in the Box/Specifications
The Battlelink pistol is sold on Palmetto State Amory’s website as either a completed package or as a “build kit” where you can take your own lower receiver and add the upper as well as the MFT (Mission First Tactical) brace, pistol grip, and Magpul sights and forend seen in this review. The package is available in black, OD Green, and Flat Dark Earth and the MSRP on the completed Battlelink Pistol runs at $799.99 but they are often on sale through PSA for less than $675.00.
- Barrel Length: 10.5″
- Barrel Profile: A2
- Barrel Steel: Chrome Moly Vanadium
- Barrel Finish: Nitried
- Chrome Lining: No
- Muzzle Thread: 1/2×28
- Twist Rate: 1:7″
- Barrel Extension: M4
- Gas System Length: Carbine
- Diameter at Gas Block: .750
- Gas Block Type: F-Marked Front Sight Base
- Muzzle Device: A2-Style
- Reciever Material: 7075-T6
- Reciever Type: M4
- Handguard: Magpul MOE Carbine Handguard
- Bolt Material: Carpenter 158 Steel
- Bolt Carrier Profile: Full Auto
- Fire Control Group: Enhanced Polished Trigger (EPT)
- Buffer Tube: 7075-T6 Aluminum Mil-Spec
- Adjustment: 6 Position Collapseable
- Grip: Mission First Tactical Engage Grip
- Pistol Brace: Mission First Tactical Battlelink Pistol Stabilizer
The pistol came in a standard Palmetto State Armory foam padded cardboard box and included an AR-15 manual, a single Magpul Gen 2 30-round magazine, a rear Magpul backup iron sight, and of course the pistol itself. As a complete firearm, the Battlelink pistol comes almost ready to go and all that needed to be installed was the included MBUS rear sight. It was at this point I opted to also install a sling as well as an optic before my first trip to the range with it to test it.
Some will say that Palmetto State Armory is lacking in the quality control department. I, however, found my pistol to be assembled correctly right out of the box and no adjustment was needed either before or after any of my range trips. Working from the front end of the pistol, the A2 birdcage flash hider was properly indexed and the crush washer was installed in the correct direction, and the gas block was properly installed and secured.
Moving towards the rear of the pistol, I removed and inspected the bolt carrier group and found that the bolt itself was magnetic particle inspected (MPI markings seen on the bottom of the bolt) and the gas key on the bolt carrier was staked properly and secure right out of the box. Even after four range trips with the pistol and a total of about 450 rounds fired, I found the gas key to still be secure in its place and it wasn’t showing any signs of drifting out of place. Finally, the castle nut on the rear of the pistol was properly staked and the buffer tube was twisted into the correct length. All in all, the construction quality on my particular pistol was well done and I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary before or after any of my range trips.
I tested the Battlelink pistol in a variety of ways and my first test was during a range trip where I was basically trying to see how the pistol would run right out of the box (no lube etc.). The first 20 or so rounds out of the pistol I had a few cycling issues with standard 55-grain FMJ .223. The pistol would run maybe two or three rounds before an FTF malfunction so after the first couple of failures to feed, I field stripped the pistol, lubed it, and after that, it ran just fine for the remainder of my range trip.
My observations from this first trip showed me that the 10.5″ pistol was quite handy and easy to get into and out of small vehicles with. I ran around with the pistol slung for the better part of a day and this gave me a good opportunity to rough the pistol up, get it nice and dusty along with the crimson trace red dot optic I fitted it with. Both the optic and the pistol still ran great till the end of the day and overall I’d say it was a very handy little pistol.
I bench tested the pistol with the three types of ammunition I had available to me (55-grain, 62-grain, and 75-grain match) and I had a mixed bag of results when it came to 100-yard accuracy (targets I used were 12″ Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-See targets). Equipped with a range bag for stabilization, and a TANGO6T 1-6×24 LPVO I got to testing the platform to see how it performed at range. The 55-grain ammunition fared the worst out of the rifle and aside from my inherent inaccuracy, I was seeing groups about the size of my stretched-out hand. Next, the 62-grain Hornady BLACK ammunition I used was a bit of a better fit for the 1:7″ twist barrel and garnered me about a 3-MOA group with two 4-shot groups from a sitting and rested position using a range bag.
Finally, my 75-grain match ammo fared the best, however, as I continued to shoot through the 20-round box of ammunition, I noticed that my 5-shot groups progressively bloomed out once again to the size of my palm. My suspicion was initially that the barrel nut might be coming loose but after the rifle had cooled down a bit my morbid curiosity drove me to run another 5-shot group out of it and the group size shrunk back down (with two flyers that I attribute to myself).
The Palmetto State Armory Battlelink pistol seems to be a handy little tool probably best suited for very short-range work, within 100-yards. I say this not because I think the rifle is inherently inaccurate, in fact, I think it is reasonably accurate with the correct ammunition. Instead, I think it has to do more with the absolute fact that 5.56 out of a 10.5″ barrel isn’t doing what 5.56 is supposed to be doing when it hits your target (yaw/tumble and fragmentation thresholds are 2,500 and 2,700 fps respectively and both M855 and M193 lose this velocity before 100-yards out of even an 11.3″ barrel). 5.56/.223 uses its high velocity to fragment the bullet upon impact causing lethal damage to your target. It has been well researched that after about 50-yards, 75 or 77-grain ammunition has lost enough velocity to where it won’t fragment upon impact.
5.56 isn’t amazing out of a short barrel but I don’t think any of you were going to argue that. What I am saying is that the Battlelink pistol is probably best suited to short-range duty on man-size targets but you could probably get away with some decent pest control on coyotes or other 4 legged varmints at 100-yards plus with the correct ammo. Paired with a suppressor, this rifle would make a great home defense weapon. Thanks again to Palmetto State Armory for providing the pistol used in this review and thank you to all of our dedicated readers for continuing to come to TFB.
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