Submitted by Eric Daniel
Back in 2004 when I glommed onto that M-14, I was confronted, for the first time, with having to do my own bullet drop calculations. While, as a tanker, I was quite familiar with the concept of ballistics, until now ballistic solutions had always been calculated by the fire control computer; in the end all I had to do was get a valid range and keep the dot on the target. What I needed now was a ballistic table I could reference to tell me how many clicks I needed to adjust my scope for what ever range I'm shooting at, preferably one with some modicum of durability so that I didn't have to keep re-inventing the wheel every time I went out (i.e no index cards in the pocket.)
What I settled on was a spring loaded tape device from Leupold which attached directly to the scope. Essentially a very small metallic strip in a spring loaded housing, the tape was durable, compact, and reliable. White in color, it was easy enough for me to list ballistic data for the three rounds I had access to (M80, M118LR, and M 728) for all the ranges I expected to shoot at. Moreover, since I could write the information down with an alcohol pen, it was easy enough for me to wipe it down and change the data if I ever started using different rounds.
Granted, I only had enough room to list my data in 100m increments (while the iPod application will break it down into 50m increments) and there were no automatic calculations for windage, target motion, or shooter-target angle. But then mine didn't cost $400 or run on batteries either. More over, the tape wasn't exactly NOD compatible, but at night I was using an AN/PVS-4 scope, which had its own built in BDC reticle, so it wasn't a big deal. At the end of the day though, what I had was a fully mission capable (at least for me it was) cheat sheet that allowed me to quickly reference range data.