February 17th, 2018

Load Winning Ammo With Progressive — Whidden Shows How

John Whidden .243 Winchester Win National Championship Long Range Reloading Caliber Barnard Action Anschutz

After the Berger Southwest Nationals, we had a long chat with John Whidden, five-time NRA Long-Range National Champion, and a past SWN Sling Division winner. When the subject turned to reloading techniques, John reminded us that he uses a Dillon progressive presss to load much of his match ammo — with a system for much more precise control over powder charge weight. Yes John loaded his national-championship winning .243 Win ammo on a progressive. That may not work for the benchrest game, but John proved this method works well for his discipline — long range sling shooting.

John full-length sizes his match brass every time using a Whidden click-adjustable sizing die. The powder charge is dispensed with single-kernel precision using an Auto-Trickler and lab-grade force restoration scale. The process is completed on a Dillon XL 650 to produce more ammo in less time.

John Whidden .243 Winchester Win National Championship Long Range Reloading Caliber Barnard Action Anschutz

Whidden’s .243 Win Ammo is Loaded on a Dillon
John Whidden of Whidden Gunworks used the .243 Winchester cartridge to win the 2017 NRA Long Range Championship, his FIFTH LR title. John loaded his .243 Win ammo using a Dillon: “My loading process is different than many people expect. I load my ammo on a Dillon 650 progressive press using our own Whidden Gunworks dies. However powder charges are individually weighed with a stand-alone automated scale/trickler system from AutoTrickler.com (see below). Employing a high-end force restoration scale, this micro-processor controlled system offers single-kernel precision. The weighed charges are then dropped into the cases with a funnel mounted to the Dillon head.”

John Whidden .243 Winchester Win National Championship Long Range Reloading Caliber Barnard Action Anschutz

John Whidden Explains His Ammo-Loading Process

The Lapua .243 Win brass is full-length sized every time, and I run one of our custom-sized expanders in my sizer die. The expander measures .243″ which yields the desired .001″ neck tension. In my experience, the best way to get consistent neck tension is to run an expander in the case neck at some point. When sizing the case neck by a minimal amount such as is the case here, I don’t find any negative points in using an expander in the sizer die.

Championship-Winning Load: Berger Bullets, Lapua Brass, and Vihtavuori N160
For a load, currently I’m shooting Lapua brass, PMC primers (Russian, similar to Wolf), VihtaVuori N160 single-base powder, and Berger 105 grain Hybrid bullets. I switched to the Hybrid bullets at the beginning of the 2015 season. Previously I shot the 105gr Berger hunting VLDs, and in testing I found that the Hybrids were just as accurate without having to seat the bullet into the lands. The velocity of this combination when shot through the excellent Bartlein 5R barrels (32” length) is around 3275 FPS.

For my match ammo, I seat the Berger 105 Hybrids well off the lands — my bullets are “jumping” from .035″-.060″. I only use one seating depth for ammunition for multiple guns (I know some benchrest shooters will stop reading right here!) and the bullets jump further in the worn barrels than in the fresh barrels. The bullets are pointed up in our Bullet Pointing Die System and are moly-coated. The moly (molybdenum disulfide) does extend the cleaning interval a little bit, probably 20% or so. The Lapua .243 Win brass is all neck-turned to .0125″ thickness.

In my experience, the keys to accurate long range ammo are top quality bullets and the most consistent neck tension you can produce. From these starting points, the use of quality components and accurate powder measurement will finish out the magic.

Great Ballistics with 6mm 105s at 3275 FPS
Running at an impressive 3275 FPS, Berger 6mm 105 grain Hybrids deliver ballistics that are hard to beat, according to John Whidden:

“My .243 Win shoots inside a 6.5-284 with 142-grainers. Nothing out there is really ahead of [the .243], in 1000-yard ballistics unless you get into the short magnums or .284s and those carry a very significant recoil penalty. In the past I did shoot the 6.5-284. I went to the .243 Win because it had similar ballistics but had much less recoil. It doesn’t beat me up as much and is not as fatiguing.

John Whidden .243 Winchester Win National Championship Long Range Reloading Caliber Barnard Action Anshutz

With the .243 Win, there’s no tensing-up, no anticipating. With the reduced recoil (compared to a 7mm or big .308), I can break and shoot very good quality shots. I find I just shoot better shots with the .243 than I ever did with the 6.5-284.”

John Whidden National Long Range Championship Camp Perry 2016 Wind Reading

Permalink Competition, Reloading 1 Comment »
February 17th, 2018

Hexagonal Boron Nitride (HBN) for Bullet Coating

hexagonal Boron nitride bullets

For years, many shooters have coated bullets with Moly (molybdenum disulfide) or Danzac (tungsten disulfide or “WS2″). The idea was to reduce friction between bullets and barrel. In theory, this could lengthen barrel life and extend the number of rounds a shooter can fire between cleanings.

hexagonal Boron nitride bullets

Moly and WS2 both have their fans, but in recent years, many guys have switched to Hexagonal Boron Nitride (HBN), another dry lubricant. The advantage of HBN is that it won’t combine with moisture to create harmful acids. HBN is very slippery and it goes on clear, so it doesn’t leave a dirty mess on your hands or loading bench. Typically, HBN is applied via impact plating (tumbling), just as with Moly.

Good Source for Hexagonal Boron Nitride (HBN)
Paul Becigneul (aka PBike in our Forum) has been using HBN for many years with good results. He obtains his HBN from Momentive Performance Materials:

HBM boron nitride source momentive hexagonal bullet coatingMomentive Performance Materials
www.Momentive.com

Sales Contact: Robert Bell
Sales Email: robert.bell [at] momentive.com
Sales Phone: Robert Bell, (980) 231-5404

HBN Results — Both on Bullets and Barrel Bores
Many folks have asked, “Does Hexagonal Boron Nitride really work?” You’ll find answers to that and many other questions on gunsmith Stan Ware’s popular Bench-Talk.com Blog. There Paul Becigneul (aka Pbike) gives a detailed run-down on HBN use, comparing it to other friction-reducers. Paul also discusses the use of HBN in suspension to pre-coat the inside of barrels. Paul observes:

We coated our bullets … how we had been coating with WS2. Now our bullets have a slightly white sheen to them with kind of like a pearl coat. They are so slippery it takes a little practice to pick them up and not drop them on the trailer floor. What have we noticed down range? Nothing different from WS2 other than the black ring on your target around the bullet hole is now white or nonexistent. Our barrels clean just as clean as with WS2. Your hands aren’t black at the end of the day of shooting and that might be the most important part.

Interestingly, Becigneul decided to try a solution of HBN in alcohol, to pre-coat the inside of barrels. Paul had previously used a compound called Penephite to coat the inside of his barrels after cleaning. Paul explains:

If Penephite was used because it was slippery wouldn’t HBN be better? … We called Momentive again [our source for HBN], and talked about mixing HBN and 90% alcohol for a suspension agent to pre-lube our barrels. He though it sounded great but that the AC6111 Grade HBN would be better for this use. It would stand up in the alcohol suspension and cling to the barrel when passed through on a patch. We got some and mixed it in alcohol 90%. We use about one teaspoon in 16 ounces of alcohol.

We started using it this fall and what we have noticed is that now that first shot fired out of a clean and pre-lubed barrel can be trusted as the true impact point. We use tuners so now I got to the line, fire two shots judge my group for vertical, adjust the tuner as needed or not, and after tune has been achieved go to my record targets. This use has saved us in time at the bench and bullets in the backstop.

You really should read the whole article by Becigneul. He discusses the use of barrel lubes such as Penephite and “Lock-Ease” in some detail. Paul also provides links to HBN vendors and to the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for the various compounds he tested.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
February 17th, 2018

Howa 1500-Series Rifles for National Rifle League

Howa 1500 Factory Rifle sponsor

Here’s important news for tactical shooters. There’s a rival to the Precision Rifle Series (PRS), the National Rifle League (NRL). And now the NRL has a major rifle sponsor — Howa. This Japanese rifle-maker will support the NRL’s 2018 season as Official Factory Rifle Sponsor. Good choice. We’ve shot Howa 1500-series rifles, and we know they offer excellent performance for the price. You can buy a complete Howa tactical rig, such as the KRG Bravo, or get a barreled action and put it into a variety of third-party modular stocks. Plus Criterion Barrels now offers Pre-Fit barrels in a variety of chamberings for Howa 1500 actions.

Howa 1500 Factory Rifle sponsor

For 2018, the NRL will host 15 Precision Rifle matches, and the NRL 2018 Championships will be on October 19th – 21st in Idaho. There Howa will provide valuable prizes for top competitors. CLICK HERE for more information on the NRL 2018 match schedule.

Howa 1500 hact 2-stage triggerNational Rifle League Upcoming Spring Matches

Absolute Zero Sniper Match
North Carolina, February 23-25, 2018

Bighorn Steel Classic
Nebraska, March 2-4, 2018

Monster Lake Mayhem
Wyoming, April 6-8, 2018

Owen’s Armory Battle Royale
Arizona, April 27-29, 2018

JC Steel Target Challenge
Washington, May 4-6, 2018

Silent Night by Butch’s
Oklahoma, May 25-26, 2018

Howa 1500 Factory Rifle sponsor

Howa 1500 Rifles and Actions — Good Stuff
Howa Machinery has been exporting sporting rifles for more than four decades since its first unit shipped in 1967. The Howa Model 1500 boast a smooth-running action and a fine two-stage HACT trigger (that’s a lot better than the standard trigger in most other factory rifles). For 2018, Howa is moving into the tactical/practical Precision market with a full line of competition ready rifles.

Howa 1500 Factory Rifle sponsor

“We are very excited to be a part of the National Rifle League for 2018. We had the opportunity to be a part of a few matches in 2017 and the response was amazing. We view the NRL as an opportunity to connect with precision rifle shooters all around the country and share our passion for bolt-action rifles and the competition camaraderie.” Stated Mathew Hornback of Howa USA.

Howa 1500 Factory Rifle sponsor

Travis Ishida, NRL President, noted “how capable these Howa rifles are for our style of shooting. The new Howa competition-ready rifles offer a sub-MOA guarantee out of the box[.] I am truly excited to have Howa supporting the NRL and to see them perform this year.”

Permalink New Product, Tactical 2 Comments »