Skip to main content

Proving the .300 HAM'R

Proving the .300 HAM'R
Photos by Steve Wood

Crickets sounded off as daylight turned to darkness. Outside my blind, a half-dozen whitetail deer moved around the legs of an elevated corn feeder. I couldn’t see them clearly or tell the bucks from the does, but there was enough light to identify their dark bodies silhouetted against the light-colored earth. The Texas night was still and quiet, and the only sound besides the soft shuffle of hooves in the sand and the chirping crickets was the drone of a single mosquito that had found its way into my ground blind.

My feud with the mosquito was interrupted by the squeal of a hog off to my left. I reached down to activate the FLIR ThermoSight Pro PTS536 on the Wilson Combat Ultralight Ranger AR in .300 HAM’R that was propped on the sill. Through the thermal, I saw that the deer had stopped feeding when the hog squealed. 

.300 HAM'R
Teamed with a quality long-range scope, the .300 HAM’R hunting system from Wilson has plenty of punch for distant targets.

Before I could swat at the mosquito again, the deer snorted and crashed away into the oak forest. Soon after, more white forms appeared in the scope – a sounder of hogs, all boars.

As all five stopped to root at the base of the feeder, I tried to determine which boar was the largest. My examination was interrupted, however, when a larger boar appeared and scattered the others. This sixth pig was considerably bigger with a long, broad head and heavy shoulders.


Flipping the safety on the Ranger to the off position, I saw the boar offer a quartering shot. I centered the red crosshair of the FLIR where Bill Wilson, owner of Wilson Combat and veteran hog hunter, had instructed – below and behind the pig’s ear. I slid my finger into place on the trigger and fired.


There was minimal noise and recoil from the Ultralight Hunter AR, which was equipped with Wilson Combat’s new Quell suppressor, but the results of the shot were dramatic. The 150-grain .300 HAM’R bullet struck just where I’d aimed, behind the junction of the shoulder and neck. One shot was all it took as the 270-pound boar folded nose-first into the sand.

As the other hogs crashed away through the timber, the night became still once again. Except, that is, for the mosquito which returned and buzzed around my head again. Now I could invest all my efforts into sorting out the bloodsucker, and in a few minutes, I had him.  

The Wilson Combat Story

Wilson’s parents owned a watch and jewelry story in Berryville, Arkansas. In the years following high school, he planned to carry on the family business and attended watchmaking school in Oklahoma, but watchmaking wasn’t his true passion. He loved shooting and began competing in Police Pistol Combat (PPC) matches and, later, in IPSC.

Wilson conned (his words) his father into allowing him to renovate part of the store in Berryville into a small gun shop. That marked the beginning of the end of Wilson’s career as a watchmaker. It was also the genesis of Wilson Combat. 


Wilson had been tuning revolvers for some time and reasoned that if he could build clock parts and repair delicate watch parts, he could certainly tune the larger and more robust components of a 1911 pistol, so that’s what he did. When Bill Wilson built his first 1911 and began winning IPSC matches, his competitors wanted him to build guns for them, too. Why? One simple philosophy.

In his autobiography “Gun Guy,” Wilson laid out what made his pistols so good. “Practical pistol required some very specific modifications,” Wilson wrote. “First and foremost the gun must run all the time.”

Entering the AR Market

Wilson says that he had dabbled in markets outside the 1911 universe including collaborations with Beretta and with defensive shotguns following Wilson Combat’s purchase of Scattergun Technologies in 2000. Wilson Combat’s first major departure from all things 1911 came when he began working on AR-platform rifles.


“The AR market is every bit as unique as the 1911 market,” Wilson explains. “The 1911 was designed in an age of hand-fitting.” By contrast, he says, the AR doesn’t require nearly as much gunsmith work. “Our goal was to make sure Wilson Combat brought a unique product to this crowded table.”

Accuracy was paramount, but Wilson wanted to provide his customers with rifles that shot well, looked good and cycled flawlessly. As he had with 1911s, Wilson began building his own parts: barrels, charging handles, triggers and more, with everything being built in Berryville.

There’s no question that Wilson Combat rifles have made their mark on the AR world. Today, Wilson Combat offers a wide range of AR rifles in 24 different calibers.

.300 HAM'R

In addition to being an extraordinarily talented pistol shooter with a long list of championships in a variety of disciplines, Wilson is also a dedicated hog hunter. The AR platform proved to be the perfect firearm for feral hogs, but Wilson hadn’t yet found the right cartridge. Just as he’d done when he wanted a better 1911 and a better AR, Wilson designed his own pig round.

Rise of the HAM’R

In 2005, Wilson began testing new cartridges in search of the perfect AR hunting round, beginning with the .300 Whisper. Wilson decided that he needed more terminal performance and switched to the 6.8 SPC, a cartridge he found effective for deer and hogs. Still, he chased more power and better terminal performance. In the years that followed, he tested the .30 Rem. AR and the .300 Blackout. Neither met his demands.

When Kurt Buchert brought the 7.62x40 cartridge to Wilson Combat, Wilson thought that he might have found the ideal big-game cartridge. Wilson believed the 7.62x40 could perform a lot better with a little more powder. So, he added .060 inch to the throat and .040 inch to the case length. In doing so, Wilson created a cartridge that was capable of attaining velocities that were 100 feet per second (fps) faster than the original 7.62x40.

Hodgdon Powder’s Ron Reiber suggested that Wilson try his new pet load with the company’s CFE BLK. Testing showed propellant provided superb performance in the new cartridge, and the new creation became the .300 HAM’R.

Wilson finally had the hog cartridge he was looking for, a round that would function in AR-platform rifles. Besides the performance boost, the cartridge made converting an AR in 5.56 to .300 HAM’R as simple as a barrel change. The .300 HAM’R would also function in 5.56 magazines, although the internal ribs that help align 5.56/.223 ammo will cause the larger HAM’R cartridge to “nose in” and restrict capacity. However, .300 Blackout mags, with their shorter rib, don’t restrict magazine capacity. And additional case capacity allowed the HAM’R to reach velocity and energy figures that Wilson wanted in a hog and deer rifle: velocities over 2,500 fps with 130-grain hunting bullets and almost 2,300 fps with 150-grain projectiles.

Ground Zero

.300 HAM'R

I don’t know exactly where most commercial cartridges were developed, but I can point you to the exact spot where the .300 HAM’R came to pass — Wilson’s reloading bench in his workshop at the Circle WC Ranch in Texas. That’s the place where Wilson honed his new hog round to a razor’s edge.

Today, Wilson offers 10 .300 HAM’R loads that range in bullet weight from 95 to 150 grains, and there are few hunting cartridges that have been so thoroughly vetted on game. Wilson didn’t test the .300 HAM’R in ballistic gel or in a lab but rather in the field. Just outside Wilson’s reloading shop is a 9,000-acre proving ground of ranch.

The Circle WC is hemmed in between two rivers, the Sulphur River and Cuthand Creek (which is actually larger, in terms of flow, than the Sulphur). With so much water and thick river bottom habitat, hogs are numerous on the property. Despite the fact that a very large and growing feral pig population might not attract a lot of buyers, it was exactly what Wilson wanted.

Over the course of testing the .300 HAM’R, Wilson personally shot hundreds of hogs on the property, and he kept notes on bullet performance with each pull of the trigger. The 7.62x40 was (and is) a good hog round, but for hunting big boars at extended ranges, the .300’s extra punch proved perfect. Before he released his hog-themed hunting cartridge to the world, it had to pass his strict testing protocol, and it’s safe to say that very few cartridges have seen so much use in the field before being sent to market.

.300 HAM'R
The Circle WC Ranch features a 1,200-yard firing range and is hog hunting heaven.

With 9,000 game-rich acres and shooting ranges out to 1,200 yards, the Circle WC is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, and Wilson and his wife, Joyce, spend as much time as possible there. Most days you can find Wilson cruising around the ranch on one of his side-by-sides (Wilson puts more miles on a UTV each year than on a vehicle) with his dogs. And, of course, there’s always a rifle in the rack. 

The day following my pig hunt, I spent time on the Circle WC range shooting some of Wilson’s 1911s and ARs. As evening approached, we gathered our gear and returned to the field for one more hunt.

One More Test

“There are feeders along this stretch of road that will go off in the next 10 minutes,” Wilson said. Daylight was fading to dusk, and I took the Ultralight Ranger that I had used to harvest the pig the night before out of the rack and turned on the thermal. Wilson’s German shepherd Zulu rode between us on the side-by-side.

.300 HAM'R
Wilson with his dog, Zulu, showed the author around the 9,000-acre Circle WC Ranch.

I could hear pigs feeding in the darkness as we approached the first feeder, but through the thermal I could see there weren’t any large hogs. We continued on to the next feeder, slipping through the trees until we were within 50 yards. The only animal under the feeder was a raccoon that glowed ghostly white in the thermal.

There was a hog at the third feeder, and after looking it over Wilson said, “It’s a boar, and it’s lame.” Through the FLIR, I could see the pig turning half-circles around the base of the feeder.

“Go ahead and take it,” he said.

That was easier said than done. From our position in a pasture field just above the feeder, tall grass obscured the hog, and I could only see his backline. I moved to the right and higher up the hill, carefully picking my way over the moonlit ground, but when I stopped, the pig still wasn’t visible. I waited for my eyes to adjust, moved up the hill and finally found a position from which to shoot the pig.

Looking through the thermal, it was clear that the pig’s injured leg wouldn’t support weight. When it turned and quartered toward me, I fired, and the boar dropped where it stood. It was the second pig I’d taken in two days with the HAM’R, and neither had taken a step after the trigger broke.

When new products arrive on the market, we assume, correctly or incorrectly, that they will perform as advertised. Wilson Combat’s .300 HAM’R R&D team consists primarily of Bill Wilson, and before the cartridge could reach consumers, it had to pass muster on the Circle WC.

.300 HAM'R

Wilson builds guns for those who demand premium performance, and although my hogs were just two of almost a thousand harvested with the new round, it’s clear that Wilson has finally found his pig cartridge. And you can bet there’s a .300 HAM’R riding shotgun on his UTV at the Circle WC just in case pig number 1,001 steps out of the pines.

AR-15

To read more articles like this, click here to purchase a print or digital copy of AR-15.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Leupold Freedom RDS

Leupold Freedom RDS

Patrick Sweeney reviews the Leupold Freedom RDS optic with bullet drop compensator!

Gemtech Suppressors: Testing the Patrolman, the One and the Tracker

Gemtech Suppressors: Testing the Patrolman, the One and the Tracker

Patrick Sweeney tests and reviews a trio of Gemtech suppressors.

Hornady Kestrel 5700 Ballistics Weather Meter with Hornady 4DOF

Hornady Kestrel 5700 Ballistics Weather Meter with Hornady 4DOF

The Hornady Kestrel 5700 combines complete onsite environmental measurements with Hornady 4DOF trajectory solutions.

NEMO Arms Omen 3.0 Match Rifle

NEMO Arms Omen 3.0 Match Rifle

Rikk Rambo took the NEMO (New Evolution Military Ordnance) Arms Omen Match 3.0 rifle on a nine-month Alaskan adventure.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Unless Democrats rescind their proposed Gun Issuing Board, threats and anti-rights promises don't matterGun Control Speeches at DNC Misleading 2nd Amendment

Gun Control Speeches at DNC Misleading

JPFO - August 21, 2020

Unless Democrats rescind their proposed Gun Issuing Board, threats and anti-rights promises...

The Masada is IWI's first striker-fired pistol and is an accurate, good looking polymer handgun that has a great trigger.IWI Masada Pistol Review Handguns

IWI Masada Pistol Review

Bob Taubert - August 19, 2020

The Masada is IWI's first striker-fired pistol and is an accurate, good looking polymer...

The Mossberg 590A1 Retro offers the proven durability and reliability of the M500 and M590 models with the enhanced combat utility of a military “trench gun.” Mossberg 590A1 Retro Shotgun Review Shotguns

Mossberg 590A1 Retro Shotgun Review

Leroy Thompson - August 24, 2020

The Mossberg 590A1 Retro offers the proven durability and reliability of the M500 and M590...

More and more people are choosing to carry a handgun for personal protection, here is why you may want to consider SIG Sauer's P365.Is SIG Sauer's P365 9mm the Perfect Carry Gun? Handguns

Is SIG Sauer's P365 9mm the Perfect Carry Gun?

David M. Fortier - August 16, 2020

More and more people are choosing to carry a handgun for personal protection, here is why you...

See More Trending Articles

More Ammo

The US Army continues to move ahead with its modernization program and recently took delivery of 170,000 rounds of lightweight 6.8mm TVCM ammunition from Texas-based True Velocity.'Next Gen' 6.8mm Ammunition Delivered to US Army by True Velocity Ammo

'Next Gen' 6.8mm Ammunition Delivered to US Army by True Velocity

Samantha Knight - August 06, 2020

The US Army continues to move ahead with its modernization program and recently took delivery...

Today's tech is making the performance darling of the 1940s, the .257 Weatherby, a 21st century contender.Revisiting the .257 Weatherby Cartridge Ammo

Revisiting the .257 Weatherby Cartridge

Todd Burgreen - August 03, 2020

Today's tech is making the performance darling of the 1940s, the .257 Weatherby, a 21st...

CCI Ammunition announced their new Clean-22 Suppressor .22 LR rounds, packaged in their new easy-to-pour, bulk-pack cartons.CCI Clean-22 Suppressor .22 LR Cartons – First Look Ammo

CCI Clean-22 Suppressor .22 LR Cartons – First Look

Samantha Knight - July 15, 2020

CCI Ammunition announced their new Clean-22 Suppressor .22 LR rounds, packaged in their new...

Hornady's new .224 Valkyrie bests the venerable .223 Rem.Hornady .224 Valkyrie ELD Match Ammo Ammo

Hornady .224 Valkyrie ELD Match Ammo

Eric Conn - August 17, 2020

Hornady's new .224 Valkyrie bests the venerable .223 Rem.

See More Ammo

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW OUR CURRENT ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Firearms News App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Firearms News subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now