vapor trails

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by tracker12ga, Aug 24, 2009.

  1. tracker12ga

    tracker12ga Well-Known Member

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    Me and my bud were out shooting at 400yds this weekend and for the first time I was behind him with the Spotting scope (a P.O.S.). I thought the quality of the scope would not let me see the vapor trails, but that day I tried it anyway. To my surprise, I could not only see the trails very well, the trails at first light looked like white, just like you see behind the jets at high altitude. It was pretty darn cool. The temp was 58*F and 90% humidity in the air at first light.

    Now, as morning went on the air temp rose and the vapor trails went from white to just mirage disruptions that you could track to the target. My question is, was the atmospheric conditions at first light what caused the white colored vapor trails?

    At any rate, the trails were neat to see, and I was happy with the performance of my gun too (2.25" groups at 400yds)
     

  2. LRSickle

    LRSickle Well-Known Member

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    I've never seen the white vapor trails with my regular guns, but I have driven my 22 CHeetah with fragile bullets so fast that it spun the jackets off as they left the barrel, ( think that's what was happening). But it was a blue/grey streak not white.
    I usually see a blurry disruption similar to mirage streaking to the target. You can watch the vapor trail buffet back and forth in the crosswinds on it's way to the target if you watch closely. Pretty cool.
     

  3. azsugarbear

    azsugarbear Well-Known Member

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    I have yet to develop a load that consistently produces vapor trails in all types of shooting conditions. So in my experience, atmospheric conditions tied with higher altitudes are the entire reason for the visibility of vapor trails. When I have seen them, it is usually when there is a combination of cold air and high humidity at higher altitudes (4,000 feet +). The colder the air, the less humidity required to produce the trail and vice versa. I live in AZ, so humidity is not an every day event here. Perhaps someone from the south could chime in as well regarding both temp & humidity at lower elevations?
     
  4. MachV

    MachV Well-Known Member

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    I had a RugerVT 12 twist 223 that likes 55 grain SXSPs in front of 2200 and a 450 primer. It will trail just about every round in any condition. Sold it to a rookie prairie dogger who gets a kick out of showing people the trail.
    It is usualy best sean by standing right behind the shooter as close to the line of flight as possible.
    For some reason the trail this gun leaves is easy to see with your eye but the camera doesnt pick it up?
     
  5. liltank

    liltank Well-Known Member

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    We finally got to see it for the first time this year hunting groundhogs. The humidity at the time wasn't bad, but about 20yrds before the target we lost the trail. It is pretty cool. A couple of times I saw a quick flash of yellow, from the bullet when the sun was to our backs. I mean it was quick, you had to be really paying attention. That is how I knew what I was looking at when I first started spotting the bullets.

    Tank
     
  6. kiwi3006

    kiwi3006 Well-Known Member

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    I normally notice it when there is direct sunlight on the bullet. If the bullet path is shaded (clouds etc) then I find it difficult to see the trace.

    If I am directly behind the shoter I tend to see a fuzzy black circle moving towards the target, I have seen this at targets as close as 380 yds. Back in June I was off to the side and behind the shooter and saw a yellow trail head straight into the animal, I did have the spotting scope reasonably zoomed in on the animal though.

    I have captured on video the mirage type trace.

    as to your white trace; contrails form behind jets when the water vapour from the engine condenses back to small droplets of liquid water.
    I would imagine in your case the temperature played a big part, like breathing out on a cold morning.
    I think the bullet was causing the water vapour in the air to condense to water droplets and the cold air was making it visible.

    But then again I could be completly wrong.

    Stu.
     
  7. liltank

    liltank Well-Known Member

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    Who would a thunk it, and science too on LRH!:D
     
  8. bwaites

    bwaites Well-Known Member

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    The best way to see trace is to be inline with the shooter and as close to the boreline as possible. Usually that means behind and slightly above the shooter.

    My experience is that higher humidity helps. We usually see it best here in the mornings, when humidity is still at least 40-50%, then it drops off some during the day as the humidity drops. Temperature also plays a part.

    Bill
     
  9. nfhjr62

    nfhjr62 Well-Known Member

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    Saw this first time when shooting X/C at 600 yrds didn't believe it till i saw it my self with my own eyes, was scoring a shooter and could see where his bullet hit the target before it was pulled and marked.
    When i was shooting the scorer asked me if i was shooting hornady bullets ( yes i was) as they were corkscrewing into the target, changed ammo (sierra bullets) then he saw them go stright into the X ring .
     
  10. tracker12ga

    tracker12ga Well-Known Member

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    Over the past couple of days we have seen trails from the 7mm08 and the 7 rem mag when shooting at different times of the day. Nothing quite like the white trails, but very noticable mirage disruptions that can be followed to the target. All n all, very cool way to spot your bud when he is shooting.
     
  11. statjunk

    statjunk Well-Known Member

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    I wish I could see that just once.

    Tom