Desert Tech is one of those rare companies that succeeds in delivering “truth in advertising”. For years they have delivered a successful rifle with the SRS series of bull pups. When training locally in Colorado, it was not uncommon to see at least 4 DT SRS rifles in every class as the local dealer is very successful with them. As an instructor they are a welcome addition to the class as it provides a, “no excuse” solution for the student.
At SHOT Show Nick & Russ from Desert Tech reached out to me about bringing the Patagonia Ballistics, ColdBore software engine to both Apple and Android devices. I was definitely in favor of this, as I had reached out to Gus about doing this myself.
I am fully convinced the ColdBore software is doing it right by following the ballistic data from Dr Arthur Pejsa vs the Point Mass solutions currently being used. Granted, Gus from Patagonia Ballistics did a lot to improve upon on the work done by Arthur Pejsa. So it's not pure, but a modified form. I mention this because it tends to deviate from what is currently used today. This is what lead Desert Tech to Gus in order to bring TRASOL to both Apple & Android devices. Desert Tech tested a number of solvers before settling on the engine behind TRASOL. That engine did not come from the usual places but from Gus Ruiz and Patagonia Ballistics.
TRASOL may have Pejsa DNA at it's core, but it's the improvements pioneered by Gus from Patagonia Ballistics that give it the accuracy Desert Tech was looking for. There are a lot of Apps on the market, Desert Tech could have Co-Branded any one of them in order to bring TRASOL to an Apple & Android system. Instead they went with the ColdBore engine that is Windows only and put in the additional work so it would be available to these other platforms.
Meet Dr Arthur Pejsa:
One of the biggest factors Desert Tech found when testing the various other programs on the market was the importance of the Scope. Knowing the exact details of the scope's adjustments was a key factor in getting an accurate solution. It's one of the most important aspects of setting up your ballistic computer is determining the exact adjustment of your scope. This is no different with TRASOL. Sniper's Hide has pages and pages on determining a scope's accuracy. There are threads dedicated to showing the end user how to do this. Tall Target testing is a must so don't overlook this part of the equation. Small variations in your scope's adjustment value can mean big variations downrange. If you ever wondered why your ballistic solutions deviates, the scope is probably the number one consideration.
Of course, nothing speaks louder than results.
When Nick asked me me to cooperate with Desert Tech on bringing the software to market, I was generally excited. Being a fan of Gus Ruiz from Patagonia Ballistics, I wanted to make his work accessible to more shooters by moving from the Windows Platform to both Apple and Android. That was Desert Tech's goal in this, bringing a proven ballistic solution to more shooters by developing an Apple and Android interface with that awesome ColdBore engine under the hood. Not being a Windwos user, I will say I specifically own several Windows devices just so I can run ColdBore. Many a day I emailed Gus complaining of my WinDoze computers. Had this been any other software program I would have probably passed on the invitation.
My thoughts on Comparisons
I want to start out and say, I did not work with Desert Tech to create an “us” vs “them” situation when it comes to ballistic software. I understand everyone has their favorite, and each of us have our own unique reason for supporting a particular product.
I am first and foremost a fan, I have every piece of software available. I have used and compared them all in one form or another. I think they all have their pluses and minuses. The biggest determining factor is usually the operator, but at times you do find some solutions better than others. The ability to true a piece of software can be considered an equalizer, but honestly the less truing the better. Not having to tweak what most would consider solid data is appealing. This was always my case with ColdBore.
So, while comparisons are natural, I want to say, if you are happy with your current ballistic software, enjoy your ballistic software and please dont create a situation where none exists. We did compare, it's the first request you get, and many of those comparisons are without truing, as that is part of the goal. To true your ballistic software should put it in line with every shooting situation you will face. If you have success, contunue to embrace that success without thinking you are not living up to an imaginary expectation. The pressure in this case is self inflicted, as we are not asking you delete your current favorite program.
Garbage In = Garbage Out
With any software there is a process. A set of standards one should use in order to get the best solution out of their ballistic calculator. TRASOL is no different in that regards. So I want to state what my process is and what standards I use.
Because Apps are generally inexpensive, people tend to use them more like a game vs using them as the tools they are. It’s not uncommon for a shooter to use the App and wing the inputs before even firing a shot from their rifle. I think this approach degrades the understanding of what is going on. It's a tool, it's design to get hits on target and not endless tweak to see, "what if". The end user has to do their part as the software only knows what you type into it. That includes testing your scope first to determine it's true click value.
I teach a lot of classes, and ballistic software is major component of those classes because everyone has them. You have to address every imaginable situation in order to answer the “why”. Every class, someone who has never gathered any drop data, never chronographed their rifle, doesn’t understand trajectory, will question, “Why doesn’t my ballistic program match my Drop Data”.
Well the short answer is, because Garbage In = Garbage out. The ballistic computer only knows what you tell it. And if you wing the values, you cannot expect 1 MOA accuracy out to distance.
A better of way of doing business is to gather your data, then work the software. This may seem counter to the idea behind software, but it’s the best practice out there. This is not to say, you can't work up the software first to create your "Try Dope" but understand that Try Dope will only get you so far until the information used is confirmed. You confirm by putting accurate rounds on target and working backwards to some degree. Once you know the data is accurate you can then move around the world with the confidence in the software solution.
Currently TRASOL does not have a library, new features and options are coming, but currently it requires you to manually enter the data for your system. In some ways it's a good learning experience, but in other ways the appeal of a robust library is valuable. As features are added this will change, but for now the focus is on the solution and not the cool guy features. An upgrade path has been laid out. A sneak peek is below in the Desert Tech Promotion Video. One fo the reasons DT left out the library is the changes in manufacturer data that is taking place. Thanks to things like Doppler we are seeing the data changing every week. Take the recent revelations by Hornady as an example. So getting the latest information online can help increase accuracy. For those who own Bryan Litz books, you can use his latest data directly from the books vs some of the older data found in most libraries. TRASOL allows you to input the values necessary, both G1 and G7.
Follow the Steps
WInd, Range and the Fundamentals of Marksmanship, you need data in order to manage the first two successfully.
Save the Settings that are specific to the user. You have a variety of choices to choose from, but Imperial and Metric, then, just add in your User Name and Email address.
1. Gather Bullet Data
2. Bullet Length
3. Muzzle Velocity
2. Gather Scope Data
1. Sight Height
2. Click Value this is key
3. Barrel Twist Rate
4. Zero Range
5. Zero Density Altitude Conditions
6. Save Gun Profile
1. Range to target
2. Wind - Includes multiple wind zones
3. Density Altitude for Current Conditions
4. Coriolis for FFP Location - Latitude
It’s pretty simple. You can add and create different profiles then retrieve that data based on the system being used as well as the user.
The Drag Coefficient should be set to .500. This is similar in name only to the FFS DK factor, so you do not use it the same. Patagonia Ballistics modified the way the DC factor works so the end user can adjust this number to help with transonic and subsonic predictions. You make very small adjustments to the curve by moving this value. But the average shooter working at supersonic ranges should not have to worry about adjusting it. Just use .500.
Examples of Data
Here was some verified data I have that was used for an Online Training Lesson regarding Ballistic Computers. It references both JBM and Applied Ballistics. I will include TRASOL here to show the details and the results.
Rifle and Ammo
Spartan Precision 260 Rifle
Sight Height: 2.5 Inches
Twist Rate: 8.5”
Copper Creek 136gr Scenar L
Muzzle Velocity Average: 2884fps (47 round average)
Absolute Pressure: 25.23
Temperature: 68 degrees
Wind: 7 MPH (270 degrees)
Azimuth: 290 degrees
Actual Drop Data at Distance
200 Yards: .3 Mils
300 Yards: .9 Mils
400 Yards: 1.6 Mils
500 Yards: 2.5 Mils
600 Yards: 3.4 Mils
700 Yards: 4.1 Mils
800 Yards: 5.4 Mils
900 Yards: 6.2 Mils
1000 Yards: 7.4 Mils
1225 Yards: 10.5 Mils
1505 Yards: 15.5 Mils
Feel free to use this data to compare with your favorite ballistic solver. This has everything you should need to develop a solution as well as see how it lines up to my actual drops.
Desert Tech Results from ELR Testing
As noted, Desert Tech did a series of tests using their SRS Rifles. They tested at extended distances and noted the results. You have actual vs predicted displayed below.
As you go out farther the variations will grow and over this extended distance we found TRASOL to be closer to correct. Inside 1000 yards almost all software is virtually identical, only about .1 mils off at any at given range.
Variations from program to program lead Desert Tech to Patagonia Ballistics because their predications were the most accurate of all software tested.
It’s all about hitting the target, and while we always see some amount of deviation, with TRASOL those deviations are much smaller even without truing.
Just the Beginning
A lot of these other programs have a significant head start on TRASOL, by focusing on the engine and solution first, making sure that is right, it frees Desert Tech to work on the User Interface and additional features like a Library.
When you consider the cost of ammo, especially at ELR distances, it’s important to get as close as possible with the least amount of shots as possible. That is where TRASOL pays for itself. You maybe perfectly content with your current App. And you may never shoot beyond 1000 yards. But if you do, you want to be on as quickly and as accurately as you can. Here I think TRASOL Succeeeds. I had a lot of time behind this program prior to release. I was able to shoot and verify to distance, had I personally noticed a difference, I would have immediately been on the phone to Nick. In all cases the TRASOL predication was better than my comparitive programs across a wide variety of rifles and platforms.
Understand none of the charts above used a truing feature. This is raw data with at the solution that follows. We completely recognize that truing can balance the equation and equalize performance. But in order to true, you need that real world data like we spoke about above. If you dont have the luxury to true first, you can count on the predictions to get you pretty darn close. Normally less than 1 full MOA, providing the data is not too extreme in their estimates.
Real World Example
Last month I shot the GAP GRIND at K&M in Tennessee. Understanding the ranges averaged between 400 and 600 yards, these targets were very small. In many cases just about 1 MOA in size so accuracy was important.
Traveling to K&M I brought two ballistic solutions with me. I created a TRASOL range card here based off Atmospheric data I found on Weather Underground and I brought my AB Kestrel which had a track for my rifle and ammo that I trued and verfied.
Prior to traveling I shot and Chronographed my rifle and ammo out to distance. That was done here in Colorado. The Kestrel was trued up, and TRASOL was just given the basic data, which realistically was just my acutal Muzzle Velocity.
What is nice is the Density Altitude Calculator to convert your actual conditions to DA or you can simply use the DA as noted by your Kestrel. As this weather data set the zero for both solutions.
On Friday at K&M I was allowed to shoot at distance to confirm my data. The TRASOL Chart printed at home was accurate, where is I had to change the MV on my Kestrel by 50fps in order to line up data. This was not problem and because the weather was 35 degrees in the morning, and 72 degrees is in the afternoon it was worth having both working. There were a lot of odd ranged targets and verifying my data with the Kestrel was valuable as I only had the chart printed in 25 yard increments.
However my TRASOL data was spot on and because I was aware of my necessary changes I was able to use it regardless of the conditions with no truing necessary. It stayed in my wrist commander and was used throughout the match.
This is a pretty basic example, but it shows that I was able to build a range card for Tennessee using Weather Underground Data and it worked. If it did not, I would not have bothered to use it and defaulted to the Kestrel. But the TRASOL data was spot on.
Understand, moving forward I will continue to compare data. I always have and always will. The area I am working with right now is the wind. I find the wind results to be a point of interest to me. Drop, especially Trued Drop is easy. The wind is the variable I am most concerned with. I know the multiple Wind zones helps a lot. With multiple wind zones you can almost, True your wind calls. As I explore this aspect of ballistic software, you can count on me to report my results. Rarely if ever, will you find me runing just one piece of software as it's part of my job to give the best data available. If one out performs another, there is no benefit to withholding that data.
I commend Desert Tech for not only their work with rifles and ammunition, but with this TRASOL Software. Especially with going to Gus @Patagonia Ballistics as it was the deciding factor for me to embrace this software. canThey are looking towards tomorrow with an eye on accuracy and precision. Can't ask for anything more.
TRASOL Is Available in the Apple App Store and in the GOOGLE Play Store. Both Apple and Android Are Supported.