LAMINATED STOCK: A gunstock made of many layers of wood glued together under pressure. Together the laminations become very strong, preventing damages from moisture, heat, and warping.
LAND: The raised portion of a rifling. As in Lands and Groves. The lands are portions of the bore left between the grooves of the rifling in the bore of a firearm. In rifling, the grooves are usually twice the width of the land. Land diameter is measured across the bore, from land to land.
LANDS: Those portions of the bore not cut away by rifling grooves.
LANGENHAGEN STANDARD: The "Langenhagen Standard" — named for the town in Germany where Brenneke Ammunition is located. The "Standard" specifies that any Brenneke Slug, and the shotgun from which it is fired, must be capable of a minimum five shot group of four inches or less at 50 yards.
LAW ENFORCEMENT ONLY: Firearms, ammunition and accessories restricted to the use and possession of law Enforcement Officers and Agencies. Abbreviated LEO. Please note; the term "Civilian" is often used to describe non-law enforcement personnel, but under Federal Law, with state, federal and local law enforcement personnel being non-military and not subject to UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) they are also civilians.
LE: Abbreviation for Law Enforcement.
LEAD FREE: Designation for ammunition that is free of lead. Although the term suggests that such ammunition would contain no lead whatsoever, often it is used to refer to ammunition where the primer is lead free and the (lead) bullet is fully encased in a Total Metal Jacket (TMJ).
LEAD FOULING: The partial obstruction and loss of accuracy caused by accumulated metal residue in the barrel of a gun. Lead fouling is the same as leading, and is caused from the lead or lead covering on non-jacketed bullets. The fouling occurs when the metal particles fill in the grooves in a rifled barrel which causes a rifle to shoot more like a smooth bore. Some accuracy is lost because the fouled riffling is not imparting adequate spin and stability on the projectile. Several chemicals are available to remove both lead and copper from the barrel of a gun. Care must be taken when handling lead and lead cleaners. Lead is hazardous to your health.
LEADING: The partial obstruction and loss of accuracy caused by accumulated metal residue in the barrel of a gun. Accuracy is diminished because the fouled riffling is not imparting adequate spin and stability on the projectile. Same as Lead Fouling above.
LEGISLATIVE TERMS GLOSSARY: Click Here for Legislative Terms
LEM: Abbreviation for "Law Enforcement Modification" a new Double Action Only (DA Only) trigger system for the H&K USP handgun.
LEO: Abbreviation for Law Enforcement Officer or Law Enforcement Only.
LEVER ACTION: A gun mechanism activated by manual operation of a lever. A firearm, typically a rifle, that is loaded, cocked, and unloaded by an external lever, usually located below the receiver. The "Lever Action" design dates back to the late 19th century and is the type of rifle used in most western and cowboy movies. See example below:
LEWIS GUN: The Lewis Gun was a British light machine gun (LMG). It was gas-operated, air-cooled, and fed from a rotating drum of 47 or 97 rounds, with a rate of fire of 550 rounds per minute. The gun was used by the British, Belgian, and Italian armies in great numbers, both as a ground weapon (Lewis Mark 1) and as an aircraft gun (Lewis Mark 2). The Lewis gun was initially designed by Samuel MacLean and was then developed and perfected by Colonel I. N. Lewis, of the American Army. Unable to interest the American Army in the weapon, Lewis took the gun to Belgium and set up a manufacturing company there in 1913. In 1914 with the outbreak of the Great War (WW I) most of the staff in Belgium fled to Britain where they were able to continue manufacture in the Birmingham Small Arms Company factory.
LIBERATOR PISTOL: The liberator pistol was a cheaply made stamped metal pistol made in America in 1942 for supply to guerrilla forces in enemy countries. See image below.
LIGHT MACHINE GUN: Abbreviated LMG, Light Machine Guns are typically light weight, shoulder fired, automatic rifles carried or crewed by only one soldier. Modern LMG's are also called Squad Automatic Weapons or SAW. LMG's are typically equipped with a bipod and are designed to be operated and carried by one soldier; they usually have a box-type magazine and are mostly chambered for the smaller caliber, intermediate-power ammunition fired by the assault rifles of its respective military unit. Modern LMG or Squad Automatic Weapon SAW, are typically air cooled, magazine fed, shoulder fired rifles capable of sustaining high rates of automatic fire, as used in the fire team and in the squad assault role. LMG's can be fired rifle style from the shoulder or from a bipod in the prone. They are also employed on light vehicles and trucks for convoy protection and local security roles as well as Anti Aircraft roles. The US Army LMG / SAW uses the same 5.56 NATO (.223 Remington) ammunition used in the basic assault rifle model M16A2.
LINE OF SIGHT: An imaginary straight line from the eye, through the sights, to the point of aim.
LMG: Abbreviation for Light Machine Gun.
LOAD: The combination of components used to assemble a cartridge or shotshell. The term also refers to the act of putting ammunition into a firearm.
LOADED: A firearm is loaded when a cartridge is in its firing chamber. Generally used to refer to a gun that contains ammunition. However, there are some legal subtleties. For a semi-automatic, most people assume that when a gun is described as loaded there is a round in the chamber. This may or may not be the case in technical legal terms as for any type of handgun, the firearm may be considered "legally loaded" if ammunition is attached to it in any way. Review the laws of your jurisdiction to determine how they define the term loaded. For safety reasons all firearms should be treated as if they are loaded at all times. See the 4 Safety Rules.
LOADED CHAMBER INDICATOR: A loaded chamber indicator is a small device found on some pistols which displays a warning when the chamber contains a cartridge. These were first developed for use in the early 1900s by European handgun manufactures. Often the chamber indicator is a small pin that is built into the mechanism of the pistol. When a cartridge is in the chamber, and the action is closed, the pin protrudes from the top, back, or side of the gun. Abbreviated LCI.
LOCK: The lock is the name of the firing mechanism of a firearm or gun. In this context the term "Lock" should not be confused with the breech locking system which closes the rear end of the barrel of a breech loading weapon. Although there have been a number of variations the lock has evolved through six main stages: Cannon Lock, Match Lock, Wheel Lock, Flint Lock, Percussion Lock and the modern Center Fire Cartridge. For detailed information on each stage of lock development see: History and Development of the Lock below.
LOCKBOX: Lockboxes are small, portable, safe-like boxes or cases specifically designed for the storage and / or transport of handguns. They allow easy access to the handgun and can be purchased with either keyed or combination locks. Many are designed to be permanently mounted in a variety of locations. Since they are portable, lockboxes are not as secure as an immobile safe. Lockboxes require the user to actively secure the handgun in the lockbox.
LOCKED BREECH: A feature of some firearms in which the barrel and breech mechanism are mechanically locked together at the moment of firing, which reduces recoil.
LONG ACTION: A rifle action designed for longer or magnum cartridges.
LONG COLT (.45): A term used to improperly identify the .45 Colt cartridge originally designed for the Colt Single Action Army revolver. In fact there is not such cartridge as the .45 Long Colt, even though it is commonly used by shooters and some cartridge manufacturers and reloading guides. The proper cartridge designation is .45 COLT. Another case where Gun Slang has run amok.
LONG RANGE SHOOTING: Generally considered shooting at distances over 300 yards or meters. Some sources take the distance out to 500 yards. It should be noted that many "people" claim long shots and brag about the distance from their imagination factory to there prized game shot in another county and at unimaginable ranges. Of course they did not have a means to measure the shot or are simply full of themselves and the 30 caliber wonder slug.
In most cases, good hunters and
certainly all professional hunters and game guides, the long shot bragging
ritual is the sign of a true amateur, an idiot or simply a liar. Not
only is it very difficult to hit a game sized target at such long ranges,
but taking a shot at a living animal at such long range is inhumane and
unethical. You will have a very good chance of missing and or
wounding the animal. If wounded, you will not be able to close the
distance and perform a humane kill. Humane hunting includes the
aspects of tracking and stalking of game. Closing on your game and making
a very sound and certain kill shot so as not to cause injury or suffering.
Long shots should be for long range 1000 yard shooting competitions and
for shooting at paper targets for fun and to refine and study ballistics
and the specific performance of your long range rifle. So the next time
you encounter a great long shot shooter, you know you have encountered
either a liar or an unethical hunter. I am not sure which one is
worse, but I have a very strong dislike for both of them.
COMMENTS ON LONG RANGE
In 1907, a great revolution took place in match rifle shooting. For some time the .303 cartridge with a 'Palma' 225 grain bullet had been almost ubiquitous along the firing point. (In those days, any 'military' cartridge was allowed.) Despite its great weight, the bullet had the Metford shape, which was very blunt, and this resulted in a ballistic coefficient of only 0.44 which, combined with a leisurely muzzle velocity of 2350 ft/sec. made for very poor performance beyond 1000 yards.
Meanwhile, the Germans had been experimenting with pointed bullets of the sort which we are familiar with today, and discovered that they had a great deal less drag than the blunt bullets used hitherto. Today, it is difficult to imagine the shock wave that went around the world as the results of these experiments became known. A certain Captain Hardcastle (whose name was to become quite familiar in the shooting world) had access to bullet making plant at the Chilworth Gunpowder Company and, on reading an account of the German results, went straight out and... 'took the heaviest bullet used in .303 and put onto it the best point that I could hear of.'
The result was the 'Swift' bullet. This bullet had a 14 caliber tangent ogive nose whose point had a radius of .020". It was flat based, (the advantages of boat-tails were not discovered until much later), and weighed in at 225 grains. Its ballistic coefficient was 0.67, giving it only two thirds the drag of its 'Palma' counterpart.
History relates that on 29th of May, 1907 Hardcastle shot the English Eight meeting at Bisley as a Tyro, using the 'Swift' bullet. In a strong right hand wind he won the match with 135 out of 150 points - second place scoring 129. In the Scottish meeting, a new world record of 223 out of 225 was scored using the new bullet, (though not by Captain Hardcastle). The Cambridge Match was won without a point being dropped and when the Bisley meeting opened on July 8th, everybody had changed over to ammunition with the 'Swift' bullet!
I relate this little tale because for many years now the ubiquitous bullet seen across the range in MR shooting has been the 190 grain Sierra Match King. Its ballistic coefficient is 0.56, giving it 20 % more drag than the 'Swift' of 90 years ago! Surely, surely we can come up with something better?
Of course we can. But curiously, I find MR shooters very reluctant to move away from the 190 Sierra they know and love, throwing up all sorts of excuses and spurious advantages that the 190 Sierra gives. Anyway, I predict that there will be a revolution of the sort that happened in 1907 and that within two years, nobody will be using the 190 grain Sierra.
The best bullet for the Job
In long range target shooting, or target shooting at any distance for that matter, what do we look for on a cartridge/bullet combination? We want minimum group size and minimum wind drift. That's it. Muzzle velocity, time of flight, flatness of trajectory are not matters that should concern us - though a lot of MR shooters seem to spend a lot of time worrying about them.
In MR shooting, we are confined to using the .308 Winchester case. While there are a few wrinkles that can stretch performance using this case, which I will talk about later, the main influence on performance over which we have complete control is the choice of bullet. The 190 grain Sierra gives good results up to 1100 yards, where it is still supersonic, but as it goes subsonic on its way to 1200 yards, the group size can increase dramatically. The standard solution to this problem has been to increase the powder charge to primer popping proportions, trying to keep the bullet supersonic at 1200 yards.
Alas, it has all been in vain. John Carmichael has
recently masterminded a wonderful set of ballistic measurements in which
he and his team have measured the down-range velocities of a variety of
bullets at ranges of up to 1200 yards. The results for the 190 grain
Sierra are shown in Table I. It can be seen that despite running at
chamber pressures of 50,000 psi, (quite stiff!!) velocities at 1200 yards
were still subsonic. It is easy to see why people thought they were
supersonic at 1200 yards when we look at the predictions using Ingalls
tables based on the Mayevski drag curves. (So why are the Mayevski drag
curves still used? - See my article in the 1995 Spring NRA Journal). In
these, predicted 1200 yds terminal velocities, at 1200 ft/sec., are
comfortably supersonic and achievable with a 2700 ft/sec. muzzle velocity.
You do not believe me? Look at Table 1 again and see what John Carmichael measured using the 210 grain Berger bullet. Lower muzzle velocity, but higher terminal velocity, just as predicted.
You should not be afraid of using big heavy bullets whose muzzle velocities are sauntering rather than stupefying. The .303 British case has a capacity very similar to the .308 Win. and yet, as we have seen, our forefathers were quite happy to use bullets much heavier than anything MR shooters are willing to contemplate today. 250 Grain Sierra bullets are still available and if you used these you would be 90 ft/ sec. faster than the 190 Sierra at 1200 yards in the same rifle (provided it had an 8" twist barrel) and using the same amount of (somewhat slower) powder to give you the same chamber pressures.
But it has long been known that there are much better nose shapes than the 8 caliber tangent ogive. Secant ogive bullets were played with by Hardcastle and it is now known that in general, a bullet with a secant ogive nose will have less drag than one of the same weight but with a tangent ogive nose of the same length. Bullets of this shape have been available for a while as VLD (Very Low Drag) bullets and more are on the way. They offer significant advantages over tangent ogive Sierra type bullets of the same weight. For instance, a 208 grain .30 cal bullet with a tangent ogive nose and a ballistic coefficient of 0.75 available from Wayne Anderson, an American manufacturer. I know that Berger has a 230 grain bullet on the drawing board with a ballistic coefficient of 0.85. Under Table 2 conditions the 1200 yard velocity for this bullet would be 1331 ft/sec. and the 10 mph wind drift 7.4 minutes. Now there is a bullet you can drool over!
The lesson to learn here is summed up in my first aphorism:
'When choosing a bullet for long range target shooting, find the bullet with the largest ballistic coefficient and use that. If there are two bullets with the same ballistic coefficient, use the Lighter one'
This, of course, is just a restatement of Hardcastle's criterion of 90 years ago.
Squeezing the best ballistics from your Match Rifle (and staying legal)
The thing to emphasize straight away is that you gain little by increasing the muzzle velocities using the highest-chamber-pressures-the-rifle-will-stand route. The faster a bullet goes, the faster it slows down. Extra velocity gained at the muzzle does not translate to extra terminal velocity of the same amount. For example, take the 190 gr. Sierra bullet. When pushed with a moderate load in a 30" barrel you will get about 2600 ft/sec.. At 1200 yards the velocity will be around 1010 ft/sec. and the wind drift for a 10 mph would will be 12.3 minutes. Now stuff the powder in until the primers start to pop and you will get about 2700 ft/ sec. for your muzzle velocity - an extra 100 ft/sec. But at 1200 yards your terminal velocity has only gone up by 50 ft/sec. to 1060 ft/sec. and the wind drift for the same wind will be 0.8 minutes less at 11.5 minutes. Given that your group, at this range, will be no smaller than a minute of angle (with this bullet), it is doubtful if you would even notice the difference. Where you will notice the difference is in the life of your cases and your barrel!
It is very important, in Match Rifle shooting, to minimize the instabilities that every bullet suffers in flight. Like a gyroscope, the bullet will yaw and precess as it spins on its way down the range. A certain minimal amount of this precession is required to keep the bullet 'tracking', keeping it pointing along its trajectory. If the bullet did not precess and went completely to sleep' then it would maintain its launch angle throughout its trajectory, which means that on the final part of the flight, when it is descending, it would still be pointing up, thus presenting a much larger cross section and substantially increasing drag. This is the extreme case of what happens when the bullet is spun so fast that the stability factor 's' is greater than about 3. The gyroscopic forces will prevent the bullet from tracking and the drag goes through the roof for the final part of the trajectory. If the precession is greater than that required to keep the bullet tracking then the result is again an increased effective cross section, giving increased drag and leading to disappointing ballistic performance.
To keep precession at the right level the first thing is to keep the stability factor from around 1.1 to 1.5 for your bullet of choice. Do not use the Greenhill formula to calculate the rate of twist you need, use of this formula is pretty much guaranteed to give you a twist that will stabilize the bullet. But, especially with secant ogive or VLD bullets, Greenhill's formula can suggest twists that will over stabilize the bullet, preventing it tracking well at long range. The computation is not a trivial one, but there are computer programs available which will do this. (See the 'Programs' section of this website.)
The next thing is to minimize in-bore yaw and keep good control of the launch ballistics. What am I talking about? If the bullet assumes some angle inside the barrel then you have in bore yaw. This is not good because on launch (exiting the muzzle) this yaw translates into precession and so increased drag. Secant ogive VLD bullets seem particularly susceptible to this problem and this may be overcome by loading the bullet out to such a length that the bullet touches the lands in the throat of the barrel. This keeps the bullet well centered on entry into the barrel. It is, of course, also important to load the bullet using an in line seating die or some method that keeps the bullet straight when loaded into the case.
You will also reduce your SD's by using some form of bore lubricant, usually molybdenum disulfide in some form. The new 'Black Diamond' range of ammunition from Norma uses the NECO process of coating the bullets with a film of molybdenum disulfide, but you can probably do just as well by smearing a little molybdenum disulfide grease around the junction of the bullet and the case neck of your loaded rounds.
Launch ballistics are what happens when the bullet exits the muzzle. A blast of supersonic gas washes over the back end of the bullet and if there is much turbulence or the gas flow is not even over the bullet then it can be upset, inducing yaw and subsequent precession which as we now know, is bad for drag. Boat-tail bullets suffer more from this than flat based bullets, which is why flat based bullets are generally more accurate than boat-tailed ones. The back end of a boat-tailed bullet spends relatively much more time `exiting' the muzzle than a flat based one and so there is more time for the bullet to upset. A good, even crown will ensure that the gas flow over the bullet is even. The 11 degree, so called 'Bench Rest', crown provides a good interface with the boundary of the shock wave from the escaping gases, (so the theory goes), and so minimizes turbulence. Keeping the muzzle pressures down also results in better launch ballistics. Using faster powders gives you lower muzzle pressures, but usually at the expense of muzzle velocity. Or you can use a longer barrel. Longer barrels will give lower muzzle pressures with the benefit of increased muzzle velocity.
Barrels longer than 30" do not result in vast increases in muzzle velocity for the .308 Win. case. For example, a 35" barrel will give you about 50 ft/sec. more than a 30" barrel. The stiffness, (and so inherent accuracy), of the barrel decreases as the fourth power of the length. It does not take many extra inches to give you a barrel with all the stiffness of a piece of spaghetti! But. . . you do get lower muzzle pressures which helps the launch ballistics and, by way of a bonus, the SD of the MV's seems to drop dramatically too. The weight limit (in the rules) for a Match Rifle barrel is the limiting factor on how far one can go in this direction, but stiffness can be maintained to a degree by the use of heavily fluted barrels. Another solution is to bed the rifle on a barrel block situated in the middle of the barrel, instead of on the action as usual. This reduces the effective cantilever length of the barrel substantially and so greatly increases its stiffness. This technique is much favored by 1000 yards bench rest shooters, who look for ten shot group sizes of the order of 3" or better! MR barrels are now being fitted that are over 34" long, early indications are that these barrels give much enhanced performance, at 1200 yards, over a 30" barrel.
As I write, the Match Rifle committee seems set to introduce a chamber gauge into which your empty case (or loaded round) must fully enter. This is to police the rule which says that you must use a standard .308 Win. or 7.62 x 51 NATO chamber. The gauge is reamed to the maximum dimensional tolerances of the chamber drawings that fall within the rule. By fire-forming cases in such a chamber it is possible to get about 4 % extra volume over a case of standard dimensions. This means you can get two grains more powder into the case, which translates, for a 200 grain bullet, to a muzzle velocity 50 ft/sec. greater Extra case volume can also be created by having the throat of the chamber pushed forward so that the bullet is only minimally held by the neck. By pushing the throat forward 0.1 " over a standard chamber you gain about another 3 % of volume and another 40 ft/sec.
So what sort of performance can we expect, using fire-formed cases in a 34" barrel with a chamber reamed to the maximum size permitted and the throat pushed forward as far as we dare? We can then shovel in enough powder to give us a stiff 50,000 psi chamber pressure that does not leave us poking about for dropped primers. For a 210 grain bullet, the muzzle velocity would be about 2660 ft/sec. and for a bullet with a ballistic coefficient of 0.75 we should expect a velocity of 1350 ft/sec at 1200 yards, comfortably supersonic. It should be extremely accurate and all without the proof load chamber pressures to which some find it necessary to resort. Wind deflection for a 10 mph wind is just 7.7 minutes. This wind drift is only two thirds of that experienced by the 190 grain Sierra from a 30" barrel, putting this another way, the drift to be expected from a 190 Sierra at 900 yards! All this is possible - Today!
Technologically speaking, there is a lot more juice to be squeezed out of the Match Rifle rules than most people seem to appreciate. I hope this will have given you a flavor of what is possible within the MR rules. I have not even talked about what you can do with sabot ammunition, (which, although in fact allowed under the MR rules of combat, would no doubt leave the MR committee scratching their collective heads), but that will have to wait until another time.
What cartridge should I use in my Any Rifle?
The Any Rifle match allows you to use the cartridge of your choice, within limits, and so exposes one to an agony of choice not experienced by Match Rifle purists. The process of choosing is that of comparing one cartridge case against another, one caliber against another and one bullet against all others in the various cartridge/caliber combinations! To help out, here is a second aphorism.
`Regardless of caliber, bullets of the same ballistic coefficient will have the same muzzle velocity when fired from barrels of the same length - provided the ratio of case capacity to bullet weight is the same.'
Table 3 shows what I mean. For bullets having a 0.5 ballistic coefficient I show a variety of case and bullet combinations that will give 3000 ft/sec. for a variety of calibers, all with 30" barrels. All these cartridges will have the same ballistic performance. That is the same muzzle velocity, the same terminal velocity and the same wind drift at any range.
The only assumption made is that all the bullets have the same shape and so the same form factor. But it transpires that this is a pretty good assumption across the range of target type tangent ogive bullets. If in a comparison you find that the case capacity to bullet weight ratio is higher for one combination than the other, then that combination will have the higher muzzle velocity and so a superior ballistic performance.
Take, for example, the RG NATO 7.62 ammo against a .223 Remington case loaded with a 70 grain .224 caliber Berger bullet. The RG 143 grain bullet has a ballistic coefficient of 0.42, as does the 70 grain .224 Berger bullet. The case capacity of the RG case is 55 grains of water and that of a .223 Remington case is 28.5 grains of water. Which cartridge will have the superior ballistic performance? The ratio of case capacity to bullet weight for the .223 Rem. cartridge is .41 while it is .38 for the RG 7.62 ammo. The .223 Rem case with the 70 grain Berger bullet is the better combination. In fact, the muzzle velocity for this cartridge will be about 150 ft/sec. faster than the RG 7.62 ammo and so at all ranges it will have less wind drift - and also be more accurate. There have been those who have written that the .223 Rem somehow hits a brick wall at between 400 and 600 yards (depending on the author) and that there is no point in trying it at long range. On the contrary, this particular cartridge/ bullet combination will outperform the 7.62 RG ammo every day of the week!
Table 3 Comparison of calibers
Muzzle velocity = 3,000 ft/sec. Barrel Length 30".
This article was first printed in the Spring 1996 issue of the NRA Journal. It has been altered here to correct a few small errors and to make it more suitable as a stand-alone article.
Used with express written permission - Copyright © Geoffrey Kolbe 1998, all rights reserved.
LOW READY: A shooting position where the shooter holds the gun pointed downrange and angled downward at 45 degrees. Starting at the "Low Ready" is sometimes used as a substitute for drawing from a holster at shooting ranges or events where drawing is not allowed.
LUBE DENT: A dent in a
cartridge case caused by using too much lubricant when resizing.
LUGER: American name
for the German "Parabellum" semiautomatic pistol introduced in 1900.
The Parabellum was designed by George Luger, and based on the earlier
Borchardt pistol. The official German military nomenclature
was "Pistole '08" or "Po8." At first, it was chambered for the
7.65mm Parabellum round. Soon, it was modified to use the 9mm
Parabellum cartridge, which is what most people refer to today when
talking about a "9mm." "Luger" is now a trademark owned by the
Stoeger Arms Co. The artillery Luger was a German 9 mm calibre
automatic pistol introduced in 1917. It took a 8-round box magazine. Note:
"Parabellum" means "For War" from the Latin.
LYDDITE: A British explosive used for filling artillery shells during the South African War and the Great War (WW I). It was actually molten and cast picric acid, the name being adopted in order to conceal the nature of the substance and was taken from the initial trials which were conducted at Lydd, in southern England.
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