February 5th, 2015

Finned, Frangible Bullets Drop to Ground within 600m

Here’s an important technology for ranges concerned with over-flight risks. Regular Bulletin readers will recall that we recently warned of the dangers of bullets launched with a high trajectory. (READ Article.) With a muzzle elevation of just 5°, a conventional bullet can fly over 3000 yards, retaining enough energy to kill. General Dynamics has come up with a solution for live-fire training programs that don’t require long-range target engagements. General Dynamics’ Short Stop® ammunition launches bullets that literally drop out of the air within 600 meters. What’s the secret to the short flight? Read on…

Short Stop 5.56x45mm and 7.62x51mm Ammunition Trajectory
shortstop ammunition ammo polymer bullet short trajectory

shortstop ammunition ammo polymer bullet short trajectoryThis illustration shows the trajectories of 5.56 and 7.62 Short Stop bullets (yellow zone) compared to conventional rifle projectiles (black lines). You can see the “flight cycle” is completely different.

Short Stop ammunition employs advanced polymer/copper composite bullets with molded “fins”. The bullets sort of look like the end of a Phillips screwdriver (except the fins have a slight twist near their base). This “twisted fin” design causes the bullets to yaw, and that, in turn induces aerodynamic drag — a lot of drag. The molded bullets are also much lighter than conventional bullets (of the same caliber). The reduced weight/density gives them less momentum, so they lose velocity more readily than normal bullets. The combination of the low mass and high drag makes these bullets drop from the air within 600m or so, living up to their “Short Stop” designation.

In an interview with NRABlog.com, General Dynamics Bus. Dev. Manager Ruben Regalado explained how the Short Stop ammunition works. With this design, he says, “You can do a lot of the training you would do with a ball round with no fear of overflight. It’s the fin that does it. Due to the nature of its composition [the bullet] is lighter than the standard projectile, but the magic is in the fin.”

shortstop ammunition ammo polymer bullet short trajectory

There are many potential applications for Short Stop rounds according to NRABlog Editor Lars Dalseide: “Where do these rounds come into play? Anywhere. Anywhere there’s military training, law enforcement training, or basic target shooting taking place. And with the encroachment of communities surrounding your favorite neighborhood range, [projectiles] that drop out of the air at 600 meters means the risk of overflight is significantly reduced.” The polymer-composite bullets are also frangible, so there is less penetration of objects and less chance of ricochet.

Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics ShortStop General Dynamics“Smurf” Bullets for .50 Caliber AA Rifles
Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics has seen ammo similar to Short Stops used in .50-caliber rifles for training purposes. Bryan tells us: “Similar rounds have been available for .50 cal for many years. We find [the spent bullets] on the range at Camp Grayling (a Michigan National Guard training facility where we hold 1000-yard matches). The .50 cal rounds use blunt plastic things (we call them ‘Smurf’ bullets) and they use them for practicing anti-aircraft shooting. Instructors put up an RC target drone and the Guardsmen shoot at it with the .50s using the short range ammunition.”

Bryan says these “short flight” bullets have an important purpose, though the applications remain limited. “These kind of projectiles are a good tool for applications where an adequate SDZ (Surface Danger Zone) cannot be secured for the range location. I just hope the application remains confined to only those places where it’s necessary, i.e. where the SDZ presents a problem. I would hate to see our bullet options be limited to something like this under the guise of ‘range safety’, where the SDZ is properly secured.”

shortstop ammunition ammo polymer bullet short trajectory

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February 5th, 2015

For Novice Reloaders, the Winner Is…

What’s the best book for folks getting started in metallic cartridge reloading? According to our Forum members, the best manual for “newbie” reloaders is the Lyman Reloading Handbook. In our Shooters’ Forum, a newcomer to reloading was looking for a basic reloading guide that also included load data. The most recommended book was the Lyman Handbook, now in its 49th Edition. Along with “how-to” advice on reloading procedures, the Lyman Manual features cartridge specifications and load data for the most popular cartridges.*

Lyman 49th Reloading Manual

Here are some comments from Forum members:

“The Lyman book is an excellent manual with a large section describing the process of reloading. I heartily recommend it. As a beginning reloader, you may want to consider purchasing more than one book in order to get different perspectives on the reloading regimen. One can never be too careful. A ‘minor’ mistake can be costly.” — Cort

“In my opinion, the Lyman Manual is one of the best for the beginning reloader since it covers all the basics and some advanced methods. If possible, you would be also well served to hook up with an experienced reloader, preferably a target shooter or long-range varmint hunter, who can also give you some very useful pointers on precision reloading.” – K22

Editor’s NOTE: K22 echoes the advice we give to new hand-loaders. We suggest that novices find an experienced mentor who can “show them the ropes” and guide them through the basics.

Another gun blogger agrees that the Lyman Manual is a logical choice for new handloaders:

Carteach Review: The Lyman Reloading Manual
“[Lyman publishes] an excellent manual for any handloader, but especially for those new to the craft. Perhaps the best judgment of a handloader’s regard for a reloading manual is which one he chooses to give someone new to the fold. The needs of a new reloader differ from those of someone with long experience, and the right manual can set the foundation for years of safe procedures. Here is the one I choose to give a good friend embarking down the path:”

Lyman 49th Reloading Manual

Carteach adds: “Lyman has always taken pains to provide very clear and understandable instruction on the basic process of reloading cartridges. The imaging is helpful and to the point. The load data Lyman provides is comprehensive, and [Lyman] takes the time to note special circumstances which new loaders need to be aware of. As example, the .30-06 section has some words regarding the M-1 Garand and its special needs. For someone who has never loaded for the Garand, these few sentences are golden!”

More Good Reference Books for Reloaders
Other book suggestions include The ABCs of Reloading, Glen Zediker’s Handloading for Competition, and The Book of Rifle Accuracy by Tony Boyer. The Boyer book is more for advanced handloaders, though it contains advice that can help beginners too. Forum member VTMarmot writes: “I wish I had read Tony Boyer’s book before I ever started handloading. The concept of using a bushing neck die that also sizes the body is the simplest, most accurate way to get accurate handloads and long brass life. This is true whether or not you turn necks, and whether you are loading for competition or hunting.”

*We recommend that you always double-check printed load data with the latest web-based data from the actual powder manufacturers. Powder properties can change. The most current powder data is usually found on the powder-makers’ websites.

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