Recently, I received a challenge about the relationship between velocity and firearms performance. Velocity means a lot, but so does
Posts Tagged ‘Ballistics’
Over the last few years, I’ve owned or tested several AR-15s, and, obviously, I liked some more than others. “Like” is
Doping that long shot just got a little easier, not easy just easier. I love doing the math and dialing in the long shots but sometimes it can be a little tedious if you are trying to test a new scope, cartridge or other add-on toys.
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.
Few cartridges can have an iconic tag. What is rarer is when experts call a cartridge iconic when still in its infancy. Twenty years is just an infancy when it comes to the world of cartridges. Of all the ones we have reviewed, this is the baby of the bunch. However, the baby has achieved as close to perfection as perfection can be. Perfection is the .40 Smith & Wesson.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The world record for the smallest 100-yard benchrest group was shot in 1973 by Pat McMillan using a handbuilt prototype McMillan rifle with an early McMillan stock. The 5-shot group measures a mere 0.009-inch center to center and was examined with a 60x microscope for verification. The record still stands today, and the actual record group, plus the McMillan rifle that shot it, hang in the company’s museum in Phoenix.
Greg Ellifritz, a full-time firearms and defensive tactics training officer for a central Ohio police department and the president of Active Response Training, recently conducted an extensive self-study of cartridge and shotshell stops. He graciously allowed the CTD Chronicles to excerpt some of his findings—which challenge conventional wisdom about which cartridges are best for self defense.
Not every caliber does a particularly good job at filling its role. We can’t all be a .308 I suppose. I will say however, that any caliber is better than none. If I had to choose between carrying an anemic cartridge or no gun at all, I’ll take the anemic cartridge every time. That being said, some calibers make you step back and wonder why they ever made them at all. We looked through some gun history and came up with some pretty odd performing bullets.
It can be a difficult decision when trying to decide what deer-hunting cartridge to go with. So often, we are stuck on how well these rounds do at four and five hundred yards, we forget that most of time, we take shots inside of one hundred yards. We decided to take a look at some cartridges designed for medium-sized game, like Texas white tail deer. So how well do these common rifle cartridges do against each other? We took a look at some common rounds, and tried to help our readers decide for themselves.
The first cartridge in our list was actually the first .30 caliber round that propels itself with smokeless powder. The .30-30 cartridge has probably brought down more deer than any other rifle cartridge. Put into production in 1895 for the Winchester lever-action rifle, the .30-30 soon gained popularity as the smokeless powder it used allowed for faster follow-up shots and significantly reduced fouling in the barrel and action. This soft shooting round has an effective range of only 200 meters but with a 170-grain flat point bullet, it hits hard enough to drop all but the largest CXP2 Class animal.
The .243 Winchester is a popular round for youths and new shooters who dislike the harsh recoil of larger calibers. Though it is soft shooting, the .243 is more than capable of taking down any medium-sized game animal, from feral hogs to large white-tailed deer. BVAC’s 100 grain Grand Slam is an easy to shoot round with a maximum point-blank range out past 300 yards, depending on the size of the game animal. Hornady’s Varmint Express topped off with a 58 grain V-Maxon the other hand is an extremely fast and flat shooting cartridge that travels over 3750 feet per second at the muzzle, making it an excellent varmint round out to 200 yards. Their Superformance ammunition is even hotter, throwing a 58-grain projectile down range at over 3925 feet per second.
With the release of the Model 54 bolt-action rifle, Winchester unveiled the .270 cartridge in 1925. Writer Jack O’Connor who wrote at length about it in Outdoor Life and other publications praised it highly, but the round never enjoyed great success for nearly 20 years. After World War II, it saw an enormous surge in popularity, becoming one of the most widely chambered calibers for hunting rifles across the globe. Loaded with a 100 Grain cartridge, Remington Core Lokt PSP achieves a muzzle velocity in excess of 3,300 feet per second. This extreme velocity makes the .270 a very flat shooting round with devastating terminal ballistics. Loaded up in a heavier 150 Grain Federal with Sierra Game King the round is effective on larger game animals like moose or elk. The middleweight 130 Grain BVAC Grand Slam is a good all-around cartridge for hunting a variety of medium sized game.
For decades, the .25-06 was just a custom round created from a necked down .30-06. When Remington began producing the round as a factory load in 1969 however, it experienced a surge in popularity. Topped off with a 120 Grain Speer Grand Slam bullet the BVAC .25-06 cartridge generates a muzzle velocity of 2898 feet per second, and when topped with an 85 Grain Nosler Ballistic Tip Federal’s V-Shok load reaches a velocity of over 3550 feet per second. This zippy little round may be a small caliber, but its flat trajectory and deadly terminal ballistics help it to remain popular among varmint and medium game hunters. Despite the small size of the .25-06, it has superior sectional density at higher bullet weights. The 115 Grain Winchester Ballistic Silvertip has a ballistic coefficient of 0.446, giving it penetration and performance comparable to larger .30 caliber rounds.
So, these rounds all work well for medium-sized game, they shoot flat and have tons of energy. They are all perfectly capable of dropping a white tail deer in their hooves. Which cartridge works best? Comment below and let us know what kind of luck you have had with these rounds. Personally, I’ve always had luck with my .270, it’s not overkill for white tail, but I can still bring down an elk if I choose. Just wish we had some elk down here in Texas.