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U.S. Army Team Tests Radical New Dimpled Bullet

U.S. Army Team Tests Radical New Dimpled Bullet

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 AccurateShooter.com Bulletin
 April 1, 2009
U.S. Army Team Tests Radical New Dimpled Bullet
Filed under: News — Tags: Army, BC, bullet, Sniper — Editor @ 12 amAt the U.S. Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground, a team of ballisticstechnicians, supported by some of the U.S. Army’s top sniper instructors,has been quietly developing a radical new “dimpled” bullet. The exterior of the bullet resembles the dimpled surface of a golf ball. The function of thespecial dimpled skin is to reduce projectile drag, providing a flatterlong-range trajectory, and greater retained energy at the target.
.338 Projectile with MIM Exo-Jacket(3D-CAD Artist’s Rendering)
In their pursuit of a lower-drag bullet, the Army tried a variety of designs,including bullets with circumferential drive bands, dual-radius ogives, andrebated boat-tails. The dimpled “golf-ball” design was considered a “longshot” according to the design team, but it has performed beyond allexpectations. The nominal drag coefficient (Cd) has improved by about+.040, while cartridge muzzle velocity has increased by nearly 80+ fpsbecause the bullet’s dimpled skin reduces in-barrel friction. What’s more— the terminal performance of the dimpled bullet has been “spectacular”.The Aberdeen team set out to produce a slightly more slippery bullet forU.S. Army snipers. What they ended up with is a bullet with dramaticallyenhanced long-range ballistics and superior killing power on “soft targets”.Lt. Col. Ben Eldrick,Long-RangeProjectile Project(LRPP) team leader,told
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AccurateShooter.com how the radical bullet was conceived: “During ourinitial design work, we wanted the benefits of a high-BC, pointed bullet,but in a design that could be mass-produced and could work as a tracer.We consulted some of the top civilian bullet experts, including ballisticianBryan Litz of Berger Bullets. Mr. Litz really got the ball rolling. Hesuggested that the ‘next big step’ in bullet design would involve theturbulent boundary layer over the body of the bullet. Litz told us that ‘pointing bullet tips will take you only so far… think about optimizing theairflow over the entire bullet’. That made a lot of sense to us. When youdesign a race car to be aerodynamic, you sculpt the whole body, not justthe front bumper.” Lt. Col. Eldrick continued: “It turns out Litz was right on the money. Byemploying a golf-ball type dimpled surface, we were able to optimize theturbulent boundary layer on the bullet body. This reduced thelow-pressure wake zone behind the bullet significantly, resulting inreduced base drag. As a result the bullet experiences much less overalldrag, effectively raising the BC.” The Army team had discovered that whatworks for golf balls also works for bullets.After testing a series of prototypes, the Aberdeenbullet design team settledon a copper-jacketed bulletwith dimples about 0.5 mmin diameter. The first-generation bullets wereformed in special binaryimpact swages that press-form the dimples after the bullets were pointedup in conventional dies. Future production bullets will be made with anadvanced metal-injection-molding (MIM) process that forms the dimplesdirectly into the surface of the bullets. Rather than simply wrap the corematerial (which is classified), the MIM is molecularly bonded to the core.The Aberdeen LRPP team calls this “Exo-Jacket” construction, as in “Exo-Skeleton”.
HigherVelocitiesAchieved
There was asurprisebenefit of thedimpled bulletdesign —higher muzzlevelocities.Given thesame powdercharge,dimpledbullets exitthe muzzlefaster because
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they produceless in-barrelfriction thandoconventionalbullets. This is because the recessed dimples effectively reduce the metal-on-metal bearing surface. Lt. Col. Eldrick revealed: “the added velocitywas an unexpected bonus. With equal-pressure loads, dimpled .308bullets will fly about 80 fps faster than normal .308 bullets. With the large.338-caliber projectiles, the difference is even greater… we can pick upnearly 150 fps.” Given the observed velocity gains achieved with dimpledbullets, Aberdeen designers are now working on dimpled shell casings forlarger artillery projectiles.
Dimpled Jacket Delivers ‘Explosive’ Fragmentation
While the internal design and core materials of the new dimpled bulletremain classified, the design team revealed that the terminal performanceof the new bullet has been “spectacular”. The bullet penetrates like a FMJbut then explosively fragments, resulting in a devastating energy releasein the target. According to Capt. Jack Sarazen, an Aberdeen engineer, “the enhanced terminal performance of the dimpled bullet wasunanticipated. This was a serendipitous effect of the slight thinning of the jacket material where the dimples are pressed.” Sarazen explained: “MostFMJ bullets break along the cannelure and then fragment into two or threelarge pieces. With the dimpled bullets, you have multiple fragmentationpoints so the bullet literally blows up like a grenade in the target.” Comments (14)
14 Comments»
I curious how it would perform with moly coat.
Comment by foster — April 1, 2009 @9 am
Reply1.Guaranteed Moly will add another 75 fps to the dimpled bullets.
Comment by Jerry Tierney — April 1, 2009 @10 am
Reply2.I do this everytime I moly-coat my bullet with the molyed steelshot applcation, just can’t see the dimples with the naked eye.RANDY
Comment by rewinder — April 1, 2009 @11 am
Reply3.Please ’splain to me how the vastly diminished jacket surface areamight withstand the gas-cutting effects of propellant combustion?4.Mark EdgreenOnPotterfields Donate$500,000 For YouthHunter EducationGabe Schmudlach OnNRA Hires ‘TacticalCoordinator’ — WillFuture High PowerMatches IncludeTactical Rifles?Steve Urban OnNRAHires ‘TacticalCoordinator’ — WillFuture High PowerMatches IncludeTactical Rifles?Danny Reever OnPotterfields Donate$500,000 For YouthHunter Education
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