May 26th, 2021

Save Time and Bullets — Fire-Form with your Fouler Shots

Fire-forming fouler barrel life fouling shots

PPC Fire-formingFire-Form with Foulers
Here’s a tip for guys who shoot the 6 PPC, 6 Dasher, 6 BRA, .284 Shehane, or other wildcat cartridges that require fire-forming. Use your fouler shots to fire-form new cases. That way your fouler shots do “double-duty” and you get your brass fire-formed without putting extra rounds through your expensive barrel.

This procedure is recommended by Joel Kendrick, the 2004 IBS 600-yard Shooter of the Year. After he cleans his barrel, Joel knows it takes two or three shots to foul in the bore before accuracy returns. When shooting his PPC, Joel uses those fouler shots to fire-form his new brass. Joel explains: “I like to have relatively new brass always ready. By fire-forming a couple cases after each barrel-cleaning during a match, by the end of the weekend I’ve got a dozen or more freshly fire-formed cases to put into the rotation. If you do this with your fouler shots you get your fire-forming accomplished without using up any extra barrel life.”

This not only saves barrel wear, but it saves you trips to the range for the purpose of fire-forming. We thank Joel for this smart suggestion. For those who do not have a dedicated barrel for fire-forming, this should help keep your round-count down. Note: With this fouler fire-forming routine, you should ALWAYS do the fire-forming with the SAME POWDER you load for your match ammo. Joel currently works as the Supplier Quality Process Engineer for MMI-TruTec, a company that offers barrel surface coatings that can further extend your barrel life.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Shooting Skills 2 Comments »
April 18th, 2021

Sunday Gunday: 20 Practical 4200+ FPS Varmint Slayer

.20 20 practical varmint cartridge .204 Tikka lilja Warren

Do you have .20-Cal fever? Do you yearn to see what a 4200+ fps projectile can do to an unsuspecting prairie dog? Well you could go out and purchase a 204 Ruger rifle, fork over the money for a new, complete die set, and hope that the brass is in stock. Warren B (aka “Fireball”) has a more cost-effective solution. If you have .223 Rem dies and brass, all you need to shoot the 20 Practical is a new barrel and a .230″ bushing to neck down your .223 cases. Warren’s wildcat is simple, easy, and economical. And the 20 Practical matches the performance of the highly-publicized 20 Tactical with less money invested and no need to buy forming dies or fire-form cases. Warren’s cartridge was aptly named. Practical it is.

20 Practical Tikka Bolt Action for Varminting

by Warren B (aka “Fireball”) and Kevin Weaver

After building my 20 PPC, I wanted to do another .20 caliber, this time a repeater for predator hunting that could also serve as a gopher/prairie dog rifle. I wanted to use a Tikka M595 stainless sporter I had. This rifle is the ultimate repeater with an extremely smooth-feeding cycle from its single-column magazine. Since the Tikka was a .223 Remington from the factory, I first looked at possible case designs that would fit the magazine. The 204 Ruger was a very new round at the time and brass was scarce. I also didn’t care for the overly long case design or the standard throat dimensions of the cartridge. I then looked at the 20 Tactical. It was a nice cartridge but I didn’t like the fact that (at the time) an ordinary two-die Tac 20 set with just a plain full-length die and standard seater were $150. Not only did the costs bother me, but I was accustomed to using a Redding die set featuring a body die, a Type-S bushing neck die, and a Competition seater. To be honest, I also didn’t care for the 20 Tactical’s name–there is absolutely nothing tactical about the cartridge. I didn’t want to adopt a new cartridge based on what I perceived to be a marketing gimmick (that “tactical” title).


Warren B, aka “Fireball”, with his Tikka 595. With its smooth action and phenolic single-column mag, it cycles perfectly in rapid fire.

.20 20 practical varmint cartridge .204 Tikka lilja WarrenSimply Neck Down .223 Rem to Make a 20-223 Wildcat
I decided the best thing to do for my purposes was to simply neck down the .223 Rem case and make a 20-223. I already had the dies, the brass, and a rifle that would feed it perfectly. I decided to call the cartridge the 20 Practical because as you will see in this article, it truly is a very practical cartridge. In addition to the generous and inexpensive availability of brass and dies, the 20 Practical is an easy case to create, requiring no fire forming as a final step. Simply neck your .223 Rem cases down, load and shoot.

[Editor’s Note: Over the years, other shooters have experimented with .223 Remington cases necked down to .20 caliber, some with longer necks, some with different shoulder angles. Warren doesn’t claim to be the first fellow to fit a .20-caliber bullet in the .223 case. He gives credit to others who did pioneering work years ago. But he has come up with a modern 20-223 wildcat that involves no special case-forming, and minimal investment in dies and tooling. He commissioned the original PTG 20 Practical reamer design, and he and Kevin did the field testing to demonstrate the performance of this particular version.]

I chose Kevin Weaver at Weaver Rifles to fit and chamber the barrel to my rifle. Kevin does excellent work and is great to work with. Kevin liked the idea of the 20 Practical so much he agreed to purchase the project reamer. (BTW Kevin didn’t even need to purchase a Go/No-Go gauge, he just used an existing .223 Rem gauge.)

Before Kevin ordered the reamer, I talked over the reamer specs with him. My priorities were tolerances on the tight end of the .223 Rem SAAMI specification, a semi-fitted neck with no need for neck-turning, and a short throat so that we could have plenty of the 32gr V-Max in the case and still touch the lands. I also wanted this short throat in case [anyone] wanted to chamber an AR-15 for the 20 Practical. A loaded 20 Practical round will easily touch the lands on an AR-15 while fitting into the magazine with no problem. With its standard 23-degree shoulder, the 20 Practical case also feeds flawlessly through an AR-15.

As for the barrel, I only use Liljas on my rifles. I have had great luck with them. They have always shot well and they clean up the easiest of any barrels that I have tried. I had previously sent my Tikka barreled action to Dan Lilja so that he could program a custom contour into his equipment and turn out a barrel that would perfectly fit the factory M595 sporter stock. There isn’t much material on an M595 sporter stock so the contour had to match perfectly and it did. Dan Lilja now has this custom contour available to anyone who would like to rebarrel their M595 sporter with one of his barrels.

There Are Plenty of Good .204-Caliber Varmint Bullet Options
20 Practical .204 Ruger .20 caliber bullets

How to Form 20 Practical Cases — Simple and Easy
Forming 20 Practical cases is very easy. No fire-forming is required. Start with any quality .223 Rem brass. Then simply run the case into your bushing die with the appropriate bushing and call it done.

Project Componentry
My 20 Practical rifle started out as a Tikka Model 595 Stainless Sporter in .223 Remington. Though the M595 is no longer imported, if you shop around you can find M595 Sporters for bargain prices. Mine cost under $500. I think the action alone is worth that! The receiver has a milled dovetail for scope rings plus a side bolt release like expensive BR actions. The bolt cycles very smoothly. Ammo is handled with super-reliable 3- or 5-round detachable single-column magazines (FYI, Tikka’s M595 22-250 mags will feed a 6BR case flawlessly.) We kept the standard Tikka trigger but fitted it with a light-weight spring. Now the trigger pull is a crisp 1.8 pounds–about as good as it gets in a factory rifle. We replaced the factory tube with a custom, 24″, 3-groove Lilja 12-twist barrel. Dan Lilja created a special M595 sporter contour to allow a perfect “drop-in” fit with the factory stock. For optics, I’ve fitted a Leupold 4.5-14x40mm zoom in low Talley light-weight aluminum mounts. All up, including optics and sling, my 20 Practical weighs just under 8.5 pounds.

Test Report–How’s It Shoot?
I sent the barrel and barreled action to Kevin and in a very short time it was returned. Kevin did a perfect job on the rifle. I had asked him to try to match the bead blasted finish of the Tikka when he finished the new barrel. It came out perfect and the only way one can tell it is a custom is the extra two inches of length and the “20 Practical” cartridge designation.

So, no doubt you’re asking “how does she shoot?” Is my “prototype”, first-ever 20 Practical an accurate rig? In a word, yes. Even with the standard factory stock, and light contour barrel, it can shoot 3/8″ groups. Take a look at the typical target from this rifle. This is from an 8.5-pound sporter with a very skinny fore-end and a factory trigger.

Gunsmith’s Report from Kevin Weaver
The 20 Practical: Origins and Development

Editor’s NOTE: We can’t say for sure who first necked down the .223 Rem to .20 caliber and chambered a rifle for that wildcat (as opposed to the .20 Tactical). But here is an account from way back in 2006 when the Warren B first came up with the idea of a .20 Practical cartridge, complete with reamer specs.

A year ago I received a call from Warren with a great idea. Warren asked “Why couldn’t we simply neck down the .223 Remington case to 20 caliber and get basically the same performance as the 20 Tactical? This way you can forgo the expensive forming dies that are needed for the 20 Tactical.” The idea made perfect sense to me, and I saw no major technical issues, so we got started on the project. I ordered a reamer from Dave Kiff at Pacific Tool & Gauge (PTG) with a .233″ neck. The .233″ neck should allow for a simple necking-down of the 223 Remington case to produce the 20 Practical in just one step. No fire-forming necessary! Furthermore, the PTG 20 Practical reamer Dave created should work with any available .223 Rem brass, commercial or military.

The first 20 Practical round was launched down range (through Warren’s Tikka) just a few months later. The brass formed as easily as expected. All one needs is a Redding type “S” bushing die with a .230 bushing and with just one step I had a .20 caliber case ready to shoot. Warren is brilliant. [Editor’s Note: We concur. For more details on Warren’s case-forming methods and his tips for adapting .223 Rem dies, read the technical sections further down the page.]

It would be almost six months later until I got around to building a dedicated test rifle chambered for the 20 Practical. I used a Remington 722 action, Remington synthetic semi-varmint stock, and a 24″ Douglas stainless steel XX 12-twist barrel. I formed and loaded about 30 cases using Remington brass in about 20 minutes. I used a .223 Rem seating die to seat the 20 Practical bullets. The .223 seating stem seated the small 20-Cal bullets just fine. The first loads sent the 40gr Hornady V-Max bullets down range at a modest 3500 FPS. I did not shoot for groups. I just wanted to use this load to sight in the rifle and break in the barrel. Load development was painless–I used reduced .223 Rem loads for 40gr bullets and worked up from there. In the table below are some of my preferred loads as well as Warren’s favorite recipes for his 20 Practical.

Bullet Wt. Powder Charge Wt. Velocity FPS Comments
32GR H4198 24.1 4025 Warren’s lighter gopher load
32GR AA2460 27.8 4154 Warren’s coyote/prairie dog load
32GR N133 26.0 4183 Coyote/PD load, clean burn
33GR H4198 26.0 4322 Hot Load. Use with Caution!
33GR N133 27.0 4255 Kevin: 0.388” 5 shot group
40GR H335 25.0 3583 Kevin’s barrel break-in load
40GR H4198 24.0 3907 Hodgdon “Extreme” Powder
40GR IMR4895 26.0 3883 Kevin: 0.288″ 5-shot group
40GR N133 25.0 3959 Kevin: 0.227″ 5-shot group
Warren’s Load Notes: My pet loads are all with IMI cases, 32gr Hornady V-Maxs, and Fed 205 primers (not match). These are the most accurate loads in my rifle so far. I haven’t even bothered with the 40s as I have the 20 PPC and 20 BR for those heavier bullets. I prefer the lighter bullets in the 20 Practical because I wanted to keep speed up and recoil down in this sporter-weight predator rifle. Also, the 32gr V-Max is exceptionally accurate and explosive. I like N133 the best as it burns so clean. IMI cases are tough and well-made.
Kevin’s Load Notes: I used Remington 223 cases, Hornady V-Max bullets, and Remington 6 1/2 primers to develop the above loads. CAUTION: all loads, both Warren’s and mine, should be reduced 20% when starting load development in your rifle. All load data should be used with caution. Always start with reduced loads first and make sure they are safe in each of your guns before proceeding to the high test loads listed. Since Weaver Rifles has no control over your choice of components, guns, or actual loadings, neither Weaver Rifles nor the various firearms and components manufacturers assume any responsibility for the use of this data.

Comparing the 20 Practical and 20 Tactical
Kevin tells us: “The 20 Practical and the 20 Tactical are almost identical cartridges. There are only slight differences in case Outside Diameter, shoulder angle, and case body length. The neck length on the 20 Tactical is a bit longer, but there is still plenty of neck on the 20 Practical to grip the popular bullets, such as the 32gr V-Max. Here are some specs:

Cartridge Bolt face to shoulder Shoulder O.D. Shoulder Angle Total length
20 Tactical 1.5232″ .360 30° 1.755″
20 Practical 1.5778″ .3553 23° 1.760″

Both the 20 Tactical and the 20 Practical are fine .20 caliber cartridges. At present, the 20 Tactical is the more popular of the two because it has had more publicity. However, my favorite would be the 20 Practical. Warren’s 20 Practical gives the SAME performance as the 20 Tactical without fire-forming, or having to buy expensive forming dies. So with the 20 Practical you do less work, you shell out a lot less money, yet you give up nothing in performance. What’s not to like? To create 20 Practical cases, just buy a .223 Rem Redding Type “S” Bushing Die set with a .230 or .228 bushing and have fun with this great little cartridge.”

(more…)

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November 24th, 2020

10 Shots in 0.289 MOA — Can Your Rifle Beat this XP-100 Pistol?

XP100 target pistol 6x45 6x45mm benchrest

TEN Shots in 0.303″ (0.289 MOA) at 100 Yards
Look at that target showing TEN shots at 100 yards, with eight (8) shots in the main cluster at the top. The ten-shot group measures .303″ (0.289 MOA), as calculated with OnTarget Software. Not bad for a handgun — a very nice bolt-action XP-100 pistol! What do you think, can your best-shooting rifle match the 10-shot accuracy of this XP-100 pistol?

XP100 target pistol 6x45 6x45mm benchrest

Report by Boyd Allen
This story goes back a few seasons… this remarkable XP-100 pistol belongs to Dan Lutke, a Bay Area benchrest shooter who publishes the results for the Visalia matches to the competitors and the NBRSA. He has been an enthusiastic competitor for an number of years, at various ranges, notably Visalia and Sacramento. The action is a Remington XP-100, to which a Kelbly 2 oz. trigger has been fitted. On top is an old Japanese-made Tasco 36X scope (these were actually pretty darn good). The Hart barrel (a cast-off from Dan’s Unlimited rail gun) was shortened and re-chambered for the 6x45mm, a wildcat made by necking-up the .223 Remington parent case. The custom stock/chassis was CNC-machined by Joe Updike from 6061 Billet Aluminum to fit the XP-100 action and mount a target-style AR grip with bottom hand rest. The gun was bedded and assembled by Mel Iwatsubu. In his XP-100 pistol, Dan shoots 65gr custom boat-tails with Benchmark powder.

XP100 target pistol 6x45 6x45mm benchrest

This diagram shows the most common 6x45mm wildcat, which is a necked-up version of the .223 Remington parent cartridge. NOTE: The dimensions for Dan Lutke’s benchrest version of this cartridge may be slightly different.

XP100 target pistol 6x45 6x45mm benchrest
ACAD drawing by Peter Gnanapragasam CC by SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Title Added.

Story tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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July 30th, 2020

The 300 Raptor — Monster .30-Caliber Magnum for Long Range

300 Raptor Allen Precision
The 300 Raptor just might be the most powerful .30-Cal magnum for a conventional-sized receiver.

With the success of the King of 2 Miles (KO2M) event and the growing popularity of extreme long range shooting, we’ve seen an increased interest in really big cartridges for really long range. One such wildcat cartridge is the 300 Raptor pioneered by Kirby Allen. This monster magnum can launch a 230gr bullet at 3350 fps. That delivers some serious ballistics at extreme long range.

300 Raptor Allen PrecisionKirby Allen of Allen Precision Shooting, www.apsrifles.com, has developed a .30-caliber, jumbo-sized magnum wildcat cartridge. The powerful 300 Raptor (center in photo) is based on Allen’s 338 Excalibur parent case (far right in photo), necked down to 30 Cal with shoulder moved forward to increase case capacity. Allen states: “This is the largest capacity and performance .30 caliber magnum on the market that can be used in a conventional-sized receiver.”

Shoot 200s at 3600 fps
Performance of Allen’s new 300 Raptor is impressive. Allen claims that “200gr Accubonds can be driven to nearly 3600 fps, 230gr Berger Hybrids to 3350 fps, and the 240gr SMK to right at 3300 fps. These loads offered case life in excess of 6-7 firings per case and many of my test cases have over 8 firings on each case so they are not an overly hot load showing the potential of this big .30 caliber.”

To showcase the new cartridge, Allen built up a prototype rifle with a McMillan A5 stock, Raptor LRSS Action with extended tenon, and a Jewell trigger. The first 300 Raptor Rifle is currently on its second barrel, a new 30″, 3-groove 1:9″-twist Lilja in a custom APS “Raptor Contour”. This distinctive dual-fluted contour runs full-diameter almost to the end of the stock, and then steps down and tapers to the muzzle, where a beefy Medium 3-port ‘Painkiller’ Allen Precision brake is fitted.

300 Raptor Allen Precision

Story tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting 2 Comments »
February 5th, 2020

Wildcatter’s Road Map — Cartridge Conversion Book

handloaders guide cartridge conversion wildcat obsolete cartridges

Are you a confirmed wildcatter? Do you like to experiment with custom cartridge types? Or do you just like the extra performance you can get from a specialty cartridge such as a 20 Vartarg or 22-250 AI? Well, if you love wildcat cartridges, you’ll probably enjoy this book. Now available for the first time since 2003, The Handloader’s Manual of Cartridge Conversions explains the processes and tools needed to convert standardized brass into hundreds of different rifle and pistol cartridge types. A vast variety of case designs are covered — from vintage cartridge types to modern, cutting-edge wildcats.

handloaders guide cartridge conversion wildcat obsolete cartridges

This classic reference guide has been revised with an easy-to-search format, complete with a full index of hundreds of cartridges. This book belongs on the shelf of any hand-loader who enjoys making and shooting wildcat cartridges. However do note that much of the text is unchanged from earlier editions. For some cartridge types, the author recommends “parent” brass brands that are no longer available. In other situations, there may be more convenient conversions now offered. Nonetheless this is an important resource. As one verified purchaser explains: “Great reference for making the cartridges that are hard to get or no longer in production. Offers an alternative to the the time, expense and effort of having to re-chamber a classic. Saves ‘Grandpa’s shooters’ from becoming safe queens.”

wildcat cartridge case forming Killer Bee Hydraulic
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
June 22nd, 2017

Wildcattin’ Wisdom — Good Resource for Wildcat Cartridges

Zegline Wildcat Cartridges ManualAre you a wildcatter? We know many of our readers like to invent new cartridge types. If that applies to you, here’s a great resource…

Fred Zeglin has released a Kindle eBook edition of his popular book Wildcat Cartridges — Reloader’s Handbook of Wildcat Cartridge Design. Gunsmith/author Zeglin explains: “The print edition of Wildcat Cartridges has gone out of print. We have plans to produce a second edition, but that is currently on the back burner. Demand of this book has remained strong so the decision to offer the first edition in a e-book format was made.” The Kindle eBook edition retails for $9.99 on Amazon.com. You can preview a FREE SAMPLE of the book to “try before you buy”.

CLICK HERE to Read FREE eBook Sample from Zeglin’s Wildcat Cartridges

This is more than just a history of cartridges. Dimensional drawings and loading data accompany many cartridge descriptions. More recent/popular designs are included as well as “classic” older wildcats. There are chapters about important cartridge designers like P.O. Ackley, Jerry Gebby, Rocky Gibbs, and Charles Newton. (The hardback edition of the book contains 288 pages of stories, illustrations, instructions, and data.)

Gunwriter Wayne Van Zwoll says Zeglin’s book is a valuable resource: “Fred has illustrated his book well, with neat line drawings and photos you probably won’t find anywhere else. It’s a rare technical treatise that draws you in with illustration, or that keeps you with an easy flow of chat that, were it lifted from print, might pop up at any gun counter or handloading bench. Fred Zeglin has done well with this book, giving wildcatters – indeed, all rifle enthusiasts – an overview of a culture often mentioned but little explored on the page.”

Writing about the 2005 Print Edition of Wildcat Cartridges, Big Bore Journal declared: “This is a fantastic book on American wildcats, U.S. loads and much more. A must have for wildcatters and gunsmiths.”

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August 7th, 2016

30 BRX Wildcat — a 30 BR Improved That Runs Significantly Faster

30 BR 6mmBR 30 BRX wildcat Al Nyhus

We first ran this story a few years back. But it’s still a very interesting subject for benchrest shooters. Shown above, the 30 BR (a 6mmBR necked up to .30 Caliber) currently rules the benchrest-for-score game. However, a 30 BR Improved offers some potential advantages, particularly when the winds are strong or tricky. In this article Al Nyhus explains his 30 BRX wildcat. Running Hodgdon H4198, Al says he gets an easy 150 -200 FPS more than the conventional 30 BR. That can translate to less drift in the wind. It also lets you pursue a higher speed node, which can lead to improved accuracy with some barrels.

30 BRX wildcat cartridge VFSForum member Al Nyhus is a top-level score shooter who has competed successfully with the 30 BR cartridge in VFS (Varmint for Score) matches. Al has been working on an “improved” 30 BR cartridge that delivers extra velocity. Al’s 30 BRX cartridge is inspired by the 6mm BRX cartridge, popular in 600-yard benchrest and across-the-course competition. The 6mm BRX cartridge maintains the same sidewall profile and shoulder angle as the parent 6mmBR case. Likewise, the 30 BRX retains the 30° shoulder used on the popular 30 BR cartridge.

Al reports: “Thought you might like to see what I’ll be working with in my VFS gun this season. It’s a true 30 BRX — a 30 BR with the shoulder moved forward 0.100″ with the standard BR shoulder angle. Stan Ware of SGR Custom Rifles built one last season for Steve Grosvenor and I was really impressed by the performance of Steve’s gun. The 30 BR barrel on my VFS gun needed replacing, so the new 30 BRX got the nod.”

30 BRX Delivers 150-200 FPS More Velocity than 30 BR
Al says his 30 BRX gives a solid 150-200 fps speed gain over the 30 BR at the top, while needing just 2.5-3.0 more grains of Hodgdon H4198 to do so. A 30 BR case holds on average 40.8 grains of water, while the 30 BRX holds 42.3 grains (roughly 4% more). So the 30 BRX delivers a 7% increase in velocity with a mere 4% increase in H20 capacity. That’s pretty good efficiency. [Editor’s Note: Assuming 34 grains of H4198 is a typical 30 BR match load, Al’s increase of 2.5-3.0 grains for the 30 BRX represents roughly a 7.5-8.5% increase in actual powder burned. That explains the higher velocities.]

Why did Nyhus decide to try an “improved” 30 BR?

Al explains: “The 30 BRX was created to operate at a [higher] velocity level than can be achieved with the standard 30 BR case, while at the same time keeping the easy-tuning characteristics of the standard 30 BR case. We also wanted to use the same powders currently used with the 30 BR and maintain similar operating pressures.” Is the 30BRX harder to shoot because of the increased velocity? Al doesn’t think so: “In a 13.5-lb HV gun, the 30 BRX case is a pleasure to shoot with just a flea bite of recoil.”

Will the 30 BRX Replace the 30 BR in Score Competition?
The 30 BR is already an exceptionally accurate cartridge that dominates short-range Benchrest for Score competition. Will the 30 BRX make the standard 30 BR obsolete? Nyhus doesn’t think so. However, Al believes the 30 BRX offers a small but important edge in some situations: “On any given day, it’s the shooter that hits the flags best and makes the fewest mistakes that ends up on top. No amount of velocity will save you when you press the trigger at the wrong time. Missing a switch or angle change at 200 yards that results in 3/4″ of bullet displacement on the target can’t be compensated for with another 200 fps. That’s the hard fact of benchrest shooting. But on those days when, as Randy Robinett says, ‘our brains are working’, the BRX may offer enough of an advantage to turn a close-but-no-cigar 10 into an ‘X’ at 200 yards. Or turn a just-over-the-line 9 into a beggar 10.” Given the fierce competition in Score matches, an extra 10 or another X can make the difference between a podium finish and also-ran status.

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November 25th, 2015

Wildcat with Almost No Neck — Stan Ware’s Wicked Wolfpup

Stan Ware Wolfpup SGR Custom Rifles

Think you need a relatively long case-neck for good accuracy? Think again. Stan Ware broke all the “rules” with his radical Wolfpup cartridge, proving that a near-no-neck design can deliver super accuracy. Read on to learn how the Wolfpup works…

Stan Ware SGR Custom RiflesRetired gunsmith Stan Ware is a talented shooter who’s not afraid to think “outside the box”. Stan competes in both Hunter Benchrest (HBR) and Varmint for Score (VFS) disciplines. In his quest to build the ultimate Hunter Benchrest cartridge, Stan created the radical “Wolfpup” wildcat, based on a 6mmBR parent case. Noting the dominance of 30 BRs in VFS matches, Stan wondered if a stretched 30 BR could work in HBR competition. The challenge was case capacity. Under HBR rules the cartridge must hold at least 45.0 grains of water, equal to the capacity of the classic 30/30 case.

To get the requisite HBR case capacity, Stan figured he needed to boost the volume of a 30 BR case significantly, so he would have to move the shoulder forward — a lot. He did this by running a 30 BR reamer deeper and deeper, test-firing brass along the way. After three reamer passes, he ended up with the capacity he needed (the Wolfpup holds 45.3 grains of water). But then he looked at the finished product — a case with almost no neck, and he wondered “how could this possibly work?”.

Stan Ware SGR Custom RiflesFrom Trashbin to Winner’s Circle
Ware’s prototype Wolfpup ended up so short-necked, so unlike any “normal” cartridge, that Stan figured it was “dead on arrival”. Stan told us: “I said ‘this ain’t going to work’ and I threw the brass in the trash can. Honest. But later I thought I better shoot it and see what it does.” There was one problem — Stan didn’t have a seating die. He noticed the short neck provided a bit of tension after fire-forming, so he literally seated some bullets, BIB 118s and 125s, with his fingers. For powder he used H4198 and started with 35 grains, one grain more than a 30 BR load. Stan then did a pressure work-up: “I actually went up to 41.0 grains and didn’t have a sticky bolt. I ended up at 37.9 grains of Hodgdon 4198 — that gave 3150 fps, where the sweet spot is.” (Later testing revealed a second accuracy node at about 3020 fps, using 36.4 grains of H4198).

Stan’s radical short-necked Wolfpup shot great from the get-go. Once he found the right velocity node, the gun shot in the ones and zeros with both 7-ogive and 10-ogive bullets, both 118s and 125s. The Wolfpup proved easy to tune — it’s not finicky at all. And it’s a winner. Stan began shooting the Wolfpup in 2006 in both VFS and HBR matches and the ‘Pup’ started winning matches right away. In 2007, Stan won the Wisconsin State VFS Championship shooting the Wolfpup. In June 2010 at a Webster City, Iowa VFS match, Stan won the Grand Agg and posted high X-Count for the match, while placing first at 100 yards and second at 200 yards. How’s that for a cartridge that almost ended up in the trash bin?

Does Stan deserve an award for “most innovative benchrest cartridge design”? Stan chuckles at that notion: “I’m not a hero, not a genius. I really didn’t do anything. The fun part is thinking outside the box — for me anyway. Shooting is an age-old process of experimentation. You never learn it all.”

Stan Ware Wolfpup HBR SGR Custom Rifles

Stan Ware Wolfpup HBR SGR Custom RiflesWhy Does It Work?
How can such a radical case design perform so well? “That’s a good question,” Stan admitted. He then explained: “The 30 BR is inherently accurate, so I figured something based on the 30 BR should be accurate too. My personal belief is that the short neck doesn’t hurt you. Plus if the throat in the barrel is straight, the bullet can self-align. If the chamber is good, the bullet will self-center in the throat. In a regular case there’s not much room to do that, so a bullet can start off-center, and you don’t get the same results every time. A bullet in a conventional case is stopped from self-centering by the stiffer neck, particularly in a tight-clearance BR gun.”

Reloading the .30 Wolfpup
Stan’s Wolfpup chamber has a neck dimension of 0.330″. He turns his necks for a 0.327″ loaded round. Bullets are jammed .020″ forward of first contact with the lands. When he closes the bolt it pushes the bullet back in the case — almost a soft seat. Stan notes: “To start with I normally bump the shoulder .0005-.001″ so they go in easy. Just by doing that I get a little neck tension. I also use a bushing. Right now I’m running a .322, but it’s not particularly sensitive. I’ve tried one-thousandths increments up to a .325 bushing and couldn’t tell a lot of difference.” For bullet seating, Stan uses a Wilson 30 BR seater die into which he ran the chamber reamer. This gives perfect case fit during seating operations.

Stan Ware Wolfpup SGR Custom Rifles

About the Illustrated Gunstock
You’ll notice Stan’s stock contains scenes from Vietnam and a quotation. Here’s the story. A Vietnam combat veteran, Stan served “in-country” with the Army’s 509th Non-Divisional Combat Unit (out of Fort Riley) from 1965-1966. Shortly before he left Vietnam, Stan went to a shop to have a souvenir lighter engraved. He asked the vendor for an appropriate inscription. The shop’s metal-worker engraved: “War is a tragedy. It takes mans’ best to do mans’ worst.” That message, along with the combat scenes, were hand-painted on Stan’s rifle by his wife Susan, a talented artist. She spent more than 20 hours painting the rifle stock.

Photos courtesy Ryan Ware and Stan Ware.
Permalink - Articles, Gear Review, Reloading 2 Comments »
May 20th, 2012

.284 Shehane for Long-Range Competition

7mm has become the caliber to beat in F-Class open division. The dominant performances of UK shooters with 7mm cartridges at the 2009 F-Class World Championship, following the South African team’s success with 7mms at the previous Worlds, has shown the strength of 7mm chamberings for long-range competition. After losing to the Team Britain, the U.S. F-Open Team decided to switch to a 7mm for the next World Championship. While most of Britain’s top F-Class shooters were using WSM-based 7mm cartridges, you don’t need a short magnum to enjoy the wind-bucking abilities of a 7mm.

High-BC 7mm BulletsWith a standard .284 Winchester, or better yet, a .284 Improved, you can drive the high-BC Berger 180gr bullets to competitive velocities. A .284 Improved will shoot well inside a 6.5-284, and you’ll probably get 40-60% longer barrel life (at least 2000 rounds vs. as little as 1200).

The straight .284 Win is a good cartridge, but in most barrels, it can’t push the 180s at 2900-2950 fps velocity levels*. A lot of barrels will top out at about 2850. That’s where the .284 Shehane comes into play. The .284 Shehane is a slightly modified wildcat that retains the same 35° shoulder as the parent case. However, by blowing the sidewalls out 0.010″, the .284 Shehane picks up about 3.3 grains of extra case capacity. That enhancement makes a BIG difference. The extra boiler room is enough to drive the 180s at 2900-2950 fps with H4831sc. With N560 or Reloder 17 you can go even faster.

Scotland’s Grant Taylor used the .284 Shehane to finish 3rd overall in the 2009 individual F-Class World Championships at Bisley, England. Grant reports: “I have a .284 Shehane and it’s very accurate with superb vertical spreads at 1000 yards. I have to thank Jim Hardy for putting me onto the caliber, it has awesome accuracy. I’m getting 2930-2950 fps with spreads in the 3-5 fps range. I use Hodgdon H4831sc powder, CCI BR2 primers, and pointed 180gr Bergers.”

7mm .284 Winchester Shehane

Forum member Jim Hardy has shot the .284 with great success. He tells us: “In my humble opinion, the .284 Shehane is the best balanced long range round there is — bar none. I (perhaps_ have shot more of this chambering than anyone else, and it has proven better than I ever expected. Here is why:

You have to shoot a 30 Cal magnum with a 240gr bullet to equal the performance of most 7mm chamberings with the 180 Berger VLD. With the .284 Shehane, you have a .308 bolt face, medium action, and Lapua brass. You use less powder than the 7 mags, and have great accuracy and ballistics even while fire-forming. The .284 Shehane shoots inside the 6.5 AND the straight 284, the 300 WSM, and the 300 Win Mag with less recoil. The .284 Shehane offers twice the competitive barrel life of the 6.5-284, an easy 2950 fps with H4831 SC, [and it] can run 3000+ with N560 and Reloder 17, which is right there with the 7mm WSM. What is not to love about the 284 Shehane? It is a no-brainer for long range — F-Class or Prone or 1000-yard Benchrest.”

*Some exceptional barrels chambered in straight .284 Win can reach 2900 fps with the 180s. Ryan Pierce, who recently set a 450-24X Pending F-Open record, has a 32″ Brux barrel that is delivering 2900 fps with the straight .284. However, Ryan acknowledges that his velocities are not typical: “A lot of .284 Win barrels top out at around 2850 fps with the 180s.”

Permalink Competition, Reloading 3 Comments »
February 14th, 2011

New Featured Rifle Story — The Bear’s 6mm Super LR

Barry O. (aka “TheBlueEyedBear”) is a long-time AccuateShooter Forum member and friend of the site. Each year he manages to acquire another good-looking, great shooting rifle. In 2009 he took delivery of an amazing 4000 fps 300 WSM varminter, and for 2010 he put together a fantastic 6mm Super LR long-range varminter on a BAT SV action. Barry actually sourced many of the components for his new rifle through our AccurateShooter Forum Free Classifieds. CLICK HERE to read all about Barry’s new BAT-Actioned varmint rifle, the latest in our popular Gun of the Week Series.

CLICK Photo to Read Full Story
BlueEyedBear Gun

The Richard Franklin walnut LowRider stock (above) for Barry’s new rifle came from fellow Forum member “Preacher”, who also did most of the metal work. The gun is chambered as a 6mm Super LR. This is a 30°, long-necked wildcat based on the .243 Winchester parent case. The 6mm Super LR was developed by Robert Whitley, who wanted something similar to the 6XC, but with “more boiler room” to push the 115s comfortably at 2950-3050 fps.

6mm Super LR Gun

The 6mm Super LR wildcat is easy to make. Robert Whitley figured out how to reform domestic .243 Win brass with one simple pass through a Redding 6mm Super LR full-length sizing die. Robert has commissioned these dies from Redding. He’s got them in stock right now. Call Robert at (215) 348-8789 to order. You can learn more about the 6mm Super LR on Whitley’s www.6mmAR.com website.

Permalink - Articles, Gunsmithing, Hunting/Varminting 6 Comments »
May 29th, 2010

New 12th Edition of Cartridges of the World Available

Since it was first released in 1965, Cartridges of the World by Frank Barnes, has been considered the definitive print resource on firearm cartridges. The current 12th Edition, edited by Holt Bodinson, was released late last year. The 568-page 12th Edition now describes over 1500 cartridges (from 0.1 inch to 0.95 inch caliber). This edition has interesting new articles on cartridge design and performance. The book includes dimensions, illustrations, a short history, and sample loading data for over 1500 different cartridges, including virtually every significant cartridge introduced since the early 1870s, with separate chapters on rimfires, shotgun shells, sporting rifle cartridges from the United States and Canada, Britain, and Europe, plus handgun cartridges, military cartridges, and limited production “wildcat” and “proprietary” cartridges. You won’t find all the narrow-focus or obscure wildcats, but the book is still a useful resource, well worth owning. It’s a “must-have” item for any serious cartridge collector.

Frank C. Barnes (1918-1992) began collecting information on handgun cartridges at the early age of 12, thanks to his father, a police officer. Frank Barnes was an innovative cartridge designer, who invented the original 308 x 1.5″ Barnes, predecessor of the 30BR case. Before Frank began a law enforcement career, he was a college professor. Frank was also a pilot, and a race-car driver.

Cartridges of the World was first published in 1965. It’s lived through 12 editions and can be found on many reloaders’ bookshelves today. Suggested retail for the book is $32.99, but MidwayUSA currently sells the 12th Edition for $19.99 plus shipping (Midway item 242319). Amazon.com offers the book for $21.77 with free shipping on combined orders over $25.00.

AMAZON LINK: Cartridges of the World (12th Ed.): Complete Reference for Over 1500 Cartridges

Permalink - Articles, New Product, Reloading 1 Comment »
May 1st, 2010

Whitley Creates Accurate 6mm Cartridge with 22-250 Lapua Brass

Lapua 22-250 brassOur friend Robert Whitley of 6mmAR.com has come up with a new, accurate 6mm wildcat based on the new Lapua 22-250 brass that has just started arriving. Robert provides this report:

“I just received a box of the new Lapua 22/250 cases — beautiful brass! My real desire with it was to make it into a 6mm version, preferably something that was ‘no neck-turn’ with a .308 Win-type body taper that would work well in bolt gun and semi-auto magazines and would have a capacity to allow superior velocities. I considered the 6XC, but since you have to bring a whole lot of the shoulder of the brass up into the neck (when you re-form the brass from 22-250 to 6XC) that would necessitate neck-turning it because with Lapua brass the shoulder metal is thicker than neck metal of the brass.

I wanted a simple ‘neck it up and shoot it’ approach so I made up a 6mm-250 Improved 30 cartridge (i.e. 6mm-250 Improved with a 30 degree shoulder) and this thing works great — just neck up the brass, load it and shoot it! The case is like a 6XC with a .030″ longer body and a .030″ shorter neck, which works out fine if you are going to be shooting mainly the 105-108 gr bullets (which it will do very well shooting 2950 – 3000 fps). If you want to hot-rod things, which I do not, I am certain the case can push the 105-108 gr bullets a fair amount faster.

Whitley 6mm-260 22-250

I set it up and throated the reamer for the Sierra 107s and the Berger or JLK 105 VLDs (i.e. a .090″ free bore on the reamer) and it works great with them. If I was going to use it with the Lapua 105s or the Berger 108s I would add about .025″ – .030″ to the freebore of the reamer (i.e. make the freebore around .115″ to .120″).

The great thing is you can use a 6XC die set for it without modification, and all you need to do is keep the dies about .030″ up off the shell holder from their normal position and use them as is. You can make a spacer washer about .030″ thick that you can put on and take off the 6XC dies and use the dies for both cartridges (i.e. 6XC and 6mm-250 Imp 30).

Lapua 22-250 brass6mm-250 Imp 30 Shows Great Accuracy
Fire-forming loads are real accurate. Here is a 10-shot group I shot prone at 100 yards shooting fire-forming loads with it — the group is the size of a dime. For fire-forming I use a milder, but still very accurate load: 32.0 grains of N140 with a Sierra 107 and a BR2 primer. For fire-formed cases you can jump up to N160 (around 38-40 grains — depending on lot) and it will push the 105-108 gr bullets real accurately in the 2950-3000 fps range, with low ES and SD. This cartridge has a neck length of .268″ which is plenty long for a 6mm shooting bullets with varying bearing surface lengths. The reamer diagram (link below) leaves about a .003″ neck clearance over a loaded round, which seems to work out very well for a ‘no-turn neck’ set-up.

So there you have it … the 6mm-250 Imp 30 is simple, easy to make, accurate as all get out, there are available factory die sets you can use, and it uses great new Lapua brass — what’s not to like!”

CLICK HERE to download Whitley 6mm-250 Imp 30 Reamer Print.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product, Reloading 13 Comments »
May 26th, 2009

New .224 Cartridge for AR Match Rifles

Robert Whitley has a new .224 version of the 6.5 Grendel cartridge. The goal was to create a low-recoil but high-BC round to use in AR-platform match rifles. Based on the performance Whitley is getting, we think this wildcat would also be an excellent bolt-gun round.

Whitley tells us: “I have recently been working on another 6.5 Grendel progeny I have made up and call the ‘.224 AR Mag’, which is the 6.5 Grendel case necked down to accept .224″ bullets. I am very impressed by this cartridge and Berger Bullets’ .224″ heavy, high-BC bullet offerings are just beautiful (dimensionally and otherwise) for use with the cartridge. I also have reloading dies for the .224 AR Mag and I am going to make up a page on my website for the sale of AR-15 uppers chambered in the .224 AR Mag.

Whitley 224 AR cartridge

Above you can see the new 224 AR Mag cartridge (right) next to a .223 Rem (left) and a Berger 82 gr BT bullet (right) next to a Sierra 77 gr BTHP bullet (left bullet). The Berger bullet has a good bit higher BC than the Sierra 77 BTHP (.432 BC for the Berger vs. .362 BC for the Sierra). In the 224 AR Mag, the Berger 82 gr BT bullet sits at 2.260″ OAL (.010″ off the lands and a perfect magazine length) with the junction of the boat tail and bearing surface just ahead of the neck and shoulder of the case. You cannot properly load the 82s to mag length in a .223 Rem because the case is so long the bearing surface of the bullet starts to disappear into the mouth of the case, and at magazine length the Sierra 77s sit so far back in the .223 Rem case they hog valuable powder capacity.

Whitley 224 AR cartridge

The .224 AR Mag has a powder capacity of 36 grains of H2O vs. about 29.5 grains of water weight capacity for the .223 Rem. That’s a major difference in powder capacity. In addition you have bullets like the .224 Berger 90gr VLD and 90gr BT bullets that have BCs of .552 and .525 that can be driven very effectively and fast by the .224 AR Mag because of its case capacity. Bear in mind the brass is all Lapua small primer brass as well — what’s not to like?

I have done chrono testing of the cartridge with Varget and RL-15, using the Berger 82 gr BT and the Berger 90 gr BT bullets. This cartridge really can spit them out fast! (See load data below).” NOTE: Whitley could drive both bullets about 100 fps faster using 28.0 grains of Varget or RL15, but those loads approached max practical pressure. Start low and work up.

Berger 82gr BT
27.0 grains Varget w/ Berger 82gr BT, MV = 2865 fps, ES = 29, SD = 14
27.0 grains RL-15 w/ Berger 82gr BT, MV = 2920 fps, ES = 15, SD = 7

Berger 90gr BT
27.0 grains Varget w/ Berger 90gr BT, MV = 2792 fps, ES = 26, SD = 12
27.0 grains RL-15 w/ Berger 90gr BT, MV = 2857 fps, ES = 12, SD = 6

CLICK HERE for Load Specs and Chron Testing Results (.pdf file).

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product 7 Comments »