June 2nd, 2018

Key INFO for 2018 National Matches at Camp Atterbury, Indiana

NRA National Matches Camp Atterbury Indiana High Power Service Rifle

National High Power Matches / July 5-24, 2018 / Camp Atterbury, Edinburgh, Indiana

This year, as in 2017, the NRA National High Power Matches will be held at Camp Atterbury in Indiana (no more Camp Perry). The Rifle National Matches, scheduled for July 5-24, will include the High Power Championship, the Long Range Championship, and the Mid-Range Championship, along with other special events. The National Matches attract many of North America’s top marksmen every year. While some competitors miss the Camp Perry experience, we have heard very positive feedback about Camp Atterbury from those who have actually shot there. They like the venue and the ranges.

Get Nat’l Match High Power Program HERE | See Nat’l Match Fee Schedule HERE

NRA National Matches Camp Atterbury Indiana High Power Service Rifle

IMPORTANT: If you want to compete at the National High Power Matches you need to register soon. Entries must be received by Saturday, June 18 for online submissions, and Wednesday, July 2 (by 2:00 p.m.) for on-site and mail-in entries.* For online entry, please visit www.nmentry.com and follow the instructions there. Entry via mail must be made on the appropriate entry card, and be accompanied by full entry fees. To receive an entry card via mail, please email comphelp@nrahq.org. All entries are processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Mailing address for entries is: Camp Atterbury, P.O. Box 5000, Edinburgh, IN 46124 ATTN: NRA. Please note, the postmark will NOT be used to determine whether or not an entry makes the deadline.

NRA National Matches Camp Atterbury Indiana High Power Service Rifle
This article was prepared with information from the NRA and Shooting Sports USA.

How is Camp Atterbury as a match venue? Very good. Here is a report from a 2017 Nat’l Match competitor, as posted on Facebook:

Just got back from U.S. Nationals at Camp Atterbury … Here are my observations:

1. The range was outstanding. Facing the south wasn’t a problem.
2. On-base accommodations were great and inexpensive.
3. The base is only 45 min from Indianapolis International Airport.
4. The base is close to towns with restaurants and shopping.
5. The transportation to and from the pits [was in] air conditioned vans.
6. By all accounts the event ran smoothly.

NRA National Matches Camp Atterbury Indiana High Power Service Rifle
Long Range competitors at 2017 NRA National High Power Rifle Championships.

National Matches at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, 2018 Schedule:

Monday, July 2: NRA Range Personnel Arrive
Tuesday, July 3: NRA Orientation
Thursday, July 5: High Power Rifle Packet Pickup
Friday, July 6: Whistler Boy Junior Team, 2nd Amendment Team Match, NRA Awards Ceremony, Competitor Meeting
Saturday, July 7 – Wednesday, July 11: NRA High Power Rifle (awards ceremony on concluding day)
Thursday, July 12: Long Range Packet Pickup and Competitor Meeting
Friday, July 13 – Monday, July 16: NRA Long Range (awards ceremony on concluding day)
Tuesday, July 17: NRA Long Range Palma, Palma Team Awards Ceremony
Wednesday, July 18 – Saturday, July 21: NRA Mid Range Individual
Sunday, July 22: NRA Mid Range Teams, Mid Range Awards Ceremony
Monday, July 23: Range Clean Up/Clear Out

For a more detailed calendar, with event times, view the Nat’l Matches High Power Program PDF.

NRA National Matches Camp Atterbury Indiana High Power Service Rifle
2017 marked the first year the NRA National High Power Championships were held in Indiana at Camp Atterbury. Previously they took place at Camp Perry in Ohio.

Competitor Badges and Info Packets
All competitors must pick up a packet for their particular discipline on the dates listed below. Without exception, an ID badge for each team member must be provided before packets will be issued.

Thursday, July 5: NRA High Power 9:00 a.m.
Wednesday, July 11: One Mile Shot 9:00 a.m.
Thursday, July 12: NRA Long Range 1:00 p.m.
Tuesday, July 17: NRA Mid-Range 9:00 a.m.

Lodging at Camp Atterbury and Nearby
There is on-base lodging — rooms and cabins will be available to all competitors 18 and over. To book a room, or for any questions about lodging, please call (812) 526-1128. Camp Atterbury lodging includes suites and standard rooms as well as the MWR Campground and the MWR Cabins. Lodging is controlled by the Camp Atterbury Lodging Office, not by the NRA. Entry fees DO NOT include lodging costs. There are also a number of hotels nearby, including Charwood Suites. Nearby campground Johnson County Park also offers special rates for High Power competitors.


*Four exceptions to this rule are: Whistler Boy and 2nd Amendment (High Power; by mail or onsite) which will be accepted until Thursday, July 5, and Enlisted Men’s and Rumbold and RNDC (High Power; by mail or onsite) which will be accepted until Friday, July 6.

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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

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February 10th, 2018

Berger SWN 2018 — Friday Match and Gear Highlights

Berger SW Nationals John Whidden Palma F-TR
Reigning NRA National Long-Range Champion John Whidden in action on the 1000-yard line. John’s rifle features a centerfire action in an aluminum Anschutz small-bore stock.

There are now two more days left for the 2018 Berger SW Nationals, with the competition heating up. From this point on, all shooting will be at 1000 yards. Friday was challenging, with increasing wind velocities over the day. Shifts were harder to figure out, and some talented shooters dropped 8-10 points. Competition was fierce. In the sling division, our friend Gary Eliseo of Competition Machine came out on top via tie-breaker. Gary and Stuart Mackey shot identical scores on Friday at each distance: 150-8X, 150-7X, and 149-8X, both finishing with 449-23X. That’s as close as it gets.

One shot left… will that last bullet end up in the X-ring? We hope so…

Saturday Shooting — Team and Individual Competition at 1000
Today, Saturday 2/10/18, all shooting will be at 1000 yards, with both Individual and 4-person Team competition. The format calls for two, 20-shot matches for both individuals and teams. Good luck to all!

MATCH RESULTS: Complete Daily Scores and On-Going Match Standings are posted on the McMillan Fiberglass Stocks Facebook Page. Here are Top Five in each Division, at day’s end on Friday, 2/9/2018:

Top Five F-Open
Bob Sebold — 449-30X
Danny J. Biggs — 449-26X
Jay Christopherson — 448-28X
Stephen Potter — 448-23X
Ubaldino De Arellano — 448-23X
Top Five F-TR
Ellis Berry — 448-26X
Peter Johns — 448-25X
Philip Kelley Jr. — 448-21X
Doug Boyer — 447-27X
Greg Barkley — 447-23X
Top Five Sling
Gary Eliseo — 449-23X
Stuart Mackey — 449-23X
Bill Vaughn — 448-28X
Curtis Gordon — 448-23X
Nancy Tompkins — 447-30X

No Worries Mate — Mark Swaps Stocks in Mid-Match

Berger SW Nationals Mark Fairburn Australia  Palma F-TR

Australian Mark Fairbairn performed a “Quick Fix” during Thursday’s match. His F-Open rifle, in a conventional fiberglass stock, was giving him random vertical during one yardage: “I had a bit of a problem with elevation — the stock was hitting somewhere [causing vertical]. I was X-X-X then a shot popped up in the 9 ring with no good reason. So I figured I better put a new stock on it. I got my old aluminium stock I brought from Australia and quickly adjusted it to fit on the Stolle.” Right on the berm he swapped his barreled action into the metal stock of his own design. The clock was ticking… but the story had a happy ending. For the next yardage Mark shot a brilliant 150-7X, not dropping a point. So the “Quick Fix” did the trick. As they say Down Under — “Good on Ya, Mate!”

Patriotic Pair of Stars and Stripes F-Open Rigs

Berger Stars Stripes rifles SWN F-TR

There were two very patriotic F-Open rifles side-by-side on the firing line yesterday. These Stars and Stripes rigs were squadded right next to each other just by chance — but it made for a great show.

Like Father, Like Daughter — The Cortinas

Berger SW Nationals Erik Amber Cortina F-Class Sling Palma F-TR

Erik Cortina, member of Team Lapua/Brux/Borden, is one of the nation’s top F-Class shooters. But on Friday he was only the second-best Cortina at 1000 yards. Erik’s daughter, Amberleeana, posted a 147-7X to edge her Dad by 3 Xs (Erik scored 147-4X) from the 1000-yard line.

F-Class is for Everyone – All Ages, Guys AND Gals

Berger SW Nationals female shooter F-Class Sling Palma F-TR

F-Class is not just a man’s game. There were many lady shooters on the firing line, in both F-Open and F-TR Divisions. Some shooting instructors says females learn faster than their male counterparts, so they can excel quickly in the shooting sports.

Cool Gadget (Literally) — The BarrelCool Device

Barrel Cool F-Class Sling Palma F-TR

The clever BarrelCool is a dual-purpose device that serves as an Empty Chamber Indicator (ECI) while cooling your barrel with a battery-powered fan. This is American ingenuity at its best.

Spotting Scope Support Arm Attached to Front Rest

Berger SW Nationals Richard King F-Class Sling Palma F-TR

Texas gunsmith Richard King of King’s Armory had a very clever set-up for his spotting scope. He has fabricated a support arm that holds the spotter very close to his rifle. With this configuration, Richard can view through the spotting scope without shifting his position on the rifle. This puts the spotting scope’s eyepiece just a few inches from his riflescope eyepiece so he can move easily from one optic to the other. This set-up also reduces the amount of gear Richard carries to the line. No separate spotting scope base, stand, or tripod is needed. This is a simple, elegant solution. We bet, with a little tinkering and design work, a similar system could be mounted to a SEB or Bald Eagle front rest

Labor of Love — Do-It-Yourself F-TR Stock Milled from Aluminum

Berger SW Nationals Erik Cortina F-Class Sling Palma F-TR

We saw many interesting F-TR rigs. Here’s an one-of-a-kind stock, machined from aluminum billet by shooter/owner Mark Roberts of Lone Star Tumblers. There are a ton of man-hours in this unique stock.

Bird’s Eye Ben Avery — A Look at the Range

If you’ve never visited the Ben Avery Facility north of Phoenix, Arizona, here is a video shot in 2016 that shows the 1000-yard range (including drone footage). The desert range at Ben Avery is something special — check out this “birds-eye view”. This video also includes an interview with Derek Rodgers, the current F-TR World Champion, King of 2 Miles, and the only man who who has earned both F-Open AND F-TR National titles.

Ben Avery by Air — We are repeating this 2016 video here because it has a great aerial view of the Mid Tompkins 1000-yard Range at Ben Avery

Erik Stecker of Berger Bullets visited the match Friday. Here he talks with members of Team Berger Bullets. Eric now oversees operations of Berger, as part of the Capstone Precision Group (Berger, Lapua, SK, Vihtavuori). That’s Walt Berger in the background in the red shirt.

Berger SW Nationals Capstone Precision Berger Bullets F-Class Sling Palma F-TR

There were plenty of smiles on the firing line — the Berger SW Nationals event offers great weather, great competition, great camaraderie, and a great prize table.

Berger SW Nationals Erik Cortina F-Class Sling Palma F-TR

Swap-Meet at Ben Avery
After the matches concluded on Friday, a Swap Meet was held in the Club House. There were some great bargains to be found. Can you name the past National Champions in the background of this photo?

Berger SW Nationals Swap Meet Nancy Tompkins James Crofts F-Class Sling Palma F-TR

Parting Shot: Glamtactical by Cerus Rifleworks

Berger SW Nationals Capstone Precision Berger Bullets F-Class Sling Palma F-TR

We spotted a stunning “Glamtactical” rig from Cerus Rifleworks in the Nightforce booth. Believe it or not, Cerus owner Will McCloskey found this stunning wood buried in a “bargain bin”, and snagged the highly-figured walnut blank for under $10. Steal of the year! This rifle features a carbon-wrapped barrel with muzzle brake.

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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.

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October 13th, 2017

Three Champs — Bernosky, Tubb, Whidden — Talk Wind Reading

wind reading John Whidden, David Tubb, Carl Bernosky

In this article, three great champions reveal their wind-calling secrets in video interviews. We first published this “Three Champions” story a few years ago. If you are a competitive shooter, and you want to learn more about reading the wind, you should watch all three of these interviews. These guys are among the best shooters to ever shoulder a rifle, and they have much wisdom to share.

At the 2010 SHOT Show, we had the unique opportunity to corner three “superstars” of High Power shooting, and solicit their wind-reading secrets. In the three videos below (in alphabetical order), Carl Bernosky (10-Time Nat’l High Power Champion), David Tubb (11-time Nat’l High Power Champion and 7-time Nat’l Long-Range Champion), and John Whidden (5-Time Nat’l High Power Long-Range Champion) shared some of the wind-doping strategies that have carried them to victory in the nation’s most competitive shooting matches. This is GOLD folks… no matter what your discipline — be it short-range Benchrest or Long-Range High Power — watch these videos for valuable insights that can help you shoot more accurately, and post higher scores, in all wind conditions.

We were very fortunate to have these three extraordinarily gifted champions reveal their “winning ways”. These guys REALLY know their stuff. I thought to myself: “Wow, this is how a baseball fan might feel if he could assemble Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Ted Williams in the same room, and have them each reveal their hitting secrets.” Editor’s Note: These interviews were conducted before all three men won their most recent National Championships so the introductions may list a lower number of titles won. For example, John Whidden won back-to-back LR Championships in 2016 and 2017/

Top photo courtesy Rifleman’s Journal.

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July 25th, 2017

John Whidden Wins 2017 NRA Long Range Championship

Whidden Gunworks 2017 Long Range High Power National Champion Camp Atterbury Indiana

John Whidden of Whidden Gunworks has won his fifth Long Range National Championship, his second title in a row (he also won the LR Title in 2016). This year, competing at Camp Atterbury in Indiana, Whidden pulled together a gritty, come-from-behind victory. John won the title by shooting a perfect 450-28X (not dropping a point) in the final Palma match on the last day of the Long Range Championship. While Whidden, who finished at 1246-91X, edged runner-up Phillip Crowe (1245-68X) by just one point, John enjoyed a huge X-Count margin. Finishing third was past High Power and Long Range National Champion Nancy Tompkins (1244-65X). Here are the Top Ten finishers:

Whidden Gunworks 2017 Long Range High Power National Champion Camp Atterbury Indiana

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.

John liked the Camp Atterbury facility and he credited his equipment for his 2017 victory: “With the change to the new Camp Atterbury venue, many shooters were a little unsure how things were going to shake out. But it all turned out really well. All of my equipment shot fantastic all week long — that certainly made shooting a big score easier.”

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. 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.

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

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

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

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.

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 load is Vihtavuori N140 Powder with Berger 155gr Hybrid bullets. 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 Whidden Wonder-Gun for $4500.00
Like what you see — but wonder how much it will cost? Whidden Gunworks can build you a rig like this, fitting a centerfire barreled action in the Anschutz Precise stock. John tells us: “The price of a rifle like this one but without sights or mounts would be just under $4500.00. 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 6 Comments »
July 5th, 2017

How to Point Bullets — Whidden Bullet Pointing Tool Review

whidden bullet pointing die system kit
Jason Baney photo from Whidden Bullet Pointing Die Review.

Gear Review by GS Arizona

This article originally appeared in the Rifleman’s Journal website.
Many of you have doubtlessly read Bryan Litz’s articles in our Daily Bulletin and on his Applied Ballistics website about various current long-range bullets. Bryan’s work carries a great deal of weight in the world of ballistics, so his comments (and mathematical proofs) regarding the benefits of bullet pointing certainly caught my attention. Bullet pointing, like meplat trimming, is an effort to reduce the ballistic inconsistency created by the somewhat jagged tip of the jacket where the bullet forming dies bring it to a point in the manufacturing process. Of course, we could eliminate this problem altogether by shooting closed-tip, open-base bullets like the Lapua D46, but that merely shifts the jacket problem to the other end of the bullet.

Whidden Bullet pointer tool

In any event, hollow point bullets rule the accuracy world today, so John Whidden, multi-time National Long Range Champion and a talented gunsmith to boot, came up with a very handy tool to let us make those hollow points pointier. Let’s have a look at John’s tool and see how it works.

Whidden Bullet pointer tool

The Whidden Bullet Pointing Die System uses a Forster bullet seating die body as its basic structure and that’s a good choice given the quality machining Forster does on these. The real heart of the tool comes in two parts: the caliber sleeve and the pointing die that fits inside the sleeve. In fact, to point up different caliber bullets, you only need to change the caliber sleeve, everything else remains the same. The last item is the bullet base that slips into a standard .308 shellholder and supports the bullet as it goes into the die body.

It took me less than five minutes to get everything set up, including changing the caliber sleeve from 6mm to .30 caliber. John’s instruction sheets are well illustrated and clearly written; you should have no problem getting up and running.

Pointing the bullets is as easy as sizing a piece of brass. You can see in the second photo above the difference between a few pointed bullets and a few un-pointed ones. The innermost pointed bullet in the picture was my first attempt and I adjusted the die a little after that, you can see that the others are closed a little more. John even includes a couple of sample bullets so that you can see one done right and one done wrong. That is a nice addition that can help you achieve the desired results.

This YouTube Video Shows the Whidden Bullet Pointing Die in Action

I think Bryan’s work supports the validity of this concept and John’s tool puts it into practice in a simple-to-use manner that makes it just about impossible to do any damage to the bullet. I have shot pointed bullets in various calibers at many matches now. Pointing is not a “miracle cure”, but I believe that pointing bullet tips can produce long-range accuracy gains, through reduced vertical dispersion, for many popular types of match bullets. The Whidden Bullet Pointing Die System retails for $220.00 (with one insert). Additional die inserts are $42.00 each. Extra caliber sleeves are also $42.00. You can purchase directly from Whidden Gunworks, or from Sinclair International.

Whidden Bullet pointer tool

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip No Comments »
February 13th, 2017

Berger Southwest Nationals — 2017 Match Wrap-Up

Berger SW Nationals Final Report Match Results

The 2017 Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN) are now history. This was a great match, with extremely close competition, and record-setting scores. For the first few days, conditions were very mild. That allowed the “top guns” to shoot “cleans” and even set a few new National records. In individual competition, there were familiar faces among the Top Ten, but also some rising stars. In the F-Open and Sling team events, two new squads topped some of the experienced “all-star” teams. Overall it was a great match — one of the most tightly contested ever. Even with 400 competitors, everything ran smoothly. For those who attended the 2017 Berger SW Nationals, this has been a truly memorable week at Ben Avery. F-Open and F-TR Final Results Posted HERE.


This is our final Berger SW Nationals video for 2017, with interviews with the three class winners: John Whidden (Sling), David Gosnell (F-Open), Donald Erpenbach (F-TR).

Top Five Competitors in Each Class
SLING
John Whidden, 1248-84X
Adrian Harris, 1243-74X
Allen Thomas, 1242-65X
Justin Skaret, 1242-59X
Erik Rhode, 1241-59X
F-OPEN
David Gosnell, 1247-84X
Jay Christopherson, 1246-74X
Keith Glasscock, 1245-79X
Pat Scully, 1243-71X
Dan Bramley, 1243-70X
F-TR
Donald Erpenbach, 1230-53X
James Crofts, 1225-43X
Alan Barnhart, 1224-32X
Ian Klemm, 1222-55X
Bryan Litz, 1222-49X

Bryan Litz congratulates Sling winner John Whidden. John is reigning National Long Range Rifle Champion.
North by Southwest

Below are SWN F-Open Champion David Gosnell (left) and F-TR Winner Donald Erpenbach (right).
North by Southwest

Record-Setting Performances in 2017
This year Ben Avery conditions were very good — calm mornings, and little wind in the afternoons for the first three days. With the very calm Day 1-3 conditions, we witnessed some spectacular individual and team performances. Lester Bruno shot a brilliant 200-23X at 600 Yards, setting a new National record. Ian Klemm set a new 60-shot, 600-yard National record of 599-38X. The Cluster Ducks set a new National F-Open Team Record for 800/900/1000 yards with their 1789-100X Score. And the talented North-by-Southwest F-TR squad set both a National Record and an overall SWN match record.

The North-by-Southwest team won the 2017 SWN F-TR team event in fine fashion, setting new National and range records in the process.

North by Southwest

And here is Team Longshots, winner of the F-Open Team Title. Individual F-Open Champ David Gosnell is at far right. The winning Sling Team was Scotland Thistle.

North by Southwest

Forum Admin Finishes a Very Close Second in F-Open
Hats off to AccurateShooter.com’s very own Systems Admin, Jay Christopherson. A talented tech expert, Jay runs our web servers and manages our Forum software. His skills and dedication keep the Forum running smoothly, even as we approach 35,000 members. Jay shot a brilliant match at Ben Avery this week, finishing second in F-Open, just one point behind F-Open winner David Gosnell. We’re proud of Jay, and we want to recognize his achievement. It’s interesting to note that Jay shot the entire match with the new SEB Mini rest, and he was using a Vortex 15-60x52mm Golden Eagle scope. Here’s a short video of Jay shooting his .284 Win rifle on Saturday.

Berger SW Nationals Final Report Match Results

The show’s over — it’s time to pack up the gear and head on home. We’re already looking forward to the 2018 Berger SWN. See you next year!

Berger Southwest Nationals Phoenix Ben Avery

Berger Southwest Nationals Phoenix Ben Avery

Big News for Berger Bullets

Berger Southwest Nationals Phoenix Ben Avery

Big news in the Industry is that Berger Bullets is becoming part of the Nammo Group, parent of Lapua, Vihtavuori, SK and other companies. This major acquisition will combine Nammo’s resources and advanced engineering with Berger’s match-winning bullet designs and strong focus on competition. Yes, you can expect to see factory-loaded ammunition with Berger projectiles and premium Lapua brass. To learn more about the big Berger/Nammo deal, watch this interview with Berger President Erik Stecker.

Eric Stecker, Berger’s President, says the exact timing of the move has not yet been set, nor has the location been chosen. Arizona is high on the list of potential sites, but Berger is considering other states as well. Once the new factory location is determined, Eric says he expects the move to be completed “by December 2018 at the latest”.

Permalink - Videos, Competition, News 2 Comments »
February 11th, 2017

Berger SWN Day 3 Report — Individual 800, 900, 1000 Yards

Berger SWN 2017  match palma

Friday at the Ben Avery Range in Phoenix, hundreds of competitors shot the individual Palma Match, a three-yardage (800/900/1000) day-long event. Competition was tough. The first four F-Open competitors didn’t drop a single point, all finishing with 450-point “cleans”. In F-TR it was equally close. Phil Kelley won with 447-23X, but the next three finishers were just one point behind at 446. In the sling division, John Whidden topped a very strong field with his 449-31X score, showing why he is the reigning National Long-Range Champion. But the next four Sling competitors were just one point behind at 448 points.

Top Five Competitors in Each Class
SLING
John Whidden, 449-31X
Anette Wachter, 448-26X
Randy Teissedre, 448-24X
Robert Stekette, 448-23X
Allen Thomas, 448-22X
F-OPEN
David Gosnell, 450-38X
Keith Glasscock, 450-34X
Danny J. Biggs, 450-32X
Jay Christopherson, 450-25X
Gilber Lucero, 449-27X
F-TR
Philip Kelley, 447-23X
Donald Erpenbach, 446-21X
Richard Dixon, 446-20X
Alan Barnhart, 446-16X
Daniel Lentz, 445-16X

Berger SW Nationals DAY THREE Highlights Video:

The match can’t happen without the dedicated folks doing pit duty — it’s all part of the experience.
Berger SWN 2017 Litz Dawn Kestrel

Aussie Tim Lawrence’s stock was custom-built from Rosewood in New South Wales, Australia.
Berger SWN 2017 Australia F-TR

The state of the art in F-Open rifles is very high indeed. Check out this handsome F-Open rig with a Speedy-designed Shurley Brothers ARK series wood stock.
Berger SWN 2017 F-Open

Four F-Open Competitors All Shot Clean
Remarkably, the four top F-Open Competitors all shot “clean” 450s, not dropping a single point. That’s mighty impressive for a 45-shot match at three yardages. AccurateShooter’s Systems Manager Jay Christopherson, who finished fourth, said: “Shooting clean today doesn’t suck. Shooting clean and still taking 4th place is a little harder to accept. Extremely tough crowd of competitors, as always.”

Checking the wind at the beginning of the day. Dawn at Ben Avery is beautiful. (Photo by Steve Fiorenzo).
Berger SWN 2017 Litz Dawn Kestrel

Interview with Multi-Time Champions David Tubb and John Whidden
We had a chance to chat with David Tubb and John Whidden. Between the two of them, David and John have won 21 National Rifle Championships. David has 11 National High Power titles plus 6 Long-Range titles. Reigning National Long Range Champion John Whidden holds 4 Long-Range titles, having won his latest LR championship in 2016. David is truly a living legend in the world of competitive shooting and John is one of the best sling shooters in the game today, a man capable of winning any match he enters. In fact he did win Friday’s match in the Sling division, topping the field with a 449-21X.

Berger SW Nationals Gallery of Competitors

At the Berger SW Nationals we have the opportunity to meet old friends from all over the country and make new friends. Here are some folks we saw at yesterday’s match.

Here’s Friday’s Sling Class winner John Whidden (449-31X) buckling up right before his relay.

Berger SWN 2017 Noma Mayo palma

Noma Mayo, one of our great senior shooters. She’s always smiling and helping others…

Berger SWN 2017 Noma Mayo palma

Tom Whitaker (left) chats with Emil Praslick III (right), one of the best wind coaches in the world.

Berger SWN Praslick

Like father, like daughter. This smiling twosome is from Texas. Father David, an Accurateshooter Forum member, tells us: “Claudette turned 15 on the day we drove out, Tuesday, and this is her first Berger SWN match. She and my son Royse (17) have won Texas junior championships, but this match is the largest we’ve attended.”

Berger SWN Praslick

We caught past F-Open National Champion (and past SWN winner) Larry Bartholome logging his score at the 900-yard line. Larry is one of the greatest F-Open shooters ever. Larry posts in our Forum as “LBart”.

Berger SWN father daughter

And here’s the man who started it all, Walt Berger himself. Without his dream to build better bullets, and his hard work over many decades, there wouldn’t be this wonderful match each year. The popularity of this event is testimony to Walt’s dedication and passion for the sport. Walt still competes in Benchrest matches.

Berger SWN Walt Berger

Permalink News No Comments »
November 30th, 2016

Barnard Actions on Sale at Whidden Gunworks

Barnard Action Sale F-Class Competition Palma Repeater Whidden Gunworks John

Barnard makes great actions, many of which come complete with superb two-stage triggers. For a long-range competition rifle, a Barnard action is a very good choice. And now you can save up to $150.00 on Barnard Precision actions, complete with trigger. Our friend, 4-Time National Long-Range Champion John Whidden, decided to offer a special Holiday Promotion for shooters. A wide selection of Barnard actions have been discounted 10% (ten percent). This is a great opportunity to save money.

Whidden Gunworks has many Barnard actions on sale. These include repeater actions and actions that will fit large magnums — so there’s something for every application. John Whidden tells us: “As a part of this sale, Whidden Gunworks is offering $50 off barrel installations for any in-stock action sold. We have in-stock barrels from both Bartlein and Lilja. If you hurry, there is time to have your barrel installed on your new action by Christmas!”

This sale is limited to the models shown below and the inventory on hand:

Barnard Action Sale F-Class Competition Palma Repeater Whidden Gunworks John

Barnard Action Q & A with John Whidden

Q: In addition to the Model P, What Other Actions Does Barnard Produce?

Whidden: Many shooters familiar with the Barnard Model P, but we now carry six (6) other Barnard actions. These include the PC action with multiple bolt/port options, the Model SM repeater (with Rem 700 footprint), and the PLM which is a perfect fit for the big .338 Lapua Magnum cartridge.

Q: What Are the Key Features of Barnard Actions?

Whidden: Barnard actions have won a reputation for accuracy, robustness, and exceptional straightness and quality in manufacture. Their design is very rigid and stiff. The three-lug bolt gives a short bolt-lift. These qualities are available in the full line of of Barnard actions. The fact that many models include the excellent Barnard trigger make them a good value among custom actions.

Q: What Barnard Actions Do You Recommend for Particular Disciplines?

Whidden: For those interested in F-Class and Long Range Benchrest shooting styles the Model PC is very attractive. The PC is the same size and footprint as the familiar Model P except that the PC offers different bolt/port configurations. Available in the PC are right bolt/left port, left bolt/right port, and dual ports. The Model S and SM actions will accept Remington pattern triggers and fit into stocks inletted for the Rem 700. This gives PRS shooters the chance to have a superb action with a three-lug configuration for their use. The PL and PLM are sized for the .338 Lapua Magnum cartridge and wildcats based on that case-head size.

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing, Hot Deals 1 Comment »
October 4th, 2016

Stabilize Your ARs and Sporter Rifles with Front Plates

whidden Track Plate track plate

When doing load development for any rifle, it’s nice to be able to shoot from the bench with a stable front pedestal rest. Unfortunately, rifles with narrow fore-ends and ARs with tubular handguards can be somewhat wobbly on front bags. The solution is to attach a forward bag-rider to your rifle. This provides a nice, wide and flat base that sits securely in a benchrest-style front sandbag. A wide bag-rider helps prevent the gun from rocking, steadies your aim, and improves tracking. If you’re handy with tools, you can craft your own bag-rider from metal, wood, or Delrin, but there’s an easier option. Whidden Gunworks offers a nicely-engineered “bolt-on” front plate that will enhance the bench-rested accuracy of any rifle with an accessory rail on the forearm.

The Whidden Track Plate fits securely in the forearm accessory rail on prone, cross-the-course, and Palma rifles. These guns typically have a narrow and/or rounded fore-end so they rock and wobble when used with a front pedestal rest. The TrackPlate cures that. Once installed it provides a rock-solid, 2.9″-wide platform that mates perfectly with a benchrest-type front sandbag. This gives sling-shooters maximum stability when testing loads or zeroing their sights or scope. Plus you can now shoot F-Class competitively with a prone gun.

The Track Plate is light-weight, has catamaran-style runners to aid tracking and prevent rocking, and can be easily stowed in a range bag. The machined aluminum Track Plate fits BOTH Anschutz-style and American-style recessed forearm rails.

The Track Plate is available from Whidden Gunworks for $40.99 or from Champion’s Choice for $40.00 (item W29P). Plate designer (and National LR Rifle Champion) John Whidden says: “The Plate is great for any rifle with a rail whether it ís smallbore, centerfire, or an air gun. Now you can try F-Class with your favorite prone rifle: the Plate has a perfect low-drag finish for riding a rest or sandbags and is competition legal in all dimensions.”

Front Bag-Rider for AR-15s from EGW
Similar to the Whidden Track Plate is a 3″-wide Delrin bag-rider from Evolution Gun Works (EGW). This was developed expressly to fit the fore-ends of AR15-type rifles with round float tubes. The EGW front bag-rider attaches to a front sling swivel stud anchor. That allows it to mount as easily as a Harris bipod — no rail needed! Just unscrew the swivel stud, put the front bag-rider in place and attach one hex-head machine screw. The front bag-rider is contoured to match the handguard profile so it fits securely with no wobble. Overall, it is a slick system. Front and rear bag-riders can be attached in a couple of minutes. The Delrin blocks slide easily in the bags and make the gun ultra-stable. The gun tracks straight back. The front bag-rider comes in two (2) variants, a $39.99 radiused version (item 32141) that attaches via swivel stud, and a $49.99 version (item 32143) that mounts via a Picatinny-style rail.

EGW AR Front Bag-Rider System

EGW Picatinny Rail-Attached Front Bag-Rider

EGW Rear Bag-Rider for AR Buttstocks
EGW also offers a REAR bag-rider that attaches via the sling swivel anchor. The EGW AR Rear Bag-Rider accessory (item 32142), designed to work with A2-style buttstocks, sells separately for $39.99. This rear bag-rider provides a longer, straight “keel” that works very well in rear sandbags, giving the rifle more stability, and improving the tracking.

EGW Rear bag-rider

Permalink Gear Review, Tactical No Comments »
September 30th, 2016

John Whidden’s Anschutz-Barnard .308 Win Palma Rifle

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

This feature story is the third (and final) installment of a three-part series by 2016 National Long-Range Champion John Whidden. In this article John, who runs Whidden Gunworks, talks about the Palma rifle he used at the 2016 Camp Perry National Matches. 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 Anchutz 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.

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 the 2016 NRA Long Range National Championships 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 2016 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.

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 Whidden Wonder-Gun for $4500.00
Like what you see — but wonder how much it will cost? Whidden Gunworks can build you a rig like this, fitting a centerfire barreled action in the Anschutz Precise stock. John tells us: “The price of a rifle like this one but without sights or mounts would be just under $4500.00. 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 2 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 »
August 17th, 2016

Whidden on Winning at Long Range: Part 1 — The Wind

Camp Perry John Whidden Wind Reading Long Range Championship

John Whidden of Whidden Gunworks won his fourth Long Range National Championship at Camp Perry this month. In this article, the first of a three-part series on Long Range competition, John shares his thoughts on wind strategies and keeping one’s composure in pressure situations. John tells us Camp Perry was very challenging this year: “The 2016 Long Range Championship will go down in my memory as one with quick wind changes that made it very easy to shoot a 9.”

How to Win at Long Range Shooting
(Or at least what worked at the 2016 National Championships)

by John Whidden, 2016 National Long Range Champion
The NRA Long Range National Championships at Camp Perry Ohio are now in the history books and the competitors are home and reflecting on what they could have done to improve their score. I think anyone who has ever competed always knows they could have done even better if they had changed this detail or that aspect. This is the case regardless of where a shooter places in the standings, even for the winners.

John Whidden National Long Range Championship Camp Perry 2016 Wind Reading

This year the winds were reasonably tough. We mostly have either headwinds or winds from the 2-3 O’clock positions with speeds often in the 9-11 mph range. The changes came quickly and we had to be on our toes. Fortunately the course of fire allows the shooters some options. For the 1000-yard matches, we typically have 33 minutes for preparation, an unlimited number of sighter shots, and then 20 shots for record. Many shooters will shoot about 3-5 sighters and complete the task in about 15 minutes.

The 2016 Long Range Championship was definitely a match where you had to fight for every point during the whole event.

In preparation for shooting by watching the wind, I realized that the quick changes were going to add to the difficulty. Given the conditions, I chose a strategy of choosing only one condition to shoot in and waiting during any changes away from my desired condition. This plan meant that I would have to be very patient and plan to use all of my 33 minutes allotted time if needed.

The sun was shining for most of the matches so we had mirage to look at. There are plenty of flags at Camp Perry and I was glad for them!

As the wind speeds get higher I think a shooter should study the appearance of the flags. Some people look at the flag, and some really LOOK at the flags. The difference is observing things like how many ripples are in the flag, how far the flag stands off the pole, the angle of the flag in a headwind or tailwind, and how high the tip of the flag is relative to where the flag is attached to the pole. These details make all of the difference.

Time Management and Patience
Patience in wind reading can be a virtue. Choosing a condition and being patient has probably yielded more success in my long range wind reading than any other method. It’s not the only way to go, but on a day when you have time available and patience on your side it can yield a win! It should be obvious now that keeping a timer and managing the available time along with the number of shots remaining is an important part of this.

John Whidden National Long Range Championship Camp Perry 2016 Wind Reading
John Whidden National Long Range Championship Camp Perry 2016 Wind Reading

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
August 9th, 2016

Hail the 2016 High Power and Long Range National Champions

Norman Norm Houle High Power John Whidden 2016 National Long Range High Power Championship Camp Perry Barnard Action

We congratulate Norman Houle, the 2016 National High Power Champion, and John Whidden, the 2016 National Long Range Champion. Norm secured his win with an impressive 2384-130X score. Along with the title of National Champion, Norm received a Mumma Trophy Plaque, a National Champion Medallion, Krieger Barrels Certificate, Trijicon Scope, and Geissele Certificate. In second place was last year’s champion, SFC Brandon Green of the USAMU. Brandon, who won the 2015 and 2013 High Power Championships, finished with a score of 2381-120X. In third place was SGT Nick Mowrer with 2381-114X, a very impressive score with a Service Rifle. (SGT Mowrer won the Service Rifle Championship.)

Norman Norm Houle High Power John Whidden 2016 National Long Range High Power Championship Camp Perry Barnard Action

John Whidden is always strong at Camp Perry (file photo from past event).
John Whidden 2016 National High Power Championship Camp Perry Barnard Action

Whidden Wins Long Range Championship
In the Long Range Competition (Tompkins Trophy Match), John Whidden of Whidden Gunworks topped the field with a very strong 1240-77X performance. This victory secured John’s fourth Long Range National title. As in the High Power Championship, in the Long Range event SFC Brandon Green also finished in second place (1238-67X). Rounding out the Long Range podium was William Gelet with a 1238-57X tally. With his Long Range Championship win, Whidden took home a Tompkins Trophy Plaque, a Gold Championship Medallion, and a $500 Berger Bullets Certificate.

John campaigned three rifles he smithed himself. These feature Barnard actions in modified Anschutz smallbore stocks. For the open-caliber events, John shot .243 Win-chambered rifles with 6mm 105gr Berger Hybrids. For the Palma matches he shot a .308 Win with 155gr Berger Hybrids. John’s ammo was loaded on Whidden dies of course. During the Long Range cycle, matches were shot with both iron sights and scopes. John had two different .243 Win rifles, one fitted with iron sights, the other with a scope.

Norman Norm Houle High Power John Whidden 2016 National Long Range High Power Championship Camp Perry Barnard Action

High Power Hardware: The Guns of Perry

We thought our readers would like to see some of the ultra-accurate rifles campaigned by High Power competitors at Camp Perry. Both bolt-action and self-loading rifles are popular. Among bolt guns, Tubb 2000s and Eliseo tubeguns are popular. Semi-auto AR platform “Space Guns” offer some advantages (particularly during rapid-fire and for standing position), and are favored by many of the top marksmen. Many Camp Perry High Power competitors are also shooting less exotic AR service rifles.

Tubb 2000 with a shortened handguard, and custom hand support bracket forward of mag well.
Camp Perry AR15 Tubegun High Power Space Gun Tubb 2000 Rifle Standing

The modern AR Space Gun, scoped version. Note the side charging handle, and absence of forward assist. A block fitted under the handguard helps with the standing position. The scope is mounted on a “piggy-back” rail that extends forward of upper receiver’s built-in rail.
Camp Perry AR15 Tubegun High Power Space Gun Tubb 2000 Rifle Standing

Photos Courtesy NRABlog.com.

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February 26th, 2016

Whidden Explains How to Find the Optimal Neck Bushing Size

John Whidden Dies Neck Bushing diameter reloading

Whidden Gunworks makes great sizing and seating dies. The Whidden full-length sizing die with neck bushing is very popular because it allows you to “tune” the neck tension by using different bushings, with larger or smaller inside diameters. In this video, John Whidden explains how to choose a the right bushing size for use with your neck-sizing and full-length sizing bushing dies.

For most applications, John suggest starting with the caliper-measured outside diameter of a loaded cartridge (with your choice of bullet), and then SUBTRACT about three thousandths. For example, if your loaded round mics at .333, then you would want to start with a 0.330 neck bushing. John notes, however, that you may want to experiment with bushings, going down a thousandth and up a thousandth. With thin In addition, as your brass ages and the necks harden, you may want to change your bushing size.

John Whidden Dies Neck Bushing diameter reloadingQuick Tip: Try Flipping Your Bushings
You may also want to experiment with “flipping” your neck bushings to alternate the side that first contacts the neck of the case. (One side of the bushing is usually marked with the size, while the other side is unmarked.) So try “number side up” as well as “number side down”. Some folks believe that one side of the bushing may allow a smoother entry, and that this can enhance concentricity. Other people think they can get very slightly more or less neck tension depending on how the bushing is oriented. This is a subtle effect, but it costs nothing to experiment. If one bushing orientation proves better you can mark the “up” side with nail polish so that you can always orient the bushing optimally. NOTE: We have confirmed that some bushings are actually made with a slight taper. In addition, bushings may get distorted slightly when the brand name and size is stamped. Therefore there IS a reason to try both orientations.

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February 13th, 2016

Individual Palma Competition on Day 3 of Berger SW Nationals

2016 Berger Southwest Nationals SW

The Individual Palma Match kicked off Friday at the Berger Southwest Nationals. While still mostly calm, conditions were more variable and tricky. James Crofts told us that you had to watch both the mirage AND the flags, because sometimes a change appeared on the flags before you could see anything in the mirage. The top shooters were scanning the range constantly for any velocity or angle change. If you don’t pay attention to the flags, James said, “you’ll be out in the nine ring”.

Watch Video with Highlights from Day 3 of Berger SWN, including James Crofts Interview:

Our good friend John Whidden, a past National Long-Range Champion, brought his “A Game” Friday, topping the Sling Division with 449-33X. Competition was fierce with five sling shooters finishing with the same 449 points, separated only by X-Count: Whidden (33X), Oliver Milanovic (31X), Rick Hunt (25X), Michael Barlow (25X), and Steven Powell (22X).

2016 Berger Southwest Nationals SW
John Whidden file photo from 2015

In F-Open, the top three shooters for the day were: Ken Padilla (448-25X), John Myers (447-32X), and Kenny Adams (447-24X). In F-TR Dan Lentz topped the Field with 447-24X, followed by Derek Rodgers and Justin Bertino (both at 445-23X). Ryan Pierce noted that Dan Lentz’s performance for the day beat all but three of the F-Open shooters: “Extremely impressive is Dan Lentz 447-24X F-TR score [which] tied Kenny Adams’s third-place F-Open Aggregate. Shooting .308 Win off a bipod and keeping up with the 7mms and 30 Cal magnums is outstanding. Good shooting Dan.”

2016 Berger Southwest Nationals SW

2016 Berger Southwest Nationals SW

Interesting Hardware

New Speedy F-Open Stock (Jeff Reed, owner)

Speed Gonzalez F-Open Stock

Speed Gonzalez F-Open Stock

F-Open competitor Jeff Reed has a new F-Open rig with the brand new Speedy Gonzales laminated stock. Jeff says he loves the stock, saying it “tracks like a dream”. Jeff also likes the recoil-reduction system fitted at the rear of the stock. This really makes a difference for the big calibers says Jeff. If you’re curious, that’s an IOR Valdada 12-52x56mm scope with a 40mm main tube on top of Jeff’s rifle. It features 25 MOA of elevation in one rotation of the turret.

Spotting Scope Mounted to Front Rest

Speed Gonzalez F-Open Stock

Gunsmith Richard King of Texas has mounted his spotting scope directly to his Farley front rest. Very clever. This puts the spotter eyepiece just a few inches from his riflescope eyepiece so he can move easily from one optic to the other. This set-up also reduces the amount of gear Richard carries to the line. No separate spotting scope base, stand or horizontal mounting arm is required. This is a simple, elegant solution. We bet, with a little tinkering and design work, a similar system could be mounted to a SEB or Bald Eagle front rest. Note, it may appear that the lens is obscured by the front clamp, but that’s just the camera angle. We looked through the spotting scope and everything is clear.

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February 11th, 2016

Three National Champions Reveal How to Read the Wind

Blast from the Past: As we get set up in Phoenix for the 2016 Berger Southwest Nationals, we thought we’d revisit one of our more interesting features from a few years back. At the 2010 SHOT Show, we had the unique opportunity to corner three “superstars” of High Power shooting, and solicit their wind-reading secrets. Carl Bernosky, David Tubb, and John Whidden all shared some championship-caliber wind wisdom in video interviews. If you shoot competitively, you’ll want to watch these videos. David’s video is worth watching twice because some of the key points he makes go by pretty quickly.

In the three videos below (in alphabetical order), Carl Bernosky (10-Time Nat’l High Power Champion), David Tubb (11-time Nat’l High Power Champion and 7-time Nat’l Long-Range Champion), and John Whidden (2-Time Nat’l High Power Long-Range Champion) shared some of the wind-doping strategies that have carried them to victory in the nation’s most competitive shooting matches. This is GOLD folks… no matter what your discipline — be it short-range Benchrest or Long-Range High Power — watch these videos for valuable insights that can help you shoot more accurately, and post higher scores, in all wind conditions.

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We were very fortunate to have these three extraordinarily gifted champions reveal their “winning ways”. These guys REALLY know their stuff. I thought to myself: “Wow, this is how a baseball fan might feel if he could assemble Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Ted Williams in the same room, and have them each reveal their hitting secrets.” Editor’s Note: These interviews were conducted before Bernosky and Tubb won their most recent National Championships.

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July 31st, 2015

Long Shots — Images from the Long Range Championships

This week, many of the world’s top marksmen have been competing at the National Long Range High Power Rifle Championships, held 29-31 July, 2015 at Camp Perry. The distances are great (1000 yards maximum) as are the challenges — the fickle winds blowing off Lake Erie can be unpredictable.

This year is extra special. The USA hosts the World Fullbore Long Range Championships next week at Camp Perry. The World Championships are held every four years, but any country may only host the event every 25 years. That means the next Fullbore Worlds in the USA could not take place before 2040. This year, teams from 11 countries will compete for national honors (and serious bragging rights). Many top international shooters have already arrived, and they are using the NRA Long Range High Power Championships as a “prelim” for the Fullbore Worlds next week.

Ace ISSF 300m shooter Reya Kempley shoots a hybrid rig with a Stolle Panda Action in an Anschütz smallbore-type metal stock.

Reya Kempley long range high power

Here’s the same rifle, as fitted with hand rest for position shooting. CLICK to Zoom:
Reya Kempley long range high power

British Palma Shooter David Luckman hung tough after suffering a dissappointing 8 (low right) on his first record shot. After serving up that 8 at 4 o’clock, David fought back, shooting all tens and Xs for the rest of his 10-shot string. (Orange stickers show record shots — the yellow dots mark sighters.) David doesn’t crack under pressure — he won the 2012 Long Range Championship at Camp Perry, and he is the reigning ICFRA World Long Range Fullbore (Palma) Rifle Champion.

Palma David Luckman UK Camp Perry long range high power

Those targets are placed a long way off. Now imagine trying to shoot half-MOA with iron sights.

Camp Perry 2015 long range high power

Past Long-Range Champion John Whidden shows good form. John runs a centerfire action in an Anschütz metal smallbore stock. He smithed this rig himself. John favors the ergonomics and adjustability of the Anschütz stock. He also really likes the small-diameter, rounded forearm on this design. “This stock suits me really well”, John told us.

John Whidden Anchutz Camp Perry long range high power

This competitor has an Eliseo (Competition Machine) Tubegun in Patriotic Stars and Stripes Livery.

Gary Eliseo Tubegun Camp Perry long range high power

This U.S. Marine Corps shooter campaigned a classic “Battle Rifle” in the LR Championship, firing a semi-auto version of the M14. It looks like he named the rifle “Lucy”.

Reya Kempley long range high power

Photos from 2015 NRA Long Range High Power Rifle Championships courtesy NRABlog.com.

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May 19th, 2015

U.S.A. Palma Team Practices at Camp Perry

U.S. Palma Team Camp Perry Ohio World Championships

U.S. Palma Team Camp Perry Ohio World ChampionshipsThe Fullbore (Palma) World Championships will be held at Camp Perry, Ohio this summer. The American squad arrived a bit early — for a few days of team practice. Our friend Anette Wachter (aka 30 Cal Gal) is in Ohio with Team USA and she posted some photos on Facebook. Skies were gray, but that didn’t deter the American shooters who practiced their shooting under the watchful eyes of top wind coaches.

Take a look at the photo above. How many ace American shooters can you spot? Here’s one hint — pulling the black wheeled case is John Whidden, past U.S. Long-Range National Champion.

At right is the first bit of Team USA swag. Anette says there is more to come — team shirts and jackets were sized and ordered for all the U.S.A. shooters and coaches.

(more…)

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