The Wilson Combat 6mm ARC Tactical Hunter Tested for Distance

The 6mm ARC round has caught the attention of many serious shooters as well as manufacturers here in the U.S. It is an intriguing round with some exceptional potential. And in the hands of Wilson Combat and the Tactical Hunter, the 6mm ARC pushes the limits.

The Wilson Combat 6mm ARC Tactical Hunter

The challenge has been to get this round into a gun that is worthy of its performance and capable of getting everything we can out of the round. Enter Wilson Combat and their 6mm ARC Tactical Hunter AR.

I have had the chance to shoot a couple of rifles chambered in 6mm ARC. But when I heard Bill Wilson turned his attention to it, I knew something special was coming down the line. Wilson Combat does nothing halfway, and I had to get a look at the company’s new rifle.

(Photo by Michael Bordon)

Attention To Detail

Wilson Combat has extensive experience in the development of precision AR-15 platform rifles. And the Tactical Hunter in 6mm ARC seems to be following that lineage. The rifle has a flat top lightweight billet upper. It also has a well-finished billet lower receiver.

The heart of the accuracy formula on this gun is the barrel. Wilson uses their own 18-inch Tactical Hunter fluted match-grade barrel. They are rifled in a 1-in-7.5 twist to maximize the accuracy and stabilization of the round.

On top of that sits a mid-length gas system with a low-profile gas block. The barrel is threaded at 5/8 x 24 inches in the event you want to run it suppressed or add a muzzle device of your choice. In addition, the barrel is covered by Wilson’s 12.6-inch M-Lok rail with rubberized rail covers.

The barrel is covered by a 12.6-inch M-Lok rail with rubberized rail covers.
(Photo by Michael Bordon)

A quick note on these covers. This small addition is typical of Wilson Combat and its attention to small details. I have run several Wilson rifles, and these covers are extremely comfortable and allow solid no-slip purchase on the gun.

The pistol grip is the Wilson Combat/BCM Starburst Gunfighter Grip, which looks as good as it performs. Moving back on the rifle, we find the six-position Rogers/Wilson Super-Stoc. The rifle features a camo Armor-Tuff finish applied over a hard-anodized finish on the upper and lower receivers.

Glassing the Wilson Combat 6mm ARC

This was the exact rifle I received for testing, and it was beautiful. The only addition to the gun was a Trijicon Tenmile TM2450 4-24x50mm scope. It is a great piece of glass and a good fit for this testing.

The only addition to the gun was a Trijicon Tenmile TM2450 4-24x50mm scope.
(Photo by Michael Bordon)

This is an optic that is designed for hard use. It has excellent light transmission, user-selectable LED illumination, and crisp, precise adjustments. The scope features premium glass coatings, a second focal plane MRAD Ranging reticle with daylight-bright illumination, and an exposed zero-stop elevation adjuster.

It is an optic that is as at home on a precision range as it is in the backcountry.

The Cartridge

Hornady was kind enough to send me some ammo for the testing. Interestingly enough, the 6mm ARC was one of the products Hornady brought to the annual 2021 Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous in Idaho. While there, I got the chance to talk quite a bit about ammunition.

A little background on this unique round is in order if we are to really understand what is going on here. On the surface, it may appear that Hornady, the designer of the cartridge, just decided to push out a new round. This is not remotely the case.

The 6mm Advanced Rifle Cartridge (ARC) was originally designed to meet a request by the U.S. military and has been in service for about two years.
(Photo by Michael Bordon)

The 6mm Advanced Rifle Cartridge (ARC) was designed to meet a request by the U.S. military. In fact, the 6mm ARC has unofficially been in service with U.S. Special Operations for almost two years.

The exact units using the round are a piece of close-hold information for Hornady. And they simply say it is being used by a “notable Department of Defense (DOD) entity.”

Hornady’s description is equally as cryptic.

“The 6mm ARC has been tested, selected, and fielded by a specialized group within the U.S. DOD for its multipurpose combat rifle program. The versatile 6mm ARC does much of what larger cartridges can and everything that smaller cartridges can’t.

“Designed to meet the needs of the world’s toughest critics, the 6mm ARC utilizes efficient, high-BC bullets to deliver unprecedented performance from the AR-15 platform. Commercial 6mm ARC offerings will feature bullets selected to deliver ideal performance for hunting, match shooting, and personal-protection applications.”

6mm ARC: A Purpose-Built Round

This is a very unique situation where a round sees secretive service in the military before it is part of the civilian market. The 6mm ARC is based on the 6.5 Grendel. The designers necked down the cartridge to 6mm and then pulled the shoulder back closer to the case head. The case was also shortened to help make it compatible with low-drag bullets.

The Wilson Combat Tactical Hunter is chambered in 6mm ARC.
(Photo by Michael Bordon)

The question most people ask is why? What is the goal of the 6mm ARC? It is really the same thing that every cartridge designer has ever chased. A lighter round that performs like a heavier round.

The 6mm ARC is designed to do what much larger cartridges can and everything that smaller cartridges cannot. It is built to deliver substantially better ballistics than the .223 and offers a lighter gun/ammo system with 30 percent less weight than the AR-10/.308 Win system.

In short, the round is designed to be effective in combat situations. This means it needs to perform at close-contact distances as well as in longer-range engagements. With the bullet design, the 6mm ARC does this well. It stays supersonic past 1,000 yards and has demonstrated solid accuracy.

Perfect Pairing

The mix of this unique round and the hyper-performance characteristics of Wilson Combat rifles made for an interesting range day. The zeroing gods smiled upon me as it only took three rounds to get the gun dialed in at 100 yards.

My focus on the range day would be on absolute accuracy, so I did my shooting from the bench. My first impressions of the rifle were more than positive. As I mentioned, I have had the pleasure of testing more than my fair share of Wilson rifles, and this one was fantastic.

The Wilson Combat 6mm ARC Tactical Hunter proved to be very soft and flat shooting, giving the author good groups at 800 yards.
(Photo by Michael Bordon)

Attention to detail and perfect fit and finish, as well as performance, make it a winner out of the box.

Performance-wise, it is a shooter. Wilson is using their TTU (Tactical Trigger Unit) M2 with about a 4-pound break on the gun. And it fits well. Remember that this is a gun with Hunter in the name. While a 2-pound precision trigger would be nice, it goes against the intent of the rifle design.

Selecting the Right 6mm ARC Ammo

I ran two versions of 6mm ARC ammo for the testing. The Hornady 108-grain ELD Match and their 103-grain ELD-X Precision Hunter. Both performed extremely well, with the Match ultimately giving me the best group at .75 inches at 100 yards.

However, this round and rifle are not meant to be locked into 100 yards shooting. It is designed for long-range performance, so the steel was loaded up and placed out downrange.

I took the time to build the round and rifle into my ballistic app, and it did a pretty decent job. It would take more time than I had to get absolute numbers, but it got me on steel at each range. First up was 300 yards, essentially just to test my calculations.

As with all of the company’s rifles, the Wilson Combat 6mm ARC Tactical Hunter is composed of exceptional parts.
(Photo by Michael Bordon)

The rifle printed a nice tight grey lead group on the steel, and I quickly moved on. Going out to 400, 500, and 600 yards produced the same results. The Trijicon glass performed well in this setting and made getting hits a breeze.

The furthest shots I had for this range were at 800 yards. I was using 3/4-inch IPSC silhouette steel, which looked tiny to my less-than-youthful eyes. While I had no wind at the gun, I quickly saw dust swirling after my first shot and miss. After a quick hold adjustment to the left edge for wind, my next four shots hit the steel center mass.

Oddly, this was very frustrating because I had a desire to run the rifle even farther just to see what its outer limits might be. However, time and light were against me. Shooting half a mile would be the limit for the day.

The Upshot

This rifle is a long-range shooter, without a doubt, even with an 18-inch barrel. The 6mm ARC was originally designed around an 18-inch barrel because of military applications. However, Jayden Quinlan or Hornady shared that they tested up to 26-inch barrels all the way down to 12 inches. What they found was very little deviation in performance.

The Author enjoyed every aspect of the Wilson Combat 6mm ARC Tactical Hunter.
(Photo by Michael Bordon)

The Wilson Combat 6mm ARC Tactical Hunter is by far the best-performing 6mm ARC rifle I have run to date. The thing that makes this gun so desirable in my books is that it is not designed as a bench queen. This rifle is meant to be as effective at taking game as it is shooting small groups.

Wilson Combat has done its reputation well with this rifle. And I am sure it is going to be a hit.

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Wilson Combat 6mm ARC Tactical Hunter Specs

Caliber: 6mm ARC
Platform: WC-15
Upper/Lower: Billet aluminum
Barrel: 18-inch fluted and threaded match grade
Twist: 1-in-7.5
Gas System: Mid-length
Gas Block: Lo-profile
Rail: Wilson Combat 12.6-inch M-Lok Rail with Wilson Combat Rail Covers
Grip: Wilson Combat/BCM Starburst Gunfighter Grip, black
Stock: Rogers/Wilson Super-Stoc
Trigger: Wilson Combat TTU (Tactical Trigger Unit) M2
Finish: Armor-Tuff Finish applied over mil-spec hard anodized upper/lower receivers
Overall Length: 33.5 inches
Weight: 6 pounds, 14 ounces (empty)
MSRP: $2,550

This article first appeared in the July-August 2022 issue of Tactical Life magazine. Get your copy today at

Hornady Match ultimately gave the author his best group at 0.75 inches at 100 yards—outstanding accuracy for this hard-hitting cartridge.
(Photo by Michael Bordon)

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