A Morning Down the Rabbit Hole, Ballistics Edition

So, I’m going through my morning links as I drink coffee. Uncle posts a link up to an article sort of explaining ballistic coefficient. Being afflicted with a technical education, the explanation raised more questions than it answered. So I went looking for answers. That might have been a mistake. Several links and a fair amount of time later, I found all kinds of answers. In turn, I have way more questions. Isn’t that just always the way?

I’ll give you the short answer: Ballistic coefficient is an agreed upon lie. It fudges the real world into a single number that we’ve all agreed to use because it’s usually good enough for what we’re doing. Strangely, I’m reminded of API pressure calcs.

Of course, the caveat here is usually. The longer the range gets, the less useful BC becomes. And once you hit the transonic boundary, it becomes even less useful. What’s the most useful answer? Surprising absolutely no one, actual real world test data is the gold standard. Got a Doppler radar to measure bullet velocities in flight? No? Hmm. Neither do I. No wonder everybody uses BC, especially for cross-platform comparisons.

Anyhow, more on ballistic coefficient can be found on Wikipedia. You can also find a Marksmanship book on Wikibooks.

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