Hornady 4DOF Ballistic Solver Manual V2

Lots of solvers out there on the market, and even more misunderstanding on how they work. We need to know a certain set of values to use them but why is it, when we put the same values into two different solvers the results are different ? It's worth reading the Hornady Manual for their new 4DOF solver. It explains a lot of this in a very simple way and promotes some best practice thinking.

We have a ton of ballistic solvers out there, and if you ask someone their favorite, no two people will give you the same answer.  Most default to AB because it is the name they know, other will opt for the free versions of software because, well it's free. Inside 1000 yards, just about all of them will help you hit the target.  When a suggestion comes from a guy that never shot past 400 yards you have to take that information with a grain of salt. 

The ballistic team has a lot of experience, going back to the military in the mid 80s, they have lived ballistics for a very long time.  When Hornady invested in their own Doppler Radar unit it opened up the door for them to not only analyze information from others, but to test and measure for themselves.   Defaulting to the data from the turn of the century and applying it to the formulas from that time is not always the right answer.  What we thought we knew is changing and the estimates while solid were in many cases overestimating the results.  

The line something is better that nothing, is often used. People will say, "well we know Spin Drift exists so why wouldn't you include it ?  How about it's too small to show up and putting a number in that counters are bad trigger press is no spin drift... it's shooter drift.  Hornady is measuring these effects out further than ever before, and their results are adjusting these common estimates.  Believe me, they are just estimates for 99% of the software out there. A flat rate value they believe will help you more than hurt you, so don't worry about it.  But the numbers aren't science, they are values determined at a different time and place and in many cases using a different medium. 

It's worth the read, the internet, especially Facebook is too full of bad information.  Remember we are all playing the WondeRama game of telephone whether we like it or not. By the time the story reaches the 100 share, it's changed 10 times in the process until the last comment resembles nothing of the original question.  

Let's just look at the Hornady measurement of G7 versus some actual shots at distance. 


You start from the left with these charts and as the bullet goes farther, that information is represented on the right.  As we can see, they all match up pretty well to the line, but then at extended distances, they start to vary. This is why everyone's answer to the best solver is correct.  Because at Short Distances, they all match up.  I can show you the G1 curve and on the left it will look the same, but most will contend it is after it changes. Well same thing here, the farther out you shoot the more the old models will drift.  Remember G7 was first tested with a bullet in a 1940s. 

4DOF is not new either, but it is an improvement over the original Point Mass 3DOF formulas they used. The Army paper on the use of 4DOF systems was written in 1966.  It fixes some of the problems they found from the turn of the century information collected. Much like today, we have better everything so it only makes sense to update our understanding of the effects at shooting long range. 

What is new 

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The manual adds Earth Based Effects to the software. This is what we know as Coriolis Effect.  Hornady went out and measured these effects at extended ranges and noted the variations and details. During my trip to the Hornady Factory and Range we discussed this and how they were going to measure it.  The fact they were able to shoot out to extended ranges, 2000 yards helps verify this data.  Instead of just modeling it, they record the real world results and combine with the known information.  Then analyzing the two you can adjust accordingly.   Sure for most people who shoot inside 1000 yards it does not matter, but it does help the guys shooting ELR distances like myself. 

All the effects vary slightly from our previously understand norms.  That is important as we not only want the best possible information, we need to know when we can ignore certain factors. 

Important Factors and Tips 

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Be sure to check this out, before you go reading the latest comment on your 15th long range Facebook group, get it up to date.  We all want to promote positive information and it's not US against THEM, but Shooters.  We all have the same goals in mind so how about spreading positive information rather than that dated third hand stuff.  There is so much great information out there, much of it technical so not everyone grasps the concepts correctly. They fail to understand the caveats put forth.  

It's 80 - 40 - 20, the presenter of the information can successful explain 80% of the concept. At the time the recipient of the information will absorb 40% of what is being conveyed, and then only be able to recite 20% of it correctly. Rather than be that guy, just give them the source.  Better have a class of 40% than a group of 20%-ers.  If only 20% was the bar for much of what I read. 

Download the Manual Here 

Print it, skim through it and don't forget to look at the Hornady Videos explaining how to use it. 

Hornady 4DOF Ballistic Software Playlist 

Because Knowing is half the battle and trust me that guy with access to only 400 yards doesn't know as much as we'd hope. 

It's always best to look at all the information presented from every side and then weigh the data for yourself. The Human Factor is huge and can sway the results we see.  Ballistic Solvers are not Games even through they appear in the App Stores on our phones. Playing with data to compare is not effective unless you are comparing it to real world results.  Gather your actual information as shot on target first and then compare the solvers results to reality.  We want to match the solver results to the hits on target and not the hits on target to the solvers results. 


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