Bookshelf: Gun Digest’s Big Book of Ballistics

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posted on September 15, 2017
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Title: Gun Digest's Big Book of Ballistics
Author: By Philip P. Massaro
MSRP: $39.99, paperback, 336 pages

“After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in aesthetics, plasticity and form.” While I’m certain Einstein wasn’t speaking of ballistics, no book captures the science and art of how ballistics play into the technical skill of shooting like Philip P. Massaro’s book, Big Book of Ballistics. The author takes all the pieces of the ballistics puzzle and not only merges the art and science into a clear, understandable subject, but relates it directly to hunting. Massaro’s book makes ballistics more useful than simply numbers and figures to give an accurate estimation of point of impact compared to point of aim.

The book itself is broken down into four sections comprised of internal ballistics, exterior ballistics, terminal ballistics and tools and tips. The opening portion focuses on where ballistics begin: the internal components, meaning the cartridge case, the bullet itself, the powder type and charge and how all of that works in conjunction with the delivery system, the barrel. The next section discusses the factors imparted to the projectile from the time the bullet leaves the barrel to when it impacts the target. Aspects like gravity, wind and ballistic coefficient values are explained simply yet comprehensively. Perhaps the most crucial set of ballistics that pertains to hunting, terminal ballistics, is covered in full detail, giving hunters the best information available in regard to sectional density, penetration and weight retention when considering bullet selection. This section also discusses energy transfer and its relation to hunt-ending “killing power,” in which Massaro also debunks a few myths about the association between the two. Finally, the author provides a few tricks to improve shooting capabilities—like using mirage to read wind—and some tips on cartridge selection for different sized game.

All in all, this is an indispensable guide for those new to hunting, as well as seasoned hunters who want to maximize their potential in the field. Regardless of experience level, knowing how a bullet preforms from start to finish can help make each of us a savvier, more lethal, and most of all, more ethical hunter.

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