Ballistics calculators are indispensable tools for making hits on long-range targets, but they are only as accurate as the data they are fed. Many shooters fail to appreciate that some of the initial data input into these calculators are just good guesses and need to be tweaked based on trial-and-error experimentation in the field. However, spend time getting these four calculators dialed in, and you’ll be amazed at the improvement in your accuracy.
Field Firing Solutions
This sophisticated software program comes on an SD card and works with PDAs that run WM 5.0 or above. The program, called Delta V, can work with Bluetooth-enabled Kestrel units to incorporate environmental data at the shooter’s location. This is an advanced program that requires dedication to master, but it is the best on the market. ($395; lextalus.com)
This software works on both Windows desktop computers and mobile devices running WM operating systems. This calculator doesn’t use a ballistic coefficient (BC) model, but rather one that employs a drag coefficient, which is more precise. The software can be purchased as a bundled package for both desktop and mobile, or individually for either platform. ($150, bundled; $85, individual; patagoniaballistics.com)
This easy-to-use software was developed by Brian Litz, one of the foremost experts on long-range ballistics. It runs on both Android and iOS mobile devices. The calculator comes with a library containing hundreds of custom G1/G7 BC profiles for various bullets. ($30; appliedballisticsllc.com)
This web-based ballistics calculator is both very good and very free. It has a comprehensive library of existing loads, and allows the shooter to tweak the inputs to generate accurate firing solutions. (jbmballistics.com)
How Wind Affects Bullet Flight
Whereas judging a bullet’s drop at long-range is a science, correctly calculating the effect of wind is more of an art. Unseen eddies, sudden gusts, and funnels created by the terrain can all come into play, and it takes practice to pick up on these influences.
Usually, we’re limited to taking a single wind reading at the shooting position. But if we can ascertain only one wind value, that is the one to have. This is because the wind nearest the shooter has the greatest effect on the bullet’s path. Why? Once the projectile starts moving due to the wind, it keeps angling in that direction, even if the conditions are calm down range.
Conversely, if it is only windy down range, the bullet will move less since there is less time remaining in the bullet’s flight.
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