As soon Palmetto State Armory announced the 5.7 Rock in early 2022, it became the most reader requested pistol review I received. Given I had very little inclination to get into a new cartridge, especially a handgun cartridge that wasn’t exactly budget friendly, I filed the incoming review requests under “a review I’d like to do given the opportunity to do so”. As time went on and the blog’s affiliate relationship with Palmetto State Armory (PSA) flourished, I figured I’d roll the dice and ask PSA if they would be willing to send me a 5.7 Rock to review given the relentless abundance of requests I continued to receive. I fully expected for PSA to politely turn down my request. However, that did not happen. They sent me one. They did not just send the base model, they sent me one with a few bells and whistles. And thus, here we are. I hope you are comfortable, because this is going to be a wordy review.
So what is the PSA 5.7 Rock anyway? It’s a striker fired pistol chambered for the 5.7x28mm cartridge. I’ll touch on the cartridge with a bit more detail later in a future post, but for now let’s just say that it’s a cartridge that’s been around since the early 1990s when it was developed in conjunction with FN Herstal P90 PDW and the Five-Seven pistol in response to requests from NATO for 9mm Luger replacement. Over the past few years, several gun manufacturers including, but not limited to, PSA, Ruger, and Smith & Wesson have produced pistols for this cartridge. While several of the requests to review this pistol specifically requested a comparison between the PSA Rock and other relatively recently produced pistols, this review won’t be that. The PSA Rock is the only 5.7x28mm pistol I have access to at the moment and I don’t have any reason to believe that will change in the near future.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing things about the 5.7 pistol, or at least what has so many folks curious about it, is its price point. The PSA 5.7 Rock can be had for as little as $499. An optics ready variant with a threaded barrel, like the one that this review is based on, can be had for $569. Same optics-ready threaded-barrel variant with an optic or with ten (10) magazines? $599. Base model bundled with an AR-15? $749. At least, those are the prices at the time of writing this post. As far as I know, those prices are the most budget friendly prices available on a pistol chambered for this cartridge.
What can one expect to receive with the purchase of a $569 optics-ready threaded-barrel 5.7 Rock variant? Well, that purchase would include:
- The optics-ready pistol with a threaded-barrel,
- Two (2) twenty-three (23) round magazine,
- A chamber flag,
- A cable lock,
- A manual,
- An RMR footprint optic adapter plate,
- A Docter footprint optic adapter plate,
- An L-shaped T-10 Torx key for installation/removal of the optic adapter plates and cover,
- All neatly organized in a soft pistol case.
In my opinion, there is a lot of value for not a lot of money in that package. It’s ready for the range out of the box and nothing else is needed to mount an RMR or Docter footprint compatible optic to it either. It might not seem like a big deal, but I was overjoyed by not having to spend $40 or more to procure an adapter plate before I could slap an optic on the slide as I’ve become accustomed to with other optics-ready pistols.
Let’s walk this pistol from muzzle to heel.
Starting with the business end, we have the muzzle of the 5.2” threaded and fluted barrel. The 1/2×28 TPI threads are protected with a thread protector that fits snuggly over the threads and the o-ring behind them.
Just behind that we find the slide which encases the rest of the barrel and the captured recoil spring below it. On the top front of the slide we have the front sight post which features the middle white dot of a common notch and post three dot iron sight system. While sights on some of the optics-ready Rock variants are suppressor height, these sadly are not. Why typical height sights are offered on an optics-ready threaded-barrel variant is something that continues to be beyond me. A thing to note about the front sight post is that it came loose at some point during the first hundred rounds that were fired through the pistol. This is probably something that is easily fixable with a few drops of rockset thread locker.
Along the sides of the front sides of the slide are angled serrations that extend a little less than two inches. That’s an estimate. I didn’t actually measure them. I found that the serrations are very functional. Manipulating the slide with them is easy. The shape of the slide and the cuts that follow give the pistol a modern sleek look that I’m quite fond of.
Continuing along the top of the slide we come across the ejection port and the barrel hood. Just behind that along the 45º cut on the right hand side is the exposed extractor. The position and angle are remarkably unique, but even more remarkable is the absurd velocity ejected cases are flung out from it as the gun cycles at ludicrous speed.
Fractions of an inch behind the extractor is the optics cut where I installed a Holosun 507C with the Primary Arms ACSS reticle. About halfway behind the optics cut and along the sides are angled rear serrations which are just as functional as the front ones. Finally, behind the optics cut we have the dovetail rear sight.
Below the slide is the polymer frame. The front features an accessory rail with three attachment positions for frame mounted accessories. Behind the accessory rail and along both sides of the frame is a patch of texture which I suspect is intended for the support side thumb of an archetypical two-handed thumbs forward grip. To be frank, I couldn’t say if my support side thumb rested on it or not. I simply did not notice it while shooting the pistol.
Just a little south of the end other side frame texturing is the takedown thingamajig. It’s certainly not a lever and it’s reminiscent of Glock takedown slide lock as it functions almost identically.
Beneath the take down device is the trigger which features a trigger safety common to the vast majority of striker fired firearms. The trigger is unlike any other striker fired pistol trigger I’ve ever felt. For every moment I think it’s wonderful there is a moment when I think it’s awful. It’s a very strange duality that I will attempt to describe. The trigger has a relatively short pre-engagement travel that I estimate to be about ⅜ of an inch before reaching the most unmistakable wall I’ve ever felt. The wall does have a miniscule amount of creep that is almost undetectable. Especially given it requires an average of 7 lbs and 12 ounces of pressure to break. The over travel is short – maybe an ⅛ of an inch. The reset is also very short at maybe ¼ of an inch and is exceptionally tactile. The travel aspects of this trigger are by and large phenomenal. The break, while crisp, is horribly heavy and can be quite challenging to work with when attempting to achieve fast precise first hits or splits.
The trigger guard that surrounds the trigger is interesting. It has a fair amount of undercut that works well. The front features a ledge that I suspect could be beneficial to folks who employ a support hand grip where the index finger rests on the trigger guard. However, the trigger guard is rather long which may pose a problem to folks with smaller hands who utilize that style of grip.
Behind the trigger we have the stock of the frame. The texture along the sides, back, and front of the stock is similar to that of fine grit sandpaper. It’s not rough and aggressive, but it’s functional and abundant. I found it worked very well. The shape of the stock allows for a comfortable grip with an angle that feels natural. The front does feature a singular subtle finger groove. I personally didn’t notice it much while operating the firearm, but that doesn’t mean other folks won’t notice it. Especially if they have different sized hands.
The geometry of the stock is peculiar. It’s longer than I’m used to, but that’s necessary in order to house the 5.7x28mm cartridge that is notably longer than the commonplace 9mm, 40 S&W, and 45 ACP cartridges. Even though the magazine is double stacked, the cartridges are so “skinny” that the grip’s thickness is akin to a single stack pistol’s stock thickness. The result is a narrow profile with a typical double stack trigger reach. The caveat of that being a somewhat long magazine release reach that folks with shorter thumb reach may have a bit of trouble with.
That’s the pistol in a nutshell, which brings us to the question of, “How does it shoot?” That’s a tough question for me to answer. I certainly can’t compare it to other 5.7 pistols since I don’t have any exposure to them. I’m also having a hard time distinguishing between pistol and cartridge characteristics and attributes. As such, all I can do is describe what I experienced.
Top of mind is how easy the slide was to manipulate. This is a characteristic that is important to folks with reduced hand or grip strength that have a hard time manipulating slides on semi automatic pistols generally speaking. There are a handful of pistols that cater to this physical limitation, I would include the PSA 5.7 Rock in this group. It’s also worth noting that nothing about this pistol other than the price tag screams budget blaster. The fit and finish looks and feels great. That includes the grip texture and stock shaping which are comfortable and make the pistol easy to operate.
The next thing I feel is worth discussing is the recoil profile which is unlike anything I’ve experienced before. It’s snappy, but gentle. What I mean by that is that it isn’t painful, but it is present. Muzzle flip is going to happen. However, I suspect the speed at which the slide reciprocates reduces the felt recoil and makes it almost a non-issue for the vast majority of shooters even those with physical limitations. It’s also worth noting that this cartridge and pistol combo are quite flashy when it comes to muzzle blast.
This begs the question, “Where does this pistol fit?” I don’t have a good answer for that. Every ounce of my being tells me this cartridge and pistol are a novelty. It’s very fun to shoot. However, it’s expensive to shoot which makes regular practice challenging. I’m not saying there is no defensive or competitive application for it, but I’m saying I’m having trouble identifying it. Perhaps a deeper dive into the cartridge in a future post will provide a bit more perspective on this. Additionally, there is next to no support for this pistol by quality holster manufacturers which severely limits the applicability of this pistol for anything other than recreational use.
So what’s the verdict on the Palmetto State Armory 5.7 Rock?
The jury is still out on it. Cartridge aside, the pistol is a great value and hoot to shoot. It’s not perfect and one might encounter some issues with it, such as a loose front sight post I experienced. That said, it’s a solid value-priced starting point for anyone who is looking to dabble with the 5.7x28mm cartridge without breaking the bank. Beyond that, I have more questions that I have answers so I can’t and won’t offer additional opinions without having a better understanding of the cartridge. I also need to source more ammunition, which, as I’ve mentioned, isn’t budget friendly, and get more rounds down range with it to get a better idea of how it holds up over time. The couple hundred rounds I’ve put through it gave me enough data to put this initial review together, but that’s about it. I wish I could be of more help, but I’ve got more homework to do first on this topic.