Learn more about optics in this
free reticle patterns download from Gun Digest. Just enter your e-mail in the box below for an instant download. You’ll also be signed up to receive e-newsletters from Gun Digest and partners.
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.”