July 5th, 2018

.243 Winchester — The Forgotten Long-Range Cartridge

John Whidden gunworks long range championship nra indiana camp perry 2016 2017 atterbury

John Whidden of Whidden Gunworks used the .243 Winchester cartridge to win the 2017 NRA Long Range Championship, his fifth LR title at Camp Perry (and second in a row). John selected the .243 Win because it offers excellent ballistics with manageable recoil. John says that, at least for a sling shooter, the .243 Win is hard to beat at long range. Yes, John says, you can get somewhat better ballistics with a .284 Win or .300 WSM, but you’ll pay a heavy price in increased recoil. Here’s John’s story of how he wins with a .243 Win.

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.”

The .243 Winchester — Good Enough to Win LR Championships

by John Whidden, Five-Time National Long Range Champion
My experience with the .243 cartridge for use as a Long Range High Power cartridge dates back about 10 years or so. After building a .300 WSM, I realized that the recoil was hurting the quality of my shots. The WSM shot great, but I couldn’t always execute good shots when shooting it. From here I built a 6.5-284, and it shot well. I also had a very accurate 6mmBR at the time, and my logic in going to the .243 Win was to get wind performance equal to the 6.5-284 with recoil similar to the 6mmBR. The experiment has worked out well indeed!

John Whidden gunworks long range championship nra indiana camp perry 2016 2017 atterbury

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 fairly recently 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. Surprising to some, John does load his ammo on a Dillon Progressive press (with help from his ultra-precise Auto-trickler).

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.

Whidden’s .243 Win Ammo is Loaded on 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 .243 Winchester Win National Championship Long Range Reloading Caliber Barnard Action Anschutz

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.

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.

John Whidden National Long Range Championship Camp Perry 2016 Wind Reading

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Tech Tip No Comments »
July 5th, 2018

Input Key Variables Correctly for Ballistics Apps

Ballistic AE Moble App Ballistics Program solver JBM iphone, iPod, iPad

“Garbage In, Garbage Out.” You have to input key variables with precision if you want your Ballistics Apps to deliver reliable long-range trajectories. So says Tom Beckstrand, Field Editor for Guns & Ammo magazine. A former U.S. Army Special Forces Officer, and avid long-range competitor, Beckstrand knows the importance of using your ballistic calculator correctly. Here are his tips on how to achieve the best results using Ballistics Calculators.

Key Variables: Muzzle Velocity, Ballistic Coefficient, Sight Height

“The most important inputs to make any ballistic calculator work correctly are muzzle velocity, ballistic coefficient, and sight height,” says Beckstrand.

Ascertain Accurate Muzzle Velocity with a Good Chronograph
“Cheap chronographs will not give an accurate muzzle velocity, so the serious shooter needs to spend the money on a quality chrono.” When you chronograph, make sure to measure the distance from the muzzle to the chrono unit. That input is also important to your Ballistic calculations.

Use Reliable G1 and G7 Ballistic Coefficients
Beckstrand added, “Ballistic Coefficients are available from ammunition and bullet manufacturers, and most of these coefficients the manufacturers provide are really quite accurate.” Ballistic Coefficient or BC, is a number that reflects how well a bullet cuts through the air. The higher the BC, the less the bullet is affected by air drag.

Measure Sight Height Correctly Using Calipers
Beckstrand has found that many shooters aren’t inputting sight height or they are guessing at the correct height. As target distance increases, just a half-inch of sight height inaccuracy can mean several inches up or down.

“Sight height is the input most often overlooked and is usually the source of greatest error. I think a lot of shooters, especially those new to long-range shooting, simply don’t understand the importance of this input.”

Sight height is the distance from the centerline of the scope to the centerline of the bore. Some shooters, Beckstrand believes, just “eye it up” and estimate the distance. “Really, you should use a set of calipers to measure the sight height distance … within 0.1 inch”.

Get Leading Ballistics App for iOS Devices

Ballistic AE Moble App Ballistics Program solver JBM iphone, iPod, iPad

Ballistic AE Moble App Ballistics Program solver JBM iphone, iPod, iPadNeed a top-notch Ballistics App for your iPhone, iPad, or iPod? Start with Ballistic AE, the number 1 (i.e. most installed) App for iOS systems. Ballistics AE (Advanced Edition) is the most popular iOS ballistics program for many good reasons. Full-featured and easy to use, Ballistics AE has been refined over many years, and it supplies rock-solid solutions derived from JBM Ballistics solver (created by James B. Millard). Unlike some other Apps, Ballistics AE is STABLE on iPhones (with various OS levels). What’s cool is that Ballistics AE is now on sale for $12.99.

We’ve used the Ballistic AE program on an iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, and iPad, and it performed well. Here are some of the features we liked:

  • 1. Mirrors output from online version of JBM Ballistics we often use for initial calculations.
  • 2. Controls are simple to use and (mostly) intuitive.
  • 3. Handy comparison feature lets you compare ballistics for different projectiles side by side.
  • 4. Advanced Wind Kit allows you to account for complex wind situations.
  • 5. Projectile and BC Databases are very comprehensive.
  • 6. Software is regularly updated to match Apple OS changes.

Ballistic-AE App for iPhone & iPod, $12.99 | Ballistic-AE App for iPad, $12.99

Ballistic AE Moble App Ballistics Program solver JBM iphone, iPod, iPad

This Video Explains How to Set Up and Use Ballistic AE:

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Tech Tip 6 Comments »
July 5th, 2018

Federal Offers Syntech Polymer-Coated Bullets for Hand-Loaders

Syntech Federal polymer coated coating jacket component bullets handgun pistol

Here’s something that may benefit pistol shooters, especially those who shoot steel and often shoot at indoor ranges. Federal Syntech bullets are now available as reloading components in 9mm, .40 Cal (10mm), and .45 Caliber. These bullets feature a total synthetic jacket (TSJ) polymer coating. The potential for reduced wear and fouling is real — when tested against conventional FMJ ammunition, Federal claims Syntech produced an average of 12% less barrel friction and 14% less heat. By eliminating the conventional bullet jacket, the Syntech design greatly lessens bullet “splashback” when shooting steel. Note, however, Syntech bullets still have a conventional lead core. This means they may not be allowed in ranges with lead restrictions.

Syntech Bullets Tech Information | Syntech Bullets LOAD DATA for 9mm, .40 SW, .45 ACP

Syntech Federal polymer coated coating jacket component bullets handgun pistol

Syntech Bullet Features & Benefits
• Polymer-encapsulated Syntech bullet prevents metal-on-metal contact in the bore.
• Eliminates copper and lead fouling.
• Decreases heat and friction, extending barrel life.
• Significantly reduces the required frequency of cleaning.
• Absence of a copper jacket minimizes splash-back on steel targets.

Part No. / Description / MSRP
AE9SJCB1 / 9mm, .355″ 115-grain Syntech, 100-count / $16.95
AE40SJCB1 / .40 cal., .400″ 165-grain Syntech, 100-count / $18.95
AE45SJCB1 / .45 cal., .451″ 230gr Syntech, 100-count / $21.95

For years this Editor has loaded his .45 ACP and .44 Mag handguns with polymer/moly matrix-coated bullets from Precision Bullets in Texas. Those poly/moly-encased lead bullets shot VERY accurately and I found that my barrels fouled much less than with conventional lead bullets. Likewise, there was much less cylinder fouling on my revolvers. If the American Syntech bullets work as well as those Precision bullets, I think the Syntech line will be a winner. Syntech bullets should benefit any high-volume pistol shooter, particularly competitors who shoot steel.

Permalink Handguns, New Product, Reloading 2 Comments »