Good things come in small packages, and better things come in small packages chambered in 5.56mm NATO. Once an outsider in the gun world, the AR pistol has quickly established itself as a common member of our ballistic family. Rare is the serious rifle maker that does not have an AR pistol in its lineup. Rarer yet, however, is one that is made with the same seriousness and commitment that is put into the company’s full-sized rifles. One company that seems to always put 100 percent into everything its makes is Troy, and that couldn’t be more evident in its P7A1 pistol.
The name Troy has become synonymous with quality since the company first hit the streets in 2003. Located in West Springfield, Massachusetts, Troy has become a major player in the rifle and accessory world. In fact, many of the major rifle companies out there use Troy components. From rails to sights, I have found the company’s products on many rifles I get in for testing. So, Troy’s introduction of the P7A1 AR pistol was no surprise to me, and I suspected that it would be an interesting weapon. I was not disappointed.
Every bit of attention that Troy puts into its full-sized rifles goes into this pistol. This was evident when I opened the box and looked over the gun a bit more closely. This AR-platform pistol was designed to be a hearty personal-defense weapon (PDW), and in that regard, I can say mission accomplished.
The P7A1 pistol utilizes durable and reliable mil-spec components found in many of Troy’s other guns. It is based on a forged M4A4 upper and lower that fit together very well. The upper is a flattop design, so the pistol is ready for the sights and optics of your choice. A set of Troy Folding BattleSights is included along with a sturdy M-LOK handguard and three quick-detach (QD) sling mounts.
- RELATED STORY: Here’s Why You Need a Home Defense Carbine
Inside the upper, Troy uses a proprietary, patent- pending spring and bolt carrier system as well as a heavy-duty latch assembly. The barrel is only 7.5 inches long with a 1-in-7-twist rate, and this is paired with a low-profile gas block. Out front is a Claymore muzzle brake. This is a unique design that, for lack of a more technical description, looks awesome. The brake is designed to focus the sound downrange as much as possible, and it does this well. The saw-tooth design on the front end of the brake also allows it to serve as an improvised standoff or breaching device if the situation calls for it. For added durability, the Claymore is made of heat-treated ordnance-grade steel. However, this is still a super-short-barreled weapon firing a rifle-caliber round, so it barks pretty loudly. The ensuing muzzle flash is something that made me grin as well.
The lower receiver includes an oversized triggerguard and Troy’s BattleAx Control grip, which has an improved angle for close-quarters operations. The grip’s aggressive scale-pattern texturing keeps the shooter’s hand in place, and its internal storage compartment is sealed with a locking door in the butt. The trigger is a mil-spec unit set at a standard pull weight of 5 pounds.
The utter chaos that has ensued regarding AR pistols and the braces designed for them is incredible. The confusion, odd rulings and obvious lack of understanding on braces and pistols is the perfect example of why we are not on Mars yet.
The AR pistol came to be out of a desire to build a PDW without having to go through the NFA hassle connected with a short-barreled rifle (SBR). No one wants to go through a pound of paperwork, pay a $200 tax stamp and wait a year for approval. As I write this, however, a new ruling on braces has been issued that clears them for use (again). But, while this is all good and fine, I decided to test this weapon in the old-school fashion, with only a sling and no added brace.
My range session started early and lasted much longer than I had planned. An associate of mine came along to “help” and ended up hijacking the pistol for most of the afternoon.
While I still had the P7A1 in my hands, though, I was able to get some pretty thorough insights into it. Even without a stock, I found the gun to be easy to run and aim. It comes in at barely over 5 pounds unloaded, which made handling a breeze.
- RELATED STORY: Jungle Warrior – Troy Recreates the Vietnam-Era XM177E2
I was torn on shooting groups with the P7A1 because it is technically a pistol, but I couldn’t help myself. However, I did modify the distance. Instead of my regular 100-yard test, I only asked the gun to perform at 50 yards. And I was pleasantly surprised when I ended up with a 1.5-inch group as the best of the day. This gun wasn’t exactly made for precise shooting—it’s a close-quarters fighter designed for small spaces and easy carry. In that capacity, the gun shined. It was very ergonomic with an easy-to-run safety selector and a clean trigger. Manipulations with the pistol were easy as well. Moving in and out of vehicles was effortless, and the reason for this gun’s existence became quite clear. I ran the gun with a sling and switched between pressing it outward to create tension and just shooting the gun “loose.” I have to admit that pressing the gun out to keep the sling tight did improve my group sizes. I also noticed, though, that inside of 10 yards, that simply didn’t matter any longer. The time I saved by just by presenting the gun and shooting overrode the additional 0.25 inches I would have saved with the sling technique.
A quick note on running this gun in super-close quarters: As I mentioned earlier, this gun barks fire and unburnt powder. While a standard AR will tear up a target at close range, the P7A1 obliterated the paper target, the backer and three lizards foolish enough to be in the vicinity. The driving factor behind this is the Claymore muzzle brake. When Troy says it focuses things downrange, the company is not joking. It is a bit like weaponizing sound and muzzle blast. I loved it.
If you want something in a small package that can bring a big fight, the Troy P7A1 should be at the top of your list. While the gun lends itself to executive protection details and other similar security work, it would be excellent as a general defense gun as well. Many people in this day and age add a rifle to their loadout when they hit the road for a trip. The P7A1 would be an easier addition thanks to its small size. Measuring only 19 inches long, it is easy to pack along.
The good folks at Troy were kind enough to include a couple of their BattleMags with the gun. Designed to run in essentially any AR-platform weapon, these are solid, well-made magazines. Aggressive scale-pattern texturing on the sides provides plenty of traction in dirty or wet conditions. Each magazine also has a bolstered floorplate that is set flush to eliminate catching on other magazines or creating unnecessary bulk when stacked or pulled from a pouch. The reinforced feed lips and anti-tilt follower do not require a clamp to keep the feed lips from spreading when the magazome is kept loaded for extended periods of time. And finally, these magazines are made from an improved military-grade, chemical-, biological- and impact-resistant polymer, and have been extensively tested by special operations units. Good magazines matter, and these are indeed good magazines.
Built To Win
My final takeaway from the day with the Troy P7A1 is that it is a real winner. It is everything you would expect from Troy, and it would serve anyone looking for a PDW quite well. While I have many NFA items, I can understand people’s reluctance to go the SBR route. The silly amount of time it takes to even process the paperwork is enough to turn people away. An AR pistol can be an answer to that issue. Is this a 500-yard Bullseye gun? No, but a registered SBR in the same size wouldn’t be, either. This is a bad-breath-distance fight-stopper that is lightweight, easy to carry and simple to run. The Troy P7A1 is a great pistol and will serve in the PDW arena in a spectacular fashion.
Caliber: 5.56mm NATO
Barrel: 7.5 inches
OA Length: 19 inches
Weight: 5.3 pounds (empty)
Grip: Troy BattleAx Control
Sights: Troy Folding BattleSights
Action: Direct impingement semi-auto
Finish: Matte black