The manufacture of ARs with their many associated components and add-on accessories make up a significant portion of the domestic long gun market. While current industry figures are hard to pin down exactly due to a Byzantine ATF accounting process, it’s safe to say that the AR is the most widely produced rifle in America today.
Although an offspring of a 1950s design technology, ARs have proven themselves over the decades that have followed. Some 50-plus years later they are the most popular “black rifles” among military, law enforcement and civilian shooters alike. Because of their popularity, numerous companies produce complete AR rifles or their various sub-assemblies. This crowded marketplace sometimes makes it difficult for a shooter to find the best gun based on quality and price.
Among the many vendors making ARs and AR components today, there is only a small percentage that rank as truly outstanding when it comes to the fit, finish and accuracy. One of the very best is the Tactical Rifle Division of Wilson Combat. Based in Berryville, AR, Wilson Combat is named after its founder and president Bill Wilson. Wilson began a lifelong interest in firearms and shooting at age eight when he received his first firearm. He became an avid hunter and recreational shooter. Eventually he became active as a competitive shooter and earned many trophies for his shooting abilities.
An intense interest in the mechanical engineering of firearms also resulted in Wilson becoming an expert in the fields of design and manufacturing of firearms and accessories. In 1977, just five years after graduating from Berryville High School, Wilson founded his own retail gun shop and gunsmithing business in 1977.
At first Wilson specialized in customizing 1911 pistols and various makes of revolvers. This in turn led to the production of Wilson Combat brand-named pistols based on the legendary 1911 design of John Moses Browning. In the years that passed, building customized tactical shotguns and the manufacturing of high-end ARs followed. Today Wilson Combat has over 50 employees that are dedicated to providing the very best in firearms to their customers.
Wilson AR Models
Currently Wilson Combat offers three base models of assault rifles in semi-automatic configuration, all of which are chambered for the 5.56mm cartridge.
The UT-15 Urban Tactical model is a carbine-sized rifle that is ideal for use as a law enforcement patrol rifle or personal sporting firearm. Next is the M-4T, which one would find well suited for close combat or personal defense applications as well as for general purpose recreational use. Finally, if long range shooting or precision accuracy is the requirement, there is the SS-15 Super Sniper rifle. Based on what the customer specifies, Wilson Combat can deliver all three base models with various options and accessories.
All Wilson Combat rifles are handcrafted by highly qualified gunsmiths using only the finest parts. Wilson Combat uses quality in-house produced parts as well as the highest quality components made by a virtual who’s who of AR accessory makers.
Each rifle starts with a CNC machined upper and lower receiver. High-end 7075 T6 aluminum forgings are used for the receivers. For those of you that have seen the term CNC countless times but never really knew what it meant, it stands for Computer Numeric Control. Once the exact dimensional specifications of a given component are determined, such as a firearm receiver, a numeric mathematical formula is entered into a computer controlled machining instrument. This in turn allows the component to be machined at a high level of precision and for that exacting precision to be duplicated exactly the same way each time.
Not taking computer accuracy for granted, a Wilson Combat gunsmith then inspects each component and hand matches the upper and lower receivers.
All three base models of rifle feature flat-top receivers with military specification and industry standard Picatinny interface rails. This allows a full range of customer specified optics or iron sights to be utilized. Each of the three base models are then hand assembled to their own unique specification with the customer defining the exact final configuration.
Urban Tactical Rifle
For the UT-15 Urban Tactical Rifle, a JP Enterprises single stage trigger and hammer group is installed. The trigger pull on the UT-15 is tuned to between 3 and 3.5 pounds. An NP-3 coated military specification bolt and bolt carrier are used which allows for accurate and reliable functioning. A 16.25” match grade Wilson Combat premium fluted barrel comes next. The barrel uses a 1:9 rifling twist. Normally a proprietary Wilson Combat Tactical muzzle brake is installed but optional flash hiders from other manufacturers are also available.
Free-floating aluminum hand guards are used on the UT-15 Urban Tactical model. This allows the barrel to expand freely as it heats up with no pressure, which can affect accuracy. A free-floating quad-rail forearm is also available for add on accessories such as a SureFire WeaponLight or TangoDown vertical grip.
Fixed or collapsible stocks of various types can be selected for the UT-15. The overall length of the UT-15 Urban Tactical Rifle with fixed stock or with collapsible stock extended is 36.25”. Overall length with the collapsible stock retracted is 32.50”.
In base configuration, the UT-15 weighs 6.9 pounds empty. A Wilson Combat nylon rifle case and user manual are included with each purchase as well as one 20 round magazine. The UT-15 as well as the M-4T and SS-15 will accept any AR magazine.
M4-T Tactical Carbine
Wilson Combat’s second carbine model, the M-4T, features the same trigger, bolt assembly and receiver internals as the UT-15. The barrel is also 16.25 inches in length with a 1:9 rifling twist, but in this case it is the heavy match grade variant with an M4 barrel contour.
Normally the M-4T is supplied with a standard military specification six position, collapsible stock, plastic forearm furniture and an Ergo pistol grip. Overall length and weight for the M-4T model is comparable to the UT-15 model.
As with all of the Wilson Combat tactical rifles the M-4T can be completed with a variety of options including the finish on metal parts. The standard metal finish is a hard anodized black on the aluminum receiver and black manganese phosphate on the steel components such as the barrel. The highly functional Armor-Tuff finish can also be applied on any of the rifles as an option.
Armor-Tuff is a protective finish designed with firearms in mind. This finish is highly corrosion resistant and Wilson Combat states that firearm surfaces treated with Armor-Tuff will never rust when subjected to normal use. Armor-Tuff also contains molybdenum disulfide which has inherent lubrication characteristics although it does not eliminate the need to properly lubricate your rifle.
The Armor-Tuff finish will also stand up against various gun cleaning solutions, acids and high strength solvents. Best of all Armor-Tuff is available in colors which include green, tan, black and gray. Wilson Combat can finish rifles in one solid color or in combinations of colors.
SS-15 Super Sniper
For the ultimate in long range performance and precision accuracy, Wilson Combat offers their SS-15 Super Sniper Tactical Rifle. Whether the use is target shooting, varmint hunting or tactical applications, the SS-15 allows for the consistent accuracy commonly found in bolt action rifles, but with the rapid follow-up shot ability of a semi-automatic rifle with a high capacity magazine.
As with all their rifles the SS-15 Super Sniper uses the JP trigger and hammer group which for the SS-15 can be provided in a competition or tactical variation at the customer’s request. The SS-15 features a 1:8 twist, heavy weight, match grade, fluted, stainless steel barrel that is 20 inches in length.
An aluminum free floated hand guard is standard and Wilson Combat also offers an Outers bipod for supported shooting in the prone position. The bipod is adjustable in height from 9 to 13 inches and has strong recoil springs to prevent damage to the rifle’s furniture and to help maintain point of impact on follow-up shots. The overall length of the SS-15 is 38.4 inches and it weighs in at 8.7 pounds empty.
Recently Wilson Combat has offered what it calls the Range Ready Package for the SS-15 Sniper rifle. In addition to the aforementioned features, this package also includes a choice of optics that come professionally mounted on Wilson Combat mounts. Scope options include either the Nikon Buckmaster or Bushnell’s Elite 3200.
The Nikon Buckmaster has a 3 to 9 magnification power lens with a 40 millimeter objective tube (3-9x 40mm). This scope uses Nikon’s Nikoplex reticle and is water and shock proofed for true field performance. Bushnell’s Elite 3200 has a 10 power magnification with a 40 millimeter objective tube (10x 40mm). The Bushnell scope uses a Mil-Dot type reticle which should be familiar to most tactical shooters. Of course the buyer has the final say so, and many different other brands and models of scopes may also be mounted.
Precision accuracy is a hallmark of all of Wilson Combat firearms and this is especially true with the SS-15. Prior to shipping, all Wilson Combat rifles are function test fired. When optics are factory installed the rifles are zeroed at 100 yards. Wilson Combat is so sure of the accuracy of their rifles that they offer a 1 MOA accuracy guarantee on the UT-15 Urban Tactical rifle and the SS-15 Super Sniper Tactical Rifle. A 2 MOA accuracy guarantee is offered on the M-4T rifle.
These accuracy standards are based on the rifle’s ability to place three consecutively fired shots, center to center, into the guaranteed group size from a distance of 100 yards while using a double sandbag rest. Since there is such a wide performance envelope in different ammunition loads this accuracy standard is based on using the following ammunition types: Federal Gold Metal 69 gr. BTHP Match, Federal Premium 55 gr. BTHP Match, Black Hills 52 gr. BTHP Match or Black Hills 68 gr. BTHP Match. It is also based on shooting on a calm day without wind.
In addition to producing some of the world’s finest firearms, Wilson Combat also takes pride in providing the highest standard of customer service. A knowledgeable staff of customer service representatives at Wilson Combat is available to assist buyers or those only considering a purchase. They can provide detailed information on each available model and guide you through the vast list of available options.
Due to the modular nature of the AR rifle platform, Wilson Combat can build multi-use rifle systems. For example, if a customer wants a SS-15 rifle for long range shooting, but also wants a handy carbine size rifle like the UT-15 or M-4T, Wilson Combat can produce a single lower receiver that can be delivered with both an SS-15 and UT-15 upper receiver. This saves the consumer the cost of purchasing two separate complete rifles.
Once the consumer takes final delivery of a tactical rifle, Wilson Combat offers technical support and guarantees their firearms for life against defective components and workmanship to back it up. If you are considering purchasing an AR, the models available from Wilson Combat should be strongly considered. After determining exactly what you want in your rifle, contact the folks at Wilson Combat and let them help you design a firearm that is customized to your exact specifications.
You might be surprised at how affordable they are especially when compared to the cost of purchasing someone else’s rifle, buying the required accessories and then going to the time and expense of integrating them together. One thing is certain, if you choose a Wilson Combat AR, you will be getting one of the most accurate, reliable and well fitted rifles available in the world today.