Ogives Versus Other Shapes

The ogive has long been used in projectile design because it simple to manufacture. Over the last few thousand years, people have gotten pretty good at making sections of spheres. However, simple to manufacture does not mean minimum drag. The Wikipedia has a great figure that really does a nice job of summarizing the performance of the ogive relative to other shapes.

Figure 1: Drag Comparison of Different Aerodynamic Shapes.

Figure 1: Drag Comparison of Different Aerodynamic Shapes.

Source:Comparison of drag characteristics of various nose cone shapes in the transonic to low-mach regions. Rankings are: superior (1), good (2), fair (3), inferior (4).

Comparisons are for projectiles of a given length and width. Observe that the ogive is in the inferior category. However, it is still commonly used for projectiles. Ballistics has a long history and change comes slowly.

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1 Response to Ogives Versus Other Shapes

  1. CD says:

    This is indeed an interesting chart. However, with projectiles there is another consideration beyond that of in flight aerodynamics and that is the penetration capabilities of the nose geometry. Different nose geometries have different penetration mechanisms. I wonder if some of these superior nose geometries from an exterior ballistics perspective have inferior performance from a terminal ballistics perspective? At least against some types of target materials?


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