November 13th, 2015

Calibrate Your Clicks with Tall Target Test

Scope Click Verify Elevation Tall Target Bryan Litz NSSF test turret MOA MIL

Have you recently purchased a new scope? Then you should verify the actual click value of the turrets before you use the optic in competition (or on a long-range hunt). While a scope may have listed click values of 1/4-MOA, 1/8-MOA or 0.1 Mils, the reality may be slightly different. Many scopes have actual click values that are slightly higher or lower than the value claimed by the manufacturer. The small variance adds up when you click through a wide range of elevation.

In this video, Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics shows how to verify your true click values using a “Tall Target Test”. The idea is to start at the bottom end of a vertical line, and then click up 30 MOA or so. Multiply the number of clicked MOA by 1.047 to get the claimed value in inches. For example, at 100 yards, 30 MOA is exactly 31.41 inches. Then measure the difference in your actual point of impact. If, for example, your point of impact is 33 inches, then you are getting more than the stated MOA with each click (assuming the target is positioned at exactly 100 yards).

Scope Click Verify Elevation Tall Target Bryan Litz NSSF test turret MOA MIL

How to Perform the Tall Target Test
The objective of the tall target test is to insure that your scope is giving you the proper amount of adjustment. For example, when you dial 30 MOA, are you really getting 30 MOA, or are you getting 28.5 or 31.2 MOA? The only way to be sure is to verify, don’t take it for granted! Knowing your scopes true click values insures that you can accurately apply a ballistic solution. In fact, many perceived inaccuracies of long range ballistics solutions are actually caused by the scopes not applying the intended adjustment. In order to verify your scope’s true movement and calculate a correction factor, follow the steps in the Tall Target Worksheet. This worksheet takes you thru the ‘calibration process’ including measuring true range to target and actual POI shift for a given scope adjustment. The goal is to calculate a correction factor that you can apply to a ballistic solution which accounts for the tracking error of your scope. For example, if you find your scope moves 7% more than it should, then you have to apply 7% less than the ballistic solution calls for to hit your target.

CLICK HERE to DOWNLOAD Tall Target Worksheet (PDF)

NOTE: When doing this test, don’t go for the maximum possible elevation. You don’t want to max out the elevation knob, running it to the top stop. Bryan Litz explains: “It’s good to avoid the extremes of adjustment when doing the tall target test.I don’t know how much different the clicks would be at the edges, but they’re not the same.”

Should You Perform a WIDE Target Test Too?
What about testing your windage clicks the same way, with a WIDE target test? Bryan Litz says that’s not really necessary: “The wide target test isn’t as important for a couple reasons. First, you typically don’t dial nearly as much wind as you do elevation. Second, your dialed windage is a guess to begin with; a moving average that’s different for every shot. Whereas you stand to gain a lot by nailing vertical down to the click, the same is not true of windage. If there’s a 5% error in your scope’s windage tracking, you’d never know it.”

Scope Tall Test level calibrationVerifying Scope Level With Tall Target Test
Bryan says: “While setting up your Tall Target Test, you should also verify that your scope level is mounted and aligned properly. This is critical to insuring that you’ll have a long range horizontal zero when you dial on a bunch of elevation for long range shots. This is a requirement for all kinds of long range shooting. Without a properly-mounted scope level (verified on a Tall Target), you really can’t guarantee your horizontal zero at long range.”

NOTE: For ‘known-distance’ competition, this is the only mandatory part of the tall target test, since slight variations in elevation click-values are not that important once you’re centered “on target” at a known distance.

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October 30th, 2015

Top Teams Compete for 1000-Yard F-Class Titles Today

F-Class National Championship Team
Ben Avery 10/30/2015 panorama photo by Tracy Hogg. CLICK HERE to zoom image.

Today is the Team Match Day at the F-Class Long-Range National Championships. F-Open and F-TR team shooters will have to deal with damp conditions on the range, as a storm front recently dropped rain at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility outside Phoenix. James Crofts says: “The 2×1000 Team match today is going to be a good day. Wind will be up to 10 mph and quartering.”

F-Class National Championship Team

In the F-TR division, competition will be fierce. The Michigan F-TR Team, winner of the Mid-Range Championship earlier this week, looks to add a matching 1000-Yard National Team victory today. The shooters of Team X-Men, lead by 2014 individual F-TR Champion James Crofts, hope to reverse their fortunes, and win at the longer distance. And Team Sinclair, the “winningest” squad in F-Class history, looks to grab another title. Team Sinclair boasts multiple champions on its squad, including Derek Rodgers, the only man to have won both the F-TR and F-Open National Championship.

Team Sinclair Derek Rodgers

F-Class National Championship Team

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October 29th, 2015

How to Work with Density Altitude in Ballistics Calculations

In this video, Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics talks about Density Altitude and the effect of atmospheric conditions on bullet flight. Bryan explains why you must accurately account for Density Altitude when figuring long-range trajectories.

Bryan tells us: “One of the important elements in calculating a fire solution for long-range shooting is understanding the effect of atmospherics. Temperature, pressure, and humidity all affect the air density that the bullet’s flying through. You can combine all those effects into one number (value) called ‘Density Altitude’. That means that you just have one number to track instead of three. But, ultimately, what you are doing is that you are describing to your ballistics solver the characteristics of the atmosphere that your bullet’s flying through so that the software can make the necessary adjustments and account for it in its calculations for drop and wind drift.”

Bryan adds: “Once you get past 500 or 600 yards you really need to start paying careful attention to atmospherics and account for them in your ballistic solutions”. You can learn more about Density Altitude in Bryan’s book, Applied Ballistics for Long Range Shooting. You can now pre-order the updated Third Edition of this book.

General Scientific Definition of Density Altitude

Density altitude is the altitude relative to the standard atmosphere conditions (ISA) at which the air density would be equal to the indicated air density at the place of observation. Density altitude can be calculated from atmospheric pressure and temperature (assuming dry air). Here is the formula:

Litz Ballistics Density Altitude

Air is more dense at lower elevations primarily because of gravity: “As gravity pulls the air towards the ground, [lower] molecules are subject to the additional weight of all the molecules above. This additional weight means the air pressure is highest at sea level, and diminishes with increases in elevation”.*

Both an increase in temperature, decrease in atmospheric pressure, and, to a much lesser degree, increase in humidity will cause an increase in density altitude. In hot and humid conditions, the density altitude at a particular location may be significantly higher than the true altitude.


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October 27th, 2015

Litz Wins F-TR Mid-Range National Championship

F-TR Mid Range National Championship Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics

This past weekend, Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics LLC, topped a field of great shooters to win the 2015 NRA F-TR Mid-Range National Championship. Bryan shot very well, mastering conditions that were tricky and sometimes bewildering, particularly at the shortest range, 300 yards. Consider this, Lou Mudica had the top score on Day Two (all 600 yards), yet he was way down at 41st position on Day One (300/500/600 yards). Finishing Second Overall was Scott Harris. Bryan’s Michigan team-mate Jim Grissom was third, while Bryan’s father (and MI team-mate) Bill Litz was fourth.

F-TR Top Ten at Mid-Range National Championship
F-TR Mid Range National Championship Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics

Bryan was using a low-profile, carbon/composite-stocked rifle built by John Pierce. Bryan told us: “This was the same rifle and almost the same load with which I won the Midwest Palma match in the summer of 2014. (Story HERE.) My gear consisted of Pierce rifle, Bartlein barrel, Nightforce scope, Berger bullets, Lapua brass, Hodgdon powder (All those companies are sponsors of the USA F-TR team as well as the Michigan F-TR team.) My load for the Mid-Range Nationals was 43.0 grains of Varget with the Berger 215gr Hybrid bullet seated 0.005″ off the rifling.”

Click Image for Full-Size Version:
F-TR Mid Range National Championship Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics

A lot of wind shooting strategy isn’t just about knowing exactly where to hold at any given point in time. A big part of it is recognizing periods of predictable readable conditions versus UNpredictable unreadable conditions and avoiding shooting in them. — Bryan Litz

At the Mid-Range Nationals, wind conditions at the shorter yardages caught many competitors by surprise. As a result, many shooters, including 2014 F-TR National Champion James Crofts, shot better at 600 yards than at 300. That seems surprising… but there is a reason. Bryan Litz explains that conditions at shorter distances are sometimes more difficult to read than at 1000 yards.

Bryan Litz Talks about Mid-Range Wind-Reading Strategies
Mid-Range is marked by more uncertainty than long range shooting. At long range you can see more flags, more mirage, and conditions tend to be more readable although they have a greater effect. At mid range, the closer you are to the target the less readable the conditions tend to be. Often times at 300 yards there is no mirage and very sparse flags to get a read on. You can still get blown out at 300 yards! 500 yards can be a little better and at 600 sometimes you can get a pretty good read on it, but the majority of strategy for shooting Mid-Range is managing the uncertainty. What is your plan for shooting blind?

Suppose you’re shooting along pretty well centered up in the 10 Ring. Suddenly you shoot a 9 out the side and can’t see an indicator that explains why. Stop! Clearly something is going on which is not readable. It’s likely to be around for a period of time. Its best just to wait for that uncertainty to blow through and start shooting again when things settle out again. How do you know when things have settled out? When everybody else is pretty much back into the 10 Ring for a little while, then you know that a stable condition has settled back in. Take your best guess and get back into it.

A lot of wind shooting strategy isn’t just about knowing exactly where to hold at any given point in time. A big part of it is recognizing periods of predictable readable conditions versus UNpredictable unreadable conditions and avoiding shooting in them. Good equipment is a must, and ballistic performance matters, but when it comes to winning a match versus placing in the top 10, it all comes down to who employs the winning strategy for the various different conditions. It can be more like a chess game then shooting. Competitive judgment is key.

Bryan Litz didn’t do too badly in the Mid-Range Team Match either, shooting a 200-10X. Bryan’s team-mate John Pierce shot a brilliant 200-15X. Looks like those low-profile Pierce-built rigs really hammer:

F-TR Mid Range National Championship Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics

John Pierce (left) and Bryan Litz, who is holding his Pierce-built F-TR rifle.
F-TR Mid Range National Championship Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills 6 Comments »
October 25th, 2015

F-Class Nationals Kick Off at Ben Avery in Phoenix

2015 F-Class Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona James Crofts

The 2015 United States F-Class National Championships are underway now at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix. There’s a “hybrid” format this year. For 2015, the Nationals combine both Mid-Range and Long-Range competitions in one week-long mega-match. The Mid Range F-Class Nationals take place 24-27 October 2015, with shooting at 300, 500, and 600 yards. The Long Range National Championships then run October 28 through 31, with all targets at 1000 yards. The competition consists of two different divisions: F-Open and F-TR (Target Rifle).

The wind arrived early on Saturday…
2015 F-Class Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona James Crofts

It started off somewhat windy on Saturday, October 24 for the 300-yard and 500-yard matches. Bryan Litz mastered the conditions to end up leading the F-TR division. (Guess that knowing a thing or two about ballistics helps when the wind is blowing). James Crofts, 2014 F-TR National Champion, shoot well at 500 yards, but struggled at 300 yards (the X-Ring is just 1.5″ at 300 yards). He observed: “Not a bad day today — overall 13th. Bryan Litz has the overall F-TR lead. I’m down 20 for the day but there are lots of shots left to go.”

2015 F-Class Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona James Crofts

All the shooting today (Sunday, October 25th), will be at 600 yards. Jim posted from Phoenix: “It’s time to start Day Two of the F-Class Mid-Range Nationals. All 600 yards today and I’m ready. Looks like it could be a tricky day with gusty winds but it will be the same for everyone.”

James Crofts at the 500-yard line. He had a tougher time at 300 yards.
2015 F-Class Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona James Crofts

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October 19th, 2015

New Editions of Applied Ballistics Books

Applied Ballistics new book Long Range Shooting Bullet Data tables

Applied Ballistics LLC will release updated editions of two popular resource books: Applied Ballistics for Long-Range Shooting (3rd Edition) and Ballistic Performance of Rifle Bullets (2nd Edition). Retail price is $54.95 for each title, or $94.95 if purchased together. Pre-orders are now being accepted with a $5 discount per book. You can pre-order the new editions through the Applied Ballistics store. The new editions are expected to ship by the second week of December.

Applied Ballistics for Long Range Shooting (ABLRS), Bryan Litz’s “Magnum Opus”, will have significant enhancements. New for the Third Edition is content on Weapon Employment Zone (WEZ) analysis. WEZ analysis is the study of hit percentage, and how that will be affected by the uncertainties in your environment. Existing academic material is augmented with modern experimental findings. The Third Edition also includes a CD-ROM disc with Applied Ballistics’ latest version of its ballistic software. NOTE: The third edition of ABLRS does NOT include the library of bullet data. That bullet library now exists as a separate reference book: Ballistic Performance of Rifle Bullets.

Ballistic Performance of Rifle Bullets — Data for 533 Bullets AND Rimfire Ammo
The updated, Second Edition of Ballistic Performance of Rifle Bullets contains the current library of all modern bullets tested by the Applied Ballistics Laboratory. Expanding on the First Edition, which had data on 400 bullets from .22 to .408 caliber, this Second Edition contains data on 533 bullets from .22 through .50 caliber. In addition to the centerfire bullet data, the Second Edition contains live fire data on 90 types of rimfire ammo which were all tested for muzzle velocity and BC through five different barrels of various twist/length configurations. This library of experimental test data is the most extensive and accurate resource ever assembled for small arms bullets. Numerous modern ballistics programs draw from the library of tested BCs that are published in this book.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, News 1 Comment »
October 1st, 2015

The Transonic Zone — What Happens to Bullet Stability and BC

These four photos show the substantial changes in the shock wave and turbulence patterns for the same 7.5mm bullet at different velocities. The “M” stands for Mach and the numerical value represents the velocity of the bullet relative to the speed of sound at the time of the shot. Photos by Beat Kneubuehl.

“Going transonic” is generally not a good thing for bullets. The bullet can lose stability as it enters the transonic zone. It can also become less slippery, losing BC as a consequence of dynamic instability. In this video, Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics analyzes what happens to bullet stability (and BC) as projectiles approach the speed of sound. Transonic effects come into play starting about Mach 1.2, as the bullet drops below 1340 fps.

Transonic Ballistics Effects Explained by Bryan Litz
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. In particular, for bullets that are spin-stabilized, what the sound barrier does to a bullet (as it flies near Mach 1) is that it has a de-stabilizing effect. The center of pressure moves forward, and the over-turning moment on the bullet gets greater. You must then ask: “Is your bullet going to have enough gyroscopic stability to overcome the increasing dynamic instability that’s experienced at transonic speed?”

Some bullets do this better than others. Typically bullets that are shorter and have shallow boat-tail angles will track better through the transonic range. On the contrary, bullets that are longer… can experience a greater range of pitching and yawing in the transonic range that will depress their ballistic coefficients at that speed to greater or lesser extents depending on the exact conditions of the day. That makes it very hard to predict your trajectory for bullets like that through that speed range.

When you look at transonic effects on stability, you’re looking at reasons to maybe have a super-fast twist rate to stabilize your bullets, because you’re actually getting better performance — you’re getting less drag and more BC from your bullets if they are spinning with a more rigid axis through the transonic flight range because they’ll be experiencing less pitching and yawing in their flight.

Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics Transonic Twist Rate Stability

To determine how bullets perform in the “transonic zone”, Bryan did a lot of testing with multiple barrels and various twist rates, comparing how bullets act at supersonic AND transonic velocities. Bryan looked at the effect of twist rates on the bullets’ Ballistic Coefficient (BC). His tests revealed how BC degrades in the transonic zone due to pitching and yawing. Bryan also studied how precision (group size) and muzzle velocity were affected by twist rates. You may be surprised by the results (which showed that precision did not suffer much with faster barrel twist rates). The results of this extensive research are found in Bryan’s book Modern Advancements in Long Range Shooting.

Bryan notes: “A lot of gunpowder was burned to get these results and it’s all published in layman’s terms that are easy to understand”. If you’re interested in learning more about transonic bullet stability, you may want to pick up a copy of Bryan’s book.

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September 23rd, 2015

Pointing Basics — How to Use a Bullet Pointing Die System

Berger Bullet Pointing Applied Ballistics Bryan Litz Whidden Pointing Die pointer

Tech Tip by Doc Beech, Applied Ballistics Support Team
I am going to hit on some key points when it comes to bullet pointing. How much pointing and trimming needed is going to depend on the bullet itself. Specifically how bad the bullets are to begin with. Starting out with better-quality projectiles such as Bergers is going to mean two things. First that you don’t need to do as much correction to the meplat, but also that the improvement is going to be less. NOTE: We recommend you DO NOT POINT hunting bullets. Pointing can affect terminal performance in a bad way.

NOTE the change in the bullet tip shape and hollowpoint size after pointing:
Berger Bullet Pointing Applied Ballistics Bryan Litz Whidden Pointing Die pointer

Don’t Over-Point Your Bullets
What is important here is that you never want to over-point. It is far better to be safe, and under-point, rather than over-point and crush the tips even the slightest bit. To quote Bryan Litz exactly: “Best practice is to leave a tiny air gap in the tip so you’re sure not to compress the metal together which will result in crushing. Most of the gain in pointing is taking the bullet tip down to this point. Going a little further doesn’t show on target”. So in essence you are only bringing the tip down a small amount… and you want to make sure you leave an air gap at the tip.

Salazar Whidden Bullet Pointer system

Also keep in mind, bullet pointing is one of those procedures with variable returns. If you only shoot at 100-200 yards, bullet pointing will likely not benefit you. To see the benefits, which can run from 2 to 10% (possibly more with poorly designed bullets), you need be shooting at long range. Bryan says: “Typically, with pointing, you’ll see 3-4% increase in BC on average. If the nose is long and pointy (VLD shape) with a large meplat, that’s where pointing has the biggest effect; up to 8% or 10%. If the meplat is tight on a short tangent nose, the increase can be as small as 1 or 2%.” For example, If you point a Berger .308-caliber 185gr Juggernaut expect to only get a 2% increase in BC.

Berger Bullet Pointing Applied Ballistics Bryan Litz Whidden Pointing Die pointer

Should You Trim after Pointing?
Sometimes you can see tiny imperfections after pointing, but to say you “need” to trim after pointing is to say that the small imperfections make a difference. Bryan Litz advises: “If your goal is to make bullets that fly uniformly at the highest levels, it may not be necessary to trim them.” In fact Bryan states: “I’ve never trimmed a bullet tip, before or after pointing”. So in the end it is up to you to decide.

Pointing is Easy with the Right Tools
The process of pointing in itself is very simple. It takes about as much effort to point bullets as it does to seat bullets. We are simply making the air gap on the tip of the bullet ever-so smaller. Don’t rush the job — go slow. Use smooth and steady pressure on the press when pointing bullets. You don’t want to trap air in the die and damage the bullet tip. You can use most any press, with a caliber-specific sleeve and correct die insert. The Whidden pointing die has a micrometer top so making adjustments is very easy.

Bryan Litz actually helped design the Whidden Bullet Pointing Die System, so you can order the Pointing Die and Inserts directly from Applied Ballistics. Just make sure that you pick up the correct caliber sleeve(s) and appropriate insert(s). As sold by Applied Ballistics, the Whidden Bullet Pointing Die System comes with the die, one tipping insert, and one caliber-specific sleeve. To see which insert(s) you need for your bullet type(s), click this link:

LINK: Whidden Gunworks Pointing Die Insert Selection Chart

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 6 Comments »
September 17th, 2015

Loading for Long Range Shooting — Why Consistency Is Key

Applied Ballistics Bullet Choice Load Development

In this video, Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics explains how to choose a bullet for long-range shooting and explains what you should be looking for when developing a long-range load. Bryan notes that, with a new rifle build, the bullet you select may actually dictate your gun components. When starting from a “clean slate”, once you select a bullet, you will then pick a barrel, twist rate, and cartridge that are appropriate for that bullet. In choosing a long-range projectile, Bryan recommends you choose a high-BC bullet “that is known for precision”. Then you need to find an ultra-consistent, reliable load.

This video is worth watching. Bryan Litz makes some very good points.

Load Development — Why Consistency is Key (and Half-MOA May Be Good Enough)
After choosing a bullet for your long-range project, then you need to develop a load through testing. Bryan explains: “Once you’ve selected a bullet … and you have selected the components around that bullet, the most important thing to remember in hand-loading is consistency. You’re going to do some testing to see what combination of powder charge, powder type, and seating depth give you the best groups and lowest standard deviations in muzzle velocity.”

Bryan says that if you develop a load that can shoot consistent, half-minute groups in all conditions, you should be satisfied. Bryan says that many long-range shooters “spin their wheels” trying to achieve a quarter-MOA load. Often they give up and start all over with a new bullet, new powder, and even a new cartridge type. That wastes time, money, and energy.

Bryan cautions: “My advice for hand-loaders who are long-range shooters, is this: If you can get a load that is reliable and can shoot consistent, half-minute groups with low MV variation and you can shoot that load in any condition and it will work well, then STICK with THAT LOAD. Then focus on practicing, focus on the fundamentals of marksmanship. The consistency you develop over time by using the same ammunition will mean more to your success in long range shooting than refining a half-minute load down to a quarter-minute load.”

Bryan notes that, at very long range, shooting skills and wind-calling abilities count most: “Your ability to hit a 10″ target at 1000 yards doesn’t improve very much if you can make your rifle group a quarter-minute vs. a half a minute. What’s going to determine your hit percentage on a target like that is how well you can calculate an accurate firing solution and center your group on that target. A lot of people would be more effective if they focused on the fire solution and accurately centering the group on the target [rather than attempting to achieve smaller groups through continuous load development].”

Editor’s Note: We agree 100% with the points Bryan makes in this video. However, for certain disciplines, such as 600-yard benchrest, you WILL need a sub-half-MOA rifle to be competitive at major matches. Well-tuned, modern 600-yard benchrest rigs can shoot 1/4-MOA or better at 100 yards. Thankfully, with the powder, bullets, and barrels available now, 1/4-MOA precision (in good, stable conditions) is achievable with a 17-lb benchgun built by a good smith with premium components.

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September 12th, 2015

Coefficient Conundrum: G1 vs. G7, Which BC Should You Use

The better, up-to-date ballistics programs let you select either G1 or G7 Ballistic Coefficient (BC) values when calculating a trajectory. The ballistic coefficient (BC) of a body is a measure of its ability to overcome air resistance in flight. You’ve probably seen that G7 values are numerically lower than G1 values for the same bullet (typically). But that doesn’t mean you should select a G1 value simply because it is higher.

Some readers are not quite sure about the difference between G1 and G7 models. One forum member wrote us: “I went on the JBM Ballistics website to use the web-based Trajectory Calculator and when I got to the part that gives you a choice to choose between G1 and G7 BC, I was stumped. What determines how, or which one to use?”

The simple answer to that is the G1 value normally works better for shorter flat-based bullets, while the G7 value should work better for longer, boat-tailed bullets.

G1 vs. G7 Ballistic Coefficients — Which Is Right for You?
G1 and G7 refer both refer to aerodynamic drag models based on particular “standard projectile” shapes. The G1 shape looks like a flat-based bullet. The G7 shape is quite different, and better approximates the geometry of a modern long-range bullet. So, when choosing your drag model, G1 is preferrable for flat-based bullets, while G7 is ordinarily a “better fit” for longer, boat-tailed bullets.

G1 G7 Ballistic coefficients

Drag Models — G7 is better than G1 for Long-Range Bullets
Many ballistics programs still offer only the default G1 drag model. Bryan Litz, author of Applied Ballistics for Long Range Shooting, believes the G7 standard is preferrable for long-range, low-drag bullets: “Part of the reason there is so much ‘slop’ in advertised BCs is because they’re referenced to the G1 standard which is very speed sensitive. The G7 standard is more appropriate for long range bullets. Here’s the results of my testing on two low-drag, long-range boat-tail bullets, so you can see how the G1 and G7 Ballistic coefficients compare:

G1 BCs, averaged between 1500 fps and 3000 fps:
Berger 180 VLD: 0.659 lb/in²
JLK 180: 0.645 lb/in²

The reason the BC for the JLK is less is mostly because the meplat was significantly larger on the particular lot that I tested (0.075″ vs 0.059″; see attached drawings).

For bullets like these, it’s much better to use the G7 standard. The following BCs are referenced to the G7 standard, and are constant for all speeds.

G7 BCs:
Berger 180 VLD: 0.337 lb/in²
JLK 180: 0.330 lb/in²

Many modern ballistics programs, including the free online JBM Ballistics Program, are able to use BCs referenced to G7 standards. When available, these BCs are more appropriate for long range bullets, according to Bryan.

[Editor’s NOTE: BCs are normally reported simply as an 0.XXX number. The lb/in² tag applies to all BCs, but is commonly left off for simplicity.]

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo 3 Comments »
September 11th, 2015

Wind-Reading Tips from Champion Shooters

Shooting Sports USA

The digital archives of Shooting Sports USA magazine (SSUSA) features an Expert Forum on Wind Reading. This outstanding article on wind reading starts off with a section by ballistics guru Bryan Litz, author of Applied Ballistics for Long-Range Shooting. Then five of the greatest American shooters in history share their personal wind wisdom. Lanny Basham (Olympic Gold Medalist, author, Winning in the Wind), Nancy Tompkins (Past National HP Champion, author, Prone and Long-Range Rifle Shooting), David Tubb (11-Time Camp Perry National Champion), and Lones Wigger (Olympic Hall of Fame) all offer practical wind-reading lessons learned during their shooting careers.

CLICK HERE for Full Article in Shooting Sports USA Archive

Whether you shoot paper at Perry or prairie dogs in the Dakotas, this is a certified “must-read” resource on reading the wind. Here is a sample selection from the article:

Shooting Sports USA


Shooting Sports USA magazine (SSUSA) recently rolled out a modern, mobile-friendly website. Log on to There you’ll find current news stories as well as popular articles from the SSUSA archives. The new SSUSA website also includes match reports, plus expert tips from the USAMU. In fact, today’s feature story on the site comes from the USAMU. The article compares single-stage presses with progressive presses. If you are considering buying a new press, check out this article: Should I Buy a Single-Stage Press, or a Progressive?

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September 10th, 2015

F-TR State of the Art — Low Profile Rig with Scoville Stock

F-TR Scoville Stock F-Class Rifle

One recent trend in F-TR competition is the use of low-profile, benchrest-type stocks shot with a light hand-hold and little or no face contact. For this method of F-TR shooting to work, you need the right equipment, and practice a “minimalist” shooting technique. One of the pioneers in this style of F-TR shooting is action-maker John Pierce of Pierce Engineering. Above you can see John shooting one of his F-TR rifles at the 2015 Canadian F-Class Championships. Note the straight-line stock and see how the adjustable bipod is set quite low to the ground (in fact the bipod’s arms are almost straight out).

F-TR Scoville Stock F-Class Rifle

Members of the Michigan F-TR Team, including Bryan Litz, have used similar rigs with success. Bryan said it took a while to adapt his shooting technique to this kind of rig, but there is a pay-off. Armed with a Pierce-built F-TR rifle, Bryan won his first-ever F-TR Match. Bryan explains the technique he uses when shooting this kind of rifle:

“Coming over from sling shooting, I knew there would be unique challenges to F-TR which I wanted to learn prior to (not during) a major tournament. I learned a new shooting position which doesn’t involve drawing the right knee up. For F-TR I get more straight behind the gun rather than at an angle. I found that the rifle shoots best with very light cheek, shoulder and grip pressure, approaching free recoil. This is how Eric Stecker shot his similar rifle into second place in the SW Nationals [with high X-Count by a large margin]. I learned the rifle’s sensitivity to different bipod and rear bag supports, and found the best buttplate position to allow the rifle to track and stay on target after recoil. This set-up shot best with a mostly free-recoil approach, that means ‘hovering’ over the comb, rather than resting your head on the stock. This took some ‘getting used to’ in terms of neck and back muscle tone. These are the kind of details I think it’s important to focus on when entering a new discipline.”

Bryan’s Pierce-built F-TR rig is a tack-driver: “I can certainly vouch for this set-up! In last weekend’s mid-range State Championship in Midland, MI, I shot my Pierce rifle into first place with a 598-44X (20 shots at 300, 500 and 600). Once you get used to the positioning and way of shooting these rifles, they just pour shots through the center of the target.”

Pierce F-TR Rifles with Scoville Stocks
Shown below are three complete Pierce F-TR rifles, along with a barreled action for comparison. The carbon-fiber/composite stocks are built by Bob Scoville. These Scoville stocks are very light, yet very strong and very stiff.

F-TR Scoville Stock F-Class Rifle

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing 5 Comments »
September 6th, 2015

Ballistics Tip: Understanding Bullet Stability (Twist Rate and MV)

Berger bullet SG MV twist rate stability Litz

Bryan Litz has produced an informative new video on the subject of bullet stability. The video explains how stability is related to spin rate (or RPM), and how RPM, in turn, is determined by barrel twist rate and velocity. For long-range shooting, it is important that a barrel have a fast-enough twist rate to stabilize the bullet over its entire trajectory.

Detailed Bullet Stability Article
To complement the above video, Bryan has authored a detailed article that explains the key concepts involved in bullet stabilization. Bryan explains: “Bullet stability can be quantified by the gyroscopic stability factor, SG. A bullet that is fired with inadequate spin will have an SG less than 1.0 and will tumble right out of the barrel. If you spin the bullet fast enough to achieve an SG of 1.5 or higher, it will fly point forward with accuracy and minimal drag.”

CLICK HERE to READ Full Bullet Stability Article by Bryan Litz

Berger bullet SG MV twist rate stability Litz

There is a “gray zone” of marginal stability. Bryan notes: “Bullets flying with SGs between 1.0 and 1.5 are marginally stabilized and will fly with some amount of pitching and yawing. This induces extra drag, and reduces the bullets’ effective BC. Bullets in this marginal stability condition can fly with good accuracy and precision, even though the BC is reduced. For short range applications, marginal stability isn’t really an issue. However, shooters who are interested in maximizing performance at long range will need to select a twist rate that will fully stabilize the bullet, and produce an SG of 1.5 or higher.”

Berger twist rate calculatorBerger Twist-Rate Stability Calculator
On the updated Berger Bullets website you’ll find a handy Twist-Rate Stability Calculator that predicts your gyroscopic stability factor (SG) based on mulitiple variables: velocity, bullet length, bullet weight, barrel twist rate, ambient temperature, and altitude. This very cool tool tells you if your chosen bullet will really stabilize in your barrel.

LIVE DEMO BELOW — Just enter values in the data boxes and click “Calculate SG”.

Top photo with bullet by Werner Mehl,, all rights reserved.
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip 6 Comments »
September 3rd, 2015

How to Operate Kestrel 4500 NV Shooters Weather Meter

kestrel weather meter applied ballistics

The Kestrel weather meter is an invaluable tool for shooters. While the standard model Kestrels can record wind and atmospheric conditions, the advanced Kestrel 4500 Shooter’s Weather Meter with Applied Ballistics incorporates a built-in ballistics program developed by Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics. This is a very powerful tool, but it can be a bit complicated to program at first.

In this detailed 22-minute video, John McQuay of 8541 Tactical shows how to input firearm specs, MV, and BC into a Kestrel 4500 NV (Applied Ballistics model). This handy unit combines a Kestrel Weather meter with a full-fledged ballistics computer.

Step-by-step the video shows how to set up all the important variables. The video shows how to input Muzzle Velocity, Bullet BC (G1 or G7), Zero Distance and the other key ballistics variables. In addition, the video explains how to input gun-specific data such as bore height, barrel twist rate, and barrel rifle twist direction (right-hand vs. left-hand). (Twist direction comes into play in long range spin drift calculations).

If you own a Kestrel 4500 NV (Applied Ballistics), we think you’ll find this video helpful — particularly when it comes to setting up some of the lesser-known data items. The video also offers tips on navigating through the menus most efficiently.

Kestrel 4500 Applied Ballistics (and Horus) Product Features:
kestrel weather meter applied ballistics

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August 29th, 2015

Game-Changer: Berger 7mm 195gr Bullet with 0.755 G1 BC

Berger 195 grain 195gr Elite Hunter .755 BC G1 G7 F-class

You’ve heard the rumors of a new ultra-high BC 7mm bullet from Berger. Well the rumors are true. Berger is now shipping test samples of its new 195-grain 7mm Elite Hunter Bullet, part # 28550. This bullet boasts jaw-droping 0.755 G1 and 0.387 G7 Ballistic Coefficients. Those are stunningly high numbers. Compare that to 0.674 G1 and 0.345 G7 BCs for the previous BC king amoung 7mm projectiles, Berger’s own 180 gr Match Hybrid Target.

We’re certain the “orange box” 195gr Elite Hunter will soon see use by F-Open competitors. This ultra-high BC projectile could be a “game-changer” in long-range shooting when used in cartridges such as the 7mm RSAUM, 7mm WSM and even bigger 7mm magnums. Recommended barrel twist rate is 1:8.3″, with a stated “minimum” twist of 1:9″.

We ran some numbers through the JBM Ballistics program*, comparing the new 195-grainer with Berger’s popular 180gr Hybrid. The results were eye-opening. The projected drop is significantly less. Most importantly, this new 195gr bullet moves a LOT less in the wind at 1000 yards. This should translate into higher scores for F-Class shooters — that wide ‘9’ shot may stay in the ’10’ ring. In fact, based on the JBM trajectory calculation, with a 10 mph 90° crosswind, the 195gr bullet will have over SEVEN INCHES less wind drift at 1000 yards than the 180-grainer (46.0″ vs. 53.1″). That’s a big deal, a very big deal…

Comparative Ballistics 195gr vs. 180gr Berger 7mm Bullets (10 mph 90° Crosswind)
Berger 7mm 195gr Elite Hunter 2950 fps Berger 7mm 180gr Hybrid Target 2950 fps
Drop at 800 yards: 135.5″
Windage at 800 yards: 28.0″
Drop at 800 yards: 140.9″
Windage at 800 yards: 32.2″
Drop at 1000 yards: 237.9″
Windage at 1000 yards: 46.0″
Drop at 1000 yards: 250.0″
Windage at 1000 yards: 53.1″
Drop at 1200 yards: 380.1″
Windage at 1200 yards: 69.6″
Drop at 1200 yards: 404.2″
Windage at 1200 yards: 81.2″

* Variables were set to 55.4° F, 1000′ elevation, standard Atmosphere at Altitude, 2950 fps muzzle velocity. You can use JBM Ballistics to compare at different MVs.

Berger 195 grain 195gr Elite Hunter .755 BC G1 G7 F-class

UPDATE from Berger

After we broke this story, Berger Bullets wanted to clarify some points. Berger explained:

“This bullet is in the testing phase and has not been officially launched. We sent this bullet out for some public testing to make sure that we had positive feedback before we moved forward with an official launch.

We want to see how it performs in multiple rifles and different chamberings.

This bullet was made for hunting purposes, we realize there are shooters who would like to take these out for target shooting, like F-Class. However, we are not certain how they will perform. If things are successful we would like to eventually launch a target version.”

The information on the label you have pictured on your article has been updated.

Twist Rates
Minimum: 1:9″
Optimum: 1:8.3″

Ballistic Coefficients
G7 BC: .387
G1 BC: .754

How to Get Berger’s 195gr Elite Hunter Bullets
These bullets are so new you won’t find them on the Berger Bullets website yet. As Berger explained above, these bullets are still in a final testing phase. Most of the early production runs have been sent out for testing purposes. If you have specific questions, you can send an email to Berger via this CONTACT PAGE. Otherwise you can phone Berger, Mon-Fri, at 714-441-7200. Please try the email option first.

The Extreme Store is listing the Berger 195gr 7mm Elite Hunter Bullet at $62.00 per 100 bullets, not including shipping.

Bullet boxes photo courtesy Ryan Pierce,
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product 22 Comments »
August 24th, 2015

Long Range Shooting Error — Why People Miss

Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics Long Range Shooting Error Wind Call Kestrel Laser Rangefinder

Applied Ballistics has created a new series of YouTube videos about precision long range shooting. Featuring ace long-range shooter and professional ballistician Bryan Litz, these videos address various topics of interest to long-range marksmen. In this week’s video, the second in the series, Bryan Litz examines the most common causes of ballistics shooting errors at Long Range.

Watch Applied Ballistics Video about Common Mistakes in Long Range Shooting:

Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics often hears the question: “What are the main reasons people miss their target at long range?” To answer that question, in this video, Bryan explains the most important variables in Long Range shooting. Bryan says: “Probably the number one thing is range — you have to have a [precise] range to your target because your bullet is dropping, and to hit the target you need to correct for bullet drop.” Distance may be indicated on the target bay (or berm), but for open ranges you should ascertain distance-to-target with a quality laser rangefinder. Even when the distance to target is shown with a sign or marker, you may want to confirm the distance with your rangefinder. (You may be surprised — we’ve seen marked target distances at commercial ranges off by 25+ yards!) Bryan says: “Get a good laser range to the target and you’ll be within a couple yards”.

Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics Long Range Shooting Error Wind Call Kestrel Laser Rangefinder

After distance to target, the most important variable is the wind. This is the most challenging factor because the wind is constantly changing. Bryan explains: “After 300 or 400 yards, the wind [will] move your shots off the target if you don’t correct for it. The best way to account for the wind is to measure it at your location with a Kestrel. The Kestrel can give you the speed and direction of the wind at your location, which can baseline your wind call for your long-range shot.” Bryan acknowledges that there will still be variables: “The wind isn’t always blowing the same downrange as at your location… and the wind is always changing”. Bryan notes that you need to account for variances in wind between the time you gauge the wind angle and velocity and the time you actually you take your shot.

Permalink - Videos, Shooting Skills 9 Comments »
August 19th, 2015

New Video Series from Applied Ballistics

Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics Long Range Shooting Video Youtube elevation transonic supersonic

Applied Ballistics has created a new series of YouTube videos about precision long range shooting. Featuring ace long-range shooter and professional ballistician Bryan Litz, these videos will address various topics of interest to long-range marksmen. In this week’s video, the first in the series, Bryan Litz answers the question, “Just What Is Long Range Shooting?” Bryan discusses how we define “long range” and the key factors shooters need to consider.

Applied Ballistics Video — What Is Long Range Shooting?

Bryan states: “I don’t think there is a clear definition of where Long Range starts.” But he offers this practical guideline: “The way I think of it, any time you’re making major adjustments to your zero in order to hit a target, due to gravity drop and wind deflection, THEN you’re getting into ‘Long Range’. For example, if you are zeroed at 100 yards and need to shoot to 600 yards, you have many feet of elevation [drop] to account for, and to me, that’s where it becomes Long Range.”

Extended Long Range and the Transonic Zone
Bryan adds a second concept, namely “Extended Long Range”. Litz says that: “Extended Long Range starts whenever the bullet slows to its transonic range. As the bullet slows down to approach Mach 1, it starts to encounter transonic effects, which are more complex and difficult to account for, compared to the supersonic range where the bullet is relatively well-behaved.” Bryan notes that bullets start to encounter transonic effects at about 1340 fps, quite a bit faster than the speed of sound, which is about 1116 fps at sea level in normal conditions (59° F).

Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics Long Range Shooting Video Youtube elevation transonic supersonic

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June 29th, 2015

Applied Ballistics Tests 50+ Types of .22 LR Rimfire Ammo

.22 LR Rimfire Ammunition testing Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics Eley
Photo shows Bryan Litz (on right) and tester Mitchell Fitzpatrick. Bryan said: “Only 2,445 rounds to go! We’re testing over 50 ammo types in five different twist barrels… science can be exhausting!”

Do you know the actual BC (Ballistic Coefficient) of your rimfire ammunition? Well Applied Ballisitics will soon have answers for you. Bryan Litz and his team of testers have been working on a Herculean project. They’ve been testing over fifty types of .22 LR ammo, using five different twist-rate barrels.

.22 LR Rimfire Ammunition testing Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics Eley


Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, News 15 Comments »
June 26th, 2015

New Version of AB Tactical App Released

Applied Ballistics Tactical AB App update

Applied Ballistics has just released a fully upgraded version of its popular Tactical App for Android devices. Bryan Litz tells us: “AB Tactical has received a major overhaul (including a new Bullet Library with over 420 options). The upgrade will require that you uninstall the previous version that you have of the application and then install this new version. This is due to the complete re-write of the internal database handling.” NOTE: You need to record your gun-specific data before you install the new version. Details of the updated AB Tactical App are featured in the new 19-page USER Manual.

NOTE: This upgrade is for the Applied Ballistics Tactical Version only. There is no iPhone version of this App, and this is not the standard app that can be purchased from Google Play, or iTunes.

The new version of AB Tactical has a host of important enhancements:


Permalink New Product, News 1 Comment »
June 14th, 2015

Find Optimal Barrel Twist-Rate with Berger Stability Calculator

Berger twist rate calculatorBerger Twist-Rate Stability Calculator
On the updated Berger Bullets website you’ll find a handy Twist-Rate Stability Calculator that predicts your gyroscopic stability factor (SG) based on mulitiple variables: velocity, bullet length, bullet weight, barrel twist rate, ambient temperature, and altitude. This very cool tool tells you if your chosen bullet will really stabilize in your barrel.

LIVE DEMO BELOW — Just enter values in the data boxes and click “Calculate SG”.


Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip 4 Comments »