February 28th, 2009

Lapua Offers Radar-Tested Drag Data for Lapua Bullets

Lapua bullets BCThe Ballistic Coefficient (BC) of a bullet is an index number used to describe the bullet’s aerodynamic drag relative to a reference standard. While bullet manufacturers commonly include BCs in their product descriptions, often times those numbers are merely a mathematical calculation, rather than the result of actual testing. Also, since the true drag of a bullet changes over the course of its trajectory, using a single BC is a fairly primitive way to predict how that bullet will actually perform over a long distance.

Lapua is now using Doppler radar to provide a more sophisticated model of bullet flight. Lapua has issued drag coefficients for its bullets based on radar testing. Importantly, Lapua didn’t just calculate drag coefficients off bullet blueprints. Instead, Lapua used radar to measure bullet velocities at various points along the bullet flight path (trajectory). This provides Cd (Coefficient of Drag) values that can be used with advanced ballistic software such as QuickTARGET to calculate trajectories with great reliability and precision.

Lapua bullets BC

Lapua’s engineers explain: “With our Cd-data measured by continuous Doppler radar measurements you can calculate the trajectory of your bullet much more accurately than using the simplified one-number BC. Typically-used simple ballistic coefficient (BC) describes only ballistic performance of the bullet compared to old standard ‘G1′ bullet. Ballistic Coefficient is essentially a measure of drag force compared to G1 projectile. The higher the BC value, the less drag and better ballistic performance.

The BC changes during a projectile‘s flight and stated BCs are always averages for particular velocity ranges. Knowing how a BC was established is almost as important as knowing the stated BC value itself. For the precise establishment of bullet trajectory, Doppler radar-measurements are required. The normal shooter however, has no access to such expensive professional measurement devices.

The radar-measured Cd factor describes the aerodynamic drag at particular points of trajectory. A Cd table (see above) shows this factor as a function of velocity (Mach number). Special software is required (e.g. Quick Target Unlimited) to utilize this data to [generate a] ballistic table. During the Doppler radar measurements the complete location information versus time is recorded.”

Long-Range Tests Show Lapua’s Bullet Drag Models Work Well
One of our sources has been working with Lapua’s radar-derived ballistic data for over a year. His task was to see how calculated trajectories using Lapua’s stated Cd values for particular bullets compared to observed bullet flights at long range. Using the data for the Lapua 250gr Scenar, this tester found the predicted trajectory “dead on to 1600 meters (about a mile) and only a few click off [at] 2000 meter (1.25 mile) distances”.

Bullet Ballistic Info for Download

CLICK HERE for explanation of Doppler-derived Cd with sample charts.

CLICK HERE for Cd-data for Lapua bullets.