Whidden Gunworks Sizing & Seating Dies
There is a new player in the field of elite die-makers: Whidden Gunworks. John Whidden’s Georgia-based company is producing outstanding full-length sizing dies and micrometer-top seater dies for 7/8-14 thread presses. The dies look great, work great, and produce very straight and accurate ammo. The Whidden dies are finished beautifully inside and out. They are priced competitively and they are available for popular “extreme accuracy” cartridges such as the 6PPC, 6mmBR, 6mmBRX, 6 Dasher, 6XC, 6.5×47, .260 Rem, .284 Win, and .308 Win (and more). If you are looking for a die set for your new precision rifle, you should definitely check out the Whidden dies. Two-die set, FL Sizer and Micrometer-top Seater, costs $184.99. Sizer die alone is $74.99, while Seater die alone is $109.99.
Many of our Forum members have started using Whidden dies — and they are reporting very positive results. I personally own and use a set of Whidden dies, and I am very, very impressed with them. Here’s my report:
Editor’s Report on Whidden Dies
I have a set of Whidden Gunworks dies for my personal 6BRDX (a chambering similar to 6 Dasher but with longer neck). The dies are excellent and they produce very straight ammo. My loaded rounds (made with a Whidden bushing-type FL sizer and Whidden micrometer-top seater) are showing less than .0015″ run-out measured on the bullet, with the majority closer to .001″ run-out. (This is with Lapua Scenar L bullets, which have great jacket uniformity and concentricity.)
One thing I immediately noticed about the Whidden seater die is that there is a very close correspondence between the seater “hash marks” and true changes in seating depth. By this I mean when you dial a value change of 10 on the micrometer scale, you get very close to a .010″ change in seating depth. It is not perfect, but it is definitely more precise than most other micrometer-top seater dies I’ve used (both hand dies and 7/8-14 thread screw-in types).
Cartridges loaded with my Whidden sizer and seater dies have proved very accurate. My 6BRDX is shooting in the mid-ones for five shots at 100 yards. I also have a micrometer-top Wilson inline seater die that was custom-bored with my chamber reamer. As far as I can tell, the ammo loaded with the screw-in Whidden seater is every bit as accurate as rounds loaded with the Wilson die using an arbor press. Additionally, with the Whidden micrometer die, I can hold extremely tight tolerances on base-to-bullet-ogive lengths.
In the past, with my 6mmBR, I favored an inline die because I thought it offered better control over seating depth. But given how well the Whidden seater works, I’m not sure I’d gain anything with my Wilson hand die. At least when used with a quality Harrell’s benchrest press, the Whidden seater gives up little or nothing to the hand die, and that’s big news in my experience.
You will like the look and feel of these Whidden dies. The finish inside and out is very, very good — the dies have a quality feel and run very smoothly. Both the sizer and seater have a fluted section — this offers a better “grip” when you’re screwing in the dies. The outside of the seater has a smooth, gloss-anodized finish — it exudes quality. The markings on the seater’s micrometer ring are crisp and very legible, with large, high-contrast white-on-black lines and numbers.
One other very cool feature of the Whidden sizing dies is that custom-sized tapered expanders will soon be offered. Whidden plans to offer expanders in .0005″ (one-half thousandth) increments. This is great if you have, say, a .265 bushing and a .266 bushing but you want just a little less neck tension than the .265 offers. With the tapered expander, I can use a 0.265 bushing followed by an 0.2655 expander — allowing more precise control of neck “grip”.
- Die Dimensions well-matched to PT&G reamers used for match chambers.
- Sizing dies spec’d for easy chambering and extraction without overworking brass.
- All sizers include shoulder datum collar to measure shoulder “bump” and headspace.
- Neck bushing or no-neck bushing configurations.
- Bushing dies use standard Redding/Wilson type bushings.
- Neck diameter of non-bushing FL sizers can be set to customer specification.
- Extended threads on short cartridge sizer dies such as BRs.
- Coming soon: custom expander balls (in half-thousandth increments) to adjust neck tension and provide minimum working of the case neck.
- Seater: Floating sleeve on micrometer seater enhances concentricity of loaded rounds.
- Seater: Large, high-contrast markings for easy adjustment.
Custom Dies for Wildcats or Your Cartridge
- Custom-made for your wildcat or standard cartridge.
- Can work from fired brass or a chamber drawing to match your chamber exactly.
- Neck-bushing die, or no-bushing die with neck diameter bored to customer specification.
Available Die Sets
Here is the current caliber list. Micrometer seaters available for all listed calibers except 22BR and 22 BRX.
Full-Length Sizer with Bushings
22 BR (No Seater Die)
22 BRX (No Seater Die)
Full-Length Sizer (Non-Bushing)
John Whidden Talks about Sizers, Seaters, and Expanders
There are two sides to our die business. First we are stocking dies in many calibers that are of interest to those who visit this website (such as the 6PPC, 6mm Dasher, 6.5×47 Lapua, .260 Rem, 7mm Shehane, .308 Winchester). These dies are a good fit to the “match chamber” reamers and very few people with these calibers should have to have “Pure Custom” dies made. We have both sizers and micrometer-top seaters ready to go for the many cartridge types listed above. The sizer dies will include a shoulder datum collar that makes it easy to measure shoulder “bump” during the full-length sizing process. This is important to control headspace precisely.
On the “Pure Custom” side, we have a huge amount of flexibility. We can make one-of-a-kind sizers and seaters for wildcats in a short period of time and at an excellent price. We can work with the customer to make full-length sizers, neck sizers, shoulder bump dies, small base dies, or most anything else they can need. We can of course provide micrometer-top seaters for these cartridges as well. We can make non-bushing sizers with specific neck inside diameters tailored to customer specifications.
We will also be offering custom-sized expanders. These expanders will fit our dies as well as Redding dies. Our tapered expanders will be available in .0005” (one-half thousandth) increments for the common calibers. In our shop we have had excellent results using expanders in the dies as long as the expanders provided the correct amount of neck tension and didn’t overwork the brass. Expanders have gotten a bad reputation in recent years but we find them to be excellent tools when the same precision is applied to their use that careful handloaders apply to the rest of their process. Expanders can be most valuable for those who choose not to neck-turn their brass (because the expander pushes neckwall variations to the outside).
One last thing — many gunsmiths with their own wildcats (or “specialty” chambers) have asked us to provide dies for their customers. We gladly do batches of custom dies and encourage gunsmiths to contact us. — John Whidden
For more information visit WhiddenGunworks.com or call (229) 686-1911.