October 14th, 2017

National High Power Championships in Shooting Sports USA

John Whidden Long Range Championship Shooting Sports USA Anette Wachter

We were pleased to see our friend John Whidden featured in the October 2017 issue of Shooting Sports USA. John captured the 2017 NRA Long Range Championship this summer, his second LR title in a row, and fifth overall. This year was a bit different, as the competition was held in Indiana at Camp Atterbury. All John’s previous Long Range HP titles were earned at Camp Perry.

Whidden’s Perfect Palma Match
Whidden secured the 2017 LR 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.

SSUSA’s Editor John Parker writes: “On another note, this month’s cover feature highlights the very first NRA High Power Rifle Championships conducted at the match’s new home—Indiana’s Camp Atterbury. Located about 50 miles south of Indianapolis, this active Indiana National Guard base boasts over 60 ranges, making it the ideal new venue to continue the legacy of NRA High Power. Hundreds of competitors made the trek to continue the historic tradition of rifle competition at the National Matches.”

CLICK HERE to Read Full October 2017 Issue of Shooting Sports USA

John Whidden Long Range Championship Shooting Sports USA Anette Wachter
Another friend, Anette Wachter, is featured in this issue as well. That’s the 30CalGal herself in the upper right after winning the Andrus Trophy Match.

Sling Rifle Evolved: The Ultra-Accurate Hybrid Palma Rifle

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

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. 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.” 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.

Championship-Winning Rifle — Aluminum Smallbore Stock, Centerfire Barnard Action
John Whidden Palma Rifle .308 Win Barnard Anschutz P action smallbore stock

Whidden 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

Whidden’s Wonder-Gun: German Stock, New Zealand Action, American Barrel
John built this Palma rifle in early 2016. With it, John won back-to-back long-range Championships in 2016 (Camp Perry) and 2017 (Camp Atterbury). The major components are: 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.

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Gunsmithing No Comments »
August 26th, 2016

Whidden on Winning at Long Range: Part 2 — The Cartridge

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

John Whidden of Whidden Gunworks used the .243 Winchester cartridge to win the 2016 NRA Long Range Championship, his fourth LR title at Camp Perry. 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.

.243 Winchester — The Forgotten 6mm Cartridge for Long Range

by John Whidden, 2016 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 .243 Winchester Win National Championship Long Range Reloading Caliber Barnard Action Anschutz

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.

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.

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 - Articles, Competition, Reloading 9 Comments »
July 15th, 2015

From Russia with Love — Kirsten Tests SCATT Training System

Kirsten Joy Weiss SCATT MX-02 Video Trainer demo electronic trace target live fire dry firing

“SCATT” — if you’re an Olympic Class air rifle or smallbore competitor you know what SCATT means. The Russian-made SCATT is a marksmanship training system with an electro-optical sensor that fits on the end of a barrel. The sensor “sees” the target and then tracks your muzzle movement relative to the center of the target, recording a “trace” that can be displayed on a computer. The latest SCATT MX-02 unit works for live-fire training as well as dry-fire training. To learn more about the SCATT electronic trainers, visit SCATTUSA.com.

Pro shooter Kirsten Joy Weiss demonstrates the SCATT MX-02 electronic training system:

The system traces and records valuable information such as hold pattern, shot hold duration, follow-through, recoil pattern, and much more. The latest SCATT MX-02 systems can be used both indoors and outdoors up to 300 meters (and possibly more). READ FULL SCATT MX-02 TEST HERE.

SCATT traces reveal muzzle movements during the aiming process.
Kirsten Joy Weiss SCATT MX-02 Review Video Electronic Trainging system test

Kirsten Joy Weiss, a top-level competitive position shooter, has tested the latest SCATT MX-02 training systtem. She put the MX-02 through its paces, and then produced an informative video that shows how it works. Click on the video above to see Kirsten use the MX-02 with her Anschütz rifle and other guns.

Kirsten Joy Weiss SCATT MX-02 Video Trainer demo electronic trace target live fire dry firing

Kirsten was impressed with the SCATT MX-02 she tested:

“We live with tech woven into our every day, so if you had the chance to work with a computer to make you a better shooter — would you? Can a computer train you as well as your favorite coach or, dare to say, better than a human?”

Weiss says it’s like having a little coach with you recording your every move. “If R2D2 had a cousin who knew how to shoot,” Weiss quips, “his name would be the MX-02″.

The SCATT MX-02 can also be used with target pistols.
Kirsten Joy Weiss SCATT MX-02 Video Trainer demo electronic trace target live fire dry firing

Permalink - Videos, Competition, Shooting Skills No Comments »
November 8th, 2014

New 2500 Series Rear-Lug Rimfire Actions from Stiller Precision

Stiller’s Precision Firearms is now offering its new line of rear lug, benchrest-grade rimfire actions, the 2500X (single-shot) and the 2500XS (sporter class mag-fed). These actions have already performed superbly in competition (see below). These actions represent the state-of-the-art in rimfire receivers. Top rimfire benchrest shooters are building rifles around the new Stiller actions and the results have been very promising. These actions offer true benchrest-grade manufacturing tolerances plus a superior firing pin system that should allow greater shot-to-shot consistency. Expect fewer unexplained fliers with these Stiller actions compared with older, factory-based actions (such as the Rem 40X).

Stiller 2500X Rimfire Action
Stiller 2500X action rimfire benchrest

The 2500X is Stiller’s new rear lug rimfire benchrest action. This features an Anschutz-style loading ramp, center recoil slot, side bolt release, and a unique shroud/firing pin system for perfect alignment (and more consistent ignition). Unlike many rimfire actions, the 2500X has a trigger hanger for easy trigger maintenance. The 2500X’s body and bolt are crafted from 416R stainless steel with a nitride finish for smooth and trouble-free operation. The outside is OD ground after nitriding for precise tolerances and a distinctive two-tone look.

Stiller 2500SX Rimfire Sporter Action
Stiller 2500X action rimfire benchrest

The 2500XS is a rear lug rimfire benchrest action for the Sporter Class. The “XS” model features a Sako magazine and easy-to-use loading ramp. Like the 2500X, the “XS” has an advanced shroud/firing pin system, plus a trigger hanger for easy trigger maintenance. The bolt and body are nitrided, 416R stainless OD ground for a dimensionally precise, two-tone finish. This lightweight action is specifically designed for IR50/50 sporter class benchrest. It comes with one (1) magazine.

Proof of Performance — 2500X Action Shoots 250-25X
Mike Kuklis’s new rimfire BR rifle built on a Stiller 2500X action delivered an impressive 250-25X in competition last week. Mike drilled this superb 250-25X card at the Tuckertown BR Barn on the way to a 1000-86X match win. Credit J. Miller for the photos from Benchrest Central.

Stiller 2500X action rimfire benchrest

Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Gunsmithing, New Product 1 Comment »