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April 21st, 2020

Action Timing — Process and Benefits Demonstrated

Alex Wheeler Accuracy gunsmith Panda Kelbly Stolle action timing receiver benchrest video

Kelbly makes outstanding actions, including the Stolle Pandas. In the past 20 years, Pandas have probably won more benchrest matches than any other action (though BATs and Bordens are increasingly in the winning circle). Recently gunsmith Alex Wheeler of Wheeler Accuracy worked his magic on an aluminum Panda, optimizing the “ignition timing” of the action. This involves many small mods to bolt, camming surfaces, trigger, and firing pin: “The whole cam helix and detent shelf is re-cut. The firing pin and cocking piece are modified as well.” When executed properly, Ignition Timing has a number of benefits, including a smoother bolt opening/closing, improved firing pin fall, and enhanced accuracy (though the accuracy improvements can be subtle).

BEFORE Action Timing — Stiff and Clunky

Alex reports: “Normally Panda actions have plenty of firing pin fall. For one reason or another this one was very low. Before timing, firing pin fall was .210 with a Bix’N Andy (BNA) trigger. After trigger timing firing pin fall is .244 with zero cock on close.” Here is how the action functioned before timing work:

CLICK Photo to start VIDEO

Alex notes: “As you can see, after the cocking piece rides out of the detent notch it then
falls to the trigger and is then re-cocked. This is normal on most un-timed actions.”

AFTER Action Timing — Smooth and Refined

Alex explains the modifications he made for this Panda action: “Moving the trigger back adds cock on close. The whole cam helix and detent shelf is re-cut. The firing pin and cocking piece are modified as well. I do love a timed Panda. In fact, I like aluminum actions, I think there is something to them. But yes, I also recommend Borden as my first choice.’

CLICK Photo to start VIDEO

Fix for Right-Bolt Actions Only
After seeing these videos on Facebook, one poster asked: “I do like my Panda but this is exactly why I bought a Borden action and I love it. It’s good to know you can make a Panda better. Alex, can you time a left bolt Panda?”

Alex replied: “No, the tooling I built is all for right hand actions sorry….”

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February 4th, 2018

Full-Length Sizing Die Fit — Diagnosing Stiff Bolt Lift Problems

Resizing Die Alex Wheeler Shoulder Bump Die fitting Full-Length

In this video, gunsmith Alex Wheeler explains how to ensure that your full-length sizing dies fit your brass properly. With many cartridge types, it’s not unusual for factory dies to be slightly large in the bottom section. When the diameter of a FL-sizing die is too large near the base, this can leave the bottom section of fired cases “unsized”, with the result that you can have extraction issues and stiff bolt lift, or what Alex calls “clickers”. At the same time, it’s not unusual for dies to over-size fired cases at the shoulder (i.e. reduce the shoulder diameter by .004″ or more).

We strongly recommend that all hand-loaders watch this video, particularly if you load cases 6+ times with relatively high-pressure loads.

Alex explains that a key dimension is the diameter of a fired case 0.200″ above the case head. If your die does not size your fired cases at this point, you should get a FL die that does. This could be a custom die ground to fit your chamber, or it could be a “small-base” die specifically designed to “hit” the bottom section of the case. Alex also notes that some FL dies have an inside chamfer at the mouth of the die, right at the very bottom. (See video at 3:55). This can leave the section of the case right above the extractor groove unsized, which can also lead to “clickers” and stiff bolt lift.

Paint Your Brass to Find Problem Areas
If you are having stiff bolt lift or extraction issues, Alex explains that you can “paint” your brass with magic marker (or dye-chem), and then place the case in your chamber. On the “hot spots” where the case contacts the chamber wall, the marking will rub off, allowing the brass metal to shine through in the problem area(s). This will illustrate where you need better sizing from your die.

“You can ink up the case with some magic marker or dye-chem. If you are getting clickers, go ahead and mark up the case and chamber it and see where it’s wearing. This will help you diagnose [whether the problem] is coming from the base, is it coming maybe from a score in the chamber… it can even happen at the shoulder although that’s pretty rare. Usually the dies size enough at that point.”

Did you find this video helpful? View more informative Tech Tip Videos on WheelerAccuracy.com.

Video Tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 2 Comments »
June 6th, 2017

Adjustable Stock Rudders for Long-Range Benchrest Stocks

adjustable benchrest stock foot rudder bag-rider McMillan Alex Wheeler Accuracy

Gunsmith/stockmaker Alex Wheeler is a very smart guy. Among his many clever innovations is an adjustable bag-rider that fits on the underside of the buttstock at the rear. Alex calls this a “Rudder” because it allows the shooter to align the tracking perfectly. The rudder assembly can swing left and right using an adjustment bolt. You can also adjust the Rudder’s vertical “angle of attack” with simple shims. Some guys like the Rudder’s 3/4″-wide bottom perfectly parallel with the bore axis. Others prefer a slight angle so the stock slides down a bit during recoil.

adjustable benchrest stock foot rudder bag-rider McMillan Alex Wheeler Accuracy

Adjustable Rudders Now For Sale
Alex has fitted these innovative, adjustable Rudders in the stocks and complete rifles he sells.And now owners of other stocks can benefit from Wheeler’s invention. Alex is offering the Rudders for sale: “I have made my adjustable Rudders for sale. Price including mounting hardware is $125 shipped. These are the same rudders I install in most ever stock I build. They’re the only way to achieve perfect tracking every time.”

Watch how the Wheeler Rudder works in this video. Alex explains: “If you pull your rifle back in the bags and the cross-hair moves, your stock is not straight. The easiest fix is to use an adjustable Rudder. They come standard on all my stocks. The white box on the 1000-yard target is 4″. With a properly-adjusted rudder it’s easy to obtain less than 1″ of cross-hair movement at 1000 yards.”

Rudder-Equipped Stock In Action (with 1000-Yard Champ Tom Mousel)
This second video shows how well a Rudder-equipped stock performs. This shows IBS 1000-yard Champ Tom Mousel running five (5) shots with his 17-lb Light Gun chambered in 6BR Ackley Improved. Note how perfectly the stock tracks. It runs smoothly straight back then comes right back on target when pushed forward by Mousel. Check it out — this is impressive.

It’s relatively easy to install these rudders on most wood and wood laminate stocks. Alex says: “Just notch the stock, and install the anchors for the adjustment bolts.” In addition, McMillan will soon be offering fiberglass stocks with a notch designed to fit the Wheeler rudder. Based on Alex’s Deep Creek Tracker stock design, these new McMillan stocks with have metals rails in the front also.

New Rudder-Equipped McMillan LRB Stock
Alex explains: “The new McMillan Rudder-equipped stock will be a version of the Deep Creek Tracker, most likely called a Wheeler LRB (Long Range Benchrest). It will feature factory installed 1/2″ wide aluminum rails in the 4″ fore-arm. It will come with the rear notch molded in for the Rudders which I will install on each stock. I will be exclusive dealer on these and hope to see the first one in June. I also have got with Edgewood to make 4″ wide front bags that will fit a standard rest top and will cost the same as their standard 3″ bag. I will have some in stock but anyone can order them direct and not have to pay the $125 price for a custom bag.”

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