September 03, 2015
By Joseph von Benedikt
Patriot Ordnance Factory (POF USA) is best known for its outstanding piston-driven AR-type rifles, but Olde School, the company's new model, is a traditional gas-impingement .308. Well, almost. It has an adjustable gas block that provides settings for normal use, suppressed use, and mechanical use — in effect, a straight-pull bolt action.
The operating system is the biggest departure from the POF USA norm, so let's look at it first. The carbine has a straight gas tube made from Inconel, a superalloy, which is said to increase the heat-handling capabilities of the system by almost double. The front end of the Inconel gas tube is fixed into a sturdy gas block, at the front of which is a locking, finger-adjustable knob that controls the amount of gas that flows rearward into the action.
For normal function, the top of the knob is marked with — you guessed it — an "N." For use with a suppressor, depress the detent pin and rotate the knob 180 degrees to reduce the amount of gas flow. And if you really want to quiet the firearm as much as possible when firing suppressed, you can rotate the knob 90 degrees clockwise (when viewed from the breech end), which cuts off gas flow entirely and eliminates the clang of the bolt cycling.
To remove and clean the simple, robust gas adjustment knob, rotate it 90 degrees the other direction (counterclockwise) and pull it out of the gas block.
The test carbine's barrel is 16.5 inches long — 12.5-, 14.5-, and 20-inch versions are also available — and made of 4150 Mil-B-11595E chrome-moly alloy. It's match grade and is deeply fluted to reduce weight while maintaining stiffness. Nitride coated to resist corrosion, it's rifled with a 1:10 twist and threaded 5/8x24, which is compatible with most .30-caliber muzzle devices.
And on the subject of muzzle devices, the Olde School .308 comes with POF USA's triple-port compensator, which very effectively reduces recoil and muzzle jump. As its name suggests, the device has three massive ports on each side. Additionally, it has four very small round ports on top: three at 1 o'clock and one at 11 o'clock; the small upper ports enable the brake to be tuned to eliminate the typical up-and-right jump when fired. A small, streamlined locking nut sandwiched between brake and barrel serves to lock the compensator in place.
Like all brakes, the triple-port compensator is loud. Coupled with the short 16.5-inch .308 barrel, it's very loud. Even with foam plugs screwed deeply into my ear canals and a good set of muffs over them, it still made my ears ring. Having lost a good portion of my hearing, I'm rather protective of what's left, so I didn't care for that at all. (It must be noted that the excessive loudness isn't a characteristic unique to this particular carbine; in my experience, all sub-18-inch .308s bark loudly.)
Housing the well-made barrel, adjustable gas block, and Inconel gas tube is an innovative, free-float handguard that the company calls M.R.R. (Modular Railed Receiver). Billet machined of 7075-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum, it's of monolithic design; in other words, a portion of it extends rearward, over the top of the upper receiver, and screws down onto the receiver, making for an extremely rigid and consistent optic-mounting surface. It's such a cohesive part of the carbine that POF USA terms it a "two-piece upper receiver."
A 10.5-inch section of rail extends from the rear of the upper forward, providing a good inch and a half more of mounting surface than typical flat-top uppers. At the front of the smooth-sided handguard, two short sections of rail are integral to the handguard at 12 and 6 o'clock, making for easy mounting of folding back-up iron sights, bipod, light, or whatnot. Plus, included additional sections of rail can be bolted to the handguard at just about any position — and the ends blend together for a seamless long rail if desired.
Although one is not included, a very nice low-profile quick-disconnect sling mount that interfaces with the M.R.R. rail is offered by POF USA as an accessory.
Upper and lower receivers are also billet machined of tough 7075-T6 aluminum and are some of the finest AR-type actions I've had the pleasure of examining. Beautifully matched, they have nice features like an integral oversize trigger guard, and the fire controls on the Gen 4 rifles (including the sample tested here) are universally ambidextrous. And while I didn't make much use of them because I'm a set-in-my-ways right-hander, they're beautifully made and tuned.
One thing I did find rather useful was the bolt catch activation button located at the front upper end of the trigger guard. It made it really easy to lock the bolt rearward. Just yank the charging handle rearward with the support hand and press the button up with the trigger finger. Done.
KNS antiwalk trigger pins hold the match-grade trigger — which looks like Rise Armament's outstanding trigger — in place. According to my Lyman digital trigger gauge, the test carbine's trigger averaged 3 pounds, 15 ounces with very little variation over a series of five measurements.
Receivers are anodized black, NP3 coated, or painted with olive drab or burnt bronze Cerakote.
Inside the receiver, parts are as impressive. The bolt carrier is nickel-plated and has an integrated bolt carrier key. The bolt is chromed, and the cam pin features an NP3-coated roller.
Magpul's versatile MOE pistol grip feels good in the shooting hand and offers internal storage in various guises (via accessory inserts available from Magpul). The carbine's seven-position Magpul CTR stock is one of my favorites. Light, streamlined, and practical, it locks into place in whatever position you put it, eliminating the annoying rattling noise that most adjustable AR stocks give off when shook or jiggled. While it doesn't offer battery storage, toolbox, or inflatable life raft, it provides a quick-detach sling-swivel point and several sturdy sling-mounting slots and a nonslip hard-rubber buttplate.
For test shooting, I mounted Trijicon's new AccuPower 1-4X 24mm scope with BDC reticle. With the elevated height caused by the handguard extension rail atop the upper receiver, in order to maintain a decent cheekweld, standard-type medium-height rings were required.
With three of my favorite match-grade .308 factory loads and a couple of bulk-type 7.62x51 NATO loads on hand, I set up a target at 100 yards and began shooting. With AR-type rifles, which tend to be fired a lot and fired a lot while hot, I tend to be rather merciless in my testing protocol, so I ran Patriot Ordnance Factory's new Olde School .308 carbine aggressively through its paces, firing three consecutive five-shot groups for average without allowing the carbine to cool. True to its quality heritage, the carbine held point of impact even when very hot, and group size didn't open up measurably.
While superb for real-world use, the 1-4X magnification of the scope made consistent sighting tricky. Even so, three of the five loads averaged 1.5 minutes of angle (MOA) or better, and the others weren't much bigger. I felt slightly guilty for testing such a finely built carbine with a fighting optic. In all likelihood, it would have grouped at least one load under 1 MOA with a high-magnification precision scope.
Predictably, with the short 16.5-inch barrel, match ammo velocities were lower than factory ratings, averaging in the 2,500 fps range. Speed with 7.62x51 ammo was higher, pushing 2,649 and 2,686 fps respectively.
With accuracy testing complete, I ran the POF USA .308 through several informal drills, shooting from 15 yards to 300 yards, attempting double-taps, evaluating pointability, and so forth. While recoil was noticeably more than that generated by .223/5.56-caliber AR-type rifles, it was manageable because of the aggressive muzzle brake. But precise, fast repeat shots weren't exactly a breeze.
The Olde School .308 carbine is hefty, but not dauntingly so. It has a very between-the-hands balance, making it responsive and easy to transition from target to target. Without much weight out on the muzzle end, it doesn't exactly hang as steady as a good offhand rifle, but that's not even remotely the sort of tool this is.
Throughout my shooting the carbine ran flawlessly without a single hiccup. The included 20-round Magpul magazine inserted easily, locked into place reliably, and dropped cleanly when the release button was pressed.
I say the Patriot Ordnance Factory Olde School .308 is good for just about any shooting task that calls for an accurate, reliable, authoritative carbine. If you anticipate the need for downrange authority, it's a better choice than any .223/5.56 carbine. You could hunt with it in a pinch, although a rifle with a longer barrel to increase velocity and reduce blast would be better. But what really sets it apart is the quality of manufacture and the attention to detail. It costs more than some other .308-caliber, AR-type firearms, but once you've handled and examined it closely, you'll understand why: It's simply a better-built tool.