Bill Wilson has been building guns for close to 40 years. His “hobby” of customizing production 1911s for competitive use has grown into the legendary company, Wilson Combat. Bill now makes a full line of custom-built 1911s using his own frames, slides and custom parts. In addition, Wilson’s Bullet-Proof parts are the choice of many custom gunsmiths and shops. Bill expanded his production to include modifying the Remington 870 shotgun and later producing his own line of AR-style rifles. I have had the privilege of evaluating several Wilson ARs. These include the Paul Howe Tactical Carbine, rifles in 300 Blackout, .458 SOCOM and Wilson’s proprietary cartridge, the 7.62×40 WT. Every rifle proved to be as reliable and well built as Wilson’s 1911s.
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Given the success of Wilson Combat’s AR series, it was only a matter of time until the company introduced an AR in .308/7.62mm NATO. According to the company’s website, Bill is quoted as saying, “I have never been a fan of the .308-platform AR due to weight and a lot of square edges on the ones I’ve handled. I believe the Wilson Combat design team has resolved these issues and produced an extremely user-friendly carbine.” Having just finished evaluating one of the first 7.62mm carbines, officially known as the Wilson Combat BILLet-AR Lightweight, I have to agree with his assessment.
The new 7.62mm carbine utilizes Wilson’s BILLet-AR receivers, which are machined in-house from 7075-T6 aluminum for a lightweight design without compromising strength. The lower receiver features recesses on both sides of the magazine well that reduce weight while providing a raised guard around the magazine release and bolt stop. As with all Wilson Combat BILLet lowers, the 7.62mm receiver features a flared magazine well and an integral triggerguard. My test rifle was equipped with a Wilson Combat Tactical Trigger Unit (TTU) that broke cleanly at 3.63 pounds with minimal overtravel. A Bravo Company Gunfighter pistol grip provided a comfortable purchase on the rifle. The BILLet-AR Lightweight comes with a Lancer magazine and accepts polymer or metal SR-25-pattern magazines. A Wilson/Rogers Super-Stoc is standard on all Wilson ARs. The Super-Stoc features a cam-lock system that locks the buttstock and removes any play.
“The Wilson TTU trigger, combined with the Super-Stoc, made shooting the 7.62mm carbine a real pleasure.”
The Super-Stoc weighs only 7.3 ounces and is designed to pass the 36-inch drop test with a fully loaded rifle.
As with the lower receiver, the BILLet upper receiver is profiled to eliminate any sharp edges. The angled flats are cleanly machined, the lines are perfect and the upper mates precisely with the lower receiver. The bolt and bolt carrier are finished in Robar NP3 for enhanced reliability and ease of maintenance. The Wilson Tactical Rail Interface Modular, or TRIM, is a lightweight, free-floating rail system that is machined from a 6061-T6 aluminum extrusion. The rail features threaded holes along the nine, three, and six o’clock positions that allow the user to install Picatinny rail panels as needed. Ample cooling holes reduce weight and increase airflow around the barrel. My test rifle also came equipped with Wilson’s flip-up sights. The front sight is spring loaded and raised by depressing the activation button on the side. The front sight tower has a standard post and A2 wings while the rear sight features the CSAT aperture designed by Paul Howe.
At the heart of every Wilson Combat firearm is a quality match barrel. My test rifle was set up with a 14.75-inch, fluted barrel with a pinned Accu-Tac flash suppressor that brings the overall length to 16.25 inches. This allows the BILLet-AR Lightweight to be as short as possible without falling into the NFA category. Wilson 7.62mm barrels have 1-in-10-inch twist rates, ensuring accuracy with a variety of loads and bullet weights. Other options will include a 14.75-inch barrel with a 10.6-inch TRIM rail as well as an 18-inch barrel with a 14-inch rail. For those who wish to utilize Wilson’s Whisper suppressor, the BILLet-AR Lightweight can be ordered with the Rapid Thread muzzle brake.
Wilson also sent my test rifle with a Trijicon TR24C AccuPoint 1-4x optic. The AccuPoint features a standard duplex crosshair with a center dot that is illuminated by tritium and an adjustable fiber-optic window. Being only 10.3 inches in length and weighing 14.4 ounces, the AccuPoint is ideal for a short carbine. The 0.25-MOA adjustable turrets are easily reset to zero and provide accurate adjustments at all ranges. The Trijicon optic was mounted using Wilson’s Accu-Rizer scope mount. The Accu-Rizer is machined from aluminum extrusion and attaches with a spring-loaded steel locking plate and a large triangle nut. This design is easily detachable while ensuring minimal loss of zero.
On the range, I zeroed the BILLet-AR Lightweight using Wilson’s 168-grain Sierra HPBT Match ammunition. This load averaged 2,289 fps from the 14.75-inch barrel, with an extreme spread of 60 fps. I found the recoil impulse, while significantly more than a 5.56mm rifle, to be manageable and free from any serious discomfort. Wilson also provided its 168-grain Barnes TTSX load. This famed load features all-copper construction with a polymer tip for positive feeding. The TTSX design is a proven load that provides rapid expansion and deep penetration while retaining 99 percent of its original weight. The TTSX bullet is designed for optimal performance at lower velocities. I also tested one of my favorite 7.62mm loads, Ruag’s Swiss P 167-grain Styx Action ammunition. The Styx Action is a tactical load designed for maximum terminal ballistics and immediate expansion without overpenetration. While designed for law enforcement and military use, I have found the Styx Action to be very effective on Georgia’s whitetail deer.
After final zeroing, I set up a clean target at 100 yards and got down to business. I will say that shooting sub-MOA groups at 100 yards with a 4x optic proved challenging. However, as I got settled in, the groups got tighter and I saw what the Wilson BILLet-AR Lightweight was capable of. The Ruag Styx Action ammunition produced a five-shot group with three rounds in a single ragged hole. The group measured a clean 0.66 inches, with the three rounds grouping inside of 0.24 inches. The Wilson 168-grain Sierra load produced a group that measured 1.14 inches, discounting a called flyer, while the TTSX group measured 1.47 inches. The Wilson TTU trigger, combined with the Super-Stoc, made shooting the 7.62mm carbine a real pleasure.
A lot has been written about the shortcomings of the .223/5.56mm NATO cartridge for both military and law enforcement use. While specialty cartridges, such as the 6.8 SPC and the 300 Blackout, have seen limited use, the .308/7.62mm is already in most inventories. The 7.62mm also provides a wider selection of loads that are more readily available. The Wilson BILLet-AR Lightweight provides an ideal rifle for both patrol and tactical units. For agencies that already issue an AR platform, the transition to the 7.62mm should be relatively easy. Lighter loads, such as the Hornady 110-grain TAP Urban, provide impressive terminal ballistics while penetrating less than 10 inches in bare gelatin. This makes it ideal for tactical entries where overpenetration is a serious concern.
The Wilson TTSX load is well suited to general law enforcement patrol uses. The greater mass of the 7.62mm loads also provides improved barrier performance over the .223/5.56mm. The heavier load also provides superior terminal ballistics when confronting dangerous game. If I were working in Alaska or the northwest, I would want a Wilson 7.62mm carbine in my patrol vehicle. As with traditional ARs, the Wilson 7.62mm will accommodate any accessories, including lights, lasers and night-vision optics.
The more time I spent behind the Wilson BILLet-AR Lightweight, the more I came to like both the rifle and the Trijicon AccuPoint. The combination of a red dot and a 1-4x magnified optic make it ideal for law enforcement and tactical use. The only change I would make for a department-
issued rifle would be to use the Rapid Thread brake and Whisper suppressor.
Once again, Bill Wilson and the crew at Wilson Combat have raised the bar and produced a rifle that will exceed all expectations. For agencies or officers who are looking for more horsepower from their patrol and tactical rifles, the Wilson BILLet-AR Lightweight 7.62mm is duty ready and up to the task.
For more information, visit wilsoncombat.com or call 800-955-4856.