Palmetto State Armory Dagger Compact FDE (MSRP: $359.99)
Palmetto State Armory’s new Dagger represents a family of polymer-frame, striker-fired 9 mm pistols that clearly draw some inspiration from the Glock G19 and G17 pistols. There are optics-ready models, models with threaded barrels, models with lightening cuts on the slide; there’s a staggering variety of options available. The Dagger we’ve chosen for today’s kit is the compact, FDE model with optics cut and threaded barrel.
Specs on the Dagger Compact should look familiar: The barrel and overall length are slightly longer because of the threaded barrel, giving a 4.5-inch barrel length and 7.65-inch overall length. Height is 4.8 inches without magazine, and weight is 22.4 ounces unloaded. Capacity is 15 rounds, with enough space to get all three fingers of the firing hand on the grip. The texture is mildly aggressive, enough to keep the Dagger from moving around too much under recoil but not so much that it’s painful to shoot more than a couple magazines at a time.
The slide of the Dagger is where a good number of variations are possible. There are standard, iron-sight-only versions, and optics-cut models that offer the rear sight either behind or in front of the optic. Slides are cut for the RMR footprint as well as the Docter footprint, and screws are included. Should you decide to remove the optic, a cover plate with screws is also included. Add your optic, torque the screws properly and you’re ready to go.
What stands out most in my mind on the Dagger family is the affordability. Prices range from sub-$300 for non-optic-ready models to a fully kitted out, optics-ready pistol with lightening cuts on the slide, threaded barrel, FDE frame and slide and 10 Magpul PMags for just $420. The model we have in this kit is mid-range, offering the optics cut, threaded barrel, night sights and a single PMag for $360. That puts an optics-capable, striker-fired compact 9 mm polymer pistol well within the range of most budgets.
Holster: Alien Gear Photon ($49.88 light-bearing, $44.98 non-light-bearing)
Since the pistol we’ve chosen for today’s kit is just one out of an entire family of pistols, it’s fitting that the holster should be something similar. New from Alien Gear is the Photon holster, which, as the name suggests, is set up for pistols with certain weaponlights attached. But, it’s not just for weaponlight-equipped handguns, as a Photon model for guns without lights is also available.
Also keeping in mind our budget theme, the Photon comes available with the hardware needed to be carried inside- or outside-the waistband as well as in the appendix position. There’s also a sidecar attachment to include a spare magazine that can be ordered to match the Photon. Pricing starts at well under $50 for either the light-bearing or non-light bearing rig, with a slight upcharge for the spare magazine carrier and sidecar attachment.
Optic: Gideon Optics Rock (MSRP: $269.99)
Since the Palmetto State Armory Dagger has an optics cut for an RMR-footprint optic, we’ve added the new Gideon Optics Rock red-dot sight to today’s kit. With a choice of red or green dot, the Rock optic has a 3-MOA center dot surrounded by a 65-MOA circle, with 10 brightness settings, two of which are night-vision compatible. A single CR1632 battery, located in a top-mounted tray, powers the unit for up to a claimed 50,000 hours thanks to a low-power setting engaged after 225 seconds of inactivity.
The Gideon Rock is aptly named, too, with 7075-T6 aluminum housing, glass lens, and an IPX7 rating for water- and shock-resistance. It comes with several screw sets for different optic mounts, a Picatinny rail mount should it be used on a carbine or large-format pistol, an Allen wrench and a lens-cleaning cloth. That’s a lot of utility in an affordable sight.