.338 FED­ERAL TAC­TI­CAL HUNTER

Gun World - - Contents - By Jay Pin­sky

Wil­son Com­bat’s WC-10 Tac­ti­cal Hunter is built from the ground up as a hunt­ing ri­fle. We put its .338 Fed­eral to the test hunt­ing tough, 500-pound Texas nilgai an­te­lope.

The first and only time I ever went an­te­lope hunt­ing, I packed a Wil­son Com­bat ARWC-10 Tac­ti­cal Hunter cham­bered in .338 Fed­eral.

It wasn’t overkill.

In fact, af­ter I saw my first bull, I won­dered if Bill Wil­son’s per­sonal ri­fle was enough gun? (See­ing a 500-pound an­te­lope can raise some doubt.)

NOT YOUR NORTH AMER­I­CAN AN­TE­LOPE

If you want to give your speed goat hunt­ing bud­dies a chuckle, tell them you know where there are a few hun­dred herds of these 500-pound an­telopes. Then, take them to south Texas and watch their jaws drop when you in­tro­duce them to “blue bulls.” Known of­fi­cially as “nilgai,” these trans­planted an­te­lope from In­dia can—and, more of­ten than not—weigh over a quar­ter-ton. At more than 500 pounds, these stout beasts aren’t quite as dainty as the much-faster Amer­i­can pronghorn, but they’re still “speedy,” con­sid­er­ing they can get up to 30 mph and sus­tain it for miles.

“The nilgai were brought to Texas around the 1930s, and they flour­ished here,” said We­ston Koehler, a wildlife bi­ol­o­gist with the King Ranch. “All of their senses are good, and they’re all bet­ter than a deer’s. I’ve had them spook and wind me at 600 yards and far­ther. They’re not cu­ri­ous an­i­mals. If they sense dan­ger, they sim­ply turn around and go. They’re bigstruc­tured an­i­mals with big horns—not antlers—a thick hide and a strong will to live.”

Nope; an­te­lope hunt­ing with a .338 Fed­eral semi­au­to­matic ri­fle wasn’t too much gun. As it turned out, it was just enough.

What ex­actly is a .338 Fed­eral? It’s not a white-col­lared car­tridge with a cushy gov­ern­ment job. Rather, it’s a neckedup .308 Winch­ester de­vel­oped by Fed­eral and Sako, so it uses the same re­ceivers, bolt and mag­a­zines as the wildly pop­u­lar short-ac­tion .30 bore. Get this: The peppy lit­tle short-ac­tion non-mag­num car­tridge packs more muz­zle en­ergy punch than a 7mm Remington Mag­num.

“The .338 Fed­eral and the .358 Winch­ester are sub­stan­tially more pow­er­ful than the .308,” Bill Wil­son ex­plained. “Both are un­der­rated for what they’re ca­pa­ble of, and I don’t know why they’re not more pop­u­lar.”

Long be­fore I set foot in Texas to hunt nilgai, I got fa­mil­iar with Wil­son Com­bat’s WC-10 Tac­ti­cal Hunter ri­fles at a me­dia event in Colorado. There, the per­fectly ma­chined, round-where-it-

KNOWN OF­FI­CIALLY AS “NILGAI,” THESE TRANS­PLANTED AN­TE­LOPE FROM IN­DIA CAN—AND, MORE OF­TEN THAN NOT— WEIGH OVER A QUAR­TER-TON.

should-be, solid-where-it-must-be semi­au­to­matic ri­fle shot as a Wil­son Com­bat firearm should: per­fectly.

ABOUT BILL WIL­SON AND WIL­SON COM­BAT

For those of you who aren’t fa­mil­iar with Wil­son Com­bat and its founder, Bill Wil­son, all you need to know are two things: Bill’s a per­fec­tion­ist, and he’s been in the firearms busi­ness since 1974.

Ac­tu­ally, you need to know one more thing, and it’s my fa­vorite part of know­ing him: He’s a hunter; and, when you mix all three qual­i­ties to­gether, you be­gin to un­der­stand how he can make a rather healthy liv­ing build­ing firearms with hefty price tags. His guns are worth it.

His line of semi­au­to­matic ri­fles is no dif­fer­ent. The .338 Fed­eral I car­ried in western Texas comes in three fla­vors—the Ul­ti­mate Hunter, the Ul­tra­light Hunter and the Tac­ti­cal Hunter.

As I men­tioned ear­lier, I hunted with Bill Wil­son’s per­sonal .338 Fed­eral in a Tac­ti­cal Hunter. It sported an 18-inch bar­rel with a 4-pound, two-stage tac­ti­cal trig­ger unit. To suite Bill’s tastes, the bar­rel was crowned and not threaded. The ri­fle, it­self, uti­lizes Wil­son Com­bat’s light­weight, in-house-ma­chined BIL­Let-AR re­ceivers and their match-grade bar­rels, T.R.I.M.

... THE NEXT DAY

... I RE­DEEMED MY­SELF WELL BE­FORE 9 A.M. BY AN­CHOR­ING THE LARGEST AN­I­MAL I HAVE EVER KILLED ... WITH ONE WELLPLACED SHOT FROM BILL’S .338 FED­ERAL WC-10 AT ABOUT 125 YARDS.

hand guard rail and crisp, re­li­able Tac­ti­cal Trig­ger Units. In other words, Wil­son Com­bat goes well be­yond MIL-SPEC.

“The pri­mary goals of the AR-10 project were to make the ri­fles as light as pos­si­ble while still re­tain­ing stel­lar ac­cu­racy,” Bill pointed out. “I per­son­ally shot thou­sands of rounds op­ti­miz­ing the ac­cu­racy of the bar­rels used in the Hunter se­ries [in or­der to] to op­ti­mize them for ac­cu­racy with hunt­ing bul­lets.

“The Ul­ti­mate Hunter and Tac­ti­cal Hunter are ba­si­cally the same ri­fle, with the ex­cep­tion of the threaded muz­zle and the butt­stock. The Ul­tra­light Hunter is de­signed to be the light­est we can build it while still re­tain­ing stel­lar ac­cu­racy and be a

fast-han­dling car­bine. I was the lead on all the de­sign work and per­son­ally did all the test­ing for the Hunter se­ries project. A lot of dif­fer­ent com­po­nents were tested to op­ti­mize the sys­tem, and I per­son­ally shot thou­sands of rounds of fac­tory and hand­loaded am­mu­ni­tion in test­ing for func­tion, dura­bil­ity and ac­cu­racy. The end re­sult is ri­fles that are to­tally re­li­able, durable and ex­tremely ac­cu­rate with com­mon hunt­ing bul­lets, es­pe­cially with hand loads.”

Bill de­vel­oped the AR-10 plat­form, known at Wil­son Com­bat as the WC plat­form, be­cause he wanted a semi­au­to­matic ri­fle good enough to meet his stan­dards.

NO EX­PENSE SPARED

“We have spared no ex­pense in de­vel­op­ment, test­ing and pro­duc­tion of these ri­fles,” said Bill. “If we could build a bet­ter one, we would! A big ad­van­tage Wil­son Com­bat has is the fact that I’ve been a se­ri­ous hunter since the early ’70s and have a very keen per­sonal in­ter­est in Wil­son Com­bat mak­ing the very best ARs on the mar­ket, whether for hunt­ing or tac­ti­cal use. I’m shoot­ing and test­ing AR prod­ucts vir­tu­ally on a daily ba­sis.”

In fact, the ri­fle I used on this hunt ben­e­fited from just this kind of at­ten­tion from the shoot­ing leg­end, and Bill ex­plained why the Tac­ti­cal Hunter was sighted-in us­ing a 1-inch Bur­ris Full­field II 3-9x40mm ri­fle scope to shoot his hand­loaded 210-grain Nosler Par­ti­tions, which he pushed with 42 grains of Bench­mark pow­der. It wasn’t an af­ter­thought.

“Here at the [Wil­son Com­bat] ranch, we are for­tu­nate to have shoot­ing ranges out to 800 yards for ex­ten­sive ac­cu­racy test­ing,” Bill pointed out. “Also, I hog hunt at least 325 days out of the year, and I’m also deer hunt­ing more than 120 days a year of those 325 days, with an­nual har­vests of 200-plus hogs and 50-plus deer—all with ARs. Who else proves out their prod­uct like that?”

Wil­son Com­bat goes to great lengths to make sure the ri­fle its folks put in your hands works, is ac­cu­rate and, above all else, is re­li­able.

TASTE OF HUM­BLE PIE

Dur­ing my first and only nilgai hunt, I had the op­por­tu­nity to shoot at not one, but two, tro­phy nilgai bulls. Why? Be­cause I’m the gun writer who is brave—or stupid—enough to ad­mit and pub­li­cally write about the fact that you can ab­so­lutely miss with a cus­tom-built, cus­tomer-hand­loaded, prop­erly scoped, world-class semi­au­to­matic ri­fle on a guided hunt. Be­cause that’s ex­actly what I did.

You see, I yanked the crisp, gor­geous trig­ger of that .338 Fed­eral so hard when I shot at my first nilgai bull that I’m pretty sure the only thing I hit was ozone. The only blood I drew was from my pride. But, the next day, with a break­fast belly full of hum­ble pie, an op­ti­mistic guide and a can-do at­ti­tude, I re­deemed my­self well be­fore 9 a.m. by an­chor­ing the largest an­i­mal I have ever killed not named “Bull­win­kle” with one well-placed shot from Bill’s .338 Fed­eral WC-10 at about 125 yards.

Just be­cause it was my sec­ond chance, God saw fit to give us a heavy dose of low, thick coastal fog while we hunted. But the blue bull didn’t stand a chance, be­cause on this day, like Bill, I was a per­fec­tion­ist, and I had no in­ten­tion of go­ing home empty handed.

To learn more about the Wil­son Com­bat line of WC-10, WC-12 and WC-15 line of semi­au­to­matic mod­ern sport­ing ri­fles, visit WilsonCombat.com. GW

“WE HAVE

SPARED NO EX­PENSE IN DE­VEL­OP­MENT, TEST­ING AND PRO­DUC­TION OF THESE RI­FLES,” SAID BILL. “IF WE COULD BUILD A BET­TER ONE WE WOULD!”

Author Jay Pin­sky shot his first nilgai on the King Ranch in Texas as a guest of Bill Wil­son andWil­son Com­bat. He used a Wil­son Com­bat Tac­ti­calHunter WC-10 semi­au­to­matic ri­fle cham­bered in .338 Fed­eral. One wellplaced shot from theri­fle an­chored the “blue bull,” get­ting full pass-through on the an­i­mal at about125 yards.

One key de­sign of the WC-10 is how the firearm is rounded in all the right places to fa­cil­i­tate easeof-use and smooth op­er­a­tion.

The Tac­ti­cal Hunter bar­rel, whether fluted or not, is tuned to be used sup­pressed or un­sup­pressed.

The Tac­ti­cal Hunter uses Wil­son Com­bat’s mostad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses and decades of hunt­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to give dis­crim­i­nat­ing gun own­ers one of the finest semi­au­to­matic ri­fle plat­forms in the world. The bil­let re­ceiver uses a flat­top rail to en­able op­tics to be mounted on the ri­fle.The WC-10 is avail­able in 7mm-08 Remington, .300 HAM’R, .308 Winch­ester, .338 Fed­eral, 6mm Creed­moor, 6.5 Creed­moor, 6.5 Gren­del, .260 Remington, .204 Ruger, .458SOCOM and 6.8 SPC.

The WC-10 Tac­ti­cal Hunter is made of premium parts. Here, it is field-stripped.

The days of think­ing that a re­li­able, ac­cu­rate and light­weight AR-10 plat­form is im­pos­si­ble are long gone. Wil­son Com­bat’s Tac­ti­cal Hunter weighs a mere 7 pounds, 11 ounces (empty).

The Tac­ti­cal Hunter uses a light­weight bolt car­rier made from nickel boron and a small-latch BCM charg­inghan­dle.

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