September 08, 2022
A 5.9-pound AR-15 rifle chambered in .308 Winchester? It doesn’t seem to make much sense, as AR-15s are too small to be chambered in .308 Win. and such a rifle would have to weigh much more than 5.9 pounds, right? Wrong! POF-USA knocked down the AR-10/AR-15 wall a few years back when they introduced their Revolution line. The Revolution intrigued me as it is an AR-15-size platform, but chambered in .308 Win. This is NOT an AR-10. The first time you pick up a 6.8-pound Revolution rifle it surprises you with how compact and handy it is. Now, POF-USA is back and they have reduced the weight to an ultralight 5.9 pounds with their new .308 Win Rogue. Better still, their new Rogue is less expensive too! The result appears to be an excellent “general purpose” or “do-it-all” rifle candidate.
The most common complaints I hear voiced against AR-10-type rifles is, “they are too big and too heavy.” The receiver sets are large, the bolt carrier is huge and heavy and once you add a sling, loaded magazine and an optical sight the end result is a rifle physically larger and heavier than most desire for carrying in the field, especially while hunting. While a rifle may start off at eight pounds, it can easily pork out to 10+ pounds after bolting on an optic mount, variable power scope, attaching a sling and locking a loaded 20-round magazine into place. Most hunters and many shooters want a smaller and lighter option.
The smaller and lighter option for years now has simply been an AR-15 chambered for 5.56mm or one of the many other cartridges developed specifically for this platform. Cartridges like the .224 Valkyrie, 6mm ARC, 6.5mm Grendel, 6.8x43mm Rem SPC, 300 AAC Blackout and 350 Legend add more punch to the AR-15. The AR-15 is a hugely popular hunting rifle, for a number of reasons. It is light and handy, easy to customize, very accurate and performs well in the field.
While these intermediate cartridges are good, they are simply out-muscled by full-power rifle cartridges like the .308 Win, 6.5mm Creedmoor and 6mm Creedmoor. So, why not have your cake and eat it too? A .308 Win AR-15 would merge the light weight and fine handling qualities of an AR-15 with the terminal performance and exterior ballistics of the .308 Win cartridge. Such a combination would make for a light and handy, yet hard-hitting hunting or tactical rifle. It would be easy to carry over hill and dale, fast handling and quick to the shoulder while delivering a traditional .30 caliber punch.
This was Frank DeSomma’s thinking when he decided to chamber an AR-15 in .308 Win. The founder of POF-USA wasn’t a huge fan of intermediate cartridges like the 6.5mm Grendel and 6.8x43mm Rem SPC. He much preferred the more powerful and more common .308 Win. So, he burned the midnight oil, overcame every roadblock, problem and hurdle to bring what became the Revolution to market.
My question though, when I first heard of the Revolution a few years back was, “Is it really an AR-15?” So, I asked Frank DeSomma about it. Here is what he had to say, “David, our Revolution is an AR15/M16 upper and lower receiver using a 7.62x51mm NATO magazine well. The bolt and barrel extension are the same overall size of the M16 bolt and barrel extension, but geometry modified to accept the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge. The firing pin is Mil-Spec other than its increased length. The M16 Mil-Spec parts are: barrel nut, gas piston system, rail system, charging handle, carrier, roller cam pin and buffer. So, this design isn’t an AR-10, nor is it a small frame design like the Colt 901 which others copied years later. This is truly an AR-15 with a 7.62x51mm NATO magazine well. A great deal of engineering went into making an AR-15 capable of firing the 7.62x51mm NATO.”
The Rogue reduces both weight and cost compared to the original Revolution. Weight was reduced by switching to lighter forged receivers, a slimmer barrel contour, shorter handguard, standard rather than adjustable gas block, different muzzle device and elimination of ambidextrous controls and a few tweaks here and there. By switching from machined billet receivers to 7075 aluminum forgings, a different barrel and eliminating some premium features POF-USA was able to reduce the $2,699 base price of the Revolution to just $1,899 for the Rogue.
I have wanted to get my hands on a Rogue since this model was introduced. When a review rifle recently arrived for Firearms News I found it to be a distinctive-looking piece with its lightened receivers, big .308 mag well and unique-looking muzzle device. I am a fan of lightweight ARs and enjoying building them. Even so, I was impressed by just how light and handy the Rogue is straight out of the box. I grew up in a world of FN FALs, M1As and HK91s. To be blunt, all three of these are boat anchors in comparison to the 5.9-pound Rogue. Even FN’s 8-pound SCAR 17S, which is generally considered very light for a 7.62x51mm NATO semi-auto is rotund in comparison. The Rogue simply handles, shoulders and carries like a lightweight 5.56mm gun…but it punches like a .308 Win. It’s very cool.
So, let’s examine the Rogue itself. Starting at the muzzle you’ll find an effective single-baffle Micro B muzzle brake which reduces felt recoil. This features two small parts on top and five strike prongs. The brake is threaded onto a 16.5-inch 416R stainless steel barrel which features standard 5/8x24 muzzle threads. So, the brake can be easily replaced if you so desire. Rifling is a very fast 1:8 twist, which is optimized for heavier/longer hunting and match loads. A patented three-inch long barrel nut serves to not only lock the barrel in place, but it also acts as a heat sink. The nut surrounds the chamber and throat area providing 17 times more heat dissipation than a standard Mil-Spec piece. This is important as heat is the enemy of auto-loading firearms.
The Rouge’s chamber features POF-USA’s E² dual extraction system. This consists of four small channels cut into the walls of the chamber. When a cartridge is fired they allow a small amount of gas pressure to flow backward and push on the shoulder of the spent casing. This small pressure helps ‘un-seat’ the spent case from the chamber. It also pushes back slightly on the case while the extractor is pulling it from the chamber. The E² feature is designed to aid extraction and improve reliability.
Operation is traditional direct impingement, which is what I prefer. While the Revolution features an adjustable gas block, the Rogue has a traditional low-profile design that is not adjustable. This is a solid option for most shooters. However, POF-USA does offer their Dictator adjustable gas block as an option on the Rogue. While this adds a few ounces, I selected it as an option for testing. The Dictator features nine settings. This allows you to tailor the rifle to certain loads, or to turn the gas pressure down for use with a sound suppressor. Tuning the gas system can reduce felt recoil and make for a smoother operating rifle. Or, you can just set it and forget it. Adjustments are easily made using the included tool, a simple flat head screwdriver or the rim of a cartridge.
Surrounding the barrel is POF-USA’s lightweight Renegade M-LOK handguard. This slim design is approximately 11 inches in length and features M-LOK mounting slots on three sides. A 1913 Picatinny rail is machined in at 12 o’clock, allowing easy mounting of a front BUIS or various accessories. Plus, it has two QD sling mounts at 3 and two at 9 o’clock. This unit feels good in the hand while reducing weight off the front of the rifle. Big thumbs up.
The match-grade barrel assembly is fitted to a distinctive-looking flattop upper receiver. This features good-looking relief cuts and deletes the forward assist to reduce weight. Riding inside is a POF-USA Key-Lock AR-15 bolt carrier. This is dramatically smaller and lighter than an AR-10 bolt carrier. One distinctive feature is the stainless steel gas carrier key is dovetailed into the carrier for added strength. The carrier group itself features a nitride finish and weighs 11 ounces. In comparison, a standard Bravo Company 5.56mm AR-15 bolt carrier assembly weighs 11.6 ounces. The bolt though is a proprietary piece to fit the larger .308 Win case head, and the firing pin is a longer non-standard piece as well. POF-USA includes their patented roller cam pin to reduce friction. The extractor and firing pin are both chrome plated. An ambidextrous charging handle makes running the bolt from either side a snap.
The upper receiver assembly is cross-pinned onto a very unique 7075 forged aluminum lower receiver. It stands out from the AR-15 crowd due to its looks, integral over-size trigger guard and the sheer size of its magazine well. This features their pictogram safety markings plus ambidextrous safety. The Rogue sports POF-USA’s single-stage drop-in trigger, which is designed to break at 4.5 pounds. Custom KNS trigger pins lock it into place. To ensure a tight fit, the lower also sports a Nylon receiver tension screw.
The magazine well is noticeably flared for fast reloads. What makes it stand out though is simply its length. This is due to the fact it accepts a 7.62x51mm rather than a 5.56x45mm magazine. Pop the included 20-round Magpul magazine into the rifle and you have an honest to God .30 caliber battle rifle. Now keep in mind, both the upper and lower are the same length as standard AR-15 pieces. So POF has worked some Voodoo to cram everything you see into a standard length lower receiver.
Threaded into the rear of the lower receiver is an aluminum anti-tilt receiver extension. This features “carrier cradle” extensions to ensure that the carrier is always supported by the buffer tube. This prevents carrier-tilt and premature wear of the buffer tube. With the bolt carrier assembly being so light, I was curious as to how heavy the buffer itself was. Tossing it on my scale showed it to weigh just 2.95 ounces.
Fitted to the receiver extension is a lightweight MFT six-position adjustable stock. This is nicely contoured and has a non-slip rubber pad. The rifle has an overall length of just 33.2 inches with the stock collapsed. My review rifle featured their “Patriot Brown” rather than traditional black finish. Examining the Rogue I noted the fit and finish to be excellent. It’s a very nice-looking piece that not only invokes pride of ownership but will impress your friends and anyone who handles it.
OK, the Rogue turns heads and handles great, but how would it perform on the range? To find out I mounted a Bushnell 2-16x scope and selected four different .308 Win loads for bench testing. These ranged in weight from 120 to 185 grains and would show what the Rogue is capable of. Loads consisted of Winchester’s 120-grain PDX1 Defender, Australian Outback 150-grain Swift Scirocco II BTS, Black Hills Ammunition’s 178-grain ELD-X and Federal’s 185-grain Juggernaut Gold Medal Match. Four five-shot groups were fired from a rest at 100 yards with velocity readings recorded with a LabRadar Doppler chronograph.
I know the one thing many of you are wondering is, “How bad does a 5.9-pound .308 Win AR-15 kick?”
Despite its light weight, the Rogue proved very comfortable to shoot from the bench. The trigger is good and broke at just under 4.5 pounds, but it’s not my favorite. The muzzle brake helps reduce the recoil but the single baffle design is not as effective as the much longer multi-baffle design on the Revolution. As to be expected the 120-grain PDX1 Defender load exhibited the least recoil while the 185-grain Juggernaut pushed the hardest.
Accuracy from the bench was good for an ultralight .308 Win gas gun. It certainly held its own if compared to your average FAL, G3, CETME, M14, BM59, M1A and the like. The most accurate load was Federal’s 185-grain Juggernaut which consistently put three out of five rounds into one inch and averaged two inches at 2,436 fps. Black Hills’ 178-grain ELD-X load averaged 2.3 inches at 2,510 fps. Australian Outback’s 150-grain Swift Scirocco II BTS load also averaged 2.3 inches and Winchester’s 120-grain PDX1 Defender came in at 2.5 inches. The Federal load exhibited a noticeable 4+1 grouping where it plunked four shots into an inch or less and then tossed one markedly opening the group. As to be expected the Winchester load provided the highest velocity with an impressive 2,911 fps.
After finishing up at the bench I loaded up some 25- and 20-round Magpul magazines and ran some drills at 25, 50, 75 and 100 yards. These were shot offhand and kneeling while rapidly engaging multiple targets with multiple rounds. Due to its very light weight the Rogue is very quick handling. It snaps to the shoulder and indexes quickly from target to target. Despite how light it is, I found it to be smooth shooting and easy to control for a 7.62x51mm NATO. This is due to a combination of things including the muzzle brake, how the gas system is set up, lightweight reciprocating parts and the action spring.
Once I got a feel for it, I found shot-to-shot recovery to be fairly quick considering it’s a 5.9-pound .308 Winchester. The rifle is eminently fun to shoot and I chewed through 20-round magazines without issue. While the short brake helps with recoil, utilizing the PDX1 load further reduces it, yet you are still pushing a 120-grain slug at 2,910 fps. That’s about 400 to 500 fps faster than a similar weight 6.5mm Grendel.
The trigger has a bit of creep but breaks cleanly. The stock is comfortable and the buttpad provides a lot of surface area and doesn’t slip around. There are multiple sling mounting points, including a QD mount at the rear of the receiver. The Rogue carries very well due to both its short overall length and light weight. This would be a good piece to consider if you are looking for a light and easy-to-carry rifle chambered for a full-power rifle cartridge. It would make a good companion on a hike or while backpacking.
Next, I moved to shooting prone at a steel silhouette 280 yards away. Conditions were sunny and in the 90s with a bit of wind. At 280 yards and beyond, I only used the Black Hills 178-grain ELD-X load. Five rounds clustered into five inches. Next, I aimed in at my 11x20 inch LaRue at 450 yards. Three quick hits and I switched to the LaRue at 500 yards. Taking my time, I went seven out of 10. So, the Rogue is not only quick handling and easy to carry but it can also reach out if you do your part.
While the Rogue functioned flawlessly with three of the four loads, I did have some extraction issues with the 150-grain Australian Outback load. So, I experimented with different buffers. Swapping to a heavier MGI buffer solved the issue. I also tried a DPM Systems Technologies buffer. The DPM Systems is actually a configurable design where the end-user can easily change the weights and springs to tailor the buffer’s performance to the individual rifle. This design has worked well for me in various 5.56mm rifles and is one I really like.
POF-USA recommends only using Magpul and Lancer magazines with the Rogue. I used Magpul magazines and the rifle ran without issue. I did try three other brands of metal magazines but experienced occasional misfeeds so stopped using them. There is a reason POF-USA recommends using specific magazines.
Is the Rogue perfect? No, it shares the drawback of all 7.62x51mm NATO rifles, the ammunition is heavy, recoil is heavier than smaller intermediate cartridges and the mags are bulky compared to 5.56mm mags. If you are a fan of this cartridge though, you may want to consider POF’s Rogue. 7.62x51mm NATO too Cold War era for you? Well, they also offer their Prescott model in 6mm Creedmoor and 6.5mm Creedmoor.
I moved away from semi-auto .308 Win/7.62x51mm NATO gas guns years ago for a few reasons. One was simply the size and weight of the platform. POF-USA’s Revolution really caught my attention, but I refrained from buying one. This particular Rogue isn’t as accurate as the Revolution I previously tested, but I really like it. Its size and weight put it into a league of its own. It’s very fun to shoot, and yet could fill multiple roles. Here is a rifle you could use for hunting, personal protection and recreational shooting. It would make a great woods gun. Price of admission is a bit steep with an MSRP starting at $1,899. If you can afford it though, this is an interesting and hard-hitting lightweight carbine capable of performing a variety of missions.
If you have any thoughts or comments on this article, we’d love to hear them. Email us at FirearmsNews@Outdoorsg.com.
About the Author
David M. Fortier has been covering firearms, ammunition and optics since 1998. He is a recipient of the Carl Zeiss Outdoor Writer of the Year award and his writing has been recognized by the Civil Rights organization JPFO. In 2007 he covered the war in Iraq as an embedded journalist.
POF-USA Rogue Specifications
- Action: Rotating bolt via Direct Impingement
- Caliber: 7.62x51mm NATO
- Barrel: 16.5-inch stainless steel
- Rifling: 1:8 inch twist
- Overall Length: 33.2 inches with stock collapsed, 36.2 inches extended
- Trigger: Single-stage with 4.5-pound pull
- Feed: 20/25 round detachable box magazines
- Sights: None, 1913 optics rail
- Stock: MFT 6-position collapsible
- Weight: 5.9 pounds
- Finish: Black, Patriot Brown
- MSRP: $1,899 Black, $2,031 Patriot Brown
- Contact: 877-561-9572, POF-USA.com