It’s a “black rifle” but with a handsome wood stock. It’s been around for only a few years, but has its origins in a company that went bankrupt nearly four decades ago. It’s an accurate and reliable AR-style rifle that would fit right in with the rifles at any deer camp.
Here’s how the unique Windham Weaponry .308 Hunter came to be.
A Maine Stay
Richard Dyke purchased the bankrupt Bushmaster Firearms in 1976 and moved it from Bangor, Maine, to Windham, Maine. He spent the next 30 years building Bushmaster into one of the industry leaders in AR-15 rifles.
In 2006, Cerberus Capital Management, a large conglomerate, was buying up nearly every gun company they could find. Remington was its cornerstone, but soon enough they owned Marlin, DPMS, Barnes Bullets, H&R, Para, and a multitude of other gun and gun accessory companies. They made a deal with Dyke to buy Bushmaster for a reported $70 million.
When Cerberus moved production of Bushmaster from Maine to New York in 2011, it left a lot of people out of work. Dyke’s non-compete clause had expired by then, and he still owned the Maine property on which Bushmaster had been located. The workers, perhaps the most important asset of any manufacturing company, were mostly available, and clearly he had the money for a new start up.
Dyke decided to “put the band back together” and in 2011 he founded Windham Weaponry, using a lot of the workers who had been left jobless by the takeover. I think it’s safe to say that even though Windham is a relatively new company, it has a long history and a huge data bank of experience in manufacturing AR-type rifles and handguns.
Within three months the first production models of the new Windham Weaponry line were shipping. Their motto is “The Quality Goes In Before The Rifle Goes Out,” and it didn’t take long before they were developing a reputation for making great firearms.
AR Looks with Classic Rifle Style
One of the most interesting guns made by Windham, which melds the tradition of a wood stocked rifle with the high-tech concept of a “black” rifle, is the Windham Weaponry .308 Hunter.
The .308 Winchester is one of the most popular and most respected big-game cartridges in existence. But the Windham Weaponry .308 Hunter isn’t just an effective hunting rifle, it also has a unique style and look. The upper and lower receivers are coated in a hard anodized finish in Coyote Brown color. The forend and buttstock are laminated wood in a two-tone color called “Nutmeg.” This wood is a welcome departure from the plastic normally used.
Its barrel, forward assist, gas block, charging handle, dust cover, pivot pins, mag release, bolt release, safety, trigger, and delta rings are all finished in matt black. The black rubber grip is from Hogue.
This all adds up to a very distinctive looking rifle with a touch of class. It’s not just another black gun—this one has style.
The Hunter .308 version is a flattop with a rail on the upper receiver to accept optics. There are no iron sights, nor are any needed in a hunting rifle. It’s a direct-gas-impingement operated rifle with an 18-inch fluted barrel. The bore is chrome lined, which means no hunter will ever shoot enough to wear a barrel out, and has a squirrel cage flash hider. The gun comes with a single 5-round magazine, but it will accept any magazines on the “DPMS Pattern” so you can easily find aftermarket high-capacity magazines like the new 20-round, .308 magazines from Brownells.
The gun is fitted with sling swivels front and rear and comes with a nylon sling.
My only complaint is the trigger. It’s a standard “mil-spec” trigger that breaks at a creepy, crawly, hitching-along, seven-plus pounds. For serious hunting that’s not acceptable, but there are a multitude of aftermarket, drop-in triggers that will solve the problem.
The gun is 39.5 inches in overall length, so it will be easy to manage in a tight deer blind or a treestand. It weighs 8.5 pounds, which helps mitigate recoil, so it’s very pleasant to shoot. The safety is right-hand only in a standard two-position configuration.
Windham Weaponry claims it has the strongest warranty in the industry. They guarantee against all manufacturers’ defects in material and workmanship for the lifetime of the firearm. The warranty is transferable to subsequent owners. That’s hard to beat.
At the range, the gun turned in a good performance. It shows some strong preferences for ammo, and as expected, Federal Match was the best of the three loads tried. It also shot well with Fusion MSR ammo, which is designed for short-barrel rifles. Fusion ammo has a unique bonded bullet that is made by plating the jacket onto the lead core one molecule at a time, made with the same process used to chrome-plate a trailer hitch ball. The result is a bullet that is a very good choice for deer hunting.
In the growing world of black guns designed for hunting, this Windham Weaponry Hunter .308 brings something to the table that’s just a little different. While it’s a reliable and accurate hunting rifle, it’s unique, has a touch of elegance, and will be at home in any deer camp.
Action: Semi-automatic, direct gas impingement
Caliber tested: .308 Winchester
Magazine: Detachable, 5-shot
Barrel: Chrome Moly Vanadium 11595E Steel, 18-inch, medium profile, fluted; 1:10-inch right-hand twist rate
Barrel Length: 18 inches
Trigger Pull Weight (as tested): 7 pounds 4 ounces
Sights: None; rail on flat-top receiver for mounting optics
Safety: Two-position, right hand only
Stock: Laminated wood in “Nutmeg” color
Overall Length: 39.5 inches
Weight: 8.5 pounds
Metal Finish: Hardcoat Coyote Brown Anodized Finish
Accessories: One detachable 5-round box magazine, sling with swivels, hard case
Warrantee: Lifetime, transferable MSRP: $1,587
Shooting Results (Range test results for three, 3-shot groups at 100 yards.)
Cartridge 1: Federal Match 168-grain Sierra; Smallest Group: .7″; Largest Group: 1.0″; Average Group: .867″
Cartridge 2: Fusion MSR 150-grain; Smallest Group: .1.25″; Largest Group: 1.95″; Average Group: 1.55″
Cartridge 3: Fusion MSR 150-grain; Smallest Group: .1.25″; Largest Group: 1.95″; Average Group: 1.55″