You can file this under “Things Arizona Has That Your State Probably Doesn’t”: a grand opening party at a firearms factory, replete with employees’ and customers’ wives and kids, barbecue, a mini-bar and, because this is Arizona, tacos and a country music DJ.
Patriot Ordnance Factory is not another company cookie cutting MIL-SPEC AR-15s; rather, the manufacturer has taken Eugene Stoner’s basic design and engineered it for the 21st Century with original innovations such as the piston gas system, E2 chambers that gas-assist extraction, frictionless roller cam pins, ultra-efficient barrel nut heat sinks, ambidextrous controls and upper/lower receiver tightening. In repeated, independent full-auto-until-failure torture testing, no firearm–not even the venerated AK-47–can keep up with the Patriot Ordnance Factory (POF) platforms for staying in the fight.
“If you want to know where the weak link is in your design, run guns ‘til they break,” POF owner Frank DeSomma said. “We build guns to be used.”
More than 200 people attended the POF Saturday night celebration of the company’s new facility in Phoenix, held, appropriately enough, on Veteran’s Day 2017. “Getting a new building is huge for us,” POF Sales Manager Tony Tarantino said. “And it’s kind of the American dream, isn’t it?”
On the evening of POF’s grand opening, employees turned into tour guides for groups of partygoers, and their pride was evident in their voices as they explained the machinery and operations. POF had the building constructed from the ground up specifically for their needs; one end is a dedicated indoor range for testing firearms. A rooftop solar panel array converts Arizona sunshine into about 60 percent of the building’s standard electrical power needs, and LED lighting provides cool, cost-efficient illumination. The 29,000 square feet triples the size of POF’s old digs and comfortably accommodates the many computer-controlled mills, laser cutters, broaching machine and assembly and shipping areas, with room for more expansion.
Lots of expansion. POF’s horizontal CNC mill, for example, has four “tombstones” at present, each capable of holding a handful of aluminum billets for transforming into lower receivers. “We’ll eventually add more tombstones, and we’ll be capable of making 96 receivers at one time,” Tarantino said.
About 99 percent of materials come from local sources, Tarantino said, and nearly every part except barrels are made in-house. Outsourcing nitride, Cerakote and heat treatments aids in readily complying with environmental pollution standards that keep POF’s manufacturing point clean. Parts that go out for treatments first get a Quality Control check, and they get them again when they return.
Quality appears to be uppermost at POF. As a process engineer, DeSomma recognizes the value in tracking every part throughout manufacture and shipping. “We place date codes on everything we build,” he said. “We know which employee made which part, who inspected it, who assembled it, who packed it for shipping. If a retailer says he didn’t get a magazine with a rifle, we can pinpoint where along the way it last turned up.”
Why Not MIL-SPEC?
A well-known satirical remark in the military is that government-issued weapons and equipment are always made by the lowest bidder. Though essentially true, that doesn’t necessarily mean equipment is inferior, but capitalism being what it is, manufacturers do have a bottom line.
“MIL-SPEC uses the cheapest materials–we don’t,” Tarantino said.
Beyond simple cost, a great many commercial AR-15 clone and parts manufacturers go “MIL-SPEC” to make guns and parts to US military specifications to ensure complete interchangeability of parts among their own products as well as others’. Yet “MIL-SPEC” is not just a matter of physical dimensions, it’s also a minimum standard of performance and endurance, and it is here where the bottom-line needs of the military and the needs the individual (and elite users) separate.
While an efficient army requires and purchases large numbers of battle rifles with parts that can be rapidly replaced in the field, the individual may buy only one AR-15 with the expectation that it should operate almost indefinitely. Should it eventually need parts, the individual can get them from the factory via customer support (or if MIL-SPEC, just about anywhere, which is the MIL-SPEC advantage).
Armies also require battle rifles of utmost simplicity, and though about one out of six individuals is left-handed, ambidextrous designs incur additional complexity and cost, so there are very few such small arms in issue among the world’s armies.
Patriot Ordnance Factory elected to veer away from the MIL-SPEC crowd to incorporate engineering improvements that essentially make Stoner’s design into an altogether new beast. Like Isaac Newton who said, “If I have seen further, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants,” DeSomma assumes no undeserved credit for many of these improvements, instead acknowledging Stoner and others as sources of inspired, original thought, as well.
Some of POF’s patented innovations, like their roller cam pin, are “Aha!” moments of insight. In a standard AR-15 and M-16, this pin that retains the bolt in the bolt carrier group (BCG) has a flat, squared steel surface that can drag against and wear into the aluminum upper receiver as the BCG cycles. POF replaced the flat surface with a roller, which introduces no wear; obviously, it contributes significantly to full-auto, rapid cycling and lessening of friction-induced heat, as well as to no-wear endurance. Standard on their own rifles, POF also offers drop-in kits for other gas piston and direct impingement ARs.
Another major factor in endurance is the POF aluminum heat sink barrel nut, which conducts heat away from the hottest part of the barrel, the throat area, with an array of “fins” that present a great deal of surface area. “Our design dissipates heat better than any other design,” DeSomma said.
DeSomma tips a hat to the H&K fluted chamber for inspiring POF’s proprietary E2 chamber, which features straight channels that tap off expanding gases to thrust backward on the case neck/shoulder to assist extraction. That takes a lot of work off the extractor, he said, and adds extra reliability for endurance.
Standard stainless and chrome-moly barrels are typically in the 28-30 Rockwell range; POF barrels receive a nitride treatment that ups their hardness to about 70 on the Rockwell scale, DeSomma said. Result: endurance.
When the San Bernardino County, CA, Sheriff’s Department first considered purchasing POF P308 full-auto 14.5-inch barreled rifles, they asked whether the rifles would last 20 years. “I said, ‘How should I know–I’ve only been in business 10 years,’” DeSomma said. So DeSomma had the Department put 67,000 rounds through a test gun in 26 months of semi-auto and full-auto fire, far more than any police department might expect in the lifetime of a rifle.
“You can see that on our website under the ‘Torture Test’ tab,” he said. There, readers will also find the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department comment after firing 68,580 rounds through the P308, “[We] decided to continue testing the rifle to complete failure. To date we have not been able to complete this task…”
You’ll also note in the video that the 7.62 NATO P308 is easily controllable in full-auto, with an essentially straight, back recoil and no muzzle climb. In another remarkable website video, an independent tester runs 2,500 rounds of full-auto through a POF P416 5.56 NATO rifle, stopping only long enough to change magazines; though intense heat expanding metals at the gas port eventually caused intermittent feeding failures (an inset simultaneous IR video tells an interesting story), the P416 never stopped functioning in semi-auto mode.
That kind of dogged performance, DeSomma said, is the basis of POF’s tagline, “Relentless endurance.”
Other POF rifles worthy of note here also point to POF’s emphasis on engineering and quality. The POF ReVolt rifle is unique in being a straight-pull bolt action AR, with all the patented features of their semi-auto and full-auto guns. With the addition of a factory-provided captive magazine option, the ReVolt can be legally owned in states that restrict ownership of the AR-15.
“Look at our 7.62 NATO Revolution rifle,” DeSomma said. “It’s not an AR-10 or a trimmed-down AR-10–it’s a true 7.62 AR-15.” Sure enough, the only parts that differentiate the 7.62 Revolution from a 5.56 AR-15 are the barrel, bolt and firing pin. Both calibers even utilize the same barrel extension, and it takes a second look at the 7.62 bolt face, machined out to accept the 7.62 case, to note it isn’t for 5.56. DeSomma said it’s the advanced engineering and the choice of metals that make possible POF’s compact 7.62 AR-15.
The game-changing potential of the Revolution concept escapes even many experts. The 7.3-pound, full-auto POF P308 sporting an SBR-length barrel can provide US soldiers weapon overmatch in an urban environment, perhaps even changing CQB tactics. And consider entries into large buildings such as warehouses, gymnasiums or aircraft hangars where shooting distance may be at arm’s length or stretch out to hundreds of feet. In this same firearm law enforcement has a full-power, barrier-penetrating 7.62 caliber for building entries without compromising full auto controllability for a comparatively weak pistol-power cartridge like the 9mm.
DeSomma is confident that no other AR platform matches POF rifles in engineering, endurance and reliability, and he scoffs at the low expectations most organizations have of their firearms. “Have you seen how the Secret Service tests guns?” he asked. “They shoot 150 rounds and let it cool off 15 minutes, then shoot one round per second and do three- to four-round bursts with one mag. Are you kidding me? And this is for protecting the President,” DeSomma said. “You want to man up? Shoot 2,300 rounds of steel case ammo in 30 minutes. My product speaks on its own merits.”
In a shallow commercial culture that markets to the images individuals want to create for themselves, DeSomma is deeply serious about the “patriot” in Patriot Ordnance Factory. The company’s juxtaposition of the determined American Revolution patriot armed with a modern POF AR rifle is a genuine reflection of the founder’s own values and motivation–and the success they bring. “The whole reason [POF] can exist is freedom and the opportunity for the right of individual choice,” DeSomma said. “And if you’re passionate about what you do, the end result is food on the table.”
To DeSomma, whose company sources virtually 100 percent of its materials and workmanship in the USA, there is no separation between business, politics and patriotism. “We’ve achieved better engineering to make the ultimate fighting machine to fight against terrorists and tyrants. Period. I want to see who else in the industry will say that,” he said.
In the final analysis, the partygoers came away from POF’s grand opening with a sense that these guys are for real. In an industry that markets kitschy MIL-SPEC ARs etched with skulls and spiders and seems interested mostly in capitalizing upon the self-image of video game warrior wannabes, DeSomma’s other motto is, “Innovate and create, don’t imitate.”
View the torture test videos and POF products at https://pof-usa.com/.
Rifle of the Year
Not your daddy’s AR-10–in fact, not an AR-10 at all, but a true AR-15 size 7.62 NATO modern sporting rifle–Patriot Ordnance Factory’s Revolution Gen 4 earned the Industry Choice Rifle of the Year Award for 2017.
POF didn’t chop and channel an AR-10 like a 1930s jalopy to trim it to size; it’s truly a purpose-built AR-15 that shoots .308. Weighing in a couple pounds lighter than an M14 at 7.3 pounds, the Revolution utilizes a 5.56-NATO-size bolt carrier to make an overall receiver length shorter than standard .308 size; the BCG has a high phosphate nickel coating for inherent lubricity and of course has POF’s roller cam pin. The 14.5-inch Edge M-LOK MRR handguard features four integral QD mounts and surrounds a 16.5-inch barrel with a 1:10 twist and a triple port muzzle brake that effectively reduces recoil. The adjustable gas piston has five selectable positions to work with any suppressor and subsonic ammo.
POF mates this piece of engineering to their billet Gen 4 lower receiver with all-ambidextrous controls—bolt release, bolt hold-open, mag release and safety selector. Upper/lower receiver tensioning screws are integral, and the Revolution comes with a standard drop-in, 4.5-pound trigger. Collapsed overall length is 34 inches. MSRP is $2669.