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State-of-the-art short-stroke piston-operated urban carbine: SBRs are the hot ticket these days, and Kokalis found that a shorty from POF was a lot more accurate than you might expect.

This wicked little SBR has the tongue-twisting designation P415-11-MR223, but whatever its name, the Desert Sage receiver finish, distinctive POF Modular Railed Receiver and unusual Diamondhead back-up iron sights, combined with an M3X Tactical Illuminator from Insight Technologies and magazine and foregrip from TAPCO, make it an attention-grabbing package.

The NFA (National Firearms Act of 1934) Branch of the BATFE (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) processes 4-5,000 ATF Form 4 applications to transfer a title II firearm every month.

When I first started collecting full-auto weaponry more than 40 years ago, the vast majority of these NFA Branch transfers were for registered, transferable machine guns. This is no longer the case. The first two machine guns I purchased were a Smith & Wesson Model 76 submachine gun for which I paid $140 plus a $200 transfer tax and a Model 1921/28 Overstamp US Navy Thompson submachine gun for which I paid $950.

Today, the S&W M76 will cost you at least $6,500 and a Thompson in comparable condition and type more than $30,000 and possibly up to $40,000. These two examples provide the answer to why so few machine guns are changing hands today.

Two other categories of title II firearms have removed machine guns, now far too expensive for the average collector, from the collecting spotlight: sound suppressors and short-barreled rifles (called "SBRs" by collectors).

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Sound suppressors are useful adjuncts to a wide range of firearms from handguns to large-caliber rifles. Their deployment by both military and law enforcement entities is widespread, as their tactical applications are numerous and well-documented. Those shooting only for sport can enjoy their hobby without having to don bulky hearing protection that all too often impedes a proper cheek weld. And, they look very "professional," especially to the novice.

But a substantial majority of the ATF Form 4 transfers processed each month by the NFA Branch are for SBRs. SBRs have to a significant extent replaced machine guns by those just entering the world of NFA weaponry. For $1,500 to $2,500 plus a $200 transfer tax, a semiautomatic-only AR-15-type rifle chambered for either the 5.56x45mm or 7.62x51mm NATO cartridges with a 12-inch barrel can be purchased that looks far more menacing than a selective-fire Colt M16A2 Carbine with a 16-inch barrel selling for $15,000 to $20,000.

Return of the Piston

The M16's method of operation has been subjected to a great deal of criticism. While the bolt carrier key can be cleaned by the operator, usually by means of a tobacco pipe cleaner, the stainless steel gas tube cannot be successfully maintained by a soldier in the field, and its replacement requires special tools and training.

As the original 20-inch barrel has been compressed to 14.5 inches in the M4 configuration so popular with Coalition troops in the Middle East, the problems associated with this portion of the M16 system have increased.

Reducing the length of the gas tube shortens the gas pressure curve and increases the potential for bolt bounce and firing out of battery, short-stroking, feeding malfunctions, increased wear on the reciprocating components because of faster cyclic rates and a greater recoil impulse. Many of these problems can be reduced or eliminated by use of a short-stroke gas piston method of operation.

SHOTGUN NEWS recently received a fascinating SBR that is based upon the AR-15 configuration, but using a short-stroke piston method of operation and chambered for the immensely popular 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge. Manufactured in the United States by POF-USA (Dept. SGN, Patriot Ordnance Factory, Inc., Glendale, Ariz. 85310; phone: 623-561-9572; fax: 623-321-1680; E-mail: sales@pof-usa.com; website: www.pof-usa.com), the Desert Sage P415-11-MRR-223, as it's designated, is semiautomatic-only and has an 11.5-inch barrel (292mm).

The Desert Sage P415-11-MRR-223 SBR has a Rock Creek 5R, 4150 MIL-B-1159, chrome vanadium steel barrel with five grooves and a 1:8 right-hand twist. Starting with a Rockwell C hardness of 28-32, after heat treating the barrel hardness is 68 Rockwell C.

The barrel has a black nitride finish and is fluted to reduce weight, increase strength, increase the surface area for improved heat dispersion and because it looks good. The barrel extension is machined from high-grade steel and heat treated for an increase in strength of more than 30% over existing MilSpec and features an enhanced feed ramp to increase feeding reliability.

Overall length of the rifle is 31.75 inches (806.45mm) with the stock fully extended and 27.5 inches (698.5mm) with the stock fully collapsed. The weight, empty, is 7.2 pounds (3.26 kg). The manufacturer's suggested retail price, complete with one 30-round magazine, is $1,975, but without either emergency iron or optical sights.

The muzzle brake installed on our P415-11-MRR-223 test specimen, is just that: a muzzle brake, not a flash suppressor. As a consequence of the laws of Newtonian physics, devices attached to the muzzle end of a rifle barrel invariably are successful in addressing only one parameter.

The POF brake, a proprietary design, has three oval-shaped ports on both the right and left sides, at 3 and 9 o'clock. There are no ports at the 6 o'clock underside position. At the top of the brake, at about 1 o'clock there are three circular ports and a single circular port at approximately 11 o'clock.

There are five impact tips at the front of the brake. The effect of this port geometry is as follows. The flash signature is significant and comes principally from the oval ports on each side of the brake. But the size and character of a rifle's flash signature is principally a function of the cartridge's propellant, not any type of device attached to the muzzle.

Muzzle jump and the recoil impulse are both imperceptible and completely controlled, permitting extremely fast target reacquisition after each shot. As a consequence of this brake, the now almost imperceptible recoil impulse becomes a completely linear vector in parallel to the barrel's axis.

The selective-fire model of this rifle features excellent full-auto burst control using this brake. With muzzle devices you must select whether you want to diminish the flash signature or the recoil impulse and muzzle jump. You cannot have your cake and eat it too. The brake is machined from 4140 chrome moly steel and nitride heat treated. A jam nut instead of washers was used to attach the muzzle brake to the barrel, as it's easier to install in this manner and puts less stress on the barrel.

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POF upper receivers are machined from 7075 aluminum billet stock. POF receivers have 85% more wall thickness than most AR-15-type receivers, providing a substantial increase in strength and significantly reducing flex during the operational cycle. The solid aluminum billet results in more uniform dimensions with improved heat dissipation.

The short-stroke piston method of gas operation used on the POF P415-11-MRR-223 SBR is similar to that found on the FN FAL series. The gas regulator has two positions, the normal setting marked "N" and the sound suppressor setting marked "S". The "S" position bleeds more gas into the atmosphere. This is necessary because sound suppressors invariably increase the rearward impulse of the recoiling components as a consequence of the increased amount of blowback pressure they introduce into the system.

Bleeding more gas into the atmosphere brings the cyclic rate on selective-fire models back down to specified levels and reduces wear on the reciprocating parts of both selective-fire and semiautomatic-only versions of the POF P415-11-MRR-223 SBR.

Another truly significant aspect of the entire short-stroke-piston-gas-operated POF rifle series is the amount of design engineering that was focused on the location of the "key" on top of the bolt carrier.

Because of the key's position on top of the carrier, behind the cam pin, its interaction with the push rod--or rear end of the piston--results in carrier movement without any tilt on a flat linear plane. This is important for two reasons. From the mechanical engineering perspective, the all too common issue of bolt bounce is almost completely eliminated. Secondly for safety and liability reasons, M16/AR-15 internal components cannot be installed in the POF system.

The bolt carrier, gas plug, gas piston and unique roller cam pin have NP3 plating. This process, an exclusive coating of the Robar Companies, Inc., (Dept. SGN, 21438 North 7th Avenue, Suite B, Phoenix, Ariz. 85027; phone: 623-581-2648; fax: 623-582-0059; e-mail: robarguns@earthlink.net; website: www.robarguns.com) is a surface treatment for metals and metal alloys that provides the appearance of satin electroless nickel by combining sub-micron particles of PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene, i.e., Teflon) with autocatalytically applied nickel/phosphorus.

The result is a very accurate, dry-lubricated, low-friction surface that is extremely resistant to wear. As the PTFE is evenly distributed and locked into the nickel/phosphorous matrix, when wear occurs, fresh particles of PTFE are exposed to keep the surface lubricated. NP3 has a high lubricity and low friction co-efficient.

No lubricants are required on any metal surface so treated and powder residue and carbon fouling can be easily removed with a dry cloth. NP3 has a non-reflective satin gray appearance.

The upper and lower receivers of this rifle were hard coat anodized, but without the usual black dye. The effect is an unusual Desert Sage color, which is becoming one of POF's most popular options.

The P415-11-MRR-223 barrel is press-fit, rather than slip-fit to the upper receiver as this provides a more positive lock between these two components. The bolt, roller cam pin, firing pin, and charging handle with tactical latch are all MilSpec and hard chrome plated to increase service life and facilitate cleaning.

As the method of gas operation is by short stroke piston, the bolt has no gas valves (or rings) as found on the M16/AR-15 series. These gas valves must be frequently replaced, as they quite literally burn up.

The POF P415-11-MRR-223 bolt head is made from Carpenter 158 and the carrier from 8620 steel. Both are carburize heat-treated as per MilSpec. One of the most outstanding proprietary features of the POF rifles series is the patented roller cam pin, which completely eliminates excessive wear on the upper receiver as the bolt group reciprocates.

POF's heat sink barrel nut dissipates heat away from the critical throat, upper receiver, bolt and bolt carrier areas and increases the rifle's service life. This heat sink barrel nut, acting as an extension of the receiver, increases the upper receiver's overall strength and diminishes flex.

It also provides strength to the free-floating MIL-STD-1913 quad rail system. The patented POF quad rail system (or MRR--Modular Railed Receiver), which is the front half of the two-piece upper receiver, has an 80% increase in wall thickness and replaces structural integrity that was lost when the M16A1 carrying handle was removed from subsequent models in this series.

The location and size of the MIL-STD-1913 rail interfaces on POF's MRR are excellent. The 12 o'clock rail interface is 15 inches in overall length and permits the simultaneous installation of emergency iron sights and a wide variety of optical sights.

The 6 o'clock rail is 7.5 inches in length and will accommodate both vertical grips and bipods at the same time. There are two short MIL-STD-1913 rail interfaces at the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock positions. The forward interface is 2 inches long and the aft interface is 1.5 inches in overall length.

The 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock rail positions are most commonly used to attach combat slings and weapon lights. The lights are most often attached in coordination with a vertical grip at 6 o'clock.

We installed ERGO Full Cover Rail Covers [aka "ladders"] (Falcon Industries, Inc., Dept. SGN, P.O. Box 1690, Edgewood, NM 87015-1690, phone: 505-281-3783 or toll free 877-281-3783; fax: 505-281-3991; E-mail: orders@ergogrips.net; website: www.ergogrips.net) on the POF P415-11-MRR-223. Made of Santoprene, in black, coyote brown, dark earth, foliage green, and OD green, these rail covers come in three lengths: short (covers five rail slots), medium (10 slots) and long (15 slots). They are widely used by armed professionals everywhere.

An ERGO ambidextrous pistol grip was also installed on our POF P415-11-MRR-223. It features smooth textured finger grooves, an integral rear upper extension to support the web of the hand, and an overall textured finish to minimize slippage. It also has a storage compartment for batteries or small parts, such as an extra firing pin.

The POF P415-11-MRR-223 lower receiver is also machined from 7075 aircraft-grade aluminum alloy billet stock. I was at the POF factory while POF lower receivers were being milled on sophisticated CNC machinery and the precision and quality control involved in their fabrication was impressive to observe.

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The lower receiver's magazine well is both enlarged and flared to facilitate installation of magazines under high-stress environments. The trigger guard is enhanced by enlargement and, in my opinion, strengthened significantly by its one-piece configuration. It's large enough to permit the use of gloves without the necessity of a hinged bottom, which structurally weakens that area of the lower receiver.

The selector lever, magazine catch/release and the bolt/release controls are ambidextrous, with release buttons on each side of the lower receiver. POF uses the Norgon Ambi Magazine Catch/Release. Of all steel construction with a phosphate finish, the Norgon mechanism reduces the possibility of inadvertent magazine release and, more importantly, provides the operator with a catch/release button on left side as well.

Attached to the POF P415-11-MRR-223 lower receiver was a Vltor (Dept. SGN, Vltor Weapon Systems, Tucson, Ariz.; phone: 520-408-1944; fax: 520-293-8807; website: www.vltor.com) MilSpec IMod (Improved Modstock) retractable buttstock in black.

The polymer IMod features a removable rubber butt-pad, which is a useful attribute, and storage capacity on each side for either two AA or three lithium CR123 3-volt batteries. However, it was the unanimous consensus of all those involved in the test and evaluation that the battery storage compartments on the IMod add only bulk and mass to the stock without any really useful benefits, as experienced law enforcement and military operators invariably carry spare batteries in instantly accessible pouches on their LBE.

All of POF's rifles are continually evolving, as important proprietary innovations are added, without fanfare and sometimes unnoticed by the less observant. One example of this is their new buffer tube. The tube has been extended at the 6 o'clock position with a small slotted lip. The spring-loaded pin retaining the buffer now rides in this slot.

The effect of this enhancement is twofold. The bolt carrier now impinges directly on the buffer tube, which completely eliminates the possibility of so-called "carrier tilt." Further, if the stock assembly's threaded retaining ring loosens, the buttstock remains firmly held in place and cannot rotate in either direction.

A Geissele Automatics LLC (Dept. SGN, 1920 West Marshall Street, Jeffersonville, Pa. 19403; phone: 610-272-2060; website: www.geissele.com) Match Rifle Model Hi-Speed National Match Dual Stage Trigger was installed in the POF P415-11-MRR-223. William Geissele also produces the Super Select-Fire (SSF) and Super Semi-Automatic (SSA) non-adjustable combat triggers for the M16/AR-15 series.

Not only great trigger systems for National Match shooting, Geissele's triggers have demonstrated their worth on the battlefield in the Middle East for military sniper applications. I prefer his Hi-Speed Dual Stage triggers--either the Match Rifle Model we used or the Service Rifle or DMR models--as the parts are not encased in a "cartridge," which traps dirt and thus the trigger mechanism will function reliably even in high dust environments.

The Geissele Hi-Speed National Match Dual Stage Match Rifle trigger, which can be identified by its stainless steel springs, features a high-speed hammer that provides a 50% lock-time reduction over standard hammers.

The short first stage pull is followed by an exceptionally clean and sharp second stage let-off. The adjustable pull weights are 1.3 to 2.5 pounds in the first stage and 4 to 14 ounces in the second stage. We adjusted the second stage for the maximum 14-ounce pull. This trigger costs $279 and is worth every penny of that, as the trigger pull of a precision rifle system is one of the most important factors in maximizing the system's accuracy potential.

Our POF P415-11-MRR-223 SBR came equipped with a set of Diamondhead Premium flip-up front and rear combat sights (Diamondhead USA, Inc., Dept. SGN, 44 Allston Avenue, West Springfield, Mass.; fax: 413-739-6973; e-mail: sales@Diamondhead-USA.com; website: www.Diamondhead-USA.com), an option available for $240 when purchased at the same time as the rifle.

The Diamondhead Premium front and rear Combat Sights incorporate unique, diamond-shaped apertures and posts and a diamond-shaped front sight housing. When paired together, the Diamondhead front and rear sight work together to create a fully integrated sighting system that allows the eye to place the front post perfectly centered in the rear aperture with almost incredible speed. These sights are only .435" high when folded. Diamondhead flip-up sights are becoming increasingly popular with both military and law enforcement end users. The speed of target acquisition obtained by using these sights is amazing.

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Optics for an SBR

Selecting an optical sight for a tactical SBR of this type presents a dilemma of no small consequence. For actual tactical deployment in an urban operational area with a short-barreled rifle, a scope with a magnification range of 1X to no more than 4X is clearly indicated. However, it's impossible to determine the rifle's real accuracy potential with magnification that low.

As a result, we selected two scopes, one for tactical deployment and one to test the rifle's accuracy potential.

Leupold & Stevens, Inc. (Dept. SGN, P.O. Box 688, Beaverton, Oregon 97075-0688, phone: 503-646-9171; fax: 503-526-1475; website: www.leupold.com) has been making riflescopes for 102 years. Their product line includes optical sights that cover hunting, target shooting and tactical applications. They sell more tactical scopes to the U.S. government than all other scope manufacturers combined.

There are several reasons for that. Their riflescopes, and every component thereof, are made entirely in the United States. Equally important, the quality and optical features of their scopes are outstanding. Several Leupold scopes are fairly old, but battle-proven, designs that have been continually updated on an almost annual basis.

An example of this is the scope we chose to mate with the POF P415-11-MRR-223 SBR for purposes of demonstrating the rifle's actual accuracy potential only. I selected the Leupold Mark 4 6.5-20x50mm Extended Range/Tactical (ER/T) Ml Front Focal Riflescope with a Mil-Dot reticle pattern because with the reticle pattern located in the front focal plane, it's magnified along with the image, so you can estimate range at any magnification setting.

Overall length of this scope is only 14.5 inches with a weight of just 22 ounces, which is quite incredible for a tactical scope with a three times magnification range from 6.5X to 20X. The tube diameter of the scope is 30mm.

A 30mm tube with its thicker walls has considerably more cross-sectional area inside the tube than most 1-inch tubes with their thinner walls. Once this additional area is available, the erector tube inside the scope body (which carries all lenses except the ocular and objective lenses) and its lenses can be increased in size to transmit more light and thus yield greater resolution and a brighter image. Furthermore, a heavy 30mm housing is more shock-resistant than any 1-inch tube.

The eye relief, an extremely important factor in assessing the operator's ability to come on target quickly, is 3.6 to 4.4 inches.

Leupold's Index Matched Lens System provides superior resolution from edge to edge of the entire visual field, even at 20X magnification, along with peak image brightness and optimal contrast. The image is sharp and brilliant.

In my opinion, this is one of Leupold's finest tactical scopes with an ideal magnification range. The manufacturer's suggested retail price is $2,124.99. Leupold 30mm, aluminum alloy, high rings (#57291) cost $224 and their really great aluminum alloy, flip-up lens caps sell for $132. I prefer totally opaque lens covers because they force the operator to flip them up, as the see-through types always degrade the scope's optical qualities.

Scopes in Leupold M1 series have both windage and elevation adjustment knobs that feature audible and tactile feedback from one-minute numbered divisions with quarter-minute click-stops clearly marked between each one-minute division. The ability to make quarter-minute adjustments is an important attribute.

Total elevation and windage travel on this scope is 70 minutes each, and each complete revolution raises or lowers the point of impact by 15 minutes. The elevation knob also has a horizontal scale that is used to keep track of the number of revolutions that the dial has been turned.

In addition, there is a built-in anti-backlash system that guarantees repeatable accuracy from click to click, and back again. Most snipers use an elevation adjustment system such as this by zeroing the rifle and scope at specific ranges and writing the elevation adjustment settings on a range card attached to the rifle's buttstock.

The setting to which the elevation adjustment knob must be rotated for a specific distance is usually referred to as a "come up" by those who move in this elite loop. Leupold's Mark 4 M3 scopes have half-minute adjustment increments. This is too coarse, in my opinion, for really long range shooting. Remember, 1 moa is the equivalent of 10 inches at 1000 yards.

This Leupold Mark 4 6.5-20x50mm ER/T Ml Front Focal Riflescope scope is equipped with a Mil-Dot reticle pattern. Mil-dots were developed by the USMC in the late 1970s to assist Marine Corps snipers in estimating distances. It is now the standard reticle pattern with all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.

The term "mil-dot" comes from "mil"--a unit of angular measurement used in artillery and machine gunnery and equal to 1/6400 of a complete revolution--and the fact that the dots are spaced in 1 mil increments on the crosshairs. It should be made clear that the dots themselves are not measured in mil increments, but rather in increments of moa. The distance between the dots is 3/4 mil and the center-to-center distance between them is exactly 1 mil as is the distance from the top (or bottom) of one dot to the top (or bottom) of the dot above or below (or to the right or left). There are also four thick posts at the edges of the field of view.

The formula for using the mil-dot system is:

Height or width of target (in yards) x 1,000

Height or width of target (in mils)= Distance (in yards)

The Leupold Mark 4 6.5-20x50mm ER/T Ml Front Focal Riflescope scope was attached to the POF P415-11-MRR-223 SBR 12 o'clock MIL-STD-1913 rail interface by means of a GG&G Accucam Quick-Detach MIL-STD-1913 Scout Rail (GG&G, Dept. SGN, 3602 East Stravenue, Tucson, Ariz. 85713, phone: 1-800-380-2540; fax: 520-748-7583; E-mail: gggaz@aol.com; website: www.gggaz.com).

This quick-detach rail raises the line of sight by a half-inch. Designed for a wide variety of optical sights, its integrated Accucam Quick-Detach lever system provides the operator the option to quickly utilize other optical devices.

Its rail is machined from solid billet 6061 T6 aluminum alloy with a Type III hard coat anodized matte black MilSpec finish, its tension on the rifle's rail can be adjusted and it zero repeatability of 1/2 moa. The Accucam mechanism itself is machined from solid billet 4140 steel and manganese-phosphated matte black to MilSpec. The price is $158.95.

This is a great piece of glass, but too much magnification for breaking down doors and dynamic entries in the barrio with an SBR with an 11.5-inch barrel. So, after the accuracy portion of our test and evaluation, we installed a Leupold Mark 4 1-3x14mm Close Quarter/Tactical (CQ/T) Scope, which was specifically designed for rifles in the M16/AR-15 series and combines the strengths of a red dot sight and variable-power scope.

The clear, bright Leupold Circle Dot illuminated reticle provides an outstanding aiming point for the operator, with instant target acquisition in close, urban combat environments. There are 10 illumination settings, including two compatible with night vision devices, without overwhelming the operator's natural, low-light vision.

One AA battery powers the unit for up to 600+ hours at the medium setting. At 1X, the CQ/T Scope functions as a non-magnifying, illuminated sight for tactical applications at extremely close ranges. Targets at medium ranges can be successfully engaged when the scope is powered up to 2X or 3X. Butler Creek flip-up lens covers, the Mark 4 CQ/T flat top mounting bracket, and a carry handle mounting stud are all included.

The elevation and windage adjustment markings include half-moa clicks. The linear field of view at 100 meters is 37.5 meters at high magnification and 13.9 meters at low magnification. The weight is only 17.5 ounces (496 grams), with an overall length of 8.8 inches (22.4cm). The all-important eye relief is 2.8 to 2 inches (71 to51 mm). Both the elevation and windage adjustments have a range of 90 moa.

The manufacturer's suggested retail price for the Leupold Mark 4 CQ/T scope is $1,124.99, but it typically sells for about S900. It is being fielded by special operations personnel in Afghanistan. This is a superb match with the POF P415-11-MRR-223 SBR.

I prefer, if possible, to deploy with a vertical foregrip on both pistol-caliber submachine guns and assault rifles chambered for intermediate-size cartridges. There seems to be an almost infinite variety available now and a number of them are quite good. They are in almost universal use with Coalition Forces in Afghanistan. Why?

Many believe because they control muzzle rise during full-auto bursts. They do when you're firing a submachine gun, but experienced operators rarely fire caliber M16/AR-15 series rifles in the full-auto mode, as the hit probability after the first round is extremely low--and, on the battlefield only hits count. The fact is that vertical foregrips provide a more stable firing platform and thus greater accuracy potential when firing aimed, semiautomatic shots.

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We attached a newly introduced Short Vertical Grip (MVG) from EMA Tactical (Dept. SGN, 1208 Branagan Drive, Tullytown, Pa. 19007; phone: 215-949-9944; fax: 215-949-9191; e-mail: jay@ematactical.com; website: www.ematactical.com) that matches the POF P415-11-MRR-223 envelope perfectly.

The MVG Short Vertical Grip has been improved by the addition of a rubber vented grip pattern on both the front and back of the grip. Each side now includes a recessed pressure switch mounting area with quickly removable polymer covers.

Available in black, green or khaki, the MVG weighs only 3.2 ounces. With an overall length of 2.125 inches, a width of 1.75 inches and a height of just 4.125 inches, the MVG is ideal for use on M16/AR-15 series rifles in an SBR envelope. The price is only $20.39. And like all EMA Tactical products, it's made in Israel by those with real world experience.

We also tested several of the new EMA Tactical 30-round CountDown Magazines. They provide the operator with a visual indicator showing the remaining rounds in the magazine. Available at this time only in 5.56x45mm NATO, it features a non-tilting follower and a corrosion resistant stainless steel follower spring.

The magazine body is made from a high impact polymer strong enough to be run over by a truck and still function. Designed with a window in the back of the magazine body at the bottom, the operator can instantly see how many rounds remain without moving his head from the weapon's cheekpiece.

The visual indicator is also color coded for easier viewing: 30 to 21 rounds have a green background, 20 to 11 rounds have a yellow background, and 10 to zero rounds have a red background. In addition, there is another on the magazine's floorplate, which displays the color, so the operator can instantly pick the magazine loaded with the most rounds from his magazine pouch.

This counting system neither interferes with the magazine's disassembly or reduces its capacity. The EMA 30-round CountDown Magazine carries a manufacturer's suggested retail price or $24.99.

Toting the POF P415-11-MRR-223 SBR back and forth from the range we used a D.A.P. (Denied Area Pattern) Discreet Case from Blue Force Gear, Inc. (Dept. SGN, P.O. Box 853, Pooler, Ga. 31322; phone: 1-877-430-2583; fax: 912-964-7701; website www.blueforcegear.com) in MultiCam; the very popular multi-environment camouflage pattern developed by Caleb Crye of Crye Precision in conjunction with the US Army Soldier Systems Center (aka U.S. Army Natick Labs).

The Discreet Case measures 35x11x3 inches and was specifically designed to carry M4-type weapons. It has an outer slot pocket on one side and a hook-and-loop ID field on the other side. Costing $139.95, it quite literally fits the P415-11-MRR-223 SBR with its 11.5-inch barrel like a glove.

Test and evaluation

As the wound ballistics effectiveness of the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge is to no small degree a function of its velocity and the barrel length can rather dramatically affect this parameter, we compared the velocity generated by the P415-11-MRR-223 SBR's 11.5-inch (292mm) barrel with that produced by a Belgian FNC military assault rifle, which has a barrel length of 17.7 inches (449mm).

The velocity and accuracy tests were conducted with ammunition from Hornady and Black Hills. Hornady Mfg. Co. (Dept. SGN, 3625 West Old Potash Hwy, Grand Island, Nebr. 68803; phone: 800-338-3220 or 308-382-1390; fax: 308-382-5761; website: www.hornady.com) provided two types of their highly regarded TAP (Tactical Application Police) ammunition with 60-grain and 75-grain bullets.

Hornady's TAP (Tactical Application Police) ammunition is not only capable of match grade accuracy, it was specifically designed for law enforcement and personal defense applications. Unlike non-expanding military issue small arms ammunition, Hornady TAP features expanding projectiles.

Black Hills Ammunition (Dept. SGN, P.O. Box 3090, Rapid City, SD 57709-3090; phone: 1-800-568-6625; fax: 605-348-9827; website: www.black-hills.com) provided their highly regarded 77-grain Match Boattail Hollow Point (BTHP) load that uses a Sierra MatchKing bullet.

Our test protocol included atmospheric measurements made with a Kestrel 4500 Pocket Weather Tracker (Dept. SGN, Nielsen-Kellerman, 21 Creek Circle, Boothwyn, Pa. 19061; phone: 610-447-1555 or 800-784-4221; fax: 610-447-1577; e-mail: kestrel@nkhome.com; website: www.kestrelweather.com) complete with external weather vane and mount. Kestrel meters are used extensively by military and law enforcement snipers and precision rifle shooters throughout the world and are the very best equipment of this type available. The ambient temperature was 77.1[degrees] Fahrenheit with a 5 mph wind from the NNW

Velocity tests were by means of a PACT MKIV Championship Timer/Chronograph (PACT, Inc., Dept. SGN, P.O. Box 535025, Grand Prairie, Texas 75053; phone: 800-722-862; website: www.pact.com). We used the Hornady 75-grain TAP load to compare the velocity differences between the P415-11-MRR-223 SBR and the Belgian FNC.

The average velocity produced by the FNC rifle with its 17.7-inch barrel 8 feet from the muzzle was 2726.8 fps, with a high of 2754.8 fps, a low of 2700.8 fps, a standard deviation of 17.8 and an extreme spread of 54.0.

The average velocity generated by the P415-11-MRR-223 SBR's 11.5-inch barrel 8 feet from the muzzle was 2520.6 fps, with a high of 2563.2 fps, a low of 2499.2 fps, a standard deviation of 19.8 and an extreme spread of 64.0.

This is very high quality, consistent ammunition. Reducing the barrel length by 6.2 inches resulted in a velocity loss of 206.2 fps. This is not an especially dramatic loss in velocity, but the wound ballistics effectiveness of caliber 5.56x45mm NATO short-barreled rifles is seriously compromised at ranges beyond 100 meters. Rifles with extremely short barrels are designed for relatively close urban warfare and should be most often restricted to that tactical application.

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What about accuracy? It's sometimes thought that short-barreled rifles are capable of only mediocre accuracy. In the case of the POF P415-11-MRR-223 this is certainly not true. At 100 meters, off the bench and using the Leupold Mark 4 6.5-20x50mm ER/T Ml Front Focal Riflescope scope, with a 20-round Colt magazine to prevent "monopoding," the Black Hills 77-grain Match Boattail Hollow Point (BTHP) load repeated shot groups at 1 moa and under. Hornady's 60-grain TAP ammunition produced .9 moa groups. The 75-grain Hornady TAP FPD (For Personal Defense) load has an excellent reputation for performance with extremely short barrels. It did not disappoint and produced outstanding accuracy at .5 moa. It remains my favorite load for this rifle.

When you closely examine the POF P415-11-MRR-223 SBR and all its many features, large and small, plus its flawless operation, it is to me at least, arguably the best M16/AR-15-type short-barreled rifle available. Others agree, as the Phoenix Police Department's SWAT Team ordered 60 of these rifles, exactly as described in the SHOTGUN NEWS test except that they are selective-fire and the exterior finish is Robar's NP3 plating.

Text and photos by Peter G. Kokalis Lead Photo by Mike Anschuetz

ON THE COVER

If you don't mind the paperwork and they're legal in your location, short-barreled rifles are a lot of fun, Kokalis says. You give up some ballistics, but gain in handling qualities and coolness factor. Photo by Mike Anschuetz.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

RELATED ARTICLE: POF P415-11-MRR-223 SBR * Specifications

Caliber: 5.56x45mm NATO.

Method of operation: Locked-breech, gas-operated by means of a short-stroke piston with a two-position regulator, semiautomatic-only.

Feed system: 20- and 30-round, two-position-feed, staggered-column, detachable box magazines.

Weight: 7.2 pounds (3.26 kg).

Length, overall: 31.75 inches (806.45mm) with the stock fully extended and 27.5 inches (698.5mm) with the stock fully collapsed.

Barrel length: 11.5-inch barrel (292mm).

Barrel: Rock Creek 5R, 4150 MIL-B-1159, chrome vanadium steel barrel with five grooves and a right-hand twist of one turn in 8 inches.

Finish: Desert Sage--hard coat anodizing, but without the usual black dye.

NP3 plating: Robar Companies, Inc., Dept. SGN, 21438 North 7th Avenue, Suite B, Phoenix, AZ 85027; phone: 623-581-2648; fax: 623-582-0059; e-mail: robarguns@earthlink.net; website: www.robarguns.com.

Manufacturer: POF-USA, Patriot Ordnance Factory, Inc., Dept. SGN, Glendale, Ariz. 85310; phone: 623-561-9572; fax: 623-321-1680; E-mail: sales@pof-usa.com; website: www.pof-usa.com.

Manufacturer's suggested retail price: $1,975 plus $200 transfer tax, complete with one 30-round magazine, but without emergency iron sights.

Optical sights: Leupold & Stevens, Inc., Dept. SGN, P.O. Box 688, Beaverton, Oreg. 97075-0688, phone: 503-646-9171; fax: 503-526-1475; website: www.leupold.com.

Scope mounts: GG&G, Dept. SGN, 3602 East Stravenue, Tucson, Ariz. 85713, phone: 1-800-380-2540; fax: 520-748-7583; E-mail: gggaz@aol.com; website: www.gggaz.com.

Emergency iron sights: Diamondhead USA, Inc., Dept. SGN, 44 Allston Avenue, West Springfield, Mass.; fax: 413-739-6973; e-mail: sales@Diamondhead-USA.com; website: www.Diamondhead-USA.com.

Trigger: Geissele Automatics LLC, Dept. SGN, 1920 West Marshall Street, Jeffersonville, Pa. 19403; phone: 610-272-2060; website: www.geissele.com.

ERGO rail covers and pistol grip: Falcon Industries, Inc., Dept. SGN, P.O. Box 1690, Edgewood, N.M. 87015-1690, phone: 505-281-3783 or toll free 877-281-3783; fax: 505-281-3991; E-mail: orders@ergogrips.net; website: www.ergogrips.net.

Buttstock: Vltor Weapon Systems, Dept. SGN, Tucson, AZ; phone: 520-408-1944; fax: 520-293-8807; website: www.vltor.com.

Magazines and vertical grips: EMA Tactical, Dept. SGN, 1208 Branagan Drive, Tullytown, Pa. 19007; phone: 215-949-9944 fax: 215-949-9191; e-mail: jay@ematactical.com; website: www.ematactical.com.

Weapon light: Streamlight, Inc., Dept. SGN, 30 Eagleville Road, Eagleville, Pa. 19403-3996; phone: 610-631-0600 or toll free 800-523-7488; fax: 610-631-0712 or 800-220-7007; website: www.streamlight.com.

Atmospheric testing equipment: Kestrel, Dept. SGN, Nielsen-Kellerman, 21 Creek Circle, Boothwyn, Pa. 19061; phone: 610-447-1555 or 800-784-4221; fax: 610-447-1577; e-mail: kestrel@nkhome.com; website: www.kestrelweather.com.

Chronograph: PACT, Inc., Dept. SGN, P.O. Box 535025, Grand Prairie, Texas 75053; phone: 800-722-862; website: www.pact.com.

Combat sling: The Wilderness, Dept. SGN, Wilderness Plaza, 1608 West Hatcher, Phoenix, Ariz. 85021; phone: 602-242-4945 or toll free 800-775-5650; fax: 602-242-8260; email: orders@thewilderness.com; website: www.thewilderness.com.

Gun case: Blue Force Gear, Inc. (Dept. SGN, P.O. Box 853, Pooler, Ga. 31322; phone: 1-877-430-2583; fax: 912-964-7701; website www.blueforcegear.com.

Ammunition: Hornady Mfg. Co., Dept. SGN, 3625 West Old Potash Hwy, Grand Island, Nebr. 68803; phone: 800-338-3220 or 308-382-1390; fax: 308-382-5761; website: www.hornady.com.

Black Hills Ammunition, Dept. SGN, P.O. Box 3090, Rapid City, S. Dak. 57709-3090; phone: 1-800-568-6625; fax: 605-348-9827; website: www.black-hills.com.

T&E summary:

Flawless operation, numerous innovative proprietary features and outstanding accuracy make this the best M16/AR-15-type short-barreled rifle available.
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Title Annotation:POF SBR; P415-11-MR223
Author:Kokalis, Peter G.
Publication:Shotgun News
Article Type:Product/service evaluation
Date:Jul 20, 2010
Words:6159
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