Review: Wilson Combat 7.62x40

Bill Wilson, of Wilson Combat fame, having built a robust company providing 1911s, ARs and pump shotguns for the savvy tactically minded shooter, turned the reins over to his son, and semi-retired to a locale farther south — only to find his idyllic retirement spot overrun with hogs that were tearing up the countryside and pushing out other game animals. He was not alone in this, as feral hogs seem bent on taking over every locale not submerged in kudzu.

Where he was alone in this was having decades of knowledge of ballistics, and the recourses of a top-notch firearms company to call on. His first look into an AR-capable cartridge to handle his pig problem led him to the .300 Whisper, a .221 Fireball case necked up to .308 and invented by J.D. Jones.

Jones designed and intended the Whisper to be a subsonic cartridge. It is also capable of supersonic velocities, but "sub" was the main goal. While a 220-grain .308 bullet at 1,000 fps is very quiet, it isn't exactly what you'd want to use on big boars. Second, the magazines J.D. had to work with 30 years ago were USGI aluminum mags. He had to keep the case length and shoulder location strictly located or else feeding suffered.

Bill wanted only supersonic, and he wanted as many rounds as he could get. So in designing his 7.62x40, he took bullets from 110 to 150 grains and loaded them as long as they would fit into the magazines. Then he pushed the case neck and shoulder forward until they were located to properly hold the bullets and provide as much case capacity as possible. That allowed him to maintain pressures similar to the Whisper (and the AAC Blackout), but the extra capacity gave him more velocity.

The rifle Bill sent me came with two uppers: a 16-inch with Bill's own Accu-Tac flash hider and a plain-muzzle barrel of 20-inch length. Both barrels are housed in the new Wilson Combat Tactical Rail Interface, Modular, or T.R.I.M.

The slender handguard is drilled and tapped for rail segments, so you can bolt on what you need, where you need it. The T.R.I.M. rail has built-in QD recessed sling swivel sockets. Both uppers came with his new Accu-rizer scope mount. The single-piece scope mount has a three-lobed bolt on the side, by which you clamp it onto a flattop upper.

The lower, a Wilson Combat forged lower, has all the details of a mil-spec lower except for the subtly sculpted winter trigger guard. The carbine stock is a Rogers Super-Stoc.

The rifle also came with a pair of Lancer L5 magazines, marked as being 7.62x40 specific. While Bill's case design enabled him to get more velocity, he also ran afoul of a rib inside of the magazine. That rib is there to control the cartridge stack of .223 or 5.56 rounds during recoil and guide them in the feed path.

To get the 7.62x40 rounds to stack properly and feed reliably, Bill had to remove that rib. On a USGI magazine, that would be a monumental hassle and probably destroy the structural integrity of the aluminum tube. But it was no big deal for Lancer Systems to modify its polymer magazine to handle the cartridge, and these mags are available from Wilson Combat.

When it comes to shooting the 7.62x40, the first thing you notice is the mild recoil. And you'd expect that, with ballistics on par with the .30-30 Winchester. Even in a lightweight rifle, the push of a 110-grain bullet at 2,450 fps is not going to shove you off the shooting bench. That soft recoil means faster follow-up shots on a boar or, better yet, bagging several out of a herd.

As far as trajectory goes, the 7.62x40 has it all over the .30-30, as it can use bullets with a much better ballistic coefficient. As an example, Wilson Combat did the calculations (and then testing) for a 125-grain Nosler Ballistic Hunter bullet, at the easily achieved speed of 2375 fps. With a zero of 175 yards, the bullet is 1.7 inches high at 100 yards, and 6.6 inches low at 250. Out to 200 yards, the bullet is never more than 1.7 inches from the point of aim. Basically, out to 200 yards you are point-of-aim, point-of-impact, and at 250 yards you need hold only six inches high.

Once I had the rifle zeroed, I ran drills and popped steel until I had the rifle warmed up and was used to the excellent two-stage trigger. (When you order yours, you'll have the options of single or two-stage triggers, match or Mil/LE.) There were no malfunctions

If it sounds like I'm really enamored with this rifle, you'd be right. That said, I'd probably also jump in and start changing things. First, for me, it has to have iron sights. The great thing about the Wilson Accu-rizer scope mount is that it comes off easily. Just grab onto the knob, crank it loose, and you've got your irons. Use a paint pen to mark the location, and you can put the scope on, returning to zero.

The selector is not ambidextrous, but if you want one, ambi selectors are easy to find, and the Wilson lower, being correctly made, will readily accept many designs. Alas, my home state does not allow suppressors for hunting, so I can't go on expeditions to silently sluice hogs by starlight. For defense I'd stick with Bill's excellent Accu-Tac flash hider. For hog hunting, I'd experiment with .30 caliber compensators (7.62x40 barrels are threaded 5/8x24), and when I found one that reduced the already controllable recoil, it would be on my hog-shooting upper.

I'm still on the fence about the Roger Super-stoc™. I really like that it has a top loop for a sling, but the locking cam lever doesn't do anything for me. It does, however, have a rubber recoil pad that ensures a nonslip mount, and QD recessed sling swivel sockets. It also fits both mil-spec and commercial buffer tubes, a definite plus.

I'm sure the desirous amongst you are thinking this is a great setup, and think you can save a few bucks by buying cheap magazines and modifying them yourselves. Fuggedaboutit. The modified magazines cost you a grand total of three-and-a-half bucks each more than regular L5 mags. By the time you're done experimenting, and destroying test magazines, you could have just bought (and should) the correct ones.

Oh, and the best part: If you want a rifle in 7.62x40, and you have a rifle or rifles on hand and know how to assemble an AR, you're in luck. The only two things that differ from the norm, that you need in order to build your own, are the barrel and the magazines. Bill has primo stainless barrels, and would be more than happy to ship you the one of your choice in length, rifling type and weight.

Fast Specs

  • Type: direct-impingement AR
  • Caliber: 7.62x40 Wilson Tactical
  • Capacity: 20+1
  • Barrel: 16, 18 or 20 in.
  • Overall length: 36-39 in.
  • Weight: 6 lb., 8.4 oz. — 6 lb., 11.4 oz.
  • Finish: Armor-Tuff over anodizing
  • Grips: Ergo
  • Stock: Rogers Super-Stoc
  • Sights: optional
  • Trigger: two-stage, 4 lb. pull (as tested)
  • Price: $2,550 — $2,650
  • Manufacturer: Wilson Combat

Accuracy Results

  • Smallest avg. group (Recon Tactical): 125 gr. Sierra Pro Hunter — 1.0 in.
  • Largest avg. group (Recon Tactical): (tie) 110 gr. Barnes TTSX, 125 gr. Speer TNT — 1.25 in.
  • Smallest avg. group (Tactical Hunter): 125 gr. Sierra Pro Hunter — 0.75 in.
  • Largest avg. group (Tactical Hunter): 125 gr. Speer TNT — 1.25 in.
  • Notes: Accuracy results are averages of four five-shot groups at 100 yards off an MTM K-Zone shooting rest.

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