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The fun begins. Add a Review. Thanks for supporting an Australian owned and operated business! Need Help? A Virtually cut soap block and cavity show the deviation of the ILS bullet after the tumbling phase. B The deviation angle is significantly higher for ILS compared to all other bullet types. The correlation between volumes measured by CT and cutting was very strong Fig.

The relative differences of cutting vs. CT were. Both methods can be used to estimate the efficacy as function of the penetration depth by computing the cross-sectional area Fig. Particularly in regions with elliptical cross sections the cutting method may lead to incorrect results since it assumes circular cross-sections. A The cutting method results in piecewise truncated cones which cannot accurately represent elliptical cross-sections.

B Using the CT images, an accurate model of the cavity is created. C For both methods, the cross-sectional area is plotted over the depth. D The cavity volumes of 32 blocks measured by both methods show a strong correlation. The reproducibility of the volume measurements was assessed by repeating each shot under laboratory identical conditions. When correlating the CT-based volumes of all first and second shots, a correlation of was found Fig. Reproducibility was assessed by repeating shots.

D The correlation, i. We investigated the terminal ballistic properties of different bullet types in ballistic soap as surrogate to animal tissue. To comprehensively characterize a bullet, we performed shots at 4 different speeds, which we measured using light barriers. Our selection of the three lead-free bullets was meant to cover dimensionally stable, partially fragmenting and deforming lead-free bullet types, and the selection of a commonly used lead-based bullet was based on a previous study [37].

We did not consider the ballistic coefficient of the bullets, the type and amount of powder, and the barrel length. All these affect the relationship between shooting distance and bullet speed upon impact. We neglected these aspects because of the high variety of possible combinations and because these combinations essentially reduce to a certain bullet having a certain speed upon impact and well-trained hunters are capable of estimating these numbers for their rifles.

Our analysis of the cavity volume shows that the relationship between deposited energy and cavity volume cannot be described by a simple linear function in general, as has been shown for hand guns and low energies [45].

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There are two explanations for the differences between bullet types tested here. Therefore, less energy is lost for deformation which may be particularly relevant for low energies where ILS and TAG excel at their energy-to-volume conversion. The other reason could lie in the position and shape of the cavity. Since soap is generally incompressible, the soap masses have to get displaced towards the outside of the block, which is visible on the outer surfaces of the block Fig. Therefore, an initial amount of energy is consumed to accelerate the soap masses which may result an improved conversion rate at higher energies.

The delayed expansion of TSX and NVU which results in an energy deposition deeper in the soap block may result in a decreased volume-to-energy ratio at low energies and an increased ratio at high energies. It was reasoned that the cavity volume is a measure for the stretching and tearing of tissue and therefore for the incurred wound damage [45]. Since we show that the cavity volume cannot be predicted from the deposited energy in general, the cavity volume should be measured directly to assess the damaging potential instead of estimating it from the deposited energy.

We will include this insight into an ongoing study [39] where we associate field reports with corresponding soap blocks to assess which features of the cavities correlate with observed effects, such as the flight distance. The three-dimensional CT acquisition allows visualization of metal fragments and an assessment of their number and position. The lead-containing bullet creates hundreds of small lead fragments Fig. In this homogeneous soap, the lead-free bullets create much less but sometimes larger fragments which tend to intrude deeper into the tissue surrogate. For the TSX bullet, we found more fragments than expected from a previous study [10].

Furthermore, 2D radiography was used which may have limited sensitivity with respect to small fragments, especially in heterogeneous tissue. We may not be able to detect very small metal fragments or separate closely positioned ones due to the limited CT resolution.

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Upon impact, a long range hunting bullet needs to expand from its aerodynamic shape into a shape with higher cross-sectional area. The three lead-free bullets rely on different means, i.

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Consequently, the cavity shape varies between these bullet types resulting in different deviation angles Fig. For hunters it is important that the cavity, i. Otherwise the shot is not predictable and may result in unnecessary suffering of wounded animals escaping or in collateral damage of other animals in the near range. Full metal jacket bullets, which are rarely used for hunting, are likely to create much higher deviation angles [45]. The high resolution CT allows non-destructive imaging of the soap block and generation of a detailed model of the cavity. In contrast to the cutting method and previous work using CT to image soap blocks [46] , we performed a voxel-wise segmentation which is more accurate for cavity regions with non-circular cross-sections.

Currently, the segmentation of the cavity is created interactively, i. In most cases only the start and end of the cavity has to get provided since the other borders of the cavity are confined by the soap. While this only takes a few minutes it could be eliminated completely if an automated segmentation algorithm would be developed [55]. While a strong correlation appears between the volumes determined by cutting and by CT Fig. Since CT is highly accurate for volume measurements [56] , it is likely that this problem arises during the cutting procedure or the subsequent photographic measurement which involves a perspective transformation which may be difficult to calibrate.

We did not assess the volume using water filling because this would have affected subsequent measurement steps by dissolving the soap. Nevertheless, such measurements would allow a better assessment of the accuracy of CT and cutting methods. In this study we investigated 4 different bullet types at 4 impact speeds, leading to 16 different configurations. Due to differing bullet weights and ballistic coefficients, it is not appropriate to directly compare measurements, e.

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Instead, we performed parametric curve fitting, e. While repetitions are not required for the used statistic methods, we repeated all shots under laboratory identical settings to increase the number of measurements. Furthermore, this allowed assessment of the reproducibility of ballistic soap experiments, e. We found that the lead-containing NVU and the lead-free TSX bullets achieved a similarly high reproducibility, while reproducibility was lower for the lead-free ILS and TAG bullets, probably as a consequence of the tumbling behavior and the creation of large fragments, respectively.

Reduced Load Ballistics Research Manual

The behavior of bullets in ballistic soap is not assumed to be equivalent to the behavior in real inhomogeneous tissue, particularly due to the presence of bones which are often hit when targeting at the heart. Real tissue differs in terms of elasticity, with lung and muscle being considerably less vulnerable to deformation than liver and kidney tissue [41]. Bone fragments and other heterogeneous tissue parts could get embedded into the soap block to generate more realistic structures.

This would introduce more variability, however, and more repetitions would be required to robustly characterize the bullets. Furthermore, our results pertain to 7. Our study shows that considerable differences exist between lead-free bullets with respect to the energy-to-volume conversion, the number of fragments, and the cavity shape.

Interestingly, the lead-free TSX bullet is remarkably similar to the lead-containing NVU bullet in all parameters which we quantified, except for the number of fragments. While our study mainly addresses questions regarding lead-free bullet development and selection for hunting, the knowledge of the behavior of different bullet types may also be useful for forensic investigations [57]. Furthermore, the 3D rendering of the cavity may be useful to understand terminal ballistic effects and for educational purposes. Therefore, our methods should be useful to support hunters, wildlife managers, manufacturers, policy-makers and scientists in the ongoing transition towards lead-free hunting ammunition.

We also thank Mary S. Elm, Pittsburgh, for proofreading the manuscript. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. PLoS One. Published online Jul Christopher James Johnson, Editor. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer.

Competing Interests: Felix Gremse is founder and owner of Gremse-IT, a startup company that offers software and services for medical image analysis in cooperation with Philips Research and the Department for Experimental Molecular Imaging.


Received Mar 12; Accepted Jun This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are properly credited. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.

Abstract Background Lead-free hunting bullets are an alternative to lead-containing bullets which cause health risks for humans and endangered scavenging raptors through lead ingestion. Methods We performed terminal ballistic experiments under standardized conditions with ballistic soap as surrogate for game animal tissue to characterize dimensionally stable, partially fragmenting, and deforming lead-free bullets and one commonly used lead-containing bullet.

Results All bullets showed an increasing cavity volume with increasing deposited energy. Conclusion The deforming lead-free bullet closely resembled the deforming lead-containing bullet in terms of energy conversion, deflection angle, cavity shape, and reproducibility, showing that similar terminal ballistic behavior can be achieved.

Introduction Lead-related Problems The toxicity of lead for humans is well-studied [1] and has been associated with myocardial infarction and stroke mortality [2] , decreased brain volume [3] , and even elevated crime levels [4]. Lead-free Alternatives Lead-free hunting bullets are typically composed of copper or brass an alloy of copper and zinc instead of lead. Terminal Ballistic Experiments The terminal ballistic properties of a bullet can be analyzed by shooting in ballistic soap or gelatin blocks [45].

Table 1 Bullet types. Open in a separate window. Four commercially available bullets were used for the experiments. Aim of the Study The aim of our study is to utilize and show the value of computed tomography and volumetric image processing to assess and compare the terminal ballistic behavior of lead-based and lead-free hunting bullets in ballistic soap blocks.

Materials and Methods Bullet Types Four different bullet types with 7. Figure 1. Cut soap blocks for different bullet types. Figure 2. CT method. Statistics Linear regression analysis was performed to find dependencies between variables, such as deposited energy and the number of metal fragments. Results Energy to Volume Conversion All bullet types produced cavity volumes which increase significantly with increasing energy deposition.

Figure 3. Non-deforming brass bullet ILS. Figure 4. Partially fragmenting copper bullet TAG. Figure 5. Deforming copper bullet TSX. Figure 6. Deforming lead-containing bullet NVU. Figure 7. Number of fragments. Figure 8. Exiting fragments. Cavity Shape The bullets differ in the way they release their energy and therefore in the resulting cavity shape. Figure 9. Depth of maximal damage. Figure Deviation angle. Cutting vs. Discussion We investigated the terminal ballistic properties of different bullet types in ballistic soap as surrogate to animal tissue. References 1. Needleman H Lead poisoning.

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Eur J Wildl Res 59 : — Stuttgart: Motorbuch-Verl. Thomas VG Lead-free hunting rifle ammunition: product availability, price, effectiveness, and role in global wildlife conservation. Ambio 42 : — Spicher V Erfahrungen mit bleifreier Kugelmunition in der jagdlichen Praxis. Conservation Evidence 6 : 71— Gremse C, Rieger S A comparison based on wound size and morphology.

Gesundheits- und Umweltaspekte bei der Verwendung von Bleimunition bei der Jagd. Caudell JN Review of wound ballistic research and its applicability to wildlife management. Wildl Soc Bull 37 : — Health risks from lead-based ammunition in the environment - a consensus statement of scientists. Environ Sci Technol 44 : — Environ Health Perspect : A— Berlin: Springer, pp.

Int J Legal Med : 1—5. Int J Legal Med : — Schyma C, Madea B Evaluation of the temporary cavity in ordnance gelatine.