Top 5 Things I Saw At the Gathering by PSA

Ah, here I sit, warm and dry, in my hotel room contemplating my first day at the Gathering. The Gathering is a firearms media event hosted by Palmetto State Armory in Laurens, South Carolina. This is the very first Gathering but is unlikely to be the last. The Gathering has drawn in media, dealers, distributors, vendors, and of course, the core of the firearms industry, the consumer.

Gathering by PSA

This Gathering is not just Palmetto State Armory, but companies like Taurus, Sig Sauer, Microtech, Rugged Suppressors, Springfield Armory, and more have joined the fray. With that in mind, there are lots of guns and lots of ammo to enjoy. I hit the range early, endured the rain and cold, but had one helluva time. Here are my five picks for the best new goodies at the Gathering.

The Jackl

PSA Jackl

Palmetto State Armory's very own Jackl made a live-fire appearance at the Gathering. Before I got my grubby mitts on the gun, I got a chance to speak with the lead engineer of the Jackl, who gave me a rundown over the gun and its development. He assured me PSA knew they were running a little late, and that's due to the crazy environment 2020 produced us.

The good news is that PSA recognized that 300 Blackout is tricky to get, and ammo availability is tough right now. This drove them to create a 5.56 Jackl to accompany the 300 Blackout variants. The Gathering had a few working samples on hand, and PSA was happily using writers, dealers, and the general public to help them torture test the samples.

The Jackls at the range were acting as guinea pigs that allowed engineers to see what long-term torture would do to these guns. If you are out of the loop, the Jackl is a crazy combination of AR 15 and an original firearm. While the lower is all AR 15, the upper is something completely different.

The Jackl

Capitalizing on the proven reliability of the long-stroke gas piston, the Jackl upper receiver eliminates the need for a receiver extension and buffer tube. This opens up your options for folding and PDW stocks and braces. Another big advantage of the long-stroke gas piston is superbly short barrels work reliably. The Jackl wears a 7.5-inch barrel, and if you paired it with a folding stock or brace, the gun is backpack-sized, basically.

So how does it shoot? I got my hands on a 5.56 variant, and while it lacked a stock or brace, I still found it to be extremely easy shooting. Recoil was minimal, and muzzle rise controllable. The Jackl was exceptionally light and ate through my mag of 5.56 without a fight. While it wasn't equipped with a can, it would certainly be a welcome addition. Short barrels make big booms, and the Jackl and its long-stroke gas system are just begging for a suppressor.

The Jackl is set to be released as early as next month if the torture testing goes well. Along the way, we can expect to see various calibers and barrel lengths shortly after the initial release. So stay tuned.

Taurus TX 22 Competition

Taurus TX 22 Competitio

The Taurus TX 22 came out at the right time. 22LR pistols were making a comeback with new and innovative models from not only Taurus but KelTec and Glock as well. The TX 22 offered an affordable, easy shooting design that ran like a Glock and was backed by a 16 round magazine that was just as reliable as the gun.

In 2021 Taurus didn't hold back by releasing the TX 22 Optics Ready model. Adding an optic means adding weight. Adding weight means you could cause some issues with reliability. 22LR is a picky little fellow so slide weight is critical. Taurus trimmed the slide significantly to cut weight to accommodate an optic. At first glance, the TX 22 optics ready doesn't even look like the TX 22. The open slide design gives the gun a look more akin to a Beretta.

The optic sits above the chamber and gives the gun a sci-fi ook we don't see all too often. Optics mounting is done via a plate system that includes four various plates for mounting nearly any red dot optic on the market. A five-inch threaded barrel also opens up the opportunity for suppressors. Suppressors make everything more fun, and on the TX 22 Competition, they make the gun a real kitten.

A full-sized 22LR pistol handles incredibly smoothly already; when Taurus added a gun for range day at the Gathering, it became more akin to a BB gun than an actual gun. The sound of lead hitting steel was louder than the gunshot itself. With an optic in place, I was hitting small targets with excellent precision at various ranges. Every shot was reduced to a tiny puff and a loud ding.

The trigger was impressive and certainly helped my ability to hit the target. A big grip fills the hand and provides a comfortable gripping surface that feels like a full-sized gun. That's important for stability. It doesn't feel like a 22LR with an ultra-thin grip. It feels like a modern 9mm.

A few 16 round magazines worth of ammunition later, and I was left impressed. It handled so easily and so smoothly that I couldn't help but feel enamored with the gun, especially in its suppressed form.

Hellcat RDP

Hellcat RDP

We are squeezing more and more performance out of little guns. We want it, we demand it, and now we are getting it. It started with a demand for a combination of small size and maximum capacity. The original Hellcat delivered that with 11 rounds in a flush-fitting magazine in a gun the size of a single stack. The OSP model added an optic, and the RDP has gone a step further.

RDP stands for Rapid Defense Package, and the idea is to make a small gun that delivers as much performance as possible. The RDP addresses issues that are inherent with small guns. The first problem is the capacity to size ratio, and the Hellcat addressed this out of the gate. The RDP packs 11 rounds in a gun the size of a single stack.

Next is the short sight radius. Small guns have a short sight radius, and a short sight radius inhibits precision and accuracy. The RDP packs a miniature red dot optic, and this completely eradicates the issues of sight radius. The next issue is recoil and muzzle rise. Short barrels and lightweight designs don't do much to keep recoil low.

Springfield Hellcat RDP

Do you know what does? A compensator that doubles as a brake. The top port pushes recoil downwards, and the side ports cut down recoil significantly. Today at the range, I experienced just that. The Hellcat RDP was superbly easy to shoot and soft. It jumped just a little, and the optic increased both accuracy and speed.

The compensator did a brilliant job at reducing recoil and muzzle rise. It made mag dumps a ton of controllable and accurate fun. The Hex red dot granted a bright and easy to see red dot that simply needed to be placed on the target to ensure a hit. Put the dot on target, pull the trigger, hear the loud ding as the round hits the steel target.

Rapid Defense Package is an accurate name. Not only does the optic and compensator help reduce the issues with small guns, but they make using the gun accurately with speed much easier. Dropping strings of rapid-fire 9mm into small targets at various ranges proved to be quite easy. The RDP comes out of the box ready to succeed and excel.

Amend 2 S300

Amend 2 S300

The SIG P365 and P320 are two peas from different pods. The P365 is an ultra-small compact handgun that is easily carried and concealed. The P320 is a family of handguns that encompass compact, full-sized, and competition pistols. What they have in common are the Fire Control Units that allow them to be customized beyond any other handgun on the market. The FC is the serialized portion of the weapon and is considered the part that is legally the 'firearm.'

FCUs can be dropped and swapped into various frame sizes and slide combinations to form a wide variety of guns. Amend 2, a company known for its magazines has created a frame that brings the P365 and P320 together. Amend 2 calls it the S300, and it's a frame that accommodates a P320 slide and FCU but works with P365 magazines.

This means the frame is incredibly compact, and when using P365 magazines, you can still use 10, 12, and 15 round magazines. The S300 shrinks the size of the frame significantly, and a small frame is an easier to conceal frame. A super compact frame with a full-sized slide combines the best of both worlds.

Amend 2 S300 Conversion

A super compact frame allows easier concealment when utilizing IWB or AIWB carry. The smaller frame minimizes the weapon's capability to print under your cover garment. The P365 frame size is just enough to easily grip and shoot. The wide variety of magazines available for the P365 allow you to extend the length of the frame for both a higher capacity and a longer grip.

The larger slide gives you a longer sight radius, better optic capability, as well as a longer slide and barrel for more control. There is a multitude of P320 slides that allow for a variety of configurations. The S300 is just one more option that allows you to configure your weapon for your needs at any point. Plus, Amend 2 is going to be selling the S300 frame for under 50 bucks.

Century Arms AP5

Century Arms AP5

Last but certainly not least is the new Century Arms AP5. The AP5 is an MP5 clone made in Turkey and imported by Century Arms for the U.S. Market. MP5s are fan favorites and icons in the world of firearms. Sadly, imports and civilian-ready MP5s have always been scant. The More we have, the better! Century Arms is bringing in AP5s into the world as a large-format pistol.

These particular models will come equipped with an optics rail, and the aftermarket for the MP5 is massive. The model at the Gathering was outfitted with an M-LOK handguard from Magpul, a 1913 stock or brace adapter fitted with a brace and red dot optic. Oh, and it had a suppressor.

The package provided an ultra controllable and lightweight platform that barely bucked as it was fired. Pulling the trigger and hearing the ding was that flush of dopamine that the legendary design was known for offering. I can see why so many people adore the design and why it's been so influential in the last few decades.

CA AP5

Roller delayed awesomeness was delivered by the AP5 at the range. It spat lead quite accurately and delivered that ow recoil performance the Mp5 is known for. Shooters, both big and small, handled the gun with absolute ease. The MP5 has been such a legendary weapon for so long for a reason. It's easy to handle, accurate, reliable, low recoiling, and compact.

The trigger was excellent, and the ergonomics are all MP5. This includes the ambidextrous safety, the famous HK-style charging handle, and the paddle magazine release that is truly ambidextrous.

With PCCs being so popular, it only makes sense that we are seeing more and more MP5 clones hitting the market. The good news is the more MP5s that hit the market, the lower the price point will get. The joy of competition is the fact that prices often lower under pressure.

The AP5 is already on the market and for sale as I type this. Century's AP5 is the full-sized variant. A compact variant is known as the AP5-P, and a concealable model is known as the AP5-M. While Century only had the AP5 at the Gathering, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Gather Round

Palmetto State Armory has offered something no other firearms media event has ever offered. Unfettered access to the gun-buying public. SHOT Show is great, but it's not opened to the everyday consumer. The Gathering offers the everyday Joe the opportunity to come see, handle, and shoot the latest and greatest from their favorite firearms company. Day 1 is in the books, and I'm excited to see what day 2 has to offer.

Did you make it to the Gathering? If not, you're missing out.