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A quick word on BC

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Old 02-03-2010, 01:33 AM
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A quick word on BC

Technically, BC = (drag deceleration of the standard bullet) / (drag deceleration of the actual bullet). The reference of the standard bullet used is 1.000.

The below statements are not all there is to BCs. rather, the info below is BC in its most simple state used for comparison purposes to show the relation between sectional density and BC.

BC is (for the most part) a simple function of Sectional Density and Form Factor.

SD = Bullet weight (in pounds) / bullet diameter^2

BC = SD / FF

Change the SD and not the FF and you change the BC plain and simple.

Two bullets of identical demensions where one is made of aluminum (specific gravity of 2.69) and the other is tungsten (specific gravity of 19.62) the tungsten will have a MUCH higher BC. If you have a jacketed lead bullet and an all copper bullet of identical demensions, again the jacketed lead bullet has a higher BC. You could have an aluminum bullet twice as long as a tungsten bullet utilizing the same form and the tungstun bullet will still win. It would take an aluminum bullet 7.3 times longer than a tungsten bullet to surpass the BC of the tungsten bullet. So if a bullet made of tungsten was 1" long, it would take an aluminum bullet of 7.3" to surpass the BC of the 1" tungsten bullet.

A current example is the 180 ACCUBOND and the 180 E-tip. One is longer than the other. They both have the same SD yet not the same specifec gravity. The Accubond has a specifec gravity of around 10.5 and the E-tip around 8.89. This meens that in order to get the E-tip up to the same weight of the Accubond, it has to be made longer. The nose and boattail appear to be the same. Note that the published BC data shows the E-tip to be higher than the Accubond. In the real world, this is not the case. Mathematically and physically, they will be extremely close to eachother. The AB is published at .507 where as the last time I double chronied them they were .523-.524 which is where Nosler publishes the E-tip. I have not chronied the E-tip and cannot vouch for it but would bet nearly anything that they are neck and neck.

Regardless of how long the bullet is, bullet length in and of its self does not equate to a higher BC.

Bullet length with a specific form factor made of a material that has a given specific gravity will make up it's weight. Make it longer and the BC goes up due to the added weight and subsequent SD. In the case of the E-tip versus the Accubond, they maintaind the same static form factor (ie: nose profile, boattail etc...) lengthened the bullet, changed the material (specific gravity) but the SD and subsequent BC remain the same. This is where we find that when we take two different bullets of equal weight and equal form yet one is a smaller caliber such as in the case of a 180 30 cal and a 180 284 cal the smaller caliber will always yeild a higher BC. This is because the weight to caliber ratio offers a much greater sectional density. Remember, increase the SD and the BC goes up all other components being equal.

Granted there will be other factors at play where the BC is concerned such as bore quality, velocity, stability factor etc.........The above is geared towards the basic mathematical components where all other factors such as bore quality, velocity etc.... are equal. Also it should be noted that the above statements are based on the G1 drag model. It is somewhat difficult to compare ballistic properties of different bullets if the BCs are refering to different drag models. With all the computers in the world, as powerfull as they are and what knowledge of mathematics we have, there is no substitute for measuring BC accurately without firing tests. Be it doppler, TOF (by way of bullet activated relays), double chronies, or drop tests. We can predict them with a reasonable degree of accuracy. Accurate enough to get on a big peice of paper anyway to be fine tuned.

So in short, in a sense, bullet length has alot to do with a bullet's BC but not in and of its self. Only how it relates to the overall bullet weight which in turn gives life to the SD.

Clear as mud??

Long range shooting is a process that ends with a result. Once you start to focus on the result (where the shot goes, how big the group is, what your buck will score, what your match score is, what place you are in...) then you loose the capacity to focus on the process.

Last edited by Michael Eichele; 02-03-2010 at 03:05 AM.
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Old 02-03-2010, 06:37 AM
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Join Date: May 2007
Location: Taranaki New Zealand
Posts: 182
Re: A quick word on BC

Very interesting.

Next question. Why does a match bullet have the opposite form of an aeroplane wing, the wing functioning like a match bullet fired backwards? Which is more aerodynamic, the wing or the bullet?
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Old 02-03-2010, 06:44 AM
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Location: Carlisle, PA
Posts: 478
Re: A quick word on BC

Excellent write up.

The part of the BC equation that confounds me is form factor. Every time I go through that swinging door I end up back in the street.

Is there a reference set, pictures, something one can use to estimate form factor? A page of shapes, rules of thumb, something? I read about folks estimating BC before doing testing, but they never seem to quite mention where they got the form factor they used.

I would think, given the power of finite element modeling, there would be a way to more accurately calculate BC, at least for supersonic flight, than seems to be the current state of the art, but so far I haven't found a reference to it, and it may not exist even in the dusty DOD archives. I think I need to get McCoy's book, wrestle with the errata, and go through it. Maybe if I understood more about how BC is used to model a trajectory it would clear things up for me.

My curiosity is just that, curiosity. I've always had it, which is probably why I had such a good fun career in engineering. Litz's book combined with the QuickLoad, QuickTarget, QuickTarget Unlimited suite of SW, and the RSI SW, gives me all the tools I need for any practical purpose related to hunting and target shooting. It's just annoying to find what I've come to call the "fickle factor" in the denominator of the BC equation just sitting there, grinning at me, totally taking away the ability to trace trajectory to fundamental physical principles.

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Old 02-03-2010, 08:21 AM
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Posts: 1,047
Re: A quick word on BC

Form Factor? Hmmmmmmmmmm

The way I look at it two bullets of the same calibre, with the same shape pointy end and same shape boat tail will have about the same form factor.

If they are slightly different weight then that doesn't matter so much as the bit in the middle (the shank) doesn't effect drag very much.

Am I on the right track?
scientia est potentia
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Old 02-03-2010, 08:27 AM
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Location: MN
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Re: A quick word on BC

they would have close to the same bc. But the added mass will help the bullet defeat the friction it encounters in the air. force = mass x acceleration.
I used to re-load but now I "hand-load".
-- Well, at least I try --
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Old 02-03-2010, 10:02 AM
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Re: A quick word on BC

Originally Posted by britz View Post
they would have close to the same bc. But the added mass will help the bullet defeat the friction it encounters in the air. force = mass x acceleration.
Britz, I was talking about form factor not B.C.

If two bullets had the same form factor but one was heavier than the other then the heavier one should have a higher B.C.as it has a higher SD and momentum.
scientia est potentia
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Old 02-03-2010, 10:28 AM
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Location: MS
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Re: A quick word on BC

I really have no business posting in this discussion as it is way over my head. I really do not care how the number is derived, what it represents, or any significance of BC other than this one thing........when I plug that sucker into a ballistics program, are my drops and windage corrections correct. Whether that number is correct or contrived, if it works to give me information that allows me to hit stuff at whatever range, then the BC is correct to me. I gave up a long time ago trying to wrap my little brain around the engineering aspects of long range shooting and external ballistics.

But, I have some questions, something that came to mind recently during all of this debate on BC, is what happens to a bullet when fired? What dimensions of said bullet change? Doesn't a bullet obiturate (can't spell it or even know exactly what it means). What effect could this have on BC? Could this "swelling" of the bullet cause a change in BC? Couldn't this "swelling", since each barrel is different cause BC to vary from barrel to barrel?
I admit that I know just enough to be dangerous.....but dangerous at ever extending distances.
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