Subscribe To the GunsAmerica Digest and News This Week

Windham Weaponry’s Big Boy .308 AR—Full Review

Send to Kindle
The Windham Weaponry R20FFTM-308 is an AR-10 type design with a fixed, rifle -length stock.

The Windham Weaponry R20FFTM-308 is a 7.62 AR-type rifle with a fixed, rifle-length stock. It delivers amazing power at an affordable price.

For more information, visit https://www.windhamweaponry.com/pdf/NewTechSeets/R20FFTM-308-3-15-16-MSRP.pdf.

To purchase a Windham Weaponry .308 AR on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=windham%20308.

While media fairies prone to hysterical reactions tend to place the AR-15 in the same death and destruction category as plutonium bombs, Zika Virus, and John Travolta’s singing in the movie Grease, it’s really just the little brother of another popular rifle design—the .308 AR.

How much littler? Ballistically speaking, you can compare the two as follows. The AR in .308 fires the .308 Winchester cartridge while the AR-15 fires the .223 Remington (or 5.56 mm NATO) round. To provide an approximate comparison between the two, we need to look no further than my friend Andrew Chamberlain’s world famous Cartridge Comparison Guide. If we look at kinetic energy, which can be loosely defined as the destructive power of a given cartridge, we find the .223 Remington delivers somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,280 foot-pounds of energy.  That’s for an “average” 55-grain load moving at 3,240 feet per second. An “average” 150-grain .308 Winchester bullet, with a velocity of 2,850 fps, delivers 2,704 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle – over twice as much!

This rifle is an optics ready flat top configuration.

This rifle is an optics-ready flat top configuration. Note the flat-top upper receiver and the railed gas block forward of the handguard.

SPECS

  • Chambering: .308 Win.
  • Barrel: 20 inches
  • OA Length: 40.75 inches
  • Weight: 9.05 pounds
  • Stock: Magpul MOE fixed
  • Sights: None
  • Action: Direct gas impingement
  • Finish: Matte black
  • Capacity: Detachable box magazine
  • MSRP: $1,667.50

So with that in mind, we’re looking at the Windham Weaponry R20FFTM-308. While there is no reliable industry standard for .308 AR designs as with the AR-15, that’s the pattern that this rifle follows. Just be aware that there is not necessarily complete parts interchangeability between .308 AR “type” rifles from different manufacturers. Also keep in mind that, due to the much larger cartridge size, key components like the lower receiver, bolt and carrier group, and magazines are all different than their AR-15 smaller siblings.

Just for scale, the Windham Weaponry rifle is shown here (top) with the Armalite M-15 we recently reviewed.

Just for scale, the Windham Weaponry rifle is shown here (top) with an Armalite M-15 in 5.56mm.

Windham Weaponry is a relatively new company – sort of. Founded by many of the folks behind the original Bushmaster company, Windham regenerated in 2011 after Remington moved the Bushmaster operation to New York. When his non-compete agreement with Remington ran out from the 2006 purchase by Remington, Bushmaster founder Richard Dyke gauged interest among former employees in the Windham, Maine area about the idea of rebuilding a new company. Interest was high, and the company was again producing rifles within months. The bottom line is that the Windham folks have been building rifles for a long time, just under a different name.

The Tour

The R20FFTM is a fixed-stock configuration rifle. Designed for optics, it arrives without iron sights, and that’s just fine with me. They’d only end up getting in the way of my scope mount anyway. If you want to configure primary or backup iron sights, the front Mil-std 1913 gas block rail is the same height as the receiver rail segment, so alignment is easy.

The fixed buttstock is a Magpul MOE rifle-length.

The fixed buttstock is a Magpul MOE rifle-length unit.

There's a rubber pad on the back of the buttstock. if you want to increase length of pull, you can order a thicker one from Magpul.

There’s a rubber pad on the back of the buttstock. if you want to increase length of pull, you can order a thicker one from Magpul.

You’ll notice plenty of Magpul furniture on the base rifle – another welcome configuration decision. The buttstock is a Magpul MOE Fixed model, and it has a lot going on. The entire comb of the stock is wide and smoothly sloped offering generous cheek weld area. There’s a molded-in sling loop on the underside, but there are also four sockets – two on either side at the receiver and butt end where you can add push-button QD attachment points. The butt pad is rubber and covers a hinged door, so there’s room in the stock to store important things like spare parts or bacon jerky for those long days in the field. All in all, it’s a nice stock, and I like the way it feels.

The front handguard is a Magpul MOE M-Lok rifle-length model. It has six M-lok slots along the bottom and three on each side in the ten and two o’clock positions so that you can mount rail segments or any other M-Lock compatible accessories. The handguard mounts using the standard delta ring, so it’s not a free-floated system. The sides are smooth while the bottom has rounded ridges which help you set and maintain hand placement. There’s also a small ridge on the lower front which helps prevent your hand from sliding forward onto the gas block. Just forward of this ridge is a metal sling swivel so you can attach there or to one of the M-Lok points if you like. Sadly, there’s no bayonet lug, so if you buy this rifle, Senator Dianne Feinstein won’t shed quite as many tears, but that’s OK. I think bayonet charges are mostly a thing of the past anyway.

The handguard is also from Magpul and features M-Lock attachment points at the 2, 6, and 10 o'clock positions.

The handguard is also from Magpul and features M-Lok attachment points at the 2, 6, and 10 o’clock positions.

If you need to stash emergency gear like bacon jerky, there's a hollow area in the stock.

If you need to stash emergency gear like bacon jerky, there’s a hollow area in the stock.

The pistol grip is also upgraded, but it’s a Hogue over molded model. In short, you’re not getting the basic AR-15 plastic furniture components that you’ll want to upgrade right off the bat.

The upper and lower receivers are machined from 7075 T6 aircraft aluminum forgings. Just behind the pistol grip, you’ll find more QD sling attachment points on either side. The trigger guard is machined into the lower receiver so you can’t replace that with an oversized model. The interior space is generous, however, and I didn’t have any trouble using gloves.

The barrel is 20 inches long and made from 4150M Chrome Moly Vanadium 11595E steel. It’s got a 1:10-inch right-hand twist rate and uses six lands and grooves. The rifle comes with an A-2 birdcage style flash hider. That’s mounted on a 5/8x24tpi thread pattern, so you can easily install a muzzle device or suppressor of your choice. The bolt is made from Carpenter 158 steel and is massive, at least in comparison to the standard AR-15 bolt. Interestingly, the staked gas key is identical to those on the smaller AR-15.

The gas block is consistent with the flat top design and is the same height as the receiver rail.

The gas block is consistent with the flat top design and is the same height as the receiver rail.

Under the gas block there's a sling swivel.

Under the gas block there’s a sling swivel.

The controls are exactly what you’d expect on an AR-type rifle. The bolt catch and release button rides on the left, magazine release button on the right, and safety is on the left. The safety is marked on the right side too so that you can see the condition from either side. In fact, the controls are AR-15 compatible. The ejection port cover is larger of course to handle the bigger .308 cartridge.

My sample rifle arrived with a 20-round P-Mag although the current web site specs indicate that the rifle ships with a five-round magazine. As one would most likely buy this rifle from a retailer, it’ll be easy enough to see which one will come with your rifle.

The other furniture is Magpul, but the pistol grip is a Hogue over molded model.

The other furniture is Magpul, but the pistol grip is a Hogue over molded model.

The handguard mounts with the standard delta ring, so it's not a free-floated system.

The handguard mounts with the standard delta ring, so it’s not a free-floated system.

Shooting the Windham Weaponry .308

As you’d expect, the R20FFTM-308 is somewhat heavier than a 5.56mm AR-15 rifle owing to the bigger BBs that it fires. The empty weight without the magazine is 9.05 pounds. Remember that doesn’t include the optic, so unless you install something light like a red dot, you’ll be over ten pounds before loading up the magazine. The overall length is 40.75 inches and stays that way due to the fixed stock.

The upper and lower receivers separate just like a standard AR-15, they're just bigger.

The upper and lower receivers separate just like a standard AR-15, they’re just bigger where needed.

Also somewhat larger is the bolt, shown here next to a large ammo can for scale.

Also somewhat larger is the bolt, shown here next to a large ammo can for scale.

I did most of my testing with a Hawke Optics Sidewinder Tactical scope with a 10x fixed magnification and mil-dot reticle. It weighs about a pound and a half, not counting the Leupold one-piece offset mounting system. Yes, you can use this scope as an impact weapon if all else fails, but that’s another story. For the ranges appropriate for .308 Winchester, the 10x fixed optic was a great pairing, and certainly a configuration I might keep on this setup.

The trigger and hammer components are all standard AR-15 parts, so you can swap out with custom components if you like. The factory trigger is all mil-spec. It’s got a very short takeup followed by a crisp break as far as standard AR triggers go. I measured the pull weight from the center of the trigger, and it averaged about 6¾ pounds.

As we all know, recoil never really disappears, it just gets redirected and hidden depending on the situation. With an AR direct gas impingement design like on the R20FFTM-308, much of the recoil energy is either siphoned off or spread out over time, making the impulse felt by the shooter greatly reduced when compared to a fixed-action rifle of the same caliber. If you shoot a bolt-action .308 next to this one, the Windham feels very tame in comparison. You can shoot this rifle a lot with no discomfort.

I've not yet needed it, but the classic bolt forward assist is there.

I’ve not yet needed it, but the classic bolt forward assist is there.

All the controls are right where you would expect, and for the most part, interchangeable with standard AR-15 parts.

All the controls are right where you would expect, and for the most part, interchangeable with standard AR-15 parts.

I tested a variety of factory and handloaded ammunition in this rifle for function, velocity, and accuracy. To test velocity, I set up a Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph 15 feet in front of the muzzle and fired ten-shot strings to get an average. For accuracy testing, I fired multiple five-shot groups of each ammunition type at 100 yards and averaged the group sizes. Here’s a summary of the accuracy and velocity results.

AmmunitionGroup SizeVelocity
Federal Premium Gold Medal Match .308 Winchester 175 grain1.81”2,567.3 fps
Federal Law Enforcement Bonded SP .308 Winchester 165 grain3.19”2,597.7 fps
Sig Sauer Match Grade OTM  168 grain1.58”2,564.0 fps
Handload: MidSouth Match Monster 168-grain, H48951.88”2,543.5 fps

 

I should note that the handloads using the Midsouth Shooters Supply Match Monster bullets were made using mixed, once-fired .308 brass. While I was careful in assembly, I used a powder dispenser to make a large batch and didn’t weigh each charge separately. Even with that “volume production” method, those bullets performed well, especially considering the $.24 price per each.

I loaded up a pile of ammo using Midsouth Shooters Supply Match Monster 168-grain projectiles. As you'll see, it shot pretty well.

I loaded up a pile of ammo using Midsouth Shooters Supply Match Monster 168-grain projectiles. As you’ll see, it shot pretty well.

The receiver also features QD sling attachment points on both sides.

The receiver also features QD sling attachment points on both sides.

I haven’t had any reliability issues with any of the ammo types tested. Before taking the rifle out, I squirted a little Slip 2000 EWL lube on the bolt and carrier. Other than that, I didn’t provide any special care.

The barrel is fluted to save a little weight and shed heat a bit faster.

The barrel is fluted to save a little weight and shed heat a bit faster.

Why a .308 AR?

So why might you want a big boy AR rifle? As mentioned earlier, the .308 packs a much bigger punch than the .223 Remington/5.56mm NATO. While energy and momentum don’t reflect the whole story, you can make a rough assumption that the bigger cartridge offers double the energy and momentum performance. If you’re looking for more oomph for hunting, penetration, and terminal performance, the .308 AR rifle might be for you. The .308 cartridge also offers better performance at distance. While it’s not an ideal “long range” cartridge, it’ll perform just fine at 800 or 1,000 yards with the right ammo. And you can count on this Windham Weaponry rifle to deliver those rounds capably!

For more information, visit https://www.windhamweaponry.com/pdf/NewTechSeets/R20FFTM-308-3-15-16-MSRP.pdf.

To purchase a Windham Weaponry .308 AR on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=windham%20308.

I've been shooting several types of match, defensive, and hand loaded ammo through the Windham.

I’ve been shooting several types of match, defensive, and hand loaded ammo through the Windham.

I did accuracy testing using a Hawke Optics Sidewinder Tactical 10x scope from 100 yards.

I did accuracy testing using a Hawke Optics Sidewinder Tactical 10x scope from 100 yards.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Will Drider December 16, 2016, 12:11 am

    I went straight to the accuracy test results and notes, I’m not impressed. Different match ammo and bullet weight and shoots over 1.5 MOA. Problem is what MOA do you get with good but not “match” ammo? You got 3.2 MOA and that is unacceptable for my tastes. Then again, if you find someting cheap, that it groups well: win/win! We know the 7.62X51 (.308) can be a tack driver and not just in bolt guns. After the dust settles and street prices kick in, some will find value here.

  • DRAINO December 15, 2016, 5:41 pm

    Hmm. I expected a little better accuracy and a better trigger for a Windham…….and a $1600+ price tag???? Not impressive………nor realistic for most average Joe’s. Sorry……call it like I see it. Nice looking weapon….just expected more for that price…..and that company.

Leave a Comment

Send this to friend