If you were in the market for a long-range rifle that can hit targets at up to 1,200 yards, you used to start your search at the $1,500 – $2,000 range. For that price, you can get a very high-quality rifle of just about any caliber. Now, Palmetto State Armory has introduced their PSA PA-65, an AR-10 type rifle chambered for the impressive 6.5 Creedmoor. With a price tag under $1,000, could it be too good to be true? Read on and find out.
History of 6.5 Creedmoor Rifle
6.5 Creedmoor is one of the newest calibers of ammunition on the market today. It was originally developed specifically for long-range target shooting by Hornady in 2007.
Since its development, it has also become popular as a medium game hunting round. In addition to its rapidly growing popularity on the civilian market, 6.5 Creedmoor has also been adopted by the U.S. Special Operations Command, U.S. Navy, and Department of Homeland Security for use in their sniper rifles.
PSA PA-65 Creedmoor – First Impressions
My first impression upon handling the PA-65 is that it’s a massive gun, compared with a standard .308 AR-10. On the PSA website, it lists the PA-65 at just under 9.5 lbs unloaded. With a full magazine, it feels like every bit of 10 lbs. It’s not quite like lugging around a 25lb M60 machine gun, but it’s significantly heavier than a standard AR-10 or AR-15.
The next thing I noticed was how clean it was directly from PSA. After I got it, I immediately disassembled it to do a thorough cleaning. After running a bore patch through the barrel, it came out completely clean. The same goes for the bolt carrier group. It was spotless right out of the box.
PSA PA-65 Features
Straight out of the box, it comes with pretty much standard AR-10 accessories. It comes with a Magpul MOE five-position adjustable buttstock and a Magpul 20-round PMAG. It comes with a flat Picatinny rail top from the gas block to the ejection handle so that you can add any optic at any location you choose, as well as backup iron sights.
It also comes with a standard A2 flash hider, although many shooters will likely swap that out for an aftermarket compensator to reduce muzzle rise. The five-position adjustable gas block is a feature not found on many other PSA rifles.
This allows you to adjust the amount of gas used in the direct impingement system. This allows you to fine-tune your rifle to accept different types and weights of ammunition, as well as reduce wear and tear on your barrel, chamber, and bolt carrier group.
One final feature of the PSA PA-65 is the two-stage trigger. On the PSA website, it lists the trigger pull at 4.5lbs, but I tested mine when I took possession of it, and it registered at 3lbs. Regardless of the number, the trigger is as smooth as butter and definitely leads to tighter shot groups and more accurate shooting.
PSA PA-65 Creedmoor Accuracy
6.5 Creedmoor ammunition stays supersonic up to 1,200 yards, which is also its maximum effective range. I don’t have access to a 1,200-yard range, so I will have to take other peoples’ word for it that the PA-65 can reach out to nearly three-quarters of a mile. But at my 100-yard range, the 6.5 Creedmoor PA-65 was as accurate as just about any rifle I’ve ever fired.
For my initial test, I paired my PA-65 with a Palmetto State Armory long-range optic as well. I went with the PSA Custom 5-25x56mm FFP Scope. FFP stands for First Focal Plane, which is a must for long-distance marksmen.
The difference between the first focal plane and second focal plane optics is that in FFP optics, the reticle adjusts when you increase or decrease magnification. This means that no matter what magnification you are at, your windage and elevation markers will be true. With SFP optics, the reticle remains the same as you adjust magnification, meaning that you need to do additional calculations to windage and elevation adjustments.
After a few rounds of zeroing at the 50-yard target, I was quickly punching holes at 100 yards with sub 1 MOA groups. The optic and the rifle felt like they were made for each other.
PSA PA-65 Creedmoor Fit and Finish
The AR platform is not what you immediately think of when looking for a long-range target rifle or sniper rifle. But when the platform is paired with an effective long-range round like 6.5 Creedmoor, suddenly the AR platform looks pretty appealing. It has nearly unlimited accessories to customize your rifles, such as bipod legs, extended magazines, and buttstocks with extended cheek pads.
Shooters familiar with AR-15 style rifles will feel right at home with the PA-65. Despite its heft, It still feels exactly like an AR.
PSA PA-65 Conclusion
The Palmetto State Armory PA-65 chambered for 6.5 Creedmoor is not your average AR. It’s made to be a long-distance shooter and what it does, it does extremely well. This rifle would be equally at home in the hands of a SWAT sniper or in the hands of an elk hunter in Montana.
The AR platform is familiar to most veteran shooters, meaning it will be comfortable to you right from the get-go. The Palmetto State Armory PSA-65 comes with a modest amount of accessories, but the aftermarket accessories available for it are limitless.
Finally, the price. It’s hard to imagine a better long-range rifle that can achieve sub 1 MOA. For comparison, a Smith & Wesson AR-10 chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor will cost you more than double the PA-65, more than $2,000.
Palmetto State Armory has established itself as one of the leading American arms manufacturers for both quality and affordability. The PA-65 is just another example of that.