Customer Reviews: Understanding Firearm Ballistics
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on July 5, 2004
Rinker's book is well organized and documented, but a difficult read because of sentence and paragraph structure, run-on sentences, poor use of commas, nonparallel construction, illogical and vague antecedents, wordiness, and contradictory statements. It also contains several, significant mathematical errors and incomplete descriptions, and it is occasionally condescending. In addition, the intended audience seems in flux. Such a definitive work in its 4th edition deserves better focus, editing and proofing.
Structurally, the book seems to attempt to provide sufficient information for the scientifically educated while remaining understandable for the reader with less than a high school education. It fails on both fronts; the technical information is lacking, and the narrative is often poorly written. "Clear only if known" was a frequent reaction while reading. MInor sections, such as self defense, could have been better presented, redundancies and cross references could be improved, and the savings of space could be used to improve both layout and presentation.
Regarding the dual audience, the narrative could be written for the less sophisticated with complete scientific formulae and explanations set off for the more astute reader. In addition, these sections could even be labeled as to the level of mathematics required for mastery.
Mr. Rinker needs an editor. My experience in engineering and in academia leads me to believe that Mr. Rinker, for whatever reasons, resists, or is denied, collaboration with a competent editor; the book, the author, and the audience deserve better.
Notes from my reading indicated over fifty errors, including at least 9 errors in logic, 7 mathematical errors, and 37 grammatical errors. I assume that these are only representative of what a closer reading would reveal.
I doubt that the book has ever been competently edited; it has simply been reprinted. With current printing technology, this is inexcuseable.
Even so, it is the best source I have found for a comprehensive treatment of firearm ballistics. It is unfortunate that the publisher is unwilling to do better.
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on November 14, 2002
While not a prose stylist, the author packs an incredible wealth of information about all aspects of ballistics in one place. I found the book fascinating. It is the best thing out there for understanding firearms ballistics, and anyone interested in the complex science of ballistics must have a copy on the shelf. Having said that, the book is presented terribly. The typeface is hard to read (and for information this densely packed, an agreeable typeface is important). The charts and diagrams are simply terrible. They look hand-drawn, and badly at that. Also, the author spends too much time defending himself from a badly recieved (in some math quarters) earlier edition and only manages to make it sound too personal. On the plus side the author is very encouraging to those of us that are mathamatically challanged. all in all, I learned and understood an enormous amount of information from this book, and consider it a classic in the field. There is nothing else quite like it.
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on July 17, 2001
So I'm reading an article in a shooting magazine that mentions that a twist of 1 in 8 would have been better for a particular bullet, and I refer to *this* book to find out why. The index takes me to exactly the right text where the author, seemingly telepathically, refers me to two chapters I should read first to get a full understanding of the information. This book not only has all the information I need, the information is structured so well that it makes an ideal at-hand reference as well as a progressive course if you want, and have the time, to read it straight through. And, the information is layered in terms of complexity so you (I anyway) can find the section I need and read until the benefit of continuing is outweighed by the difficulty of continuing. Just right. I wish I could write like this.
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As an engineer, I bought this book thinking it would give me enough math and equations to make my own calculations. In that respect, it falls flat on its face. What few equations there are are so poorly typeset that they are rendered useless. Some of the equations include constants that require use of certain units, but these are not often made clear.
This book, however, covers an amazing array of topics at a level that's good for someone without a desire to implement the math. The writing is in a very "folksy" style that makes some of the topics go down more easily, although the whole book is in need of editing. I would think that most gun enthusiasts would benefit from this book. It adequately answers many questions that I see raised again and again, such as why heavier bullets from a handgun hit higher on the target.
The terminal ballistics section is a small part of the book and a very cursory discussion, although it was a large part of another reviewer's complaint. The subject of terminal ballistics is so full of debate and emotion that no treatment of the subject is going to go by without criticism.
Many of the figures are poorly hand-drawn illustrations.
I would like to see another edition with "to Advanced" dropped from the title, any attempt to introduce math dropped altogether, editing for spelling, grammar and clear presentation, and with illustrations by an artist. And in deference to the other reviewers, perhaps updated with the latest research in terminal ballistics. With these changes, this book would be an even better introduction that I would recommend to all gun owners who are not interested in implementing the math.
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on June 16, 2003
I bought this book based on the reviews on this site and what information I could glean from the sample pages. However it did not meet my needs in the following way :-
There is insufficient information in the book to derive a basic trajectory table from a few given parameters which are normally available to a reloader i.e. ballistic coefficient, muzzle velocity, sight height and zero range. I have since found what I need, which is very simple set of formulae by Professor Pejsa. I am not saying this book is worthless, it has a wealth of interesting information. However it is described on the cover as "Basic to Advanced Ballistics" - I think the middle two words of that phrase are inappropriate.
I am not sure what Mr Rinker's mathematical abilities are, but he certainly doesn't have much confidence in his readers' maths. I would have thought that most people with an interest in ballistics would have an interest in maths and physics, so am not sure who the target audience is.
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on July 23, 2000
This is a great book for the average shooter who would like to know more about firearm ballistics.It is informative, technical, and yet easy to understand. Like most people, I had no interest in the mathematics, but it is written so the subject can be easily understood even if the math is skipped. It discusses all four areas of ballistics; interior, exterior, terminal, and just a touch of forensic. It is well worth the money and the time to read it.
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on June 2, 2011
If you're looking for a well-written account of modern ballistics don't buy this book. I finally started using a red pencil after a few pages into the book to mark the typos and errors. My thought was to email the author my list, but on second thought I'm not sure it would do any good. Yes, the author has some good knowledge but he prefers to write to the "good 'ole boys" back home thinking that writing it this way makes the book readable. The "About the Author" section at the back of the book (not written by the author) states that "...he writes for the average reader in a style they can easily follow on even the most advanced subjects, and most readers appreciate that quality." I don't. The prose is choppy, redundant, wandering and error-prone. OK, people have obviously been buying this book, but I am amazed that in its sixth edition no one has caught the typos and spelling errors. Has no one proof-read the manuscript? The diagrams are grainy, coarse and clearly sub-standard. Spending time learning how to use a good drawing program would clear that up (Xfig--free or OpenOffice--comes with Windows 7). There is also free typesetting software that prints mathematics symbols beautifully and a whole lot more very professionally. LaTeX anyone?
Any author owes it to his readers to write for clarity and understanding. This means using good grammar and a spell checker for starters. I bought the book, but I'm not Bubba.
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on July 23, 2003
I got three or four chapters into this text and had to stop. As an engineering student I am fairly well versed in physics and mechanics; Rinker takes leaps of faith and liberties with the laws of physics that he has no right to. I recall one passage where he simply asks us to ignore the fact that a velocity term is squared. How absurd. This, combined with the feeling that the book was never edited (spelling and grammar errors, as well as typos abound) forced me to stop reading
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on February 28, 2014
The negative reviews saying this is written to an 8th grade level are right. An 8th grader who has taken pre-algebra will understand 90% of this book. It has math and formulas where necessary, but doesn't delve deep into the G1 and G2 etc calculus of ballistic coefficients. This is not a text book for upper level physics students. To be critical, it does have old looking font and the drawings look as if they were xeroxed. There are typos. The section on artillery ballistics is lacking. I don't care.
This book is saturated with so many facts and so much information, that it is worth reading more than once. It makes a great toilet book. Turn to any page and you will learn something new.
I can't imagine anyone who is interested in guns who wouldn't love this book. I'm an industrial designer, small business owner, competitive shooter, and gunsmith. I thought I knew a lot about ballistics until I read this book. I find myself taking this book off the shelf every month or so. I very highly recommend it.
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on January 16, 2005
If you're a shooter, you simply need to have a fundamental knowledge of ballistics. This work gives you the opportunity to either skim and pick up key informatipon, or alternatively, delve into the deep science and math. It belongs in every firearms enthusiasts collection. It's not any easy read; it makes you think. You won't read it once; you'll refer back to it again and again. I don't know of any other ballistics book I would recommend over Rinker's.
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