You are on page 1of 3

MIKE INVESTIGATES...

ROFESSOR

THE BALLISTIC EXPLAINED COEFFICIENT
our andhowit affects pellets
the idea of a shooters fo ' bmost t i c allis s | c o e f f i c i e n t ' ( B Ci) b o t h f a m i l i a ra n d b a f fl i n g a t t h e s a m et i m e , M a n y o f u s r e g u l a r l y which use use softwarepackages o t h e b a l l i s t i cc o e f f i c i e n t f o u r c h o s e np e l l e tt o c a l c u l a t e energyretentionand trajectory, a o t h e r v a r i a b l e s t v a r i o u sr a n g e s , b u t h o w m a n yo f u s r e a l l y w understand hatthe BC of a pellet a c t u a l l yi s ? I n e s s e n c et,h e o b a l l i s t i cc o e f f i c i e n t f a p e l l e t i s a a measure f howwell it resists ir o d r a g a n d r e t a i n sv e l o c i t ya s i t the largerthe travelsdownrange: c o e f f i c i e n t t h e l o w e rt h e v e l o c i t y , l o s s .T h e b a s i cs c i e n c eo f h o w a i r d r a g a f f e c t sp e l l e tv e l o c i t yi s q u i t e but it has been straightforward, obscuredby the long historyof b u l l e tb a l l i s t i c sf,o r w h i c h t h e i c o n c e p to f t h e b a l l i s t i cc o e f f c i e n t This is a very longway from the a i r g u np e l l e t ,w h i c h h a s m u c h s m a l l e r i m e n s i o n a n d w e i g h si n d s at aroundone 500th or"soof the weightof the standardbullet. lt is not surprising therefore that the BCs of the pelletswe use are very, very much lowerthan 1.0. The valueof BC for most available p e l l e t s a l l sw i t h i n a s p a no f v a l u e s f r a n g i n g r o m a b o u t0 . 0 1 t o 0 . 0 4 , f depending n the calibreweight o , and shapeof the pelletconcerned. In practice, the actual BC of the p e l l e ti n f l i g h t a l s od e p e n d s n t h e o rifling patternof the gun's barrel and the mechanism oower of delivery; springor PCP. In manywaysit is unfortunate that the ballisticcoefficient idea, which has subsequently been refinedand redefined a variety by of researchers, evercarriedover was

providestechnical coefficient Mike of ballistic Professor Wr,ight explanation a
Figure2: VelocityLoss dueto Air Drag . : :
* 4SS r.t {t u E
1 t ' t ' 1 '

\ \ ''

;

"B**s TJ
q a¡

f: t. 1' \1 *. 1

E equ 't
GT 0f

'"--.t'

¡

\ \. ..,.:.. , ; :
4S ñü
\j'""' : -r"

1?0

:-L
{q

ü

SCI

10ü

1?S

140

1Sü

lflü

Range {yürdsl
f i n t ot h e a i r g u n i e l d ; i t w o u l db e much simplerto work with

**ffiffi ffiffie ffiffiffiffiffimffi-wffiffi ffiffitutuHffiwKffi ffiffiffiffiffiHffiffiffiffiww Kffie ffiffiffiffiffiwffi ffiffitutuffiw ffiffiffiffiffiffiffi ffiffiwwffitutuKw ffiffi &ffiffi ffiffi&ffi-&ffiffiffiffiw&Hffiffi wffituffimffiww-d wasoriginally evised. I n t h e 1 8 6 0 ' s ,a B r i t i s h named the clergyman, wonderfully was conducting FrancisBashforth, on velocitylossexperiments artillery p r o j e c t i l e u s i n ga b a l l i s t i c s p e n d u l u m O w i n gt o t h e d i f f i c u l t y . down-range velocities of measuring for a whole rangeof bullets,he 'standard the idea'ofa conceived f r o m w h i c ht h e b a l l i s t i c bullet' performance all other bullets of , c o u l d b e c a l c u l a t e db y s c a l i n gu p to or down,without recourse further he tests,Consequently, proposed (or, that the ballisticcoefficient its the morespecifically, reciprocal 'dragfactor')be basedon a which cyl standard indricalprojectile a w a so n e i n c h i n d i a m e t e r n d w e i g h e d n e p o u n d .T h e B C o f t h i s o b s t a n d a r d u l l e tw a s d e f i n e da s 1 . 0 .

like drag straightforward factors of otherbranch engineering every of But science. the notion the is coefficient nowfirmly ballistic and in embedded the literature and ballistics we of software airgun what to need understand it really wayto geta handle The means. best is on whatthe BCis all about to air takea lookat thewayin which in a drag affects pellet flight. &ilp ffiraR the 1 Figure illustrates flightof a pellet firedfroma whichhasbeen Wind barrel. aligned horizontally the effectapart, pelletis subjected forces: constant a to two external and forcedueto gravitY a vertical The forcedueto air drag. varying forces of combination these downwardthe oroduces familiar shown of trajectory the pellet curving in thefigure. how to ln order understand the gravity drag combine to forces and we produce pafticular trajectory, a need knowhowair dragvaries to flight. the during pellets' with forceincreases Thedrag on in velocity a waythat depends theffi

Figure AirDrag l:

7s

This patternof constantpercentage lossovera given intervalgoverns Change Velocity_ in Vetocityz = Air Drag Ballistic Tine Ratnge many phenomena the worldaround in of Pellet us. Forexample, is the waythat it The constant this for:mula, in the radioactivity decays and is the basis 'Ballistic Range the Pellet', very of the carbondatingmethodfor' of is closely related the ballistic to ancientartefacts. is alsothe pattern lt coefficient, BC, as we shall see. for ring separation a tree trunk and in In practical shooting are, of we showshowthe valueof money course, more interested the wav in declines duringa periodof constant that pelletvelocity varies with inflation. is calledan exponential lt distance ratherthan time and the decaycurveand the formulafor it air dragformula is better recastin always contains same number the thoseterms: ChangeVetocity Distance in _ Ballistic Velocity Ranqe
of Pellet lA0 x Distance = 0r o/o.Reduction in Velocity Ballistic Ranoe of Pellet'

natureof the air flow overthe pellet surface.Forthe subsonicregime, with air flow velocities substantially belowMach 1 (i.e,for velocities up to about 950 fVsecond) that applies to virtually airgunpellets, drag all the force increases with the squareof the velocity the pellet.Sincethe of deceleration the pellet,or the 'air of drag', is proportional this force, to the following simpleformulaapplies:

it will loseanother18%, arriving át the 20 yard mark with 403 ftlsec, At 30 yards,the velocity will be a further 18% lessat 337 ft/sec and s o o n , i n s i m i l a rf a s h i o n a s t h e , pellet movesdown range. Figure2 showshow air drag robsthe pelletof velocityas it movesdown range.

number 3.1416, hi chs l abel l ed w i as pi ( ) because comes so it up frequently. Using'e',,the velocity formula is:
Muzzle Velocity VelocitY Range'd'=--¡------, at
elBail¡stlc?ilge '

Wecannowusethisvalue to estimate velocity another the at range, 35 yards: say = vetocity rards at3s frl=

29}nts

HxpmlrerltimB H-*ss Veimcüty

This is all verywell, but we needto knowwhat the BallisticRange a of particular pelletis before can do we anycalculations. puttingthe By velocity formulainto logarithmic form, we find that the following formula emerges the BallisticRange: for
Ballistic Range= d ,tn(ffi¡,)

Where'ln' denotes natural the logarithm the velocityratio of Youcan find the 'ex' and 'ln' buttons all scientific on calculators, including one that I purchased the lastweekfor a poundfrom a well-

Thisvelocity value marked , is up Figure where canbeseen 2, it that lines precisely the35 yard up with range. Ballistic The Range formul provides witha simple method us o converting measured two velocitie takenat twodifferent ranges a into measurement value the of the of Ballistic Range.,But does how this constant, Ballistic the Range up tie withthecommonly used'' Ballistic Coeff icient'?

Tttm ffimHtistüe ffioeffisfrmmt arld ffimtlistüc ffiangm In order understand torturo to the definition the present:day of

Note that,for a given distance, the percentage reduction velocity in dueto air drag constant. is Thisis pointto grasp the essential about velocity retention it is the key and factthatdetermines shape the of the velocity/ distance curve. To illustrate point, this let'slookat an example a verypoorpellet. for Consider pelletwith a muzzle a velocity 600 fVsec, of whichis slowed downby air dragto492 ft/secat 10 yards range the i.e. pellet lost18 % of its velocity has in 10 yards. Over next10 yards the

tr&ffiffiffi ffi.Y Wffi ffiffifuffiffiffifu ffitrWffi&hfuffiWffif $'&fuTffiffi ffiffi ffiMHWffiffi ffiWey-ffiffi &ffiffiKwpgffiAwwffiruTffiwffiffi wffi ffiKMPfuHffiY ffiXEYffiWffiKK-ffi ffiffiMffifuWffi'(2.7I83 to four decimalplaces) knowndiscount chain.These irrespective the field of application. functions alsobuilt into a variety of are The equation the velocity for decline of computerspreadsheet packages. of our pelletwith distance is: Let'stake a lookat how these formulae applyto our example. We = Velocity at Range'd' will first find the valueof the Ballistic #ffi Range. knowthat the muzzle We Because number the 2.7783' velocity 600 fVsechas fallen to of occurs overand overagainin all 403 fVsec at20 yards,so the forms of dynamicanalysis, is a it Ballistic Range will be givenby: giventhe 'shorthand' label'e', where 'e' = Slyar¿s Battistic = nanle is shorthand 'exoonential for ffi constant'. This is just likethe

**wmm ffiffiewffiwffiffiK $vxffiffiffitu ffiffiffiffiffiffiq"ffffiffi wffi

Ballistic Coefficient, l th:ink it's helpful tr,ace littlebit of the to a history behind it. A l thougth not ion a ballis he of coefficient its present in form,as measure bullet lightef f icienc of f originated the Reverend with Bashforth, wasProfessor it Peter Guthri Tait , e wor king Cam br id in a n dE d i n b u r gw h op u b l i s h e h e h, td firstaccurate trajectory formulae i t h e 1 8 6 0 s i,n c l u d i ntg e i d e a f h o B al l i sti R a nge. c Som e year s 20 l ater, K rupp the Com pany in Germany, made firstaccurate the measurements the effectof air on dragon bullettrajectory the in 1881.Thi swasdoneby t estf ir in large flat-based, blunt-nosed bullets manufactured a standa to desi gn.Fo llowing Kr upp t he experi ment s, ar y m ilit engineer s in (Ma R ussi a yevski) lt aly( Siac and worked derive mathematica to a model predict to bullettrajectory apparently unaware Profess that Tatehadalready broken back the (there of the problem wasno in Google those daysl). The Mayevski modell subsequen was taken by Colonel up Jam es ngall I of the United States Army, who

74m

TECHNICALAIRGUN

t a t t e m p t e d o s i m p l i f yM a y e v s k i ' s resultsfor use by non= a m a t h e m a t i c a l r m y p e r s o n n e l .t w h w a s I n g a l l s h o r a t i o n a l i s etd e t b a l l i s t i cc o e f f i c i e na s a m e a s u r e f o e t h e b a l l i s t i c f fi c i e n c yo f a n y p r o j e c t i l er,e l a t i v eo a s t a n d a r d t b u l l e ta n d p u t t h e B C i n t h e f o r m still usedtoday.The resultswere p u b l i s h e dn w h a t a r e s t i l l k n o w n i T as'lngalls ables'. T h e i d e ao f s c a l i n gt h e b a l l i s t i c o b e f f i c i e n c y f a s t a n d a r d u l l e tt o the performánce óf determine ( c a n o t h e r h o s e np r o j e c t i l e i . e . a n t a i r g u n p e l l e t )r e q u i r e sh a t t h e physicsof the problembe taken f u l l y i n t o a c c o u n t .I h a v ep r e v i o u s l y a w r i t t e na d e t a i l e d r t i c l eo n t h i s i n o A i r g u nS p o r t ,a s u m m a r y f w h i c h is as follows: The air flowingoverthe pellet createsa dynamicair pressure, on of which depends the square the of velocity the pelletand the density of the air.This is depicted l

and is always calculated lb-inch in units. The factor; 'i 'is the Form Factorof the pellet, whichdetermine5 its frontalareaand the amount effective of drag. U s i n gB C a n d c o m p a r i n gh e t f o r m u l a ef o r a i d r a g i t s h o u l db e a p p a r e ntth a t t h e B a l l i s t i c Coefficient simply a scaled is v e r s i o n f t h e B a l l i s t i c a n g e .f w e o R l factor in the correctunits, an appropriate figure for air density and the correctbasefor 'i' it works out that: Range oarto - Ballistic Battistic coefficient 8000 pellet, So for our example the BC is 50/8000 = 0.0063. (l saidthat it was a poorpellet!)Let'ssummarise the key facts so far:

ffi At subsonic speeds, dragvaries ai with the square pelletspeed. of reduction ffi Velocity with increasing in 3. diagrammatically Figure distance suchthat a constant is percentage velocityis lost for multipliedby the This pressure of effectivefrontalareaof the pelletgives each equal increment range. of the dragforceon the pellet,which, ffi The velocity versusdistancecurve is an exponential whendividedby the pelletmass, decay. the air determines deceleration drag; ffi The rate of decaydependson the ( B a l l i s t i c a n g e B R )o f t h e p e l l e t ; R Pettet Effective Area .. Vetocitv, the higher the BR, the betterthe = x atroensnY AIrDrag prttrt z: uuu pellet retainsits velocity. The term in squarebrackets is ffi The BR can be found from ' the of effectively reciprocal the measuring pelletvelocity the at which is usually ballistic coefficient, two rangepoints. given,as: ffi The Batlistic Coefficient the is Ballistic Range yardsdividedby in Pettet Mass 8000,
Dlr-

fiüü

Figure3: VelocltyLsss dueto Air Drag i ;

^ 490
tt b

{¡ {D

F scs \ TJ
6 gt

:''t

$ z¿a 'ñ

u
12ü

{t

i \ : 1': : ;

to Theyareveryeasy use. 25 yards. of Figure is a diagram the process 5 are Two in article this issue, involved. chronos set up a In his companion distance apart. Ily carefu measured the Jim Tylerrecounts trialsand ' d' in Thedi stance is t hesepar at ion the of, vicissitudes measuring ballistic yards of the pellet.You between centres the for coefficient a particular The of sensors the two instruments. to mightthink that it is unnecessary (red chrono in the diagram) nearest go to the trouble,because BC'sof the V1. gives velocity reading The, a a vast rangeof pelletshavealready (green) V2. reads To chrono further and on beenpublished the internet at Vl fi ndthevel ocitry io, is divided at are available the click of a button. 'd' Youmight indeedarguethat point,but byV 2. l f the dist ance is 15, , 20 of the or 25 yards, value BCcan The ballistic you wouldbe wrong. then be readoff the appropriate on of coefficient a pelletdepends its the suppose Vl For precise curve. example, weightand dimensional was reading 750 ftlsecandthe tolerances and its exactshapeafter it 20 chrono, reading thesecond on So, has beenfired from a barrel. with The yards V2, away, was647 ft/sec. the the bestwill in the world, ratiois 750/647= 1.16. published figures can only be regarded velocity ( 0. can c Thebal l i stico ef f icient 017) withinplusor as an approximation off To get an accurate nowbe readdirectly the 20 yard minusabout 15%. , 4. in it curve Figure figure,you reallyneedto measure 5 as pel Alternatively,Figure shows, le for your'orrrrn leVrif combination. to wecanusetheformula getthe The most direct methodfor result: is same rneasuring ballisticcoefficient the : to fire a oellet overtwo 2o =o. ol7 B c= which are separated

tfrts mfr ffimm*unir'*gffi $istl* icierut #neff

L

a.

r"1

chronographs 1d' by a knowndistance, and to use the formulae:'

x 8000 ln l.16

\t: .\ ; : \: ":"-,.-\*.
":a ,h

?t.*'

2$

40

$n

$0 10* 13ü 14ü "r60 r80 Range {yard$l

?sü

w T h i s a r t i c l e , , a l o n gi t h J i m : p T y l e r ' sc o m p a n i o n i e c e ,s h o u l d ' Chrono Velocityfron Nearest p r o v i d e r e a s o n a b l ie t r o d u c t i o n n a VelocityRatio= Chrono from Furthest Velocity c t t o t h e b a l l i s t i c o e f f i c i e na n d , ' e x p l a i nw h a t ' sb e h i n dt h e l i t t l e = Coefficient Ballistic Ratio) 800x In(Velocity n u m b e rw e t y p e i n t o o u r b a l l i s t , i c B 4 a Figure shows veryconvenient p r o g r a m m e s . u t , a s J i m ' s a r t i c l e for warns,there are morethan a few whichdo the maths setof curves t youfor three chronograPh w r i n k l e s o b e i r o n e do u t y e t , typical Watchthis space! ffi 15, distances; 20 and separation

@zs