July 06, 2023
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If you ask 10 different people their thoughts on the ideal “survival” or “prepper” rifle, you’ll likely get 10 different answers. This is to be expected as individuals in different parts of the country living different lifestyles will have different views on what best fits their particular needs. While they will not agree on everything, you’ll find some common ground among all of them. Typically, they look for the following attributes: fairly light and easy to carry, chambered for a common and readily available caliber, capable of defending against two-legged threats and harvesting medium game, very reliable with spare parts readily available, able to mount modern optics and accessories, possessing superior human engineering to be ergonomic and easy to operate, consistent accuracy facilitating hits on man-sized targets at 300+ yards, toolless disassembly and able to be easily packed in a discreet case. Basically, most look for a sort of “Jack of all trades” or “polymath” type of rifle. It’s usually only once we get into the specifics that arguments begin.
This came to mind recently while I was working on a project for our parent title, Firearms News. I was testing a rather interesting rifle when I realized it seemed capable of filling the roll of a “do-it-all” survival rifle. The piece in question is POF-USA’s Revolution DI rifle in 7.62x51mm NATO. While the Revolution DI has a number of interesting features, what makes it stand out is it being a 6.8-pound AR-15 chambered in 7.62x51mm NATO. That’s right: it’s an AR-15, not an AR-10. Plus, despite being chambered for a traditional .30-caliber military cartridge, it’s almost identical in weight to an old-school M16A1.
So, what are the advantages of building a 7.62x51mm rifle on a 5.56x45mm platform? You end up with a rifle considerably smaller, lighter and handier than a traditional 7.62x51mm design. You get the desired .30-caliber exterior and terminal ballistics without the weight/size penalty. The center of gravity is also closer to the shooter, and the rifle balances and handles noticeably better. A lighter rifle is quicker to the shoulder, faster to start swinging and easier to stop. It is also less fatiguing to carry.
Why 7.62x51mm NATO? This U.S. military standard is hugely popular and widely available in both its military and civilian guises. Due to its use by military, law enforcement and civilians, this cartridge is among the first to receive updates with new technology. It’s well-suited for hunting medium game or self-protection and is available in a wide variety of bullet weights and configurations.
Let’s take a look at the rifle itself. The heart of the Revolution DI is a distinctive-looking flattop upper receiver. This features relief cuts to reduce weight while still retaining the forward assist. Riding inside is an AR-15-size bolt carrier assembly with a special high-strength bolt. This is not only smaller and lighter than an AR-10 bolt carrier assembly, but it is actually lighter than a standard 5.56mm AR-15 bolt carrier. The carrier group itself features a nitride finish with various lightening cuts which reduce the weight to just 10.2 ounces. POF-USA includes their patented roller cam pin to reduce friction. The extractor and firing pin are both chrome-plated. Another nice touch is the use of their ambidextrous Tomahawk charging handle.
The upper receiver assembly is cross-pinned onto a very unique lower receiver. It stands out from the AR-15 crowd due to not only its features but also the sheer size of its magazine well. POF’s Gen 4 lower features their characteristic pictogram safety markings plus fully ambidextrous safety, magazine release and bolt release. The design also incorporates an ambidextrous bolt catch button located just behind the magazine well inside the triggerguard.
The Revolution DI sports POF-USA’s drop-in trigger, which is designed to break at 4.5 pounds. 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. It accepts a 7.62x51mm mag rather than a 5.56x45mm. Keep in mind, both the upper and lower are the same length as standard AR-15 pieces.
At the muzzle, you’ll find an effective three-baffle muzzlebrake to reduce felt recoil. This features four small ports on top which are biased for a right-handed shooter. The brake is threaded onto a 16.5-inch nitride heat-treated match-grade barrel with a 1:10-inch twist. A patented 3-inch barrel nut serves to not only lock the barrel in place but 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 Revolution’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 backwards and push on the shoulder of the spent casing. This small pressure helps unseat 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.
While this is a traditional direct impingement model with a gas tube, it does feature an adjustable gas block. POF’s Dictator adjustable gas block features nine settings. This allows you to tailor the rifle to certain loads or turn the gas pressure down for use with a suppressor. Tuning the gas system can reduce felt recoil and make for a smoother operating rifle, or you can leave it alone. The Revolution DI features POF’s lightweight Renegade M-LOK handguard. This slim design is approximately 14 inches in length and features M-LOK mounting slots on three sides and quick-detach (QD) sling mounts at 3 and 9 o’clock. This unit feels good in the hand while reducing weight on the front of the rifle.
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 nonslip rubber pad. The rifle has an overall length of just 34 inches with the stock collapsed and weighs in at a verified 6.8 pounds. Examining it showed the fit and finish to be excellent.
Seeing as this is a lightweight and handy carbine, I wanted a suitably small optic that would match its performance. I found what I was looking for with Nightforce’s NX8 1-8x24mm F1. Four different loads ranging in weight from 120 to 185 grains were selected for testing. These were Winchester’s 120-grain PDX1 Defender, SIG Sauer’s 150-grain HT, Black Hills’ 178-grain ELD-X and Federal’s 185-grain Juggernaut Gold Medal Match. Despite its relatively light weight, the Revolution DI proved very comfortable to shoot from the bench. The trigger is quite good and broke crisply. The muzzlebrake is effective, and the gas system was well-tuned out of the box. As to be expected, the 120-grain PDX1 Defender load exhibited the least recoil while the 185-grain Juggernaut pushed the hardest.
Accuracy was much better than unexpected. I figured if the Revolution DI shot consistent 2-inch groups before it heated up, I’d be happy. Instead, it averaged .8 inch with Black Hills’ 178-grain ELD-X load. This clocked 2,478 feet per second (fps). Federal’s 185-grain Juggernaut averaged 1.2 inches at 2,435 fps. SIG Sauer’s 150-grain HT averaged 1.3 inches and Winchester’s 120-grain PDX1 Defender came in at 2.5 inches. The Winchester load provided the highest velocity with an impressive 2,910 fps.
Pleasantly surprised, I decided to see how the Revolution DI would do at distance. I moved from the bench to shooting prone. Conditions were bright and sunny with a bit of wind running 12 to 15 mph. Only Black Hills’ 178-grain ELD-X load was used for this portion of testing. I started by putting five rapid shots onto a steel silhouette at 280 yards. Four measured 2.2 inches with the fifth bringing it out to 4 inches.
Moving to 800 yards, I started with no sighters and a full 20-round magazine. My goal here was to see how many hits I could make firing at a fast cadence. My first two were in the dirt due to wind, but after correcting, I proceeded to connect with the next 18 consecutive shots. All 20 rounds were fired in about 30 seconds. So, if you can estimate range and call wind, the Revolution DI will make hits on a man-sized target at 800 yards. Better still, it remained consistent, even while very hot. I’d also like to mention that I didn’t have a spotter helping for any of this. The recoil on the Revolution DI is mild enough and the optical performance of the Nightforce good enough to facilitate this. I made elevation corrections using the reticle out to 500 yards. At 800 yards, I dialed elevation. I simply held off for windage at all distances. I had zero problems with Nightforce’s NX8 1-8x24mm F1 and thought it performed very well.
While POF’s Revolution DI does shoot surprisingly well at distance, it really shines up close. So, I ran it head to head with one of my personal rifles, a Krebs Custom 7.62x39mm AK-104 with a 14.5-inch barrel, AK-100 series muzzlebrake, LaRue AK-Iron Dot red-dot sight loaded with 123-grain ball. Running drills from 25 to 50 yards with the Revolution DI loaded with 147-grain NATO ball, I found my split time between shots to be slightly less with the POF-USA gun. Switching to Winchester’s 120-grain PDX1 load reduced my splits, giving POF’s Revolution DI a noticeable advantage over the Kalashnikov. Using the scope like a red dot, I had less muzzle movement and was able to stay on target easier. With identical bullet weights, though, the POF has a 600-fps advantage over the AK. Everyone who fired the Revolution DI commented on its mild recoil and quick recovery between shots.
The Revolution DI’s controls are well laid out and easy to operate from either side of the rifle. I particularly like the ability to lock the bolt back and release it from a firing grip. 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. In the hands, the Revolution DI carries and handles like a 16-inch AR-15. Zero malfunctions of any kind were experienced during testing.
My thoughts? The POF-USA Revolution DI is dramatically lighter, quicker handling, softer shooting and more accurate than legacy 7.62x51mm rifles. In regards to terminal ballistics, it easily outperforms the 5.56x45mm, 6.5mm Grendel, 6.8x43mm SPC, 7.62x39mm, .300 Blackout and similar cartridges. For the survivalist or prepper, it can perform the role of a hunting rifle, self-protection carbine and mid-range precision rifle.
Is the Revolution perfect? No, it shares the drawback of all 7.62x51mm NATO rifles. The ammunition is heavy, relatively expensive and the mags are bulky compared to 5.56mm mags. Recoil is not as mild as a 5.56x45mm, and many will not feel the need for the extra performance of the .30-cal. cartridge. The biggest disadvantage of the Revolution, though, is simply its price.However, POF-USA’s Revolution DI can replace multiple rifles in your stable, so perhaps it is not as expensive as it would first appear. If you can afford it, the Revolution DI is an accurate and reliable lightweight carbine capable of performing a variety of missions.
POF-USA Revolution DI
- Type: Direct inpingement, semi-automatic
- Cartridge: 7.62x51mm NATO
- Capacity: 10, 20, 30 rds.
- Barrel: 16.5 in.; 1:10-in. Twist
- Overall Length: 34 in. (collapsed), 37.3 in. (extended)
- Weight: 6.8 lbs.
- Stock: MFT 6-position collapsible
- Trigger: Single-stage with 4.5 pound pull
- Finish: Black, Burnt Bronze
- Sights: None
- MSRP: $2,570 Black, $2,670 Burnt Bronze
- Manufacturer: POF-USA
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.
This article was originally published in Be Ready! magazine. You can find the original magazine on the OSG Newsstand. If you have any thoughts or comments on this article, we’d love to hear them. Email us at FirearmsNews@Outdoorsg.com.