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Thread: Ballistics/bullet performance in cold weather

  1. #1

    Ballistics/bullet performance in cold weather

    Question for the more educated. Ive noticed that my rifle appears to be very quiet when the weather is below freezing(may just be imagining it). I went out a few nights back, weather was at -4C with 10mph wind and bit of snow in the air. When I fired, not only did the initial firing sound very quiet but the ballistic crack off the round was also very quiet. I was in a very open space so no surroundings to get the rapport bouncing back off but even so it seemed very very quiet.

    Rifle is a 22.250 and I do have a very good sound moderator fitted, but normally its louder than on this occasion.

    Is this normal/what you have experienced. I checked the empty shell, all looked ok and all powder had burned fine. Im using Hodgdon Benchmark which I believe should operate fine under much lower temps.

    Could this be due to how dense the air is at these temps?

    Cheers Steve
    Last edited by 204 Ruger; 05-12-2010 at 08:28.

  2. #2
    Short simple answer -YES.

    Now just wait for the debate to open up and the science to be explained, before long someone will raise the questions of reduced velocities (negligible at normal stalking ranges) possible sight adjustments and should I change my powder for arctic conditions. I prefer to keep all things simple myself. KISS.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by 8x57 View Post
    Short simple answer -YES.

    Now just wait for the debate to open up and the science to be explained, before long someone will raise the questions of reduced velocities (negligible at normal stalking ranges) possible sight adjustments and should I change my powder for arctic conditions. I prefer to keep all things simple myself. KISS.
    Thanks for the reply, happy to hear the science too if thats how the thread goes. Just glad that its not just me!!I started to wonder if I had made some duff reloads. The extra padding I was also wearing seemed to take the kick out of the gun too so I was slightly bemused!!

  4. #4
    I too am a strong advocate of KISS. However, not at the expense of reality.

    Cold-weather-reduced velocities aren't a myth, and aren't insignificant either. In rifles of mine that normally produce muzzle velocities in the range of 2800 to 3000 f/s, the reduction I have measured is often more than 200 f/s when the temperature at firing goes from 10C down to 0C or farther. There's more, much more, to the issue than simply the "chemsitry" of powder burning. Bullets, chambers and bores all change dimensions sufficiently to reduce friction (bullet and bore), and reduce pressure (chamber) and therefore burning rate, etc.

    If you REALLY want to know the truth of the matter, shoot over a chronograph, or HONESTLY shoot at paper and note the differences. I have no reason to try to get you to "believe" me, so if you shoot over a chronograph or shoot at paper and get no measurable changes - HOORAY! You have nothing to worry about. However, I live and hunt in Alaska, and I commonly hunt in temperatures that vary season-to-season from 12C to -20C, and I can assure you that in my rifles, temperature MATTERS. I have "summer" loads, and I have "winter" loads, and that's as KISS as I can keep it and still expect to 1) hit what I aim at at ranges over 100 yd, and 2) deliver the energy I expect so that the bullet will have the terminal performance I expect at all ranges.

    Sometimes you can ask ballistics related questions on the internet and get answers that will keep you from wasting time and/or energy. Other times - and this is probably one of them - you just hafta 'bite the bullet' and find out for yourself. That's not a 'bad thing'...

    Regards,
    Paul

  5. #5
    STEVIE, can more or less guarantee that what you heard was the normal reduced moderated sound/report of shot at muzzle, what you didn't hear so loud was the sonic crack because it was muffled by the snow...callie

  6. #6
    Callie I forgot about the effect that snow may have on absorbing the sound simply because we haven't had any to talk of.
    You're quite correct Paul you should be aware of changes in point of aim and reductions in velocity and these are best checked on the range. However at the ranges that most of us shoot and with a relatively narrow temperature variation in this country normally, it's not usual to need different summer and winter ammo. Now Alaska is an entirely different situation.

  7. #7
    Hmmm with the temps here in the UK as low as they are now I wonder if there will be a much greater difference than we are used to. Have just checked outside and here it's -10 degrees C and we are milder here out on the east than most it seems. Now bear in mind that Roe Buck stalking will often be done with the temps reaching 16-20 dgrees C and that is quite a range and enough to effect velocity without factoring in the effect of the denser cold air.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by gitano View Post
    I too am a strong advocate of KISS. However, not at the expense of reality.

    Cold-weather-reduced velocities aren't a myth, and aren't insignificant either. In rifles of mine that normally produce muzzle velocities in the range of 2800 to 3000 f/s, the reduction I have measured is often more than 200 f/s when the temperature at firing goes from 10C down to 0C or farther. There's more, much more, to the issue than simply the "chemsitry" of powder burning. Bullets, chambers and bores all change dimensions sufficiently to reduce friction (bullet and bore), and reduce pressure (chamber) and therefore burning rate, etc.

    If you REALLY want to know the truth of the matter, shoot over a chronograph, or HONESTLY shoot at paper and note the differences. I have no reason to try to get you to "believe" me, so if you shoot over a chronograph or shoot at paper and get no measurable changes - HOORAY! You have nothing to worry about. However, I live and hunt in Alaska, and I commonly hunt in temperatures that vary season-to-season from 12C to -20C, and I can assure you that in my rifles, temperature MATTERS. I have "summer" loads, and I have "winter" loads, and that's as KISS as I can keep it and still expect to 1) hit what I aim at at ranges over 100 yd, and 2) deliver the energy I expect so that the bullet will have the terminal performance I expect at all ranges.

    Sometimes you can ask ballistics related questions on the internet and get answers that will keep you from wasting time and/or energy. Other times - and this is probably one of them - you just hafta 'bite the bullet' and find out for yourself. That's not a 'bad thing'...

    Regards,
    Paul

    Thanks Paul, I agree with everything you have said(and who better to comment on the impact of cold weather than you!!!) and as soon as I get chance Ill be out shooting paper in the lowest temp I can just to be sure about the POI. It makes sense that velocity will be impacted I just want to be confident about how much difference it will make to my shots within 150 yards(Which is typically the range where most of my shots on fox are).

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by callie View Post
    STEVIE, can more or less guarantee that what you heard was the normal reduced moderated sound/report of shot at muzzle, what you didn't hear so loud was the sonic crack because it was muffled by the snow...callie

    When I first put the mod on the rifle back in April I couldn’t believe the difference it made and was surprised that I could even hear the click of the bolt. This just seemed weird because your right its the crack of the bullet that i didn’t hear, it even seemed like the round had jammed in the barrel . I just need to shoot some paper and be sure about what is actually happening. I think this weather is around for a while and I would want to miss a fox at longer ranges due to this.

  10. #10
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    Some powders are temperature sensitive and behave differently at different temperatures.

    Hodgsons extreme powders are a lot less temperature sensitive.

    Varget is supposed to be one of the least temperature sensitive which is one of the reasons I have switched from H414 to Varget.

    See the quote from their website below.

    The first of Hodgdon's revolutionary Extreme Extruded Powders, VARGET features small extruded grains for uniform metering, insensitivity to hot/cold temperatures and higher energy for improved velocities over other powders in its burning speed class. Easy ignition and clean burning characterize other features that translate into superb accuracy, higher scores and more clean, one shot kills. The perfect powder for competitive Match shooting 223 Remington and Heavy bullets. Outstanding performance and velocity can be obtained in such popular cartridges as the 223 Remington, 22-250 Remington, 308 Winchester, 30-06, 375 H&H and many more. Available in 1 lb. & 8 lb. containers.

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