Review: The Applied Ballistics Toolbox

Applied Ballistics ToolboxThe last time I reviewed Applied Ballistics I took a look at their mobile ballistic calculator. Applied Ballistics has another app I would like the review today. The Applied Ballistics Toolbox. It offers additional content that can be very useful when used with the Applied Ballistics mobile app or any ballistic software.

So what does the Applied Ballistics Tool Box offer that the Ballistic Calculator doesn’t? Here is the product features taken from Applied Ballistics:Applied Ballistics Toolbox app Applied Ballistics Tool Box

Applied Ballistics Toolbox
Home Screen of the Applied Ballistics Toolbox
Applied Ballistics Toolbox: Spin Doctor

As an administrator on the Long Range Shooting group we see a lot of frequent questions. One of them that rates a little higher than the others is can I shoot “x” bullet out of my rifle. There are many factors that can influence this answer. The bullet weight, length, velocity, and the twist rate of the barrel to name a few. Bullet stability is a very important factor as long-range shooting enthusiasts.

Our bullets will face a lot of external factors once it leaves the barrel. We have to contend with gravity and wind so ensuring the bullet exits the barrel on a stable flight path is very important. The Spin Doctor tool allows you to ensure that the bullet you intend to fire through your rifle will be the correct choice. The Toolbox has a list of preloaded bullets. The data contains everything needed except your velocity and rifle twist rate. Here are a few shots of the Spin Doctor:

Applied Ballistics Toolbox
Main Screen After Opening
Applied Ballistics Toolbox
Bullet Library
Applied Ballistics ToolBox
175 GR Sierra SMK Selected, Muzzle velocity and barrel twist adjusted
Applied Ballistics Toolbox
Results: The bullet is stable!

In the case of my rifle I can shoot a 175 GR Sierra SMK and have a stability factor that is good to go. As it notes above having a marginal stability factor can negatively impact you. If your bullet is less than ideally stable you will not utilize the BC fully.

Applied Ballistics Toolbox: Density Altitude

Density Altitude is another important factor in shooting. As our density altitude increases so does the performance of our bullets. Your bullet will fly with less drop and wind drift in higher density altitude bands. Having the correct DA information that corresponds correctly to the area you are shooting in ensures you have the correct data needed to make a first round shot.

So how do we find out our density altitude? Here are two formula options:

 

 

Applied Ballistics Toolbox
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Density_altitude#Calculation

I think we can all agree that even the simplified formula is fairly complex. So what information do we need to bypass the complex formulas when using the Applied Ballistics Toolbox? You will have to provide the temperature, barometric or station pressure, altitude, and humidity. The Density Altitude Calculator looks like this:

Applied Ballistics Toolbox
Applied Ballistics Toolbox Density Altitude

Inputting the temperature, barometric pressure, altitude, and humidity from my current location gives me a DA of 0.

Applied Ballistics Toolbox
Density Altitude for Canandaigua, New York.
Applied Ballistics toolbox: sight scale factor

Knowing that our equipment is performing correctly is imperative to making shots at extended distances. The most important piece of equipment we have is our scope. Ensuring that our turrets are working correctly can be the difference between making long-range shots or ending the day frustrated. The sight scale factor works off our zeroed optic. The required information is the range you are shooting at, the adjustments you dialed in, and the measured poi shift from your zero shot.

In the example below I used a range of 100 yards, an adjustment of 5 Mils, and a poi shit of 18 inches. This is the data it then gives me on my scopes tracking:

Applied Ballistics Toolbox
Applied Ballistics Toolbox Sight Scale Factor

As you can see in this case my scope turrets are only off by .005 inches at 100 yards. This means that my scope turrets are tracking their adjustments properly.

Applied BALLISTICS TOOLBOX: Mil Ranging

I recently covered using your MOA or MIL reticle to range unknown distance targets. While the formulas are not overly complex there is an easier solution. All we need is the target size and the Mils/MOA estimate. You can use inches or centimeters, mil or moa, and get your range to target in either yards ir meters. The Mil ranging feature also has a list of animals and their measurements hand should you be hunting. The Mil Ranging calculator looks like this:

Applied Ballistics Toolbox
Applied Ballistics Toolbox Mil Ranging
Applied Ballistics Toolbox
Belly to Back measurement
Applied Ballistics Toolbox: slope dope

Our look angle to target can change the ballistics solution necessary to make the shot. The Slope Dope calculator one requires 2 pieces of information to ensure your adjustments get you on target. You can input in Mils or MOA for a level target at the range you are shooting and your look angle to the target. By Inputting this information it will give you the adjusted correction to dial in for drop. It looks like this:

Applied Ballistics Toolbox
Applied Ballistics Toolbox Slope Dope
Applied Ballistics Toolbox: Chrono-correction

The final offering in the Applied Ballistics Toolbox is the Chrono-correction feature. If you are using a chronograph that requires distance from the barrel you are not getting a true muzzle velocity. The Chrono-Correction feature takes the velocity at the chronograph, the distance between your muzzle and the chronograph, and the BC of the bullet to find how much velocity is lost in flight o give you a true muzzle velocity.  It looks like this:

Applied Ballistics Toolbox
Applied Ballistics Toolbox Chrono-Correction
Final thoughts

The Applied Ballistics Toolbox makes for a useful partner to any app on the market. It gives the end-user the ability to use the app for reloading, data collection, or in the field or on the firing line. Having all the features in one easy to use application only simplifies the process of getting information. I would recommend the Applied Ballistics Toolbox to both novice and experienced shooters a like. It can help pick out a box of ammo for the new rifle you picked up as well as to ensure you are getting the most out of your rifle when reloading. It also simplifies the math behind ranging targets and finding your DA.

Check out our Facebook Page at LRS Precision, LLC Facebook page and our facebook group at Long Range Shooter Facebook Group.

 

 

New Shooters 101: The introduction

New shooters
LRS Precision, LLC

Long range shooting has seen an exponential growth in new shooters over the past few years. The amount of companies who are producing rifles, ammunition, and accessories has also continued to increase to accommodate the growth. There are more offerings than ever before in the industry however this can make things confusing. Today I want to give you a brief over view of the categories I will cover in-depth in future articles.

 New Shooters 101: Purpose

Long range shooting covers a very wide range of styles and disciplines. If you are a bench rest shooter the kit and rifle you use will be very different than that of the long-range hunter. Do you intend to shoot Practical precision, ELR shooting, NRA rifle competitions, bench rest, or F-Class to name a few? Defining the purpose before you start buying a rifle and gear can save you a lot of time and regret.

New Shooter 101: Caliber selection

Selecting the right caliber for your intended use is equally as important as matching the purpose to your rifle and gear. If you intend to shoot practical precision matches a magnum caliber might not be the best choice. While you will have extra power there are downsides. It will be harder to spot your hits and misses and make fast follow-up shots. On the other side of things if you are shooting ELR and using a caliber that doesn’t have enough power it will make you ineffective.

New Shooters 101: Gear

Knowing what type of gear you will need can also save you a lot of grief. Buying what you don’t need will cost you money that you need not spend. Fitting the type of gear to the discipline of long-range shooting you intend to pursue will make you more effective. If you shoot ELR your needs will be different then if you shoot at medium to long-range. For example if you buy a range finder that only ranges to 800 yards you won’t be able to make effective hits at ELR distances. Sometimes more gear is not the answer. If you are a hunter and moving on foot you will only want what is essential to your needs.

 

New Shooters 101: Training

Often times training is the most overlooked aspect of any shooting discipline. There are a lot of instructors in the industry but for every good instructor there are 2 bad ones. Do some research and find an instructor and a class that pertains to the shooting discipline that you intend to follow. It is worth noting that while most classes are expensive it is for good reason. Even the best shooters continue their education to become better.

 

New Shooters 101: Range time

In order to keep our skills sharp and keep improving it is important to shoot as often as possible. Shooting for groups at 100 yards won’t help you become a better shooter at long distances. Refining our skills will make us better shooters. As we improve and practice the fundamentals, reading wind, and truing our data we will be able to get our shots on target more effectively. If you are on the internet you have heard the saying train how you fight. In the long-range world you will want to maximize your range time by working on drills that pertain to how you will shoot.

 

Stay tuned for the more in-depth articles on each category coming soon. As well as some more gear reviews and our next segment in Preparing for Practical Precision.

New shooters
Preparing for Practical Precision: Equipment

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And our Long Range Shooters Facebook Group at Long Range Shooter Facebook Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Science Behind Shooting: Ranging Targets

The Science Behind Shooting: Ranging Targets

In an effort to take the voodoo magic out of finding the distance of an unknown target today we are going to cover how to properly range a target using your scope reticle.

Luckily for us there are proven formulas that we can use to estimate range. The first thing that we need is the height of the target. Be it a known target at an unknown distance or an animal we can usually associate a height to our target based of experience. It is important to note that we need to be as precise as possible when we determine the height of our target as it can affect the range and our corrections. Here is an example of target sizes provided by the Applied Ballistics Toolbox app:ranging

Ranging with Mils

The formula for finding an unknown distance in Mils is the following:

(Height of target in YARDS x 1000) ÷ mils= Distance to target in yards

So assuming you are ranging a medium sized deer of an estimated height of 17.5 inches and the height from belly to back reads as 1 Mil through your scope the math would look like this:

((17.5 inches ÷ 36 inches) x 1000) ÷ 1 = distance to target in yards

(.4861111 x 1000) x 1 = distance to target in yards

486.1111 x 1 = 486.1111 yards

An important part of this formula is ensuring that you divide the target in inches by 36 inches or 1 yard. Failing to do so will give you incorrect data. To show you the importance of estimating height of target correctly lets assume that the deer we ranged was not in fact a medium deer with a height of 17.5″ from belly to back but was a large deer with a belly to back height of 19.5″:

((19.5 inches ÷ 36 inches) x 1000) ÷ 1 = distance to target in yards

(.5416666 x 1000) x 1 = distance to target in yards

541.6666 x 1 = 541.6666 yards

As you can see two inches makes a difference of 55.5555 yards in target range. How would that effect our chance of a first round hit? Using my .308 and shooting 178 GR Hornady BTHP at 2550 FPS at a 0 DA and a G1 BC of .53 factoring in 10 MPH cross winds at 90° the data looks like this:rangingranging

We would be off target by .7 mils at 541 yards. In this case our point of impact would be low by 13.6332 inches. More than enough to miss hitting critical mass on the deer for a clean kill. Your windage correction would be off by .1 mil or 1.9476″ at 541 yards. Getting the correct range is important. It ensures that your data is correct. If we get the range wrong we will not be using a correct firing solution which will lead to misses.

Ranging with MOA

The formula for calculating distance if you use MOA is as follows:

(Target height in inches x 95.5) ÷ target height in MOA = distance to target in yards

So if we had a medium deer with an assumed belly to back height of 17.5″ that measured 3.4 MOA the math would look like this:

(17.5 inches x 95.5) ÷ 3.4 = distance to target in yards

1671.25 ÷ 3.4= 491.54411 yards.

When we talk about the formula for ranging targets in MOA the biggest error I see pertains to the constant number in the formula. The 95.5. Some people will use 100 instead of 95.5. We use the 95.5 number because 1 MOA at 100 yards is not an inch, it is 1.047 inches. The 4.5 off from 100 takes this extra .047 inches into account and gives you a more correct range estimation. Below is the same target height and MOA height using 100 in place of the 95.5:

(17.5″ x 100) ÷ 3.4 = distance to target in yards

1750 ÷ 3.4= 514.70588 yards

At this range using 100 in place of the 95.5 adds 23.16177 yards to our correct number. This error will only compound itself as the range becomes farther away and will not allow you to get an accurate firing solution.

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The Science Behind Shooting: Mils and MOA

The Science Behind Shooting: Mils and MOA

Today we are going to be looking at the practical applications of angular measurement systems. These are Mils and MOA. We use both in our scope reticle and adjustment turrets. Using Mils or MOA is a personal preference of the user and the application. Mils is not inferior to MOA and MOA is not inferior to mils. 

MILS and MOA- Introduction


We all know that 1 Mil at 100 yards is 3.6 inches and that 1 MOA at 100 yards is 1.047 inches. When we increase distance we increase what 1 Mil or 1 MOA is relative to the distance of our target. The purpose of this article is not cover what we already know to be true but rather to look at the topic from a different point of view.

 

Mils

Mils

I recently posted the above image on the Long Range Shooting group and gave the following information. The red circle is your aiming point on a target at 300 yards. The blue circle is where your round impacted. The scope is a ffp and using mils. How much did you miss by and what is your correction?


There are a couple of right answers to this question. For example we can find how many inches off we were. If we take 1 Mil at 100 yards which is 3.6 inches we can do that math. It looks like this:


3.6 (1 Mil at 100 yards)×3 (distance to target being 300 yards)=10.8 (1 Mil at 300 yards)x3 (number of Mils low that the bullet impacted below the aiming point)=32.4 inches. Assuming you are running a 1/10th Mil scope turret we then divide 32.4 inches by 1.08 (1/10th of a Mil at 300 yards) and get 30 clicks of the turret in adjustments or 3 Mils.


Math takes time in between shots that we may or may not have time for on the hunt, in the field, or on the stage we are currently shooting. So what is the easier and faster method of adjustment? Our reticle is our ruler.  We had the correction long before we came off the scope to do the math. Our impact was 3 mils low. Our corrected firing solution is to dial or hold 3 mils high. 

 

MOA

 

Mils





If I run a similar example for MOA using the picture above and the following: Target is at 300 yards. The red circle is your point of aim the blue circle is your point of impact. Scope is FFP the math would look like this:


1.047 (1 MOA at 100 yards)×3 (distance to target being 300 yards)=3.141 (1 MOA at 300 yards)x10(number of MOA low that the bullet impacted below the aiming point)=31.41 inches. Assuming you are running a 1/4th MOA scope turret we can then divide 31.41 inches by .78525 (1/4th of a MOA at 300 yards) and get 40 clicks of the turret in adjustments or 10 MOA of adjustment.

Thinking in mils and moa

If you stop thinking about what the actual distance that our adjustments are in terms of inches or centimeters and look at and think of all of our adjustments as the measurement system our scopes are set up in we will be faster and more accurate. We can then measure our misses right from our scopes using the reticle system provided like a ruler and make faster follow-up shots without wasting time to back into a number that our reticle has already given us.

It doesn’t matter if we need 1 Mil or MOA of adjustment at 100, 300, 500, 800, or 1000 yards. Although that adjustment works out to be a different number in inches or centimeters at those ranges on our scopes it is the same 1 Mil or MOA adjustment.

It is worth mentioning that these formulas do have a time and a place on the range or in the field. If you are trying to range a target of known size at an unknown distance for example. I will cover those formulas in a future article. 

As always like and follow our page LRS Precision, LLC Facebook page and come join our LRS community at  Long Range Shooters Facebook Group.

 

 

The science of reloading part 4 – Loading your first rounds

Alright you have all your supplies and equipment picked out and set up on your new bench so let’s get started!!! While you were setting up your bench hopefully you put your brass in the tumbler to clean it. If not that’s okay go ahead and do that now…. To clean your brass you want to run it for at least 30 to 45 minutes to clean it and up to a couple of hours to really get it shiny. Okay your brass is clean and shiny now let’s pull it out and separate it from all the media so we can start loading.

Now that you have your brass clean it’s time to size and deprime. If you have new brass you still need to do this step you just won’t be depriming. So 1st thing you want to do is set your die (instructions for this should have come with your die) once you have your die set you want to lube your cases. My preference is still spray lube but if you use a lube pad or just wipe it on the non spray types can be put on too thick and that will cause small dents in the neck of the case if this happens it’s ok you can still use the case just put less lube on the next one. You also shouldn’t have to put a lot of force on your press it will take time and practice to see exactly what it feels like and you will get the feel for it so you don’t get a case stuck in the die.

Now that you have your case cleaned, sized and deprimed and possibly primed depending on your press and preference. For the next step you will need your reloading manual and calipers look up your max case length and your trim to length in your manual and measure your brass if it’s not between the two then you will need to trim your brass to trim length or if you have a a lot of inconsistency in the length of brass it’s not a bad idea to just trim it anyway (remember consistency equals accuracy) once you have it trimmed you will need to debur the brass to remove any sharp edges.

If you haven’t already primed your cases go ahead and do that now. Now we are going to measure out powder and seat the bullet. When you choose your powder charge make sure you are using a reloading manual don’t go with a load someone told you works for them on the internet if you want to use a load that worked for someone else you still can but you NEED to check it against a manual to make sure it’s not at or above the max load. When you pick your powder charge you should pick in the midrange to low end and work your way up to max load while watching for pressure signs ( we will talk about that in the next article) There are a couple of ways to go when it comes to adding powder and bullets some people like to put powder in all of their cases before seating the bullet others like to put powder in one case then immediately seat the bullet. For the new reloader that is also my recommendation but in the end only you can decide what will work best for you. A few reasons that I recommend it is you have less chance for error and are less likely to miss a case when adding powder resulting in a squib round. And if something comes up when you are in the middle of loading then you also won’t be leaving cases full of powder sitting out. However you choose to add your powder the important thing is consistency if you want an accurate round. For my precision loads I won’t accept anything that’s not within less the 1/10th of a grain of powder.

Now it’s time to seat your bullet this part isn’t hard but adjusting the dies can be time consuming every type of die is a little different in how they adjust but the best advice is to start out way long on C.O.L and adjust it to what your book says slowly until you have it set. Once you have it set most dies stay fairly consistent but for precision loads I still measure every round after I load it.

This next step is optional and and that’s crimping some die sets don’t don’t come with a crimp die and some do. So if you have a crimp die and decide to crimp now is the time. Every brand is different and will have instructions on how to set your crimp die. When it comes to crimping it’s a bit of a controversial subject some people swear by it and others hate it and say it’s a waste of time. To be perfectly honest both sides are right. for a lot of people it can be a waste of time and if you don’t do it right can decrease accuracy. While neck tension can be important to get the most accurate loads we are talking a difference of less than 1/10th MOA most of the time and to be blunt most people reading this and just learning to reload probably won’t be a good enough shot to tell the difference anyway. That type of thing comes into play at benchrest matches. I only crimp my pistol and non precision .223 rounds so take it for what it’s worth.

Well you did it you have your 1st rounds loaded now it’s time to go to the range and see how they shoot. In the next chapter we are going to talk about load development OCW testing and a few other things to do at the range. So stay tuned for part 5

The Science of Reloading: Part Three – What’s Nice to Have

In our last article I covered what you have to have in order to reload and with that you will be able to get started and make quality ammunition but today I am going to cover things that are nice to have and will make the process easier, faster, and more fun to reload. It is worth stating again that this article is geared towards someone that’s new to reloading and just getting started but even the experienced reloader might see something today that they had not thought of. I am not going to go in any particular order today since only you can decide on what you think will suit you the best for your needs.

First let’s talk about ways to pull a bullet apart. At some point durning reloading you will need to pull a bullet and this can be for multiple reasons. It can be anything from you forgot to put a primer in or the primer ended up upside down or sideways, maybe the bullet got seated to deep, or perhaps part of your quality control is to pull a random bullet and triple check the powder charge. Whatever the reason is it will come up that you have a bullet that needs to be pulled so rather than having a container full of useless rounds you can pull them and reuse the components. Bullet pullers come in two common varieties an impact bullet puller or a press mounted bullet puller I personally like the impact pullers because you don’t need to put it in your press, the downside of the impact puller is if you are using a bullet with a plastic ballistic tip 9 times out of 10 it will break the tip and makes it useless. The disadvantage of the press mounted puller is you need a caliber specific par while the impact is universal but it also won’t break a ballistic tip so you have to make that choice.

Next you have case loading blocks these are basically a tray with holes in it that holds brass cases and are great especially for a single stage press. There are dozens of options for loading blocks in every possible price point my favorite is the RCBS universal loading block for $7.59 on amazon but other companies also have caliber specific loading blocks. There are even places to get fancy stained wood blocks or CNC machined aluminum ones and the price goes up to over $100 for the later. I would never spend that much on one but that’s just me.

Another useful thing to have near your bench is Canned air or an air compressor. I have found this to be the best way to keep your bench and press cleaned off because you will inevitably have spilled powder or tumbling media on your bench and it’s hard to get it all off any other way but with a compressor or canned air duster you can blow it off and then sweep or vacuum your floor and have a nice and tidy work area. It doesn’t really matter what size compressor you get even the smallest compressor with a tank will work just fine and most people have one laying around their garage or work shop already.

The next thing that’s useful to have is a spare decapping pin it’s something that you never think of until it breaks and they only cost about 5 dollars but most shops don’t carry them and if it breaks you can’t load anything until you get one shipped to you and waiting on something like that sucks. Its also nice to order it when you order your dies or other supplies so you don’t get stuck with paying shipping on just one decapping pin.

Another thing a lot of people don’t think about having at the bench is a notebook, pens, paper, post it notes, markers and highlighters. There are so many things that they can be used for from the obvious of taking notes to the less obvious of marking dies when you get them set to let you know if they move. Or highlighting your favorite load in your manual you can put the post it notes in with a load of ammo with all the data or use it to mark what is in what bin. It’s really endless what you can use it for and a great thing to have on your bench

A bench mounted or hand priming system is a great tool to have on the bench while all presses have a priming system they can be time consuming and tedious to use while the bench and hand mounted models can let you prime all of your brass in a matter of minutes and they are not very expensive most being under $50 dollars the handhelds are nice so you can watch tv or do other things while you are priming the brass.

A radio or bluetooth speaker for background noise is always a nice addition to your work area as well but if you are using a digital powder dispenser you want to make sure you don’t have anything that has a lot of bass on the same surface as the dispenser or it can affect your results so be mindful of that and enjoy some background music to pass the time while reloading.

A powder drop is another nice thing to have on the bench and if you just use a scale it makes life a lot easier you set it to throw a certain amount of powder some are very accurate but for precision loads I would still use a scale for every powder charge but it can significantly reduce the amount to time to get your powder charges dispensed. Lee also makes a set of powder scoops that can be used the same way and if you use one will come with your die set that will be close to your needed powder charge but the full set costs around 10 dollars and will help with accurate adjustments.

Extra parts and screws for your press. You never know when a screw will come loose or a small part might break it might be an easy fix but without the part it could be a week or more wait and it’s a horrible feeling to be stuck not being able to load because of a 2 dollar part you are waiting to have shipped to you

So now that you know what you NEED from our last article and have an idea of what is nice to have. In our next article we will cover the basic steps in reloading and get you ready to load your first rounds!!!