By Joe W. Gorman
In the 1990s, I would routinely swap-out Colt AR-15 barrels with Bushmaster chrome-lined barrels because they were more accurate than factory Colt barrels. Bushmaster offered several different variations of barrels (heavy-barrels, government-profile-barrels, fluted-barrels) which allowed me to tailor an AR for a specific job.
When Windham Weaponry formed up, I was glad to see the folks behind the success of the original Bushmaster were again having success in the AR market.
Recently, nostalgia for AR-15A4 rifles overtook me, and I contacted Windham to ask them to ship us a new Windham Weaponry 20" Government Rifle to test and evaluate.
I won't go into too much detail about the Windham Weaponry 20" Government Rifle it is as advertised: A 20" chrome-lined barrel, removable carry handle, AR-15A4. The quality of parts and fit and finish are exceptionally good. I held my test rifle up to the sunlight to see how well the upper receiver mated with the bottom receiver and noted that the fit was excellent, allowing very little sunlight. All the Windham Weaponry 20" Government Rifle parts are well made and well finished.
How do you start testing a new A4 rifle? Use iron sights and fire in the prone position, of course! And so I did. Firing M855 ammunition, the sights were very close to the point of aim. I shot several 5-shot groups that were a bit over the two-and-a-half-inch mark. Keeping in mind who was behind the trigger, I was impressed. The trigger had the weight and grind of a typical government AR trigger (breaking north of 5.5 pounds), but I am used to these things.
I mounted up an ACOG TA01 4x scope, sat the rifle on sandbags at a bench, and started shooting the Windham Weaponry 20" Government Rifle for accuracy. Initially, I mounted a Harris adapter to the bottom A2 handguard and mounted a Harris short, bench-rest bipod on the Windham Weaponry 20" Government Rifle. Inevitably, I put pressure on the upper, as I always do with a bipod, and without a free-floated barrel, this opened my groups up to over three inches. After removing the bipod and just resting the upper on top of sandbags, groups shot with premium ammunition were reduced to roughly half that size. 50-grain Fiocchi V-MAX ammunition seemed to get along exceptionally well with the Windham Weaponry 20" Government Rifle. I managed a 1-inch 5-shot group shooting the Fiocchi ammunition, and I couldn't better that with the usual king-of-the-hill: Winchester 55-grain silvertip.
I mounted a top-sling-adapter kit on the Windham Weaponry 20" Government Rifle, and I was transported back to the early '90s when this would have been a state-of-the-art AR. In the mid-'90s, I carried a rifle like this (replete with a prancing Colt stamp) as my kicking-around-in-the-woods-and-taking out-varmints rifle. There's a lot to be said for this configuration. Optics can be low-mounted to the axis of the bore. The stock is a proper length-of-pull for me. The additional barrel length provides several hundred feet-per-second of muzzle velocity over a carbine, depending on the load. The heft is reassuring to us old-school types. It could be a primary prairie dog rifle if I were to free-float the barrel and install a match trigger.
The Windham Weaponry 20" Government Rifle is an accurate, reliable, and well-made AR-15. I am happy that this rifle is still in production and that Windham Weaponry sells it at such a reasonable price. Any outdoorsman could use this "do-anything" 5.56mm rifle to keep the ranch free of pests and predators. It comes with a 30-round magazine, a hard-plastic case, a sling, and an operator's manual.
|Action||Semi-Automatic, Gas Impingement System|
|Capacity||30 + 1- Ships with one 30 Round Magazine (accepts all std. sizes|
|Safety||Manual Lever with Indicator Markings on Both Sides of Receiver|
|Receiver||M4A4 Type Flat Top Upper Receiver with Detachable Carry Handle|
|Receiver Material||Forged 7075 T6 Aircraft Aluminum with Aluminum Trigger Guard|
|Receiver Finish||Hardcoat Black Anodize Finish|
|Bolt Material||Bolt Material Carpenter 158 Steel|
|Barrel||20-inch Government A2 Profile, Chrome Lined with A2 Flash Suppressor|
|Barrel Material||4150 Chrome Moly Vanadium 11595E Steel w. M4 Feed Ramps|
|Rifling||1 Turn in 7-inches Right Hand Twist|
|Stock||A2 Solid Stock with Trapdoor Storage Compartment|
|Forend||Rifle Length Fiberglass Handguards with Aluminum Heat Shield|
|Pistol Grip||A2 Black Plastic Grip with Finger Groove & Checkering|
|Rear Sight||A4 Dual Aperture Elevation & Windage Adjustable: 300M 600 M|
|Front Sight||Adjustable Height Square Post in A2 Standard Base|
|Packaging||Hard Plastic Gun Case with Black Web Sling & Operators Manual|