Shooter's Glossary: Tangent Ogive

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Shooter's Glossary: Tangent Ogive

Tangent Ogive describes a particular profile of a bullet's nose and (like our standard BTs) is less sensitive to seating depth but has more drag and a lower BC than a Secant Ogive of the same length.

The tangent ogive has an advantage in its design in that the more gradual curving profile allows a projectile to align itself inside a barrel and into the rifling of the barrel.

This means that tangent ogive rounds are less sensitive to how they are seated inside their casings, as they can adjust slightly on their own thanks to their rounded shape.

Tangent Ogive Ammo

This shape is pivotal in bullet design and influences both aerodynamics and firearm compatibility:

Basic Definition
The ogive is the curved part of a bullet that shapes its nose or front section.

The tangent ogive is characterized by a curve that is tangential to the bearing surface (or shank) of the bullet. This results in a smooth, continuous transition from the bullet's straight shank to its tip.

Compared to Secant Ogive
While the secant ogive is derived from a section of a circle that intersects the circle's circumference at two points (leading to a more elongated, sharper profile), the tangent ogive has a more rounded, less steep curvature.

Aerodynamics and Performance
Bullets with a tangent ogive typically exhibit stable aerodynamic behavior, making them less sensitive to seating depth variations when reloading.

While they might not have the same aerodynamic efficiency as some secant ogive designs, tangent ogive bullets are often more forgiving and versatile across different firearms.

Reloading Considerations
Due to the less sensitive nature of tangent ogive bullets to seating depth, reloaders often find these bullets to be more consistent and easier to work with, especially across various rifle chamberings.

Popular Use
The tangent ogive design has been a staple in bullet manufacturing for many years and is found in a wide range of ammunition, from hunting rounds to military cartridges.

Barrel Compatibility
Tangent ogive bullets are generally less finicky about barrel and rifling characteristics than secant ogive bullets.

As a result, they are often a go-to choice for shooters who want consistent performance across different firearms without the need for meticulous tuning.


In summary, the tangent ogive describes a specific, rounded profile of a bullet's nose, which offers a balance of aerodynamic performance and broad compatibility in firearms.

In the shooting sports world, understanding such design nuances helps in selecting the right ammunition for specific applications and achieving desired shooting results.

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