By Dave Douglas
I finally found it. This is THE ONE. After years of evaluating guns and writing about them I’ve finally located the long gun of my dreams. It’s a more respectful caliber for hunting in .300 Winchester Magnum — capable of taking down any North American game as well as most plains game in Africa. I hate recoil and most .300 Win Mags have it in abundance — not so with the NEMO Omen Watchman 2.0. You can hold the gun on your chin, touch off the round and not need to head for the closest Emergency Room to have your dislocated and probably broken jaw reset, but you might want to have your mental condition evaluated since you’re already there. The NEMO Omen Watchman 2.0 checks all of my boxes — great hunting caliber — lots of ammo choices — hardly any recoil and finally this gun is scary accurate. I can use as much help as I can get when it comes to accuracy and holy cow the Watchman 2.0 really takes accuracy to another level. Oh, did I mention it’s an AR platform gun?
New Evolution Military Ordnance — at least that’s what’s on their spec sheet. But, I found another reference to NEMO that sums up the company and this firearm — “Nemo me impune lacessit — No one provokes me with impunity.” It’s the motto adopted by the Scottish 16th or 17th century Order of the Thistle (depends on which historians you believe). The King of Scotts and Kings of Great Britain served as the Order’s Sovereigns. A few folks dedicated to producing a firearm, second to none in the world, founded the company in 2011 up in Kalispell, Montana. It’s always been a wonder to me how that state gathers so many retired special operators — must be something in the water — or, maybe it’s the way that state encourages veterans like the company’s founder, Retired US Army Major General Paul Vallely, and the firearms industry to locate and manufacture up there. The former military folks have many years experience and knowledge in what a soldier or special operator needs from their primary weapon. Additionally, its Montana — almost everyone working at NEMO hunts and if you’re at all familiar with that part of the country you know the shot you might get at a good animal is probably going to be 600 meters or beyond — way beyond. These are the folks you want building your gun.
Omen Watchman 2.0
The Omen Watchman 2.0 is an upgraded version of NEMO’s Match 2.0. The gun is equipped with a 24″ barrel to squeeze every bit of velocity out of the .300WM cartridge. It’s a carbon fiber match barrel with a 1:8 twist made by Proof Research, another Montana company. It provides a 64 percent reduction in weight over steel and match-grade accuracy. With this type of barrel you will see no point-of-impact shift when shooting high volumes of ammunition. They are durable and due to the materials used there’s little or no harmonic barrel vibration. During test firing after rapidly shooting a 12-round string of shots we could immediately pick the gun up by the barrel without needing to run off to a burn center and that’s with no gloves. That kind of heat dissipation results in more accurate and a longer lasting barrel.
The upper receiver, lower receiver and handguard are machined from billet 7075 aluminum for extra strength and rigidity. Both the upper receiver and handguard are topped with a 20 MOA Picatinny rail. There’s plenty of real estate on the handguard for mounting any type of “in front of scope” accessory like night vision or thermal devices. The top rail is the only permanently affixed rail. The sides and bottom of the forward handguard are tapped for mounting points of additional shorter M-1913 Picatinny rails. This greatly reduces the diameter of the handguard and makes it much more comfortable to hold. It also negates the need for tactical gloves to protect your hand from the usually saw like Picatinny mounts.
The bolt assembly — carrier and bolt — looks like a piece of jewelry. Both are finely machined and Nickel Boron coated. This is also where the unique recoil reduction system resides. The folks at NEMO designed the Watchman 2.0 so a shooter could sit behind the gun and fire off long strings of shots without getting to the point of flinching because their shoulder feels like the slab of beef Rocky Balboa worked over in the first Rocky movie. Attached at the rear of the bolt carrier sits a collapsible device with a very substantial spring. During the firing cycle the bolt and carrier move to the rear after the bolt unlocks from the chamber lugs. With a regular AR configuration rifle the rear of the carrier impacts the buffer spring located in the buffer tube thus reducing recoil. With the Omen Watchman 2.0 the recoil device attached to the carrier makes first contact with the buffer spring and as the buffer spring compresses NEMO’s device also compresses especially when the bolt carrier reaches the end of the buffer tube. The result is far less perceived recoil. I’d say it feels like between a .223 Remington and a .308 Winchester. Yes, that’s right — the recoil feels to be less than that of even one of the many 7.62 ARs available today. The recoil device is one of the reasons NEMO can use a standard 7.62 AR size lower receiver and the main reason for such mild recoil out of the more powerful .300WM cartridge.
Not Grandpa’s AR
Is this just another “gas gun”? It absolutely is not. Every part of the Omen Watchman 2.0 is unique and purposely designed for the task of launching a .300WM projectile to great range with stunning accuracy. The bolt and carrier are much more beefy and that complicates the design of the gas system. More weight and mass of the bolt and carrier requires more energy to move the mechanism to the rear. That required the use of a longer gas tube so they could still utilize the energy, but at a slower speed to assure less bolt velocity and increase reliability for extraction and decreased wear on the extractor, bolt lugs and magazine feed lips. It has a four-position adjustable gas block — completely open, 58 percent open, 44 percent open and 25 percent open allowing the use of practically any .300WM ammunition and even a suppressor in case you want to take advantage of the B1 Tri-Lug Suppressor-Ready Muzzle Brake that comes on the gun.
The bolt also has an external charging handle on the right side in place of the top mounted charging handle seen on most AR platforms. The Watchman is designed for use with a scope and if you ever tried to use the charging handle on a standard scope equipped AR you’d know that can become problematic at best. Having the charging handle on the right side of the receiver makes charging the gun infinitely easier. It also negates any need for a forward assist as the handle can do double duty.
The Omen Watchman 2.0 standard equipment includes many items that will be extras on other guns. It has an ambidextrous safety selector and a Geissele SSA-E 2-stage trigger that breaks like a glass tube snapping. It has a black Hogue overmolded pistol grip and a Magpul PRS Stock that adjusts more ways than a chiropractor. The package comes from NEMO with a custom drag bag and two 14-round magazines.
A few descriptors of the accuracy of NEMO’s Omen Watchman 2.0 come to mind and they are otherworldly, stunning, amazing, ethereal, astounding, remarkable, unbelievable, incredible, miraculous and staggering. Just go to any thesaurus and start listing adjectives. I’m a pretty average shooter and I was able to wring out a .5MOA 5 shot group with the gun. But, I have a friend who did high precision shooting for a living. He’s a retired US Army SF Major and he was shooting the same hole at 100 meters during an early spring snowstorm in Colorado. During a couple mid-summer outings he was dusting prairie dogs at 500 meters. Yes, that would be considered overkill on a prairie dog, but overkill works every time. And, during the late summer when he was using NEMO’s Tactical 220gr ammo coupled with a Leupold 3X18X44 Mark 6 with the CMR-W Grid, 1000 meter shots into a pie plate was easy work. Elk season is coming and they won’t know what hit them.
A Great Investment
If you could have only one gun for hunting in North America you should make it the NEMO Omen Watchman 2.0. Couple that gun with good glass like the Leupold Mark 6 and you’ll have an unbeatable combination. You don’t need a bolt gun for accuracy anymore. NEMO has proven that a “gas gun” built to proper specifications can give you as good as or better than the accuracy of any bolt gun. And you’ll have the additional benefit of reduced recoil making follow-up shots easier and faster. That is of course if you need a follow-up. Chances are you won’t with the NEMO Omen Watchman 2.0.