August 31st, 2020

Shoulder Bump — Five Cool Tools to Measure Your Bump

shoulder bump headspace gauge comparator tool whidden manson

The Tactical Rifle Shooters Facebook Group recently showcased tools used to measure case headspace before and after “bumping” the shoulder. After a case is fired, hand-loaders who full-length size their cases will typically bump the shoulders back anywhere from .001″ to .0035″, depending on the rifle and application. With our 6mmBR and Dasher cases we like about .0015″ bump.

You want the amount of case sizing and bump to be the same for all your brass. To ensure uniformity, it makes sense to measure your cases before and after the FL sizing process. When we have time, we check every case. Other folks will simply check the first 3-4 cases coming out of the FL sizing die to ensure the FL die setting is correct and delivering desired headspace/bump.

1. Whidden Gunworks Shoulder Bump Gauge

shoulder bump headspace gauge comparator tool whidden manson

There are a variety of tools that can be used to measure shoulder bump. Our favorite is a special cartridge-specific bushing made by Whidden Gunworks. The Whidden Shoulder Bump Gauge enables you to adjust your sizing die to the desired measurement. The bump gauge is attached to your calipers with a set screw and determines the measurement from the base to the shoulder of the case. The photo below, from Tactical Rifle Shooters, shows the Whidden Bump Gauge for the .375 CheyTac cartridge.

2. Dave Manson Vertical Comparator with Dial Read-Out

shoulder bump headspace gauge comparator tool whidden manson
Background image courtesy Tactical Rifle Shooters; inset photo from Manson Precison Reamers.

Dave Manson states: “This tool was designed to make life easier for the advanced shooter and re-loader by allowing precise measurement of ammunition, case, and chamber headspace. With this information, the re-loader will be able to fine-tune clearances and fits between his ammunition and chamber, with resultant improvements in accuracy and case life.” The functions of the Manson Comparator are:

1. Measure headspace of factory or reloaded ammunition
2. Quantify chamber headspace by measuring headspace of a fired case
3. Ensure minimal shoulder set-back when setting up re-loading dies
4. Compare base-to-ogive length to ensure consistent bullet-to-rifling relationship.

In addition to the Dial Indicator and Stand, the $130.00 Vertical Comparator is supplied with multiple Datum Blocks of precise length and inside diameter (.3300″/.3750″/.4000″/.4375″). MORE INFO HERE — Catalog page 20.

3. Hornady L-N-L Headspace Comparator System

shoulder bump headspace gauge comparator tool whidden manson

Hornady makes comparator gauges matched to the red comparator holder that mounts on your caliper. These Lock-N-Load Headspace Gauges are inexpensive. You can get a set of five gauges for $31.99. Hornady explains: “The Lock-N-Load® Headspace Comparator… gauge measures variations in brass before and after firing or re-sizing. It allows for headspace comparison between fire-formed brass and re-sized brass.” IMPORTANT: Hornady states: “To determine the proper bushing diameter for your cartridge, simply add the neck diameter and the shoulder diameter and divide that number by two. Use the bushing closest to that number.” Hornady offers five: .330″, .350″, .375″, .400″, and .420″.

One tip — We have found the Hornady gauges may vary a little from unit to unit even with the same nominal size. If you have more than one gauge for the same cartridge, test each on your brass — you may then note a slight difference in your bump measurements.

4. L.E. Wilson Case Gage Depth Micrometer

shoulder bump headspace gauge comparator tool whidden manson

If you are looking for precise “bump” measurements without having to mess with calipers and clamp-on gauge blocks, you may want to consider the L.E. Wilson Case Gage Depth Micrometer. This takes very precise, repeatable measurements, but you need to know your starting point. The manufacturer explains: “Every reloader should know exactly how much your Full Length Sizing Die is pushing back the shoulder. With the NEW Case Gage Depth Micrometer you can do just that! It has never been easier to measure you cases headspace before and after sizing. The Depth Mic allows you to slip the micrometer perfectly over the top of the Gage with your case inserted into the Gage and take a measurement. Micrometer has graduations of .001″. The Case Gage Depth Micrometer is set to a zero of .100″ on the scale at our factory. Because of differences in ‘feel’ and temperature, we include a the Gage Block for you to test Zero and to adjust if necessary.”

5. Pistol Brass Case DIY Bump Gauge

Last is a “field expedient” set-up if you do not have any of the comparator tools shown above. A sized .45 ACP case (or other suitable pistol case) can be used to measure shoulder bump. The mouth of the pistol case sits on the shoulder of your rifle cartridge brass.

Make sure the .45 ACP case is trimmed square and that it is round. We recommend you first run it through an expander, then size it, trim it and chamfer. Next, take the .45 ACP case and slip it over the neck of a fired, unsized rifle case with the primer removed. Align the two cases between the jaws of your calipers and note the length from rim to rim (See left photo below).

OK, now you have the length for a fired rifle case BEFORE sizing. Next, take a full-length sized rifle case (without primer) and do the same thing, placing the .45 ACP case over the neck of the FL-sized case (Right Photo). The difference between the two numbers is the amount of “bump” or set-back you are applying to the shoulder. Here the difference is .0015″. The amount of bump you need varies with your chamber and your load, but .0015-.002″ is a good initial setting.

Permalink - Articles, Blogroll, Gear Review, Reloading 1 Comment »
August 23rd, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sling Rifle Evolved: The Ultra-Accurate Hybrid Palma Rifle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Permalink Competition, Gear Review, Gunsmithing, Shooting Skills No Comments »
July 1st, 2020

Save Big Bucks with July 4th Week Sales Events

4th fourth july independence day sale brunos midsouth Natchez midway brownells

Many leading vendors are running sales for the 4th of July week. There are significant savings on select products, or free shipping, or both. Here’s a quick run-down on some Independence Week Sales Events from leading online retailers:

Brownells — Fourth of July Sale (Through 7/5/2020)

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Brownells is having a big Fourth of July Sale now through 11:59 pm on July 5th. Lots of great items are on sale: AR Uppers/Lowers, Optics, Barreled Actions, Pistols, Ammo, Reloading Tools and more. In addition there are brand-wide 25% savings on Aero Precision components and 20% Off Triggertech triggers. CLICK HERE to see all sale items.

Graf & Sons — 25% Off All Sightron Scopes

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Need a high-quality optic for your match rifle or hunting rig? Looking for a specialized “big wheel” scope for Field Target airgun competition? Sightron offers a wide range of quality scopes at affordable prices. And now the deals are even better. Right now Grafs.com is offering 25% Off ALL Sightron scopes in stock. This sale is good through 11:59 pm CT on July 10, 2020.

Cabela’s — Star Spangled Summer Sale

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If you need gun stuff AND camping/outdoor gear, check out Cabelas.com. Right now Cabela’s has a big Star Spangled Summer Sale, that runs through July 8, 2020. Right now you can save 11% on Ruger Revolvers, 20% on select Leupold scopes, 20% on Walker Hearing Protection, and $100 on Garmin Satellite GPS products. The Summer Sale has other fine deals on guns and ammo as well as camping gear.

ScopeList — Significant Savings on Big Brand Optics

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Scopelist.com has a number of attractive 4th of July Special. Many Vortex and Leupold scopes are marked down 10-20%. There are also deals on rangefinders and binoculars. CLICK HERE for full list of deals.

4th fourth july independence day sale brunos midsouth Natchez midwayusa brownells

Plus there is a very special Make an Offer Program with potentially HUGE savings. On each product page, you will find “Make an OFFER & SAVE BIG” Banner. All accepted offers will be acknowledged with 4 hours during normal business hours (or the next day).

Guns.com — Discounted Guns Plus Free Shipping

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At Guns.com you’ll find discounts up to 25% plus FREE Shipping on orders over $49.00 for the July 4th Weekend Sale. There are big savings — up to 25% — on certified used guns. Additionally, Ammo, Mags, and Optics are all on sale. NOTE: This sale ends July 5th 2020 at 12:00 am EDT. Select firearm inventory on sale, local dealers excluded. MAPP pricing excluded.

Whidden Gunworks — Special Shipping Offer for Holiday Weekend

4th fourth july independence day sale Whidden GUnworks Brunos Natchez brownells

Whidden Gunworks makes some of the best dies and reloading tools you can buy. Plus Whidden Gunworks also sells Barnard actions and complete rifles. Whidden Gunworks will announce a Shipping Offer starting Friday, July 3, 2020. This will provide FREE Shipping for orders made July 3 through July 6, 2020.

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May 17th, 2020

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 »
February 19th, 2020

New Barnard SMS Action from Whidden Gunworks

Whidden Gunworks Barnard SMS Remington Rem 700 action receiver
Whidden Gunworks Barnard SMS Remington Rem 700 action receiver

Whidden Gunworks has the long-awaited Barnard SMS action. This impressive new 3-lug Rem-footprint action is NOT just another Remington 700 clone, though it fits Rem-inletted stocks and chassis systems. The Barnard SMS is a high-quality, custom-grade action. With the 3-lug design, bolt handle lift is shorter and quicker than its top competitors. And the excellent trigger timing of the SMS provides a smooth, glass-like operation.

Whidden Gunworks Barnard SMS Remington Rem 700 action receiver

New Zealand-crafted Barnard actions, such as the venerable Model P, have been highly coveted in the competitive long range community based on their high quality, ease of maintenance, and superb performance. Here in the USA, customers have asked for the same Barnard quality in a format that allows the use of Rem 700-configured stocks, triggers, magazines, and other accessories. This new SMS action can be used for long-range competition, PRS, benchrest, silhouette, hunting — any application where Rem 700-type actions are popular.

This new SMS action works with the Rem 700-family accessories which are readily available on the market. No adapters or conversion blocks are necessary for this action. The Barnard SMS is a true drop-in fit with Rem 700-inletted stocks and chassis systems. Likewise magazines and triggers for the Remington 700 footprint fit and work 100% with the new Barnard SMS.

Whidden Gunworks Barnard SMS Remington Rem 700 action receiver
Whidden Gunworks Barnard SMS Remington Rem 700 action receiver

Whidden Gunworks states: “Sportsmen all over the world will agree to the unequaled and superb quality of Barnard actions. The internal parts are simple and robust. Disassembly and maintenance can be easily done in the field if needed quickly, returning your firearm back into service. Quality material and proper heat-treating methods ensure strength and longevity for a lifetime of use. The new Barnard SMS is a great new offering. For MORE INFO or to place your order today visit WhiddenGunworks.com. SMS Actions list at $1150.00.

Whidden Gunworks Barnard SMS Remington Rem 700 action receiver

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing, New Product No Comments »
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

Permalink - Articles, Gear Review, Gunsmithing 3 Comments »
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 »
October 9th, 2019

How’s Your Headspace? Four Tools to Measure Shoulder Bump

shoulder bump headspace gauge comparator tool whidden manson

The Tactical Rifle Shooters Facebook Group recently showcased tools used to measure case headspace before and after “bumping” the shoulder. After a case is fired, hand-loaders who full-length size their cases will typically bump the shoulders back anywhere from .001″ to .0035″, depending on the rifle and application. With our 6mmBR and Dasher cases we like about .0015″ bump.

You want the amount of case sizing and bump to be the same for all your brass. To ensure uniformity, it makes sense to measure your cases before and after the FL sizing process. When we have time, we check every case. Other folks will simply check the first 3-4 cases coming out of the FL sizing die to ensure the FL die setting is correct and delivering desired headspace/bump.

1. Whidden Gunworks Shoulder Bump Gauge

shoulder bump headspace gauge comparator tool whidden manson

There are a variety of tools that can be used to measure shoulder bump. Our favorite is a special cartridge-specific bushing made by Whidden Gunworks. The Whidden Shoulder Bump Gauge enables you to adjust your sizing die to the desired measurement. The bump gauge is attached to your calipers with a set screw and determines the measurement from the base to the shoulder of the case. The photo below, from Tactical Rifle Shooters, shows the Whidden Bump Gauge for the .375 CheyTac cartridge.

2. Dave Manson Vertical Comparator with Dial Read-Out

shoulder bump headspace gauge comparator tool whidden manson
Background image courtesy Tactical Rifle Shooters; inset photo from Manson Precison Reamers.

Dave Manson states: “This tool was designed to make life easier for the advanced shooter and re-loader by allowing precise measurement of ammunition, case, and chamber headspace. With this information, the re-loader will be able to fine-tune clearances and fits between his ammunition and chamber, with resultant improvements in accuracy and case life.” The functions of the Comparator are:

1. Measure headspace of factory or reloaded ammunition
2. Quantify chamber headspace by measuring headspace of a fired case
3. Ensure minimal shoulder set-back when setting up re-loading dies
4. Compare base-to-ogive length to ensure consistent bullet-to-rifling relationship.

In addition to the Dial Indicator and Stand, the $130.00 Vertical Comparator is supplied with multiple Datum Blocks of precise length and inside diameter (.3300″/.3750″/.4000″/.4375″). MORE INFO HERE.

3. Hornady L-N-L Headspace Comparator System

shoulder bump headspace gauge comparator tool whidden manson

Hornady makes comparator gauges matched to the red comparator holder that mounts on your caliper. These Lock-N-Load Headspace Gauges are inexpensive. You can get a set of five gauges for $31.99. Hornady explains: “The Lock-N-Load® Headspace Comparator… gauge measures variations in brass before and after firing or re-sizing. It allows for headspace comparison between fire-formed brass and re-sized brass.” IMPORTANT: Hornady states: “To determine the proper bushing diameter for your cartridge, simply add the neck diameter and the shoulder diameter and divide that number by two. Use the bushing closest to that number.” Hornady offers five: .330″, .350″, .375″, .400″, and .420″.

One tip — We have found the Hornady gauges may vary a little from unit to unit even with the same nominal size. If you have more than one gauge for the same cartridge, test each on your brass — you may then note a slight difference in your bump measurements.

4. Pistol Brass Case DIY Bump Gauge

Last is a “field expedient” set-up if you do not have any of the comparator tools shown above. A sized .45 ACP case (or other suitable pistol case) can be used to measure shoulder bump. The mouth of the pistol case sits on the shoulder of your rifle cartridge brass.

Make sure the .45 ACP case is trimmed square and that it is round. We recommend you first run it through an expander, then size it, trim it and chamfer. Next, take the .45 ACP case and slip it over the neck of a fired, unsized rifle case with the primer removed. Align the two cases between the jaws of your calipers and note the length from rim to rim (See left photo below).

OK, now you have the length for a fired rifle case BEFORE sizing. Next, take a full-length sized rifle case (without primer) and do the same thing, placing the .45 ACP case over the neck of the FL-sized case (Right Photo). The difference between the two numbers is the amount of “bump” or set-back you are applying to the shoulder. Here the difference is .0015″. The amount of bump you need varies with your chamber and your load, but .0015-.002″ is a good initial setting.

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
October 4th, 2019

Click-Adjust FL Die Systems from PMA Tool & Whidden Gunworks

click-adjustable die micro-adjusting lock ring PMA Tool Whidden Gunworks

One of the most important aspects of precision reloading is setting the shoulder bump during the full-length (FL) sizing process. You want the amount of “bump” to be precise and identical for every loaded round. However, when you switch brands of brass you may need to change the die position to get the desired bump and case body sizing. And even with the same brand of brass, you may find that you need to adjust your FL die as the number of brass load cycles increases. Brass that has been fired many times will behave differently than new or near-new brass.

Also, even with the same cartridge type, brass loaded for a semi-auto rifle may need more bump than brass fired in a bolt gun. For example, with .223 Rem ammo, you’ll normally want to push the shoulder back farther if the ammo will be shot in a AR15 as opposed to a bolt-action rig.

So how do you make all these needed adjustments for your full-length dies? You can move a conventional locking ring up and down, but that can be a tedious, trial-and-error process. Some guys use shims in one-thousandth intervals, but that still requires taking your dies in and out of the press. Well there is a better way now…

PMA Tool Micro-Die Adjuster

Wouldn’t it be great if you could precisely adjust your FL die up and down in half-thousandth increments, with a simple indexed click. That is now possible with products offered by PMA Tool and Whidden Gunworks. PMA Tool offers a Micro-Die Adjuster that replaces your existing lock ring and can be used with nearly any 7/8-14 full length sizing die. The engraved marks correspond to approximately .001″ of shoulder bump adjustment. Splitting the engraved marks is therefore approximately equal to .0005″ (half a thousandth). Users love this product, saying it adds precision and saves time.

Whidden Click-Adjustable FL Sizing Die System

Whidden Gunworks offers a complete click-adjustable FL sizer die with a special, indexed ring. With Whidden’s patent-pending Click Adjustable Sizer Die system, the die and lock ring work together to allow rapid, precise bump adjustments. One click changes the bump .001″. It’s simple and fast. Included with the Click Adjustable Sizer Die is a shoulder bump gauge. John Whidden (in video below) explains:

“There has become a need for an easier way to adjust the sizer die properly. Until now there have been few options other than trial and error to get the shoulder setback correct. Anyone who has done this can attest that it’s a slow and imprecise job! Our die and lock ring work together to give the user a clicking feel to the adjustment. Each click moves the shoulder bump .001” so you can easily find the exact shoulder bump that you desire.” — John Whidden

General Tips on Setting Up and Using Sizing Dies

Permalink - Articles, - Videos, Reloading 1 Comment »
June 13th, 2019

Precision Rifle EXPO Returns to Georgia in September 2019

Precision Rifle Expo Arena Blakely GA Georgia PRS NRL

Practical/Tactical fans, mark your calendars. The Precision Rifle EXPO is back for its second year, running September 28-29, 2019 at the Arena Training Facility in Blakely, Georgia. Last year, over 800 attendees came to the two-day event. This year, manufacturers will be showing off actions, optics, ammo, reloading equipment, stocks, chassis, electronics, supporting equipment (bags and tripods), rifles, triggers, suppressors, and much more. There will be training sessions on precision handloading, wind reading, marksmanship, ballistic devices, and introduction to competition.

The event lets precision rifle enthusiasts connect with top manufacturers, rifle instructors, and leading tactical competitors. You can Pre-Register for $35, or pay $50 at the door in September. Registration includes access to the exhibition tent and the range locations, plus the educational classes for both days.

Video Showcases Last Year’s Precision Rifle EXPO:

Precision Rifle Expo Series National Rifle League Arena Training Facility Blakely Georgia September meeting

All Types of Products Will Be on Display
The Precision Rifle EXPO offers a unique opportunity to check out the latest products from dozens of top companies all in one place. We expect over 40 companies will be at the EXPO, displaying complete rifles, actions, triggers, stocks, optics, reloading gear, ammo, electronics, rangefinders, chronographs, ear protection, support bags, bipods, tripods, and all manner of accessories.

Precision Rifle Expo Arena Blakely GA Georgia PRS NRL
Nick Gadarzi in Utah NRL match with Leupold Mark 5HD™ 5-25×56mm, TMR reticle

Precision Rifle EXPO 2018 Exhibitor List

NOTE: There may be some changes for 2019, but there should still be 40+ Exhibitors.

Accurate Ordnance
Alpha Munitions
Atlas (B&T Industries)
Area 419
Armageddon Gear
Barrett
Berger
Bushnell
Cole-TAC
Curtis Custom
Defiance
Federal
GA Precision
Hunts Long Range
Kahles
Kelbly’s
Kestrel
Knights Armament
Lapua
Magnetospeed
Manners Stocks
MasterPiece Arms
McMillan Stocks
McWhorter Rifles
MDT Chassis
Nightforce
Proof Research Barrels
RCBS
Really Right Stuff
Rugged Suppressors
Schmidt & Bender
Sierra
SK Ammo
Stillers Precision
Swarovski
Timney
Trigger Tech
Vortex
Vudoo Rifles
Warnes Scope Mounts
West Texas Ordnance
Whidden Gun Works

Precision Rifle Expo Arena Blakely GA Georgia PRS NRL

Arena Training Facility — 2300 Acres
The 2300-acre Arena Training Facility is a premier shooting facility with multiple shooting ranges from 50m to 2100m. Arena’s 1000-yard covered Known Distance range offers multiple benches, steel and paper targets out to 1000 yards. On Arena’s UKD (unknown distance) range shooters can engage steel out to 2300 yards. This 2100m UKD range boasts a 3-Story Shooting Tower, Air-Conditioned Shoot House, and multiple Positional Challenges.space.

arena training facility Georgia

The Arena Training Facility is located approximately two hours from the Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta, Georgia and is centrally located in the Southeastern USA.

Permalink Gear Review, News, Tactical No Comments »
March 30th, 2019

F-Open Thumbhole Stock Crafted by Carl Bernosky

F-Class F-Open Rifle stock

Many F-Open shooters favor low-profile benchrest-type stocks. They shoot these with minimal hand and cheek contact. Not “free recoil” mind you, but pretty close. With practice and a high-quality front rest and rear bag, that “minimal hold” style can work very well.

F-Class F-Open Rifle stock
Modern F-Open Rifle designed for “minimalist” grip/hold. Note the complete abscence of cheekpiece.

However, other successful F-Open and F-TR shooters prefer to hold their rifles, with a firm grip and solid cheek weld. If you come from a “hard-holding” Palma rifle background this may seem more natural. In addition, this shooting style may work best for folks who also shoot PRS or tactical matches using a vertical pistol grip and solid hold.

Carl Bernosky Thumbhole Laminate F-Class Barnard Rifle Stock long range adjustable cheekpieceFor guys who want to shoot their F-Open rig as they do their prone, tactical or hunting rifles, here is a modern F-Open stock designed for this kind of shooting. And this stock was crafted by a fellow with a pretty good shooting resume — Carl Bernosky.

Most of you know as a great marksman and 10-time National High Power Champion. But you may not realize that Carl is also a superb stock-maker. A true craftsman, Carl produces outstanding laminated and fancy wood stocks for hunters and competitive shooters. Visit CarlBernosky.com to see a selection of Carl’s competition and hunting stocks.

Her is Carl’s thumbhole F-Class stock. Designed for F-Open shooters, this stock features a flat, 3″-wide fore-end, ergonomic grip, and adjustable cheekpiece. The laminated Bernosky stock featured here was crafted for Chesebro Rifles, which offers a turn-key stock package for the Barnard ‘P’ action, one of our favorite custom actions. This particular build features a MT Guns Vee Block Bedding System, MT Guns 3-Way Adjustable Butt Plate, and B&D Precision removable cheek piece.

Click Photo to view full-size image of stock.
Carl Bernosky Thumbhole Laminate F-Class Barnard Rifle Stock long range adjustable cheekpiece
Carl Bernosky Thumbhole Laminate F-Class Barnard Rifle Stock long range adjustable cheekpiece

As you see it, complete with all hardware (including short fore-end rail for bipod) this stock runs $1275.00 ready to ship. Just attach your Barnard barreled action and you’re ready to compete. The stock (by itself) weighs 6.5 pounds. Contact Chesebro Rifles, (661) 557-2442, for more information.

Cheek-piece close-up shows high-quality adjustment hardware.
Carl Bernosky Thumbhole Laminate F-Class Barnard Rifle Stock long range adjustable cheekpiece

Cheek-piece is relieved to allow full bolt travel.
Carl Bernosky Thumbhole Laminate F-Class Barnard Rifle Stock long range adjustable cheekpiece

Short accessory rail on the underside of the fore-end can be used to mount bipod.
Carl Bernosky Thumbhole Laminate F-Class Barnard Rifle Stock long range adjustable cheekpiece

Stock tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Competition, Gear Review, Gunsmithing 2 Comments »
July 5th, 2018

.243 Winchester — The Forgotten Long-Range Cartridge

John Whidden gunworks long range championship nra indiana camp perry 2016 2017 atterbury

John Whidden of Whidden Gunworks used the .243 Winchester cartridge to win the 2017 NRA Long Range Championship, his fifth LR title at Camp Perry (and second in a row). 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. Here’s John’s story of how he wins with a .243 Win.

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.”

The .243 Winchester — Good Enough to Win LR Championships

by John Whidden, Five-Time 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 gunworks long range championship nra indiana camp perry 2016 2017 atterbury

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. Surprising to some, John does load his ammo on a Dillon Progressive press (with help from his ultra-precise Auto-trickler).

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.

John Whidden National Long Range Championship Camp Perry 2016 Wind Reading

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
July 3rd, 2018

Fourth of July Sales Events — Save Up to 25%

4th fourth july independence day sale brunos midsouth Natchez midway brownells

Many leading vendors are running sales for the 4th of July week. There are significant savings on select products, or free shipping, or both. Here’s a quick run-down on some Independence Day Sales Events from leading online retailers:

Bruno Shooters Supply — Major Sale Through 7/10/18

4th fourth july independence day sale brunos midsouth Natchez midwayusa brownells

Bruno’s is having a big sale now through 11:59 pm on July 10th (it has been extended). Lots of great items are on sale: Kreiger barrels, BAT Actions, Leupold Scopes, Lyman Reloading Tools, Berger and Sierra Bullets, Cartridge Brass, Powder, Primers, and much more. CLICK HERE to see all sale items.

Whidden Gunworks — 10% Off Sale

4th fourth july independence day sale Whidden GUnworks Brunos Natchez midwayusa brownells

Whidden Gunworks makes some of the best dies and reloading tools you can buy. Plus Whidden Gunworks also sells Barnard actions, complete rifles, and reloading components. Here’s your chance to save 10% on nearly everything Whidden Gunworks sells. This July Sale runs through July 6, 2018. Use Code UNCLESAM at check-out to save 10%.

Bushmaster — 25% Off Everything

4th fourth july independence day sale brunos midsouth Natchez bushmaster ar15 midwayusa brownells

Here’s a great promo for AR fans. Bushmaster is knocking 25% off the price of ALL Merchandise in its online store. The covers stocks, complete uppers, handguards, grips, magazines, cleaning kits, slings, and more. If you need a new upper or accessories for your black rifle, check out this sale.

Cabela’s — July 4th Sale and Summer Sale

4th fourth july independence day sale brunos midsouth Natchez midwayusa brownells

If you need gun stuff AND camping/outdoor gear, check out Cabelas.com. Right now Cabela’s has a big July 4th Sale, followed by a Summer Savings Sale that runs through July 15. Right now you can save $100 on Kimber pistols, $50 on Leupold scopes, and 20% on Walker’s hearing protection. The Summer Sale has other fine deals on guns and ammo as well as camping gear.

ScopeList — Significant Savings on Vortex, Zeiss, Leupold Optics

4th fourth july independence day sale optics scopelist vortex zeiss

Scopelist.com has a number of attractive 4th of July Special. Many Vortex and Zeiss scopes are 13% OFF, while select Leupold scopes are marked down 10%. There are also big savings this month on Schmidt & Bender scopes and Remington 700 chassis system rifles.

Natchez Shooters Supplies — Free Shipping on Select Ammo

4th fourth july independence day sale brunos midsouth Natchez midwayusa brownells

We wish this promotion covered all merchandise, but it’s still a good deal if you need .223 Rem (5.56×45) ammo for your AR15 or varmint rifle. Now through 11:59 on July 4th shipping is free on .223 Rem or 5.56×45 ammo, with a minimum $150.00 order. Use Code FS180702 — Details HERE.

MidwayUSA — Free Shipping on $99+ Orders

4th fourth july independence day sale brunos midsouth Natchez midwayusa brownells

MidwayUSA is offering free shipping now through 11:59 pm on July 4, 2018. This applies to orders over $99.00. To qualify, add at least $99.01 of in-stock, qualifying products to your cart, and then use code 99SHIPFREEJULY418 during check-out. This Free Shipping offer includes clearance and sale items.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hot Deals No Comments »
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

Permalink Competition, Reloading 1 Comment »
November 16th, 2017

The Custom-Honed Full-Length Die — Why You May Want One

Honed FL Forster Whidden Full-length dies
For some applications, we prefer a non-bushing FL die over a bushing die. Shown here are three Forster full-length sizing dies, with necks honed to three different dimensions: 0.265″, 0.266″, and 0.267″.

The Honed Full-Length Sizing Die Option

There are many good options in full-length (FL) sizing dies. Most precision hand-loaders prefer FL dies with neck bushings. These let you adjust the “grip” on your bullet by using larger or smaller bushings. FL bushing dies are available from Whidden Gunworks, Forster, Redding and other makers.

Conventional, non-bushing full-length sizing dies can create ultra-accurate ammo with very low run-out. But many conventional non-bushing FL dies have an undersized neck diameter so you end up with excess neck tension, and you work the brass excessively.

There is another effective option, one that promises extremely low run-out. The honed FL die is a full-length sizing die that has the necked honed to provide a precise fit to the case-neck. When done right, honed FL dies produce extremely straight ammo — as there are no issues with bushing alignment (or bushings that are not perfectly concentric). This Editor owns honed dies from Forster, Redding, and Whidden. They all perform extremely well, delivering match ammunition with extremely low run-out measured with a 21st Century Concentricity Gauge.

In one of the most popular articles we’ve ever published, Bugholes from Bipod, California shooter “Froggy” explained why he prefers honed dies for his tactical ammo.

Q: Do you FL size every time? Do you use custom dies?

Absolutely, I full length resize all of my brass every time I reload. And guess what? I’ve never had a feeding problem.

I do use a modified sizing die, without bushings. My FL resizing die has been custom-honed in the neck area to give .0015″ press fit on the bullet. I also put a slightly larger radius at the neck shoulder junction. I feel that this helps to seal the chamber. With this die, I get consistent neck tension every time–without bushings. Bushings are useful when you’re fishing around for a good load. But once you find the right amount of sizing for ideal neck tension, you can do this better with a customized FL die.

6.5 Guys Review Forster Honed Full-length Dies
The 6.5 Guys recently reviewed honed FL sizing dies from Forster, explaining the pros and cons of this type of reloading die. They explained that, if you load a wide variety of bullets from different manufacturers, you many want to stick with a Bushing FL die. However, if you have settled on a particular bullet and found the “ideal” neck tension, then a honed die may make sense.

In this Gear Update, the 6.5 Guys discuss a service offered by Forster Products to custom hone the neck diameter of its full-length sizing dies to the customer’s specifications (to the thousandth). Whidden Gunworks also offers custom-honed FL dies.

Permalink Reloading No Comments »
October 18th, 2017

Stop Neck Sizing! Why You Should Full-Length Size Your Brass

Full-Length Sizing Erik Cortina Neck Sizing Video

Why It’s Smart to Full-Length Size Your Brass

Commentary by Erik Cortina

Should You Full-Length Size Your Cartridge Brass?

Absolutely. Let Me Explain Why…

I have seen it time and time again, shooters on the line wrestling with their rifle trying to get the bolt closed while the wind is switching. They were too focused trying to get their bolt to close and getting their rifle settled back on the bags that they missed the wind switch. Bang… Eight! The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was at the 2017 Canadian Nationals. I was paired up with a young girl and she would try really hard to close the bolt on her rifle. The majority of the time she would get it to close, but often times she could not even get the round to chamber. She was focused on her rifle the entire time rather than on the conditions. When we completed our strings, she had five rounds that did not chamber our of 15! That is way too many!. I told her she needed to think about Full-length sizing with 0.002″ shoulder bump, or Controlled Full-length Sizing like I call it. I told her not to worry about losing accuracy. I told her that I full-length size all my rounds and asked if she noticed how smooth my bolt was and noticed my score. She said yes, they were both great!

Controlled Full-length Sizing Does NOT Harm Accuracy
I have found that Controlled Full-length Sizing does NOT hurt accuracy or shorten brass life. I find that I can focus much more on the conditions when I don’t have to think about chambering a round nor extracting it. It has become second nature. After firing, I keep my head welded to the stock, I open the bolt by placing my thumb on top of stock and rotating hand upwards. I reach in and retrieve spent case, place it back in ammo box, and pick up another loaded round and put in chamber. I verify conditions and when ready, I push the bolt in and close it with my index and middle finger.

With Controlled Full-length Sizing you “bump” the shoulder around .002″ for bolt guns.*
full length sizing
Image courtesy Sinclair International which carries a variety of Full-length dies.

Full-Length Sizing Erik Cortina Neck Sizing Video

Whidden Gunworks DiesWhidden Full-Length Sizing Dies
by AccurateShooter.com Editor
For proper Full-length sizing, you want a quality die that’s a very good match to your chamber. For our project rifles we usually turn to Whidden Gunworks which offers both bushing and non-bushing FL dies. And if you want the hot new option, check out Whidden’s patent-pending, click-adjustable FL-sizing die. This gives instant, precise control over shoulder bump. It works great.

*With gas guns, such as the AR10, you may want to increase shoulder bump to .003″ or more. With some benchrest cartridges, .0015″ bump may prove optimal. But .002″ is a good starting point.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Reloading 10 Comments »
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 »
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 »
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 »