August 23rd, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Whidden’s Title-Winning .308 Win Palma Rifle

John Whidden Palma Rifle .308 Win Barnard Anschutz P action smallbore stock

This feature story comes from 5-time NRA National Long-Range Champion John Whidden. In this article John, who runs Whidden Gunworks, talks about the Palma rifle he has used at the Camp Perry and Camp Atterbury National Matches and other major competitions. This unique .308 Win prone rifle features a Barnard “P” action in a converted aluminum Anschutz “Precise” smallbore (rimfire) stock. The combo of Barnard action and Anschutz ergonomics is hard to beat, says John, who told us: “this is easily the best Palma rifle I’ve ever had.”

As a bonus, the Barnard “drop-in” required no modification of the Anschutz Precise stock. This means John can actually swap in his rimfire barreled action and shoot smallbore with the same stock.

Whidden’s Perfect Palma Match
Whidden secured his 2017 NRA Long Range National Championship title by shooting “clean” (not dropping a point) in the tough Palma competition. In the NRA Palma match, rifles must be .223 Rem or .308 Winchester, with metallic sights (no scopes). The match is conducted at three yardages, 15 shots at each distance of 800/900/1000 yards, with unlimited sighters at 800 and two sighters at 900 and 1000.

Whidden’s Championship-Winning Rifle
Since John captured his fifth Long Range crown with a superb performance in the Palma match, we thought we’d give readers a look at John’s very special Palma rifle. This unique .308 Win prone rifle features a Barnard “P” action in a converted aluminum Anschutz “Precise” smallbore (rimfire) stock. John told us this gun handles like no other: “After recoil, with this Anschutz stock, the sights fall right back on target — better than any other prone rifle I’ve shot”.

As a bonus, the Barnard “drop-in” required no modification of the Anschutz Precise stock. This means John can actually swap in his rimfire barreled action and shoot smallbore with the same stock.

Sling Rifle Evolved: The Ultra-Accurate Hybrid Palma Rifle

by John Whidden
The mental component of Long Range competitive shooting is always challenging but having tremendous confidence in the accuracy of your equipment is a huge benefit. There’s nothing to start your Palma match off well like knowing that you are shooting the most accurate Palma rifle you’ve ever owned.

John Whidden Palma Rifle .308 Win Barnard Anschutz P action smallbore stock

After winning an NRA Long Range National Championship at Camp Perry, there are always plenty of questions about the equipment used by those at the top. Shooters are always looking to learn what is the best equipment at any given time so that when the time comes to spend our own hard earned dollars we can make the best choices. Even if you shoot an entirely different discipline knowing which manufacturers are making winning gear is very valuable.

Whidden .308 Winchester Palma Rifle
Action: Barnard “P” (three lugs, 60° bolt lift)
Barrel: Bartlein 32″, Light Palma contour, cryo-treated by 300 Below
Stock: Anschutz Precise aluminum smallbore stock, set up for centerfire barreled action
Trigger: Barnard Two-Stage adjustable

John Whidden Palma Rifle .308 Win Barnard Anschutz P action smallbore stock

Whidden’s Wonder-Gun: German Stock, New Zealand Action, American Barrel
The Palma rifle I shot this year at Camp Perry is one that I have been super pleased with. I built the rifle early this year and the major components are a Barnard P action, Anschutz Precise smallbore stock, and Bartlein barrel. The caliber is .308 Win, as dictated by the Palma rules. Palma matches are fired from 800, 900, and 1000 yards utilizing iron sights only. No optical sights are allowed.

John Whidden Palma Rifle .308 Win Barnard Anschutz P action smallbore stock

The Anchutz Precise stock is so well-designed that once I finished adjusting the details, I realized that my hold was about 1/3 smaller than with the stocks I shot previously. While in recoil the gun will track vertically and fall back down right on my own target just as it should. In the past, with my other Palma rifles, it was frankly sometimes a struggle to get them to settle back on target after a shot.

Whidden Gunworks has installed a variety of different actions in the Anschutz Precise stocks. Though the stocks are designed for the .22 LR caliber 2013 action rifles, we’ve successfully installed Barnard, Kelbly, Bat, Nesika, and Remington clone actions into them. The Barnard Model P makes a particularly simple installation because there is no modification necessary to the stock at all. A competitor can then shoot both his centerfire rifle as well as his smallbore gun in the exact same stock. The location of the trigger and bolt handle on the Barnard are positioned just right to make this work. Other actions do require at least some amount of modification to the stock, and we have found the Barnard works the best.

Barnard manufactures several models of actions as part of their lineup. All of the actions in the lineup use three lug bolts which give a shorter 60-degree bolt lift when opening and closing. All of the critical surfaces are machined after heat treating. This means that they are exceptionally true and square, more so than other actions. The Model P action is most familiar to Palma and F-Class shooters and are commonly seen on the firing line. The fact that Model P actions include an excellent two-stage trigger makes also the pricing very attractive.

Based on my previous excellent experiences, I selected Bartlein barrels for this rifle. When shooting internationally in the Palma matches we are restricted to 155 grain .308 bullets, but I made the unusual choice of a 1-10″ twist for these bullets. I’ve shot this fast twist for some years with the 155s with good success and it’s pleasing to know that Bryan Litz is finding benefits in some cartridges to shooting faster twist rates than we previously thought we needed. The chamber is the 2011 Palma and the barrel is a Light Palma contour finished at 32” length. The barrel was cryo-treated by 300 Below. The point of impact isn’t changed at all by barrel heating and the accuracy is incredible regardless of the temperature of the barrel. This can’t be said of all the barrels I’ve owned.

John Whidden Palma Rifle .308 Win Barnard Anschutz P action smallbore stock

Get Your Own Wonder-Gun from Whidden Gunsworks
Like what you see? Whidden Gunworks can build you a rig like this, fitting a centerfire barreled action in the Anschutz Precise stock. John tells us: “Call us to find the current all-up price for a special rifle like this with Barnard or other suitable custom action, and Anschutz stock. We attempt to keep all of the parts except the stock in inventory, so lead time should be under eight (8) weeks.”

Stock Offers Great Adjustability
John Whidden Palma Rifle .308 Win Barnard Anschutz P action smallbore stockOne thing that is quickly noticed about the Anschutz Precise stock is its adjustability. The engineers did a very good job of allowing many of these adjustments to be made while in the shooting position, most notably the cheekpiece adjustments. When a shooter picks up a Precise stock for the first time they also notice how narrow the fore-end is. This really contributes to reducing the pain in the forward hand in prone when shooting with a sling. This stock is, by far, the most comfortable sling stock I’ve ever handled.

This rifle was very accurate right away and very comfortable to shoot. I’ve built some really good shooting Palma rifles but this is easily the best Palma rifle I’ve ever had. The Barnard action with its superb quality and excellent two-stage trigger has been the best choice I could have made. When you can go to the firing line knowing that you have the very best, the foundation for success has been set.

Permalink Competition, Gear Review, Gunsmithing, Shooting Skills No Comments »
August 23rd, 2020

Do-It-Yourself Target Stand — Make it with PVC or ABS Pipe

PVC target stand
Assembly Diagram: Here are all the components of the target frame. The overall maximum assembled dimensions are roughly 26″ wide, 41″ deep, and 66″ tall (the cardboard is 2 x 3 feet).

PVC target standOne of the easiest ways to build a portable target stand is to use PVC pipe and connectors. Utah .308 Shooter “Cheese” has created a simple yet sturdy target frame, and he’s shared his design so you can build a similar frame easily and at low cost. The components are wood furring strips, 2″-diameter PVC pipes (and connections), and a 2’x3′ sheet of cardboard. The PVC base can be glued together, or, for easier transport and storage, you can leave some or all of the connections free. “Cheese” tells us: “I didn’t glue any of it together so I could disassemble it, shove it in a bag and take it anywhere.”

“All the parts are just pushed together and not glued. That way I can break it down and carry it all in a bag. Also, if a buddy (not me!) happens to shoot the stand, I can easily replace just the damaged piece. The last 6 inches of the furring strips are wittled-down a bit so they can be pushed into the upright pipes with a little friction. The cardboard is 2 x 3 feet, and I use a staple gun to attach it to the furring strips. Then I just staple the target onto the cardboard and go at it.

Of course you can modify the dimensions as desired. I chose the black ABS pipe over white PVC simply for cost — black ABS is a little cheaper. You can also glue some or all of the parts together, it’ll just be larger for transporting. In windy conditions, the thing likes to come apart. Duct tape might work well.

For weight, I thought about filling the two end pipes with sand and gluing test caps on each of their ends. The test caps still allow the pipes to slip into the elbows.”

Add Anchors or Internal Weight for Stability
On a very windy day, a PVC stand can shake or even topple over. There are a couple solutions to this. Some people fill the PVC pipe sections with sand to add weight, or you can put short sections of Re-BAR inside the long legs. One GlockTalk forum member noted: “I built [a frame] almost identical to this. I also take four pieces of wire coathanger bent into an inverted “U” shape to anchor the frame to the ground. It is so light that wind will knock the stand over [without anchors].”

You can find photos of a similar home-made PVC target stand (with a slightly different rear section) on the Box of Truth website. This also employs a PVC tubing base with wood uprights. We’ve also seen all-PVC target stands, but we’ve found that it is easier to attach the cardboard to wood strips than to PVC pipe. Also, if the upper section is wood, you can fit different height targets, while using the same base.

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