February 07, 2019
Shortly after I arrived in Germany as a freshly minted Air Force Security Policeman I became acquainted with the XM-177, a short barreled M-16 variant sometimes referred to as a CAR-15 or Colt Commando. While our standard issue rifle was a full-sized M-16, Security Alert Team drivers were issued a XM-177 as well. Chiefly because I had taken the trouble to obtain a German driver’s license, the next thing you know I was driving SAT patrols with a .38 Special Smith & Wesson revolver on my hip, an M-79 grenade launcher and a M-60 machinegun in the back of the truck and a XM-177 in my lap. Having an 11.5 inch barrel and a telescoping stock, the little carbine was compact and just the thing to have handy while driving patrol. Later on it became the basis for the 14 inch barreled M-14 and all the variants that followed. I developed quite a fondness for small, compact rifles and continued using them throughout my law enforcement career.
I now have a short-barreled AR-style pistol at hand that would serve admirably as a truck gun, much like my old XM-177. Made by Wilson Combat in their new 300 HAM’R chambering, it is a shorty variant of their 300 HAM’R carbine I tested recently for Downrange.TV. The 300 HAM’R is a new cartridge designed by Bill Wilson to add considerable power to the AR-15 platform by means of loading various .30 caliber bullets in .223/5.56 cases. It outperforms anything I know of based upon a 5.56 case and just about anything else you can manage to shoot through a .223/5.56 size AR rifle or carbine. Wilson is manufacturing this ammunition in a bunch of loadings with bullet weights ranging from 110 grain to 150 grains. According to Wilson, these loads can be compared to .30-30 ammunition and do a splendid job of killing game, especially deer and wild hogs.
The pistol version of his carbine has an 11.3 inch barrel with a muzzle brake/flash hider that brings the overall length to about 13 inches. At the other end there is a Gear Head Works telescoping arm brace stock that adjusts from about a 10 – 12.5 inch length of pull. A full length Picatinny rail is atop the receiver and key-mod style forend and my sample includes sling sockets and a small piece of rail for attaching lights, lasers or other accessories. The trigger is Wilson’s excellent modular trigger – it’s held in place by two pins – with a precise, crisp 4 pound weight of pull. It’s a very nice trigger.
While Wilson says the pistol can make game killing hits out to about 300 yards he also touts it as a PDW – a Personal Defensive Weapon – and this is the realm in which I think it shines. Whether in the house or riding in a vehicle or an airplane this pistol is compact, very accurate and sufficiently powerful to handle just about any situation in which you might find yourself. It’s perfect for taking with you everywhere and as a grab and go gun. Using 300 Blackout magazines, my sample was shipped with one Lancer 30 round magazine in a very nice Wilson Combat logoed soft case.
Depending upon your intended uses the 300 HAM’R pistol can be configured with any number of sights. Considering the PDW nature of the little beastie I decided to equip it with a red dot sight and ordered one from Crimson Trace after hearing the company was expanding its lineup of lasers and lights to include telescopes and optics. In due course a CTS-1000 arrived and I installed it on the pistol. The CTS-1000 is a small, non-magnifying red dot that came equipped with a base suitable for mounting it on AR style rifles with Picatinny rails. Using a single CR2032 flat battery (provided free by Crimson Trace for life) the CTS-1000 has two rubber push buttons on top to control dot brightness and to re-activate the sight after it goes to sleep to conserve battery life. The uncovered click elevation and windage adjustments provide 1 MOA adjustments, or about 1 inch at 100 yards. I particularly like this feature as some similar red dots use ¼ minute adjustments which are precise, I guess, but a pain in the butt when you have a class full of them to zero and need to use 16 clicks to move 1 inch at 25 yards for initial zero. With a red dot that’s easily adjusted and seen the CTS-1000 worked just fine during my range testing.
At The Range
While I’m sure the pistol version of the 300 HAM’R carbine would shoot just as well as the bigger version I decided to shoot it at 25 yards on paper rather than the usual 100 yards. After all, I already did that with the carbine and, well, it’s a pistol. Using two loads Wilson recommends for the shorty, the 125 grain PH and the 110 grain CC, I ran the NRA protocol of five consecutive five shot groups. I didn’t re-shoot groups I thought I had screwed up, nor did I shoot extra groups and cherry pick the small ones. Here’s what I got:
125 grain PH
Smallest: .35”, Largest: .71 inches, Average for five groups: 0.598 inches
110 grain CC
Smallest: .59 inches, Largest: 1.13 inches, Average for five groups: 0.876 inches
In many cases I managed to shoot small clusters, like the .35” group, with three or four rounds then managed to pull one or two out to open up the group. Red dot sights are fast and excellent for fighting in close quarters battle situations but they aren’t my first pick for demonstrating accuracy. Still, I think the results show this little pistol is superbly accurate.
The 300 HAM’R pistol retails for a bit over $2500 direct from Wilson Combat, who, for the time being, are the sole source of ammunition. I expect in the near future a major ammunition manufacturer will be adding it to their lineup so stay tuned. The Crimson Trace CTS-1000 retails for $299. This is a nice package, perfect for the personal protection, short range hunting envelope. Wilson Combat has once again produced a high quality product I’m sure will be in high demand.