If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the Glock must be overjoyed with the introduction of the Palmetto State Armory Dagger Pistol. The PSA Dagger is almost a dead knock-off of the Glock 19, one of the most popular Glock guns on the market. The imitation is so good that many Glock parts are interchangeable with the PSA Dagger.
Palmetto State Armory, located in Columbia, SC, is well known for its AR products, parts, and service. Now they have entered the market with the PSA Dagger to compete with the big names in the striker-fired pistol genre.
It may be needless to say, but PSA may have changed the whole competitive structure in the market by bringing the PSA Dagger live.
I have been a fan of PSA rifles and rifle parts for a long time. I own several AR platforms built around PSA lowers and uppers. The attention to detail and the quality of their construction lead me to assume that I will like the PSA Dagger just as much. We will find out at the end of this article.
Glocks, “Not Glocks,” and A PSA Dagger
There are Glock pistols galore. Then there are Not Glocks. These are the Glock look likes that are assembled using the vast number of after-market parts built around the Glock design. (Yes, you can assemble a complete Glock without using a single Glock part.) Now you can buy a Glock that is not a Glock but is a Palmetto State Armory Dagger.
Palmetto State Armory has built a reputation that has a foundation for low prices, great quality, and excellent customer service on AR-style rifles and rifle parts. Now they are applying the same principles to the pistol market with the PSA Dagger line of striker-fired pistols.
Palmetto State Armory has taken the concept one step further. The Dagger is not just another Glock 19 clone. True, most Glock Gen 3 parts will work with the Dagger. However, Palmetto State Armory has added some features and innovations that set the Dagger apart from basic Glock 19 clones.
The PSA Dagger – Unboxing and Overview
Out of the box, the Dagger is an impressive piece of work. We got a brand new gun for this test run, so our experience should be much the same as yours. The factory packaging is compact, unlike some other manufacturers that seem to think bigger is better. Inside you should find the following items:
- One PSA Dagger Firearm
- One PMAG 15 GL9 Magazine
- Instruction Manuals
- Chamber Flag
- A Safety Lock
- A PSA decal
- One PSA Challenge Coin
The box is cardboard, unlike the molded plastic cases that accompany many other pistols.
To me, this makes sense. Very few people store their pistols in the plastic box, and most of the factory boxes won’t meet TSA standards if you want to fly with your pistol. Cardboard saves money, and I don’t feel so bad about throwing it away 5 years after I get my gun.
The Factory Features and Specifications
Before we get into the real meat of this review, I always like to take a moment to review the manufacturer’s specifications and the included features. This gives us a good understanding of the gun we are reviewing.
According to Palmetto State Armory, the basic specifications of the Dagger are as follows:
- Caliber – 9mm (9×19)
- Action – Striker-fired
- Weight – 22.4 ounces (unloaded)
- Overall Length – 7.15 inches
- Overall Width – 1.28 inches
- Overall Height – 4.78 inches without the mag inserted
- Barrel Length – 3.9 inches
- Barrel Material – Stainless Steel
- Barrel Finish – DLC Coating
- Twist Rate – SAAMI Spec 1:10
- Slide Material – Stainless Steel
- Slide Finish – DLC Coating
- Frame – Advanced polymers
- Front Sight – Steel (Basic Model)
- Rear Sight – Steel (Basic Model)
- Safety – Striker block safety and trigger safety
- Magazine – 15-round standard steel magazine
The factory specifications are straightforward and what you should expect. What is unexpected is to get a package like this for less than $300.
This is a budget entry-level gun. However, PSA doesn’t skip on features just to keep the price in line with their low-cost marketing plans. What you get with the factory basic package is really quite feature-rich:
- Compact size frame for easy concealed carry option
- Concealed carry cuts with smoothed edges to eliminate holster drag and snags
- Single-action striker-fired mechanism
- Ergonomic grips shape and angle for a natural shooting feel
- Aggressive grip texture allows comfortable but secure shooting
- Flat surfaced trigger
- Stainless steel recoil spring guide rod
- Compatibility with many aftermarket Glock Gen3 accessories and upgrade products
The Palmetto Dagger is a great starting place to begin a custom pistol build with a high-quality stainless steel barrel in a functioning, well-built gun.
On the other hand, you can shop the unmatched PSA selection of customized pistols and save yourself time (and maybe some money).
The PSA Dagger Up Close and Personal
PSA has a goal of meeting today’s highest expectations from gun owners and shooters.
The PSA Dagger certainly seems to meet these expectations at a price that goes beyond reasonable. Let’s review some of the outstanding parts of the PSA Dagger:
1. The Frame and Grip: Game-Changing Ergonomics
Like almost all new handguns on the market, the PSA Dagger uses advanced polymers for the frame of their guns. The polymer frame is robust, and the finish work is above par, in my opinion. The grip area is aggressively textured without being uncomfortable to shoot for extended periods.
The grip angle mirrors the Glock 19. Some people find this an uncomfortable or awkward arrangement. I enjoy shooting my Glock 19 and find the grip angle comfortable and natural, helping with quick target acquisition. This seems to be a gun that fits naturally in my hand.
The grip is somewhere between a SIG and a Glock 19. The texturing is more reminiscent of a SIG, while the grip profile with the hump on the rear resembles a Glock 19. In any case, the whole thing works well for me.
2. The Slide
How much can I say about a slide? In this case, plenty.
When I first saw the PSA Dagger, I thought that the slide was slightly reminiscent of a SIG. Later, I looked again, and it seemed to resemble a Glock. After having handled and shot the PSA Dagger, I can definitely say it is neither.
The edges and corners of the Dagger are eased and rounded, which should make this a much more comfortable gun to concealed carry. I like the deep serrated cuts at both the front and rear of the slide. These make for an easy grip, no matter your preferred method of racking the slide.
The slide is clean and free of any engraving, decals, or other markings that I often find distracting on some models of guns. All in all, the design of the slide is clean and efficient. It does exactly what a slide should do without trying to be anything else.
3. The Basic Sights
If PSA has dropped the ball anywhere, it is with the basic three-dot sights that are standard on the PSA Dagger.
Even low-end semi-automatic pistols now usually come standard with night sights. That would certainly have made a huge difference for me about this gun.
You can, of course, outfit the PSA Dagger with almost any set of sights that will fit a Glock 19 Gen 3. That gives you a wide range of options if you want to upgrade the standard iron sights. Glock hasn’t changed its sight mounting system for many years, which makes the number of after-market sights sometimes overwhelming.
Of course, my recommendation at this point is to spend the extra money and get the PSA Dagger that has the relief cut in the slide to mount your favorite pistol optic. In my opinion, nothing makes a bigger difference in most people’s ability to form a sight picture and get on target than a good red dot mounted on their firearm.
4. The Controls
PSA has done an excellent job of designing the controls on the Palmetto Dagger. Every handgun is slightly different in the size and arrangement of the controls. Finding a gun that is comfortable for you to shoot and with controls that are intuitive to you is important.
The Magazine Release
At first glance, I was worried that the magazine release on the Palmetto Dagger was going to be a problem. The magazine release sits almost flush with the grip and frame. It seems that this would make indexing the mag release difficult.
However, I soon found that the location and size of the mag release button make it easy to find and operate. The nearly flush position of the mag release keeps this control from interfering with holsters and removes any snag hazard a more prominent button would pose.
The Slide Lock Lever
The PSA Dagger, like most semi-automatic striker-fired pistols, locks the slide back on an empty magazine. As a safety rule, we also like to see the action of any firearm open and locked when the range is cold. An easy-to-engage and disengage slide lock is essential in my world.
Fortunately, the PSA Dagger has a generous slide lock release lever that makes these operations easy to perform. The control is located far enough back on the frame that most people can reach the lever with their strong hand thumb.
I also like the small ridge under the slide release lever that protects this critical control from being inadvertently engaged or disengaged if the gun is laid on that side on a bench.
In the middle of the frame, just forward of the trigger guard, you will find the takedown for the PSA Dagger. This is the same sort of configuration many gun manufacturers use. Pulling down on the takedown allows the slide to release from the frame and come forward.
This is such a standard configuration that almost any pistol shooter will instantly recognize it and understand how it is operated. This is a preferred method, since it is secure and allows easy takedown without any tools.
5. The Trigger
If there is anything on the PSA Dagger that I would change immediately and without hesitation, it is the trigger. This trigger is deficient, even for a $300 gun. I am not a fan of hinged trigger safeties. I much prefer a trigger with a separate safety lever in the middle.
That being said, the PSA Dagger has a good, crisp, and short reset that does help the overall feel of the trigger. However, the trigger action still feels almost cheap in comparison to everything else about these firearms.
Fortunately, a host of replacement triggers are available. You can also simply put a better Glock trigger into the gun. The replacement is almost as simple as removing the trigger pin and dropping in the replacement.
6. The Magazines
I was surprised to see that the PSA Dagger came with a supplied PMAG as standard equipment. I am a huge PMAG fan and will choose to pay the extra money to run PMAGs when they are available.
I don’t like skimping on magazines and prefer, like almost everything else, to pay for quality.
Operation and Functionality
The question is: exactly what should you expect from a $300 pistol?
When some manufacturers price their pistols over $1000, how does that reflect on the operation and function of the pistol? Can some pistols really be worth 3 times what you could pay for another brand?
Unfortunately, I have to answer that if the comparison is made using a PSA Dagger, I would be hard pressed to argue that spending three times the cost would get you a better gun. It certainly wouldn’t get you more accuracy, nor would it get you more security.
If the measure of a firearm is about money, then the PSA Dagger stands heads above many other firearms.
Since I only had a loaner weapon for this review, I was limited in the time I had to conduct any real range testing. My test shoots were held in less than an hour at a local police department range under the watchful eye of the owner of the gun. Obviously, I didn’t feel comfortable doing some of the test firings I usually include.
I did manage to send about 100 rounds down range at distances from 7 to 25 yards. Most of the ammo I shot was factory 9mm loads of 115-grain ball ammo. I had some assorted self-defense ammo, and about 25 rounds of JHP reloads from my bench.
One concern I always have about budget pistols is feeding. Some less expensive guns simply won’t feed self-defense or JHP rounds reliably. This is not the case with the PSA Dagger. Using the single factory PMAG that came with the gun, I never experienced a failure to feed, a stove pipe, or any other malfunction.
Even when running mixed ammo in the magazine, the gun chewed through the mix without problems.
The PSA Dagger cycled everything I put into the chamber. Granted, most of what I shot was factory loads which are calibrated and designed to cycle any gun. I did shoot some of my own reloads, which functioned as well as the factory loads.
In an attempt to create a problem, I intentionally limp-wristed several shots. The gun still cycled properly, ejecting spent cases and picking up the next round from the top of the magazine. The gun didn’t seem to have a problem with any of the ammo I used.
From an operational and functional standpoint, my testing was rather limited. However, I experienced no issues that would lead me to believe anything other than that the PSA Dagger is a reliable piece of kit that anyone can depend on to go boom when the trigger is pulled.
My Final Thoughts
All in all, I am quite impressed with the PSA Dagger.
The quality of the construction is good, the accuracy is above par, and the reliability is without question. Couple this with the unmatched Palmetto State Armory customer service, and you have a winner.
There are some things about the PSA Dagger I would change, but this is true of almost every gun I own. Fortunately, there is a horde of aftermarket parts from which to choose that will fit this gun.