The primary role that Ballistic Coefficient (BC) plays in improved accuracy at long range is the ability of the bullet to overcome environmental uncertainties such as wind deflection. The reason why higher performance (higher BC) bullets perform overall better at long range is because they retain velocity better, which reduces their time of flight. Reduced time of flight correlates to less drop and deflection at all ranges.
One way to look at the challenge of hitting small targets at long range is to consider how sensitive your bullet is to the major influences of uncertainty. A high BC bullet will be deflected less in the wind than a lower BC bullet. “So what”, you might think, “I’ll just apply more correction for the lower BC bullet and still hit the target.” But that’s not how uncertainty works! In reality, you’re always guessing at the true wind speed and direction.
Bryan’s Tip: Even when a shooter uses a handheld anemometer such as a Kestrel to measure wind, you’re only measuring it at your location. Since wind is a fluid, it’s speed and direction are not the same all the way to the target, and also changes with time. Point being, if you can measure the wind at your location then it’s wise to do so, however it’s important to realize there is still uncertainty in the wind field.
Using indicators in the field to estimate what the wind speed, and it’s always changing. So for example, let’s compare a high BC bullet vs. a low BC bullet. Suppose we run the calculations and determine the high BC bullet is deflected 50 inches at 1000 yards in a 10 mph crosswind, and the low BC bullet is deflected 75 inches in the same wind. Suppose you estimate the wind to be 10 mph but it’s actually 12 mph. This is an error of 2 mph, which translates into a miss distance of 10 inches for the high BC bullet, and 15 inches for the low BC bullet.
In other words, the higher BC bullet hits closer to your aim point, and is therefore more accurate than the lower BC bullet given the same uncertainty in the wind environment. This is exactly how high BC can improve accuracy.
Depending on the size of your target, be it a scoring ring on paper, steel, or an animals vital zone, the difference in BC and accuracy may or may not make a decisive difference especially if the difference in BC is small. The principle of higher BC aiding accuracy is always valid though, it’s just a question of how much the advantage is, and if it’s offset by other considerations such as potentially higher recoil which may affect the shooter.
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What is a BC?
BC, Accuracy, and Precision
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