Ballistic Programs- ExBal & Schwiebert Precision & Hodgdon Blast v2

The ExBal Ballistic Program

I have played with computer generated ballistics programs for over 13 years and seen many good programs. While no computer generated program with be exactly on the money in the real world, many are close enough for the intents and purposes of exterior ballistics study and to get a shooter into the ballpark and on paper, or metal.

The ability to run a program, and change variables such as zero ranges, projectile Ballistic Co-efficients, wind speed, STD atmospheric conditions, and elevation changes can be of great assistance. Some of the P-C based versions even allow for calculations for recoil.

It can also be a GREAT tool for learning comparitive ballistics between different bullets and cartridges at the long range. Remaining energy, projectile momentum, bullet drop, time of flight, can all be charted and studied.

The ExBal ballistics program from Gerald Perry of Perry Systems is without a doubt the best program geared to the Tactical or UKD shooter. I’m gonna “name drop” here on some of the users of this program: Lou Schweibert, Jacob Bynum, and Jacob Gottfredson, are but a few on the list.

After receiving a copy from Gerald, I began to tinker with it, and compare it to many other programs that I have en’PC.

Preliminary data entry of the usual things such as Description, Projectile weight, Ballistic Co-efficients , Muzzle velocity, Sight Height, Wind Speed, altitude, Temperature, Air Pressure, Relative Humidity, and Zero Range, are done in the usual “plug in the values” method by tabbing from each entry point.

The Maximum target distance using ExBal is set for 2000 Yards (or Meters), more than 90% of us are incapable of shooting accurately to such an extent but “It is In There” should you need it.

The next step is to click on the “Calculate” button, and a data table is generated for your perusal. It can be saved to floppy disk, hard drive, printed, or simply deleted.

The “Options” button on the toolbar allows for even more creativity, but more on this in just a moment.

The initial version was pretty darn good in a generic sense and I made a few minor suggestions that Gerald has incorperated that have made Exbal into what I consider to be a SUPERLATIVE revision or upgrade.

He is on the right flight path by listening to the end users and modifying even for a small niche like we fill in the shooting community. In fact I will go as far as to give it a Tango-India-Tango-Sierra rating, this lowly scribe’s highest accolade for a product. The second product in over a decade of writing to earn this praise.

These were seemingly simple things like allowing the user to select either 1/4 MOA, 1/2MOA, or full MOA values for elevation adjustments, and the same adjustments for wind “clicks”.

I am currently using a Remington 700 Police .300 Win. Mag. /Badger Ordnance/Leupold 3.5-10x40mm M-3 Tactical scope equipped rifle shooting a handmade “clone” of the NSWC DODIC A-191 load, and this program pleases me to no end. e.g.- The scope has 1 MOA elevation and 1/2 MOA windage, and ExBal saves me the trial by ordeal of having to “do math” conversions.

The moving target speeds were bumped from a fixed 1 mph to a variable parameter of 1-25 MPH, a Big- Big smile for shooting the “movers”. And the end user has the option to select EITHER to choose MOA or Mil Dot leads for shooting at moving targets.

Wind direction is around the clock, and not a fixed 90 degrees to compute for head, tailwinds or crosswinds. The printout also designates wind direction via an icon at the top right of the page for the handful of printed page test experimenters out thar in the field.

And Oh yes, it will be “upgradeable” over the internet with a simple download.

Ballisticard System From Schwiebert Precision

Let me say that when we get requests to review equipment we frequently get no return response when we tell how we do our reviews. We are VERY up front with our “If we LIKE IT we’ll say so but if we DON’T like it we’ll say that too.” This is one item that I must say I DO like!

Well where do I start – you may have seen this product advertised in Tactical Shooter and other “trade” journals. When Lou contacted me to review his product I had to admit I had seen them advertised and had not really paid much attention to them. But this was about to change quickly! From here on out let me do some quoting from the four (4) page Instructions that come with the Ballisticard system as they explain most of this MUCH better than I can! My comments will come towards the end.

The Ballisticard System is available in five (5) different models – Hunter, Varmint, Tactical, Scout and Rimfire. This is a heavy laminated, color-coded, three-card data system. The Green card is calculated for the ammunition manufacturer’s specified velocity (unless we have provided you with a custom calculation for your specifications). The Blue and Red cards are calculated at 100fps slower and faster, respectively, to help compensate for temperature extremes, which can affect powders and subsequently velocities. … If you cannot chronograph your ammunition, in your shooting conditions, exclusive use of the Green card is recommended.

Blue – For use below 35oF (Calculated at 9oF.) Confirm your velocity before using.
Green – For general use, between 35oF and 85oF (Calculated at 59oF)
Calculated at ammunition manufacturer’s published velocity (except custom calculations)
Red – For use above 85oF (Calculated at 109oF). Confirm your velocity before using.

These are the basic guidelines that come with the system. The instructions go on to talk about using the system with different elevations, shooting up/down, wind drift and moving target leads. On the back of the last page FAQ are addressed. The system is available in everything from .22LR Federal Classic to .375 H&H Federal Premium, 300 gr. Nosler Partition and on and on and on!! As for what they offer in a tactical form – .223, .308 (both the 168’s and the 175 MK’s) and .300 Win. Mag. in two different loadings. Ranges go from a 300 yd max. with a 100 yd zero in 25 yd increments to a 1,000 yd range with a 600 yd zero in 100 yd increments! You just need to contact them for what is available!!!

The photo at the top shows the system that is “recommended” for Law Enforcement in an urban setting. It is for the .308 Federal 168 gr. Sierra Match @ 2600 fps and is calculated to a range of 300 yds. in 25 yd increments with a 100 yd zero. Photo two here is exactly the same bullet and load but to 500 yds. in 50 yd increments. As you can see these cards are very crisp, clean and easy to read – even for my old bi-focalled eyes!
The Ballisticard system for the .308 Federal 168 gr. Sierra Match @ 2600 fps and is calculated to a range of 500 yds. in 50 yd increments with a 100 yd zero.
The Ballisticard system for the .308 Federal 168 gr. Sierra Match @ 2600 fps.
It is calculated to a range of 500 yds. in 50 yd increments with a 100 yd zero.

OK, OK, OK OK, but do they WORK??? In a single word – YES. However before I go on I will reprint a warning from Ballisticard – It is the responsibility of the customer to properly zero their rifle and test this product to their complete satisfaction, BEFORE (my emphasis) using it in actual hunting or tactical situations. Every effort is made to provide the best information possible. However, we have no control over the shooter’s knowledge, skills, equipment or ability to comprehend and apply the data we provide. Complete instructions are provided. Read them and test your equipment!

The first Sunday in May was the first no wind day we’ve had in a while and I really wanted to do some testing of various equipment I’ve had for a while. My Remington 700 VS in .308 has had enough rounds through it so I know how it is going to shoot. So with Ballisticard in hand I prepared to put rounds downrange. Now my handloads are within 50 fps average of Federal GM308M so here goes. Zero confirmed at 100 yds and the come-up as stated by the GREEN Ballisticard for 200 yds was 9 clicks. My own ballistic program for my load says come-up is 8.3 clicks so close enough. Ballisticard was dead on at 200 yds! Now as the long distance range was in use I wasn’t able to go beyond 200 yds BUT, I figure I’d get out the 100 foot tape measure and see with the shorter distances. Playing with the Ballisticard come-ups at measured distances between 50 and 200 yds I was never more than a 1/4 inch off! If I was I would re-shoot and it was usually ME not the data.

Do I recommend this system -YES – WITH the qualifications I and Ballisticard mention above. Will I continue to use this system – YES! I really want to try this to 1,000 yds!

Lou Schwiebert, owner of Ballisticard Systems, is a recently retired law enforcement officer and was a SWAT sniper, trained at Camp Pendleton and the F.B.I. Academy at Quantico.

Hodgdon Blast v 2

Computers have become a part of everyday life, without them many things we take for granted like Sniper Country and the “In Review” page would not be possible…

One facet of shooting that has great interest is both internal and external ballistics and the interrelated field of hand loading which requires a certain pre-requisite knowledge of both to be a successful shot.

I have quite a number of conventional reloading manuals and have always had a slight dislike for them. Pages flipping over while sitting on the reloading bench, data which becomes either incorrect or obsolete with time, requiring a “new” edition to take up more space on the shelves in my loading area.

I am one to gather useful data whenever and where ever it may be found, and the ability to access the Internet and World Wide Web certainly allows just about anything to be found, or learned.

The Hodgdons web page can get you on track pretty fast, and for those with limited access to the Internet or non-linked PC’s at home or work they offer a solution.

The Hodgdons Blast v2.0 ballistics and Loading data program is compiled in what appears to me to be a very easy to learn and use format.

For example. My computer system took about three minutes to load the CD, install the program to the hard drive, and having some familiarity with Windows based applications start cranking away at extracting data for my favourite cartridges.

Naturally, the very first cartridge that I researched was the .308 Winchester. This is a pretty much step by step guide using Blast v2.0.

Loading the program gives you the general liability clause and the selection of “Continue” or “Quit” click once on Continue to enter the program.

This brings up the main navigation window and seven “button” selections to chose from:

  • Cartridge Loads
  • Shotshells Loads
  • Ballistics
  • Sources
  • Cartridge Shooters Log
  • Shotshell Shooters Log
  • Exit

Once the Main Navigation window is opened you click on the “Cartridge Load Search” Window, which is a fill-in-the-blank or use pop up screens format, select rifle or pistol, and then type in or scroll down the list of selected cartridges and click “Search”

This gave me a cumulative total of 93 loads, 61 being with Hodgdons powder, 10 Alliant powder, 13 with IMR, and 9 with Winchester powders. The projectile weights ran the gamut from 110 gr plinkers to 200 gr. Hunting type slugs.

By going to the next window entry “Bullet Weight”, you can narrow the search parameters to say 168 gr. or 175 gr. bullets, select a “Powder Brand” and “Type”: like Varget and tap the “Search” button again and the loads are listed within a couple seconds.

In this case one particular load range is given, by clearing the entries and just entering 175gr. And hitting search again five loads are shown with Hodgdons powder.

I then ran the .300 Winchester Magnum through the program and received 87 loads for similar weight bullets to the .308.

On a whim I typed a search for 155 gr bullets and was rewarded with a “hit” for seven differing loads. 180 grain gave 10 loads but entering 190 gr. gave only four entries, all for the HORNADY BTSP, which amazed me. Sierra Match Kings or Game Kings did not show up, nor some of the other popular hunting bullets like Nosler, or Blount/CCI/Speer.

If you are interested in the flight characteristics of the ammunition, a “Mini-Me” version of the Barnes Bullets Ballistics software for calculating trajectory is included although a bit rough compared to some of the others available. This program will allow the user to calculate the ballistic coefficient of a bullet quickly via a fill-in-the-blanks window listed as “Coefficient” button – this can then be input with the velocity figures to obtain a data table that lists:

Range Path Angle path Velocity Energy Wind Time

My only dislikes with Blast: The lack of ability to “cut & paste”, or Copy data for transfer for other uses, and the current lack of product upgrades via a website download. I’m sure Hodgdons will resolve this soon.

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