Over the years I have had opportunities to examine and shoot POF-USA rifles belonging to friends or acquaintances, but my timing was never right to get one in for testing until Patriot Ordnance Factory came out with its new POF Puritan Rifle. POF does not make bland or inexpensive mil-spec rifles — its guns are known for having many proprietary features — so I was curious about the POF Puritan rifle because it is designed to be entry level.
Clearly, POF has a much different idea as to what constitutes "entry level" than most companies. While this is an M4-style rifle with a collapsible stock, it definitely does not look like a government-issue M4.
The POF Puritan has a 16.5-inch barrel chambered in 5.56 NATO. It's a medium-contour barrel finished in black nitride and tipped with a standard A2 flash hider. The rifle does not come with sights, but the front gas block has a Picatinny rail along the top for mounting sights. The front sight rail is the same height off the bore as the receiver rail. The bottom of the gas block has not only a bayonet mount, but also a QD sling socket.
The most obvious departure from mil-spec on the POF Puritan is its furniture: Magpul MOE stock, grip and mid-length handguard. It also comes with a 30-round PMag. The upper and lower receivers have a standard AR configuration, which, admittedly, is different for POF. POF is known for billet-machined receivers with custom contours, including one-piece, oversize trigger guards. But those are time-consuming and costly to make and are a bit superfluous on a long gun aimed at the entry-level user. The POF Puritan simply has standard GI lines on the receivers, with a Magpul Enhanced Trigger Guard.
POF's short-stroke regulated gas piston system has been around for years and has been thoroughly torture-tested by gun writers and police agencies. It has three settings: Normal, Suppressed and Off. The gas plug and piston components can be removed without tools or removing the handguard. On Normal setting you'll see an "N" at the top of the piston plug, which to me was a bit disconcerting at first, as I equate a big "N" with "No."
Piston parts add a bit of weight as compared to a direct-impingement gas gun, but this rifle weighs only 6.7 pounds empty, which is not bad at all for a piston gun. One reason many people prefer piston guns is because they run cooler and cleaner, and the POF Puritan does, but that didn't stop the company from adding such extras as a bolt and carrier that are nickel-boron coated. The NiB coating provides the ultimate not just in lubricity but also cleanup.
And the nice extras don't stop there. The rifle also features one of POF's match cassette triggers. It is a single-stage trigger advertised as having a 4.5-pound pull, although mine tested out at a crisp 3.75 pounds. With drop-in cassette triggers there is usually no tension from the hammer and trigger springs on the receiver pins to hold them in place and keep them from "walking," so POF has installed KNS "anti-walk" pins on the POF Puritan.
The selector switch is a POF ambidextrous design. Even the charging handle is an upgrade from the original and has aggressive serrations.
Many of the reliability issues experienced with the AR system have to do with extraction because the .223/5.56 is a small case operating at high pressures. To address this, POF recently came out with its E² Extraction system, which features four tiny grooves cut into the chamber neck. When a cartridge is fired, a tiny amount of the expanding gas bleeds back along the neck and pushes back on the shoulder of the case, aiding extraction.
I looked into the chamber with a flashlight and found that the E² neck flutes are small — so small that I couldn't see them at first. Anyone who has ever seen fired cases from an HK91 knows that POF isn't the first company to develop neck or chamber fluting, but to my knowledge, this is the first attempt to bring this design feature to the AR platform.
Between the crisp, light trigger and soft recoil from the mid-length gas system, this rifle was a joy to shoot. I actually chose it to take to the range when a female friend wanted to learn how to shoot rifles. It ran without a hiccup no matter what ammo I fed it or how sloppily my new shooter shouldered it and was impressively accurate for an "entry-level" rifle.
POF rifles are generally heavier and more expensive than I prefer, but the POF Puritan is neither. My only complaint is the lack of iron sights, but that's a small issue.