Can we afford the new High BC bullets? (Pfeltner Jan. 2017)
I am an avid reader and while on the Internet a gentleman was complaining about the outdated gun manufactures and their old fashion ideas about rifle twist. The bullet industry was producing these new wonderful high Ballistic Coefficient (BC) bullets that required very fast rifle twist. None of his rifles had the required fast rifle twist and the available economy rifles on the market don’t have the twist he needed either.
His rifles would require new barrels or he would have to buy expensive custom made rifles with the fast twist. He could not use the new interesting high BC bullets because they would not stabilize in his rifles and wobble down range making them worthless. He said out loud for all the world to hear what so many of us were thinking and I had to admit I was also irritated.
How did we end up with the typical rifle twist of today? Actually the rifle twist were to accommodate the public’s demands for the lighter bullets that would get the most speed with moderate bullet weights to maintain a relatively good knock down punch. The long slender bullets of some of the older popular calibers had long heavy bullets and were just too slow by our demands. They faded out over the years in favor of the lighter faster bullets and the twist rates had to go slower to allow the increased bullet speed.
The public was pushing for higher speeds which meant flatter shooting so rifles used slower twist that favored the lighter faster bullets. The rate of twist is very important when compared to the speed of the bullet. The fast rate of twist puts a speed limit on the bullet. A bullet that is pushed too fast for the rate of twist causes the bullet to push hard against the leading edge of the rifling deforming the bullet, which is not good for accuracy or barrel life.
A very fast twist has a narrow range of applicable bullets and speeds. The high ballistic coefficient bullets are heavy for caliber. The high rate of twist forces the loader to slow the bullet down to keep from distorting the bullets. It has to do with high mass of the bullet resisting change of angular momentum thus making the bullet to push hard on the leading edge of the rifling to the point of the bullet striping over the rifling. Pressures go up and perhaps the barrel blows up.
To actually take advantage of the high BC bullets for extra long range shooting would require a very well made expensive heavy rifle with a really good trigger, more money, much more money. To shoot well we would also need a shooting table which is not fun to carry around. We would also need a range that would be longer than 700 yards and hunting grounds where we could see well for more than 1000 yards.
Ultra long range shooting ranges are not that common and are expensive to maintain. Walking back and forth down range to put up a target tires us out making it much harder to shoot. Remote cameras would help and another man that stays down range to put up new targets, which are not always practical. A military style shooting range would be a big help.
If this is for hunting, shooting an animal at very long ranges doesn’t seem practical. The animal could easily be lost considering the time it takes to walk, jog and run 1000 yards over broken ground and carry the 15 pound gun as you go. You would also have to walk back to get the shooting table. Perhaps we could practice shooting rats at 200 yards with a modern 17 caliber rifle. Heart shoots only on the rat of course so you don’t spoil the head mount.
I worked with a well respected army sniper that used a 50 with special loads, the rifle was very special. The rifle was fitted with a new barrel every few shoots or before he was sent out. Shooting the gun was like holding a stick of dynamite at the end of a yard stick. It was expensive, loud, very heavy and not an easy or fun gun to shoot. Just shooting the gun was enough to give a normal person PTSD. Finding a place to shoot a gun like that is not easy for the average citizen.
There are some European made rifles in 6.5 mm and 7 mm that use fast twist but the bullet speeds are slow so they are not real popular in America. A 7 mm Remington magnum, 30-06 Springfield, 300 Winchester magnum or a 338 Winchester magnum have good twist rates for long range and they are reasonable calibers for hunting. Good high grade ammunition is readily available and great bullets are available for reloading. There other calibers that are also good but the available choices of rifles and ready made ammunition are more limited.