November 22, 2022
By Brad Fitzpatrick
It’s sometimes difficult to get excited when a new 9mm pistol is released. With the polymer-frame striker-fired handgun market so thoroughly saturated, we begin to look for minor variations that set one gun apart from all the others. Perhaps the new version holds one additional round, or maybe there’s a new color combination. Sometimes a gun is a tenth of an inch thinner than the competition, which helps conceal it. Other times an existing model comes with an optic cut on the slide.
Then, of course, there’s the Patriot Ordnance Factory Phoenix. Like the mythological bird for which it is named, the Phoenix pistol rises from the landscape as a new creation. It’s technically accurate to call this gun a 9mm pistol, but the Phoenix is so far removed from the other 9mms on the market that the description hardly does this gun justice.
The Phoenix clearly shares DAN with Patriot Ordnance Factory’s AR rifles. It features a monolithic upper receiver and a billet lower receiver. The mag release and safety design will prove familiar to anyone who has ever operated an AR, and they’re fully ambidextrous. A MIL-SPEC trigger comes standard, and the trigger, selector, and grip are all AR-15 compatible. The full-length Picatinny top rail means you can mount your favorite optics on this pistol without modification. The M-LOK compatible handguard offers slots at the three, six, and nine o’clock positions for mounting accessories. There’s an included hand stop mounted to the lower front portion of the handguard, and a single-point POF-USA sling with V-TAC QD mounts comes standard.
Of course, this isn’t simply an AR pistol. The non-reciprocating charging handle has been relocated to the front of the gun, and its ambidextrous design allows it to be positioned on the left or right side of the pistol. The forward-mounted charging handle is reminiscent of many bullpup designs and is just as efficient, requiring minimal hand movement to operate the action.
Since the Phoenix is chambered in 9mm, it utilizes a direct blowback operating system instead of a gas system. The blowback design is reliable and simple, so you can expect to deliver fast follow-up shots with this gun—and many of them. These guns ship with double-stack, single-feed injection-molded polymer magazines that hold 35 rounds, which puts even the highest-capacity striker-fired pistol to shame. The curved magazine geometry helps smooth feeding and simplify loading, but it also keeps the magazine out of the way of the firing hand and makes mag changes efficient.
Since it lacks a buffer tube, the rear of the Phoenix pistol comes with a section of 1913 Picatinny rail for mounting accessories. In addition to the ambidextrous magazine release, bolt release with enhanced bolt catch, and the safety selector, you’ll also find receiver tension screws, an oversized mag well flare, and an oversized integral trigger guard with grip relief on the Phoenix’s billet lower receiver. A Mission First tactical grip comes standard, but as previously stated, it’s easy to swap the grip and other components for other AR-15 compatible accessories.
Phoenix pistols come with an eight-inch, 1:10 twist nitride heat-treated match barrel with ½ x 28 threads and a dual chamber muzzle brake. That gives this pistol an overall length of 17.5-inches and a weight of 4.6 pounds. There are currently two Phoenix models, a black anodized version ($1,699) and a flat dark earth model ($1,799). Of course, since these guns are Patriot Ordnance Factory firearms, they’re made in America and backed by POF’s outstanding customer service.
At the Range with The Phoenix
Prior to the range evaluation, I mounted a Holosun AEMS reflex optic on the Phoenix’s Picatinny rail and topped off the 35-round magazine. The polymer mag itself is well designed, with a relatively stiff spring that isn’t so tight that it makes hand-loading the magazine a chore. The sheer volume of ammo required to fill the Phoenix’s cavernous reserves does that, so don’t lose track of the included loader. I hitched the included single-point sling to the QD cup at the rear of the receiver, and with the sling in place this pistol rides comfortably alongside the shooter’s body.
There was no break-in period for the Phoenix. I immediately started shooting a typewriter drill, alternating Hornady’s 100-grain FTX Critical Defense Lite ammo with Federal +P Solid Core 147-grain load in the magazine. The typewriter drill tests a semiauto pistol’s ability to operate with loads of various weights, velocities, and pressures. The Phoenix passed the initial hazing with flying colors, firing both rounds interchangeably without any issues. Whether you’re shooting very light defensive loads or heavy bear-stopping solids, you can expect this gun to run reliably with a range of 9mm ammo. In fact, the Phoenix is one of few new 9mm pistols that doesn’t experience a single failure in its first hundred rounds.
Part of the reason you can expect that reliability is the time POF spent tuning the blowback system. But the gun’s design also lends itself to rugged dependability. The extractor is mounted on the three o’clock position on the bolt face, and there’s a notch in the nine o’clock portion of the bolt through which a rugged, oversized fixed ejector passes. Empty cases have nowhere to go but through the large ejection port after firing.
The Phoenix is considerably more accurate than the standard 9mm pistol, especially with a reflex sight. From seven yards offhand, I could keep the torso and head shots close enough that they were almost touching. Ditto for the two headshots that followed; at a firing distance of 35 yards, I could consistently strike the four-inch center of a target.
Because of its reliability, accuracy, and substantial capacity, the Phoenix is a natural candidate for your next home defense pistol and is well-suited to the task. The upper receiver’s M-Lok compatibility allows you to mount a light on the gun easily, and the controls are familiar to anyone who shoots an AR. The charging handle is well-positioned and intuitive to operate. Without taking my eyes off the target, I could charge the gun and flip the charging handle out of position.
The Phoenix is too large for traditional concealed carry, but it makes perfect sense in a messenger back or backpack. If you’re a wilderness camper, I can’t think of many better guns to carry on your pack than the Phoenix. It far exceeds the capacity of a standard sidearm, and it’s accurate enough for shooting small game for camp meat.
But we must not be so marveling at the Phoenix’s practical applications that we miss what this gun is mainly about: having fun. I can’t recall the last time I’d had so much fun at the range with a 9mm, and I burned through my stash of FMJ match practice ammunition in an awful hurry. Everybody that saw this gun wanted to shoot it, and everyone that shot it wanted to own it. It was undoubtedly worth burning through my ammo, and Patriot Ordnance Factory has a winner with their new Phoenix pistol. It reminds us just how much fun pistol shooting can be.
Patriot Ordnance Factory Phoenix Specs
- Design: Semiauto pistol
- Action: Direct Blowback
- Chambering: 9mm Luger
- Capacity: 35 +1
- Upper: Monolithic with M-LOK compatibility
- Lower: Billet
- Finish: Matte black (tested), FDE
- Weight: 4.6 lbs.
- Overall Length: 17.5”
- Barrel: 8-inch nitride heat-treated match, 1:10 twist, ½ x 28 threads, dual chamber muzzle brake
- MSRP: $1,699
- Contact: pof-usa.com
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