Long distance shooting is a bit like meteorology. You can go by feel, or you can make predictions to help you plan ahead.

No plan survives the first contact, but it gives you a fighting chance, at least!

Going Long Distance

If you want to “call your shot” before you make them, a ballistics calculator is in order. Ballistic calculators are an all-or-nothing sort of thing, you need to know exactly what you’re doing, or it’ll send your rounds way off.

If you’re willing to learn how to use them, they can be the key that opens doors that were previously closed!

Summary of Our Top Picks

Table of Contents


Purpose of a Ballistic Calculator

The purpose of a ballistic calculator is important and is sometimes essential. Basically speaking, a ballistics calculator makes several calculations of given a data set.

That set includes the humidity, elevation, specifications of the round, and the expected velocity of the bullet given the rifle it’s fired out of.

Hangover Math Gif
Ballistic Calculators Make It So You Don’t Have To Do This In Your Head…

The calculations are so specific every shot you ever fire will be completely different.

You won’t have to waste ammunition trying to find out if your calculations are accurate because as soon as you calculate the shot, the variables have most likely changed.

This stuff is precious

The purpose of a ballistics calculator is to just get you close enough that you can manually dial in your shot. Many people think a high-tech calculator will make the shots for you, and it won’t.

A calculator will save you money and time by getting you close, but it won’t have you hitting the bullseye at 1,000 yards on the first shot.

Don’t forget to….

Take Good Notes

Every single shot you make will be influenced by the internal and external ballistics of the round, this is one of many reasons why quality control of your ammunition is so important — consistency is everything!

But it’s not just the ammo that you’re trying to account for…you also have things that, while you can measure and attempt to account for, you won’t be able to get it perfect every time.

Temperature, wind, humidity, atmospheric pressure, elevation difference between you and the target, the list goes on and gets exponentially more complex the longer the shot is.

Randy Long Range Targets MARKED 2
A lot of factors can contribute to your success in hitting these.

If you enter all of this information into a ballistics calculator can give you a good idea of how the shot will ring out, but it is just an educated guess.

You should be taking good notes on pen and paper to log each shot and shooting session to get a collection of good data to help you set up your calculator.

Fisher Space Pen Assortment
Take a pen and some paper to the range!

This is especially important for users who opt for low features applications on a smartphone.

Many applications won’t keep data over a long period of time. So, you should always have a backup and keep the data somewhere safe.

Otherwise, you’ll waste a lot of ammunition and money when it comes time to shoot!

Phone vs. Handheld Calculator

With the widespread use of smartphones coming into the scene just as more and more people are hitting targets at range, naturally, people looked to the ever-loved smartphone for help nailing targets.

Carjacking Distracted on Phone
Phones are really helpful

While an application on your phone can provide basic data to help dial in dope for the shot you’re facing, almost every application on the market is not going to give as in-depth information as a dedicated ballistics computer.

They’ll be much easier to use but are slower to use and can eat up your phone battery quickly but can be excellent for shooting at targets within 1,200-ish yards.

The benefits of a ballistics calculator are important for a competitive shooter, you don’t have to use your phone, and it’s often faster with deeper features than any app on the market.

Christy Hembree
(Photo: PRS)

They have a very steep learning curve, and they go very in-depth with high degrees of precision if you know how to use them.  

The other major downside to a dedicated handheld calculator is the price…they aren’t cheap!

Bottom line: If you have the extra cash and want the hobby of learning to use a ballistics calculator, go for it!


at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

If you’re a recreational shooter who wants a down-and-dirty solution to save ammunition when you hit the range, get a phone-based solution and take good notes!

Best Ballistics Calculator Apps

1. KAC Bullet Flight M

Knights Armament is an American institution for the firearms industry. They make some of the finest precision, military-grade rifles, and weapons that can be had.

In fact, they were one of the first companies to perfect the AR-10 with their KAC M110 — a rifle that is still in service with the military today.

KAC Bullet Flight
KAC Bullet Flight

They made this ballistic calculator app to help you dial in dope and get first-round hits. It’s got a stripped-down version but is available in a detailed version, the Bullet Flight M, which is simply an excellent tool.

They factor in a ton of different data points and make it very easy to use the information when the time comes.

Advanced Calculator


at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The trick to using this calculator is knowing what you need to get out of it and making sure you know what you’re doing when using that data.

Trying to use the more advanced ballistic calculators like this one is a recipe for wasting ammo if you’re not used to working with the data.

Android | iOS

2. Hornady Ballistics 4DOF

What started as a web-only version in 2016 was later offered to mobile users, bringing a bevy of features to shooters looking for computing power in their pockets.

And it’s good…

4DOF, or 4 Degrees of Freedom, uses Hornady’s built-in library of loads to help shooters account for wind, temperature, altitude, and humidity.

Best Rated

at Hornady

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Highly rated among Android and iOS users, the app is a great way to make calculations on the fly.

Android | iOS

3. Shooter

The best thing about this calculator is the simplicity of the application. There are few screens, and inputting data is easy because of it’s all done on a single screen.

The bad thing about this application is the use of scrolling menus that make you flip through each and every option before you reach the number you’re looking for.

Shooter Ballistic App
Shooter Ballistic App

This means a lot of tedious scrolling and setting up when you get to the range and need to make corrections in the field.

Simplest to Use


at Apple Store

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The only other complaint is the white background can be difficult to read on the screen, but you can overcome that. If you’re looking for the simplest complete calculator, this is as good as it gets.

Android | iOS

4. Applied Ballistics

The Applied Ballistics mobile app is certainly my favorite ballistics calculator application for Android and iOS.

Yes, it’s expensive, costing $30, but in my experience, no other ballistics calculator comes close to the functionality you get with this application.

Applied Ballistics App
Applied Ballistics App

By far, the greatest feature of this calculator is the HUD display, meaning a heads-up display.

It’s just a snapshot of all the information that the calculator displays in an easy-to-read format that cuts out everything you don’t need to read when it comes time to make the shot.

Most Expensive


at Apple Store

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

This makes it much faster to call corrections with a spotter because you’re not bogged down with plucking out information from a table.

Android | iOS

5. iSnipe

One of the OG ballistic calculators, iSnipe, generates data for bullet trajectories based on data calculated for pitch, yaw, the wind, Coriolis effect, spin drift, and atmospheric condition.

iSnipe App
iSnipe App

It’s a very advanced calculator and the one I’d recommend for serious shooters and competitors that need a complete data set they can get their hands on.

It has a learning curve, and you need a requisite level of understanding behind the math before you can quickly use this calculator. But you can certainly learn it in an afternoon or two of shooting and reading the instructions.


at Apple Store

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

If you’re a nerd, you’ll love this calculator. If all you want is put holes in targets, get one of the simpler options that aren’t as in-depth.

Only on iOS

What are your thoughts on the iSnipe app? Rate it below!

6. Ballistic App

This app offers a comprehensive library of loads AND is backed by JBM Ballistic on a computing level, so it’s pretty solid.

Ballistic App
Ballistic App

The app boasts over 5,000 projectile and factor loads to choose from, as well as a MIL-Dot and MOA rangefinder, GPS and atmosphere awareness, reloading companion, and full-size charts.

In short, this app has a lot of features!

Best for iOS

at Apple Store

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Unfortunately, it’s only available on iOS. But if you a part of the Apple fam you have the choice of two versions…Standard and Advanced.

7. Lapua Ballistics

The Lapua Ballistics is a 6DOF app that offers a pretty clean look.

It offers the latest Lapual cartridge info as well as the ability to quickly change inputs.

Lapua Ballistics App-1
(Photo: Apple Store)

You also get the option of a few different views — graph, numerical, reticle, and table. The Lapua app also gives you the ability to create your own gun/reticle combos, which is pretty cool, in our opinion.

at Apple

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

If you’re shooting with friends, you can also share your calculations, making it a bit easier.

Android | iOS

8. Strelok Pro

This app is a robust option for those that want some oomph behind their apps.

The Strelok Pro app brings a reticle database that is 2,618 reticles deep with 712 bullets (with G7 ballistic coefficients) and 559 pellet options.

Strelok Pro
Photo: Amazon

Users can work out trajectory — without needing ballistic coefficient — and can calculate spin drift, gyroscopic stability factor, vertical deflection of crosswind, and Coriolis effect.

It also can measure the incline angle of your phone and grab current weather data from online. Info can all be stored on Dropbox or Google Drive, so it’s accessible from more than one device.


at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Overall, we like the capabilities of this app. Downside is it’s only available on Amazon.

A Few Quirks to Look Out For…

Battery Life

Make sure if you plan on using your phone as your calculator, you factor in battery life. Especially if you plan on using a cell phone in your car as a GPS, music, or emergency contact device, make sure using your calculator at the range won’t result in you getting lost.

Home Defense Phone 911
Make sure that battery is charged.

Have a charger or extra battery backup at the ready so you don’t get left up a creek.

Consider Going Larger

My favorite way to display ballistics readout is to put the apps onto a tablet and prop it up so I can see and make notes while in the prone position.

This is by far the easiest and most comfortable way to log and calculate data on your shots.

Waterproof & Ruggedness

Make sure you know your equipment’s limitations. If it’s your phone, get a good case. If you bought a purpose-made calculator, it’s probably decently rugged, but you’ll want to baby it a little bit and carry it in a case.

As always, ziplock bags are your friends!

Where You Place Your Calculator

A pro tip from someone who’s been there, if you have a muzzle brake on your rifle, don’t put your notebook and phone, and calculator up near the barrel of the rifle.

You’re putting it in the blast zone!

Dad, his 50 Cal, my Tail Light
Don’t let this taillight be your phone!

Final Thoughts

When you head to the range with hard data about your file setup, good ammunition in your gun, and shiny new targets to lob rounds at, it’s a good day!


Having a good dope is a perfect start, and a ballistics calculator gives you a head start and ultimately saves time and money- as long as you know how to use them!

There are a lot of good options on the market, but here are the best on the market you can’t go wrong with if you trust them with your next competition.

Do you use a ballistic app? Let us know in the comments! Want to learn more about long-range shooting? Check out our article on Long Range Fundamentals.

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