I was excited to test the new Windham Weaponry WW-308 (R18FSFST-308, msrp $1,708). I have shot 223/5.56 ever since I was 13 years old, but had never really had a chance to try out the AR-15s big brother (often referred to as the AR-10). The real treat was trying this rifle platform out with Windham Weaponry, a company rich in AR-15 history. Many newer shooters may not know, or fully respect, Windham Weaponry. To some they are just one of the many AR makers/assemblers who came on the scene in the mid 2000s. However, in the 1970s Richard Dyke started a little company in Maine that became known as “Bushmaster.” For years Richard and his team at Bushmaster helped young gun builders, like myself, build our very own AR-15 rifles when there were few companies providing this service. My friends and I still have our 1990s Bushmasters. In 2006 Richard sold Bushmaster to Freedom Group (a firm who owns companies like: DPMS, Remington, Marlin, PARA, and others). In 2011, and after Richard’s non-compete was up, it also coincided with Freedom Group moving operations from Maine to the South. Richard decided he’d reassemble his old Bushmaster team and began making firearms once again, but now under the name of “Windham Weaponry.” In my opinion, Richard Dyke really is the grandfather of the Civilian AR.
A quick history on the 308 (7.62×51 is the military version loaded at higher pressures) before I get into my review. The 308 was the military’s answer in the middle of the 20th century to scale down the beastly 30-06. They wanted to save a little brass/powder and reduce the overall weight a GI would carry into combat, but still be able to have the knockdown power of a 30 caliber bullet. The 308 saw action by the military in the Korean War in the form of the M-14 and other platforms. The 308 lived on in Vietnam being used in the M-60 (the Rambo movies for you 80s kids) as well as many other platforms, including being used by our snipers. The 308 round remains in use today both in the military and hunting rifles around the world.
So what did I think about the Windham Weaponry’s 308? Being able to push 25 rounds of 308 down range as fast as you can pull the trigger is quite a rush. When it is in your hands it feels like a heavier AR-15, but when it goes off, you’re reminded it’s not a 223. If you’ve read my reviews before you know I really don’t get into wasting my time seeing what type of bullet gets the best grouping at 100 yards with 10mph wind on a Tuesday at 1:38 p.m. It’s a 308. Unless you suck, even an ok shooter should be able to hit a human size target at 200 yards with iron sights. Overall I really enjoyed shooting Windham’s 308. This gun has some amazing power. Their proprietary trigger is also very smooth vs. a mil-spec (223-type) trigger. However, there are some much needed upgrades I would do as soon as I pulled this gun out of the case.
#1, lose the cheap M-4 stock and upgrade to a Magpul stock. It provides a little recoil reduction and feels more comfortable on the cheek. I understand Windham’s stance on shooters have their preference on stocks, but if I’m paying $1,708 on a gun, give me the accessories I’d expect on a $1,708+ gun. #2, lose the A2 flash suppressor. I’m not in combat, I don’t care if you see my muzzle flash. I want to reduce muzzle flip to keep my follow up shots on target with a 308. The best way to do this is to utilize a muzzle brake that has two/three ports on the left and right side of the brake. My last recommendation would be for Windham to nitride the barrel at the factory vs utilizing the old technology of phosphate coating. Nitride holds up better to harsh weather and it increases barrel longevity, inside and outside.
Bottom-line, this is a great firearm made by an iconic master of the AR. With a few quick upgrades this will be one of your favorite guns to shoot at the range, or in the field. It’s a gun you will pass down to your kids, assuming they remain legal to own.
Mr. Ags writes for Joe for America and welcomes your feedback: [email protected] and on Twitter: @blackswampradio