Wilson Combat and Paul Howe Build a Rifle

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Wilson Combat has been doing custom builds and firearms mods since 1977, and those 37 years of experience were put to good use with their creation of the Paul Howe Tactical Carbine (PHTC). The PHTC is chambered in 5.56 NATO and has Wilson Combat’s eye-catching Camouflage Armor-Tuff finish, which was created by the company with this gun in mind. It isn’t just about looking good, though; the hand-applied finish was designed to help it blend into both urban and rural environments. And in fact the finish helps keep the PHTC cool even in higher temperatures and, in turn, reduces the gun’s IR signature.

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The components were selected by retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major Paul Howe, who served 20 years, 10 of which were as a Delta Force operator. Howe was present at the Battle of Mogadishu as well as a few other combat actions. When he retired from the army he founded Combat Shooting and Tactics (CSAT) which focuses on law enforcement and military, although civilians are also welcome. He put his considerable experience as a team leader and firearms instructor to use creating what he describes as his “ultimate all-around tactical rifle” ; if you’re looking for a match-grade tactical rifle made to the specifications of a tier-one operator, this is it.

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The PHTC has a 14.7” stainless steel barrel with a permanently affixed flash hider, which brings the barrel length into legal compliance by nudging it over the 16” minimum length requirement. The barrel is Wilson Combat’s own Recon SR fluted lightweight barrel and has a 1-8 twist. The PHTC also features a Wilson Combat T.R.I.M. rail, detachable Daniel Defense fixed front sight and a rear flip-up BUS with a CSAT aperture that was designed by Howe himself. The CSAT aperture is designed for fast combat sighting up to 300 yards.

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And to make the PHTC even more tactically friendly, the standard trigger was selected with glove use in mind. It has Wilson Combat’s two stage TTU – Tactical Trigger Unit – with heavy mil-spec springs and what the company describes as an “ultra crisp” 4.5-lb trigger. The TTU’s components are precision CNC machined from solid bar stock and the hammer, trigger, and disconnector are made of H13 steel; basically it’s one tough trigger. It also has a positive trigger reset and, according to Wilson Combat, it “meet(s) or exceed(s) the military specifications for drop safety.”

Overall length of the PHTC is 34.25” and empty weight is 7.54 lbs. MSRP is currently $2600.00.

This certainly sounds like a nice tactical gun, and the fact that the various parts were selected by Howe is absolutely a big selling point for a large number of people. Most SOF know their rifles well, and getting a chance to own a gun an operator deems tactically capable does make it worth a second look.

So, what do you all think of the PHTC from a tactical standpoint?

Test sheet with 5.56 NATO, 55 grain, at 100 yards

Test sheet with 5.56 NATO, 55 grain, at 100 yards



katie.ainsworth

Katie is an avid shooter, hunter, military journalist, and Southern girl. Firearms are her passion whether at the range or on a spot-and-stalk after a big buck. She’s a staff writer at The Firearm Blog and writes about guns, hunting, and the military for various publications both online and in print such as Outdoor Life, Handguns, and Shooting Illustrated. Shoot her a message at ainsworth.kat@usa.com


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  • Soviet Spacedog

    I can’t wait to add this to my DPMS, LWRC, and PWS Paul Howe edition rifles…

    • JumpIf NotZero

      I thought you were joking… but nope. Apparently Paul changes rifle partnerships quite often.

  • TheSmellofNapalm

    old news.

  • Thomas Gomez

    Great write up. That looks like a nice rifle. I have had great results with 1-8 barrels.

    • Eugene

      I particularly appreciated that the battle that Paul Howe was involved in is referred to properly as the Battle of Mogadishu.. Annoys me to no end people calling it after the movie.

      • Katie A

        Thank you, Thomas. Eugene, one thing you’ll never catch me doing is referring to a military engagement by a Hollywood label. And if I ever do, you have my permission to react accordingly.

  • billyoblivion

    The things that matters most from a tactical standpoint are:
    1) Will it go bang–and continue to go bang–when I pull the trigger
    2) When it stops going bang, how fast can I get it going bang again.
    3) When it goes bang will it hit the object I want hit.

    Frankly this is probably a nice gun, but at $2600 there is nothing that suggests it’s (nearly) twice as good as a Sig 556, or $1000 better than a Daniel Defense.

    Then again, if gun games are your thing, I’m sure it’s quite nice.

    • Manny Fal

      A working firearm is not really ‘tactical’ since every tactic involves a working firearm. Tactical is about tactics and fitting into some tactical niche. A higher end trigger and barrel for example will give greater accuracy which would serve the tactic of urban sniping. A quad rail will allow attachment of night fighting equipment and enable you to operate at night. As for IR hiding paint, I don’t believe it works.

  • iowaclass

    So now people besides Tac-Con are doing “positive reset” triggers?

  • noob

    maybe technology progresses and he likes to share the love with different builders. after all they might be coming to him to say “let us build a gun for you and then you can help us sell it” and he’s all like “okay”

  • noob

    is that permanently attached flash hider able to take a suppressor?

  • Soviet Spacedog

    Watch out, your comment might get deleted. This is the first thing I said, as seen by the deleted comment below. Mr Howe keeps throwing his name on more and more expensive rifles, i imagine his percentage is getting worse and worse in this AR market. This is a Recon with his name and *GASP* a DD front sight on it! This is not news.

  • Zachary marrs

    Probably took a hint from the army

    • noob

      “blends with the urban environment”