Wilson Combat 6.8 SPC Recon more bang for the buck: Kokalis says the 6.8 is in no danger of supplanting the 5.56mm in military service, but it offers some distinct advantages for the savvy civilian.In addition to its highly regarded custom M1911 pistol series, the fighting shotguns manufactured by the Scattergun Technologies division, and a wide variety of custom knives, Wilson Combat (Dept. SGN, 2234 County Road 719, Berryville, Ark. 72616-0578; phone: orders--1-800-955-4856, technical questions--1-870-545-3635; fax: 1-870-545-3310; website: www.wilsoncombat.com) produces a line of AR-15 rifles that are the equal in quality, precision and accuracy of the M1911 pistols upon which the firm's fame principally rests.
SHOTGUN NEWS was recently sent a rifle from their relatively new 6.8 Project for test and evaluation. Equipped with an 18-inch (457mm) barrel and Magpul CTR buttstock, the rifle sent to us measures 37 3/4 inches (959mm) in overall length, with the stock fully extended and 34 1/4 inches (870mm) with the stock fully collapsed. The weight, with an empty magazine, is 7 pounds (3.2kg).
The stainless steel, medium weight (.74" at the muzzle), match-grade barrel has four grooves with an SPC II chamber, M4 feed ramps, and a 1:11 twist. An optional 16-inch barrel is available.
Threaded to the barrel is the 5/8"-24 Wilson Combat Accu-Tac AR flash hider. Its external accurizing flutes improve muzzle harmonics over other blast dispersing brakes. The effectiveness of this brake depends to a large extent on the ability of its three prongs--which are offset from the bore's axis--to resonate, very much like a tuning fork, and create the turbulence required to break up the gases that cause the rifle's flash signature.
While the Accu-Tac AR flash hider is quite effective in dissipating flash and minimizing the muzzle signature, it has no negative effect on the rifle's accuracy potential.
Both the upper and lower receivers have been forged and machine finished from 7075 aircraft-grade aluminum alloy, which is commonly used in the M16/AR-15 rifle series.
The Wilson Combat quad-rail system with which this rifle is equipped is one of the very best I have ever examined. Precision CNC machined from 6005A T5 aluminum alloy and then black hard-anodized for maximum durability, the full-length top (12 o'clock) and bottom (6 o'clock) rails offer the operator 7 1/4 inches of usable MIL-STD-1913 interface, while the sides (3 and 9 o'clock) have 1 1/2 inches of rail interface.
The rear portion of the 3 and 9 o'clock rails have been machined without a MIL-STD-1913 rail interface to provide a comfortable handhold. There are four threaded l/4"x20 tpi holes on both the 12 and 6 o'clock rails and three each on the 3 and 9 o'clock rails for the attachment of accessories. The 6 o'clock rail is equipped with a "ladder"-type removable rail cover.
Our test specimen came equipped with a Wilson Combat single stage Tactical Trigger Unit (TTU). The ultra-crisp trigger pull weight measured at exactly 3 pounds. This drop-in trigger unit can be easily installed in any AR-15-type rifle by the operator in less than one minute without tools or even removing the selector lever.
All components of the TTU arc precision CNC machined and/or EDM cut from solid bar stock. The hammer, trigger and disconnector pivot on hardened steel bushings, so no wear or stress is transferred to the receiver pin holes or pins. The positive trigger reset provides a rapid follow-up shot on target. Finally, the unique hammer geometry enhances reliable ignition with the hard primers so frequently encountered on MilSpec and surplus ammunition.
Attached to the 12 o'clock rail interface is the Wilson Combat rear emergency flip-up-type rear sight. The rear sight includes a rock-solid two-bolt mounting system, bidirectional adjustment for both windage and elevation, positive mount in the upward position, and a truly improved sight picture with a large peep aperture.
The new Wilson Combat FUFS (Flip Up Front Sight) is one of the most robust I have ever seen. Machined from hardened ordnance steel, the 5.2-ounce FUFS locks securely in either the up or down position. An integrally machined fence prevents accidental push-button actuation. The FUFS mounts to any .75" barrel with two hidden set screws and uses a standard, elevation-adjustable, Government-issue, square post-type sight. As demonstrated during our accuracy tests, the FUFS has absolutely no effect, adverse or otherwise, on the barrel's harmonics.
All of the rifle's metal components have been finished in Wilson's Armor-Tuff Protective Firearms Finish that was developed specifically for use on firearms to provide a surface with optimum corrosion protection, abrasion resistance and lubricity. Except for the muzzle device and quad-rail system, which are black, the other parts were provided with a matte gray Armor-Tuff finish.
Armor-Tuff permanently bonds to the surface to form a barrier from acids, oils, paint remover, powder solvents, bore cleaners and other strong industrial solvents. The extremely low curing temperature (300[degrees]) prevents damage to any of the parts during the lengthy curing process. Armor-Tuff is the most durable, chemical and heat resistant, thermally cured finish on the market.
It deserves a detailed technical description. Before applying Armor-Tuff, the rifle and its components are glass-beaded with extremely fine blasting media, then "dehorned" with great precision and surface prepped. All of the carbon steel parts are then phosphate finished ("Parkerizing") before applying the material used to form a bonding surface with Armor-Tuff.
A highly trained technician then sprays the Armor-Tuff coating on the firearm just before the thermal curing process. After reassembly, a Master Class shooter performs a 100% inspection to insure that the final finish meets the Wilson Combat standards.
In appearance Armor-Tuff has an attractive satin/matte look that is similar to an ultra-fine, sandblasted blued finish. Armor-Tuff is available in matte black, matte Olive Drab (OD green), matte gray, matte tan or any combination thereof.
When applied to bare common gun steel, Armor-Tuff will pass the test protocols for saltwater spray at 1,000 hours, saltwater immersion for a minimum of 1,000 hours, accelerated salt spray test equivalent to 30 years marine atmosphere exposure, and 60 days sea water immersion. Armor-Tuff surfaces will never rust when subjected to normal firearm usage.
While Armor-Tuff contains molybdenum disulfide, which provides superb anti-friction characteristics, it's still recommended that a high-quality synthetic lubricant, such as G96 Gun Treatment, be used on all of the reciprocating surfaces--especially the slide-to-frame rail contact. Armor-Tuff will meet 24-hour immersion test protocols in the following harsh fluids: aviation gasoline, hydraulic fluid, jet fuel, lubricating oils, paint removers, trichloroethylene, nitric, sulfuric, and hydrochloric acids, hydrogen peroxide, gun powder solvents, common gun lubricants, strong bases such as hydroxide, and numerous other harsh industrial chemicals. Armor-Tuff will withstand exposure to temperature extremes ranging from +500[degrees] F. to -250[degrees] F. Armor-Tuff is applied with a nominal thickness of .0003-.0009", which permits easy reassembly of precision-fitted components.
The Wilson Combat 6.8SPC rifle comes equipped with a Magpul Industries Corporation (Dept. SGN, P.O. Box 17697, Boulder, Colo. 80308-0697; phone, toll free: 1-877-462-4785; fax: 303-828-3469; website: www.magpul.com) CTR (Compact/Type Restricted) M4 Carbine Collapsible Buttstock, Commercial Model.
Designed for light, fast action, the streamlined, skeletonized A-frame profile avoids snagging and shields the release latch to prevent accidental activation. The extra-power lock mechanism uses a premium chrome-silicon spring to avert auto-collapse failure and maintains strength by resisting spring relaxation.
The CTR buttstock also features a supplemental friction lock system that eliminates wobble for enhanced weapon stability and accuracy. The Commercial Model includes an extended .55" rubber buttpad to provide positive shoulder pocket purchase and also accommodates longer slant-back buffer tubes. The CTR is far and away Magpul's most popular collapsible buttstock.
The 6.8SPC rifle also comes with the excellent Magpul Original Equipment (MOE) M16/AR-15 grip assembly, which is a cost-effective, drop-in replacement for the standard M16/AR-15 pistol grip. It features an anti-slip texture and comes with a basic storage core plug that can be replaced with one of three optional storage cores for CR123 or AA/AAA batteries or a spare bolt and firing pin storage core.
A properly designed combat carry sling is an absolutely essential piece of equipment for a tactical rifle that will be used by armed professionals. Blue Force Gear, Inc. (Dept. SGN, P.O. Box 853, Pooler, Ga. 31322; phone: 1-877-430-2583; fax: 912-964-7701; website www.blueforcegear.com) markets an interesting line of slings for my friend, Larry Vickers. The Vickers Combat Application Sling is a two-point design that permits a variety of carry and shooting positions. An ambidextrous design, it's sized for use over body armor. Various methods of attachment are available and the sling is available in black, coyote brown, olive or foliage green (US Army ACU pattern) and now Multi-Cam as well. It costs $62.95. Better yet, however, is the padded version of the Vickers Sling, which features a 2x22-inch closed-cell foam pad and we attached one of these excellent slings to the Wilson Combat 6.8SPC Recon rifle. The Vickers Padded Sling costs $67.95 and I recommend it highly as it's without doubt the most comfortable combat carry sling I have ever slung around my shoulders.
A Cobra version of this sling has a Cobra quick-release buckle and all metal hardware. The Cobra buckle is usually fielded in life-support scenarios and will not open under load. This padded version of the Vickers Combat Application Sling sells for $104.95.
If you attach a combat-carry-type sling to a tactical rifle using the sling mounting points directly under the rifle, the rifle will invariably roll outboard, inhibiting the operator's ability to deploy the weapon quickly from the slung position. Further, slings of this type are essential when the operator needs to transition to his handgun and the sling must retain the rifle as close as possible to the torso.
As a consequence, I attached a GG&G Sling Thing for Dovetails (GGG-1203--$35) to the front end of the 9 o'clock MIL-STD-1913 rail interface and used the sling slot on the Magpul CTR buttstock in order to mount the Vickers Padded Sling on the left side of the rifle. This completely eliminated the so-called "rifle roll" encountered when tactical slings are attached to the underside of the rifle.
Test and Evaluation
Initial popularity and acceptance of AR-15-type rifles in caliber 6.8x43mm were severely inhibited by the lack of both reliable magazines and consistent and accurate ammunition. Both of these problems were addressed by several manufacturers with entirely successful solutions.
The Wilson Combat 6.8SPC Recon rifle comes equipped with one 15-round C-Products, LLC (Dept SGN, 30 Elmwood Court, Newington, Conn. 06111; phone: 860-953-5007, ext. 2; fax: 860-953-09729; e-mail: email@example.com; website: www.cproductsllc.com) two-position-feed, staggered-column, detachable box-type magazine with a heat-treated, stainless steel body and polymer follower. It performed without malfunction during the SHOTGUN NEWS test and evaluation.
However, I slightly prefer the Precision Reflex, Inc. (Dept. SGN, 710 Streine Drive, New Bremen, Ohio 45869; phone: 419-629-2603; fax: 419-629-2173; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.pri-mounts.com) series of 6.8x43mm magazines for several reasons. Precision Reflex 6.8SPC magazines feature a "waffle"-pattern steel body similar to the early Colt AR-15/MI6 20-round magazine. They are available in four capacities: 5-, 10-, 15- and 25-round and come with a Magpul polymer guided follower. Best of all, they are available with either a standard floorplate or more easily disassembled pushbutton floorplate. I especially like the 25-round magazine and all that I have function perfectly.
Remington's efforts to produce 6.8x43mm ammunition are described below. Early on they had some problems with consistency and several others stepped up to bat. It's my opinion that the most accurate ammunition in this caliber currently available is manufactured by Silver State Armory (SSA--Dept. SGN, P.O. Box 962, Packwood, Wash. 98361; phone: 775-537-1118; fax: 775-537-1119; e-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.ssarmory.com). They also market the largest variety of loads in 6.8SPC.
SSA offers 6.8x43mm (SPC) ammunition in the following bullet weights and types: 85-grain Barnes TSX, 90-grain Speer TNT, 100-grain Nosier AccuBond, 110-grain Nosier AccuBond, 110-grain Barnes TSX, 110-grain Sierra Pro Hunter, 115-grain Sierra OTM, 100-grain OTM Plinking, 85-grain Barnes Frangible, and 97-grain SSA Armor Piercing (law enforcement and military only). Silver State Armory also sells 6.8x43mm bullets and empty cases for reloaders, as well as ammunition in calibers 5.56x45mm NATO, 7.62x51mm NATO, .243 Win., .280 Remington and cal. .499.
Upon the recommendation of SSA owner Art Kalwas, we were sent a substantial quantity of the 85-grain Barnes TSX tactical load (muzzle velocity--3030 fps), 100-grain Nosier AccuBond (2580 fps) and 115-grain Sierra OTM (2550 fps) for the accuracy portion of our evaluation of the Wilson Combat 6.8SPC Recon rifle. The latter two loads are specifically designed for law enforcement and military applications.
Our test protocol included atmospheric measurements made with a Kestrel 4500 Pocket Weather Tracker (Dept. SGN, Nielsen-Kellerman, 21 Creek Circle, Boothwyn, Pa. 19061; phone: 610-447-1555 or 800-784-4221; fax: 610-447-1577; e-mail: email@example.com; website: www.kestrelweather.com) complete with external weather vane and mount. Kestrel meters are used extensively by military and law enforcement snipers and precision rifle shooters throughout the world and are the very best equipment of this type available.
Shooting from the bench with an ambient temperature of 57.4[degrees] Fahrenheit and a mild tailwind of 7.5 mph moving NNW (29.6[degrees]) directly at the target, the results we obtained were exactly as guaranteed by Wilson Combat and better. Both the 85-grain Barnes TSX and 100-grain Nosier AccuBond produced precise 1.0 moa groups at 100 meters with the Leupold Mark 4 6.5-20x50mm Extended Range/Tactical (ER/T) Ml Front Focal Riflescope with a Mil-Dot reticle pattern mounted on the rifle's 12 o'clock MIL-STD-1913 rail interface.
The 115-grain Sierra OTM projectiles generated the tightest group at .8 moa. In general I prefer the heaviest bullet available in any given rifle or pistol caliber, as it will invariably do the most damage, especially so with properly designed hollow-point projectiles.
The 6.8x43mm round delivers no discernibly greater recoil impulse in the Wilson Combat 6.8SPC Recon rifle than the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge. It has become quite popular on game up to deer size. It would be a combat cartridge superior to the 5.56x45mm NATO round, but its general adoption is quite simply impossible as more than 10 million M16 series rifles and millions of other types in 5.56x45mm NATO are presently fielded by the NATO armed forces. The 6.8x43mm round's superiority is at best marginal and its general adoption would not be cost-effective.
It will continue in military service only in small quantities by special operations personnel and private sector (mercenary) advisors, whose logistic requirements for ammunition, maintenance and repair can be more easily met. An excellent cartridge, it appeared at the proverbial wrong time in the wrong place.
But that shouldn't stop you from getting one, and one of the very best available is the Wilson Combat 6.8SPC Recon and the other rifles in Wilson's 6.8 Project series. I intend to continue shooting mine extensively from now on. Complete as tested by SHOTGUN NEWS with one C-Products 15-round magazine, single stage Tactical Trigger Unit, Wilson's Flip-Up rear and front sights and a padded nylon assault case, the Recon rifle sells for $2,495.
History of the 6.8x43mm Cartridge
At the request of certain elements within the Special Forces arena, principally MSG Steve Holland of 3rd Special Forces Group, and Chris Murray, a United States Marksmanship Training Unit (MTU) armorer, in the fall of 2003 Barrett Firearms Mfg., Inc. commenced development of an enhanced M16A2 M4 upper receiver that was to be chambered for an entirely new cartridge that would also be compatible with the magazine well portion of the M4's lower receiver.
Actually, the concept dated back to late in 2001, when conversion of the M4 to 7.62x39mm was considered. However, this conversion would have required extensive alteration of the magazine well. The concept shifted gears as the development of cartridges more compatible to the M16's envelope was studied. The three cartridge types first examined were 6.5mm, 6.8mm and 7mm.
There is no small amount of irony in this. In April of 1951, the British Defence Minister announced the adoption of the EM2 bullpup rifle and the .280/30 cartridge by the British army. Developed by the British "Ideal Calibre Panel," the .280/30 was supposed to be just that. The USA responded by burying the British submission in a mountain of charts and graphs that purported to show how impractical the selection of this round would be. The USA eventually forced the other NATO countries to adopt its T65 cartridge, which eventually became known at the 7.62x51mm NATO round.
A half-century later and we are now back to something similar to the British .280/30 cartridge. The road to the 6.8x43mm (aka 6.8SPC for "Special Purpose Cartridge") round initially began with a prototype 6.5mm round and progressed to 6.8mm. While there is an entire family of cases that use the same headspace, such as 5.56mm, 6.5mm, 6.8mm and 7x43mm; the user selected the 6.8mm (.270) case for reasons including velocity, accuracy and wound ballistics performance.
It should also be noted that after almost four decades of fielding infantry rifles in caliber 5.56x45mm NATO, troops in the Middle East, especially in Afghanistan, are clamoring for rifles in caliber 7.62x51mm NATO. The U.S. Army is refurbishing M14 rifles as fast as it can. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to understand that big bullets make big holes.
As developed by Remington, the case is 6.8x43mm (actually with a maximum case length of 42.835mm). Initially, three projectiles were developed, one each by Hornady, Sierra and Remington. Sierra's entry was a 115-grain hollow point boattail (HPBT) with no cannelure. Hornady's bullet was a cannelured 115-grain open tip match (OTM) projectile that provided the best performance in tissue simulant. The Remington 115-grain FMJ was the least expensive, but had considerable terminal impact.
However, there was a legal problem with the hollow-point bullets. If the hollow point at the tip of the projectile is part of the bullet's manufacturing process and was not designed to cause the bullet to expand, then the U.S. Army's JAG will sometimes authorize its use.
However, if it appears that the hollow-point cavity was designed specifically to result in "enhanced performance" upon contact with the target, then the projectile cannot be issued for use against enemy targets. There were also problems in this area with the 168-grain HPBT .308 projectile used by military snipers in bolt-action and accurized M14 rifles.
Remington's propellant charge weight for the 6.8x43mm is 29 to 30 grains, nominal. They have been using ball propellants, but have also evaluated stick powders. While small rifle primers were examined for this project, a standard, not magnum, large rifle primer was selected. With test barrels, the muzzle velocities achieved have been 2600 to 2650 fps with a 16-inch barrel and 2700 to more than 2800 fps with a 24-inch barrel, dependent upon the powder.
My first exposure to what was to evolve into the Trijicon ACOG (advanced Combat Optical Gunsight) was 27 years ago when I took six Armson O.E.G. (Occluded Eye Gunsight) binocular gunsights to El Salvador. Originally developed and manufactured in South Africa, it was a refinement of equipment used by Col. "Bull" Simons in the Son Tay prison raid.
I distributed them to snipers of the famed Atlacatl Immediate Reaction Battalion and we successfully fielded them on a number of ground combat operations against the communist FMLN terrorists. Requiring binocular vision on the part of the operator, the Armson O.E.G. uses no batteries, was the first of the red dot sights now so popular with special operations personnel fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and is still in production.
Its importer, Leadership Keys in Farmington, Michigan went on to become Trijicon, Inc. (Dept. SGN, 49385 Shafer Avenue, P.O. Box 930059, Wixom, Mich. 48393; phone: 248-960-7700 or toll-free 800-338-0563; fax: 248-960-7725; website: www.trijicon.com) and the absolute world leader in the design and development of battery-free, fiber optic sights, the flagship of which is the famous ACOG now seeing heavy ground combat in Afghanistan.
The Wilson Combat 6.8SPC Recon rifle was sent to us with a 4x32mm Trijicon ACOG scope with an RM01 Red Dot mounted on top of it. The Trijicon ACOG requires no batteries. Its superimposed reticle, in this case a red chevron or arrow that glows in the dark, is illuminated by an external, and highly distinctive, fiber optic light gathering rail on top of the scope--used when available light is sufficient--and by an internal tritium lamp during subdued light environments.
Many reticle patterns and types are available. The models with 4X magnification are the type most often fielded by our military in the Middle East. The reticle pattern incorporates a bullet-drop-compensator (BDC) for M885 caliber 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition that covers target engagement distances from zero to 800 meters. The ACOG uses the Bindon Aiming Concept (BAC) developed by Trijicon's later founder, Glyn A.J. Bindon, a pioneer in self-luminous gunsights, who died tragically in a small plane crash on 2 September 2003.
The scope's objective size is 32mm, with an eye relief of 1.5 inches and an exit pupil of 8mm. The 7[degrees] field of view provides a field of view of 36.8 feet at 100 yards. The housing is made of forged aluminum and the weight is 15.1 ounces, without the RMR red dot sight.
Because the ACOG system is neither fast nor truly accurate at extremely close ranges, it is now most often fielded with a Trijicon RMR (Ruggedized Miniature Reflex) red dot sight mounted on top of it. The RM01 is an LED sight with a 4.0 moa red dot that is powered by a standard CR2032 battery.
Both the ACOG and RM01 red dot sight are easily adjustable for both windage and elevation zero. With an overall length of 45mm, the RM01 weighs only 1.2 ounces with its 3-volt lithium battery.
Complete with a 4.0 moa Trijicon RMR red dot sight and mount, MIL-STD-1913 rail interface, Lenspen, Neoprene scope cover and hard case, the TA31F-RMR 4x32 Trijicon ACOG scope sells for $2,163. This is, without doubt, the best rapid-acquisition combat scope available and is immensely popular with the ground combat personnel of USSOCOM (United States Special Operations Command).
Leupold Mark 4 ER/T 6.5-20x50mm Riflescope
Leupold & Stevens, Inc. (Dept. SGN, P.O. Box 688, Beaverton, Oreg. 97075-0688, phone: 503-646-9171; fax: 503-526-1475; website: www.leupold.com) has been making ri-flescopes for 102 years. Their product line includes optical sights that cover hunting, target shooting and tactical applications. They sell more tactical scopes to the U.S. government than all other scope manufacturers combined.
There are several reasons for that. Their riflescopes, and every component thereof, are made entirely in the United States. Equally important, the quality and optical features of their scopes are outstanding. Several Leupold scopes are fairly old designs that have been continually updated on an almost annual basis.
An example of this is the scope we chose to mate with the Wilson Combat 6.8SPC Recon rifle, in order to ascertain the rifle's maximum accuracy potential, as the Trijicon ACOG is a combat scope not designed to measure a rifle's bench-rest accuracy. I selected the Leupold Mark 4 6.5-20x50mm Extended Range/Tactical (ER/T) Ml Front Focal Riflescope with a Mil-Dot reticle pattern because with the reticle pattern located in the front focal plane, it's magnified along with the image, so you can estimate range at any magnification setting.
Overall length of this scope is only 14.5 inches with a weight of just 22 ounces, which is quite incredible for a tactical scope with a three times magnification range from 6.5X to 20X. The tube diameter of the scope is 30mm.
The eye relief, an extremely important factor in assessing the operator's ability to quickly come on target is 3.6 to 4.4 inches. Leupold's Index Matched Lens System provides superior resolution from edge to edge of the entire visual field, even at 20X magnification, along with peak image brightness and optimal contrast. The image is sharp and brilliant. In my opinion, this is one of Leupold's finest tactical scopes with an ideal magnification range. The manufacturer's suggested retail price is $2,124.99.
Leupold 30mm, aluminum alloy, high rings (#57291) cost $224 and their really great aluminum alloy, flip-up lens caps sell for $132. I prefer totally opaque lens covers such as these because they force the operator to flip them up, as the see-through types always degrade the scope's optical qualities.
Scopes in Leupold Ml series have both windage and elevation adjustment knobs that feature audible and tactile feedback from one-minute numbered divisions with 1/4-minute click-stops clearly marked between each one-minute division. The ability to make 1/4-minute adjustments is an important attribute.
Total elevation and windage travel on this scope is 70 minutes each and each complete revolution raises or lowers the point of impact by 15 minutes. The elevation knob also has a horizontal scale that is used to keep track of the number of revolutions that the dial has been turned. In addition, there is a built-in anti-backlash system that guarantees repeatable accuracy from click to click, and back again.
Most snipers use an elevation adjustment system such as this by zeroing the rifle and scope at specific ranges and writing the elevation adjustment settings on a range card attached to the rifle's buttstock. The setting to which the elevation adjustment knob must be rotated for a specific distance is usually referred to as a "come up" by those who move in this elite loop.
Leupold's Mark 4 M3 scopes have 1/2-minute adjustment increments. This is too coarse, in my opinion, for really long range shooting. Remember, 1 moa is the equivalent of 10 inches at 1,000 yards.
This Leupold Mark 4 6.5-20x50mm ER/T Ml Front Focal Riflescope scope is equipped with a Mil-Dot reticle pattern. Mil-dots were developed by the USMC in the late 1970s to assist Marine Corps snipers in estimating distances. It is now the standard reticle pattern with all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. The term "mil-dot" comes from "mil"--a unit of angular measurement used in artillery and machine gunnery and equal to 1/6400 of a complete revolution--and the fact that the dots are spaced in 1 mil increments on the crosshairs.
It should be made clear that the dots themselves are not measured in mil increments, but rather in increments of moa. The distance between the dots is 3/4 mil and the center-to-center distance between them is exactly 1 mil as is the distance from the top (or bottom) of one dot to the top (or bottom) of the dot above or below (or to the right or left). There are also four thick posts at the edges of the field of view.
The formula for using the mil-dot system is:
Height or width of target (in yards) X 1,000
Height or width of target (in mils) = Distance (in yards)
ON THE COVER
Peter Kokalis says the new Wilson Recon 6.8 is just the ticket if you're looking to upgrade from 5.56mm in a comprehensively equipped AR. The distinctive blue finish is called Armor-Tuff. Photo by Mike Anschuetz.
Wilson Combat 6.85PC Recon Rifle Specifications
Caliber: 6.8x43mm (aka 6.8 SPC).
Method of operation: Direct gas. no piston; eight-lug rotary bolt; fires from the closed-bolt position; semiautomatic-only.
Feed: 5-, 10-, 15- and 25-round staggered-column, two-position-feed, detachable box-type magazines.
Weight, with an empty magazine: 7 pounds (3.2kg).
Length, overall: 37% inches (959mm), with the stock fully extended; 34Vi inches (870mm) with the stock fully collapsed.
Barrel length: 18 inches (457mm), optional 16-inch barrel available.
Barrel: Stainless steel, medium weight (.74" at the muzzle), match-grade with four grooves and an SPC II chamber, M4 feed ramps, and a 1:11 twist.
Finish: Matte gray Armor-Tuff.
Price: $2,495, complete with one C-Products 15-round magazine, Wilson Combat single stage Tactical Trigger Unit (TTU), Wilson's Flip-Up rear and front sights and a padded nylon assault case.
Manufacturer: Wilson Combat / Scattergun Technologies / Wilson Tactical, Dept. SGN. 2234 County Road 719, Berryville, Ark. 72616-0578; phone: orders-1-800-955-4856. technical questions-1-870-545-3635; fax: 1-870-545-3310; website: www.wilsoncombat.com.
T&E summary: Custom, high quality, accurate AR-15-type rifle chambered for a cartridge in use with special operations personnel in the Middle East that offers marginally superior wound ballistics performance over the 5.56x45mm NATO round and has become popular for hunting medium-size game.
Text and photos by Peter G. Kokalis
Lead photo by Mike Anschuetz