September 12th, 2021

Sunday GunDay: John Whidden’s New .223 Rem Palma Rifle

Whidden Gunworks .223 Remington Barnard Action Palma fullbore
Whidden Gunworks .223 Remington Barnard Action Palma fullbore

.223 Rem for Long Range Palma, by John Whidden (5-Time Nat’l LR Champion)
We’ve seen quite an amount of interest in recent years in .223s for Long Range Palma shooting. Yes, the .223 Remington is a pretty light cartridge for long range use, but the specific rules of Palma shooting make it a choice worth considering.

Back in 2019, the Int’l Confederation of Fullbore Rifle Associations (ICFRA), the international governing body for Palma shooting, made a rule change allowing .223 Rem rifles to use bullets of less than 91 grains. Previously the rule allowed the use of bullets less than 81 grains in the .223 Rem, and we have long had the popular option of .308s shooting bullets less than 156 grains. These heavier bullets such as the 85.5gr Berger LR Hybrid and 90gr Berger VLD make the .223s quite competitive in the wind with the old standby .308 Winchester. The .223 does hold the obvious advantage of much lower recoil than the .308. [Editor: The reduced recoil is quite noticeable in the video below where John is shooting his .223 Rem rifle.]

John Whidden Shoots .223 Rem Palma Rifle with 90gr Berger VLDs

Watch video at 00:25 and you’ll see the recoil of Whidden’s .223 Rem Palma rifle is significantly less than a .308 Win Palma rig. John joked: “With the .223 Rem there is just a pop and a wiggle after the shot.”

.223 Rem Palma Rifle — Barnard Action, Tec-Hro Stock

The Barnard P action imported by Whidden Gunworks is the foundation for many winning Palma rifles. As soon as our USA shooters returned from the New Zealand Palma match in 2019 they were immediately requesting bolts to convert their actions to .223 Remington.

Whidden Gunworks .223 Remington Barnard Action Palma fullbore

Given all of this interest in the .223 Rem, I decided to build one myself and see if all of these theories about wind performance held water. Starting with my Barnard P action, I worked with Tec-Hro in Germany to use one of their Fanatic stocks for the project. The Fanatic is a modern aluminum stock suitable for prone or Three Position use. The stock uses adapter blocks to work with a wide variety of rimfire actions such as Anschutz, Walther, and Feinwerkbau. As far as I know we were the first to test it out for centerfire use. After shooting the stock with my .308 Win barreled action installed to refine a few details and ensure the stock would stand up to recoil, I then mounted my .223 Rem barreled action and went to the range.

Whidden Gunworks .223 Remington Barnard Action Palma fullbore

Prior to my range visit a decision was made concerning bullets and twist rate. After discussion with Mark Buettgen at Bartlein Barrels I ordered two barrels — a 1:7″-twist and also a 1:6.25″-twist. Mark was looking for some data using the Sierra 90gr MatchKing bullet and we expected that the faster twist rate might give the best success with that MatchKing bullet. When the barrels arrived they were chambered and installed on the rifle.

Whidden Gunworks .223 Remington Barnard Action Palma fullbore
John uses a Warner rear adjustable sight with a Centra front sight.

Fast Twist-Rate Barrels for Long .223-Caliber Bullet
First up the 1:6.25″-twist barrel was installed and testing commenced. The barrel shot extremely well right out of the gate. All loads used Lapua brass and Vihtavuori N140 powder. I tested the Berger 85.5gr and 90gr bullets as well as Sierra 90gr and 95gr bullets. Testing with the 6.25-twist barrel went well with both of the Berger bullets looking especially good. Later the 1:7″-twist barrel was mounted and tested.

While both barrels were very accurate we decided that the 1:6.25″-twist barrel outshined the 1:7″-twist tube. Now we all know that some barrels are just a little more accurate than others. With such a small sample of data here (just two barrels) I’m not saying that a 1:6.25″-twist is decidedly better. In fact we have a number of customers shooting 7-twist barrels who are shooting them very well. With this particular rifle however, the 6.25-twist seems to be the more accurate of the two.

Whidden Gunworks .223 Remington Barnard Action Palma fullbore

.223 Rem Load Development for Palma Competition

The load I settled on is Lapua brass, Vihtavuori N140 powder, and Berger 90 grain VLDs which I moly-coat. I soft-seat the bullets into the lands with only .001″ neck tension or a little less.

Why the Berger 90gr VLD? The secret sauce is that the 90gr VLD is much superior in the wind after we point it up with the Whidden Pointing Die. The 85.5gr Hybrid bullet comes from Berger with this treatment already done while the 90gr VLD does not. When the 90-grainer is pointed up, the wind drift is a few percent better than the 85.5, given the velocities that I feel comfortable achieving with the rifle.

I settled on 2840 fps for the 90gr VLD and 2880 fps for the 85.5gr Hybrid from a 32″ barrel. When pointed up, the 90-grainer shoots flatter to 1000 yards by 1 MOA which indicates a G7 BC of .289 in my combination. Wind Drift in a 10 mph direct crosswind at 1000 yards is 70.8″ with this 90gr combination compared to 76.8″ for the 85.5gr load.

Whidden Gunworks .223 Remington Barnard Action Palma fullbore

Whidden Gunworks .223 Remington Barnard Action Palma fullboreTesting in Competition — at Camp Perry
This past August 2021 at the CMP Long Range National Championships at Camp Perry I finally had the chance to shoot the rifle on a big stage. Winds that day were from almost directly 12:00 to about 1:30 switching headwinds. Velocity was around 8-10 mph meaning not the easiest or the hardest of conditions. I managed a third place finish in the Palma match. That proves the .223 Rem is definitely competitive in elite Palma events.

.223 Rem Performance in the Wind
My sense of the .223 Rem’s wind performance was that it was in line with the performance I’d expect from my .308 Win Palma gun. Of course the lack of recoil made the .223 Rem much easier to shoot well.

How to Order a Rifle Like This
Whidden Gunworks can build a rifle like this for Palma competitors who want to move to .223 Rem. John tells us: “We’ve built a number of these combinations of the Barnard P action, Tec-Hro Fanatic stock, and Bartlein barrel. They all shoot incredibly well and the ergonomics are top notch. One of the good points is that the current price of $3875.00 (without sights) makes it a bargain for a top-tier Palma rifle.”

Whidden Gunworks .223 Remington Barnard Action Palma fullboreAbout John Whidden
5-Time National Long Range Champion

John Whidden is founder and owner of Whidden Gunworks and a lifelong competitive shooter. Major shooting accomplishments include being a 5-Time U.S. National Long Range Champion, winner of the Australia National Queen’s Prize, and member of three USA Palma Teams. John is currently active in Long Range Highpower, 300 Meter Prone, and Smallbore prone events. John tells us that one secret of his success is having top equipment: “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.”

Whidden Gunworks .223 Remington Barnard Action Palma fullbore

Whidden Gunworks stands ready to help with your shooting and reloading needs. Whidden Gunworks specializes in custom bolt action rifles, reloading dies, other reloading tools, and reloading components. Well known for match-grade custom rifles and high-quality reloading dies, Whidden Gunworks’ growing lineup includes components from Berger, Lapua, Vihtavuori, and SK rimfire ammunition. Learn more by visiting www.WhiddenGunworks.com.

Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gunsmithing 2 Comments »
August 11th, 2021

Front Forearm Sleds Stabilize ARs and Narrow Forearm Rifles

Whidden Gunworks Track Plate

ARs and Narrow-Forearm Sporters Benefit from Front Bag-Rider Blocks
Whidden Gunworks offers a smart product 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, tactical, 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 2.9″ width is 100% legal for F-Open).

Whidden Gunworks Track Plate

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 Track Plate fits BOTH Anschutz and American style forends and is made in the USA of machined aluminum. The Track Plate is available from Whidden Gunworks for $49.50.

Plate designer (and 5-Time Nat’l 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.”

Bag-Riders for AR-Platform Rifles from EGW
AR owners should check out the 3″-wide Delrin bag-rider from Evolution Gun Works (EGW). There are two versions, one for front Picatinny Rails, and another that mounts via sling swivel studs. These EGW Bag-Riders were developed expressly to fit the fore-ends of ARs. The front bag-riders are contoured to match the handguard profile so they fits securely with no wobble.

EGW AR15 ar bagrider bag-rider front sled

The $49.99 EGW Picatinny Rail front Bag-Rider simply slides on your under-forearm rail and there is a a tension bolt. Attachment is quick and easy. Or, if your AR has no rail get the original $39.99 EGW front Bag-Rider that 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.

EGW AR15 ar bagrider bag-rider front sled

Also with the two front Bag-Riders, EGW offers a Rear Bag-Rider for ARs that attaches via the sling swivel anchor. 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.

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May 15th, 2021

Choosing the Best Neck Bushing Size — Tips from John Whidden

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.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading No Comments »
March 26th, 2021

Choosing the Optimal Neck Bushing Size — Tips from Whidden

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.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
February 10th, 2021

Firearm Science: Eye Dominance, Eye Protection, Irons vs. Optics

firearm science NRA Jessie Duff Harrison

NRA Media offers a series of 40 informative videos about the Science of Shooting, covering a wide range of topics, from eye dominance to long-range ballistics. These videos feature high production values, with super-slow motion segments, as well as helpful computer graphics to illustrate the principles covered.

The videos are narrated by Jessie Duff, a top action pistol shooter (and the first women ever to achieve USPSA Grand Master status). Jessie is assisted by talented shooters such as Top Shot Season 4 Champion Chris Cheng. There are forty videos in the Firearm Science Video Series. Here are five NRA videos, with links to others below. You’ll find all 40 NRA Firearm Science Videos HERE.

Eye Dominance — How to Determine Which Eye is Dominant

Host Jessie Duff and longtime shooter Krystie Messenger demonstrate how eye dominance affects aim and teach you how to determine your dominant eye in this edition of Firearm Science. There are very simple tests you can do to determine your eye dominance. This Editor is right-handed but left-eye dominant. All competitive shooters should check for eye dominance. If you are cross-dominant, you can alter your head position or put a paper patch on one frame of your shooting glasses.

Eye Protection — Effect of Different Color Lenses

No matter what you’re shooting, eye protection should always be worn. But with so many choices, what should you wear? In this edition of Firearm Science, two-time Olympic trap shooter Corey Cogdell explains lens color options for protective eyewear. Different colors may be selected according to the light conditions and the sport. For most rifle shooters using magnified scopes, clear lenses are probably the best choice, except on very bright summer days.

Iron Sights vs. Optics

Host Jessie Duff and shooter Krystie Messenger demonstrate the benefits and drawbacks of using iron sights and optics in this edition of Firearm Science. For AR-type rifles, choosing the right option depends on the intended use of the rifle and the rules of competition. For example, a “Standard military Rifle” for CMP competition must have iron sights. But current NRA service rifle competition (and CMP unlimited military rifle class) allows scopes. Olympic smallbore shooters and Palma shooters have shown that extreme accuracy IS possible with sophisticated target sights. Below is the iron-sights Palma rifle with which John Whidden (Whidden Gunworks) won NRA Long-Range National Championships.

John Whidden .308 Win Palma rifle

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October 20th, 2020

Front Sleds Stabilize Narrow Forearm Rifles and ARs

Whidden Gunworks Track Plate

ARs and Narrow-Forearm Sporters Benefit from Front Bag-Rider Blocks
Whidden Gunworks offers a smart product 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, tactical, 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 2.9″ width is 100% legal for F-Open).

Whidden Gunworks Track Plate

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 Track Plate fits BOTH Anschutz and American style forends and is made in the USA of machined aluminum. The Track Plate is available from Whidden Gunworks for $45.00.

Plate designer (and 5-Time Nat’l 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.”

Bag-Riders for AR-Platform Rifles from EGW
AR owners should check out the 3″-wide Delrin bag-rider from Evolution Gun Works (EGW). There are two versions, one for front Picatinny Rails, and another that mounts via sling swivel studs. These EGW Bag-Riders were developed expressly to fit the fore-ends of ARs. The front bag-riders are contoured to match the handguard profile so they fits securely with no wobble.

EGW AR15 ar bagrider bag-rider front sled

The $49.99 EGW Picatinny Rail front Bag-Rider simply slides on your under-forearm rail and there is a a tension bolt. Attachment is quick and easy. Or, if your AR has no rail get the original $39.99 EGW front Bag-Rider that 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.

EGW AR15 ar bagrider bag-rider front sled

Also with the two front Bag-Riders, EGW offers a Rear Bag-Rider for ARs that attaches via the sling swivel anchor. 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.

Permalink Gear Review, Tactical 1 Comment »
October 8th, 2020

Gary Anderson’s TEN LESSONS — How to Compete and Win

John Whidden high power national championship
The photo shows John Whidden, 5-time National Long Range HP Champion (2007, 2008, 2010, 2016, 2017). John exemplifies the traits of a great competitor — he is always positive, he knows how to handle pressure, and he always looks for ways to improve.

DCM CMP Gary AndersonIn the archives of On The Mark magazine, DCM Emeritus Gary Anderson, an Olympic Gold medal-winning shooter in his younger years, offers sage advice for competitive shooters.

In his article Ten Lessons I Wished I Had Learned as a Young Shooter, Anderson provides ten important guidelines for everyone involved in competitive shooting. Here are the Ten Lessons, but you should read the full article. Anderson provides detailed explanations of each topic with examples from his shooting career.

READ Full Article by Gary Anderson in On the Mark.

LESSON 1 – NATURAL ABILITY WILL NOT MAKE YOU A SHOOTING CHAMPION.
(You also need hard work, training effort and perseverance.)

LESSON 2 – ANGER IS THE ENEMY OF GOOD SHOOTING.
(The key to recovering from a bad shot is to stay cool, no matter what happens.)

LESSON 3 – BAD SHOTS CAN TEACH YOU MORE THAN GOOD SHOTS.
(Today, error analysis is one of the most powerful tools for improving scores.)

LESSON 4 – NEVER GO WITHOUT A SHOT PLAN.
(A shot plan is a detailed breakdown of each of the steps involved in firing a shot.)

LESSON 5 – PRACTICE IN BAD CONDITIONS AS WELL AS GOOD CONDITIONS.
(Most competitions are fired in windy conditions or where there are plenty of distractions.)

LESSON 6 – CHAMPIONS ARE POSITIVE, OPTIMISTIC PEOPLE.
(Negative shooters expect bad results; positive shooters expect to train hard to change bad results.)

LESSON 7 – IT’S NOT ABOUT WHETHER YOU WIN OR LOSE.
(It’s about how hard you try to win.)

LESSON 8 – YOUR DOG WON’T BITE YOU AFTER SHOOTING A BAD SCORE.
(Hopefully your coach, parents and friends won’t bite you either.)

LESSON 9 – YOUR PRESS CLIPPINGS CAN HURT YOU OR HELP YOU.
(Winning can go to our heads. We start thinking we are so good we don’t have to work hard any more.)

LESSON 10 — YOU NEVER SHOT YOUR BEST SCORE.
(Great champions are always looking for ways to improve.)

USAMU shooters on the firing line at the Wa-Ke’-De outdoor range in Bristol, IN.
smallbore national championships Wa-ke-de
Photo courtesy USAMU.

About Gary Anderson
DCM CMP Gary AndersonGary Anderson served as the Director of the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) from 1999-2009, and is now DCM Emeritus. As a Nebraska farmboy, Gary grew up hunting and shooting. Dreams of winning an Olympic Gold Medal in shooting led Gary to the U.S. Army. In 1959, he joined the elite U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit. Just two years later, he won his first national championship.

At the 1962 World Shooting Championships in Egypt, Anderson stunned the shooting world by winning four individual titles and setting three new world records. At the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Gary won the 300m free-rifle Gold Medal, setting a new world record in the process. At the 1966 World Shooting Championships in Germany, Anderson won three additional world titles. At the 1968 Olympics, Gary won a second gold medal in the 300m free-rifle event.

After his “retirement” from international competition, Gary competed in the National High Power Championships, winning the President’s National Trophy in 1973, 1975 and 1976. Over his competitive career, Anderson won two Olympic Gold Medals, seven World Championships, and sixteen National Championships. He is unquestionably one of the greatest American marksmen ever.

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills 3 Comments »
August 23rd, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sling Rifle Evolved: The Ultra-Accurate Hybrid Palma Rifle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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June 3rd, 2020

Shooting Skills — Canting Left or Right Alters Point of Impact

rifle level canting shooting rifle Ryan Cleckner

In a helpful NSSF video, Ryan Cleckner explains why you normally should avoid canting your rifle — rotating it clockwise or counter-clockwise. Cleckner explains that canting the rifle in one direction or another will change the point of impact: “When you rotate the rifle, not only does the [POI move] in the direction that you’re rotated, [but] it also loses some of its elevation as it rolls down.” This, Cleckner explains, can make you miss on one side or the other:

Cant to the Left — You’re going to miss low and left.
Cant to the Right — You’re going to miss low and right.

rifle level canting shooting rifle Ryan Cleckner

In this video, starting at the one-minute mark, Cleckner shows the effect of rifle canting when engaging a 600-yard target. A few degrees of cant (either to the left or to the right), moves the shot POI completely off the steel silhouette target. The POI change occurs mainly because you are lowering (and laterally shifting) the scope sight-line relative to the bore axis, effectively changing your zero.

David Tubb has explained: “Every 1 degree you are off on a cant, is about six inches of difference laterally at 1000 yards”.

Position Shooting with Sling — Rifle Cant Considerations
Cleckner’s discussion assumes that the scope or sights are set to hit center with the rifle level and plumb. That works for most situations when shooting prone off bipod, front mechanical rest, or front sandbag. However, many sling shooters, including David Tubb and John Whidden, do tilt or cant their rifles slightly inward because this allows a more comfortable hold with sling, or allows better eye-to-sight alignment. Holding the rifle at an angle can work — but the angle of cant must be consistent for every shot. Canting the rifle is not a sin by itself. However, after you confirm your zero on your target, the degree of cant must be the same for EVERY shot. You must maintain that exact same degree of rotation on each shot or you will experience the shot POI movement Cleckner illustrates. Consistency is the key.

John Whidden
John Whidden, 5-time Nat’l Long Range Champion, holds a Palma rifle. John now shoots a match rifle with an Anschutz stock which he holds more upright, but still with some counter-clockwise cant. John also installed his iron sights at an angle so that the adjustments are correct (and plumb) even with his canted hold: “While it may not be obvious in the picture, the sights on my rifle are set up so that they’re straight vertical and horizontal while I hold the rifle canted. Making sure your adjustments (scope or sights) are vertical and horizontal is a critical piece of the pie.”

Inexpensive Dual-Diameter Scope-Mounted Bubble Level
The best way to avoid inconsistent rifle canting is to use a bubble level fitted to rail or scope. One very affordable and versatile product is the Jialitte Scope Bubble Level. This features a 30mm milled inside diameter, plus an inner insert ring so it will also fit 1″-diameter main tubes. The Jiaalitte unit is nicely radiused, and has a low profile in the middle. User reviews have been very positive. You could easily pay $35.00 or more for a 30mm scope level. This costs just $10.99.

Scope Optic bubble level 30mm 1

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March 10th, 2020

Uniforming Meplats — How to Point Bullets with Whidden System

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

The new generation Berger LRHT Match bullets come with Meplat Reduction Technology™ (MRT) for more consistent BCs. Essentially they are “pointed” at the factory. Likewise, many of Sierra’s most popular MatchKing bullets are now factory-pointed in a final production stage. However, for most other bullet types, you can benefit from using a bullet pointing system to make the meplats more consistent.

Bullet pointing die system whidden

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

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February 10th, 2020

Berger SW Nationals 2020 Results — Hail the Winners

Berger SW Nationals SWN southwest Phoenix 2020

The 2020 Berger Southwest Nationals are complete. As expected, it was a hugely successful match that challenged the nation’s top Sling and F-Class shooters. We want to praise all the competitors and congratulate the 2020 SWN Champions in all three classes. The competition was fierce through-out the match. John Whidden won the Sling Division with a 1245-75X score, just one point ahead of runner-up Oliver Milanovic (1244-72X). Bobby Gill was third with 1240-58X.

CLICK HERE FOR 2020 Berger SWN Complete Scores »

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN F-Open win In the F-TR Division, Peter Johns had a dominant performance with 1242-58X, twelve points ahead of second-place Wade Fillingame (1230-50X) and third-place Ian Klemm (1230-46X). Ian also shot on the winning USA Independence F-TR Team.

Jay Christopherson Wins F-Open
We cheered the F-Open news. AccurateShooter’s own Jay Christopherson, our Systems Administrator, took the 2020 F-Open title with a brilliant 1247-83X score, 11 “Xs” ahead of runner-up Pat Scully (1247-72X). In third place was Tod Hendricks (1245-81X). Jay (photo right) was shooting a Brux-barreled straight .284 Win with Berger 180gr Hybrid bullets. Up front he uses a SEB Mini coaxial tripod rest. Jay also helped carry Team Lapua-Brux-Borden to an F-Open Team victory. Here’s a short video of Jay shooting when he finished second in F-Open division at the SWN a couple seasons back. You can view Jay’s smooth gun-handling and patience waiting for his condition:

Jay Christopherson, AccurateShooter.com’s System Admin, won the F-Open division. Jay’s Brux-barreled .284 Win was superbly accurate all week long. This video was from a past Berger SWN Event.

Berger SW Nationals SWN southwest Phoenix 2020

John Whidden of Whidden Gunworks won Sling division with a 1245-75X score. John really likes this match: “For most of us it’s the first match of the year, a chance to shake off the cobwebs.” John said conditions were “pretty nice on Friday, Saturday and Sunday — most of the changes came slow and conditions were readable from the mirage.” John, a 5-time National Long Range Champion, is always a threat to win at the SWN. John shot a .308 Win in the Palma Class, and then his .243 Win in the Any Rifle division. Both with Berger bullets and Vihtavuori powders. Here’s John at Ben Avery in 2018:

JOhn Whidden Berger SW Nationals SWN southwest Phoenix 2020

Peter Johns Berger SW Nationals SWN southwest Phoenix 2020

Above is Peter Johns, F-TR Class winner. Peter posted: “I just accomplished one of my goals of winning a national-level F-Class shooting match! I was only able to do with the support of my wife and family. Also I would like to thank Alonzo Custom Rifles for building a great shooting rifle, Kelly McMillan for the best rifle stock for F-TR (Kestros BR) and Vortex for the best riflecope (Golden Eagle) for F-Class.”

Top SWN Team Performances

A new team record was set at Ben Avery this year. In the F-TR Division, Team USA Independence finished with a 2563-113X score. We are told this is the highest-ever F-TR score. Congratulations to Top Scorer Ian Klemm (645-28X) and the other shooters Wade Fillingame, Fritz Braun, and Luke Ramsey. Keith Trap coached and Kent Reeve was Captain.

Berger SW Nationals Team Lapua Brux Borden

In F-Open Team Lapua-Brux-Borden continued its dominance, with a fine performance on the final day. The Team finished at 2584-160X, six points ahead of runner-up Team McMillan F-Open (2578-135X).

Berger SW Nationals Team Lapua Brux Borden


F-Open Rifle with Barrel-Cool Device on SEB Neo front rest.

Give Credit to the Match Directors and Staff
Emil Praslick III of Capstone Precision Group offered this perspective on the 2020 Berger SW Nationals: “Wrapping up the Southwest Nationals which was amazingly well run by the Desert Sharpshooters. Matthew Schwartzkopf, Michelle Gallagher, Nancy Tompkins, Melesia Cisneros, Scott Fulmer, Mid Tompkins, and everyone else behind the scenes literally work for at least six months to make the event the well-oiled machine that it is.

Emil Praslick III Berger SWN

Moving and managing close to 400 shooters is a Herculean task, and anyone who thinks they can do better should… offer to come down to help out. I shot awful, but it was a pleasure to see the joy of the shooters as they experienced this one-of-a-kind match. Imagine cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 400 relatives with individual dietary needs on a motel hot plate, and you’ll get an idea of the scale involved. Again, thank you Matt and the gang, and we’ll see you next year!”

2020 Berger Southwest Nationals SWN report

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December 15th, 2019

Sunday GunDay: John Whidden’s .308 Win Wonder-Gun

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

John Whidden’s Championship-Winning Rifle
For this Sunday GunDay we feature John Whidden’s very special Palma rifle, the rig that carried him to his 5th NRA Long Range National Championship in 2017. John captured his fifth Long Range crown with a superb performance in the Palma match. The caliber is .308 Win, as dictated by the Palma rules.

This unique .308 Win prone rifle from Whidden Gunworks 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 major modification of the Anschutz Precise stock. This means John can actually swap in his rimfire barreled action and shoot smallbore with the same stock.

Whidden’s Perfect Palma Match
Whidden secured 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.

Sling Rifle Evolved: The Ultra-Accurate Hybrid Palma Rifle

by John Whidden of Whidden Gunworks
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 Anschutz 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.

John Whidden Palma Rifle .308 Win Barnard Anschutz P action smallbore stockWhidden 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
Like this Anschutz-Barnard hybrid rifle? 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 under $5000.00. 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.

John Whidden gunsorks .308 Win Palma 10% Off Christmas discount sale

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October 23rd, 2019

Bullet Pointing 101 — How to Point Match Bullet Tips

Berger Bullet Pointing Applied Ballistics Bryan Litz Whidden Pointing Die pointer

Tech Tip by Doc Beech, Applied Ballistics Support Team
I am going to hit on some key points when it comes to bullet pointing. How much pointing and trimming needed is going to depend on the bullet itself. Specifically how bad the bullets are to begin with. Starting out with better-quality projectiles such as Bergers is going to mean two things. First that you don’t need to do as much correction to the meplat, but also that the improvement is going to be less. NOTE: We recommend you DO NOT POINT hunting bullets. Pointing can affect terminal performance in a bad way.

NOTE the change in the bullet tip shape and hollowpoint size after pointing:
Berger Bullet Pointing Applied Ballistics Bryan Litz Whidden Pointing Die pointer

Don’t Over-Point Your Bullets
What is important here is that you never want to over-point. It is far better to be safe, and under-point, rather than over-point and crush the tips even the slightest bit. To quote Bryan Litz exactly: “Best practice is to leave a tiny air gap in the tip so you’re sure not to compress the metal together which will result in crushing. Most of the gain in pointing is taking the bullet tip down to this point. Going a little further doesn’t show on target”. So in essence you are only bringing the tip down a small amount… and you want to make sure you leave an air gap at the tip.

Salazar Whidden Bullet Pointer system

Also keep in mind, bullet pointing is one of those procedures with variable returns. If you only shoot at 100-200 yards, bullet pointing will likely not benefit you. To see the benefits, which can run from 2 to 10% (possibly more with poorly designed bullets), you need be shooting at long range. Bryan says: “Typically, with pointing, you’ll see 3-4% increase in BC on average. If the nose is long and pointy (VLD shape) with a large meplat, that’s where pointing has the biggest effect; up to 8% or 10%. If the meplat is tight on a short tangent nose, the increase can be as small as 1 or 2%.” For example, If you point a Berger .308-caliber 185gr Juggernaut expect to only get a 2% increase in BC.

Berger Bullet Pointing Applied Ballistics Bryan Litz Whidden Pointing Die pointer

Should You Trim after Pointing?
Sometimes you can see tiny imperfections after pointing, but to say you “need” to trim after pointing is to say that the small imperfections make a difference. Bryan Litz advises: “If your goal is to make bullets that fly uniformly at the highest levels, it may not be necessary to trim them.” In fact Bryan states: “I’ve never trimmed a bullet tip, before or after pointing”. So in the end it is up to you to decide.

Pointing is Easy with the Right Tools
The process of pointing in itself is very simple. It takes about as much effort to point bullets as it does to seat bullets. We are simply making the air gap on the tip of the bullet ever-so smaller. Don’t rush the job — go slow. Use smooth and steady pressure on the press when pointing bullets. You don’t want to trap air in the die and damage the bullet tip. You can use most any press, with a caliber-specific sleeve and correct die insert. The Whidden pointing die has a micrometer top so making adjustments is very easy.

Bryan Litz actually helped design the Whidden Bullet Pointing Die System, so you can order the Pointing Die and Inserts directly from Applied Ballistics. Just make sure that you pick up the correct caliber sleeve(s) and appropriate insert(s). As sold by Applied Ballistics, the Whidden Bullet Pointing Die System comes with the die, one tipping insert, and one caliber-specific sleeve. To see which insert(s) you need for your bullet type(s), click this link:

LINK: Whidden Gunworks Pointing Die Insert Selection Chart

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 5 Comments »
August 3rd, 2019

NRA Rifle Championships at Camp Atterbury — 2019 Schedule

Camp Atterbury Indiana high Power Championship

Many of the best rifle competitors in the United States will be heading to Indiana next week to compete at the 2019 NRA National High Power Rifle Championships which commence Monday, August 5, 2019. The Across-the-Course Championship, Mid-Range Championship, Long Range Championship, and Extreme Long Range Championship will all take place August 5-21, 2019 at Camp Atterbury, near Edinburgh, Indiana.

Camp Atterbury Indiana high Power Championship

GET 2019 High Power Rifle Championships PROGRAM HERE »

Camp Atterbury National NRA High Power championships 2019 program free

Day By Day Planner for 2019 Nationals at Camp Atterbury

Monday, August 5 will be the First Shot Ceremony, and squadded practice will also begin.

Tuesday, August 6 marks the beginning of the Team Matches. They will conclude on August 7.

Thursday, August 8 is the start of High Power Across the Course competition. They last until August 11.

Monday, August 12 is the Mid Range Team Championship, lasting until August 13.

Tuesday, August 13 is the first day of the Mid Range Individual Championship. They last until August 16.

Saturday, August 17 will be the Palma Team Match day.

Sunday, August 18 begins the Long Range Championship which continues through August 21.

Wednesday, August 21 is the registration day for the NRA Extreme Long Range Championship. The match will be fired over the next two days, finishing on August 23.

Email nrahighpower@nrahq.org for more information.

Camp Atterbury Indiana high Power Championship

View Schedule for ALL 2019 NRA National Championships »

Lodging at Camp Atterbury and Nearby
Camp Atterbury offers on-base lodging — rooms and cabins will be available to all competitors 18 and over. 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.

With the CMP hosting important matches next year at Camp Perry, many rifle competitors will be “commuting” between the two venues this summers, driving 4.5 hours from Indiana to Ohio.

Map Camp Perry Camp Atterbury Ohio Indiana

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June 9th, 2019

Sunday GunDay: 1000-Yard Prone Rifle — Corbin’s “Maple Marvel”

.243 Win 1000 yard Maple rifle

“I have molested that rifle on several different occasions over the years. It is more beautiful in person if that is possible. Fine craftsmanship in every aspect.” — Forum Member Matt K.

.243 Win prone rifle Corbin ShellToday’s Sunday GunDay feature is a “blast from the past”, part of our big Guns of the Week archive. Some years back, Forum member Corbin Shell told us he had a new, full-custom 1000-yard prone rifle. When he sent some photos of the maple-stocked masterpiece, our collective jaws dropped. Check it out — this is truly a “Maple Marvel”.

.243 Win 1000 yard Maple rifle

Corbin’s GunDay rig is an eye-catcher for sure. This is one handsome rifle, built with all-premium components and a stunning Curly Maple thumbhole stock with adjustable cheekpiece. The rifle is chambered in .243 Winchester. It features a custom stainless RBRP action Nesika R action, with keycuts in the bottom instead of recoil lug. A Grünig & Elmiger trigger has been specially modified (milled and pinned) to work with the Nesika action. The primary barrel is a 30″ Broughton 5R Palma-contour tube. Interestingly, Corbin has a second 30″ Broughton barrel chambered in 6mmBR for use at shorter ranges.

The trigger guard, fore-arm rail, cheek adjuster, and 4-way adjustable butt assembly are all custom metal, designed by Dan Gleason. The stock is cut from exhibition-grade fiddleback maple (from Cecil Fredi Gunstocks in Las Vegas) with a Gaboon Ebony tip wood and butt-plate spacer.

.243 Win Maple rifle

Fast and Accurate
Corbin tells us the gun will put five shots into the size of a quarter at 300 yards “when he does his part.” Corbin shoots pointed Berger 105gr VLDs and 45.5 grains of H4831SC. That load runs 3180 fps. He can push it faster, but “that’s where the node was and where it shoots best”, according to Corbin.

Forum member Jim Hardy has seen (and shot against) this beautiful rifle. Jim reports: “A casual observer might think that the trigger guard, cheek plate and butt plate hardware are Anschutz — as the stock takes on the Anschutz prone pattern. However, this is ALL custom metal. The G&E trigger breaks like a glass rod and will makes my BR triggers feel inferior at best. I had the pleasure of holding, shouldering, and lusting over this gun at Camp Perry last year, and it is even more impressive in person. The killer is that there is yet ANOTHER one in a beautiful, dark figured walnut owned by Corbin’s shooting partner. BTW, both guns will hammer at 1000 yards prone.”

.243 Win 1000 yard Maple rifle

Long Range Prone Shooting with the .243 Winchester
Is the .243 Winchester capable at 1000 yards? Absolutely. John Whidden has used the .243 Win to capture multiple NRA National Long-Range Championships. 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. John explains that, while you CAN get somewhat better ballistics with a .284 Win or .300 WSM, you’ll pay a heavy price in increased recoil with those bigger cartridges.

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

Running at an impressive 3275 FPS from his .243 Win, Berger 6mm 105 grain Hybrids are hard to beat, according to 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.” John has tried bigger cases: “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.” READ Whidden .243 Winchester Report.

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June 1st, 2019

Change Out Your Barrels Quickly and Easily with Muzzle Mod

Warren Dean Hex Barrel John Whidden Larry Racine

Competitor Warren Dean has employed a hex-end barrel to permit rapid barrel changes on his F-Class rig. Warren wrote: “I have been running what is commonly known as a switch barrel on my F-T/R rifle. Basically it allows for removal and reinstallation of the barrel with basic hand tools and with no, or very minimal, shift in zero. The two gunsmiths that I trust, Larry Racine and John Whidden, both told me that the switch barrel system would return to a very close zero with no problems. [This system] can be a great benefit to the traveling shooter and a money-saver for the shooter wanting to shoot different calibers on the same chassis.” READ Dean Switch-Barrel Report.

Larry Racine Barrel Sytem
Larry Racine is a respected gunsmith based in New Hampshire. He is also a two-time member of the U.S. Palma Team, and a five-time New Hampshire State Highpower rifle champion. Larry, who runs LPR Gunsmithing, has developed a brilliantly simple means of switching rifle barrels with an ordinary spanner or open-end wrench. With this set-up you can switch barrels in the field in seconds without the need for a barrel vise.

For most barrels, Larry mills a hex with six flats on the end of the barrel. This allows a shooter to change barrels quickly at home or on the line with a simple box-head wrench or a socket wrench. Larry says: “You don’t even have to take the barreled action out of the gun. Just set the buttstock on the ground, between your feet, put a wrench on it, hit it with the palm of your hand — and off comes the barrel.” For barrels fitted with a muzzle brake, Larry has a slightly different system. He mills two flats behind the brake so you can use an open-end wrench to do the job.

With either a hex on the end, or two flats for a brake-equipped rifle, the system works with any medium- to heavy-contour barrel with a muzzle-diameter of at least 0.700″. This will even work for high-power rigs using clamp-on sights or bloop tubes. Larry explains: “A lot of us here in New England use clamp-on front sights. The barrel will be turned to 0.750 for the sight, with the hex on the end. A bloop tube can go right over the end, no problem.”

Larry has used this system over the past few years to win a number of matches. In one 600-yard 3 by 20 prone match, Larry used three different barrels, with three different chamberings, on the same Savage rifle. Larry changed the barrels on the line.

Larry was able to do this because the system has little to no loss of zero from one installation of a given barrel to the next installation of that barrel. This lets the shooter start the match with confidence that the first sighter will be on paper. Larry reports that the simple system works great: “To date we have used this system on Savage, Remington, Winchester, RPA, and Nesika actions.”

Varminters Take Note — This Is Great in the Field
If you are a varminter shooting hundreds of rounds in a day, consider this system. We know some guys who bring 3 or 4 rifles into the field because their barrels get hot during long days of prarie dog hunting. With this smart system, you can easily swap barrels in a couple minutes. And no special equipment or barrel vises are required.

Modifying Barrels is Affordable
Racine’s system for rapid barrel removal/changing is very affordable. If Larry does the chamber work on your barrel he charges $45.00 extra to mill a hex or two flats on your barrel. The customer chooses the configuration.

If you only want the hex or flats done, Larry may charge a higher fee — call for current rates. Note this can also work for barrels with muzzle brakes or threads for suppressors. For more info, visit LPRGunsmith.com or call Larry at (603) 357-0055.

E-mail: Larry[at]LPRGunSmith.com
LPR Gunsmithing
11 Suburban Acres
N. Swanzey, NH 03431

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November 2nd, 2018

CMP Revives Long Range Competition at Camp Perry

Camp Perry Long Range Matches 2018 Capstone Shane Barnhardt USAMU

By Ashley Brugnone, CMP Writer
At the 2018 National Matches at Camp Perry this past summer, the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) introduced a new series of Long Range events. Three days of long range rifle matches, held at 800, 900 and 1,000 yards, were added to the summer 2018 schedule to allow long range marksmen the opportunity to fire on the Camp Perry grounds following the NRA’s decision to move the NRA High Power Long Range Championship (and HP Championship) to Camp Atterbury, Indiana. Long Range matches will be held again at Camp Perry next year, from August 6-9, 2019 — put those dates on your calendar.

Camp Perry CMP Long Range Scott McKenna
Camp Perry Photo by Scott McKenna from past event.

Competitors at the 2018 Long Range Matches at Camp Perry fired in Service, Match, and Palma rifle classes. Six matches were fired during the Long Range series. Those who participated in the inaugural LR matches were pleased that Long Range was featured again at Camp Perry after a two-year absence:

“Camp Perry is one of the best ranges in the U.S. with a long and proud history. Thank you, CMP, for all of the work expended on the 2018 season.”

“The matches were well-organized and went smoothly.”

“I liked the fact that they were held at Camp Perry. That’s where the National Matches should be.”

“Good job! I enjoyed the matches. It was great being back at Perry for long range.”

“Overall a very positive and fun championship for me. I applaud your efforts in bringing long range back to Camp Perry….”

Camp Perry Long Range Matches 2018 Capstone Shane Barnhardt USAMU

Winning the overall Aggregate was USAMU shooter SFC Shane Barnhart with 1244-71X. Teammate SGT Lane Ichord won the service rifle division with 1228-48X, while Robert Steketee topped the Palma rifle class with 1233-56X. As the “top gun” for the match, SFC Barnhart was the first recipient of the Coats Brown Memorial Trophy – donated to the CMP by the Military Marksmanship Association. Chief Warrant Officer 4 Coats Brown, was a repeat National Matches champion and became the head coach of the newly-formed Army Marksmanship Unit in 1956.

John Whidden cleaned the Viale Memorial event with the match rifle, with a score of 200-12X. Robert Gill, 59, of Visalia, CA, led the Palma rifle portion. The Bataan Memorial 4-person Team Match, which included 20 shots by each member at 1,000 yards, saw wins from the AMU in both the match and service rifle categories. Members of AMU Green (SFC Barnhart, SFC Brandon Green, SGT Ben Cleland, and SSG Amanda Elsenboss), each dropped only one point in the match rifle class to record an Aggregate score of 796-54x.

Major Sponsors for Camp Perry Long Range Matches
Geissele Automatics served as a generous sponsor for the new Long Range events, donating a prize to every winner in each category. Capstone Precision, the parent company of Berger, Lapua, SK and Vihtavuori, also donated prizes to several winners during the National Long Range Matches.

SAVE THE DATE in 2019: The CMP’s Long Range Matches will take place August 6-9 at Camp Perry, in Port Clinton, Ohio. Events include three days of Individual Long Range Matches, two days of Team Matches, the Camp Perry Palma Match, Shooter’s Reception and Long Range Awards Ceremony.

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October 1st, 2018

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 21st, 2018

Kevin Nevius Wins 2018 NRA Long Range Championship

NRA Long Range National Championship Kevin Nevius Lapua 6.5x47 .308 Win Palma Camp Atterbury Indiana David Tubb Bob Gill John Whidden

Our friend Kevin Nevius, best known for his smallbore skills, went head to head against the nation’s top long-range aces this past week, and emerged on top. Besting the likes of past multi-time Long Range Champions David Tubb and John Whidden, Kevin Nevius shot superbly at Camp Atterbury to win his first NRA National Long Range Championship. Kevin finished with 1245-64X, one point ahead of Phillip Crowe, 1244-74X. Bob Gill, shooting a .223 Rem with iron sights, was third on X-Count, with 1244-68X. Kevin built his own rifles for the match, using Kelbly centerfire actions in a Grunig & Elmiger smallbore stock. Here is Kevin’s first-hand report of his 2018 LR Championship victory.

Click Here for 2018 NRA High Power Long Range Championship Full Results

2018 NRA Long Range Championship — Rising to the Challenge

by Kevin Nevius
NRA Long Range National Championship Kevin Nevius Lapua 6.5x47 .308 Win Palma Camp Atterbury Indiana David Tubb Bob Gill John WhiddenThis was my first opportunity to shoot the NRA Long Range Nationals since its relocation to Camp Atterbury, and it was great to see everyone and get back to the matches. It is always so humbling walking onto the range and seeing all of the people I read about and admire so much. I can’t think of another sport where people so accomplished will share so much and be so helpful.

Regarding the weather, we had generally great conditions with very mild winds in the mornings, building gradually as the days progressed. By the afternoon hours, there were certainly challenges as the air started moving. Obstructions to the wind on either side of this range vary, so you needed to pay attention for sure — it may be calm at the targets or firing line, only to show something to worry about on the mid-range flags. Mirage is my primary indicator shooting smallbore, but mirage over 5/8ths of a mile is a little less telling (and a lot more confusing, at least for me!). I think most competitors, including me, use some combination of mirage and flags to make corrections. At the start of the string, I try to gauge a predominant condition, and more importantly which indicator is the most reliable to look at to determine that condition.

NRA Long Range National Championship Kevin Nevius Lapua 6.5x47 .308 Win Palma Camp Atterbury Indiana David Tubb Bob Gill John Whidden

Smallbore shooting is where I learned to build a good position, and so much of that carries forward to Long Range High Power. It was a huge shock though, the first time I looked at a 44” aiming black through aperture sights at 1000 yards! Smallbore aiming blacks are twice as big, at one tenth the distance — the fact that we can hit something at 1000 yards with that sight picture still amazes me!

NRA Long Range National Championship Kevin Nevius Lapua 6.5x47 .308 Win Palma Camp Atterbury Indiana David Tubb Bob Gill John Whidden

Kevin’s Arsenal — 6.5×47 Lapua and .308 Win Barreled Actions in Smallbore Stock
I have always build my own rifles, and always struggled to get the individual rifles you need for the LR aggregate (Any and Palma) and smallbore to feel, balance and fit identically. This year for the first time, I machined bedding blocks that allowed me to put almost identical centefire barreled actions into my smallbore prone stock – effectively making the position and fit of all the rifles for all disciplines identical (it is, after all the same stock used for everything).

NRA Long Range National Championship Kevin Nevius Lapua 6.5x47 .308 Win Palma Camp Atterbury Indiana

I used two modified Kelbly Grizzly actions (one barreled in 6.5×47 for the any rifle matches, and one barreled in 308 for Palma) fitted to two identical aluminum bedding blocks. The bedding block footprint matches my smallbore barreled action – a Grunig & Elmiger Racer WC. The stock is a Grunig & Elmiger Hybrid, which is a composite aluminum skeleton and carbon fiber skin.

Championship-Winning 6.5×47 Lapua and .308 Win Loads
I was using a 6.5×47 Lapua in the “Any Rifle” matches. The barrel is a 1:8″-twist Benchmark medium Palma contour finished at 35 inches, throated +0.060″. My 6.5×47 load was Lapua brass, CCI 450 primers, VV N160 powder, and 140 grain Berger Hybrid bullets. For the Palma match, a .308 Win barreled action was fitted in the same Grunig & Elmiger smallbore stock. The .308 barrel was another Benchmark 35″ medium Palma, using the current Fullbore chamber throated +0.120″. I was using Lapua .308 Palma small primer brass, Federal 205M primers, VV N140, and 155 grain Lapua Scenar L bullets.

Shooting Between Champions — Tubb on the Left, Whidden on the Right
On the final day (the Palma Individual), we were squadded based on seed position, so David Tubb was on my left, and John Whidden on my right. I am not sure if a more intimidating position on the firing line exists, but it was so clear to me especially on that last day how blessed I was to be there. In every match, there is an element of luck — regarding weather, squadding assignment, target service, firing point condition, even equipment malfunction. A host of things can go wrong…

I lost my very first shot at 900 mostly due to elevation (I was coming a little unhinged with the realization I might be in the lead – just being completely honest!), and settled down to clean the remainder of the string. The wind had built by then, and would run both right and left with the small boils in between. At 1000 I lost two, and was pretty happy with that. It was getting pretty dicey, and I resigned myself to the fact that it was becoming one of those days where 10s were enough (and Xs were pure luxury!). John shot well at 1000, but he always does — I don’t think there is a better long range shooter in the country and it’s been that way for a bunch of years. I can’t say enough about him – he is a dear friend and everything a champion should be. (Editor: Whidden finished fourth overall, at 1243-78X, with high X-count for the event.)

To put it all together takes so many things — preparation, tuning, load development, position practice. And yes, it takes some divine intervention for sure. I will never forget this experience, and am so grateful to have been successful this year.

John Whidden of Whidden Gunworks congratulated Kevin: “I was really proud of my friend Kevin Nevius and his fine shooting over the match. Kevin is respected both for his shooting and his character. The match went well and a number of improvements were made over last year. The targets were better, the number boards better, and the match ran very efficiently. Kudos to those who made these positive changes happen.”

Tough Time for Tubb on Last Day
Kevin noted that it was intimidating to be squadded between David Tubb and John Whidden, two multi-time Champions. Unfortunately Tubb, who had shot brilliantly (800-50X) throughout the Long Range event, had issues with his .308 Palma rifle on the final day. Kevin noted: “Yes David had some problems with his .308. When we arrived at the range on the last day, for the Palma Individual, David was in the lead with 800-50X, having shot ‘clean’ (not dropping a point). Bob Gill was second with 798-43X, and I was in third place with 798-42X. As we started the 800-yard string, there was some commotion going on to my left, and all I know is that as we finished and started moving to 900 yards, David was not happy. I believe he had lost 4 points at 800. We went to the pits, and he said his rifle was not shooting well, and he was pretty unhappy to say the least. He tried to adjust the seating depth of his ammunition before heading back out to the 900-yard line, in the hopes the gun would shoot better”. But it ended up a very tough day for David, as his chances for another LR Championship vanished.

Editor: With a 800-50X total, David Tubb was the Winner of the Canadian Cup Trophy, earned before the last day.

Bob Gill Proves the .223 Remington (and Iron Sights) Can Be Competitive
There were many interesting stories at this year’s Long Range Championship. The .223 Rem Eliseo Tubegun belonging to Californian Bob Gill proved to be “the little rifle that could”. Gill shot his .223 Rem Palma rifle for the entire Long Range Championship cycle. And yes Bob shot irons the whole way, even during the Remington and Wimbledon “Any Sight” matches where scopes are allowed. Kevin observed: “Bob Gill was amazing, and that rifle must be pretty awesome too. I don’t think I have ever seen someone shoot a .223 Rem at 1000 yards that well — ever. I believe Bob was shooting 80 grain bullets. As I pulled for Gill on the third day, I can testify that his bullets were still plenty supersonic!”

Editor: Gill finished 3rd overall, just one point down from Kevin, and six Xs behind runner-up Phillip Crowe. Gill also won the Sierra Trophy.

CLICK HERE for all NRA 2018 National Championships Results

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July 14th, 2018

NRA High Power and LR Championships at Camp Atterbury

NRA High power national championships SFC Brandon Green

Brandon green 2018 NRA High Power ChampionCongratulations to SFC Brandon Green, the 2018 NRA National High Power Champion. Brandon won yet another High Power title in convincing fashion, with a 2394-147X overall score. Two other soldiers finished second and third, separated by X-Count. Second-place SFC Shane Barnhart scored 2386-137X, while SGT Benjamin Cleland was third with 2386-128X. In fourth place, and top civilian, was Ronald Zerr with 2383-126X. (CLICK HERE for High Power Results.)

Now it’s time for High Power Long Range. For the next few days, the nation’s top long-range “hard-holders” will be competing at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. The NRA High Power Long Range Championships run July 13-17, with the Long Range Palma match on Tuesday the 17th. Many notable shooters will be there, including John Whidden, who is aiming for a “three-peat” after winning the LR Championship for the past two years running (and five times in total: 2007, 2008, 2010, 2016, 2017).

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

Long Range and Mid-Range National Matches at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, 2018:
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

CLICK HERE for All 2018 NRA National Championships Results

Whidden’s Perfect 2017 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.

Whidden Palma rifle .308 Win winchester Camp Atterbury

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 Palma rifle .308 Win winchester Camp Atterbury

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

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