Bryan Litz and the team from Applied Ballistics have released another book packed with their latest research projects and findings related to long-range shooting. This new book is the 3rd Volume in the series they call Modern Advancements in Long Range Shooting. It is not just a new edition of an old book. It contains 100% new content and research.
Bryan mailed me an early draft of the book several weeks ago, and I’ve read it cover-to-cover. It is equally as interesting and useful as the last 2 books in this series, which are the books that I find myself going back to reference more than any other source. My copy is chock-full of notes and highlights in every chapter!
The idea behind the Modern Advancements in Long Range Shooting series is the group can continue to publish the results of their ongoing research. What represents the “state of the art” in long-range shooting is still evolving rapidly, so this is an excellent outlet for them to publish serious research into various aspects of long-range shooting that would benefit the shooting community in general. They also test the latest developments and products to see if they live up to the hype. Here is how Bryan Litz describes this series in his own words:
“Modern Advancements in Long Range Shooting aims to end the misinformation which is so prevalent in long range shooting. By applying the scientific method and taking a MythBuster approach, the state of the art is advanced both in terms of the available tools, and the knowledge to best apply them.”
The book is available for pre-order now, and copies should start shipping in early September 2022. Here is a link where you can order it directly: https://thescienceofaccuracy.com/product/modern-advancements-long-range-shooting-3/
What Is Covered In The Book
There are over 250 pages of research and knowledge packed into this book, and it covers a variety of topics related to long-range shooting. Here is a quick look at the table of contents from my early copy of the book:
While it wouldn’t be right for me to give away all of the takeaways or results, I’ll try to give a quick summary of some of the things covered.
Chapter 1 & 2: The Nature of Precision Testing & Precision Testing Example
Bryan starts by laying a great foundation on the best practices when trying to test differences in precision. This is a topic that is critical for serious shooters to understand because it’s the root of most misinformation in the shooting community. But, this kind of topic can get very technical and academic, which is why most people don’t understand it – much less apply it. I feel like Bryan did the best job I’ve ever come across at trying to give a practical explanation on how to apply the scientific method to precision testing and interpret results in a way that leads us to the best decisions. He uses lots of examples and visualizations to try to help us know how to apply the ideas. Don’t skip these chapters!!!
Chapter 3: TOP Gun (Theory of Precision)
This is a pretty interesting concept. The AB team analyzed many rifle variables to see what most closely correlated to a rifle’s precision potential. Of course, there are many variables in the shooter-rifle-ammo system that can affect the actual precision, but their idea was to create a formula you could use to baseline the basic precision potential of a rifle based on some easy variables.
Here is how they explain the idea:
Go into any major gun store and find a common model of hunting rifle. Something that’s available chambered in both 300 Win Mag and 223 Remington, such as an 8-9 pound Remington 700. Of course the action length will be different, but otherwise, the rifles have the same design and quality of: barrel, stock, bedding, and trigger. Suppose you properly mount the same model scope on both of these rifles and purchase 100 rounds of factory-loaded Match ammo:
- 60 grain varmint bullets for the 223
- 190 grain match bullets for the 300 Win Mag
Now take them both to the range, get a zero, and start shooting groups. Which of the two rifles would you expect to produce the smaller average group size?
If you share the experience of most shooters, this is a no-brainer. The 223 will shoot better groups, every time, as long as there’s nothing actually wrong with either of the set-ups. This insight is shared by nearly all shooters, but why? What accounts for the difference in precision?
So the AB team chose a huge cross-section of 17 different rifles, from lightweight hunting rifles to competition rifles for various disciplines. “All 17 of the guns listed in Table 3.1 [below] were fired for at least 5 groups of 5 shots to get an average, nominal precision level. In other words, we weren’t trying to absolutely maximize the precision of each rifle. Rather the goal is to characterize the average precision.”
They looked at a few variables, but ultimately their analysis resulted in a surprisingly simple formula to baseline a rifle’s precision potential. While it won’t calculate the exact precision of a rifle, you can think about it as a good rule of thumb. They say, “You can use their TOP Gun model to estimate the precision class of a rifle,” which can be helpful.
Note: If you want to understand the big shift we’ve seen in PRS rifle calibers and configurations over the past 5 years, this chapter seems to explain and quantify that.
Chapter 4: Barrel Tuner Testing
Okay, this one was very interesting – and exhaustive! This test involved over 1800 rounds across 4 different rifles with 4 different tuners. One of the rifles and tuners tested is shown below, which is very representative of the typical PRS competition rifle (because it actually is Francis Colon’s PRS competition rifle):
Every group was measured, and all trends were analyzed using statistics. I can’t give away the results, but I’ll just say it will surprise a few people!
Chapter 5: BC Consistency
Applied Ballistics has been traveling with their Mobile Lab to bring their Doppler radar to competitive shooting venues for a few years now, and much has been learned about the variation in BC that exists for competitive shooters across several disciplines of long-range shooting (PRS, ELR, etc.). This chapter explores what they’ve learned about this variation, shares a ton of the data they’ve collected, and gives tips on what we can do to improve it.
Chapter 6: Ladder Testing for Powder Charge
If you reload, there is a 99.9% chance that you’ve done a ladder test to develop a load for your rifle. There are a few versions of that test, but it typically means some type of systematic sweep through a range of different weight powder charges. In this chapter, the AB team pulls out all of the stops to see if that is an effective and repeatable way to develop a load. I mean, they pulled out a rail gun! 😉
Here is a peak at some of the set-up and results from this test in the book:
Chapter 7: Powder Humidity
This chapter shares some empirical data on the effect that variances in gun powder humidity can have on your ballistics. This may have been one of the most surprising and actionable tests in the entire book. It presented a few concepts that I hadn’t ever thought about before but could have a measurable impact on your ammo consistency.
Chapter 8: Barrel Break-In & Lifecycle
Wow! Yes, they actually went there and presented test results on barrel break-in and lifecycle. This chapter looks at results from breaking in several different barrels using different break-in methods, solvents/abrasives, cleaning regimens, and even different types of steel.
This is very applicable to PRS-style shooting because we shoot so many rounds each year and go through barrels relatively quickly. In fact, Francis Colon, Chad Heckler, and Morgun King all contributed to this study – which means there was a lot of data specifically on the 6mm Dasher. (If you aren’t sure who those guys are, they are 3 of the top 10 PRS shooters in the country.)
This chapter shows the effects of muzzle velocity migration over time, group sizes, velocity SD, and a bunch of other stuff. VERY interesting stuff!
And they didn’t just test 6 Dasher barrels, they also tested large calibers – specifically the 375 EnABELR. The effects of an abrasive bore paste vs. chemical solvents are especially evident on that larger caliber.
This chapter also describes what happens when a barrel begins to reach the end of its useful life and what that means in terms of performance.
Chapter 9: The Applied Ballistics Bullet Library
This chapter explains the evolution of the Applied Ballistics bullet library and live-fire testing that they’ve been doing since 2009 to quantify the drag of a specific bullet as accurately as possible. We all know that today they are using a high-end Doppler Radar to track bullets at a very high resolution all the way down range. Starting in 2019, all of their testing has been conducted with a Doppler radar. But, this chapter also explains the nuances of those Doppler files and gives us context for the performance we should expect from those drag models.
Chapter 10: Aerodynamic Drag at Transonic Speed
If you are still reading this, my bet is you are as big of a nerd as me. 😉 And this chapter dives head-on into the technical aspects of the forces that act on a bullet in that critical portion of the flight as it slows below the speed of sound. It also helps us understand how any errors or variations between the actual drag and our drag model will play out at various distances. Is it significant enough to miss?
Chapter 11: Problems with Spinning Bullets
One thing I love about the Modern Advancements series is it is like a window into Applied Ballistics’ ongoing research. We get to see what they’re working on, which sometimes means they’ve uncovered some unexpected things that they don’t have a solution for yet. That’s what this chapter is. Here is how Litz describes the bottom line of what they’re seeing in their research: “Modern rifle barrels might not have aggressive enough riflings to properly grip and spin up the heaviest large caliber bullets.” This primarily affects large caliber rifles (maybe .416 cal and larger) and not smaller calibers like 30 calibers or less. In this relatively short chapter, they present some compelling data that led them to identify that issue. They plan to continue to work on this along with barrel makers, so it will be interesting to see what has changed based on this 5 years from now.
Chapter 12: Effect of Bore-Groove Diameter
This is another relatively short chapter where they present some empirical data they’d gathered on barrels with different bore/groove diameters. They test 3 barrels:
|Barrel #||Description||Bore (in)||Groove (in)|
For each barrel, they fire 185-grain bullets and 230-grain bullets and then analyze the velocity and resulting BC of the bullet and try to identify any differences the different bore/groove diameters make in terms of performance or consistency.
Chapter 13: Labradar Chronograph
Back in 2014, when Applied Ballistics published Volume 1 of Modern Advancements in Long Range Shooting, they included a very comprehensive test of virtually every chronograph on the market. The problem was the Labradar was released in 2015 and, since that time, has become one of the most popular chronographs on the market. In this chapter, Bryan puts the Labradar through a similar test to see how its performance compares to the results from the initial test in Volume 1.
This chapter also points out a few challenges you might encounter when using a Labradar when it comes to proper alignment or using it with quiet rifles or a crowded range. Litz also presents solutions to overcome each of those challenges.
If you like my writing style, I guarantee that you’ll enjoy this book. I was so excited to hear that they were wrapping up another installment of this series. It is packed with a ton of nuggets and new ideas, which are all deeply rooted in cutting-edge empirical research.
I feel like Volume 3 of MALRS included more applications and calibers that were related to PRS-style competition shooting, which I personally loved. This research isn’t intended to be solely applicable to a single discipline, but I definitely appreciated that they included more PRS-type rifles and cartridges – and even got some of the top PRS shooters, like Francis Colon, Chad Heckler, and Morgun King, involved in the research. That is an added bonus for most of us!
What I love most about this series and the research they present is it is very honest. They even point out the places the data surprised them or the empirical results didn’t line up the way they originally thought it would. They don’t start with a theory to prove or promote or exclude data that doesn’t support the views they started with. That is so rare – and incredibly valuable. Here is a quote from the introduction of this book that captures their approach:
“If you’ve ever done much extensive scientific testing, you’re aware that oftentimes a well-designed test can conclude with more questions than answers. This can be confusing at first, but if you’re persistent, eventually, you can nail things down to a point of understanding that is decisive and perhaps altogether different from your original intended goals. That is the path many of our investigative R&D efforts go. Due to this, it’s very common for us to arrive at results and conclusions that may seem foreign or strange to readers who are familiar with conventional thinking in this space. This disruption of norms is one of the highest goals of our research efforts.”
Well done, Bryan and the rest of the Applied Ballistics team! This is another great contribution to the shooting community, which will help us be more informed and put more rounds on target.
Order Your Copy Here: https://thescienceofaccuracy.com/product/modern-advancements-long-range-shooting-3/
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