Saturday, April 21, 2012

Windham Weaponry: The "New" Old Kid On The Block

If someone asked you if you had seen a Windham Weaponry AR-15, up until recently you would have probably said no. I myself was a bit puzzled the first time I saw a Windham Weaponry AR on the gun shop rack. In the last few years it seems everyone and their brother has jumped onto the AR-15 bandwagon, some with more success than others. So when I saw yet another AR, I thought to myself "more rookies." I, obviously, did not know what the Hell I was talking about. After doing some research I discovered that Windham Weaponry is not just some fly-by-night, shadetree machine shop that thinks they can crank out an AR like a cookie cutter. They have a bloodline that goes back to the once top name in the AR-15 industry. Bushmaster Firearms, under the leadership of company founder Dick Dyke, was once the top bar that every other AR manufacturer aspired to. As a kid growing up around firearms, I can remember a time when Bushmaster was synonymous with "AR". As far as my stepdad was concerned, there was no other game in town. These outstanding weapons being crafted in the shop in Windham, Maine were the biggest kids on the block. Even through the infamous Clinton Assault Weapons Ban of 1994, Bushmaster still managed to crank out quality AR-15s that were highly sought after, albeit with the required "Neutered" features. After the sunset of the Ban, more traditional designs returned to the market, and business boomed for Mr. Dyke's company and in 2005, Cerberus Capitol (under the moniker The Freedom Group) bought the company from him, and rolled it into a large stable of firearm manufacturing and firearm related companies. Last year, Freedom Group closed the doors on the Windham, Maine factory, and moved operations under the roof of the Ilion, NY plant where they also crank out the Remington series of rifles. The loyal team of employees that had been dedicated to Bushmaster for over a quarter of a century were in essence told to piss off, they weren't needed anymore. Such is the case these days in American Manufacturing. To be an EMPLOYED manufacturing worker puts you in a unique category, the likes of the unicorn, the Sasquatch, etc. But that is where the Bushmaster story ends, and a new story begins. When dear old Mr. Dyke heard about the screw job that had been set upon his former employees, even at almost 80 years old, he decided to do something about it. Mr. Dyke bought his old factory back, bought his old machines from the auction, tooled back up, and hired his crew back. And so Windham Weaponry was born. Windham Weaponry isn't just a company that supplies rifles to the American public, they are a example of what is right in American industry. Mr. Dyke is the kind of boss I would want to work for, a man who apparently thinks more of his employees and the moral legacy he leaves behind, than about making a buck. I believe in the Free Market system, but with Capitalism comes the need for a moral compass. And I'd say Windham Weaponry is pointed in the right direction.
The Windham factory crew. Good Americans working for a good company.
A good friend of mine purchased a Windham R16M4A4T (basically a standard model M4- style carbine) and brought it over for some testing. First impressions of the rifle were that Windham isn't trying to be a redo of Bushmaster, they are working hard to be superior in every way. The finish of both the upper and lower were excellent, fit and form were fantastic,weighed in at around 7lbs approximately, and while this is important, the main thing is: HOW DOES IT SHOOT? Well, after the first range session with it I would say. very well. We began sending Winchester .223 55grain FMJ downrange through the R16's 1:9" twist Chrome Moly barrel, and at 100 yards without adjusting the iron sights at all, we got 1 inch to 1 1/4 inch groups. Remember, this was done without adjusting the sights at all. This was right from the box. 4 sets of 5 shot groups, all in the 1 inch to 1.25 inch area. We had some Wolf steel cased ammo, (I know, don't even start with me, I know. Steel=bad. It was there, so why not try it) and with the 2 groups of 5 shots of the Wolf, we got 1 3/4 inch to 2 1/4 inch groups. After the brief testing, we decided to break out into some good old fashioned blasting and after about 6 magazine dumps of PMC 55gr. FMJ, no failures, no malfunctions. I told my buddy I think she's a keeper. Windham Weaponry is producing a quality rifle for the civilian market, and not only that, they are doing something most companies could care less about these days: putting Americans back to work. That's reason enough to give them your business. Bravo to you, Mr. Dyke. You sir, are a rare breed indeed. A businessman who still has a passion for not only his business, but for his people. And that's worth more than all the money in the world. For more info, check out Windham's homepage:

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