The new Puritan offers plenty of POF-USA’s enhancements, including its E2 extraction system for reliability, in an affordable package. Shown with an Aimpoint CompM4 sight.
Surrounding the barrel and gas piston system is Magpul’s polymer MOE handguard, which can be customized with accessory rails as needed.
The Magpul MOE grip on the Puritan’s lower receiver helps position the shooter’s finger optimally for proper trigger engagement.
The Puritan employs a short-stroke piston system of operation, and the regulator has three settings: normal, reduced gas and off.
Patriot Ordnance Factory, or POF-USA, of Phoenix, Ariz., started making AR-platform rifles in 2002. These rifles, with receivers milled from billets, low-drag bolt carriers, gas piston operating systems and custom finishes, were largely ahead of the market.
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These features made for high-quality rifles, but they were generally priced in the upper range of the AR-15. The Puritan, which recently made its debut, is designed to offer the performance of a POF-USA rifle with an attractive MSRP of $1,470. It is still a high-quality build with American-made parts and a lifetime warranty, but dispenses with some features while retaining the gas piston operating system that is a hallmark of the company’s rifles.
Chambered in 5.56mm NATO, the Puritan incorporates the E² extraction system found on the company’s new Gen 4 rifles. The E² system enhances the rifle’s reliability while lengthening the extractor’s life. The E² extraction system amounts to four small, shallow, equally spaced grooves cut into the chamber at the neck. These cuts allow gas to break the neck of the case free from the walls and push the shoulder of the case away from the chamber walls. Firearms designers call this system “primary” extraction, with “secondary” being the mechanical action of the extractor. With the E² grooves, the extractor has less work to do because the case is loosened from its hold. This reduced stress lengthens the life of the extractor spring and makes extractor breakage less likely.
The Puritan uses the company’s own short-stroke gas piston design and a one-piece machined gas block that is nitride treated for corrosion and wear resistance and surface heat treated to Rockwell 70 for strength. The piston and operating rod are stainless steel. The mid-length gas block has three settings: normal, reduced gas when using a suppressor and off for operating the rifle manually. The gas block has a Picatinny-style integral rail mount on top and a quick-detach (QD) sling swivel mount on the bottom.
Gas piston rifles sometimes suffer from “carrier tilt,” where the underside of the bolt carrier abrades the inside of the buffer tube during recoil. Carrier tilt occurs when the bolt carrier is propelled rearward but also at a downward tilt. This tilt results from the carrier key (mounted atop the front of the carrier) being driven rearward by the gas piston rod. Carrier tilt does not occur in direct-impingement ARs because the carrier is pushed directly rearward by operation of the gas against the bolt located inside the front of the bolt carrier. POF-USA explains that the Puritan solves this problem by using an anti-tilt buffer tube of its own design. The POF-USA buffer tube differs from other designs because it has a lip that extends into the threaded portion of the lower receiver, thus capturing the entire bottom portion of the bolt carrier even when the bolt is in battery.
The Puritan is made with forged aluminum upper and lower receivers that follow the M16A3 design, which incorporates a flattop Picatinny rail, a forward assist and a shell deflector. The receivers are not mated during production but fit tightly, and two Teflon Allen-head screws on both sides of the lower receiver, near the rear takedown pin, can be adjusted to tighten the fit and eliminate any looseness.
The enlarged Magpul triggerguard is made from plastic and contoured to accommodate a gloved trigger finger. Leaving adequate room for a gloved finger is important for safety, as the shooter can access the inside of the guard with thick insulated gloves yet not contact the trigger. The receivers are finished with black hardcoat anodizing. This strong but conventional design is a big cost savings over POF-USA’s premium models, which use receivers made from a billet rather than a forging and are finished with Robar’s NP3 coating, which is electroless nickel and Teflon.
The trigger assembly, POF-USA’s own drop-in design, is secured with KNS anti-walk pins. It is a single-stage unit made from tool steel that has been casehardened to Rockwell 70 and has a specified pull weight of 4.5 pounds. The trigger is one of the Puritan’s best features because it breaks crisply with very minimal movement. The trigger shoe is elongated with minimal curvature, which many precision shooters prefer. The safety is ambidextrous and activates easily, and the charging handle is better than the standard design because it is larger, thicker and has grooves for an easy grasp.
The Puritan uses the same bolt and bolt carrier used on POF-USA’s premium P415 model. The bolt carrier is long enough to trip the auto sear on select-fire weapons and is coated with nickel-boron, which is slicker and more durable than a Parkerized finish. Carbon deposits come off easier on nickel-boron-coated carriers, and you can easily see what spots are still fouled after cleaning. The roller cam pin is a major improvement over conventional designs and reduces drag by using a roller on its top that is coated with NP3.
The Puritan is equipped with a 16.5-inch, button-rifled barrel with a 1-in-8-inch twist rate, which is relatively fast and is typically used on heavier and thus longer bullets weighing 69 grains. The barrel has a medium profile forward of the chamber taper. No barrel break-in is required. The barrel is not free-floating and is mounted using a conventional locking nut, compared to the premium models, which use an extended locking nut of POF-USA’s own design and are free-floated. The muzzle has 1/2×28 threading and comes with an A2-style birdcage flash suppressor.
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The Puritan comes with one Magpul 30-round PMAG, a Magpul MOE collapsible stock and an MOE grip that has a compartment for stowing a spare firing pin or batteries. This grip is a major improvement over the standard A2-style grip because it wraps around the rear of the lower receiver and positions the shooter’s finger in a much better position on the trigger. The rifle also sports Magpul handguards that fit tightly with minimal twist and have slots that accommodate Picatinny rail inserts sold separately.
The Puritan is an entry-level build compared to other rifles made by POF-USA, but it is more advanced than many of its competitors. Its added design and engineering features underscore how POF-USA is managed by shooters who really know the AR-15 and areas where it can be improved. The result is a significantly better rifle than many others with respect to durability, ergonomics, reliability and barrel longevity. And for those who shoot steel-cased ammo, this rifle’s E² extraction system is critical for reliable operation.
For more information on the Puritan, visit pof-usa.com or call 623-561-9572.
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by Robert A. Sadowski / Sep 22, 2015