Well it all started many years ago, way back in 1962. The Jackson’s were operating a manufacturing facility totally removed from the shooting sports. For some reason they decided to take up a new hobby which was rifle shooting. In a very short time they were involved in bench rest shooting and decided that the equipment which was available at that time was of good quality but left a lot of room for improvement. Thus the first product of the new adventure was conceived. A high quality, heavy duty rifle rest designed specifically for bench rest shooting. This must have been a good idea because this rest, virtually unchanged, has been in continuous production for 40 years. Not to bad when the Jackson’s thought that if they sold maybe 50 to 100 of the rests it was going to be a good investment. Boy did they ever.
They zeroed in on reloading dies next with the same fervor for improvement as they did with the rifle rest. Sure enough in 1963 the first Reloading Dies were made available to the public from their new company, Wichita Precision. Then innovation took over and new concepts in reloading were born. Wichita Precision then developed the first nitride die, which they patented. Next they developed the cut away window die, which facilitated bullet seating which they also patented. Next came the micrometer top adjustable bullet seating die which also merited another patent.
It was a very busy year in 1963. The Jackson’s also took time to design a new rifle rest which they called the Unlimited Rest.
The Jackson’s became ardent shooters and they of course used their own shooting equipment. It was not long before Nolan Jackson set a World Bench Rest Record. In fact it happened in 1963.
Years came and went. The reloading die business was closed due to other business obligations even though the sales were extraordinary. The call of the shooting sports could not be shaken and in 1970 the Jackson’s obtained an order to manufacture a Sling Swivel for the M40 military rifle. Must have made a good part for 32 years later it is still being manufactured.
Their next adventure took a few years to develop. The world had to wait until 1976 for the introduction of their next product. A new company was formed Wichita Arms and a new rifle called the Classic was born. This rifle had all the craftsmanship of old world manufacturing but with the latest in technology in materials and production. It had an octagon barrel and action with the barrel gracefully tapering to the muzzle. It was hand fitted and finished with the finest trigger and wood available. Of course they were made and finished to the customer’s specification.
The same year saw the introduction of the Wichita Varminter Rifle. This rifle was of the same quality as the Classic but it featured a round action and barrel.
The same year also saw the introduction of the Wichita Bench Rest Actions. Again the Wichita Arms looked to innovation. A round action with a shell holder bolt face. A whole series of actions based on the Classic Action with a new concept. A right hand bolt with left hand feed. A left hand bolt with right hand feed. It was also offered with the normal right hand bolt and right hand feed and a left hand bolt with left hand feed.
In 1978 a new organization was formed which was called IHMSA and was formed for the promotion of handgun silhouette shooting. Elgin Gates, the founder, wanted a new series of cartridges developed and to be designated as official IHMSA cartridges. The new cartridges were developed by Wichita Arms and were based on the 220 Russian cartridge from Sako. These new cartridges were designated as the; 17 IHMSA, 22 IHMSA, 6mm IHMSA, 6.5mm IHMSA, 7mm IHMSA, 30 IHMSA, 8mm IHMSA, and lastly the 35 IHMSA.
1978 was an active year as a new pistol was also developed for silhouette pistol shooting. This pistol was based on the round Classic action with a synthetic fiberglass and foam stock. The pistol was introduced to the public at the NRA Convention that same year in Salt Lake City. This pistol was later offered in your choice of calibers and either a fiberglass or walnut stock.
Business was keeping Wichita Arms quite busy but Nolan Jackson still managed enough range time to set a NRA National Silhouette Pistol record in 1980. This year also saw the introduction of a line of sights and ribs for competition use in the shooting sports.
1983 saw the introduction of various comps for several revolvers, Smith and Wesson and semi-auto pistols, 1911 Colt. This year also saw the introduction of a scope mount, and muzzle break for the Mini 14.
The International Silhouette Pistol was introduced in 1984. This pistol featured a break open action and again designed for competition use. Even though designed for competition use the pistol was found afield on many hunting trips. The pistol was featured interchangeable barrels and was initially offered in 22 Long Rifle, 30-30, 30-30/7mm, 357 Magnum, 357 Maximum. Talk of other chambering soon followed.
A long dry spell occurred and it was not until 1995 that we saw a new product from Wichita Arms. To add to their precision shooting accessories a Pistol Rest was added to their rest line of products. To round out their line of shooting rests the Magnum Rifle Rest was added in 1999.
The Rifle Rests have been in production for 40 years and a new product was conceived as an essential addition for these rests. In 2002 the Wichita Windage was introduced. This device can be attached to the Wichita Rifle Rest and several other manufacturers rifle rests to add Windage adjustment capability without having to purchase a new rifle rest or rest top.
The drawing table looks cluttered and the design activity is picking up. There appears to be new products on the horizon for Wichita Arms. Whatever the products may be the central mandate of quality and precision shooting will be foremost in all Wichita Arms products.