January 02, 2023
By Brad Fitzpatrick
When you hear Patriot Ordnance Factory, ARs are probably the first product that comes to mind. There’s a good reason for that: this Arizona-based gun company has been building some of the best AR rifles available today. However, we’re excited to see that POF-USA is expanding its firearms catalog. First came the Phoenix, a 9mm pistol that’s loads of fun to shoot. Though it’s a unique design, the Phoenix was not dissimilar to POF’s AR rifles in that it’s a semi-auto with controls that will feel familiar to anyone who owns a POF rifle. However, the latest development from Patriot Ordnance Factory is radically different—a 9mm lever gun that modernizes many elements of this century-old rifle platform. Meet the Tombstone.
Classic Feel, Modern Features
If you’re a fan of lever guns, the 9mm Tombstone will feel at home in your hands. In general terms, it works similarly to the classic American lever guns that came before it. A manually-operated lever is connected to the gun’s bolt via a linkage that moves the bolt rearward when the lever is lowered. This operation cocks the exposed hammer, and when the lever is returned to the firing position, the forward movement of the bolt pushes a cartridge into the chamber of the gun for firing.
Here's where things get interesting.
Though these essential functions are pulled directly from the lever gun playbook, just about every other feature of a lever-action rifle has been redesigned on the Tombstone. It lacks the traditional tubular magazine and utilizes a proprietary detachable magazine that first appeared with the 9mm Phoenix pistol. Like the Phoenix, it comes in 10, 20, and 35-round capacity versions, and a 20-round mag is supplied with the Tombstone rifle.
Aluminum sideplates on the action are held in place with T15 Torx screws, and when those sideplates are removed, the operating linkage is visible and easily accessible. It’s worth noting, though, that while POF has made the linkage much more accessible than traditional lever gun designs, that doesn’t mean you should start fiddling with the inner workings of the rifle. Removing the screws on the right side of the action allows the left sideplate to fall away, and the linkage can fall out. If you support the left sideplate, everything stays in place, but the takeaway is simple: it’s much easier to access the inner workings of this rifle than other lever guns.
The lever on the Tombstone operates much more smoothly than most other rifles. Patriot Ordnance Factory Vice President of Marketing Jeremy Selting told me that this was intentional and that the engineers at POF worked long hours to create a smooth-operating lever design free of the heavy ratcheting felt on other guns. The lever is beveled and offers a large loop design for added comfort and control, especially while wearing gloves. The flat-face trigger is similarly smooth, and the engineers at POF have worked to create the best lever-action factory trigger on the market. With a clean break at 3.5 pounds, the Tombstone’s non-adjustable trigger is manageable and lends itself to excellent accuracy.
Selting told me that when the team at Patriot Ordnance factory considered developing a lever-action rifle, they looked at competing guns and realized that many shooters add modern furniture to their lever guns. The Tombstone comes with many of these features right out of the box, including a Magpul SGA polymer stock. Popular on defensive shotguns, the SGA is ideal for a rifle like the Tombstone because it offers two inches of LOP adjustment with stock spacers and an adjustable comb that allows the shooter to properly align their eye with either the included adjustable XS ghost ring sights or taller optics. SGA stocks come with molded 1.25-inch sling attachment points on both the left and right sides.
Tombstone rifles have a 16.5-inch fluted barrel with ½ x 28 threads and a dual chamber muzzle brake. Surrounding the free-floating barrel is a POF 10.5-inch Modular Receiver Rail (MRR) that offers M-LOK attachment points at the 3, 6. And 9 o’clock positions and two-inch rails at the 12 and 6 o’clock positions. QD attachment points make attaching and removing a sling simple, and with so much space up front, there’s ample room to add lights, bipods, or any other accessories you’d like.
Though the Tombstone is indeed a modern lever gun, it borrows elements that AR shooters will immediately recognize. The button magazine release on the right side of the aluminum receiver and left-side bar mag release will be familiar to anyone who shoots AR rifles. There’s a crossbolt safety on the rear portion of the receiver that can be engaged when the hammer is cocked. The two-position hammer has a large spur that’s easy to manipulate, and the hammer spur has a circular hole that allows the operator to install a hammer extension.
Despite this long list of features, the Tombstone weighs just 5 pounds and 12 ounces while measuring 36 inches in length. That makes it light, handy, and loads of fun to shoot. MSRP is set at $1,962.
Home on the Range
I spent a full morning testing the Tombstone at the range, and if I hadn’t run out of ammunition, I doubt I’d have made it home for dinner. With a Hawke red dot optic in place, this rifle could produce five-shot groups under two inches at 25 yards and two to three-inch groups at 50 yards, which is substantially better accuracy than you’ll achieve from most 9mm handguns. The new POF 9mm magazines work well, and the extractor and fixed ejector sling empties through the ejection port as fast as you can operate this rifle.
You’ll have the most fun with this gun off the bench, though. The oversized lever is smooth and light to operate, and with or without an optic in place, you can ring steel and punch paper until your supply of ammo runs dry. The SGA stock comes with a soft recoil pad, but this gun doesn’t produce much recoil, which makes it suitable for new or young shooters.
This gun is also a practical tool as well. It’s small enough to serve as a truck gun and light enough for backpacking. The anodized black finish on the receiver and black nitride barrel finish stand up well to the elements, and it’s reassuring to have twenty 9mm rounds on tap when you’re far from home. Speaking of home, this rifle makes a great defensive weapon when you aren’t in the backcountry. The XS sights are fast, durable, and easy to use, and the smooth-operating action and light, crisp trigger make this a gun suitable for shooters of every skill level. I even tested it with CCI’s Pest Control 9mm loads which fire a charge of #12 shot, perfect for dispatching pests around the home.
Jeremy Selting told me that Patriot Ordnance Factory wanted to extend beyond the black rifle market with the release of the Tombstone, but the reality is that POF has done much more than that. This rifle revises the traditional lever gun design, making it the most fun—and practical—gun we’ve seen in a long time.
Patriot Ordnance Factory Tombstone Specs
- Action: lever-action centerfire
- Chambering: 9mm Luger
- Capacity: 10, 20 (tested), 35 rounds
- Stock: Magpul SGA
- Barrel: 16.5-inches, fluted
- Muzzle: ½ x 28 threaded, dual chamber brake included
- Sights: XS Ghost Ring sights, top rail
- Trigger: 3.5 pounds
- Finish: Black anodized (receiver), black nitride (barrel)
- Safety: Crossbolt
- Weight: 5 lbs, 12 oz
- Overall length: 36-inches
- MSRP: $1,962
- Contact: Patriot Ordnance Factory, pof-usa.com, (623) 561-9572
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