Posts Tagged ‘Ballistics’

Pistol firing with expended shell still in the air

Handgun Defense Loads

In the pursuit of wound potential, sometimes called stopping power, there have traditionally been two alternatives. The first, and most reliable, was to increase bullet diameter and weight. Examples include replacing the .36 Colt with the .44 Army revolver and the later invention of the .45 Colt revolver. Designed to drop not only enemy soldiers and aboriginal tribesmen, these firearms could drop warhorses as well.

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At the Range: Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 Deluxe

A friend recently bought a Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 Deluxe rifle chambered in 257 Weatherby Magnum, and since I was setting up a used Vanguard 308 Win. of my own, I offered to scope and point-blank zero his rifle at the same time as I was doing mine. As it turned out, I was beguiled by the looks of his rifle, so I started with it, making the Deluxe 257 the first Weatherby I’ve ever shot extensively.

4 338-Lapua-Hornady

Top 10 Ammo Posts as of May 25, 2013

The biggest fixed expenses when getting into the gun game are usually firearms, then optics, or sometimes the other way around. But over the lifetime of a platform — rifle, shotgun, handgun, doesn’t matter — the biggest expense is almost always ammo. Accordingly, stories focusing on ammunition use, tuning, and suitability are favorites of the Cheaper Than Dirt! Chronicle community. Here are the most-read articles we’ve run in the Shooter’s Log that have to do with ammunition choice and performance:

Self-Diagnostic for Defensive Rifleman

Many of us keep rifles for self-defense at home. Some prefer simple solutions, like an M1 carbine or an AK clone without optics. Others favor more complex, more flexible solutions like an AR15 or a Sig 556 with a red dot, a light and a laser. Regardless of how you set up your weapon, it’s a good idea to know if you are proficient with it. The following exercise requires three rounds of ammunition, twenty cents worth of supplies and about five minutes of time, most of which would be spent walking to the target backer.

The required supplies are two paper or Styrofoam plates and two sticky notes. You can use either 3- or 4-inch variety—the difficulty of the exercise would not change from the substitution. Bring the rifle to the range and set it up in the exact configuration used at your home. If the red dot is turned off, it should be off at the start of the diagnostic test. If the chamber is empty, keep it empty. The same goes for the safety, optic caps and stock position. Set up three targets and get ready.

The closest target would be at 5 yards and consist of a sticky note on the target backer. This would be the rapid reaction part of the drill. On cue, you would get the rifle ready for combat and hit it with your first shot. The result would be considered barely satisfactory if you manage in ten seconds. Five seconds would be better and three ideal. Remember that a trained pistol shooter can do this in under two seconds from the holster. The small size of the target is a nod to realism, compensating for the target not moving, not shooting at you and the entire exercise not taking place in low light. You may end up firing without turning on your illuminated optic. Any position is permitted for this, though standing would likely be quicker than others and least likely to out a bullet over the range backstop. Back-up iron sights, laser or point shooting may have to do for the short time available. Remember the offsets—down for the optic or irons, up for the under-barrel laser. If racking the action or manipulating the stock slows you down, perhaps you would want to store the rifle in a different state in the future.

"Hostile behind cover" target for 25 yards.

“Hostile behind cover” target for 25 yards.

The middle target at 25 yards would be an 8-inch paper plate with a sticky note on it. You would have to hit the plate without nicking the sticky note. This is why the difficulty of the exercise remains similar with 3- or 4-inch notes—larger sticky notes make the 25 yard target harder to hit cleanly. The orange note can represent either hard cover or a hostage. To make this stage more difficult, put the note in the middle of the plate or at a 45 degree angle. Like the five yard shot, this may be taken from any position. Kneeling or squatting positions are fast and add stability, prone is likely take too long to adopt. Ideally, you would shoot this in ten seconds or less. A hostile at 25 yards is a credible threat if he has a ranged weapon, and ten seconds would certainly give him time to deploy it against you. If you had to turn on sights or unfold stocks for the close-range shot, the rifle would be already set up for this stage. This isn’t a hard target to hit, but the proximity of a “no shoot” adds difficulty. A flinch or greater than expected sight offset can result in a hit on the orange.

The third target would be set up at 125 yards. Appleseed marksmanship training strives to provide 4MOA accuracy. An 8-inch plate is three inches larger than that in every direction, 270% greater by area. It’s an easy shot, assuming you know where your far zero it and how great is the maximum deflection for point blank shot. If your sights are set up for no more than 3.5 inch rise or drop out to 200 yards, then holding dead center would get you a hit. If your long gun is a 45ACP carbine with a steeper trajectory, you may have to compensate by holding over or under. The time allowed for this target would be far greater, up to thirty seconds. Any position other than setting behind a bench would do. If your rifle has a bipod, use it. If you have a variable power scope, zoom it in. Aim, squeeze, bullseye! Collect your targets and consider the results.

Did you get all three hit cleanly? If not, why did you miss — was it not remembering to compensate for the sight offset or just being too shaky? Did you fumble any part of getting your gun ready to fire? Was getting into a supported firing position awkward? A checklist of all that went wrong would provide you with the practice regimen for the immediate future. If a malfunction prevented you from using the rifle, did you figure out out at once and switch to your handgun? Were you able to hit with the handgun, at least on the two close targets?

The logic behind with diagnostic stage is simple: speed, accuracy and power are important. You get the power by the virtue of using a rifle, so only speed and accuracy depend on you. If your weapon is optimized for distance, can you still use it well up close? If set up for close and personal, is it any good further out? Failing the 125 yard stage is far preferable to failing the closer stages as very few non-military conflicts occur that far out. The actual distances, 5-25-125 may be changed at will. If your range only goes to 100, use 7-20-100 or any other combination that makes sense to you. The key to picking the ranges is to avoid the exact measured distances at which your rifle was zeroed. If you shot the stages cleanly in 10-20-30 seconds, you can work on your time. If you missed quickly, work on the accuracy. If you fumbled deployment, consider practicing that. If you want to re-run the exercise, don’t use the same distances twice. The diagnostic is to tell you how well you do in an unusual situation under time pressure — don’t game it to look better to others. Keep it difficult to get better for yourself.

Once good at this, feel free to change up the routine. Use a tethered helium balloon in place of the paper plate. If you keep a shotgun instead of a rifle, try this with slightly shorter ranges — 5, 15 and 50 would be quite reasonable. The middle stage with a “no shoot” becomes the greatest challenge then. Three rounds of ammunition, two dimes’ worth of office supplies and five minutes could tell you much about your degree of readiness. Are you game?

Colt Delta Elite - One attempt to harness the 10mm

Cartridge of the Week, the 10mm, 10mm Auto

Those who have followed my posts know I have one foot in the past and one barely in the present when it comes to firearms and cartridges. It takes a lot of evidence and time to prove something to me. Nothing like the tried, true and tested. Nevertheless, I cannot argue with the point that somethings are good right out of the box, like the Colt Python, wait there I go again. Another thing that is hard to argue with is physics. Well you can, but people will see you talking to yourself and runaway. When it comes to physics and raw proof, there are few cartridges that rival the mighty 10mm Auto.

38 Special the loyal Friend of Police Officers

Cartridge of the Week, the Smith and Wesson .38 Special, .38 SPL, .38 SPC

It does not have to be flashy just dependable. It’s always there and it always works. It is like a good friend in a pinch you can count on it to be there for you. I am a traditionalist. I prefer something proven over the test of time – not the media or Internet hype. I am not a person who follows fads. That is why the next cartridge is so “Special” to me. That good friend throughout the years is the Smith and Wesson .38 Special.

Bullet Impacting Brass Rod

Terminal Ballistics

This is the third part of our study on ballistics. First, we looked at interior ballistics which is what happens when the shooter fires and the bullet is still in the gun. After that, we briefly examined exterior ballistics, which is what happens once the bullet leaves the muzzle of the gun and the forces that act on it as it travels to the target. Now we will look at terminal ballistics. This is what happens once the bullet arrives at the intended destination.

Exterior Ballistics

Exterior Ballistics

I am often amused as I read some of the trifling on the Internet of the person who wants to buy their first rifle for the purpose of shooting 1,000 yards. This arbitrary distance seems to have become the standard for being an expert shooter. The homemade sniper for some sort of future zombie attacks.

30-30 Winchester

Cartridge of the Week 30-30 Winchester

Last week we explored an old Warhorse, the Russian 7.62x54R. This week we look into a staple cartridge of hunters for many years, the 30-30 Winchester. Just slightly older than last week’s cartridge by just four years (1895) it is still in use today and may have harvested more deer than any other smokeless cartridge. Also known as the 30-30 WCF, a name derived from a .30 caliber bullet loaded with 30 grains of powder. Designed in a time when there were numerous amounts of rimfire and centerfire cartridges, the need existed to define it as centerfire cartridge.

Bullet Exiting Barell

Interior Ballistics

There are four types of ballistics, interior, exterior, terminal, and forensic. Today we will tackle interior ballistics. Watch my posts over the next few weeks to explore the other ballistic theories. These are very basic principles. Each one is an extensive and fascinating study in physics and math. Please do not let the math and physics scare you. I hope that you will continue to explore these fascinating theories.