Applied Ballistics hosts many great articles on the science of accuracy and long range shooting. Check out the selection of technical papers below which are free to download in .pdf format. If you prefer to view the material on one of the popular eReaders like Nook or Kindle, follow the links to our online store where you can purchase and download the content in your desired format.
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Aerodynamic Drag Modeling for Ballistics / Custom Drag Modeling
Aerodynamic drag is an important consideration for accurate long range trajectory prediction. The data and methods used to account for aerodynamic drag can make or break a long range shot. This article will describe how aerodynamic drag affects modern small arms trajectory predictions, and how drag modeling has evolved from its meager beginnings to its current level of refinement. This article goes in to G Form Factors and Custom Drag Modeling as well.
How Ballistics Programs Work
There are several possible methods for calculating the flight path and other properties of a ballistic trajectory like: velocity, time of flight and wind drift. Some programs calculate more things than others. Some have the potential to be inherently more accurate than others. In this article, I’ll try to explain the features of each method.
Ballistic Calibration is a commonly misunderstood, and incorrectly performed process. It is deceptively simple to do this incorrectly and get good results in one situation, but then when you go to shoot again have errors. This guide helps the shooter understand what to do, and what resources to use to better understand the process. This guide also shows how easy it is to influence errors, and what those errors will amount to when the process is done incorrectly. This guide is especially good for users of the Apps, Devices and Software, to understand how to properly do a Ballistic Calibration (Trueing).
Firing Solution Checklist
This article was created to help users diagnose issues with their firing solution. Written in a checklist format with spaces for notes, users can go step by step to try to isolate issues with their firing solution.
Bullet Pointing has to be done properly to not damage the performance of the bullet. This paper covers how to do it, when not to do it, the effects you can expect, and trimming in regards to long range shooting.
Your ability to put rounds on target depends on your tools, and more importantly, your knowledge of how to use them properly. This article will explore the application of external ballistics to tactical shooting scenarios, focusing on how to close the gap between pure science, and practical application.
Ballistic Coefficient Testing
All serious long range shooters are aware that bullets have a ballistic coefficient, and that it’s somehow related to how much the bullet will drop and drift in the wind. Shooters place various degrees of importance on knowing the exact BC of their bullets, and shooting bullets with high BC’s. In this paper, I want to explore some of the benefits of knowing precisely what the BC of their bullet is, and also, the different methods available to determine the BC of a bullet. The main point of this writing is to show that BC’s can be measured from firing tests more easily, and with less error than is commonly thought.
Understanding the Winds Influence (Where the Wind Matters)
The question about where the wind matters the most is one that is extremely common and one that we’ve received dozens of times. Having studied the wind for a number of years, we’ve compiled this article. It is intended to investigate how the wind’s influence increases with distance, as well as exploring how wind affects the bullet as it moves from the shooter toward the target.
This work was done to investigate a question about the grouping ability of rifles at various ranges. Many shooters, including myself, have observed the strange phenomenon of a rifle that groups angularly smaller at long range than short range. In other words, a rifle that groups 1” at 100 yards grouping 1.5” at 200 yards (you would expect no less than 2” at 200 yards).
Gyroscopic Spin and Coriolis Effect
Most long range shooters are aware of the effects of gravity, air resistance (drag) and wind on their bullets trajectory. There are many commercial ballistics programs on the market that do a fine job of predicting trajectories which only account for gravity, drag and wind. Gravity, drag and wind are the major forces acting on a bullet in flight, but they’re not the only forces. In this article, I’ll explain some of the more subtle forces that influence a bullet’s flight.
Understanding Long Range Bullets Part 1: The Nature of Scale
When you look at the bullets we use for long range shooting, you can’t help but notice the striking similarity between all of them. From .224 thru .30 caliber, they have just about the same proportions. In this article, Iíll try to explain the major consequences that scale has on long range bullets. This is the first installment of a two part article. This part establishes some facts about bullet scaling, and the second article examines how you can use the information to make better-informed decisions about your equipment.
Understanding Long Range Bullets Part 2: Practical Considerations and Decision Making
In part one of this series, we identified some basic trends that occur when you scale bullets up and down in caliber. Most of our findings were Fundamental and academic. This month, I want to take a close look at some of the practical consequences of scale. Whereas last months article focused on establishing facts, this part will give some conclusions, judgments and some of my opinions based on the facts.
Maximum Effective Range of Small Arms
In this article, I’ll attempt to define a method for finding the maximum effective range of a shooting system under the influence of predefined field variables. This is accomplished using a 6-degree-of-freedom (6 DOF) computer simulation that is able to model real world factors influencing the rotation and translation of spin stabilized projectiles. I’ll then show how the results can be used to make decisions about what type of rifle is right for a particular application, and how far a weapon may be successfully employed against specific targets.
Extending the Maximum Effective Range of Small Arms
This article is an extension of the previous article (Max Effective Range of Small Arms). The first objective is to show how the hit probability diminishes as the Maximum Effective Range (MER) is exceeded. Furthermore, ideas are presented for how to increase in maximum effective range by understanding and applying corrections for so called 6 degree of freedom effects.
What’s Wrong with the 30 Cal
In recent years, long range shooting has evolved in many ways. One of the major trends is towards smaller calibers. Calibers as small as 6mm, and even .224” are commonly being used in 600 and 1000 yard prone and Benchrest competition. In spite of the once common knowledge that „bigger is better‟ for long range shooting, the „benchmark‟ has shrunk from the big .30 cal magnums to the more moderate 6.5mm. Long range championships are being won with the tiny 6mmBR once thought underpowered for all but short range Benchrest competition. Why is this? Why is the once venerated .30 caliber losing so much ground to the smaller calibers for long range shooting? Recoil, of course, plays a major role, but that‟s not all there is to it.
Chronograph Performance Review
One of the most important things to know about your ammunition for long range trajectory modeling is the muzzle velocity of your bullets. Starting around 300 yards, you can see significant errors in predicted drop if you don’t model the bullets muzzle velocity accurately. The following chapter is an excerpt from the book: Modern Advancements in Long Range Shooting and looks at the performance of different chronographs as well as their importance.
Velocity Decay between Muzzle and Chronograph
Measuring the average Muzzle Velocity (MV) of your bullets accurately is important when predicting long range trajectories, but so is making sure your velocity is actually your MV. Chronographs measure the velocity of the projectile at the chronographs location and not the muzzle. This article will teach you how to correct for that.
Characteristics of Different Bullet Ogive Designs – Tangent vs. Secant vs. Hybrid
In discussions of ballistics, you’ll see references to “tangent” and “secant” bullet shapes as well as “Hybrids”. We know that, for many readers, these terms can be confusing. To add to the confusion, bullet makers don’t always identify their projectiles as secant or tangent designs. This article provides a basic explanation of tangent and secant designs, to help you understand the characteristics of both bullet shapes.
Transonic Effects on Bullet Stability & BC
What happens when the bullet slows to transonic speed, i.e. when the bullet slows to about 1340 feet per second? It is getting close to the speed of sound, close to the sound barrier. That is a bad place to fly for anything. This article will go in to what happens, and why its important to know.
G7 A Better Ballistic Coefficient
For centuries now, science has been helping us gain a more accurate understanding of our world. The branch of science we care about as shooters is known as ballistics. The science of ballistics is well developed and understood by those who study it, but the tools and information being used by average shooters is not necessarily optimal for the shooter’s applications. In other words, there is a better, more accurate way for shooters to use ballistics to help them predict trajectories and hit targets. The purpose of this article is to present a better way for shooters to calculate ballistics.
BC Form Factors, A Useful Tool
In 2009, Berger Bullets introduced G7 BC’s for boat tail bullets. For those who are unfamiliar with G7 BCs, it’s simply a Ballistic Coefficient referenced to the G7 standard projectile instead of the G1 standard projectile. The G7 standard is a better match for modern long range bullets, so the G7 BC will be more constant over a wide range of velocities compared to a G1 BC.
Why You Can’t Trust the Muzzle Velocity On The Box
Muzzle Velocities not only differ for the same ammo from rifle to rifle, but they are also a fluid value that changes throughout the day as the conditions change. This article will go in to why you must calculate MV for yourself, and why the number on the box, is just a marketing number.
Getting the Best Precision from Bullets
This article by Eric Stecker Master Bulletsmith from Berger Bullets covers the process of jump testing to get the most out of VLD Bullet designs.
Probabilistic Weapon Employment Zone (WEZ) Analysis
This paper outlines a method for systematic and comparative evaluation of small arms performance in various shooting applications. The Weapon Employment Zone (WEZ) analysis presented here is model based, and statistical in nature. The objective is to quantify the hit percentage for a given weapon system against a specific target as a function of range, considering the uncertainties involved in field shooting.
Using Weapon Employment Zone (WEZ) Analysis
Weapon employment zone (WEZ) analysis is a tool that determines how errors in various conditions, such range to target or muzzle velocity, affect the overall accuracy of the rifle. In this article, we start with some basic error assumptions then look at which of those errors contribute the most to system inaccuracy. From there, we identify various devices and kit that can be used to help drive that inaccuracy to a minimum and maximize probability of hit.
Effects of C.O.A.L. (Complete Over All Length) and Cartridge Base to Ogive (CBTO) Part 1
Understanding the effects of seating depth is an important part of shooting and reloading. The effects seating depth can have on pressure, velocity, geometry of a chamber throat, magazine feeding, and SAAMI COAL limitations are discussed in this article.
Effects of C.O.A.L. and C.B.T.O. Part 2
Complete Over All Length is one way to measure a seated bullet, but their are advantages to measuring CBTO or Cartridge Base to Ogive. How to properly measure, and use CBTO is discussed in this article, as well as the benefits and why you should be using this instead of COAL.
Maximizing Weapon-Mounted Laser Rangefinder Performance through Proper Alignment
For weapon-mounted laser rangefinders, the direct-view optics (presumably a riflescope) are decoupled from the laser rangefinder itself and so it is required that the laser rangefinder be manually aligned by the user. Improper alignment will result in poor ranging capability as well as inaccurate range measurements. Therefore, understanding how to achieve proper alignment is critical and is the focus of this article.
Tall Target Test (Scope Calibration)
The intent of this worksheet is to assist in calculating a scope correction factor (CF) based on shooting the tall target test at 100 yards. The point is to see if your scope is really giving you what you’re dialing for adjustment. If not, the correction factor is applied to raw ballistic calculations to make up for the error in scope adjustment.
Properly Using your AB Kestrel in the Summer Heat
This article goes over the importance of managing your kestrel during the summer. Direct Sunlight can artificially heat the Kestrel especially if left on a hot shooting mat, or surface. This article shows how to properly take care of the Kestrel when in extreme heat to make sure you get accurate readings.
300 Winchester Magnum WEZ Analysis
The 300 Winchester Magnum is a well established cartridge in the US arsenal. Recent modernization initiatives focused around rifles and ammunition are advancing the effectiveness of this proven cartridge. This Weapon Employment Zone (WEZ) analysis is intended to quantify how the hit percentage of the 300 Winchester Magnum is improved thru these modernization efforts. Primarily the ballistic performance of various ammunition types will be evaluated.
300 Winchester Magnum vs. 338 Lapua Magnum WEZ Analysis
The specific intent of this WEZ report is to compare the ballistic performance of the 300 Winchester Magnum to the 338 Lapua Magnum with several available ammunition types. Understanding how these weapons compare in terms of hit percentage is important in the context of modern military applications. The recent upgrade of the M24 to the more modern XM-2010 platform would indicate that the 300 Win Mag is here to stay.
Palma Bullet Analysis: Berger 155 VLD
The purpose of this article is to discuss the ballistics of the Berger .30 caliber 155 grain VLD as measured by firing tests. Such thorough and precise firing tests are a rare commodity for the sporting arms industry. As tempting as it is to dive into the interesting topic of the test itself, only limited discussion is provided on the actual test procedures. The main focus will be on the results of the tests.
Palma Bullet Analysis: Sierra 155 Palma (2155)
Somewhat of a historical article at this point in time (2013), this article takes an in depth look at what was once the standard bullet for international Palma bullet shooting. This detailed article describes the careful testing and ballistic performance assessment of this classic bullet.
Palma Bullet Analysis: Lapua 155 Scenar
Take a detailed look at Lapua’s flagship FULLBORE bullet, the 155 grain Scenar. This report details the physical properties of this bullet including mass and aerodynamic properties, as well as ballistic performance as determined by live fire testing.
FULLBORE Bullet Update (2009)
Although somewhat dated at this point in time, this article provides detailed performance assessment of 8 different .30 caliber bullets weighing under 156 grains (the international weight limit according to FULLBORE rules). This analysis includes the ‘new’ Sierra Palma bullet (2156) as well as the Berger 155.5 grain FULLBORE bullets which are primarily used in modern FULLBORE competition.
7mm VLD Analylsis Part 1: Properties and Test Results
Berger currently offers two bullets in 7mm: 168 grain and 180 grain VLD’s. The versatility of these two bullets extends from big game hunting to long range benchrest competition and everything in between including long range NRA prone and F-class score shooting. The 7mm 180 grain VLD is of particular interest because of its stellar advertised BC. In part 1 of this two part series, I’ll describe the ballistic properties and performance of these two bullets in a general sense, meaning the information applies to all types of shooting that these bullets might be used for. In part 2, I’ll explore the ballistic properties and performance of the two bullets from the perspective of long range NRA prone slow fire competition.
7mm VLD Analylsis Part 2: Performance Analysis
Part 1 of this series focused on the fundamental design, stability characteristics, and Ballistic Coefficient testing results of Berger’s 7mm bullets, both the 168 grain VLD and 180 grain VLD. This month, I’ll be focusing on the analysis of those results, specifically in the context of NRA Long Range (1000 yard) slow fire prone competition. The focus of the performance analysis will be on the wind drift comparison between these two bullets.