POF Puritan Piston AR15 Torture Test

In this episode of TFBTV, James takes full advantage of the generous clearance he received from POF to torture test their Puritan gas-piston operated AR15. With all of the hype surrounding the purported reliability of the piston guns over their direct impingement counterparts, does the POF live up to the buzz? James finds out in this clip.

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Transcript …

– Hey gang, James again for TFB TV.

Some of you may remember a few months back I reviewed the POF Puritan in 7.62×39.

Now, the Puritan, as with most of POF’s AR line, is a piston operated gun.

In other words, it doesn’t use the direct impingement operating system that the conventional DI AR will use.

Now, many people are of the belief that piston operated rifles and carbines like, for example, the AK-47, are inherently more reliable than the direct impingement counteparts such as the standard AR-15 or M-16.

The perception that piston operated guns are more reliable typically originates with the fact that the operating rod system and the gas tube, that takes most of the gas, the heat, the debris associated with a firing sequence and it relegates it to the gas tube area and the gas piston instead of, with a DI gun, propelling it directly back and into the breach.

For lack of a better term, a lot of people say that the AR shits where it eats, in other words it redirects all that gas, all that debris directly back into the chamber.

That said, I’m not doin’ a DI vs. piston video today, you guys can have that pecker pulling match in the comments, which I’m sure you will, and that’s fine.

Today I got the greenlight from POF to basically torture test this thing, they said, “Do whatever you want to it,” so a few weeks back, about a month ago in fact, you’re looking at this POF as it is here filthier than your mom’s basement where you’re watching this video from right now.

This gun, we threw it, we literally dragged it through the mud, behind an ATV, we threw it into a creek bed, doused it in water repeatedly, and this is what it looks like a month later.

Looks pretty cool, actually, but it’s definitely filthy.

But POF gave us the greenlight to gunk this thing up and to see what happened, so we got this thing dirty, we ran it.

First, we kinda dunked it in water, then fired a few mags through it, and it barely skipped a beat, I mean, there were no issues whatsoever after that.

There we go, perfect.

(gun firing) Of course, if you’re gonna do this at home, don’t do this at home.

Don’t do this at home, but if you are, of course, make sure that there’s no obstructions in the bore.

Submersion, it ran just fine, and I think that surprises no one.

So, that’s when we dragged this thing through the mud, and what I mean by dragged it through the mud is we literally dragged it on an ATV through the mud.

All right.

After we scraped off some of the vegetation from the gun, we picked it up, fired another mag or two through it.

Go for it. (gun firing) Is it empty? Keep goin’.

(gun firing) Now it’s empty.

And again, it did just fine.

We actually didn’t start running into problems until we threw it into the creek bed.

As long as you don’t lose it, I don’t (bleep) care.

Best catch of the day! The creek bed here, it’s all silt, I mean, it is the finest sand and if you can even call it sand, I mean, it’s silt, it’s the stuff when you step in this creek, it feels like you’re steppin’ on jelly.

Suprisingly, the POF still functioned, but it did take some manual racking to get it back into battery, but the issue was the silt accumulating in the bolt carrier area, there was a lot of silt accumulation in the chamber and the bolt carrier, and that was severely slowing down the travel and the return cycle of the bolt carrier group, which lead to a few malfunctions.

But, after manually racking and firing, the gun actually started to shoot itself clean, and what I mean by that is it seems like it was getting some of the silt out of the action the more we fired it.

And it started to function more reliably, and even at one point, the gun returned to regular function, but we had silt accumulation in the trigger group.

– It’s the trigger! It’s the trigger.

The trigger was not resetting properly in it, and I was, just kept pullin’ the trigger, and whenever it reset itself, pop.

It was the trigger.

– And so the trigger was slow to reset.

So the gun would cycle as normal, however, the trigger was slow to reset, and that, again, only lasted for about half a mag or magazine and then it started returning to normal function again, and once we sprayed out the guts with WD-40, we just got a little WD-40 and sprayed it in there, this gun was back in the fight and it was working almost perfectly.

– [Jacques] Good? – [James] It’s good to go now.

– All right, let’s see.

Still needs some lovin’, there.

(gun firing) So I play with the trigger, all right? There it goes, watch, watch it.

There it is.

– So, all in all, I think Jacques and I were really impressed with how well the POF handled all the debris and the hazardous conditions it was subjected to.

What’s the overall verdict on the POF torture test? – I’ll tell you what, I’m impressed.

We kinda beat the shit out of it, had a good time for the most part, wanna see what it could do.

Trying to get it to a point where it wouldn’t run, and overall, besides a few things here and there, things that, you know, typically, I don’t think other guns can withlast, this sucker, I mean, it’s pulled through, I dunno.

We’ve had a good time runnin’ it, but it’s showin’ us up, bottom line.

It keeps showin’ us up.

– [James] Would you say you’re impressed? – Yeah, yeah I’m impressed with it.

It’s almost to the point I find it humorous.

(laughs) I mean, you know, that it keeps on runnin’, shit man, it’s fun, havin’ a good time with it, but it’s proven its worth.

– I haven’t done anything to it in the past month, it’s just sat in the box.

As you can see, it’s still filthy, and I’m gonna shoot it again today and see what happens.

So, this poor rifle has been sitting in its box, in its own filth for the past month.

Just put about 10 rounds in here.

Let’s see if it runs.

(rifle firing) Perfectly.

No problems whatsoever.

That’s amazing, I mean, no lubrication, no cleaning, no nothing.

This was, we just ran it through all that junk that you guys just saw.

Let it sit for a month, and let’s go and let’s do that again.

(rifle firing) Yep, I mean, runs like a top.

All in all, I’ve been pretty impressed, I’m not, like I said, prepared to make any kind of sweeping conclusion that piston operated guns are better than DI guns or anything like that, but what I will say is that I have been impressed with the way that this POF, which happens to be a piston operating gun, has performed in the face of some pretty nasty and adverse conditions, so anyways, good job POF, sorry that you’re gonna get the rifle back like this, but hey, it did fine, so anyways, thanks for watching guys, I appreciate it, see you next week.

(upbeat marching band music)



James Reeves

James Reeves is a licensed and practicing concealed weapons instructor, the winner of Maxim Magazine’s MAXIMum Warrior, a graduate of Front Sight, the Shooter Performance Institute, and Tier 1 Group, and is an Appleseed-qualified Rifleman. James previously owned and operated a gun shop in Tallahassee, FL and worked as a regional sales representative for distributor/importer, Interstate Arms Company. He is a coverage litigation attorney by day. James likes traveling with his wife, boating, America, photography, guns, gear he doesn’t really need, cold beer, and a little exercise here and there (James is also GORUCK Tough). Above all, James enjoys creating content for TFBTV. Follow James on Twitter @jjreeves.


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  • Major Tom

    Glory to the piston gun master race!

  • Isaac Newton

    Love the Stars and Stripes Forever at the end…and not just because its public domain.

  • Anonymoose

    But we still need to see if it will work with one of those lowers that take AK mags (RRA and PSA, in particular).

  • Geoff

    Why does one need a “green light” from a manufacturer to put their product to a test? It introduces doubt into the test when the sample is donated and the manufacturer knows ahead of time that this sample is going to a publication. It needs to be a randomly selected gun to be representative of the overall production run.

    • James R.

      Fair points, but: (1) I always ask for manufacturer permission before I put a gun in a situation where it could be permanently damaged because it’s still their property. (2) Relatedly, I asked *them* if I could torture test it after I received it for the regular review, not the other way around. They did not know that I was going to do this until I already received the gun.

  • Suppressed

    If I’m gonna always be busting Alex’s balls for wearing cowboy boots in these videos, then you know I can’t let them shorts slide, lol.

    On a serious note, you two have been putting out some decent stuff lately, thank you. I assume you don’t exactly have your choice of what rifles you get to torture test, or even just test, but I’d love to see something on the M-M+M M10X elite. Its the most modern AK-thingy that interests me the most.

  • Vitor Roma

    The most impressive was its ability to recover instead of going downhill.

  • Bob

    Hmmm…. AKOU type testing. The failures to return to battery and the trigger problems are an issue, but it seems to be tolerant of dirt.

  • TJbrena

    I think the recovery was as impressive as way it put up with the torture.

    Also, the splashing from the rifle being dragged behind the ATV was funny in a weird way.

  • Joshua Knott

    Brah, you need to cut those shorts down a tad and make sure they’re red white a blue, #merica

  • A Fascist Corgi

    Piston guns don’t tend to be more reliable in harsh conditions simply because they’re piston guns; what makes them more reliable is the reduction of heat and fouling within the body of the firearm. So, the best way to test DI vs. Piston are huge round counts at a range over long periods of time (a test that most civilians can’t afford). And in order to be fair to the piston design, you should select a firearm that was specifically designed to use a piston – like the FN SCAR or the AK-47. Most piston AR-15s aren’t durable in the long term according to the owner of Battlefield Vegas. The major exception would be the HK416. He didn’t comment on the durability of LWRC piston AR-15s because he doesn’t have any at his range; but I’d be pretty surprised if they also didn’t work extremely well due to their highly regarded reputation.

    • Machinegunnertim

      FN sure has put a lot of thought into there recent designs. And the track record form Battlefield Las Vegas alone is extremely impressive. I just wish they were a little more affordable.

    • Here’s why piston guns are not inherently more reliable than DI guns. First, let’s distinguish between “pistons” and “operating rods”. Pistons are any element that undergoes movement as a result of pressure from a fluid. Operating rods are long moving components that transmit force mechanically from the gas block to the rest of the moving parts group. So, as many people point out, an AR-15 has a piston integral to its bolt stem. Beyond this, an articulated design like the SVT or AR-18 has a piston that contacts an operating rod, so it’s useful to distinguish these things.

      Operating rods are a part of the operating group of the firearm, and moreover, they are (usually) a long, thin element that gets violently accelerated into the rest of the moving parts group. That means, the shape and condition of the operating rod is vital to the operation of the firearm. Heat, especially, is extremely stressful to materials like steel that need to retain their shape, so oprods have to be made of very good quality steel that is properly heat treated and tempered for maximum toughness. This also means that if the oprod absorbs heat too fast, it can lose its temper and become annealed, which makes it far less durable and can cause permanent failure of the operating group. Likewise, if the rifle fires an over-charge round, the oprod may bend or break as a result, which also may stop the rifle from functioning.

      These problems don’t make pistons bad (more on this later), but DI guns do not have these problems to begin with. Because gas pressure is tapped directly to the rear, and because it is allowed to cool somewhat before it comes into contact with the moving parts, the problems of thermal loading are reduced, and the lack of an oprod means the possibility of overheating, deformation, or breakage of that element is eliminated.

      Now, operating rods can be made to work very well, but there are sacrifices involved in doing so.

      First, the operating rod can be made separate from the piston, as in the M14, which reduces the problem of thermal loading on the operating rod itself.

      Second, the operating rod can be made very short and high pressure, which eliminates the possibility of bending. Contact with the operating group can be achieved by moving the gas block closer to the receiver, or by lengthening the operating group until it reaches. Tappets are an example of this solution, and are found on the FN SCAR, AUG, F2000, M1 Carbine, etc.

      Third, the operating rod can be made fatter so as to have more thermal mass and better stiffness. The AK and SAR-21 are examples of rifles that use this solution. Downsides to this are increased mass over the barrel, and possibly negatively affected balance, but on the plus side bolt carrier mass improves, which improves the mass ratio for the locking group.

      Fourth, the gas piston can be translocated closer to the receiver and fed by gas tapped through a tube, like the Tavor and HAC-7. This solution helps reduce mass in the forward part of the gun, and also should theoretically help cool the gas before it contacts the piston (this reduces the piston’s efficiency, however).

      Heckler & Koch firearms like the G36 and HK416 could be considered to use a fifth solution: They couple a separate piston head which has good sectional thermal mass that insulates the rest of the operating group with a very thin, very high quality operating rod that transmits force to the rest of the operating group. This avoids the problem of mass over the barrel, while still reducing the effects of heat on the operating rod. It’s a very good solution, in my opinion.

      Operating rod firearms definitely can be made to work very well, but mounds of evidence suggests the same is true for DI weapons, despite their dirtier operation. Most importantly, a piston must be carefully engineered to work properly with high reliability, whereas a DI system is much easier to engineer.

      • UnrepentantLib

        Thank you. That was a very good, concise discussion. Personally, I’ve come to the conclusion that in real world usage there’s not that much difference between DI and pistons as far as reliability. They’ve both been developed to a pretty high degree and combined with modern metallurgy you’re really talking extreme abuse to make either one fail. Imho.

    • James R.

      the more comments I see from you, the more certain I am that you are neither a dog nor a fascist, but to be trill I am running just on a hunch

  • Ike

    You say it did “just fine” after dragging it through the mud, but the video shows some kind of failure to feed?) on the last round. Also, you are very complementary of the rifle’s performance in this test, but it failed to return to battery after nearly every shot following the silt submersion and the trigger frequently failed to reset. Maybe I’m too harsh of a critic, but I don’t feel that the results are very impressive.

    Good video anyway. Thanks.

    • James R.

      No, I appreciate it. It’s all subjective, but I think most guns would have choked and died while this one was mostly operational.

    • Devil_Doc

      Not many guns will survive this sort of treatment without shutting down permanently, AKs included. It’s impressive that an AR platform (with much tighter tolerances) was able to shake most of this off and keep running.

  • Slobberjaw

    Great video! Loved the pecker pulling comment.

  • Devil_Doc

    James.. I appreciate the effort with the shorts, but bruh.. I don’t think you realize what I/we’ve been talking about. Silkies. Do it for America… http://www.usmcblues .com/ptgear.html

    • James R.

      Homie, I have OD, gray, black, and navy Soffes. I don’t f with royal because it’s a little too much for even me

  • hikerguy

    The ruggedness of the POF is impressive. Obviously silt in any firearm would likely cause problems. The age old debate of DI versus piston shows up again. I really think reliability of the piston will depend on variation of the piston design and engineering behind the particular rifle when comparing the two systems. That being said, buy what you like and what meets your needs. Enjoy your rifle.

  • MP

    Didn’t LAV do this to a DDM4? Well built guns run.

    • James R.

      Yeah but his diastolic was super high when he did and I am not sure he accounted for that in the results.

  • sometrend

    poor rifle. is there no shame?