Windham Weaponry — Today’s Best AR-15 or Clone?

By Dave Dolbee published on in Firearms, General, Reviews

Whether or not you could be considered an AR aficionado, Windham Weaponry would not likely be the first manufacturer that comes to mind. In fact, I would suspect most are searching their memory banks trying to recall if they have ever even heard of Windham Weaponry. Rest at ease, the name is not as important as who is behind it and the quality of workers building the guns.

Once upon a time, a small AR manufacturing company was conceived in Windham, Maine. It went through a few owners and changes before relocating to Ilion, New York — talk about a stake to the heart. Eventually, New York proved fatal (insert my shocked face here) and the workers lost their jobs. Now, back when the company was first started, in Maine by it original owner, Richard Dyke — yes, the same Richard Dyke who started Bushmaster Firearms International — it was successful. Is it starting to get interesting now?

Windham Weaponry SRC AR-15 M4A4

The Windham Weaponry SRC features an M4A4-style flat top design with a Picatinny rails ready for your favorite optics.

This whole process took about 5 years. Dyke’s non-compete contract was set to expire and he was ready to save the company — in Maine, not New York, of course — and Windham Weaponry was born. Dyke made the necessary moves to open and looked to bring back as many of the original employees as possible. I do not know how many of the major players in the AR industry are shaking in their boots, but they are all taking notice.

Early 2012

Windham Weaponry hit the ground with four primary rifle configurations; today it offers 10. The first Windham model to <ahem> land in my hands — because I certainly did not swipe it from the boss’s desk while in the restroom — was the SRC, formally known as the Windham Model R16M4FTT “SRC”.

SRC Features

The SRC features an M4A4-style flat top design with a Picatinny rail. There is another two-inch Picatinny incorporated onto the gas block. This gives you a host of sight/optic options that can be easily added or removed, but it should be noted as a flat top configuration, the SRC is shipped sans sights.

The SRC is a semi-automatic rifle that relies on a gas-impingement system to cycle the action. The receiver is made from forged 7075 T6 aircraft aluminum and decked with a black anodized finish. I am not sure how much of a difference it makes, but I like that Windham still features an aluminum trigger over the polymer versions used on many of today’s ARs.

The SRC is equipped with a chrome-lined steel 16-inch barrel with M4 profile and removable A2 flash suppressor. The factory hand guard is of the M4 double heat shield variety and the pistol grip is an A2 black plastic model. I still have my first Bushmaster with a plastic hand guard, but in reality this would be one of the first pieces I’d replace. I do not typically hang a bunch of furniture, but I like the option to be available.

The rest is pretty much standard fare. The SRC comes with a six-position, telescoping shoulder stock (with Windham logo) and all controls are what you would expect and where it should be for an AR. Likewise, nothing outside of the norm is required to fieldstrip, clean, or lube the SRC. Oh yeah, it ships stock with a 30 rounder for those living in areas where legal.

Bushmaster Clone?

It certainly feels comfortable, similar to one of my Bushmasters, but I would not go so far as to call it a clone. All ARs share a family genealogy to some degree and most people would have to flip one over and read the logo to be sure which one was in their hand anyway. The difference is in the specs, particularly at key points — while striving to keep the platform at a competitive price point. At this, my SRC excels on both points.

My (-boss’s, as I have just been reminded) unit was ding free without any tool marks or chattering. The fit was tight and controls were of standard size. I did not see where any corners were cut to save money, as has been the case on a few cheap imports I have played with over the years. Most important, the trigger was crisp and broke smoothly right out of the box.

Windham Weaponry AR15 SRC M4A4 Rifle

The barrel features a 1:9 twist rate and should be best suited to bullets weighing 45 to 69 grains. Your ideal weight will be determined by the intended purpose, hunting, self-defense and how well your gun likes a particular round.

You would think that it would be easy to get the boss to cough up a 1,000 or so rounds for a range test working for Cheaper Than Dirt, but it seems y’all are buying our stock too quick. So, I had to go with Plan B. At the range and in talking with a few gun nuts, I would put the Windham SRC at just over an MOA gun. Likely, you are looking at something in the neighborhood of 1.25- to 1.5-inch groups (five shot) at 100 yards and from a solid rest.

Twist rates can matter and certain guns just like to eat a particular brand of bullet over another, so results will vary. With a bit of testing, I am sure you could bring down those numbers and get better group sizes. Maybe add a receiver buffer and a few other accuracy tricks. Either way, the SRC shoots better than the AR standard of minute-of-clay-pigeon and I do not intend to use it as a bench rest gun anyway.

A bunch of testing that I would enjoy (if the boss would pay for it) would really only prove which round shoots best out of one particular serial number. The 1:9 from a 16-inch barrel is suited for anything in the 45- to 69-grain range, so the best I can do is look to Uncle Sam for his recommendation:

In 1977, NATO members signed an agreement to select a second, smaller caliber cartridge to replace the 7.62 mm NATO cartridge. Of the cartridges tendered, the 5.56×45mm was successful, but not the 55-gr. M193 round used by the U.S. at that time. The wounds produced by the M193 round were so devastating that many consider it to be inhumane.

 

Instead, the Belgian 62-gr. SS109 round was chosen for standardization. The SS109 used a heavier bullet with a steel core and had a lower muzzle velocity for better long-range performance, specifically to meet a requirement that the bullet be able to penetrate through one side of a steel helmet at 600 meters. This requirement made the SS109 (M855) round less capable of fragmentation than the M193 and was considered more humane.

I guess that means I’ll have to choose something topped with a 55 grain known for accuracy. How about you?

Specifications and Features

  • Manufacturer: Windham Weaponry — www.windhamweaponry.com
  • Model: R16M4FTT — SRC
  • Action: Semi-Automatic, Gas Impingement System
  • Caliber: .223 Rem / 5.56mm NATO
  • Safety: Manual Lever with Indicator Markings on Both Sides of Receiver
  • Receiver: M4A4 Type Flat Top Upper Receiver
  • Receiver Material: Forged 7075 T6 Aircraft Aluminum with Aluminum Trigger Guard
  • Receiver Finish: Hardcoat Black Anodized Finish
  • Barrel: 16” M4 Profile, Chrome Lined with A2 Flash Suppressor
  • Barrel Material: 4150 Chrome Moly Vanadium Steel
  • Shoulder Stock: 6-Position Telescoping Buttstock
  • Pistol Grip: A2 Black Polymer
  • Forend: M4 Double Heat Shield
  • Sights: None
  • Overall Length: 34.5” (30” with the stock collapsed)
  • Weight: 6.3 lbs. Without Magazine
  • Capacity: 30+1 Rounds, Ships with one 30-Round Magazine
  • Twist: 1:9″ RH
  • Accessories: Plastic Hard Case, Web Sling, Operators Manual
  • Warranty: Limited Lifetime for Original Owner, but Transferrable
  • Suggested Retail Price: $1040, but we don’t like suggestions – Our Price $859

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