Palmetto State Armory PS9 Dagger: $300 Glock Killer [UPDATED]

At the 2020 SHOT Show, Palmetto State Armory announced a new 9mm pistol called the PS9 Dagger.

With its combination of features and price, the new gun stands to make quite a splash in the industry.


BWA 10×100: New Cartridge with 100-Year-Old Roots

Blackwater Ammunition is a company to watch. Today’s announcement is one example of why.

At SHOT Show 2020, Blackwater Ammunition announced a new caliber: the BWA 10×100.

The BWA 10×100 is a new design with some very modern technology, but it has roots that stretch back to World War I.

Before I get into the details, let me share that the initial load developed for this cartridge generates more than 11k ft-lbs of energy at the muzzle. Now, let’s talk about this new monster caliber.


Case dimensions and properties are highly important aspects of cartridge design and load development.

The new 10×100 BWA cartridge has the same base diameter, rim thickness and primer pocket as a .50 BMG cartridge. Additionally, the overall length (OAL) of the 10×100 BWA is the same as the .50 BMG.

In other words, many, if not most, .50 BMG rifles can be converted to 10×100 BWA with a barrel change. The bolt, extractor and ejector all work the same with the 10×100 case.

10x100 BWA

The 10×100 BWA case is 1mm longer than the .50 BMG. That may not seem like a lot, but according to the company, it allows up to 20% more powder to be loaded in each round. But, that may not be the only thing impacting case capacity.

Case technology also plays a role in this new cartridge.

Back in 2018, Blackwater Ammunition and its parent company,¬†Precision Ballistic Manufacturing (PBM), introduced a new case technology that used a two-piece design. According to the company, the pieces were machined from solid metal. This is different than standard brass manufacturing that starts with a small “doughnut” of brass that is drawn (stretched) multiple times.

It is likely that the machined case is stronger than a drawn case. If so, the walls of the case could be thinner and still provide the same strength. Thinner walls would allow for a greater case capacity.


As you might expect, the BWA 10×100 sends large, heavy projectiles downrange. How big? How heavy? How fast?

Right now, Blackwater Ammunition only released data on one load, and it is a doozy.

With a 420-grain monolithic Carobronze bullet, Blackwater Ammunition is able to get 3,500 fps at the muzzle. If my math is correct, that puts the muzzle energy at more than 11,400 ft-lbs. Much like the .50 BMG, you can take out lightly armored vehicles with those kinds of numbers.

[Note: If you’re not familiar with Carobronze, it is a dense, homogeneous copper alloy that is often used in the aerospace industry. It is said to offer very low friction and a high surface hardness – 90 points on the Brinell scale.]

In a head-to-head matchup, the .50 BMG can still generate more raw power. For example, the Federal American Eagle .50 BMG pushes a 660-grain bullet to more than 2,900 fps. That’s roughly 1,000 more ft-lbs of energy.

Keep in mind that energy doesn’t dictate accuracy, nor is an established .50 BMG load vs the first load of a completely new caliber a fair comparison. It is, however, an interesting starting point for the inevitable comparisons and discussions regarding these two rounds.

I’ve reached out to Blackwater Ammunition for additional information on the cases and cartridge. As I get additional information, I will share it here.

In the meantime, I hope you chime in with your thoughts in the comments below.


Escort Versatile Tactical Shotgun: A New Series of Scatterguns for the Rifle Crowd

HatsanUSA, the exclusive US importer of firearms from Escort Shotguns, announced a new line of gas-operated scatterguns at SHOT Show 2020.

The new Escort Versatile Tactical Shotgun (VTS) series is designed to replicate many of the controls and features of the AR15-style rifle. The concept is to have shotguns that will very familiar in the hands of shooters who are comfortable with modern rifles.

Escort SDX 12 Gauge Shotgun

Escort is making a range of VTS variants. Initially, the company will offer the DF12, SDX and BTS shotguns to the US market.

Let’s take a look at each.

Escort DF12

Escort considers the DF12 as the premier VTS model.

Escort Df12 Shotgun

Offered only in 12-gauge, the gun is magazine-fed and can chamber both 2.75″ and 3″ shells. The standard magazine capacity is 5 rounds while a 2-round mag will also be available for hunters and others needing more limited capacity.

Like an AR-style rifle, the DF12 has an upper and lower receiver that is held together by a pair of pins. Also like an AR, the upper and lower separate for easy cleaning and maintenance. The receiver halves are made of black anodized aluminum. Escort does not identify the aluminum used other than “aircraft alloy.”

The DF12 barrel is 18″ long and is hard chrome plated. It is internally-threaded for chokes and ships with a slug-friendly cylinder bore choke brake. Included with the shotgun are full and improved cylinder (F and IC) chokes.

Sights consist of a rear aperture in the carry handle with a front post. However, the carry handle is removable, so Escort includes flip-up sights the raplce the carry handle and front tower. You can also add your own optic.

The DF12 is available in two colors: black and flat dark earth (FDE) Cerakote.

Escort SDX

The SDX shares a similar configuration as the DF12, but has two significant differences.

Escort SDX 410 Shotgun

First of all, the SDX is available in both 12-gauge and in .410 bore. So, if you are looking for a lighter shooting shotgun, the SDX might be a better choice than the DF12.

The other major difference is that this gun uses a polymer lower and forend instead of aluminum. According to the company, the magazine well has metal guides to ensure proper magazine seating and increased durability.

Like the FD12 shotgun, the SDX is available in both black and FDE.

Escort BTS

Escort BTS 12 Gauge Bullpup shotgun

Using the same operating system as the two other shotgun models, the BTS reconfigures the package into a compact bullpup format. Keeping the 18″ barrel, the company is able to reduce the overall length of the shotgun by 9″. This gives the BTS a significant advantage in maneuvering.

Like the SDX, the BTS can be had in 12-gauge and .410 bore.

Gas System

AR shooters might expect to see a gas tube running above the barrel from the front sight tower. That is not how Escort designed this system.

Instead, the company developed a gas piston that floats around the barrel of the shotgun. According to the company, this improves the efficiency of the system while decreasing the overall weight and size of the shotgun.

Escort VTS Gas Piston System

By having the piston coming back with equal pressure above and below the barrel, muzzle rise should be reduced. In theory, the recoil should be closer to a straight push backward.

Final Thoughts

Modern rifle-style shotguns are not an entirely new concept. However, this seems to be a more complete approach to the design. Shooters have three different variants to choose from – two AR-style and a third in a bullpup configuration.

For me, reliability is always a key factor. For a semi-automatic shotgun, I expect it to run with light and heavy loads without a lot of tweaking. I look forward to seeing how the Escort VTS line does.

Pricing starts at $589.99.


Daniel Defense DDM4 PDW: New Pistol & SBR

Days ahead of SHOT Show 2020, Daniel Defense teased a new firearm – something that looked like it could be a PDW.

Well, that’s just what they released. Say hello to the new Daniel Defense DDM4 PDW.

Daniel Defense DDM4 PDW camping with beautiful girl

Available in both pistol and SBR configurations, the AR-style weapon system was designed to be both compact and easy to transport. With a 7″ barrel, the pistol version has an overall length of 20.75″. The SBR is slightly longer at 21.0″. This suggests it should be able to fit into backpacks or specialized weapons packs like the ESS Stealth SBR Backpack.

Daniel Defense PDW SBRDanielDefense PDW Pistol

At launch, the guns were only chambered for the 300 BLK cartridge. Over time, the company could introduce other cartridges depending on customer demand.

Pistol variants are equipped with a Maxim Defense CQB Pistol Brace in lieu of a rifle stock. SBR versions are NFA items, meaning additional paperwork and tax stamps, but you get a Maxim Defense CQB Gen 7 collapsible stock.

Daniel Defense DDM4 PDW

“I believe our new DDM4 PDW is the absolute best gun you can buy to protect your family. And protecting our families is the most important thing any of us can ever do,” said Daniel Defense President & CEO Marty Daniel. “It’s accurate, easy to shoot, and compact. I couldn’t be any prouder of this groundbreaking product.”

Additional features of these guns:

  • 7″ barrel with 1:7″ twist
  • barrels are cold hammer forged with S2W profile
  • enhanced buffer system that ensure reliable operation with short barrel, subsonic loads and suppressor use
  • 6″ MFR XL flat front rail
  • SLR M-LOK MOD2 handstop
  • linear comp to redirect muzzle blast forward
  • ambidextrous GRIP-N-RIP charging handle
  • Made in the USA (of course)
  • Pistol MSRP: $1,865 (Updated: $2,073)
  • SBR MSRP: $1,935 (Updated: $2,012)

Daniel Defense shipped both versions of the DDM4 PDW starting in February 2020. They are both still in the company’s catalog at this time.

Daniel Defense PDW for home defense

I don’t know about you, but the SBR with a suppressor looks like it would be a fun gun to run and worth the two stamps.

Last Update: September 22, 2021


Thumb Operated Receiver: A New AR from Iron Horse Firearms

Sometimes a firearm development is enough to make an even jaded reviewer do a double-take. That was my experience when I saw the details on the new Thumb Operated Receiver from Iron Horse Firearms. [Ed. note: Iron Horse Firearms is now known as Blackwater Worldwide.]

The new Thumb Operated Receiver, or TOR, is an AR-style lower that eliminates the traditional trigger entirely and uses an inline hammer release located at the top, rear of the pistol grip. This inline trigger is most easily operated with the thumb of the hand grasping the pistol grip.

General Features

With any new design like the TOR, not all parts will be 100% compatible with other AR-15 rifles. So, I reached out to Iron Horse Firearms to get additional details.

Iron Horse Firearms TOR

The TOR obviously uses a proprietary fire control system. This includes the safety and pistol grip. However, the rest of the lower, including the buffer tube assembly, is all mil-spec.

Iron Horse Firearms advises that the lowers are compatible with any cartridge that feeds from a mil-spec sized magazine. So, cartridges like the .450 Bushmaster should run without difficulties with a TOR lower.

Benefits of the TOR

According to the company, an inline trigger like the one found on the TOR offers a number of benefits. These include improved accuracy, easier training for new shooters, improved safety, and accessibility to people who have lost fine motor control of the pointing finger normally used for pressing a trigger.


By having the trigger inline with the bore, Iron Horse Firearms suggests that the TOR can reduce pulling left or right that can be an issue with traditional triggers. While it cannot reduce a shooter “pushing” the muzzle down in anticipation of the shot, reducing a side to side pull would be a worthy improvement.

Another factor the Thumb Activated Receiver could improve is the reduction in accuracy related to cold temperatures affecting the shooter’s finger dexterity. If you’ve ever shot in cold temps, you know joints and fingers can stiffen up. Releasing the hammer via a thumb switch may be a way to counteract those effects.

Shooting the Iron Horse TOR

New Shooters

Trigger control is just one of the things a new shooter has to learn when picking up a gun like the AR-15. Take up, break, follow through, reset – these things might be streamlined with a thumb press trigger. Iron Horse Firearms suggests that one of the goals of the TOR is to improve the range experience of the new shooter. I’d have to try one of these guns out for comparison, but I can see how it might work for this.


Iron Horse Firearms designed the thumb trigger to sit in a sheltered area at the back, top of the pistol grip. This area is protected by the receiver on both sides and from above. You can only access the trigger from one direction.

It is fairly easy to see how this design could reduce accidental discharges from things entering the trigger area that were not intended such as a branch when moving through the woods. Yes – your AR safety should be on when moving. Nevertheless, the TOR would appear to offer an additional layer of security.

After all, you never know when your dog will take your gun off safe before pulling the trigger.

Disabled Shooters

For any number of reasons, a person can be completely competent to handle a firearm but not have good control over his or her pointer finger (the finger typically used to pull a traditional trigger.) I’ve met combat vets who have lost fingers on their dominant hand and have had to transition to shooting with their reaction hand.

I’ve also met people who had lost some mobility in their fingers due to arthritis or other conditions. The fact is these folks are perfectly safe shooters, but the traditional trigger systems were no longer ideal for them to use.

An alternative trigger like the one offered by Iron Horse Firearms has the potential of keeping these people in the shooting sports. Also, the TOR would give them the chance of using a rifle for self-defense should they ever be confronted by a violent criminal.

Variations & Availability

Thumb Activated Receiver

Right now, the company is offering only serialized lowers, not complete firearms. However, you can drop any standard AR upper on the Iron Horse TOR and immediately go to the range.

The lowers are made of 7075 aluminum with an anodized black finish. It is unclear at the time of this writing if the metal has been T6 tempered or if the finish is Mil-A-8625 Type III. I suspect they are, but cannot say for certain. As I get more information, I will update this article.

Initially, there are two TOR variants being offered. The first is a stripped lower. This will ship as the serialized lower with the trigger assembly, grip and safety set only. It has a suggested retail price of $249.99.

The complete lower will ship with a buffer set, buttstock set, magazine release, and all of the typical springs and pins. This option has an MSRP of $349.99.

I have inquired with the company about some of the specifics such as if the buffer tube is sized for mil-spec or commercial stocks. When I have additional details, I will update this article.

At the time of this writing – January 2019 – the company is accepting pre-orders on the new receivers with an anticipated shipping date of April 2019. While I am always cautious¬†about ordering a gun before it is released, the deposit is only $50. So, the investment isn’t a bank breaker.

Last update: October 23, 2022

Final Thoughts

I like innovation, and Iron Horse Firearms has a product that may improve the AR market. At the very least, I can see this product being a game-changer for shooters who have lost some finger use. Depending on how well it lives up to its claims of improving accuracy and the shooting experience, it could even reach a wider market adoption.

I certainly look forward to seeing what the company is able to accomplish in the coming years.

If you are in the industry and want to see the Iron Horse Firearms TOR, it will be at the 2019 SHOT Show. Otherwise, you will have to wait until either the NRA Annual Meetings or when it starts shipping (expected in April 2019.) The company is accepting pre-orders with a $50 deposit.

Note: Images provided by Iron Horse Firearms.