The 1911 people in Berryville, Arkansas offer excellent adaptions of the Beretta and SIG pistols, high-quality AR-15 rifles, and Remington 870-based pump-action shotguns. A few years ago, I gained extensive experience with the Wilson Combat AR-15 rifle in .224 Valkyrie. This was among the finest shooting experiences I have enjoyed. Today, I am reviewing the Wilson Combat Protector.
You will not find fault with any Wilson Combat product on quality of manufacture, material, reliability, or accuracy. Cost, on the other hand, is another story. Quality, tight tolerances, and precision manufacture are not cheap.
The Wilson Protector is a version of the AR-15 intended to sell for less than the standard Wilson Combat rifle. It isn’t a cheap rifle — far from it. The Protector will set you back about $2,000. The rifle retains the immutable traits of the AR-15 including reliability, superb handling, and excellent ergonomics. The Protector has some corners cut but remains an amazing rifle.
Wilson Combat Protector Specifications
Type: Direct-gas impingement AR-15, mid-length gas system
Caliber: 5.56 NATO, .300 HAM’R, .300 BLK
Capacity: 30-round D&H magazine (supplied)
Barrel: 16-inch stainless; button-rifled 1:8 twist; Wilson Combat Q-Comp compensator
Overall Length: 33.25–36.5 in.
Weight: 6 lb., 5 oz. w/o mag
Finish: Black Armor-Tuff (as tested)
Furniture: Free-float aluminum M-Lok handguard; Bravo Company Gunfighter grip; Rogers Super-Stoc stock
Trigger: Wilson Combat M2 TTU
Sights: None; optics rail
Features of the Protector
Some folks prefer to build rifles with Wilson Combat match-grade barrels. The barrel is stainless steel and sixteen inches long. The rifle’s high-grade aluminum upper and lower receivers are finished in Armor Tuff — a coating developed by Wilson Combat.
Among the rifle’s best features is the slightly oversized Wilson Combat grip. This grip has a good balance of adhesion and abrasion. Gas systems are often debated. The shorter type seems harder on the action. The Wilson Combat Protector uses a mid-length system. This is what I normally use on my own rifle builds. The gas impingement system, bolt, and two-stage trigger are all standard AR-15 fare — done well, but standard.
When you handle an AR-15 rifle, it is like an old friend. No matter how many ARs you have handled in the past, regardless of whether they were high or low end, muscle memory takes care of details, and you feel a sensation of comfort. Of course, the controls may be crisper with a more expensive rifle, the trigger may be better, the stock may shift less etc., but the handling remains the same ergonomic marvel America’s rifle is known for.
The Wilson Combat Protector features crisp controls including the safety, magazine release, and bolt release. The rifle weighs in at 6.5 pounds — ideal for most uses. The barrel is free-floating. The Wilson Combat handguard features M-Lok attachments. This allows slick, comfortable handling when a device or two is mounted. It isn’t rough like some Picatinny types.
The flat-top receiver offers plenty of room for mounting optics. The rifle is supplied with a single magazine. It accepts all AR-15 magazines I tested. My example, in .300 HAM’R, uses standard 5.56mm magazines. I used primarily Magpul magazines during the firing evaluation of this rifle.
The rifle features a flash hider that works well enough but isn’t really an effective muzzle brake. The rifle features a well-finished bolt with properly staked gas keys. The six-position stock is like other AR-15 stocks. However, the stock was more rigid and did not rattle like most.
One Stage, Two Stage — Trigger Talk
The rifle is supplied with a Wilson Combat Trigger (TTU) that was specified to break at four pounds. Some may go a little less, some a little more. The trigger was very useable as the rifle was issued.
The trigger demands some further discussion. Some prefer a single-stage trigger for the straight-through trigger action. A two-stage trigger is different. Taking up the slack, the first trigger press meets a wall. The continued trigger press then fires the rifle. In my opinion, the two-stage trigger is a good choice for higher stress situations. It’s important to note, it takes a well-trained shooter to get the full benefit of either trigger type.
I don’t like missing on the range. In a critical defensive situation, the miss may hit an innocent person. The prepping of the first stage of the trigger is an important part of many shooters’ training. I find the difference in fast accurate shots minimal for all practical purposes — especially when firing a single accurate shot. A string of shots is only needed in competition — fire, recover, and fire again.
.300 HAM’R: Paper vs. Real World
The rifle’s chambering is always a matter of great interest. The .300 HAM’R was designed as a cartridge for taking deer and wild boar at moderate range. The cartridge is similar to the .30-30 WCF in range and energy — at least on paper. In the real world, the AR-15 rifle offers far superior shot placement and accuracy potential when compared to the lever-action rifle. The problem with the .30-30 isn’t power but rather shot placement and design features of the lever-action. Open sights limit the rifle’s accuracy, and the tubular magazine limits the cartridge to RN bullets or the ingenious Hornady LEVERevolution bullet.
Lever-action rifles are good, but the AR-15 is gooder as my long-departed friend Jimmy would say. The .300 HAM’R may jolt a 130-grain JSP bullet to 2,500 fps. While the 150-grain bullet seems most accurate. Several loads I tested provided 1 to 2-inch groups at 100 yards.
The rifle is comfortable to fire. I cannot say the .300 HAM’R is more difficult to handle than the 5.56mm. It certainly packs a greater punch. For most of us, the 5.56mm is the more practical choice. However, the .300 HAM’R cartridge is based on the .223 Rem., so conversion is easy enough for those with an interest.
Among the finest optics of any type (for the money) is the TRUGLO Omnia 6. I have extensive experience with TRUGLO products. Most are inexpensive and some, such as the Omnia, are middle of the road. This scope may be used at 1x and fired with both eyes open, allowing the scope to perform like a red dot sight. Crank the magnification up, and you have a scope well suited to precision fire past 200 yards.
Conclusion: Wilson Combat Protector
As for myself, and most shooters, the 5.56mm rifle will be the better choice for all-around plinking fun, serious target shooting, and personal defense. I have fired a good number of Wilson Combat’s rifles. The Wilson Combat Protector, regardless of caliber, is a credible choice for all-around use. I like the rifle very much. Don’t let the lighter tariff (price tag) fool you. This is a true Wilson Combat rifle.