Windham’s Way... The Essence of the Way of the Gun Performance Carbine

By Oleg Volk

What would you expect from a rifle designed by Frank Proctor, a military veteran with an extensive Army Special Forces background followed by many years of providing training to military and civilian fighters? If you say reliability, accuracy and great balance, you’ve got the essence of Way of The Gun (WOTG) Performance Carbine produced by Windham Weaponry, which was designed to Frank’s specifications. Recently, I had an opportunity to test this rifle under somewhat unusual circumstances.

Back in 2012, my intellectual property attorney Glenn Bellamy (armorer-at-law.com) organized an Industry Range Weekend near Manchester, Middle Tennessee. Attended by such prominent gun makers as Surgeon Rifles and Faxon Firearms, the event combined live-fire range opportunities with socializing. For me, it resulted in several great friendships and numerous advertising projects. The improvised farm range set up for the event was overseen by Kenny and Tiffany Tweet, who came out to mingle with their four kids in tow. All of their kids like to shoot, so I got to watch their pre-teen son repeatedly tag 300-yard steel with a suppressed .338 Lapua Magnum bolt action. The oldest of their kids, Grace, was 12 at the time and ended up on camera with a variety of rifles and submachine guns in hand. Being photogenic, well-trained in shooting and martial arts thanks to Kenny being a jiu jitsu instructor, and very reliable, she has been modeling with weapons from then on. A quiet homeschooled kid, she was right at home on the firing line and soon appeared in numerous editorial articles and pro-RKBA posters. In addition, a number of firearms and accessory makers have featured her in their ads.

Over the past six years, Grace had only one personal firearm, a 20ga pump shotgun. With her 18th birthday coming up, I asked my industry partners how they felt about furthering the War on Women by oppressing one particular hapless female with an AR-15 of her own. Thanks to the strength of Grace’s portfolio of images, this was deemed a great idea by all, and so the devious plot to inflict a black rifle and appropriate accessories upon the poor girl was in full swing right after the NRA convention.

The original plan was to make a custom variant of the Way of The Gun Carbine with a lighter profile barrel featuring a slower 1:9 twist to suit it more to the less expensive 55-grain ball ammunition likely to be available to Grace. With time for such customization proving unavailable, a stock WOTG carbine was provided instead, with medium 1:7 barrel. Thanks to the clean design, the full-up weight was only 6.3 pounds out of the box—and it is unlikely that the lighter barrel would have saved more than a few ounces. With the rifle intended as the main defensive weapon as well as a sporting implement, it was set up with redundant sighting solutions. Excellent flip-up sights made by Windham, with graduated windage adjustments and positive detents when erected, were relegated to a backup role. The main sight is a Hi-Lux 1-4x scope with 5.56mm illuminated BDC reticle. While the rear backup sight just barely fit under the ocular bell of the scope, the irons cannot be used with the scope in the way even if they could be flipped up. Fortunately, the scope is mounted with the latest generation of Bobro Engineering quick-release rings and, in the event of damage to the optic, the scope can be removed almost instantly. The last of the package was provided by Federal Ammunition; 270 rounds of varmint and defensive loads. I added a couple more 30-round Hex mags, a bit more ammunition, and the entire lot was presented right before the birthday cake. It’s a good thing that the base rifle was light, as the final configuration with a full 30-round magazine weighed in at 9.5 pounds.

The first test firing was done at a 25-yard indoor range, just to familiarize Grace with her new acquisition. We discovered that all the loads we tried, from 40-grain SIG SAUER Varmint vaporizers to 75-grain Hornady Match, as well as ICC Frangibles and a variety of Hornady defense offerings, shot one-hole groups with minimal point of impact shift. While the short distance was no test of the barrel’s potential, the tiny groups and 100% reliability over the first 100 rounds were encouraging. The rifle came with an excellent, crisp 4-pound CMC trigger, and recoil was minimal, thanks in part to the BCM combination flash hider and brake. The enhanced BCM charging handle eased routine administrative handling. With the basics of handling learned, we planned a longer-range outdoor test firing.

Back at the same farm where the 2012 event took place, we zeroed the scope for 100 yards as required by the BDC subtensions. The reticle gives an uncluttered but informative view, enabling drop and windage corrections out to 800 meters. The backup irons would be zeroed for 50/200 yards, in keeping with the defensive nature of the device. Ammunition tests conducted with the scope at 4x and the rifle supported on a sandbag showed the following results:

Federal Hi-Shock SP 64gr - 1.75MOA
IMI 55gr FMJ 55gr - 1.75MOA
Federal 55gr Hi-Shock SP 55gr - 1.75MOA
Federal American Eagle HP 50gr - 1.5MOA
Hornady Black Match HP 75gr - 1.25MOA

Considering the aiming limitations of the 4x tactical scope, I would expect WOTG carbine to be rather more accurate if aimed with a 10x optic from a solid rest, but we were testing the overall system as configured, and the results looked quite respectable for a chrome-lined bore. Next time, I will find 69gr Federal Gold Match and see how that works. The Midwest Industries 15-inch, free-floated keymod handguard goes nearly to the muzzle, so a nice, solid support was obtained at both ends. Once the testing was done, we placed an expedient target—a tall and narrow UPS shipping carton—at 200 yards, and Grace hit exactly where she aimed on the first shot. That accomplished, she set up in a hay loft in order to see an old scratched up wok I propped up as an expedient target over the nearest hill. One shot, and the wok developed a hole close enough to the middle to make it a solid hit. At 300 yards, the difference between my assumption that the scope marking was in yards and the reality of it being marked in meters began to tell. The adjustments being in Milliradians should have tipped me off, but the difference was only a couple of inches, so the hit was scored anyway. Based on the 100-yard groups, Grace shoots that rifle about 30% better than I do, despite all the training and the experience on my end.

We can more assorted ammunition through the carbine. Summary: it works, and it works well. Grace could fire on a 100-yard target at a steady cadence without muzzle drift. The scope, especially set to lower magnification, worked well for rapid sighting with both eyes open. We had no malfunctions in 250 rounds fired with the rifle right out of the box. The Hi-Lux scope proved very functional, with good contrast and a comfortable eyebox. We discovered that the reticle illumination was not daylight bright, and so the scope was limited in the red dot role. Solution in the works: an actual red dot at a 45-degree angle to the right of the scope, with the same 50/200 zero as the iron sights. The real key to better results, after competent hardware is secured, is more training. The gun came with Frank Proctor‘s DVD on firearm handling and marksmanship. We scheduled a range instruction day for Grace with a retired Marine Corps marksmanship instructor, and a copy of Major Plaster’s excellent book The Ultimate Sniper is on the way as well. Ballistic calculations aren’t second nature to her yet, but that will change—fortunately, the pre-calculated BDC reduces the math requirements ever so slightly.

In reviewing the carbine’s design, I can’t think of any feature that was either missing or unnecessary. Could it be that having a professional fighter and trainer design a rifle actually results in a well-balanced result, further improved by very high quality manufacturing? It certainly seems to be true. And it looks like the silly conservatives have once again failed to properly victimize a young woman: armed with a scary black rifle, Grace seems even more confident and capable than before. I am telling you, the whole gun industry just doesn’t know how to treat women wrong!

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V22N8 (October 2018)
and was posted online on August 24, 2018


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