Wilson Combat Protector AR-15 Review: Worth the Money?
The AR world is filled with manufacturers of all different levels. Those companies are often classified in a tiered system based on their perceived quality within the gun community. Back in the early 2000s, when the AR manufacturers roster was a little shorter, the saying was “to get a good rifle, stick with the ABCs.” This referred to ArmaLite, Bushmaster, and Colt. Well, fast forward to 2022, and that list now goes all the way down to “W” for Wilson Combat.
Wilson Combat, the renowned 1911 manufacturer, entered the AR-15 arena a few years ago with a few different offerings. The Protector line is aptly classified as the company’s defensive offerings. It also represents the most-affordable offerings in Wilson Combat’s lineup, but that’s not to say it’s lacking in anything other than packaging, which is a simple cardboard box.
This Protector rifle features a 16-inch medium-profile barrel, dubbed the Recon Profile. Interestingly, the gas system is an intermediate-length system. If you’re familiar with AR gas systems, that might strike you as a new one since it’s outside the normal offerings of pistol, carbine, mid, and rifle-length gas tubes.
Intermediate slips in between the now popular mid-length and rifle-length systems with a 13.25-inch tube. This allows for a bit softer recoil and lower dwell time, which means the rifle is getting just enough gas to cycle properly and reliably without slamming your bolt carrier group into your shoulder.
When you pair this with the Wilson Q-Comp muzzle brake, you’ve got a flat-shooting rifle that will keep you on target for your next training class or 3-gun competition.
Looking at the internals, the trigger is an in-house Tactical Trigger Unit, which is a two-stage trigger with a 4-pound pull. This allows you to pre-load the trigger through the first stage and break the shot right where you need it with the second stage. I found this quite useful when making shots beyond 100 yards. My first shots out of the rifle were at 200 yards, and A-zone hits were no terrible feat.
The bolt is constructed of Carpenter 158 tool steel, which is quickly becoming the benchmark material of a quality bolt across many brands. It’s case hardened, so it’s ready to take the abuse of the gas system operation under heavy use and high round counts. You can check out some additional specs below:
Wilson Combat teamed up with Bravo Company Manufacturing to produce a signature Starburst version of the Mod 0 pistol grip. Additionally, they worked with Rogers to get the incredibly stable Super-Stoc. When you grip this rifle and lock it into your shoulder, it becomes an extension of yourself. It’s that solid.
There’s plenty of MLOK on the 15-inch handguard for mounting lights, lasers, foregrips, or adding the supplied QD mount for your sling.
Surprisingly, Wilson Combat chose to stick with a mil-spec charging handle. No big latch, ambi unit here. Additionally, no ambi safety selector is included. Both of these may be where Wilson Combat chose to save on cost compared to some of their other models.
Shooting & Accuracy
I ran the rifle through a number of drills and was pleasantly rewarded with decent times and accuracy. Right out of the gate, I ran a Bill Drill. That’s six rounds from low ready as fast as possible. Some may say it’s incredibly fitting to run that drill with this rifle. Although it’s unconfirmed, Bill Wilson, Wilson Combat’s creator, is rumored to be the drill's originator.
I added in some 2-2-4-2-2 transition practice to see how well the full 16-inch rifle handled the transitions across multiple targets in comparison to my personal 11.5-inch Bravo Company rifle. I was delighted by the gun's ability to track well without feeling like it was overly front heavy.
I wrapped up my movement testing with some reload drills. Sometimes, in the heat of trying to get the mag out, you find that a manufacturer’s tolerances may be tighter or looser than other guns and cause the mag to not drop freely. No issues were presented across three different magazine types, which is what I expected from a Wilson Combat rifle.
After getting a solid feel for the gun, I threw it onto my tripod to check the 50-yard and 100-yard accuracy. I had the rifle set up with a Trijicon MRO on a Reptilia Corp 1.93-inch mount. Again, as expected, I had no problems making hits. As the distance increased, the groups opened up to about 4 MOA, which I expect would have been tighter if I used an optic with some magnification.
Overall, I was very impressed with the Wilson Combat Protector. I think it’s a quality rifle that will stand the test of time and whatever you choose to throw at it, from home defense to 3-gun competitions.