When it comes to AR-10s and AR-15s, most folks just consider them to be tactical weapons or range rifles for target shooting and competitions. But more and more people are using them to hunt.
We were excited to get our hands on a new AR-10 from Palmetto State Armory (PSA) this year. While there is plenty to analyze about this affordable .308 rifle, we looked at it through the lens of a hunter.
At the range and in the field we evaluated this third generation PSA PA10 chambered in .308 based on the following criteria:
- Relevant features
- Utility as a hunting rifle
- Quality of build
Spoiler alert, we liked it! Though, it is not for everyone.
The PSA PA10 Gen 3 is a functional .308 caliber rifle for both shooting enthusiasts and big game hunters. While it’s relatively heavy which can make it cumbersome to pack around or aim while standing, from a prone position or with a bipod it’s sufficiently accurate to take a hog, deer, elk, or bear.
FYI, Palmetto State Armory sent us this gun so we could do this hands-on review. The links in this article are affiliate links which means if you click on one and end up buying something, we may get a commission. Nonetheless, this review reflects our own assessment based on our own experience with the product. Nobody paid for our favorable opinion and this article is not sponsored.
A friend and I went up to a range in the mountains to put this rifle through the ringer. It was a bluebird day with no wind. We had a great time getting familiar with this rifle and even compared it to my buddy’s AR-15. Read on to see what we think about it.
1. Relevant Features and How They Benefit Hunters
The model we tested was PSA’s mid-length AR-10 chambered in .308 Winchester. While the full specifications are better read on PSA’s own website, here are the basic specs of what we were shooting:
- 18” stainless steel barrel
- Adjustable gas block
- A2-style muzzle
- 15” M-Lok free-float rail (not full length of barrel)
- Aluminum upper and lower with black anodized hard coat
- Steel bolt assembly with some nitride treated components
- 2-stage trigger
- Extendible plastic-molded stock with A2 style grip
Take note that PSA makes a variety of complete AR-10 rifles. Different models vary in barrel length, material, uppers, and lowers.
Accurate Enough for Big Game
My assessment is that the PSA PA10 is plenty accurate for hunting. Most of the deer I have shot have been whitetail in dense forest where I took the shot within 100 yards more or less.
At 100 yards at the range I was shooting individual groups within about 2”, which means a more skilled shooter would probably do half that. Even when I unloaded an entire magazine in relatively quick succession every shot would have landed in the kill zone on a deer.
I will say that these acceptable results were achieved from a resting position. Standing while shooting would be a much taller feat (for me at least) to get off an accurate shot.
If you are going to hunt with this rifle, you’ll probably want to attach a bipod, or at least position yourself against a tree or behind a rock you can rest the gun on. While this is usually what I try to do no matter the rifle, it would be an absolute must with this one.
If you’re more of a still hunter, that may change up your hunting style a bit as well. You may want to try to spot and stalk. That way you can set up on a rock or prone somewhere for a while so you’re ready to fire this AR-10 when Mr. Buck walks up.
Personally, I am no sharp shooter. I’m more of a pragmatic hunter type who wants to know if a gun is accurate enough to get the intended job done when I’m the one shooting. This AR-10 passes the test in my book.
Related: What Game Can You Hunt With a .308 Rifle? (List of Animals)
A lot of folks want to break in a gun, but we wanted to see how this one would do right out of the box without any special care.
We put about 300 rounds of cheap steel-cased ammo through this rifle without any adjustment to the factory configuration. We expected we might see some jamming along the way or other issues.
The PSA AR-10 is well-tuned from the factory and ready to shoot. I expect with regular light maintenance (ahem, cleaning it occasionally), this AR-10 will work for me, my grand kids, and beyond.
In short, don’t think you have to put hundreds of rounds through this before it is ready to hunt. You could simply pick one up, sight it in at the range with a single box of ammo, and head to the hills for your hunt.
One expects some recoil from big game calibers like .308 Win, but that was not a big issue with the PSA PA10.
Even after shooting a few hundred rounds, my shoulder felt fine that day and the next.
Like other larger caliber rifles, however, don’t expect to go all rapid fire on target. Even though this one is a semi-auto, there is enough recoil that you’ll need a couple seconds between shots to make sure you are on target before you fire again.
A bipod could help speed this process up by stabilizing the gun better. And since you don’t have to reload the chamber like you would with a bolt action, you can still expect less lost time between shots. Just note that the recoil is there, it’s just not overly cumbersome or intimidating.
Long Range Capable with the Right Optic
If you’re interested in long range shooting with the PSA AR-10, you’ll want a solid long range optic.
We mounted a PSA Custom 5-25 x 56 FFP Scope on our PA-10 for testing. Instead of using a PSA scope mount we decided to use the well-revered one-piece Vortex cantilever mount.
This optic has more zoom power than your average hunting rifle scope, which made our whole setup very versatile both for typical hunting approaches as well as longer range applications.
Yet again, a bipod would enhance the long range utility of this gun.
The PSA PA10 has all the fixings for some of those challenging western big game hunts in the wide open where you just can’t get that close to the animal.
2. Utility: Should You Hunt With the PSA AR-10 in .308?
If you do consider this AR-10 as a hunting rifle, be sure to check your state regulations!
Many states have restrictions on hunting with semi-automatic rifles or tactical weapons. Responsible hunters are always certain they are following the rules, something we advocate for at Outdoor Empire.
If you’re able and interested in hunting with an AR-10, the .308 caliber PSA PA10 is a very good option for the following reasons:
- It’s adaptable with a variety of optic and accessory options that make it functional for hunting.
- The price tag is reasonable, so you won’t be worried about packing an expensive collector’s item around the woods and exposing it to the elements.
- .308 Winchester is a caliber that suits most big game species as well as hogs (wild boar) and predators, making this rifle highly versatile.
- Compared to a smaller caliber AR-15, this AR-10 is much more likely to ensure an ethical kill of a larger animal.
Like a Swiss Army Knife, an AR-10 is a versatile weapon. It is good at a lot of things, but not great at any one thing.
This rifle is not purpose-built for hunters. It is going to be a bit heavier and doesn’t have certain features like improved weather protection that you’ll find in other options made specifically for hunting.
If you are looking for a dedicated hunting AR-10, you may consider the longer 20” barrel complete from PSA.
You could even do a custom build where you pick and choose your components. Although, that will certainly cost you more money and time than the complete option affords.
Whether you should hunt with the PSA AR-10 is subjective and depends on your preferences and circumstances. However, you certainly could hunt with it, and it would be a lot of fun!
Quality can be a relative assessment. Some lower quality components should be expected at lower price points.
We looked at the PSA PA10 from the angle of whether it’s worth what you’d pay for it. We believe it is.
There were no manufacturer defects on the rifle that we could find. While I’m sure this can occur, we received a fine specimen.
Regarding workmanship, materials, and build quality, the PSA AR10 is on par with rifles that cost 50%+ more than it does.
Feel and Finish
The black anodized aluminum parts have a nice feel and finish to them. The texture is smooth, but grippy. It does not scratch easily and I expect it will wear nicely over time.
Edges and corners are nicely beveled and smooth so you don’t have any part of the gun that feels uncomfortable when handling it. Apparently older PSA rails were known to have sharp edges, but you shouldn’t expect any busted knuckles with this Gen3 model.
The plastic stock does have a cheaper, low-end feel to it compared to other AR stocks. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but that was one of the first things that stuck out to us when we picked it up.
However, the stock is easily extendable, totally functional, and serves its purpose.
The rifle feels good in the hand. It appears to be well-machined with smooth edges and surfaces as well as consistent coloring throughout.
Reliability and Customer Service
After about 300 rounds, we have still not experienced a single issue.
Time will tell the real reliability story here, but one thing that brings me great reassurance is Palmetto State Armory’s customer service.
What’s nice about PSA compared to most gun retailers is that you are dealing directly with the manufacturer. You can chat or call and speak with a real human being who can actually help you.
To me, this adds a layer of reliability to the company compared with buying a gun from your local pawn shop or big box retailer. Those guys can’t give you the answers you often need and can even be a hurdle between you and the manufacturer. You can rarely approach other gun manufacturers directly when you have an issue.
Is It Crap?
This seems to be the question many people think but don’t want to say out loud when it comes to this rifle. Is the Palmetto State Armory AR-10 a piece of junk?
No! It is not crap. Quite the opposite, in fact.
The PA10 is indeed a less expensive rifle when compared to most alternatives in its class, but that doesn’t mean it is of poor quality.
Perhaps the better question is, is the PSA AR-10 worth what it costs?
Which brings us to affordability.
4. Affordability: Is the PSA AR-10 Worth the Price?
I’d even submit that when it comes down to cost-benefit, or the overall value of the product compared to the price you pay for it, this .308 rifle is a leader.
This AR-10 may not be as feature-filled as some others that come at a higher price. However, you are getting a firearm that covers more than the basics at a much lower price when compared to its peers.
If you’re considering a purchase of this gun, rest easy, it’s definitely worth the price.
How Much Does It Cost?
2020 and 2021 have been crazy times for prices of anything. Perhaps even more so with guns. Fortunately, PSA has managed to keep this rifle affordable.
The retail price of the PSA PA10 .308 has fluctuated from around $600 to nearly $1,000. Check the current price by clicking on the button below.
Why So Cheap?
Palmetto State Armory is unique compared to other firearms manufacturers because they are vertically integrated. That’s a business term that refers to how much of the supply chain and manufacturing process a company has control of.
With a cluster of subsidiaries and sister companies, PSA manages nearly their entire supply chain. From R&D, to design, to production, they do not rely too heavily on other suppliers. That is what usually inflates prices because every supplier sells their parts with a margin. By the time the consumer pays the manufacturer, there can be a lot of markup in there.
From rolling their own barrels to building their own uppers and lowers, PSA keeps their costs low. This is also how they have managed to keep inventory in stock better than most the past couple years.
Interestingly enough, PSA supplies a lot of firearm parts to different manufacturers, not just themselves.
5. Alternatives: How the PSA AR-10 Compares
There are many different guns we could compare but we’ll look at the most likely comparison pairs based on our experience.
Be sure and check out our list of the top .308 caliber rifles for a more detailed review on some of the best options out there.
PSA AR-10 vs Classic .308 Hunting Rifle
If you’re reading this article but you’re more into hunting than you are into guns, this is probably the debate you’re having. Should you get an AR-10 or stick to a classic .308 hunting rifle?
My advice would be to base it on how much time you want to spend at the range.
If you like to target shoot, or your buddies are ribbing you about it all the time, the AR-10 would be a great option that lets you both hunt and hang. This rifle would be a blast out in the desert or on public land some place where you can shoot stuff at long range. If you like to shoot year round, it’d be worth it.
But if you only take your .308 to the range just before hunting season to sight in your rifle before opening day, then I’d suggest you stick to a reliable, classic, bolt-action .308 like a Remington 700 or a Winchester Model 70. I hear lots of good things about the Tikka T3 as well.
A traditional hunting rifle will weigh less than an AR-10 which makes it easier to pack around. They are likely to be less expensive and lower maintenance. Everything you need without any fluff.
PSA PA-10 vs Another AR-10 Complete
This is the real apples to apples comparison. How does the PSA AR-10 stack up against its peers?
Compared to similar AR-10s in .308, the PSA PA10 Gen3 is generally less expensive, more readily available, and sourced entirely in the United States. It may have fewer bells and whistles, slightly lower accuracy specs, and a shorter history than some competitors.
However, the differences are relatively minor for the average shooter, and perhaps even less impactful for the average hunter.
Let’s look at a couple specific examples.
PSA PA10 Gen3 vs Daniel Defense DD5 V4
Daniel Defense is a well-renowned manufacturer of tactical firearms. Their DD5 V4 could be considered a higher-end competitor to the PSA PA10. Here’s how they compare:
- Both have uppers and lowers made of same type of aluminum with same type 3 hard coat anodized finish to keep it looking good even when being banged around.
- The buttstock and pistol grip of the DD5 are glass-filled and have a finer soft touch feel to them, definitely a more quality feel than the PSA.
- Both are made in the USA.
- The PSA has a stainless steel finish on the barrel whereas the DD has a mil-spec heavy phosphate coating.
- In my opinion, the DD has a sleeker look and nicer aesthetics compared to the PSA, but this is subjective (and really, unimportant).
- Both have gas block adjustment systems, though the PSA has a wider range of adjustments (5 vs 2).
- The DD has a new advanced bolt carrier group that is very easy to clean and improves recoil and cycling.
- The DD5 is also available in a camoed out hunter version.
Overall, the Daniel Defense appears to have a nicer feel and finish to it compared to the PSA. Some may argue it is a bit more accurate or that will last longer as well.
However, at more than double the price, I’m not convinced the DD5 is worth the added cost to me. For that much money I could buy the PA10 and a second rifle, with some accessories.
That is not to say, however, that the DD5 is not worth that price. It’s a fine rifle that is well worth the price tag to those who appreciate it for what it is. The value is in the details.
PSA PA10 Gen 3 vs Brownells BRN-10 Retro
While these two rifles are quite different in both function and looks, they are probably the closest comparison of complete rifles when it comes to build and price.
The Brownells BRN-10 Retro is a .308 caliber rifle that looks like it’s straight out of an old war movie. As the name implies, it definitely looks retro. And people love it!
Here are some similarities and differences between these two rifles:
- The BRN-10 has a 20”coated barrel whereas the PA10 is an 18” stainless steel.
- Unlike most modern AR-10s, the BRN-10’s charging handle is on top of the rifle under the carry handle.
- Classic, adjustable A2 style sights are built into the BRN-10 with little room for customization.
- The buttstock is different on the BRN-10, solid and not extendible.
- Both operate like a modern AR-10/AR-15, retro does not mean old on the BRN-10.
- While both rifles are made by their respective manufacturers in the US, they often sell out. So they may not always be in stock, but they both tend to replenish stock quicker than most.
- The PA10 is more versatile as a hunting rifle compared to the BRN-10.
The BRN-10 is usually priced about $500 more than the PA10, which is about as close as anyone comes to the PSA’s price point. It’s a cool rifle, but not as multipurpose as the PA10.
PSA AR-10 vs an AR-15
The same day we took the PSA AR-10 out to the range we also took my buddy’s AR-15.
While comparing a .308 against a .556 might seem like comparing apples and oranges, there’s a reason it makes sense here. A lot of folks looking at an AR-10 may actually want an AR-15, but they just see the latter as an expensive toy that is hard to justify purchasing.
However, if an AR-10 in .308 can also be used as a hunting rifle…that seems more like a tool!
And if you’re like me, it’s easier to justify the purchase of a tool than a toy. The bonus here is, this AR-10 can also scratch the AR-15 itch.
Similarities between an AR-15 and an AR-10:
- Both set up like a tactical weapon
- Pistol grip
- Lots of aftermarket accessories
- Tons of fun at the range or in a shooting competition
- Both good for predator hunting, like coyotes
Differences between an AR-10 and an AR-15:
- AR-10 is good for big game hunting, can take down a large animal without issue
- AR-10 is more powerful, better suited for long range shooting
- An AR-15 is generally more lightweight
- AR-15 ammo is cheaper both by the box and when reloading, better on the budget for high volume shooting
- AR-15s have very little recoil for quicker firing
Shooting the two side by side, the AR-15 is definitely lighter weight. You can easily hold it steady and shoot it from a free standing position whereas I was terrible at hitting the target while standing with the AR-10.
The AR-15 was a lot of fun and easy to manage. With very little recoil and the red dot sight my buddy had mounted on it, I could pop off a lot of shots in quick succession and hit the target. Lots of fun!
If you want a rifle strictly for the range and sport shooting, with the occasional coyote hunt, an AR-15 is probably right for you. But if you want a more versatile rifle that can be a lot of fun at the range, but also be multi-purpose for hunting, an AR-10 would be a fine choice.
Who Is The Palmetto State Armory PA10 Gen 3 AR-10 .308 Best Suited For?
The PSA PA10 is an excellent choice for hunters and recreational shooters alike. But it’s not the best choice if you’ve got a little more money to burn and you’ll spend most of your time at the range or in competition.
A lot of folks like the idea of an AR, but can’t justify the high price for a tactical weapon when they don’t really feel they need one. Personally, I fit into this category.
Plus, they look fun to shoot, right?
Well, they are fun to shoot. And if you hunt, the PSA PA10 .308 could provide the justification you are looking for to get an AR-10, because it can easily be multi-purpose.
Relative to other AR-10s, the PSA PA10 Gen 3 is notably less expensive. The price is similar to (or even cheaper than) a decent traditional .308 caliber hunting rifle.
The smiles on our faces say it all!
Let’s score the PSA PA10 Gen3 out based on the five evaluation criteria we went over.
Relevant features: 4/5
It has all the necessities, but lacks some features found in purpose-built hunting rifles, like color options or weather protection.
Utility as a hunting rifle: 4/5
Totally functional, but on the heavy side for packing around all day or a quick draw on a still hunt.
Quality of build: 5/5
This could be rated lower, but it really comes down to bang for your buck. The quality you get in this rifle at this price point is unheard of.
It is the clear low price leader in the AR-10 scene, even with the current price craziness.
This one too comes down to cost-benefit. There are more finely machined AR-10s out there, but the versatility of this one for the price you pay makes it a leader. If price doesn’t matter to you, feel free to dig into the details.
OVERALL RATING: 4.6/5
If you’re on the fence, don’t overthink it. This rifle is versatile enough to enter a shooting competition on your way to hunt big game, hogs, or predators. And you won’t find better value for your dollar. Pull the trigger!