New AR-15 manufacturers have appeared at a surprising rate in the last few years, and it’s good to be cautious when making a purchase decision involving a gun from a manufacturer that has been around only a short time. Experience in manufacturing ARs is important, just as experience is in any endeavor. The more you do it, the better you get.
Windham Weaponry is one of the newcomers to the market, having been started in 2011. In a relatively short time, Windham Weaponry has filled out its product line to include quite a number of rifles. One of the ARs that Windham makes is the Carbon Fiber SRC (Sight Ready Carbine), which is produced by the company’s Carbon Fiber Division in Phoenix, Arizona. This isn’t like other carbon-fiber ARs that readers may be familiar with. Windham uses more material in certain critical areas and incorporates a unique barrel nut to increase strength. And even though the upper and lower receivers are made of 40 percent carbon-fiber-infused polymer instead of forged aluminum, most standard AR-15 parts will fit the Carbon Fiber SRC.
But don’t try to mix carbon-fiber upper or lower receivers with aluminum uppers or lowers. They won’t fit right. And since the barrel nut is a bit different, some handguards built for aluminum receivers won’t fit either, however the technicians at Windham can give you advice on what works and what doesn’t before you buy.
Other differences include an upper rail on the flattop receiver that sits about .04 inches higher than the one on an aluminum receiver. That adds strength but means you might need a front sight post that is 0.04 inches higher than a standard one. These are available from Windham, though. Additionally, the
takedown and pivot pins do not protrude from the left side of the receivers, so a tool will be needed to push them out, or at least get them started. That’s not a big deal; a bullet tip works just fine. Also, the charging handle slots in the upper receiver do not have cutouts for removing the charging handle. Instead, the slots run all the way to the rear of the receiver so the charging handle and bolt carrier can be pulled straight out the back. That means you have to be a little more careful when disassembling the gun so that the bolt carrier group doesn’t fall out when the receivers are separated. Besides the integral (instead of hinged) triggerguard—an integral model adds strength—there really aren’t any other significant differences between the composite and aluminum guns.
So what’s the advantage of a carbon-fiber gun? It’s about half a pound lighter than aluminum, and there is no surface finish that can wear off. The carbon-fiber composite also dissipates heat faster than aluminum, and according to the company, the composite is just as strong and resilient as aluminum. I can’t vouch for that personally, because I didn’t try to break the gun, but I can’t argue with Windham about it either. After all, there are a lot of handguns on the market that have composite frames and hold up just fine.
The chrome-lined barrel has a 1-in-9-inch twist and is made of 4150 chrome molybdenum vanadium steel. It’s also air gauged and finished with manganese phosphate for corrosion resistance. Additionally, Windham has included M4 feed ramp cuts for feeding reliability—that’s something not all manufacturers do.
The bolt carrier is made of Carpenter 158 steel, and it and the gas key are both chrome lined. The gas key is also properly staked, something that some manufacturers make a feeble attempt at doing.
The handguard is an M4 type and has double heat shields, something else that some manufacturers skimp on. That can make a big difference when firing long strings because those handguards can get hot. Out front is an A2-style flash suppressor and at the back is a commercial receiver extension with a six-position, collapsible buttstock equipped with a sling loop to
complement the sling swivel on the bottom of the gas block. A standard A2 pistol grip is used, so if the user wants to swap it out for a different one, it’s easy. The gun even has a bayonet lug. To sum it up, the Carbon Fiber SRC is almost identical to the aluminum receiver version. But how does it shoot?
Because it weighs a little less than six pounds, it’s lightweight and easy to handle. Since the recoil of the .223 round is pretty tame, it’s a nice, comfortable gun to shoot either off-hand or from the bench. Although it would be a little easier than an aluminum gun to tote around the field all day, it’s not a precision gun. But one wouldn’t expect it to be since it’s so light. That’s not to say it isn’t accurate enough for most practical uses. After all, it beats the 5-MOA military specification for an M4 carbine.
Windham makes other AR-style rifles as well. The CDI model is Windham’s top of the line and it’s got accessories that are very popular, including a Magpul MOE buttstock, Diamondhead Free float handguard, Magpul AFG Angled Foregrip, Magpul MOE Pistolgrip, Diamondhead Dual Aperture Flip-Up Rear Sight, Diamondhead Front Flip-Up Sight and a web sling.
Then there’s the MPC, or Most Popular Carbine. It has a Windham Weaponry telescoping buttstock, M4 double heat shield handguards, A2 pistol grip, an A4 dual aperture rear sight and an A2 front sight.
There’s also an aluminum version of the Carbon Fiber SRC. The only difference is the receiver, which is made from forged 7075-T6 aluminum, making the gun just a bit heavier.
If you want a gun that is even heavier, there’s the HBC, or Heavy Barreled Carbine. It’s the same gun as the MPC but with a heavy barrel. It weighs about 7.45 pounds, compared to about 6.85 pounds for the MPC.
For the accuracy to snuff varmints, Windham makes the VEX-SS Varmint Exterminator. It features a 20-inch, matte finished and fluted 416R stainless steel barrel with a Compass Lake Specification chamber and a 1-in-8-inch twist. The gun has a skeleton stock with a sling swivel, a knurled and vented aluminum free-floating handguard, a Hogue rubber pistol grip and a flattop with rail risers.
Lately, a lot of people want an AR chambered in .308, so Windham just introduced the SRC-308. It’s light, weighing only about 7.5 pounds, has a 7075-T6 aluminum flattop receiver and a 16.5-inch, chrome-lined, medium profile 4150M chrome moly-vanadium barrel with an A2 flash suppressor. The twist is 1-in-10 inches.
Windham also offers law enforcement models. In fact, agencies can contact Windham to discuss special models that are built to the department’s specifications.
Windham doesn’t stop there, though. The company also sells complete uppers in a variety of models as well as upper receiver parts, including stripped uppers, barrels and parts kits. The company doesn’t sell lower receivers, but it does sell parts for lowers, including complete parts kits minus the receiver.
For more information call 855-808-1888 or visit windhamweaponry.com.