Proof in the Pudding: Wilson Combat 300 Ham'r Takes a Bull Elk
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Earlier this year I wrote about the new Wilson Combat cartridge, the 300 Ham’r. I gave the rifle, the concept, and the team that built it high praise. The rifle shoots every bit of the stoutest SAAMI spec loads of a .30-30 Win, but in a lightweight AR-15 platform.

Proof in the Pudding: Wilson Combat 300 Ham'r Takes a Bull Elk
courtesy mfr

In my review, I was trying to wrap my head around the idea that elk hunting was possible with a 6 lb AR-15. Not an AR-10, not some hybridized AR’esque platform, but a straight-up AR-15 with a 5.56 bolt and BCG, sending a .30 caliber bullet down an 18-inch tube. From the original review:

That same round is generating over 1,000ft/lbs at 250 yards, and a mediocre marksman will be able to put rounds inside a 4″ circle at that range under hunting conditions. With the 150gr SST loading, a 200 yard broadside shot on even elk is certain to reach the vitals. That’s from a lightweight semi-auto AR-15. I’m still wrapping my head around real mountain elk hunting with an AR-15. It wouldn’t be my first choice, but in this case, it’s completely reasonable.

Well, it appears as if Bill and Ryan Wilson have proven, and re-proven this exact point.

This morning Bill sent me photos of the elk he and Ryan took at the 350,000 acre Longfellow Ranch in West Texas. Both Bill and Ryan used Wilson Combat AR’s chambered in 300 Ham’r and pushing the 150gr Hornady SST bullet.

Proof in the Pudding: Wilson Combat 300 Ham'r Takes a Bull Elk

Ryan took his 3×5 bull with a broadside shot at 125 yards. The bullet passed completely through and wasn’t recovered.  Bill reports that the bull made it all of 15 yards before falling.

Bill took his 4×5 bull later that afternoon, about 45 minutes prior to dark.

Bill took a quartering away shot at 175 yards. Until I did the math on the cartridge for the original article, I would not have thought a shot on a bull elk with an AR-15 based cartridge would have been ethical. But the math works and reality backed it up.

The bullet entered the ribcage and was found on the opposite side just under the skin, with a full 20 inches of penetration. The recovered bullet weighed 139 grains and performed flawlessly. The animal ran a total of 20 yards.

Proof in the Pudding: Wilson Combat 300 Ham'r Takes a Bull Elk

It’s too rare when the performance matches the hype, and it’s nice to see that the math isn’t all that works here. Bravo Zulu Bill, Ryan, and the Wilson Combat team.

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      • I think maybe people don’t understand that there are free ranging elk in west Texas. It’s their natural, native habitat. They are on private land, because that’s Texas, but not all high fenced. Still, there’s not too many water sources out there, and you generally get to glass a long way. You need a team to find them, but there’s no reason a competent hunter cant get within 200 yards.

    • You certainly wouldn’t be the first. Plus, I’m betting an innumerable number of elk have been killed with the 30-30 while hunters were out after mule deer.

      • A lot of eastern moose as well. I’d guess a 170gr. pill on a 100 yard broadside shot would work just fine. Wouldn’t be my first choice though.

  1. “In my review, I was trying to wrap my head around the idea that elk hunting was possible with a 6 lb AR-15.”

    Wasn’t there an article here in TTAG about a five-foot something tall First Nation woman who dropped a big game critter with a .22lr?

    • The then world record grizzly bear was taken by a tiny woman with a single shot .22 long (slightly different from .22 LR). But that was a matter of survival, not something anyone would recommend.

    • A large bear. But she wasn’t hunting bear. Apparently it was hunting her.

      My beef with this article is calling the AR platform ‘lightweight’. Empty and naked the AR may be lightish. But when was the last time you saw an AR that wasn’t blinged out and loaded with a box and a half of ammo? And the AR platform will just grab at every piece of brush you walk by.

      Now a .30-30 is a slick rifle that makes brush popping just a little easier. Skinner sights, 6 rounds in the tube and 6-8 more on the stock and you’re hunting.

      Now, if you’re out for hogs, the AR has validity.

        • And your 94 is easier to ease thru the brush with. I’m lazy. The less hassle my gear costs me, the better.

          Now I can see the semi auto on a sounder of hogs. But here in CA I got a mag limit and a 22 dollar tag for every hog I shoot.

          Now a semi auto for elk? I see a Browning in .300 wm. Little heavier than a .30-30, but a sweet shooter none the less. And not as grabby as the AR.

        • Wow. Different world. Here the County pays me $5 for every tail I bring them.
          It’s not enough to make a living, but it will pay for my beer and hunting ammo budget.

  2. pahlez. it doesn’t validate this rounds existence. plenty of other rounds can do that, even in an AR.
    not impressed Wilson.

  3. so basically saying that any .30 cal 150 gr. pill pushed at 2300 fps will work on Elk, yea for my bolt action 30-30 unless you can’t put up with a 10.5 ft drop at 500 yards.

  4. All I see here is a false triumph. An unnecessary cartridge being used on a bought-and-paid-for guided private land ‘hunt’ on a ranch that boasts a 4,700 sq ft lodge. May as well have just driven down to the on-site stockyard and shot a cow while the under the supervision of an employee.

    .300 Ham’r is a total waste of time and does little to actually improve on anything. This is the same failed idea as 7.62×40 WT. If you were to say that it provides .30 cal 150gr bullets in an AR at the same speed as a .30-30, why not just go with a POF Revolution, which is a .308 and only weighs 7lbs. The Bill Wilson Ranch rifle, which is the lightweight variant, is 6lbs. The full-weight Wilson rifles are the same weight and length of the Revolution, so why not go with the ability to outclass .30-30 ballistics in a gun that is the same size?

    What a shame these animals had to die to show the world something so pointless.

      • People who subscribe to a vegan diet have nothing to do with this. A guy I know is a vegan and is gluten-free because he has intestinal problems and food allergies. He still enjoys hunting, but simply donates the meat to a local homeless shelter. Many people in the ‘macho’ gun world like to take a dump on vegans for being unmanly, but are themselves morbidly obese and slam a case of Bud every night while bragging about being outdoorsmen. Shooting animals does not make you an outdoorsman anymore than being a vegan makes you a left-wing PETA lunatic.

        • Oh, BlazinTheAmazin, please tell me what it is like to live in a world so narrow and monochromatic that every vegan is a liberal and every conservative loves unnecessary killing. I know it is hard to understand that a long-haired, urban farming, hipster conservationist like me could possibly be a hardened conservative and hunter. The thing is, my friend, is that nothing is black and white and you’re selling yourself short by thinking that someone who values animal life and fair-chase hunting is a Clinton supporter.

        • If you hit a deer on the road it seems like a pointless waste unless you’re a crow or a coyote.

          Or maybe an auto body mechanic.

    • ‘What a shame these animals had to die to show the world something so pointless.’

      True, but I bet he was tasty.

    • Josh I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and just assumed you didn’t really think that comment through before you wrote it.
      With a simple pull of two pins you can turn a lightweight service rifle into a firearm capable of taking North America’s largest game at reasonable distances.

      • I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you didn’t think this article through before you wrote it. With a simple pull of two pins you can turn a lightweight service rifle into a firearm capable of raising questions and wasting money on any budget.

        • jwtaylor is a poser. He ain’t no real writer, Bill Wilson probably hooked him up. Good on you Josh for standing your ground.
          This site is really going down the tubes. Oh well, they’ll always be another site to take over.
          Taylor never left the FOB.

        • Yeah, it’s me. JWT and I occasionally spar over light and easy-going topics like the value of life and his ‘no life has any value if it’s fun for me to take it’ rants. This is what keeps TTAG interesting, so don’t complain, bro.

          That said, I do enjoy JWT’s point of view. Despite his cliché Texan personality and outlook, he is a good writer and does make good points. If you don’t like my perspective on hunting or ethics, you can spell it out for me anytime. I will be happy to explain why I think the things I do and why I write about them. If JWT ever finds himself in my neck of Michigan, I would be happy to get a beer with him and talk about why I think the .300 Hamsandwich is a poor idea.

        • Butcher, you are right on both counts. I am a firearms manufacturer, veteran, hunter, shooter, cop, who sometimes writes. As far as never leaving the fob, I was there before I got there.

  5. Sure and my Grandpappy took Montana elk with his new fangled flat shooting’ varmint round, the 25-35. It is what he had. I bet his rifle weighed about 6 lbs too. Me, I like 375 Ruger for elk (7 lbs scoped). Or a bow. (It weighs about 3 lbs.) Elk season is short here and the animals are rare.

  6. The “anti new caliber” people are just as bad as the lib anti gun people… it makes me sick to see so much protest for something new in the gun world.

        • After further research, it appears that the 6.5 PRC is also a Creedmoor while they skipped the Creedmost and went straight to the Creedmostest with the .300 PRC. Which only goes to show that Hornady’s main goal is to confuse us all. My guess is before they’re done there will be a Creedextramostest.

    • If you use the Seattle Slam. One in each foot. One in each knee. And one in each testicle.

      I promise there’s not a bigfoot out there that can handle that damage.

  7. In 2016, other than “Primitive Arms” season and scatter gun hunting, I only use AR’s.
    An AR10 in .308 and two AR15’s.
    One in 6.8mm Rem SPC II and a very accurate, heavy barrel 5.56/.223.
    The 6.8mm has performed admirably on 4 pigs and one deer.
    For brush busting pig hunting, I have a Ruger Ranch in 6.8mm. Pig/deer killing dude!

  8. “Hey, want to go hunting with my old 30-30”?
    “What, are you kidding? Give me a 308 or a 30-06 or a 270 — you know, a real gun.”
    “But it’s been magically transformed to look like an AR-15!”
    “Well in THAT case, it’s not only cool, it’s ethical! Let’s go for it! Blam blam blam!”

  9. So, the hunter launched a 150 grain, .308 diameter bullet at something like 2,200 fps which struck the animal at something like 1,800 fps. That sounds fine if you are shooting 120 pound white-tailed deer at 80 yards. That does NOT sound fine if you are shooting an 800 pound elk at 200 yards.

    My cousin shot a very small white-tailed deer with a 50 caliber bullet at 35 yards and impact velocity of 1,500 fps — and that tiny deer still ran almost 40 yards before keeling over. (And it was a perfect heart/double-lung shot). And I watched a family friend shoot a 110 pound white-tailed deer at 50 yards with a 150 grain, .308 caliber bullet impacting at 2,750 fps and that deer ran over 40 yards before keeling over. (Again, a perfect heart/double-lung shot.) Finally, I put a perfect heart shot on a 150 pound white-tailed deer quartering away at 130 yards and it ran about 60 yards before keeling over. That was an expanding 130 grain, .277 caliber bullet impacting at 2,900 fps which plowed through the entire animal and lodged itself under the hide at the far side.

    If relatively tiny white-tailed deer run away after absorbing MASSIVE energies (e.g. .50 caliber muzzleloaders, .270 Winchester, and/or .30-06 Springfield) at close ranges, I have to think that a 150 grain, .308 caliber bullet impacting at 1,800 fps or so is NOT a reliable elk stopper.

    • Heart/lung shots will not prevent your game from running 40 yards. For that you need to sever the connection between the brain and the legs.

      • Governor,

        I agree entirely.

        My point is that we cannot rely on .300 Ham’r to reliably drop elk with heart/lung shots at even 40 yards, much less 200 yards.

        Will a heart/lung shot with .300 Ham’r kill an elk that is 200 yards away? Most assuredly. Eventually. Perhaps several minutes and several hundred yards away from where the hunter shot the critter. That does not meet my standard.

        • A .300 Ham’r heart shot elk will still only make it a few yards and a .300 Win mag gut shot elk will still suffer for days. It’s when your shot placement is a little less than perfect that a larger more powerful car tridge makes the difference.

        • Except that it did, and not “eventually”. It dropped both of them within a short distance, with, by any measure, great ballistic performance. Results matter. As I said in my original article, it’s not my first choice for elk. The 375HH or 338Win Mag is, but that’s because, in my experience, I find them farther away than the 175 yards these were shot at, and I want to be able to take shots I know will drive through the shoulder from any angle. The Wilson’s limited themselves to close range shots and shots they knew would get deep penetration. And that’s exactly what they got. It wasn’t a fluke. It was sound, proven math and a selective hunter. That’s ethical hunting, and done by hunters who obviously knew their weapon and their prey well.

        • I think what it comes down to is there’s a pretty big difference between what’s appropriate for a 150 yard broadside shot on an elk and a 350 yard quartering shot through the shoulder. If your content to limit yourself to the former, I’d still rather trust a .30-30 loaded with Hornady’s 160gr FTX or a 170gr. The Ham’r might work, but I can’t see that it does anything the 6.8SPC didn’t do over a decade ago. That 150gr SST has almost identical sectional density and downrange energy as the 6.8 120gr SST. Just a smidgen fatter and slower.

        • Gov, you’ll never hear an argument from me against the 6.8SPC. I’ve used it to take every game animal (except the birds and gators) in Texas, as well as quite a few exotic game, and hundreds and hundreds of pigs. I was an early adopter. My first civilian AR was chambered in that caliber, and I’m still friends with the inventor. That said, my 6.8SPCs all required more than a barrel swap, which is all that’s needed with the 300Ham’r.
          I also don’t see the necessity of the .30 caliber bullet, but many other do, which is partially what I think drives the desire for the 300BO, 7.62X39, 7.62X40WT, and the 300Ham’r. Yes, the .30 caliber bullet has proven to be a good killer of game, but it’s by no means the only bullet to lay such a claim.

        • ‘…my 6.8SPCs all required more than a barrel swap…’

          Now that you mention it, I think I might have known that already. Not really an AR guy (although I’ve got one I keep in the truck with a 2-7x scope just in c ase I’m ever in Vegas and someone starts shooting out a hotel window at a country music concert). Seems like having to swap an entire upper would have the advantages of being quicker and not needing to resight your optics, albeit more expensive. I’m assuming the barrel swaps a little easier than on a bolt-action, right?

        • Gov, yes, it’s a whole lot easier and usually much cheaper. Nothing is easier than swapping two pins and replacing the upper, but that’s a lot more expensive. If you had a service rifle, and wanted to hunt just about anything with it, this is a super cheap way to go. Which, considering it came from Wilson Combat, is kinda crazy.

    • Uncommon-sense, read the original article. According to the extemely conservative recommendation of the Colorado game dept (linked in the original) the 1,000lbs of energy the round is delivering at 200+ yards is plenty for a broadside shot on elk. Hence my original quote.

      • Mr. Taylor,

        Thank you for the feedback. I provided more exacting numbers below. With a reasonable assumption of muzzle velocity, those SST bullets would be impacting an elk at 200 yards at something like 1,831 fps (1,116 foot-pounds energy).

        While that apparently meets the requirements of the Colorado Game Department, it still seems inadequate to me. My comment below also illustrated that the blunt (round-nose) bullets in the photo would be woefully inadequate.

        All of this means that the .300 Ham’r cartridge is marginal at best for elk hunting. It is fantastic for medium game at ranges under 100 yards with round-nose bullets and up to 200 yards with SST bullets.

        As I stated in my first comment above, platforms delivering either much larger bullets or the same size bullets at much higher speeds have a hard enough time bringing down medium game. (And in a recent comment about two weeks ago I noted how a neighbor had to shoot a moose at 100 yards multiple times with 180+ grain bullets out of a .30-06 Springfield rifle — all heart shots no less — and even then it took upwards of a minute for the moose to fall over.) That is why I am reluctant to endorse using .300 Ham’r to hunt 800 pound elk.

    • Reminds me of Larue taking an elk at ~400 yards with a 6.5 Grendel. That was a marketing stunt, although some 6.5G fanboys cite it and a handful of other examples of their cartridge being an ethical choice for elk at that distance.

      I don’t think I’d recommend a 150 gr .30 cal SST bullet for elk, either.

      • Not really a fair comparison, since this is at less than half that distance, with more energy delivered, and a larger, heavier bullet.

  10. Okay, I just ran through some more numbers.

    The photo of the .300 Ham’r at the top of this article shows classic cartridges with blunt bullets that you would load into the tube magazine of a .30-30 Winchester rifle. They have terrible ballistic coefficients and slow down rapidly. Furthermore, the article talks about loading the .300 Ham’r cartridge to .30-30 Winchester pressures. That means we should expect a muzzle velocity of about 2,390 fps out of a 24-inch barrel. However, this story implies that the hunters were using an AR-15 with an 18-inch barrel which would reduce muzzle velocity to something like 2,200 fps. And with a muzzle velocity of 2,200 fps, those blunt bullets would only be moving at 1,440 fps (692 foot-pounds energy) at 200 yards. That is handgun ballistics and entirely unethical for 800 pound elk.

    As it turns out, the hunters were using Hornady SST bullets with a much higher ballistic coefficient. I would still expect their muzzle velocity to be 2,200 fps since ballistic coefficient doesn’t affect muzzle velocity very much as far as I know. At 200 yards that SST bullet would still be moving at 1,831 fps (1,116 foot-pounds energy) which is a lot more respectable.

    And yet I consider that to be underpowered for an 800 pound elk. A light (150 grain) and tiny (.308 inch diameter) bullet impacting an 800 pound elk at 1,800 fps just doesn’t meet the minimum threshold in my book.

  11. Shooting an Elk with an AR is down right disgraceful. Those majestic animals should only be hunted with wood and steel.

  12. It never ceases to amaze me how many people have opinions on subjects they have no first hand knowledge or experience on. Just how many of the posters here have ever shot an Elk with any caliber or have any real world experience with hunting big game? Unlike the many African animals I’ve hunted since 1979 during 26 trips to the dark continent or Nilgai on the famous King ranch, a Elk is not a particularly hard animal to kill. Certainly not as hard as a 200#+ boar hog of which I’ve killed several of with the 300 HAM’R. As to the “canned hunt” accusations, the Longfellow ranch is a working cattle ranch with low cattle fencing so the Elk are free to wander anywhere on it’s expansive 350,000 acres, there are NO high fences on this ranch! As Jon said, GET A LIFE !

  13. I built a AR in 300 HAMR, just because I had a bunch of parts lying around and wanted to try something different. I have no interest in a subsonic round. I will likely never hunt with it. Using one of Wilson’s barrels, shooting some of his loaded ammo, I now have, hands down, the most accurate rifle I have ever owned. If only accurate rifles are interesting, this one is mesmerizing. One hole 5+ round groups at 100 consistently. Do not dismiss this cartridge unless you have tried it.

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