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Tour of Wilson Combat

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    TGT Addict
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    May 29, 2017
    Austin, TX
    Author: LHB1


    While driving thru northern Arkansas last week, I arranged with Nick to stop at the Wilson Combat shop for a visit. Was able to meet and talk with Nick and Matt, both of whom I had talked with on the phone several times. Nick offered me a tour of the building which I was quick to accept. Before going any further I want to thank Nick for taking time out to show an interested customer around their shop. Wilson customer service continues to impress me, both before and after the sale. Description of the tour follows.

    Although the mailing address of WC is listed as Berryville, AR, you will have a hard time locating the shop in that township. The shop is actually about 13 miles south of Berryville on CR719, a short county road connecting Metalton and Rudd. Metalton is a thriving metropolis of two houses and a corner lot/field on which is stored miscellaneous equipment including metal tanks, pieces of equipment, automobiles, and trucks. I did not drive thru Rudd but suspect it to be equally expansive.

    The WC complex consists of three nice looking buildings plus an outdoor shooting range. The main building houses areas for Wilson Combat sales, customer service, offices, shipping, parts inventory, and workshop (gunsmith workstations, lathes, mills, drills, sanders, sand blasting, etc.). To the rear of this building is the outdoor shooting area. On the left rear of the main building is a separate building for IDPA which I did not tour. On the right of the main building is a separate building for applying Armor Tuff finish. This building was not open that day.

    Upon entering the main building, you immediately encounter a pair of glass show cases containing samples of WC items, accessories, and parts available for direct sale to customers. These include triggers, sears, hammers, thumb safeties, slide stops, beavertail safeties, beavertail fitting jig, magazine wells, mainspring housings, grips, etc. Behind that area is a series of cubicles where Nick, Matt, Greg, and other customer service/sales reps work. Near the sales rep workstations is a large, locked storage safe containing guns ready to be delivered to customers like myself who are anxiously awaiting their newest Wilson pistol, rifle, or shotgun. My latest pistol order was not yet in this safe but was somewhere in the gunsmith area, hopefully in the final stages of fitting and finishing. Nick opened this safe and let me look at several custom pistols including a Classic Super Grade and a Wilson Signature series pistol with deep bluing, gold inlays, and ivory grip panels. On the right of this area was a small conference area and several offices, including Bill Wilson’s office. Bill wasn’t in the office that day so I didn’t get to meet him.

    On the left side of this central area was a very large area containing a number of long rows of storage bins containing various pistol, rifle, and shotgun parts. Some of the bins contain individually packaged parts for sale to customers. There are other bins containing the same parts but in bulk (not packaged individually). The latter bins are where gunsmiths get the parts they need for building a pistol, rifle, or shotgun. This appears to be a practical approach since it saves one person’s time in not individually packaging the parts and also saves the gunsmith from having to open the needlessly wrapped part. This area also includes the packaging and shipping area where orders of parts, accessories, or guns are prepared for shipping.

    On the far right side of the central area (beyond the office area) is the gunsmithing area. Here we found a number of cubicles set up for the individual gunsmiths and/or specific pieces of equipment such as lathes, drill presses, and mills. The two things most notable in each gunsmith cubicle was a large, heavy duty vise with smooth jaws and LOTS of files. Each vise contained a set of aluminum smooth jaw inserts, most of which also had a smooth leather facing glued on to avoid marring polished surfaces. These cubicles were also notable for their neatness and lack of clutter. They were obviously used by people who were neat and careful in their work. This made a big impression on me since I have seen some “gunsmith” work areas that looked more like junk boxes than professional work areas. There was another large locked safe here for guns under construction, where my next pistol was presumably stored since the gunsmiths were off that day. Behind the gunsmithing area was a separate room set up with belt sanders and cabinet enclosures for sand/bead blasting.

    Behind this main building was a new outdoor, covered shooting range with two shooting stations and a permanently mounted Ransom Rest. Nick said the Ransom rest is seldom used since it is too slow for the number of guns they have to test fire. Both shooting stations had a table surface with sand bags and V rest to allow precise shooting quickly. The target backing at 15 yards (their standard testing range for pistols) showed a small irregular hole thru which a considerable number of shots from multiple pistols had passed. It appears that Wilson pistols are very consistent in their accuracy since there were no flyers in the backing outside this area. Nick gave me some samples of their handloaded test ammo. One load uses an H&G #68 200 gr LSWC bullet seated to 1.250 OAL and taper crimped to .469”. The other is a self defense load with a jacketed Hornady XTP HP bullet seated to 1.230 and taper crimped to .469”.

    I was very impressed with the Wilson Combat shop setup and the professionalism of their staff. Thanks again, Nick, and here’s hoping I get a call soon that my 4” Wilson Professional is ready to be picked up. Keep up the good work!

    ps: Nick showed me their sight pusher. It was designed and made onsite. In a word, it is MASSIVE. The base appeared to be solid steel plate, approx 1-1.25" thick and about 12" by 12". On this sits a big block of steel containing a threaded steel rod connected to a large wheel with spokes. This is the manual turning portion. The tool has a cavity (with locking steel cover) which accepts inserts with pushers exactly fitted to the type of sight being installed or removed. On the opposite side is a large block of steel which resists any sideways movement of pistol slide. Another big block of steel accepts inserts with rails to hold steady the exact slide type being fitted with sights. The inserts for type of slide and type of sight can be very easily and quickly replaced. The force exerted by the sight pusher must be tremendous! Nick said it had been in use for many years and was showing no signs of wear or weakness.
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