PSA Dagger Compact 9mm Pistol Review

PSA Dagger Compact 9mm Pistol

I love the Old Testament story of how young, meek David slew the Philistine giant Goliath with a rock. Technically, he used the rock to take the big guy down and then used Goliath’s sword to finish the task. Palmetto State Armory (PSA) has been making a sword of sorts recently. Well, it’s a dagger, really. The PSA Dagger Compact is a 15-round polymer striker-fired pistol looking to take on the competition. How well does this pistol run? Let’s find out.

PSA Dagger Compact 9mm Pistol

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PSA Dagger Compact Pistol with included case.
The PSA Dagger comes with a nice case included.

I had heard about the Dagger 9mm by PSA since its coming-out party. Announced at the SHOT Show of 2020, it experienced a delay or two, but when it did come out it caused quite a stir. I wanted to get my hands on one but, at that time, couldn’t. Typically, Daggers are sold around the $300 price point. But how does it compare in reliability, accuracy, and the other areas in which other popular carry pistols are compared?

Let’s look at the package that comprises the Dagger Compact. First, when you pick the gun up at your local FFL, you discover that the thing doesn’t come in a cardboard box. Each Dagger (or each PSA pistol, as the 5.7×28 Rock they also sent proved) comes in a very nice FDE (at least the ones I got were FDE) zippered soft case. Inside that case are the pistol, the ever-present lock, and one magazine. This Dagger had its slide optics cut for an RMR red dot, with a cover plate included.

After spending some time examining and shooting the pistol, let’s look at some pros and cons…

Pros:

  • Quality Production: It’s well-made. The fit and finish are excellent.
  • Reliability: The pistol was reliable with all factory ammo tested – no hiccups.
  • Optics Ready: There is an optics cut for an RMR red dot, even at that low price point.
  • Trigger: The trigger pull is long, but the break is clean with a pull weight of 5 lbs., 14 oz. The reset is very short.
  • Grip: Grip texture is enough to keep the gun secure in your hand, but not too much.
  • Barrel: The barrel is threaded for comp or suppressor.
  • Great Price: Finding this pistol with all its features for around $300 is a great deal!

Cons

  • Magazines Included: Only one magazine is included with the pistol.

Features

  • Undercut Frame
  • Optics Ready Slide
  • Suppressor-height sights
  • Threaded Barrel
  • Grip Texturing
  • Extended Magazine Release
  • Magwell Cut

General Impressions

This gun does not look like a $380 pistol… it looks more like it should cost much more than that. The polymer molding is top-notch, with tiny seam lines. The metalwork is first-quality. The slide has three cuts behind the muzzle. These cuts are not in a straight line but are slightly angled down from rear to front. A nice, artistic touch. There are also forward cocking serrations for the press-checker that lives in all of us. The 4.5-inch, stainless DLC-coated barrel is cut well, and the coating is applied evenly.

PSA Dagger Compact frame
Inside the frame of the PSA Dagger Compact.
The frame of the PSA Dagger Compact has adequate grip texturing.
The frame of the PSA Dagger Compact has adequate grip texturing.

About the grip texturing… I am somewhat of a throwback when it comes to semi-auto grip texturing, I like it rough. The rougher the better. Not rip-the-skin-off-your-hand rough, but I like the gun to stay put. I’ve been known to spend an hour with a soldering iron, rendering a mildly textured grip into something that Super-Glued itself into my palm.

I want to tell you that I like Dagger’s texturing. It is not, on first feel, overly rough. It does, however, park itself firmly in the mitt when a shooting grip is adopted. The more you squeeze, the tighter it grips. My solder-iron-modified pistols tended to be rough on my skin and holsters because of the texturing, but not the Dagger. The only grip-related topic I would address, if the pistol were mine, is the relief undercut at the trigger guard. I’m left-handed and the left side of that cut is just a bit too sharp. A few minutes with a file, Dremel, or sandpaper would cure it. Ah, the wonders of polymer… easily customized!

The Magazine Release – (If you’re a right-handed shooter, you have my permission to skip this next paragraph)…

I said above that the release is extended – generally a good thing, But, being a left-handed shooter, it rubs against my second finger when I crank my grip down on the gun. Again, a few seconds of de-horning it would help. This is by no means a deal-breaker, as I could probably find another lefty with skinnier fingers who would have no trouble with it. I only mention it because I had a hard time finding things not to like about this pistol, and this qualified, to an extent.

Sights

The Dagger uses suppressor-height. One thing very obvious is that the rear sight is placed ahead of the optics cut. This is a bit unusual. The reason given for doing this is that it allows a true co-witness with whatever red dot sight you mount. The dot would ride in front of, and on top of, the rear and front sights, closer to your eye. This closeness shouldn’t matter – after all, it is a red dot – but the idea that co-witnessing is easier may have some validity.

All Daggers are not this way – other models are cut “normally,” with the rear sight behind the red dot. But… I like it this way. It shortens the sight radius, but in a 4.5-inch-barreled pistol, that’s not a big deal. What this does do is make the gun look interesting. Instead of being “one of a thousand,” it has personality if a gun can have such a thing.

Red Dot

An additional word on the sights concerns the red dot situation. The Dagger Compact is cut for an RMR footprint sight, so you might as well mount a red dot on the gun since it’s cut for one. For an optic to accompany our PSA Dagger Compact pistol, we opted for a Holosun 407C. This optic was a great fit and will receive a review of its own.

Ergonomics

The texturing was just right — not too much, not too little. The review gun is the Dagger Compact SW2 Carry Cut version, which has been de-horned to aid in concealed carry. The suppressor-height sights lined up well, and mounting a red dot is a piece of cake – once you have the right footprint. Stick an RMR footprint sight like this Holosun 407C, with no adapter plate needed.

PSA Dagger Compact with a Holosun 407C
The Holosun 407C is an exact fit for the PSA Dagger Compact 9mm Pistol.

And, The Other Side Of The Coin…

I’ve already mentioned the only two negatives (if that’s the right term) in terms of ergos vs. my hand. First, the trigger guard undercut is pretty sharp and rubs on my finger enough to notice. Number two is the mag release’s edges are sharp and I notice that when I shoot the gun. Remember, I’m a lefty with not-quite-baloney-sized fingers and another shooter with skinnier fingers might not notice either of these issues.

What’s Included With the PSA Dagger Compact 9mm Pistol?

Many’s the pistol I’ve taken home from my buddy’s gun shop that made the trip in a factory cardboard box. A smaller number lived in a hard plastic case. Imagine my surprise (these were my first PSA handguns) when I was greeted by two soft zippered cases with the guns inside and compartments for doo-dads, including red dot cover/adapter plates. The cases are well-built, with hold-down velcro straps for the gun itself, the magazines, and a long slot that the lock comes in but that you could use for a minimalist cleaning kit at the range.

The Dagger came with one Magpul PMag 15 GL9 from the factory (The 5.7 ROCK came with two magazines). That is a non-issue since there are compatible mags out there for fairly cheap. Magpul’s GL9 magazines are great options to run in the PSA Dagger Compact and can be found at reasonable prices.

For a $380 pistol, you get numerous freebies and features, such as the case, to make the PSA Dagger Compact a great gun.

Photos, We Got Photos…

PSA Dagger Compact engraving
The model is obvious! Nice engraving
PSA Dagger Compact Threaded Barrel
The barrel and thread protector. Don’t lose the rubber gasket!
PSA Dagger Compact Slide
What’s under the slide of a PSA Dagger Compact pistol.
PSA Dagger Compact Recoil Spring
The recoil spring… flat-wound

Specs

  • Model: Palmetto State Armory Dagger Compact SW2 Carry Cut
  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Action: Striker Fired
  • Weight: 22.4oz (unloaded)
  • Overall Length: 7.65″
  • Overall Width: 1.28″
  • Overall Height: 4.78″ (Without Mag)
  • Barrel Profile: Threaded with Thread Protector
  • Barrel Length: 4.5″
  • Barrel Material: Stainless Steel
  • Barrel Finish: DLC Coating
  • Thread Pitch: 1/2×28 TPI
  • Twist Rate: SAAMI Spec 1:10
  • Slide Material: Stainless Steel
  • Slide Finish: Flat Dark Earth Cerakote
  • Frame: Polymer
  • Front Sight: Co-Witness Serrated Sight, Black (Not a Night Sight)
  • Rear Sight: Co-Witness Sight, Black (Not a Night Sight)
  • Safety: Striker Block Safety & Trigger Safety
  • Magazine: Comes with One 15-round Magazine
  • Optics Mount: RMR Pattern
  • Trigger Pull Weight: 5 lb., 14 oz., avg. of 10 pulls

Shooting The PSA Dagger Compact 9mm Pistol

I went to my backyard range and stuck some targets up on one of the few sunny days we’ve had. I truly enjoy shooting, but my ol’ eyeballs aren’t what they used to be, and my glasses don’t help much downrange. Consequently, I’m not going to win any awards for having the holes in the target closest together, but this target did not know that, evidently.

I pulled some 9mm ammo I had on hand. Fiocchi has sent me ammo on occasion, and I am favorably impressed by it… today was no exception. For one target, I pulled a box of their 115-grain Training Dynamics FMJ loads. I still have trouble believing what happened. Here’s the target:

Dagger target
Five shots in one hole… that NEVER happens!

I actually put 5 rounds in one hole. This was at 20 yards, from a Caldwell Pistolero shooting rest. As I said in the caption above, that NEVER happens with me! Well… I guess it just did. The combination of this pistol, the tall iron sights, and that lot of ammo must have been made in shooters’ heaven! This really makes me re-think my whole ‘striker-fired-pistol-accuracy” mindset. The tall sights could use a bit of tweaking, but in terms of intrinsic accuracy, this pistol’s got it. As I said, I quit after that target…I don’t think I could’ve done much better than that. This pistol has proven to be the most accurate striker gun I’ve ever fired.

Conclusion

For those shooters looking to buy a compact pistol with a 15-round capacity, the PSA Dagger Compact is an outstanding choice. For about $300, you can get a pistol that is well-made from top-notch materials, has a threaded barrel and suppressor-height sights, and is cut for your favorite RMR red dot. There aren’t too many other pistols out there in that price range that will tick all those boxes. I know that I truly enjoyed wringing this pistol out. That’s about the highest praise I can offer. Check one out – you won’t be sorry.


About Mike Hardesty

With experience spanning over 45 years, Mike Hardesty has long enjoyed shooting and reloading. An inveterate reloader, he casts bullets and reloads for a diverse array of firearms, each handled with long-practiced precision. Living in rural Indiana, his homestead boasts a personal 100-yard range where he shares his love for guns to his four sons, their wives, and eleven grandchildren. As a recognized author, his writings have been featured in notable platforms like Sniper Country, Bear Creek Arsenal Blog, Pew Pew Tactical, TTAG, Dillon Precision’s Blue Press, and Gun Made, revealing his ongoing passion for firearms at the age of 72.

Mike Hardesty

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Source
PSA Dagger Compact 9mm Pistol Review is written by Mike Hardesty for www.ammoland.com

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