Bookshelf: Gun Digest’s Big Book of Ballistics

posted on September 15, 2017

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.


How To Turkey Hunt Safely Lead
How To Turkey Hunt Safely Lead

How to Turkey Hunt Safely

FACT: Coming home is more important than coming home with a gobbler.

Turkey Calling by Subspecies

Ever wonder whether the difference between turkey subspecies extends to calling as well? We take a look at the different strategies used to hunt different birds.

Brownells 350 Legend BRN-180 Hunting Rifle Build

B. Gil Horman builds himself a new hunting rig right from the studs, exploring the ways in which an AR-pattern rifle can meet the various needs of most any American hunter.

Knives for Big-Game Hunters

Fixed blade or folder? Drop point or clip point? What kind of steel would you like, and what kind of handle material would you like to grip when using your knife? Answers to these questions make a hunter’s knife just as personal as his firearm.

Recipe: Curried Elk

Have some elk still left from the season? Try this fun recipe to take a bit of the chill off the last cool days of the year.

Review: TriStar Matrix

The Matrix—TriStar’s first inertia-driven semi-automatic shotgun—features a fiber-optic front sight post to naturally draw the eye when pointing at birds and an oversized trigger guard for the comfortable use of cold-weather gear when shooting. 


Get the best of American Hunter delivered to your inbox.