Load up on the online shooting resources you need to stay on target.
If you’re a gun owner, the Internet is your playground. From solid data for your next loading project to ballistics resources that help you understand a bullet’s flight from ignition to target when shooting, there is a wealth of information. Honestly, it would be fair to say that the everyday average shooter has more resources at his disposal now than perhaps any other time in the history of marksmanship. But the right data is as elusive as the X-ring on a MR-31 target.
Luckily, we’re here to help you find the vital info sure to have you shooting as sharp as ever. With that in mind, here are 5 Great Online Shooting Data Resources that will get and keep you on target.
This is by no means an exhaustive list and there are plenty of other shooting-related sites out there. So, tell us in the comments below where you like to go to crunch your ballistic numbers or research shooting data.
Nothing can replace a reloading manual when it comes to cooking up a load. And when you take to producing your own ammo, in time you will accumulate a library of these valuable volumes. But for tinkering with new handloading ideas, the Hogdgon Reloading Data center is an invaluable tool.
The website gives you the ability to play around with a number of variables — cartridge, bullet weight, powder — for a potential load and then spits out the reloading data on the other end. Perhaps the best aspect is the side-by-side comparisons of powder performance for each bullet weight, giving a solid handle on what you can expect in the velocity and pressure departments for each propellant.
Of course, there are limitations on what the data center offers. You are strictly limited to Hogdgon’s universe (luckily a large one) of powders — Hogdgon, IMR and Winchester. And, for each weight, there is only a sampling of projectiles. But even with these limitations, the Hogdgon Reloading Data center is a top-notch way to play with new ammo ideas, before you take to the bench.
Aside from your mechanics in making a shot, practical marksmanship is a matter of mastering variables. Gravity, wind, on particularly long shots the coriolis effect all must be accounted for to get that tiny piece of copper-jacketed lead to land where you want it. In the simplest terms, conquering these is an exercise in math.
Far be it from me to disparage the pen-and-paper method of crunching numbers, but there are plenty of solid — and free — ballistics calculators online and at your disposal to simplify the process. Perhaps the most extensive is JBM Ballistics, which offers one of the widest selections of calculators on the Internet.
If you’re looking for a bare-bones calculator to get a handle on how your bullet drops for your particular location or if you want one that will account for minutia such as spin drift, this online tool has it.
It comes with a library of pre-loaded ammunition to choose from, but you’re also free to tinker with each variable all the way down to the length of the polymer tip of your bullet. For me, the handiest aspect of JBM Ballistics is its range card calculators, which do exactly what you’d expect — outputs a handy ballistic table perfect for taking into the field.
The site also offers a number of other calculators — recoil, power factor, maximum distance. It is the perfect way to lose hours online, but honestly, you’ll find that at JBM Ballistic it ends up being anything but wasted time.
If you’re in the market to buy an AR-15 for varminting, will a .223 Rem. reach out from a carbine-length barrel? Ballistically speaking, does polygonal rifling have any advantage over lands and grooves? There’s an easy what to find out — Ballistics by the Inch.
Originally, the site tested and published the relationship between barrel length and velocity for a number of handguns. Since then, it’s grown into a gold mine of internal-ballistic related data (and perhaps the best FAQ page on the web). And when you dig into the data — a labor of love of the four guys who run the experiments and site — it will smash preconceived notions and truisms you’ve heard about internal ballistics.
Here’s the draw back to Ballistics by the Inch — it’s limited almost exclusively to handgun cartridges. The exception is the .223 Rem. Nevertheless, the site does provide plenty of food for thought and could prove useful in fine tuning your next gun purchase.
OK, you caught me — this is a blatant shill for a Gun Digest resource. But it’s free and extremely useful. The Handbook of Standard Reticle Patterns is perhaps one of the best resources for researching one of the more overlooked aspects of an optic.
You’re probably thinking — “Reticles? Really?” You bet, since you’re about to shell out your hard-earned money on a piece of equipment that costs as much, or exceeds that of your rifle. You’d better make certain you receive what you paid for and it better be capable of the mission in which it will be applied.
Col. D. Andrew Kopas helps you make certain you will with this 126-page handbook that compiles 250 tactical-style reticle patterns from the most popular optics companies. In many cases, you can drill down on what you’re looking for with the guide, and its ample subtension measurements and other explanatory data.
This is a great resource if you’re in the market for a high-end piece of glass and want to shop for your exact needs. And if you’ll allow me to shill just a bit more, checkout Gun Digest’s entire free resources page — there's plenty of great info to load up on.
If you are interested in understanding what happens once a bullet reaches its target, then Brass Fetcher Ballistics Testing is for you.
Run by mechanical engineer John Ervin, the site documents the terminal ballistics tests he runs for ammunition developers. It also has some of the best ballistics gel testing footage available on the Internet. From the mild-mannered .22 LR to the behemoth .50 BMG, there are hours of slow-motion footage of Ervin’s experiments. On top of that he supplies plenty of supporting data on each test’s terminal ballistics, at the bare minimum the kinetic energy transfer.
Do you need to see hours of ballistics gel abuse to make you a better marksman or choose the right caliber and ammo? Probably not. But at the same time, it’s a great aid in visualizing what happens when a bullet reaches its target. And a better understanding of what you’re doing when you’re behind the trigger is never a bad thing.