You know me. I have a longstanding disdain for BDC (bullet drop compensating) reticles. Most of that disdain is drawn from the unending habit of people that don’t know any better to try and use them for things they’re not meant for. BDC’s are for making super fast shots with greater accuracy than a guess and less accuracy than a ballistic firing solution. They’re wildly fast to use but lose a lot of precision to that speed. When I say “a lot” what I mean is that last fraction of a miliradian or minute of angle. Worst case, maybe 1 minute at the longest possible ranges and negligible amounts at closer distances.
So let’s twist the discussion a little bit. At what point can you as a shooter say to yourself, “The level of precision I need for this is totally BDC territory. I don’t need pinpoint accuracy. Combat effectiveness will suffice.”? You might think that while hunting as a generic selection. You might think 3-gun competition. You might think actual combat is the territory of a BDC. You might be a smart ass and say it’s at conversational distances. The truth is more complicated. Whatever your target is and what you’re shooting at it dictate the answer.
If your gun shoots flat enough to land inside the lethal zone even if you misjudged or mis-held for the range despite you messing up, you can use a BDC there. In combat you just want to put metal on meat so the enemy’s people are spent treating his wounds and not fighting you. For hunting you’re looking to be as nice about killing that animal as possible. You want quick and clean kills with no suffering. For PRS competition you need fast and accurate. For screwing around shooting pop cans and eggs at long range you don’t “need” anything. That’s a completely optional activity and nobody’s keeping score.
Stage 5 from October’s Long Range Precision & Tactical Rifle Match:
Stage 6 from October’s Long Range Precision & Tactical Rifle Match:
Stage 7 from October’s Long Range Precision & Tacical Rifle Match:
I recently decided to try out a Primary Arms 4-14×44 FFP scope with their nifty ACSS HUD/DMR reticle in it at my monthly long range precision tactical prone match. I did this because I was curious not because I’m a glutton for punishment. As it turns out I put in my 2nd best score ever with a .223 (within 2 hits of my best score) and I crushed my previous best high wind .223 score by 5 hits. The weather was mild but winds were from 5-35mph and constantly changing directions.
I started out on stage 1 by counting mil-dots and calculating DOPE for the 600-1000yrd shots. Bad idea. That’s not how this scope works and it showed. I only hit the targets that I used the BDC on. That’s fine, over 600yrds right out of the gate and scoring any hits at all, I was happy to do it. Stage 2 I was still calculating based on MV and mil-dots but I was also comparing my real hit locations to the point of aim and the BDC. By stage 3 I gave up the calculating bit and just shot by the BDC and while I wasn’t hitting on stage 3 I was only missing on wind holds. The rest of the 8 stages I did ok on. Stage 4 was ok but while it started well it went right to hell on shot 3. By stage 5 I’d found my stride and started trusting the reticle with really good results. We went from stage 5 to stage 8 and then back to stage 6 and then stage 7 because some shooters are ridiculously, infuriatingly, heart rending slow (Byron, I’m looking at you particularly).
At the end of the day I’d posted a great .223 score landing me in the middle of the pack of everyone else who were shooting 6mm/6.5mm/7.62mm stuff from much bigger cases. Nobody ran the course clean, like always. The reason for my success? Wind holds and drops are on and it’s easy to use. 5mph or 10mph or in between or over or under… no worries. I had little problem doing it once I actually started doing it. Drops are really easy to use and against a man size target, boy I mean the bad guy is in a world of hurt. My misses were measurable in fractions of an inch mostly with the occasional several feet as well. In a military context I’d have one of these reticles on every battle rifle and triple the engagement range of my grunts. See how the bad guys like an army of designated marksman equipped with machine guns.
Oh yeah! “How about the scope itself?” I hear you saying. Well, simply: Great glass. Superb glass. You really won’t expect it to be that nice and you’ll be surprised. Good glass comes with weight and it’s not as light as you might think. Turret feel is plain ol’ shit. They’re rubbery as hell and vague and uncapped turrets aren’t necessary with a BDC. Tracking is actually ok. Wouldn’t rely on the tracking but it was accurate as hell for zero’ing. Eye box is really tight and unforgiving. Zoom and focus and parallax is all great. All in all I’d expect to pay a bit more. If they put more into the turret feel then I see a price twice as high coming with it. Leave the turrets for zero’ing and use the reticle for everything else and the scope is still a real bargain. Seriously, the glass is exceptional. As for durability? Well, I hauled it around a mountain all day, dropped it repeatedly on the ground and shot a match with it. Zero problems. So, not saying it’s battle ready but it’s certainly field conditions resistant.
I have to thank Dimitri and all the guys over at Primary Arms (http://primaryarms.com) for letting me use one of these amazing little scopes. The guys at the match started out with a little light hearted ribbing and by the end of the match they were plumb out of humorous jabs and were instead astonished at how well I was able to do without ever spinning a turret while surrounded with multi-thousand-dollar custom match rifles with multi-thousand-dollar scopes on top. There were a lot of compliments by the end of the day. Next I’m going to try it on my .308. Betcha I clean up.
Who has two thumbs and a big smile on his face? This guy!
It just doesn’t seem to matter what I feed this rifle. It’s only ever made 1 group over an inch and the rest have been closer to half an inch. This isn’t just 3-shot groups. It’s 10-shot groups rapid fire or slow fire and 5-shot groups and 3-shot groups. It’s just a laser beam. Just look at these groups. Those are all 10-shot groups!
Left to right 43.5, 44, 44.5, 45.5, then down one for the 45 grain load. The few flyers were all called and were the shooter’s fault.
The barrel came from Columbia River Arms, formerly Black Hole Weaponry and it’s a gem. It’s a 26 inch 8 twist on an MTU contour. The chamber is quite tight netting necks that are exactly .243″ inside diameter after firing, meaning that my brass doesn’t grow much and working of the necks is minimal. I set it up for zero headspace too so the brass should last a good long time with the Ackley case’s propensity for not stretching (especially not stretching like a .243Win is prone to doing.) If you want a drop in that’s just a laser beam, you need to call up Columbia River arms and have them cut you a barrel based on their .243AI reamer. I’ve never seen anything like this in a drop in barrel. Carl Caudle has a bunch more reamers that are equally nice. All it takes is a phone call and a credit card.
I got my Ackley loads dialed in. Started with .080 jump on the 108 grain ELD-M bullets. Started with a 43.5 grain charge of RL-23 and moved up in half-grain increments to 45.5 grains. Never showed any pressure signs and the velocities were just slightly above where I’d set as a goal. The big deal was a definite signal that the case likes to be full. SD’s were up around 35fps at the bottom but at 45.5 grains everything trimmed out and I landed with 5fps SD’s across a 10 round string with a group .6″ across done rapid fire. Velocities are right at 3170fps and temperature seemed to have little effect on them from 60F to 90F so it’s a match ready load.
I’ve got a match next weekend and I’m going to use the .243Ackley. Look for a pretty high score this time. Yes, I shot the .223 as well but that’s another story. Loads need more work. Popping primers is not competition ready.
Download them now while they’re hot. The latest version of BallisticPRS contains a neat new page with 3×5 cards set up already for -4,000ft to +10,000ft DA’s. Cards do away with spin and Coriolis in favor of 5/10/15/20mph wind regimes but I’ve left the moving target leads in. These 3×5″ data cards were cooperatively designed between yours truly and US Optics sponsored PRS shooter and precision rifle instructor Nico Detour. I’ve tinkered with the coloration so they’re easy to read in shade or bright sunlight and the fonts and font coloring to prevent wash-out in the brightest overhead direct sunlight.
All of the 3×5 cards are on 1 tab for simplicity and they’re set up to print 4 cards to a page of A4 or 8.5×11 media.You can get the whole bunch of them in one wrist caddy and just select the one you need at the time to be on top. These rip proof, blood proof, field proof, idiot resistant data cards are not going to let you down in the middle of a match. You can’t harm them and neither does dirt or mud or blood.
BallisticPRS Data Card
BallisticXLR Data Card
Yeah baby! Check these out. Hot off the presses for my first consumer, Nico Detour of US Optics Academy and PRS competition fame. There’s been a huge amount of work to get these ready.
Thanks to Nico for giving me the chance to show him how well these things work and how indestructible they really are!
I spent all night grinding over it and making sure it worked. It’s a big change from the first version under the covers but for you it just means it works and you don’t have to think about it. It’ll generate MOA or MRAD BDC’s for your reticle. All you have to do is grab an image of your reticle and scale it to fit in the box provided then set the transparency of your reticle image to your personal tastes and you’re done.
This should make your hunting and competition lives a lot easier. These new Quick DOPE Cards fully implement the TiborasaurusRex system and ignores spin drift, Coriolis effect and moving target leads since they’re the least useful.
These cards are pre-formatted to end up printing out as a pair of 3×5″ sized objects. You can get them printed on field proof Revlar by me for a small fee or print them yourself. Just print out on regular paper, trim and fold to yield a 2-sided 3×5 card with exact data and BDC data.
YouTube’s ever deepening efforts to estrange an entire half of their customer base has decided to continue and even get more aggressive about demonitizing and even deleting videos. This practice has continued so vigorously that it’s hit my own little obscure channel. Every day another video has the advertising revenue cut. It’s not like I made much from the video views and I certainly never made a dime of profit from the website or selling my ballistics data kits. Actually I took a huge loss on the whole thing but the ad revenue did trickle in a little here and there and now it’s basically gone. That wouldn’t be so bad but even searching for my exact username, channel content, etc… has become unreliable meaning that without the word getting spread the work I do won’t have anybody finding out they can use it and it will die slowly on the vine.
So, in an attempt to truncate the probability of that slow death happening I’ve started a Patreon page (https://www.patreon.com/BallisticXLR) in the hopes that my user base might see their way to helping me continue to make this product, and more importantly the support services, 100% free to the masses. I don’t want to ask for patronage but at this point it’s very hard to keep pumping money into it at such a high rate. If I could break even I would be elated but anything helps right now.
I’ve taken up with Rex Defense and RexReviews.com with YouTube personality TiborasaurusRex as a precision rifle instructor and ballistics instructor for the organization generally and specifically at our long range precision rifle training seminars and live fire courses (see the training tab on http://rexreviews.org for details). That’s not a paying gig at this point though, I hope it might become one. The company needs to get its feet under it before that’ll be a real possibility. If you would like to get your mindset, skills, tactics and gear squared away so you will know you’ll be able to make whatever long range shot you need to make come and train with us. It’s intense training for sure.
On the new stuff front, I’ve released some big upgrades to BallisticXLR and BallisticPRS and will be continuing to release minor updates to expand on those new features. There’s a BDC generator in BallisticXLR now along with a 3×5″ sized hasty DOPE card and in BallisticPRS I’ve deployed a whole set of new 3×5″ data cards from 200-990yrd/m at 500ft density altitude increments for several thousand feet of DA’s and will be releasing slow updates until all of the -4K to +11k foot DA zones in 500ft increments will be deployed soon. I’ve fixed formatting, updated labels, fixed the Extended Data tab’s 5mph winds and added all of the new ELD-M bullets to the projectile database. I’ve released to limited distribution an entirely new version of the spreadsheet called BallisticDLR (Dynamic Long Range) which is meant to be used on a computer to characterize multiple guns, multiple loads, and to provide extremely highly automated firing solutions. It’s best for those that are highly experienced and is really optimized for research and development purposes more than hunting or tactical or competitive pursuits.
Get ready for a lot more videos and more frequent updates to my channel as well as to the spreadsheets. I’ve got a busy month on tap with a lot of content that will come out of it and next year is looking to be especially exciting.
A bunch of big updates. There will be another minor update to BallisticPRS in a few days but it’s only going to be addition of more projectile BC’s in the Projectile Database tab.
BallisticXLR – Added BDC generator for Mil-Scale reticles. Simply select your reticle, copy/paste it in to the Quick Dope Card tab to replace the one that’s there. Then scale it accordingly and set your transparency so the underlying cells values are visible. Updated the Quick Dope Card tab to include the latest trimmed version of a DOPE card that’s set up to print into a 3×5 inch form factor. It’s meant to be 2 sided so you get mil-scale & BDC data on one side and proper DOPE on the other. Updated all of the latest ELD-M bullet BC’s, fixed Extended Data 5mph wind data for station pressure, fixed some formatting and single cell formula errors, fixed some hidden reference formula copies, cleaned up pagination everywhere.
BallisticPRS – Added 3×5 printable DA cards for several DA zones at the request of Nico Detour with 5/10/15/20mph wind columns and no Coriolis or Spin columns. Oodles of little back end fixes. Will be adding ELD-M bullets on v1.13 in a day or so. Also added DA calculator.