Tips and tricks, examples and cautions for using the Ballistic_XLR ballistics calculating spreadsheet workbook.

I got my Exact Shooting sizing die and Coach and I tried it out against his brass on his existing 6XC match rifle (below). It’s a thoroughly customized Savage 110 that looks as much like a hunting rifle as it could without being anything like a common hunting rifle. It’s been blueprinted and fitted to a custom stock set up for metallic silhouette competition. You may have trouble seeing it but there’s a very vertical pistol grip with a pronounced palm swell, a very high Monte Carlo cheek piece and a wide fore-end all tightly bedded to the 110 action. It sports a single shot sled and a very rare Canjar single-set trigger. Up top is a US Optics SN3 3.8-22×44 MOA ERGO parallax optic. This bad boy has over 1300 rounds through it and is still going strong but we have to assume it’s got only so much life left. In testing with the Exact Shooting sizing die we discovered that his brass was so highly variant between Lapua 6XC and fireformed RP .22-250 cases and number of firings that we weren’t getting the consistency needed to show any difference on paper or on the chronograph. The thing grouped one-hole to begin with and we were in single-digit SD’s anyway so no surprises there. That said, what we had noticed was its tendency to throw random flyers off quite a few minutes of angle during matches and we had no identifiable cause for it other than the brass or shooter error.

We set up his brass to run .003″ neck tension and .0025″ and .0035″ an found no useful differences on paper. That’s using a .2645, .265 and .2655 bushing with his old brass. When the new brass came in the necks were thicker and so we had to neck turn but that’s getting ahead of things. Thankfully the Exact Shooting die comes with several bushings in .0005″ increments so setting neck tension extremely precisely is as trivial as measuring and selecting a bushing.

In tracking his scores, we see that Coach went from 16-24% to 35% just by changing from his 6.5BR running a Vortex Viper PST scope to the 6XC with a US Optics SN3 scope. Prior to sizing his brass with the Exact Shooting die his scores were peaking at 35%. After we started using the Exact die his scores didn’t shoot up very dramatically if you’re paying attention to the raw score thought they did increase by several hits. But, when you break it into percentages and track that month to month you can see a real difference. The first match on the new dies he scored 46.6%, the second match was 55%. Next month we’ll get a third set of results. His average fluctuation in scores from match to match when there’s no equipment change is +/-6%.

So, when we get off of analyzing paper targets and into match conditions the difference is 11.6%-20% improvement in score from not using the Exact die to using it. That’s far enough outside his average fluctuation that we can regard this as statistically relevant and significant because the ONLY change that’s been made is what die we’re using to size his brass. It’s also showing sign of an upward trajectory that we may not have found the far side of yet. If he shoots 60-65% next month that will be a sure sign.

Coach setting up for stage 2. Scotty and Meccastreisand spotting and keeping score.

Now I’ve got 2 new barrels in from Columbia River Arms. 27 inch blanks in 6mm with 1:8 rifling twist on 3-land polygonal Caudle type rifling. We’ve got a custom chamber reamer being cut which will keep brass at minimum dimension. We’ve got new brass that’s been neck turned to fit the new chamber and we’ve got Coach’s old barrel to do initial load development with so we don’t send any shots we don’t need to down the new barrels.

A pair of blanks and a custom reamer gets 2 identical chambers.

At the same time, because we’ve got 3 barrels in 6XC that will be available we’ll be testing some cleaning and lubrication products from Modern Spartan Systems. I’ve seen their Timken bearing race friction test and was surprised enough to give them a shot. Coach & I will be running one test which is to recondition his existing 6XC barrel using their product line and see what that does on paper as well as under match conditions. We’ll also be leaving 1 of the new barrels untreated and running the other barrel with the Modern Spartan Systems cleaning and lubrication products. I can hear you objecting now saying stuff about Coach and I being different shooters so how will we know and blah blah. Well, the reason we’re building 2 identically performing and identically chambered rifles is so that we can bring only 1 rifle to a match, splitting carrying it and being able to improve our scores by having effectively a follow-up shot on every target. That will cause a bump in our scores right away so we’ll test that with Coach’s existing 6XC to get an idea of what a second-strike opportunity does to our scores.

Testing on the old rifle illuminates the gain we’ll get from sharing a rifle. Sharing a pair of rifles with only one major difference (use of MSS products or non-use of them) and switching back and forth from one match to the next gives us the ability to clearly see what the cleaning and lubrication does for us over and above the sharing of a rifle. Looked at over several matches  this is a great way of showing where differences in scores come in and gives a good way of assigning causal factors. None of this is ever likely to show up on paper. Even if it did, the statistical differences found in short range group size testing and velocity testing where the differences are relatively small is not helpful. We want to see what happens to our scores. That’s where the rubber meets the road so to speak.

Carbon Destroyer

Crystal Clear

Accuracy Oil

So how about some specs? Well, our custom 6XC chamber will use a .270″ neck which provides .003″ of total clearance. That’s very tight on purpose. We don’t want brass being worked hard and .003″ means just enough clearance for good bullet release without overworking the necks. The body diameter at the web will be .472″ which gives .003″ total clearance to our brass out-of-the-bag and should not suffer from sticky bolt lift like some 6XC’s can as our die sizes to minimum leaving a base at .469″. Freebore is being set to give us an initial bullet seating depth that puts the shank/boat-tail junction of the bullet .030″ below the neck/shoulder junction of the case with 115gn DTAC bullets. We’re targeting 2950fps for the eventual load which should be doable on about 40 grains of something like H4350 or H4831 but we will try Reloader 23 and H1000 and similar magnum-y powders. Things could come in +/- 75fps from that so we’ll see how it all breaks out when we get there. Both barrels have to shoot the load identically for us to be happy which promises to complicate load development.

We’ll be taking the Modern Spartan Systems cleaning product suite for a little ride on more than the new 6XC barrels over the coming months. Others including TiborasaurusRex have taken this stuff for a test run but nobody seems to have done much scientific testing and reported on it so we’re going to. This test is going to require something like 100-150 rounds per gun and will be carried out across nearly 100 guns over the next several months. We’re going to try it on Trapdoor Springfields, Sharps rolling block .45-70’s, black powder cannons, metallic silhouette race guns, .22LR match bolt-action rifles & semi-auto pistols, 1911’s, Glocks, Springfield XD’s, Colt/S&W/Dan Wesson revolvers, shotguns, military surplus rifles, plain ol’ hunting rifles, AR-15’s, front-stuffer .50cal black powder cap-lock rifles & pistols and more. We’ll do a test of performance & reliability, then fully strip-clean each gun, then do the test again after treating them with MSS goodies.

Not the actual collection being tested but the actual collection does in fact contain at least one of each of those, and then some.

We’ll be testing for groups, velocities of course but also for ease of cleaning as well as how long to copper equilibrium for those guns shooting jacketed bullets and resistance to leading on those shooting plain cast lead bullets that are going way too damned fast. There will be a big focus on corrosion resistance too since many of these guns are black powder shooters and all are exposed regularly to dust which is both thick and highly alkalai and has caused us issues with inducing surface rusting over the years. There are also a couple tests we have planned which we’re keeping under wraps for now so nobody steals the idea. Suffice it to say, those could make for some really interesting findings. Or they could make for a null result. Never know. Stay tuned!

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Version 10.3 is officially live. This much anticipated upgrade includes a new Loophole Shooting feature, an improved Calc Form, tons of minor formatting fixes and other improvements to make your long range shooting experience as rewarding and successful as possible.

NEW! Loophole Shooting Feature: In response to high demand the new Loophole Shooting feature has been implemented. This includes the required minimum vertical size of the loophole required to place a shot on target with the loophole placed 10 feet (3 meters) from the shooter. There is no other external ballistics application in the world that integrates this feature with your primary DOPE. At this time the Loophole data is only on the 100yrd/m increment Full Sheet tab. This is with the assumption that if you’re shooting from behind a loophole that you’ve got more time to set up your shots including setting up a sniper range card, justifying the extra data that’s on the 100m full-sheet tab compared to the 100yrd/m half-sheet tab. If there is sufficient demand we’ll add it to the 100yrd/m half-sheet tab in the next patch release.

Loophole Technical Details: The Loophole Shooting feature provides you a loophole size in inches or centimeters required to make the shot without hitting the edges of your loophole or the barrier it’s been created in. This feature requires careful measurement of your scope height. The level of precision required is now in the .0x inches zone but only if you plan to use the Loophole Shooting feature. If you do not ever need to use this feature then .1″ of slop in your measurement of scope height will be inconsequential.

Why Loophole Shooting: When BallisticXLR was partnered with the RexReviews project with TiborasaurusRex, Rex explicitly forbade providing this feature to the masses. Now that we’ve gone independent, we don’t have to withhold it anymore and in keeping with our custom of providing you the most capable system regardless of who might get upset about it, it’s now been released to the public. We are committed to providing continuous upgrades with new major features and minor features that are already planned as well as responding to the requests of those that use BallisticXLR.

Other Improvements: Major and minor improvements have been lavished upon BallisticXLR version 10.3 which, as our flagship product, it richly deserved. Some improvements include a simplified and improved Calc-Form, font size and color changes to make for easier reading in low light situations. We’ve put new Sniper Data & Shot record cards in to replace the older FM-23-10 derived versions. Quick start instructions on the inputs page have been clarified and simplified. Borders, colors, shading, contrast and may other elements of style have been tweaked to provide an improved user experience.

As always, the simple download is only $10. You should really consider getting a support entitlement as ballistics is a complex science and setting up a ballistics package as full featured as BallisticXLR can be a little daunting for the uninitiated despite our best efforts to make it as simple as possible. A basic Bronze support entitlement is only $50 and comes with a copy of BallisticXLR. We also have Silver and Gold support levels which increase the number of allowed support requests and reduce the maximum response time. All support entitlements also come with free upgrades for one full year! Don’t miss out on new stuff or 1:1 personalized help when you need it!

Existing Download-Only Customers: If you have purchased a download-only copy of BallisticXLR (does not include BallisticPRS or BallisticDLR) within the last 30 calendar days and would like the upgrade to Version 10.3, email ballisticxlr@gmail.com with your paypal transaction number & date of purchase and we’ll upgrade you free of charge.

Existing Support Entitlement Holders: If you purchased a support contract & download within the last 365 days you are entitled to a free upgrade to Version 10.3. To redeem your upgrade, email ballisticxlr@gmail.com with your paypal transaction number & date of purchase and we’ll upgrade you to Version 10.3 free of charge. This upgrade does not extend your support contract.

While I was in South Africa a few weeks ago I managed to pick up a new sizing die that’s made there. I actually got to meet the man behind the magic through an introduction by a mutual friend. I got to see and use the die I was extremely impressed. So impressed I had to have one. They have a standard (though still super precise) die for SAAMI/CIP chambers and a “Custom Collection” version for those of us with more persnickety requirements. I got the custom collection version made to my specs while I was in country. I also got to have a nice chat with Jaco, the man behind the magic, and have a nice long chat with him about how the things were made and some general chit chat. Turns out, the level of precision they craft these with apparently required a ton of effort just in building testing instruments so they could measure sufficiently precisely to hold their amazingly tight tolerances.
The box is nicely jointed and finished wood.
Inside everything is set in custom cut foam. Given the precision, cost and purpose, you’ll want to keep things orderly and clean and not bumping into each other.
All of the little bits from the die kit.
All the mechanical stops are in the die itself so it’s a little different to use than I’m used to but dramatically different. It does mean the die can move from press to press without readjustment of the die. One tiny bit of note, it’s not a standard 7/8″ die body. It’s a 1″-14TPI body so a different press bushing is on order for my RCBS Rockchucker and I’m having a local machine shop cut one of my Dillon tool heads for it.
The benefits for me are setting of neck tension & head spacing very precisely. It came with 5 neck bushings at .0005″ increments so I can now get consistent tension between lots of brass. Normally I neck size only until I have to bump the shoulder back but that causes issues with rounds that decides they won’t chamber without a lot of force to close the bolt. Slows me down in a match and breaks my concentration. There are click adjustments on the die for the shoulder bump which I’ve seen and measured to be extremely accurate. Want to knock the shoulder back .0015, 3 clicks. It works just that easily.
The cost is fairly high (retail is almost $600 shipped to the USA) but real precision costs real money. If I can’t magically be a better shot, I can pay to take a little more slop out of my ammo.
It’s a little different in how it works to other dies I’ve used in one nifty respect, the body sizing and shoulder bump happens first without touching the neck, then the neck sizing operation happens as its own part of the stroke and neck sizing depth is controlled by virtue of a shim pack that adjusts it in .0020″ increments.
They have a seating die coming out too which I’ve already asked for a copy of. I have a couple buddies using one of these already and they’re reporting very good things. As soon as my press bushing and tool head are done I’ll be doing a vigorous bit of comparison testing against my existing redding dies both in group sizes and dimensional consistency.

 

My recent trip to South Africa was partly to do a couple hunts and partly to see what the long range precision rifle scene there was all about and how it could be well served. What products and services were available, what are needed and what just won’t play there. They have their own competitive rifle sports that are very like some of ours but different enough to have special needs. They also have a budding long range precision scene in the more common American influenced sports like F-Class.

Along the way I met a huge number of people: Gunsmiths, Knifemakers, Suppressor Makers, Farmers, Competitive Shooters, Guides, Importers, Exporters, Collectors, Legendary Hunters & Soldiers and 3 of the toughest, most well behaved polite & intelligent teenagers it’s possible to raise in this world.

I took some time to teach a few basic ballistics classes for some friends and we even got down to doing some long range live fire work complete with challenging drills and tests of both bravado and ability. Shots under 500m were there but we focused on shots over 500m and I have to tell you, these guys in South Africa are not fooling around. They’re motivated, well educated and not afraid to spend money if it’s going to return results.

I learned not only what biltong is but how to make it and why it throws jerky straight into a cocked hat. I saw fully 15 species of antelope, along with warthogs, ostrich, cape buffalo, and more. I got to experience what it’s like to be an ethnic super-minority and a chance to learn a little Afrikaans.

Afrikaans is a lot like Dutch but to the ear it sounds like there’s a lot of Hebrew or Arabic language influence with some of the sounds. I found it greatly difficult to understand spoken Afrikaans with my hearing loss eliminating vast wadges of the audio inputs and lip reading it is right out, much like Hebrew and Arabic. I did manage to toss a bit of surprise around when I picked up a book about wildlife which was written in Afrikaans and I started translating it to English on the fly, out loud.

For those that don’t know, modern English decends from Old English with tons of Norse, Latin and French tossed in. This is why English seems to lack a coherent set of rules… there’s nothing but exceptions to the rules it might otherwise have because all the languages it’s based on have different rules. Old English itself is largely descended from Dutch, or a Dutch relative and a surprising number of the words they use are pronounced identically (cheese, bread, meat, beer, blue, etc…) but are spelled in a way that would make Chaucer giggle. Once you figure out how they use vowels and some odd uses of the letter “g” though translating the language to English is almost unnecessary as it’s so much the same as English and the rest you can get from context pretty well. For someone that truly sucks at languages, this was a nice experience.

If you’re thinking of a trip remember that you don’t have to know a lick of Afrikaans to get along. Everyone there, EVERYONE, speaks English pretty fluently if with various accents and sets of commonly used phraseology. All the signs are in English. The retail infrastructure is quite a lot like a mix of European and American. It lacks the number of big box stores and has oodles of smaller more specialized shops (though big box stores are there).

It’s almost like visiting San Diego in a lot of ways, especially in the visual appearance of the landscape. Apart from the racial makeup (who is in the minority) you’d have trouble figuring out you’re not in a city in the American southwest somewhere, other than all the cars are diesel powered and they drive on the other side of the road.

Also, for your first time especially if you’re an American: DO NOT RENT A CAR TO DRIVE THERE. You really need a primer trip where you get driven around first so you can see how the locals actually drive or you most definitely will find yourself in a surprising situation or two and may piss someone right off by trying to be safe instead of polite. If you’ve driven in India you’re probably not going to be surprised as much but otherwise, take the first one with a local driving you around.

PICTURE TIME!

Knife made for me by Danie Joubert.

My Eland.

.308 150gn Sierra Game Kings working springbok innards.

Draining blood and guts from my eland.

One of the two toughest little girls I’ve ever met.

My eland on the ground.

Tracking my eland as it walks off to die.

Rough country doesn’t mean you can’t prone out properly.

Filling my guide in on where the eland went to die.

Getting our stalk on.

Africa is as austere a place as it is beautiful.

The tall thin trees are actually aloe’s. 3m tall aloe. Just wow. Never knew they grew into trees!

Authentic South African Boer recipes. In Afrikaans of course.

A braai of livers, hearts and sausages. OMG that was good.

My springboks getting their cool down on.

That’s a happy hunter.

With a poker face carved in stone.

My trophy springbok.

My first springbok.

Egyptian geese.

Wildebeest

Bontebok

A landscape that says, “You’re totally alone here. Don’t get injured.”

Outline for a little classroom ballistics session.

It wasn’t a formal class, actually greatly condensed. Still, we wanted everything to look nice.

Sakkie and his bride. A more amazing pair of honest, hard working, kind and generous people I have not met. Only James Yeager comes close (if you haven’t met James, you don’t know him).

It’s winter in Africa. And quite cold and windy.

Landowner warthog trophy.

Landowner bushbuck & caracal trophies.

A caracal trophy.

Kudu trophies.

My impala ram.

My impala ewe.

The buckey (what South Africans call a pickup truck)

Jacques confirming zero.

Black giraffe not 100m from our accommodations.

Ostrich

Johannesburg, SA suburbs. They name restaurants very strangely there.

Teaching ballistics eventually leads to a range session.

Dubai looks cool from the air.

Russia looks greener than I ever imagined it.

Teaching a little ballistics to a few friends.

Cruising through acacia trees on dirt roads. Like being a kid again.

These guys are great people, great shots and great students.

A landscape you just can’t find anymore. Empty of apparent human activity.

BallisticXLR, the single most awesome external ballistics application to grace the face of the Earth has just outdone itself. We’ve updated the color scheme to be a lot less less Rainbow Brite and lot more Terry Shappert (we love you Terry). No longer does it have the insanely over rainbow’y color scheme Rex insisted upon. It looks Tacti-cool as hell now and is a lot easier to read and is lower visibility so when you use it in the field, you won’t be as easily spotted by counter snipers, herds of marauding deer, overbearing British government agents or lawless tea importers.

Font sizing, page breaks, information flow, etc… all have been massively improved. I’ve shrunk the file size and made tens of thousands of formula calculations more precise and much faster to use electronically as well as off-line.

Peep delta and tell me how awesome I am. Or not.

Fix your computer.
New Wrist DOPE Card with improved BDC generator. Folds for 2-sided awesomeness. BDC is automatic and you can change the reticle on it very easily.
Fix your damned computer. Seriously.
100yrd/m increment half-sheet DOPE. More compact, removed unnecessary stuff like coriolis, toned the colors down to be easy to read but hard to spot by counter forces.
If you can't be bothered to fix your computer I'm not going to help you.
Page 1 tab 1 of 10yrd/m increment tables. Faster reading, no page flipping, easier to read fonts, low-vis tactical color scheme and made for 8.5×5.5 half-sheet use
I fixed your computer. It will never show images again.
Page 3 of 10yrd/m increment half-sheet table. Notice the color scheme, automatic color changing to tell you how far you are into your maximum effective range.
My grandma and your grandma sitting by the fire.
100m full sheet table. All the data, including coriolis, reference data, conversions and all the other stuff you need for a day of recreating or hard target interdiction.

In a continuation of our re-launch from the close call earlier this year, we’re launching our new logo. This new logo will begin adorning the website and all new versions of BallisticXLR, BallisticPRS, BallisticRexLR and our latest product being announced separately. Big thanks to my ever present partner in crime Wouter for crafting this killer logo.

Remember: Don’t run. You’ll only die tired.