Video: Army Primer on Ballistics

Video: Army Primer on Ballistics

What is ballistics? Well, like love it’s, complicated. But if you have around 20 minutes, this video of a vintage U.S. Army training film does a pretty good job of demystifying the multifaceted subject.

The film, circa 1949, touches on all three forms of ballistics – internal, external and terminal. And it gets into some more complex subjects, of which some shooters unfortunately are never exposed.

On this point, the film does a superb job of explaining how the physical shape of a propellant actually influences its burn rate and pressure it produces. Good info, especially for those who wondered how some modern gunpowders can achieve higher velocities, with reduced chamber pressure.

As kind of a fun twist, the film isn’t purely concerned with ballistics in regards to small arms. It also applies the concepts to artillery and missiles. Even so, it’s worth an entire watch, if you’re looking to bone up on the subject.

More than anything, the video will make you appreciate how far we’ve come regarding ballistics in the half-century since the film was made. Just be happy that putting together ballistic data on your firearms doesn’t require a room-sized “computing machine” or a slide ruler, for that matter.


Philip Massaro's next important reference on reloading — Understanding Ballistics: Complete Guide to Bullet Selection


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Elwood Shelton is the Digital Editor for Gun Digest. He lives in Colorado and has provided coverage on a vast spectrum of topics for GD for more than a decade. Before that, he was an award-winning sports and outdoors reporter for a number of newspapers across the Rocky Mountains. His experience has consisted of covering the spread of chronic wasting disease into the Western Slope of Colorado to the state’s ranching for wildlife programs. His passion for shooting began at a young age, fostered on pheasant hunts with his father. Since then, he has become an accomplished handloader, long-range shooter and avid hunter—particularly mule deer and any low-down, dirty varmint that comes into his crosshairs. He is a regular contributor to Gun Digest Magazine and has contributed to various books on guns and shooting, most recently Lever-Actions: A Tribute to the All-American Rifle.



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