In recent years ballistic programs have become hugely popular for long range shooting given their ability to accurately predict the bullet’s trajectory in just about any set of conditions. Beginning with handheld PDA’s and most recently with smart phones such as the iPhone and Android, ballistic programs have become an important tool in the long range toolbox. However, as accurate as these programs can be they do have the same drawbacks other powered devices do…a limited battery life. When these devices die, often the shooter will have to resort to a back-up method of some sort to reference their rifle’s dope. Dope cards made from a programs such as JBM Ballistics or Sierra Infinity were and continute to be a popular option, however outside of the given conditions used to create the chart they get less and less accurate. A relatively new tool that can help a shooter get their dope for nearly any range throughout a variety of conditions without the need for a battery powered device is the Whiz Wheel from Accuracy 1st.
The Whiz Wheel is roughly 5” X 5” so it will easily fit in a cargo pocket or data book, however this isn’t true for all pockets and pouches, some are a tight fit and others won’t fit at all. The materials and construction used in the Whiz Wheel are similar to the Mildot Master, albeit the Whiz Wheel’s materials feel a bit thinner. I don’t think this will affect the overall performance of the Whiz Wheel in adverse conditions and I’ve had no issues with it in the dirt and rain. Unlike other analog ballistic calculators currently on the market, the Whiz Wheel uses a universal body coupled with a ballistic solver wheel for a specific cartridge. That way the shooter can have multiple ballistic solver wheels for any cartridge and muzzle velocity and simply switch them out when needed. The Whiz Wheel also not only provides elevation data based on density altitude but also compensates for wind, spin drift, moving targets, and angle fire.
When I first received my Whiz Wheel I had only a little bit of time to get acquainted with it before going to the Vapor Trail Tactical Match in Pennsylvania. Prior to that I’d only seen the Whiz Wheel one other time and the consensus around the table that evening was that it was overly complicated and hardly user friendly. While that sentiment has been echoed a time or two before by other shooters I think my initial thoughts about the Whiz Wheel may have been a little close minded. While it does have a lot going on with multiple windows and loads of data available it can be a little confusing and intimidating for a first time user. However, within a couple of days of fooling around with the Whiz Wheel and getting myself familiar with the windows it was surprising how fast I could get accurate firing solutions.
The single day tactical match put on my Vapor Trail Tactical at their new Pennsylvania facility was the first chance that I had to really put rounds downrange with the Wheel. The match was comprised of both steel and paper targets arranged around the property from 100 to about 740 yards with the largest target being 12” X 20”. Combined with the Kestrel 4000, and on occasion the Leica CRF1200, the elevation data was dead on unless I made a completely bone headed mistake with the wind. During the target detection event of the match I was able to go five for five on the steel targets that were laid out in front of us from 300 to 550 yards in particularly short order. Despite the short match it was nice to get some rounds downrange and experience just how accurate the system is when used correctly. I think what I liked the most about the system was the ability to get ballistic data for a specific range and not one that is simply close enough. For example if I have a target at 690 yards I can dial the wheel to that specific range and look up my dope instead of extrapolating what the dope could be from two other figures. Even though I was chilled, wet, and tired after the match was over I was somewhat satisfied with my newly acquired piece of gear.
The week after shooting the Vapor Trail Tactical one day match I got the opportunity to really stretch the Whiz Wheel’s legs out down in West Virginia. The property I was shooting on is used for the Allegheny Sniper Challenge and affords steel targets up to and beyond 1000 yards with conditions that can often change drastically in a short period of time. While we relegated ourselves to only one part of the farm we still had the ability to engage targets from 400 yards all the way out to 1300 yards with relative ease. The spot where we started out at meant that we could shoot at distances from 400 to 800 yards and the Whiz helped achieve many first round hits. However, at 800 yards I must have been having an aneurism because I incorrectly calculated the firing solution on the solver wheel and completely blew a couple of shots. It turns out that when I spun the solver wheel, instead of aligning the 800 yard mark in the window with the 4,000’ DA hash mark I lined it up with the black line that gives you your dope. In essence this caused me to dial in a full mil extra on the elevation because I was reading it as 800 yards at 0’ density altitude. It wasn’t a big deal though, just a little embarrassing, so after making the correction on the scope I reengaged the target and boom…wouldn’t you know it another hit. We continued farther back into the field to get some more distance between us and the targets and ended up at a spot where the farthest target was at 1,020 yards according to the Leica. Computing the firing solution was pretty easy with the Whiz Wheel given that I could go right to that distance on the solver and get my dope. I dialed 10.1 mils of elevation into the scope, figured about 3 mils of hold for a 15 mph full value wind, and sent a round down range. Following through on the gun I watched the bullet impact on steel with perfect elevation but just a little right of center so I decided to go for a smaller 12” X 21” target that was right next to it. I used the exact same dope as before however my round impacted just off the right edge of the target so I bracketed the target between the 3 mil and 3.5 mil hash mark and sent another round. This time though I was rewarded with a harmonious ding. While certainly no extreme feats of marksmanship were performed that day I left a little more impressed by the Whiz Wheel than I was previously.
Stretching it out from 900-1300 yards in West By God Virginia.
It was sometime before I got to use the Whiz Wheel again and while I had no issues with it I still wondered how accurate some of the other data was, like with moving targets. It turns out that I’d get a chance to see at the Mayberry Tactical Match in Maryland where they had a 300 yard moving target stage. While this is relatively short range the problem is that I prior to this match it’d been years since I shot at moving targets and pretty much had no dope for movers on my gun. The targets were modified B27 targets that were cut and folded to be 12” wide and about 31” tall, which moved at approximately 2 mph for about 6 seconds. The Whiz Wheel gives mover data in 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 mph increments based on the range and density altitude. I went with 1.2 mils of lead and since there was no wind just stuck with that for both the left and right mover. I wasn’t able to see my impacts or any splash because of the paper target and backboard but I was doing my best holding 1 – 1.2 mils on the target using the trapping method. At first my spotter said that I probably got about half my rounds on as most of them seemed to be going off the trailing edge. However when the targets were brought back for scoring I checked mind out and was pretty satisfied to see that I’d hit 8 out of 10, albeit most were a little right of center. I didn’t think it was too bad considering that I showed up with no moving target dope and being a little out of practice.
The Whiz Wheel isn’t going to be for everybody, heck sometimes I don’t even like it but I realize that it can be a very valuable tool in the long range toolbox. It has the ability to give the shooter a lot of very accurate data for a variety of conditions however this can come at a cost. It’s not as intuitive to learn as some other products so it takes a bit of time to sit down and work with it to become familiar with the solver wheel and other features. For a new shooter trying to navigate the features on the Whiz Wheel can almost be like drinking water from a fire hose. However, I was able to become familiar enough with the Whiz Wheel to be pretty proficient in its se over the course of a weekend just trying different firing solutions. For a more advanced shooter or hunter that is reloading their ammunition the Whiz Wheel can be a very effective option since they can have a solver wheel made specifically for their rifle and load combination regardless of caliber. This can be a pretty good option for guys shooting 7 WSM, 7 Rem Mag, .338 Norma, even some of the Ackley Improved cartridges. I’d say that if you’re a long range shooting enthusiast, professional shooter, hunter, or anyone that likes to stretch the limits of their rifles the Whiz Wheel should bear some consideration.