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Sunday, January 27, 2013

PSA Tac Latch charging handle issue



The PSA tac-latch bent after about 200 rounds of use.

I like Palmetto State Armory.  I've gotten some great deals and accessories, and their shipping has always been pretty good.  Not Primary Arms or BCM good, but pretty good.  A buddy of mine has some serious problems with them recently, as they didn't ship his buffer tube, spring, buffer, lock plate and castle nut in his lower build kit.  Basically, they shipped him a fire control Lower Parts Kit instead of the complete LPK, but they did send him his stock.  Personally, I've never had any issues with them, but I'm sure like all accessories and firearms dealers, they're swamped.

One thing I did notice was one of their charging handles a while back.  Good friend and machinist extraordinaire Eric built a PSA carbine out of one their premium uppers and Magpul STR lower build kits. Everything went together just fine.  We ran his carbine at the outdoor range, and cleaned and lubed up the carbine lightly before breaking it in.

In zeroing the carbine and running a few drills, we expended about 200 rounds.  During the process, we noticed the charging handle seemed to drag a bit as the testing went on, at about the 90 round mark.

After squirting a bit of lube into the upper along the charging handle (without removing it), we went back to shooting.  The problems lessened, but persisted.  After breaking the carbine down for cleaning, we noticed the charging handle was bent. We were working the handle in both the split-finger method and the one-handed methods of manipulation. We did a lot of one-handed work to put the latch through its paces.

The tac latch is very similar to the Badger Ordnance latch.  However, the softer metal of the PSA handle allowed it to bend.  The PSA charging handle is stated by the company to be made of T6-7075, a high-strength and aircraft grade aluminum. However it has been revealed via spectro-analysis to actually be T6-6061 aluminum, a softer material.

Removed the anodized surface for a uncontaminated sample.
Test was completed with a Niton XL3t XRF Analyzer.  

Here's a link to the item on their website:

http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.php/ar-15-05/upper-parts/charging-handles/palmetto-state-amory-charging-handle-with-tactical-release-latch.html

From working this handle, we observed that the high axis of the tactical latch seemed to really jam the charging handle up in its track.  Even lubing with Wilson Combat lube didn't help much.  After removing the latch, we can see why.  Replacing the latch, we manipulated it again one handed, and noted that the high axis of the latch indeed caused the handle to bind up.  The latch  never broke, or broke the roll pin, but it felt as if it could.  Obviously, the handle itself gave out.  It has since been replaced with a standard GI handle, and the carbine functions fine.

If you're running one of these, take a good look at the handle and mechanism, and if it's busted or starting to bend, replace it now.  If yours works fine, then good for you and your carbine.  But after seeing this first-hand, I'm glad I run a BCM Mod 4 or standard GI charging handle.


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