Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to our comprehensive review of the Palmetto State Armory Dagger, a compact 9mm pistol that has been gaining attention in the firearms community.
In this in-depth review, we will take a closer look at the Palmetto Dagger compact, exploring both the product specs and my personal experiences based on the rounds I’ve put through it. Palmetto was kind enough to send us the dagger to test out. In our testing we fired approximately 500 rounds of different types of 9mm ammo through this pistol in a variety of scenarios.
Palmetto Dagger Compact Specs
The Palmetto State Armory Dagger Compact 9mm Pistol is poised to make its mark in the world of concealed carry and personal defense firearms. Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of my hands-on experiences, let’s start by examining the manufacturer’s specifications. These details offer a solid foundation for understanding what the Dagger brings to the table.
- Caliber: 9mm
- Action: Striker-fired
- Weight (Unloaded): 22.4 ounces
- Barrel Length: 3.9 inches
- Overall Width: 1.28 inches
- Overall Height (without magazine): 4.78 inches
- Barrel Material: Stainless steel
- Slide Material: Stainless steel
- Frame Material: Polymer
- Front Sight: Steel with a white dot
- Rear Sight: Steel with two white dots
- Magazine Capacity: 15-rounds
At its core, the Dagger is designed to serve as a capable compact 9mm pistol. It features a striker-fired action, combining reliable ignition with a smooth trigger pull. The lightweight nature of the Dagger, weighing in at 22.4 ounces unloaded, makes it an ideal choice for those seeking a concealed carry or personal defense firearm.
The Dagger’s slide is crafted from stainless steel and coated with DLC for an aesthetically pleasing two-tone finish. Slide serrations and groove cuts make manipulation easier and offer a tactile feel when chamber checks or press checks are necessary.
While the frame of the Dagger may have some resemblance to other well-known compact pistols, it differentiates itself with ergonomics. The frame design is reminiscent of the Smith & Wesson M&P series, featuring a slightly rounded, sandpaper-textured grip that is thicker and slightly more oblong than some of its competitors.
Features & Performance
After thoroughly testing the Palmetto State Armory “Dagger” Compact 9mm Pistol, I can confidently share my personal opinions and insights on this firearm. Over the course of my evaluation, I fired approximately 400 to 500 rounds through the Dagger, using a variety of ammunition types and conducting various shooting drills. Here’s what I discovered during my extensive range time.
Ergonomics and Handling:
Let’s kick things off with the Dagger’s ergonomics and how it handles. The Dagger’s design does bear some resemblance to other compact pistols, which is not a bad thing at all. The slightly rounded grip with a sandpaper-like texture feels comfortable and secure in hand. While it’s not the slimmest grip in its class, it strikes a balance between accommodating a variety of hand sizes and providing ample control.
What stood out during my testing were the subtle yet effective finger grooves, which naturally guide your hand into a solid, repeatable grip. These grooves, combined with the ergonomic shape, make the Dagger surprisingly easy to handle and mitigate felt recoil effectively.
The Dagger’s trigger is something I was eager to put through its paces. It’s a striker-fired trigger with a smooth pull, which I found conducive to quick, accurate follow-up shots. The trigger break is crisp, and the reset is short, allowing for rapid engagements. During slow, controlled shots, I experienced little to no stacking in the trigger, a characteristic I appreciate in a pistol of this class.
Accuracy and Sights:
The accuracy of the Dagger was impressive, especially for a compact 9mm. The white dot steel sights were quick to acquire, and they remained clear even under rapid fire. I consistently produced tight groups, and the Dagger seemed to favor a variety of 9mm loads. The 3.9-inch DLC-coated barrel proved itself by delivering consistent accuracy across different ammunition brands.
Given the Dagger’s lightweight frame and compact size, I expected some pronounced recoil. However, the combination of an ergonomic grip and efficient recoil management made shooting this pistol a breeze. Follow-up shots were quick and controllable, even with hotter self-defense loads.
Reliability and Functionality:
Throughout my testing, the Dagger proved to be a reliable companion on the range. It digested various types of ammunition without any hiccups, including hollow points and standard FMJ rounds. I experienced no malfunctions, misfeeds, or failures to eject during the 400 to 500 rounds fired. This is a critical aspect for a firearm intended for personal defense.
One of the primary purposes of a compact 9mm pistol like the Dagger is concealed carry, and in this aspect, it shines. With an overall width of 1.28 inches and a weight of 22.4 ounces, the Dagger is comfortable to carry all day, even in an inside-the-waistband holster. It conceals well under a variety of clothing, making it an ideal choice for those who prioritize discretion.
In summary, the Palmetto State Armory “Dagger” Compact 9mm Pistol has left a positive impression on me. Its combination of ergonomic design, accurate shooting, and reliability makes it a commendable choice for those seeking a concealed carry or personal defense firearm without breaking the bank. It’s a budget-friendly alternative that doesn’t skimp on performance. While I’ve come across many compact 9mm pistols, the Dagger deserves a place on your shortlist if you’re in the market for an affordable, reliable, and easy-to-shoot compact handgun.
Compatibility with holsters designed for Glock 19 is an essential consideration for those considering the Compact Dagger. While there may be some issues with holsters not cut for light-bearing pistols, it’s important to note that using a weapon light can help fit the Compact Dagger into some Glock 19 holsters with slight adjustments to tension.
Compatibility for non-light-bearing holsters may vary, but it’s worth investigating whether these holsters can be modified to fit the Compact Dagger without the light.
Comparison with Glock 19
The Compact Dagger draws clear inspiration from the Glock 19, specifically the Gen 3 model. While there are some differences, many parts are interchangeable, and the ergonomics and dimensions closely resemble the Glock.
One notable difference is the frame shape. While it resembles the Glock, the Dagger has a slightly different frame with a somewhat fatter and more rounded grip, which can be both a pro and a con depending on individual preferences. The grip texture differs from the checkered texture of the Glock, featuring a lighter sandpaper-like texture. Some users may find this grip to be more comfortable, but it can be a matter of personal preference, especially for those with smaller hands.
The sights on the PSA Dagger are notably better than the standard Glock sights. The Dagger comes with steel sights featuring two white dots on the rear and one on the front, which can be a more practical choice compared to the plastic U-shaped rear sights on most Glock models. While it doesn’t come with Tritium Night Sights, having a weapon light mounted can provide adequate illumination for target acquisition in low-light conditions.
In terms of the trigger, the PSA Dagger features a striker-fired design that has some similarities to the Glock, but with its own unique lever-style trigger. The trigger pull weight and feel are similar to the Gen 3 Glocks, and it’s a reliable and functional trigger for a stock pistol. It’s essential to remember that trigger preferences can be subjective, and what matters most is that it breaks consistently when used as designed.
The trigger guard of the PSA Dagger is similar to that of a Glock. While it’s a functional design, some users may find that it causes discomfort and even the development of “Glock knuckle” with prolonged shooting sessions. Modifying the trigger guard can be an option for those who experience this issue.
The magazine release on the PSA Dagger is another area where there’s room for improvement. While it functions well, it may feel somewhat small and less comfortable compared to the larger, flatter magazine releases found on later Glock generations. Additionally, the protruding magazine release may lead to accidental magazine ejections when carrying inside the waistband on the hip.
When it comes to the magazine well, the PSA Dagger has a design with cutouts, which some users have raised concerns about regarding pinching their hands during reloads. However, these cutouts can also provide an advantage for stripping magazines during potential catastrophic malfunctions.
Pros of the PSA Dagger:
- Reliability: One of the most significant pros of the Palmetto State Armory Dagger is its reliability. During the 400 to 500 rounds that I fired through this pistol, it didn’t experience a single malfunction. This level of reliability is impressive, especially for a budget-friendly pistol.
- Ammunition Compatibility: The Dagger showed its versatility by handling a mix of ammunition types, all with 115-grain bullets. It fed and fired brass case, steel case, Federal, PMC, and Blazer ammunition without any issues. This compatibility with various types of ammo adds to its appeal as a reliable choice.
- Sights: The pistol comes with steel sights that feature two white dots on the rear and one on the front. This setup is a notable improvement over factory Glock sights, which often have plastic components. The steel sights provide increased durability and improved target acquisition.
- Slide Serrations: The Dagger features slide serrations, including front serrations, which some older Glock models lack. These serrations provide practical benefits, such as aiding chamber checks, facilitating cleaning, and enhancing grip for manipulation, making it easier to operate the pistol, especially when your hands are wet or dirty.
- Magazine Well Design: The magazine well on the Dagger has cutouts that can be beneficial for clearing potential catastrophic malfunctions. They provide extra real estate for gripping the magazine and facilitate rapid stripping in case of malfunction, particularly for users with less hand strength.
- Cost Savings: The Palmetto State Armory Dagger offers a significant cost savings when compared to some popular firearms like Glock. This price advantage can make it a compelling option for individuals, security teams, or families looking to purchase multiple handguns.
- Aftermarket Support: As the Dagger gains popularity, more companies are likely to offer aftermarket parts, holsters, and support for this model. The compatibility with Gen 3 Glock parts adds to its aftermarket potential, giving users the ability to customize their pistols further.
- Trigger: The trigger on the Dagger is well-designed for its intended use. It is not overly light, which can be a safety concern in self-defense scenarios, but it offers a consistent break when used correctly. Users have found it to be suitable for self-defense and general shooting purposes.
- Grip Design: The Dagger’s grip design, which shares some similarities with Smith & Wesson M&P series pistols, provides a comfortable hold. While the grip might be a bit larger for those with smaller hands, it is generally ergonomic, and the slight differences from Glock’s design don’t seem to impede effective use.
- Compatibility with Weapon Lights: The pistol is compatible with weapon lights, making it a practical choice for those who prefer to equip their handguns with illumination devices. This feature enhances target identification and sighting in low-light or tactical situations.
These pros collectively make the Palmetto State Armory Dagger a competitive choice, especially for budget-conscious gun owners, security teams, and individuals seeking a reliable and cost-effective firearm option. It showcases good out-of-the-box performance, a sturdy build, and compatibility with various accessories, ensuring it meets the needs of a wide range of users.
Cons of the PSA Dagger:
- Magazine Release Design: The protruding magazine release, especially for left-handed shooters, could be uncomfortable and potentially lead to accidental magazine ejection when carrying inside the waistband on the hip. Additionally, the absence of an ambidextrous magazine release option might be inconvenient for left-handed users.
- Trigger Guard Design: Depending on your grip style, some people feel the trigger guard design is uncomfortable, which can lead to what some call “Glock knuckle.” This discomfort may affect shooters who engage in prolonged practice or training sessions.
- Holster Compatibility: The Dagger can fit some Glock 19 holsters with tension adjustments, but since the trigger guard’s width on the Dagger is wider than that of the Glock 19, it could potentially cause problems with some holsters.
- Limited Track Record: Given that the PSA Dagger is relatively new (released in 2020), there’s a lack of information regarding its long-term performance, especially when subjected to tens of thousands of rounds. Without extensive testing, it’s challenging to assess the pistol’s lifespan and the potential wear and tear on various components.
- Budget vs. Premium Consideration: While it may be more affordable, the Dagger might not match the premium quality and long-term reliability of more established firearm brands.
In conclusion, my initial impressions of the Palmetto State Armory Dagger Compact 9mm Pistol are largely positive. While we’ve only added it to our arsenal recently, so far the pistol has demonstrated remarkable reliability and functionality right out of the box. The cost savings compared to more established brands like Glock can be significant, especially when purchasing multiple pistols.
Ultimately, the Compact Dagger serves as a compelling option for those on a budget or looking for a reliable and compatible alternative to Glock. We’ll keep this article up to date with further evaluation as we continue to put it through its paces and thousands of more rounds.
Samuel was an Infantryman for 8 years and a security contractor for another 4 years. Most of that time was spent on a sniper and designated defensive marksman team. He’s worked executive protection stateside and overseas and taught the gunfighter courses for Field Craft Survival for about 1.5 years. Samuel has been through a ton of shooting/tactics courses and was also deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.