Free Ballistics Calculators

I probably spend more time than I should fooling around with ballistics calculators on the Internet.

When I'm looking to get a dope card for a new handload or a wildcat I'm working on, I tend to use this one at Handloads.com. I like the fact that I can put in any B.C. I want, add environmental conditions (I live at nearly 5,000 feet in elevation, so it does make a difference) and calculate my drop and drift out to 1,000 yards.

Winchester also has a good free calculator, which they've just updated to include a bunch of new categories like shotgun slugs and rimfire rounds. With Winchester's calculator you can select from a number of pre-set factory loads and shoot them against each other. It is an illuminating exercise (or, as my boss would put it, "huge time suck") to be able to compare a match .308 round, a .204 Ruger and the 25 WSSM in a head-to-head-to-head race.

(As it turns out, the .204 shoots flatter than the .308, but has much greater wind drift. The 25 WSSM is the best of both worlds--it shoots as flat as the .204 and bucks the wind as well as the .308. And yet, we all have .308s, a good number of us have .204s, and nobody owns a 25 WSSM. Go figure.)

The limitation of the Winchester site is that you can only shoot out to 500 yards (c'mon guys) and you can't input your own data to reflect the real-world velocities at particular cartridges might develop in your rifle. But it's a valuable tool, nonetheless.