February 1st, 2013

NEW Sizing Dies and Micrometer Seaters from Whidden Gunworks

There is a new player in the field of elite die-makers: Whidden Gunworks. John Whidden’s Georgia-based company is producing outstanding full-length sizing dies and micrometer-top seater dies for 7/8-14 thread presses. The dies look great, work great, and produce very straight and accurate ammo. The Whidden dies are finished beautifully inside and out. They are priced competitively and they are available for popular “extreme accuracy” cartridges such as the 6PPC, 6mmBR, 6mmBRX, 6 Dasher, 6XC, 6.5×47, .260 Rem, .284 Win, and .308 Win (and more). If you are looking for a die set for your new precision rifle, you should definitely check out the Whidden dies. Two-die set, FL Sizer and Micrometer-top Seater, costs $184.99. Sizer die alone is $74.99, while Seater die alone is $109.99.

Many of our Forum members have started using Whidden dies — and they are reporting very positive results. I personally own and use a set of Whidden dies, and I am very, very impressed with them. Here’s my report:


Editor’s Report on Whidden Dies
AccurateShooter.com good gearI have a set of Whidden Gunworks dies for my personal 6BRDX (a chambering similar to 6 Dasher but with longer neck). The dies are excellent and they produce very straight ammo. My loaded rounds (made with a Whidden bushing-type FL sizer and Whidden micrometer-top seater) are showing less than .0015″ run-out measured on the bullet, with the majority closer to .001″ run-out. (This is with Lapua Scenar L bullets, which have great jacket uniformity and concentricity.)

One thing I immediately noticed about the Whidden seater die is that there is a very close correspondence between the seater “hash marks” and true changes in seating depth. By this I mean when you dial a value change of 10 on the micrometer scale, you get very close to a .010″ change in seating depth. It is not perfect, but it is definitely more precise than most other micrometer-top seater dies I’ve used (both hand dies and 7/8-14 thread screw-in types).

Whidden diesCartridges loaded with my Whidden sizer and seater dies have proved very accurate. My 6BRDX is shooting in the mid-ones for five shots at 100 yards. I also have a micrometer-top Wilson inline seater die that was custom-bored with my chamber reamer. As far as I can tell, the ammo loaded with the screw-in Whidden seater is every bit as accurate as rounds loaded with the Wilson die using an arbor press. Additionally, with the Whidden micrometer die, I can hold extremely tight tolerances on base-to-bullet-ogive lengths.

In the past, with my 6mmBR, I favored an inline die because I thought it offered better control over seating depth. But given how well the Whidden seater works, I’m not sure I’d gain anything with my Wilson hand die. At least when used with a quality Harrell’s benchrest press, the Whidden seater gives up little or nothing to the hand die, and that’s big news in my experience.

Whidden Gunworks die

You will like the look and feel of these Whidden dies. The finish inside and out is very, very good — the dies have a quality feel and run very smoothly. Both the sizer and seater have a fluted section — this offers a better “grip” when you’re screwing in the dies. The outside of the seater has a smooth, gloss-anodized finish — it exudes quality. The markings on the seater’s micrometer ring are crisp and very legible, with large, high-contrast white-on-black lines and numbers.

One other very cool feature of the Whidden sizing dies is that custom-sized tapered expanders will soon be offered. Whidden plans to offer expanders in .0005″ (one-half thousandth) increments. This is great if you have, say, a .265 bushing and a .266 bushing but you want just a little less neck tension than the .265 offers. With the tapered expander, I can use a 0.265 bushing followed by an 0.2655 expander — allowing more precise control of neck “grip”.


Whidden Gunworks Sizing Die Seater

Whidden Die Features

  • Die Dimensions well-matched to PT&G reamers used for match chambers.
  • Sizing dies spec’d for easy chambering and extraction without overworking brass.
  • All sizers include shoulder datum collar to measure shoulder “bump” and headspace.
  • Neck bushing or no-neck bushing configurations.
  • Bushing dies use standard Redding/Wilson type bushings.
  • Neck diameter of non-bushing FL sizers can be set to customer specification.
  • Extended threads on short cartridge sizer dies such as BRs.
  • Coming soon: custom expander balls (in half-thousandth increments) to adjust neck tension and provide minimum working of the case neck.
  • Seater: Floating sleeve on micrometer seater enhances concentricity of loaded rounds.
  • Seater: Large, high-contrast markings for easy adjustment.

Custom Dies for Wildcats or Your Cartridge

  • Custom-made for your wildcat or standard cartridge.
  • Can work from fired brass or a chamber drawing to match your chamber exactly.
  • Neck-bushing die, or no-bushing die with neck diameter bored to customer specification.

Whidden Gunworks Sizing Die SeaterAvailable Die Sets
Here is the current caliber list. Micrometer seaters are available in all calibers listed below except 22BR and 22 BRX.

Full-Length Sizer with Bushings
22 BR (No Seater Die)
22 BRX (No Seater Die)
6mm PPC
6mm BR
6mm BRDX
6mm BRX
6mm Dasher
6mm SLR
6mm XC
6×47 Lapua
.243 Win
6.5×47 Lapua
.260 Rem
6.5-284
.284 Win
7mm Shehane
.308 Win
.338 Edge

Full-Length Sizer (Non-Bushing)
22 BR
6MM BR
.243 Win
6×47 Lapua
.260 Rem
6.5 Creedmoor
6.5×47 Lapua
.308 Win

Whidden Gunworks Sizing Die Seater

John Whidden Talks about Sizers, Seaters, and Expanders

Whidden Gunworks Sizing Die SeaterThere are two sides to our die business. First we are stocking dies in many calibers that are of interest to those who visit this website (such as the 6PPC, 6mm Dasher, 6.5×47 Lapua, .260 Rem, 7mm Shehane, .308 Winchester). These dies are a good fit to the “match chamber” reamers and very few people with these calibers should have to have “Pure Custom” dies made. We have both sizers and micrometer-top seaters ready to go for the many cartridge types listed above. The sizer dies will include a shoulder datum collar that makes it easy to measure shoulder “bump” during the full-length sizing process. This is important to control headspace precisely.

On the “Pure Custom” side, we have a huge amount of flexibility. We can make one-of-a-kind sizers and seaters for wildcats in a short period of time and at an excellent price. We can work with the customer to make full-length sizers, neck sizers, shoulder bump dies, small base dies, or most anything else they can need. We can of course provide micrometer-top seaters for these cartridges as well. We can make non-bushing sizers with specific neck inside diameters tailored to customer specifications.

We will also be offering custom-sized expanders. These expanders will fit our dies as well as Redding dies. Our tapered expanders will be available in .0005” (one-half thousandth) increments for the common calibers. In our shop we have had excellent results using expanders in the dies as long as the expanders provided the correct amount of neck tension and didn’t overwork the brass. Expanders have gotten a bad reputation in recent years but we find them to be excellent tools when the same precision is applied to their use that careful handloaders apply to the rest of their process. Expanders can be most valuable for those who choose not to neck-turn their brass (because the expander pushes neckwall variations to the outside).

One last thing — many gunsmiths with their own wildcats (or “specialty” chambers) have asked us to provide dies for their customers. We gladly do batches of custom dies and encourage gunsmiths to contact us. — John Whidden

For more information visit WhiddenGunworks.com or call (229) 686-1911.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product, Reloading 7 Comments »
February 1st, 2013

Cleaning Rod Storage Case Sets from Benchrite.com

Benchrite cleaning rod case caddyMany of our readers have quite a bit of money invested in premium cleaning rods. When you carry your rods to the range, you want to keep them protected so they don’t get warped, kinked or damaged. Benchrite.com, a supplier of benchrest gear and precision shooting supplies, offers very sturdy and nicely-crafted cleaning rod cases made from stainless tubing. You can purchase a single rod case, but we expect most shooters will prefer the Benchrite 2-rod or 3-rod case sets. These handy systems combine multiple rod-cases in 2-rod or 3-rod portable transport caddies that store your rods securely in your vehicle or on the bench.

Benchrite cleaning rod case caddy

Benchrite cleaning rod case caddy

Benchrite’s two-rod and three-rod case sets are set up for specific rod brands and styles, but rod brands or styles may be mixed in the set on special order with no difference in pricing. Stainless rod tubes are 48″ long and will accommodate 44″ rods with a jag or brush attached. Benchrite rod cases employ a collet method to securely hold the rods in the tubes — no thumb screws, rubber bands, or hold-down blocks. For $24.00, Benchrite also offers a padded, vinyl carry bag that fits the three-rod sets perfectly.

Product tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Gear Review No Comments »
February 1st, 2013

Safety Advice: Be Careful When Shooting Similar Cartridges

The .223 WSSM and 6mmBR Disaster
Report by Dr. Jim Clary

Under most circumstances, shooters don’t have to worry about chambering the wrong cartridge into the wrong rifle. After all, the cartridges are well marked and we all know which rifle we are shooting on any given day. In many cases, incorrect cartridges cannot be chambered — larger cases will not fit in smaller chambers, for example. No problem! That being said, I can tell you that even an experienced, careful and normally safe shooter can make a mistake.

The following is an account of just such a mistake that could have resulted in death or dismemberment. Fortunately, the shooter was not hurt, but the rifle was completely destroyed.

Last year, a friend purchased a Savage Precision right bolt, left port, single shot bolt action in 6mmBR Norma. It was an incredible prairie dog gun and he spent the summer burning powder and busting dogs. In October, he purchased a stainless steel Browning A-Bolt Varmint in .223 WSSM. The weather in the upper Midwest turned sour by the time he got the brass tuned up and he only got to fire it a few times before he was “socked in” for the winter. Thus, he spent his evenings loading ammo for the spring thaw.

During a break in the weather, he grabbed both rifles and a couple of bags of .223 WSSM and 6mmBR cartridges and headed to the range to check out his new loads. In case you are not familiar, the 6mmBR is smaller in diameter and a mite shorter than the .223 WSSM. Because of this, it will chamber in a .223 WSSM, but the .243 caliber (6mm) bullet is too big for the .22 caliber bore. That is what happened to my friend.

The rest is history — when he squeezed the trigger, all hell broke loose. The entire bottom of the rifle blew out, including the magazine assembly. The explosion actually cut the stock into two pieces. However, the bolt held and amazing as it may seem, the .243 bullet was “swaged” right out of the .223 barrel.

223 WSSM 6BR blow-up
6mmBR (left) and .223 WSSM (right) cartridges above the remains of Browning A-Bolt rifle.

One Small Mistake Is All It Takes
Now, realize that my friend has been shooting all manner of firearms, safely, for over half a century. He is meticulous, thorough and conscientious in his approach to reloading and shooting. However, he made one mistake. He put some lose 6BR cartridges in a baggie as he packed up from a prairie dog hunt last summer, without noticing that the baggie was marked .223 WSSM in black marker. Then, when the break in his winter weather came, he grabbed the bag, believing it to be the WSSM cartridges and didn’t check the head stamp.

Couldn’t happen to you? How many times have we emptied our pockets of cartridges and dropped them into a plastic container on the shooting bench? How many times have we set down to a marathon reloading session, loading several calibers in a row? How many times have we put the wrong bullets, cases or primers into the incorrect container? My point is that even the safest of us can make a mistake. So, look at the picture above and take a bit more time when you reload your ammunition at home or chamber a round in the field. It might save your life.

Story and photo © Dr. Jim Clary, All Rights Reserved.

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, News 16 Comments »