Wilson Combat Billet 300 Black Recon Tactical rifles have proven reliable and accurate in the field.
Companies building AR-based rifles designed for precision are moving to billet construction with more frequency. Of course, forged receivers are plenty accurate, but billet versions provide some different options. Given that they are machined from a single billet of aluminum, the receivers can be made thicker. It is also possible to machine in custom features that would be difficult to add when starting from a forging. For the small shop that wants to build truly custom work, this method of construction is fantastic. With the proper machinery, a builder doesn’t have to depend as much on suppliers and contractors. In fact, properly equipped custom shops are capable of building the entire billet-based rifle in house.
During market shortages, a billet-AR builder can get rifles out much faster without sacrificing any of the quality. A recent conversation with Bill Wilson of Wilson Combat made that abundantly clear. His rifles are always harder to get because they are built one at a time. But with all the demand, it was taking much longer to produce a rifle from forgings. By adding a new CNC machine, the company could build a billet rifle more quickly, and now the company offers a “BILLet” upgrade for any of its rifle builds.
Fitting the Billet
I’ve tested several of Wilson Combat’s Recon Tactical rifles in a number of calibers, and they are some of the best AR-based rifles on the market today. The company’s rifles are accurate, consistent and boringly reliable. Whether hunting hogs on Bill Wilson’s ranch or testing them on my home range, Wilson Combat rifles always work, produce sub-MOA accuracy—often close to 0.5 MOA—and run just about anything. Each rifle is built one at a time with great attention to detail, and the excellent workmanship is immediately obvious. The Recon Tactical name belies these rifles’ real focus—hunters and shooting enthusiasts. Of course, some law enforcement professionals use these guns, but most are in the hands of hunters and enthusiasts who just want the best.
The standard Recon Tactical starts with a forged lower and receiver. One of Wilson Combat’s Tactical Trigger Unit (TTU) single- or two-stage triggers is installed, along with several mil-spec components, including a coated bolt carrier. The company’s tactical, match-grade barrels are made from stainless steel and can be fluted if desired. The rifles also have M4 feed ramps for greater reliability. Standard threading allows for use of the Wilson Combat Accu-Tac flash suppressor or a Rapid Thread muzzle brake, which will accommodate the company’s Whisper suppressor.
For a forend, Wilson Combat installs its TRIM handguard, which allows you to add Picatinny rail segments where desired. Light and narrow, the TRIM provides for a solid grip yet sits nicely in branches or other non-traditional support platforms. Finally, the rifle is given an Armor-Tuff finish. Whether you are looking for the perfect AR for hunting, target practice or mean-streets duty, the Recon Tactical is a fantastic choice.
With the BILLet upgrade, each matching upper and lower receiver is machined and perfectly matched in the company’s Berryville, Arkansas, facility. Designed by Bill Wilson and his engineering team, BILLet receivers address many structural and design weaknesses in the standard USGI configuration. The receiver walls are strengthened, and a precise bolt raceway is added, which translates to butter-smooth operation and reduced firing flex. An oversized magazine well and integrated triggerguard make it easier to use the rifle in any climate or condition. The upper receiver’s top rail is precision-machined to exact tolerances. A precision-threaded receiver ensures accuracy, while the M4-style feed ramps ensure reliability. The upper receiver also lacks a forward assist; instead, the right side is left smooth, making it stronger, stiffer and more conducive to accuracy. Each BILLet rifle is hand-prepped for a flawless surface and hardcoat anodized prior to receiving the final Armor-Tuff finishing.
Building a .30-caliber rifle using the 5.56mm AR platform has been tried by many, with varying degrees of success. Few attempts have experienced the success of the 300 AAC Blackout, or 300 BLK, cartridge. Closely matching the ballistics of the 7.62x39mm round, it does so using a 5.56mm bolt and standard M16 magazines, making the transition simple and affordable for many. Ammunition choices are also growing, and supply is starting to come back. For a short-range hunting rifle, the 300 BLK is excellent, and it may well be the best caliber out there for urban police work, making it a perfect test platform.
The rifle provided for testing was a Recon Tactical using a 16-inch, fluted barrel with a 1-in-7-inch twist rate, chambered for the 300 BLK and capped with a Rapid Thread muzzle brake. This brake works as a standalone device, but is designed to accommodate the Whisper suppressor. The BILLet upper receiver was coated in Flat Dark Earth, with a black, full-length TRIM handguard covering most of the barrel. The matching lower receiver came equipped with a TTU single-stage trigger and the enlarged, integral triggerguard. An adjustable Rogers/Wilson Super-Stoc sits over the mil-spec buffer tube. Lightweight and strong, this buttstock locks into place solidly and provides a good cheekweld.
As previously mentioned, the upper receiver is flat-sided with no forward assist, which gives it a very nice, unique look. The forward assist is a source of controversy within the AR community. I can take it or leave it, but removing it does add to some structural integrity to the Recon Tactical. Honestly, if you keep your rifle clean and use the proper ammunition, the forward assist will mostly just be an appendage.
For accuracy testing and long-range work, I mounted a 1.5-5x20mm Leupold Mark 4 MR/T scope with a lighted 300 Blackout reticle and a 30mm maintube. It utilizes standard, low-profile M2 knobs with zero stops that are secure. The lighted reticle has seven intensity settings with an off position in between each setting, facilitating fast activation and deactivation. I installed the scope in a Leupold Mark 2 IMS 30mm integral mount to keep it in place. For close-range work, I used an EOTech EXPS-2 holographic sight.
My Wilson Combat Whisper suppressor was used during all of the testing. Completely machined from billet titanium, it is light and quick cooling, with very little impact shift. The oversized design allows for effective suppression in a short overall package. Available in bead-blasted titanium gray or Armor-Tuff, this suppressor was coated in Cerakote to match my personal 300 BLK rifle.
As with other Recon Tactical rifles I’ve tested, the 300 BLK BILLet rifle yielded excellent accuracy. Remington’s 125-grain OTM match ammo created a five-shot group measuring 0.55 inches at 100 yards. Remington’s 125-grain AccuTip ammo all but mimicked the match load, making for an excellent combination. Nothing impacted outside an inch, with most groups well inside that mark. This rifle is as accurate as most humans can shoot it.
Extending the range, the Leupold scope was well suited for shots out to 300 yards. The reticle worked well for solid hits at 200 and 300 yards on steel. This scope allows for fast target acquisitions yet solid precision when needed out to the limits of the 300 BLK cartridge.
I removed the Leupold scope and replaced it with the EOTech XPS-2 holographic sight for some close-up work. The Recon Tactical was pretty handy, even with the Whisper suppressor attached. The Whisper’s design keeps things quiet yet adds very little to the rifle’s overall length. Even working in close quarters, the Recon Tactical was easy to maneuver.
Billet construction feels really nice in your hands, and Wilson Combat finishes its BILLet ARs incredibly well. Attention to detail is evident at every turn. Bolt operation is truly butter-smooth—so smooth it surprises you when you run it. The rifle’s overall fit, finish and composition were superb. It was 100 percent reliable with all of the ammunition tested, and favored the 125-grain Remington OTM match load for accuracy testing. As a duty load, my preference would be the 125-grain Remington AccuTip if you can get it. It provides solid accuracy with better terminal ballistics and matches the 125-grain OTM for point of impact on barriers or at longer ranges. For hunting, depending on the game, there are several 110-grain loads that should prove excellent. For those who reload, you can use a number of standard .308 bullets, so the options are nearly endless.
Wilson Combat’s BILLet upgrade adds $400 to a complete rifle build. This isn’t that much, especially for those purchasing a $2,400 rifle. The upgrade has a great feel, increases the Recon Tactical’s durability and truly complements its inherent accuracy. If you are in the market for a tack-driving, custom-grade rifle, make sure you take a look at Wilson Combat. For more information, visit wilsoncombat.com or call 800-955-4856.