Windham Weaponry has got a great story. But I’m not repeating it. Check out our interview with the Windham guys from SHOT Show 2012 in our WHO IS WINDHAM WEAPONRY? post. That said, below is my first experience with one of their post ****master rifles.
THE AGE OF ARs
The AR-15 market is pretty well saturated. Can we agree on that? I mean there have been a lot of players for a really long time especially since the AWB was lifted in 2004. The door shutting on ridiculous magazine and muzzle restrictions coupled with the popularization of “building your own AR,” short barreled rifles and class 3 suppressors has made it possible for almost anyone to own an AR-15 style rifle at almost any price.
But all AR rifles aren’t created equal. Many companies use people who are good with say an erector set or legos as the only prerequisite to assemble their AR rifles. They don’t necessarily understand, shoot or like guns but they’ve done paint-by-number projects before and that’s good enough for the gun company that’s out to make a buck as a “first and foremost” priority over building a great rifle from the ground up. From my experience this is not Windham Weaponry. If you’re still engaged read on…
HOW IT LOOKS
Admittedly the CDI rifle from Windham Weaponry looks quite a bit different than their entry level rifle platforms the SRC, MPC and HBC carbines which are what would be considered a more typical “M4” carbine design. It wears Magpul gear from front to back with a MOE collapsible stock, a MOE grip and an AFG on the underside of the Diamondhead free float rail. While the free floating Diamondhead full flat top upper isn’t a monolithic (or one piece) rail it’s perfectly square on all sides.
This rifle also comes standard with a front and back flip up BUIS from Diamondhead. The rear sight is a flippable 2 aperture sight depending on your shooting distance or how crappy your eyeballs are. I was pretty impressed to find that the rifle came zeroed to the flip up iron sights right out of the box at 25 yards. Not a necessity but definitely a nice touch out of the box.
Aggressive looks are topped off with a Vortex flash hider and the Magpul AFG which aids in a favorable forward grip especially when the Aluminum Diamondhead rail starts to heat up after a few hundred well paced rounds are run through her.
The CDI platform has a really skinny feel to it and those feelings are confirmed by stepping on the scale and finding a pre-fight weight of just 7 pounds. Because of the CDI’s lightweight make up it’s a pleasure to shoot until you’re tired of shooting or until the metal free floated handguard burns your hand because you forgot gloves after she heats up.
I mention this in the video but I’m already a pretty rabid fan of the Magpul concept and the MOE collapsible butt stock is friendly for use whatever situation the shooter might find himself in. The ONLY beef I ever have with collapsible buttstocks is how large chunks of my beard always seem to get torn out when I lay my cheek on the buffer and attempt to move from it. If it were possible to carry the rifle with my cheek welded to the buffer non stop then we wouldn’t have a problem at all. 😉
How would you expect a rifle with 35 years of AR-15 experience running through your veins? Perfectly? Okay. It did. It was and it is.
The mid-length gas system and hard steel (Carpenter 158) bolt combined with M4 feed ramps and the chrome moly/chrome lined barrel had no complaints in over 1500 rounds (5.56/.223 mixed, rifle is chambered for both) whether it was Federal XM193, American Eagle .223, PMC Bronze, Tula Russian steel cased, Wolf, Brown Bear, Remington UMC, Hornady Steel Match, DRT Ammo and a couple of other brands floating loose in an ammo can. Either way it was flawless and the 1 in 9″ twist barrel handled rounds from 55 grains to 79 grains respectively.
Accuracy is outstanding and is undoubtedly aided by the free floated 16″ M4 profile barrel. 1 to 2 MOA groups from sand bags at 100 yards were very routine with the Hornady Steel Match 55 grain FMJ and the Dynamic Research Technologies (DRT) Ammo 79 grain Hollow Points. Backing up the DRT posted a group of just under 2″ at 150 yards and the Hornady a solid sub 3 inch group at 200 yards.
Rapid fire is smooth with a reasonable (not obnoxious though) amount of muzzle flip which is very easily controlled by a sturdy forward grip aided by the Magpul AFG and even easier shooting with gloves (the forend gets HOT. See the final 5 seconds of the video) and no AFG mounted.
My 2 primary beefs are the trigger and the magazine. On a rifle that boasts so many extras as standard, it seems a little strange that Windham would put so many Magpul accessories on the rifle without tossing a few PMAGS in the hard plastic case it’s shipped with. Then there’s the trigger, which is one of the heavier stock triggers I’ve felt in an AR pattern rifle. Granted it’s smooth and crisp with no play, BUT it’s heavy. I didn’t put a gauge on it but I’d venture to say it’s at least a 7 pound pull weight.
Windham Weaponry AR-15 rifles are AR pattern rifles BY gun people for gun people. Most all of the workers at the Windham, ME plant are those with previous and extensive experience in the rifle building industry. When push comes to shove I want someone with experience and a proven track record at problem solving and overcoming adversity. Oh, and building a great product from the ground up.
Rifles that function the way they were intended makes for trouble free shooting. Trouble free shooting makes for mucho fun while playing H.O.R.S.E., running drills or pinging plates from distance or punching paper with a bad guy silhouette. And for me fun is the name of the game when it comes to shooting.
I really didn’t imagine H.o.G. would have had one of Windham’s rifles in hand for review by June after having met them for the first time at SHOT. Especially considering the fact that Windham “restarted” from the ground up this past year. For a company that’s (technically) been building rifles in 4 different decades all of their brass are extremely down to earth and humble. An intangible but something that adds pride to the product making you all the more willing to stand behind it.
And if by chance you feel like you’d be taking a risk on this “upstart” company with a new name you’re not familiar with, the folks at Windham Weaponry are so confident in their product they’ve attached a fully transferable Lifetime Warranty on all of their complete rifles.