For years the long-range shooting community has used ballistic gadgets of all kinds to compute long-range firing solutions — from computer-based programs to little laminated “ballistics” cards. But these are usually based on computer-modeled theories, rather than what your bullet is actually doing.
However, one new product recently approved by the State Department for sale to civilian shooters (yes, it’s that effective and that secret) is the Whiz Wheel by Accuracy 1st Development Group. It is custom made for your rifle and ammo and can be trued based on your actual bullet impact out to transonic range.
Born of Practical Experience
The Accuracy 1st Whiz Wheel is a reflection of the men behind it, starting with Todd Hodnett, an unassuming Texas man with no military background whatsoever who grew up on a ranch with wide open spaces. It was the ultimate training grounds for him to develop a few opinions. He went on to win national sniper competitions, a feat that garnered the attention of the military.
Today, Hodnett trains the country’s elite military Special Forces snipers and has developed a system of practical long-range shooting around his maxim, “the bullet doesn’t lie.” A private pilot, Hodnett was intimately familiar with concepts such as density altitude.
Actually, all pilots, at least since World War II, have used a device called the E6B Flight Computer, known simply as a “whiz wheel” to calculate air conditions, wind correction, time en route and other variables to plot a flight course. Prior to that, whiz wheels were developed by the military in World War I as a crude rotational device to figure mortar fire; even submarines use them in sub-surface warfare.
So it didn’t take Hodnett long to see that a whiz wheel for shooters could also be a powerful tool with which to correct for many more variables than existing trajectory or “dope” charts. That’s when he enlisted the help of mechanical engineer Robert Berwington and Bryan Litz — a world-renowned ballistician and shooter.
Why the Whiz Wheel was a State Department Secret
“We can tell you within one click where your bullet is within space and time from the moment it leaves the barrel until the time it hits transonic,” Berwington told Gun Digest. “If you gave us good information, I'll guarantee you'll hit every target from where you're sitting out to a thousand meters with one round.”
Whiz Wheels are custom made to order. You start by providing Accuracy 1st with the ammunition you’ll use (in my case it was .308 Win. 175 gr. BTHP); your rifle’s barrel twist rate; your scope’s height above the centerline of the bore, and mean velocity as measured from a chronograph as well as distance of the muzzle to the chronograph. You also choose how your scope operates — in MOA or MILS, and how you think about the world: That is, in yards or meters.
The Whiz Wheel is easier and faster than computer systems because the fixed information is built in. You only have two things to worry about: range and density altitude (DA).
DA is a single calculation that describes environmental conditions such as elevation above sea level, temperature, pressure and humidity. It’s a single value and a standardized pressure ratio used in aerospace and standardized in the military.
“The Whiz Wheel gives you the resolution equal to the PDA, a fraction of the weight, durable, no batteries, never fails you,” said Berwington. “And it’s based on a ballistics engine written by a real ballistician rather than a computer programmer with no education working from his basement.”
How the Whiz Wheel Works
In the lower right corner of the device is a little wheel that you rotate to your elevation above sea level and outside air temperature, which gives you your density altitude. Once you know that value, you dial in your range to that DA and the solver gives you the firing solution in MOA or MILs, depending upon what wheel you are using.
There are three windows—200-350 yards, 350-700 yards, 650-1100 (low DA range) yards and 650-1100 (high DA range) yards. When you rotate the wheel, the line tells you the required clicks for your turret (or Mil-dot reticle holdovers). On the backside are wind corrections for your shot range and Inclination Angle Correction.
Also unique to the Whiz Wheel is the ability to true your shots. Each window presents a “Nom MV” or Nominal Muzzle Velocity solution, but also a -50fps and +50fps adjusted solution on either side.
The Whiz Wheel at the Range
Getting back to Hodnett’s practical experience-based way of thinking about shooting, there are several ways you can “true” the Whiz Wheel solver to your actual hits.
Let’s say everything you input into the wheel is accurate but your shots are still landing low. It might be that your lot of ammo is just slower than previous lots. You can find the proper MOA or MIL value, and note the corresponding difference in Density Altitude. You then simply apply that correction to all figures going forward.
I learned the Whiz Wheel could be used to determine correct range based on actual bullet impact. After ranging the target at what I thought was 500 yards and determining a firing solution on the Whiz Wheel, my shots landed low. I adjusted the Wheel to the correct turret clicks needed to impact dead center and noted the range — 550 yards (which I double-checked and confirmed was indeed the actual range).
So by working backwards the Whiz Wheel was able to double check and correct my range estimation. “The bullet doesn’t lie,” says Hodnett, and that is the truth.
I also tried setting the target at some unknown distance in between 550 and 300 yards, ranged the target (it turned out to be 425 yards), adjusted the DA (the temperature had risen more than ten degrees as the afternoon sun baked down) and found the new firing solution.
Five shots landed dead nuts. I will note that I am shooting a Leupold Mark 4 M3 scope with 1 MOA elevation turret. So actually the Whiz Wheel has the ability to discriminate to much finer resolution than my 1 MOA elevation turret is capable of dialing.
To correct for this, I have worked out the MIL-MOA conversion for fractions of 1 MOA to use the scope’s Mil-based TMR reticle for fine holdover adjustments in MILs.
For less than the cost of a couple boxes of match grade ammo, the Whiz Wheel opens up long-range firing solutions out to 1100 yards no matter what the outside conditions. It is small enough to fit into a pocket, and doesn’t require batteries. It is about the same size as the ever-popular Mil-Dot Master, and the perfect companion to it. Now standard issue for Special Forces snipers, it is based on Hodnett’s rallying cry that the “The bullet doesn’t lie.” The best marksmen in the world use this device. And now you can too.
The Whiz Wheel retails for $49.95 and can be ordered online from Accuracy1stdg.com.