MAKING FRANKENSTEIN: DPMS lower, SSK upper, .300 Whisper caliber barrel, SSK suppressor, Harris bipod, a VLTOR CASV-EL free floating hand guard, a VLTOR Enhanced ‘Clubfoot’ Modstock, Insight Techgear infra-red illuminator and a U.S. Night Optics D-760 night vision sighting system.
Note: When the author used this firearm in the article as described he used a military grade Aimpoint together with the ITT PVS-14 night vision monocular and not the U.S. Night Optics sight shown.
There were four of us stalking covertly over the worked ground of a soon-to-be-planted western Oklahoma wheat field during a late August evening. Two of us were armed—one of us had a semi-auto AR-10 type rifle in .308 Winchester and I was armed with my ‘Frankenstein’ suppressed AR-15 in .300 Whisper. We were preparing to ambush a large group of feral pigs in the midnight darkness and no one had any allusions about this being a ‘Marcus of Queensbury’ sport hunting adventure.
Our intent was to ambush and kill as many of these wild pigs as possible in as short a time as possible. We moved quietly all the while checking our position versus theirs through use of thermal-imagining goggles and a PVS-14 night vision scope.
For the uninformed, feral hogs have become an agricultural nightmare for many grain operations in the South and their menace is ranging as far west as western Oklahoma. Oklahoma’s DNR does not allow night hunting of any kind for any reason; except for those agricultural operations that apply for a night hunting depredation permit after proving significant crop loss and financial damage from these pests. We were operating under a state-issued permit because the feral hogs on this 20,000-acre operation were destroying five or more acres of wheat every single day, day in and day out. With wheat approaching $8 per bushel and an average yield of 30 bushels per acre, the numbers were starting to add up. These animals had moved way beyond the nuisance stage.
My hosts told me, “Ten years ago there were no feral hogs in these parts.” When you ask these farmers where these hogs came from, the universal response is “Texas! These hogs have been following the rivers north in their migration and now we got ’em bad.”
Hogs Runnin’ Wild
What my hosts were complaining about were not Russian boars or any other version of a wild boar. They were not the small Javelinas that are native to the American Southwest, but rather an animal that has resulted naturally from an odd combination of events. For decades prior to the invention of barbed wire, livestock operations in Southern states operated with free-ranging livestock. There were no fences. Those with domestic swine just let them run free and they were trained to return to the homestead through use of feed (slop) and hog callin.’ It was a system that worked well for a long period of time, excepting of course when someone was audacious enough to fence off a water hole or spring with that new-fangled wire with the sharp points braided in.
Sometime prior to WWI, some Einstein sportsman, who gave no thought to the eventual repercussions, imported Russian razor-back wild boars for game hunting. Of course, they too were turned loose or eventually worked themselves free from fenced enclosures. With their native intelligence they became a formidable quarry for any hunter under any set of circumstances. However, as time went on nature took its course and the free ranging, but relatively speaking ‘dumb’ domestic pigs were soon inter-breeding with the far more wily and wary razor-back wild hogs.
The result is a pig that is far larger and closer to the size of a normal domestic pig, but with the intelligence of the truly wild and non-domesticated animal. The resulting animals do two things extremely well. They eat copious quantities of row-crops and other grains and reproduce in unusually large numbers for any non-native, non-game feral species. Some think the sexually mature females are averaging 6-piglet litters, twice a year. Most all examples tested so far throughout the South have been found to be positive for just about every swine disease known to man up to and including brucellosis, a bacteria-borne disease that can seriously affect humans who come into contact with it.
Hogs are not native to North America. They were brought here by the first Spanish explorers centuries ago, so it’s hard for any state DNR department to claim they are a natural, native game animal. Additionally, since they are not a native game animal, the question has been raised by more than one farmer; “Who exactly is responsible for all the financial damage they are causing me and my farm?”
In my case the use of the suppressor was legal, as was the thermal-imagining goggles and the night-vision sighting device. While it is possible to hunt with hogs during daylight hours, my Oklahoma hosts have learned they achieved greater success if these animals were hunted off bait and during the dark night hours. These animals are becoming increasingly nocturnal and farmers have adopted tactics that match the pig’s changing habits.
The DPMS lower receiver is the basis for the author’s rifle. The setup has provided him with exceptional service.
The gun I was using was referred to earlier as a ‘Frankenstein’ firearm. It is comprised of various components that came together over a period of years, not days, weeks, or even months. The lower receiver was manufactured by DPMS and the upper receiver is from SSK Industries, as is the barrel and suppressor combination. The caliber is .300 Whisper and the removable, registered suppressor from SSK Industries was designed from the get-go to work with this cartridge and firearm.
For those who came in late, the .300 Whisper was designed by J.D. Jones expressly for use with suppressed weapons and the AR-15 format. SSK Industries has a whole line up of Whisper cartridges; some that work with the AR-15 format while the bigger members required the use of a solid bolt action rifle. Suppressed rifles have always been a contradiction. The speed of sound is approximately 1,156 fps at sea level, so any bullet traveling faster than that velocity is going create its own sonic crack, which more or less defeats the whole purpose of the suppressor.
Insight Tech-Gear’s lamps, when fitted with an infra-red filter, are invaluable for the ‘extra’ illumination they provide.
In order for the suppressor/gun combination to remain truly quiet it is necessary to keep all projectiles velocities below the speed-of-sound muzzle velocity. That limits the traditional source of power for any rifle/carbine long gun—velocity. Most have tried to compensate for this deficiency by going to a large-diameter bullet like the .45 ACP. A good example from years past was the British DeLisle Carbine during WWII. Unfortunately, the ballistic trajectory of the heavy 230-grain FMJ round is extremely limited past 100 yards.
The author has put thousands of rounds through his SSK suppressor and it remains quiet, efficient and effective….all without a major cleaning of any kind.
J.D. Jones, in cooperation with a well known bullet manufacturer, used a computer to find a solution to this dilemma. He found it with traditional 1,000-yard match bullets; the heavy, .30-caliber Sierra 220-grain and 240-grain Match-King long range target bullets. By keeping these .30-caliber bullets at subsonic velocities out he was able to create a round that is superbly accurate. Due to their tendency to tumble violently in soft media upon impact, he created a round that was devastating in terms of its terminal ballistics. In order to stay within the specifications of the AR-15 envelope—magazine length and size, bolt face diameter and other critical dimensions—he initially packaged this round in the .221 Fireball case. It has the same case-head diameter as the 5.56x45mm military round or the .223 Remington cartridge, so no modification is needed to the bolt head or bolt carrier.