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The Art of the Rifle

The Art of the Rifle

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Published by: freddyfunkalicious on Oct 28, 2011
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01/30/2015

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square of its mass, something which 1 never understood until I began shooting
projectiles much larger than those of sporting rifles. For example, I first assumed
that the old 37mm antitank gun would shoot about like a 270, since its initial
velocity was supposed to be the same. To my amazement that little 37 shot flat
'way out past Fort. Mudge' with minimal initial elevation. That was because its
projectile weighed 2.5 pounds, rather than 330 grains. There are 7,000 grains in a
pound.) The nifty 88mm gun of the Germans in World War II shot flatter than a body
could believe, to the amazement of those who encountered it.

All of the foregoing is well covered in

elementary physics, a course that a good many

rifle shooters never seem to have encountered.

There is a widespread belief that one should hold high when shooting uphill and low
when shooting downhill. This is a myth. Gravity acts on the projectile in flight as
long as it is in motion, and it will act in the same way regardless of the angle of
departure of the missile. This angle is usually much less than we think—seldom
more than 10 degrees- Even where the angle is quite steep, the time of flight to the
target will not change appreciably under field conditions, and time of flight is what
determines bullet drop.

If a bullet is fired straight up (a technically difficult feat), it will gain altitude until the
combined forces of aerodynamic drag and gravity bring it to a stop- It will then
come backdown butt first, but because of the effects of wind drag, it will not return
to earth at the same velocity with which it started, It will, however, retain most of its
spin and land in the sand point-up, hissing in sinister fashion. The rotational speed
of a conventional rifle bullet is very high, something in the neighborhood of 3,000
revolutions per second, depending upon the particular load and cartridge. Its travel
through the air reduces this spin velocity very slightly, which is largely retained
throughout the bullet's flight- The spinning of the projectile by the rifling is resisted
by inertia very considerably, and this is why a smooth-bore weapon kicks so much
less than a rifled arm of similar initial ballistics. A 1,000-grain round lead ball fired
from a smooth-bore elephant gun to an initial velocity of more than 2,400 fps
produces recoil that is almost gentle in comparison with that of a 600 Nitro Express
rifle. It is interesting to note that this almost instantaneous spin applied to the
projectile by the rifling produces a reactive force that is not distributed centrifugally,
as one might suppose, but rather rearward. That is one reason why a modern
smooth-bore tank gun does not require a muzzle brake,

The foregoing points are of only academic interest to the practical rifleman, the
trajectory of whose rifle will normally be so close to the line of his sighting system
that he will not be able to hold closely enough to appreciate it under field
conditions.

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