How Far Can a Bullet Travel? (4 Factors)
Wondering how far can a bullet travel?
The projectile of a rifle cartridge, often called a bullet, can travel at vastly different distances, dependent on a few key factors, that can be dumbed down to basic physics.
The main factors that will affect how far the bullet can travel are: projectile weight, muzzle velocity, trajectory, shape of the bullet, and environmental factors.
Here’s some physics that will blow your mind: if you were to fire a rifle and drop a bullet at the exact same height at the exact same time, the two projectiles would hit the ground at the exact same time.
However, how far downrange would the fired bullet be?
If two projectiles are fired in the exact same way, at the exact same velocity, the heavier one will travel slightly further.
The reason for this is that the heavier projectile will have less drop, which means it will travel further before its velocity slows down enough for the resistance of the air to actually significantly slow the bullet down.
Once the air resistance begins to slow down the projectile significantly, the projectile will begin to tumble through the air, which causes it to slow down and eventually fall.
If two projectiles of the exact same weight are fired the exact same way, the one that is faster will travel further.
The reason for this is the same as the previous one. If the bullet has a greater speed, it will take longer for the air resistance to slow the bullet down.
The primary things that will affect the muzzle velocity are the specific cartridge used and the barrel length.
A cartridge with more powder will produce more muzzle velocity, and longer barrels produce more velocity as well.
Shape of the Bullet
This one boils down to aerodynamics. A longer, skinnier bullet will travel further because it is more aerodynamic. It cuts through the air easier, which allows it to travel further.
Increased resistance on the bullet slows it down faster, which then decreases the distance it can travel.
At higher altitudes, air is thinner, so the bullet will travel further.
At lower altitudes, the air is more dense, so the bullet will experience more resistance, and won’t be able to travel as far.
Similarly, cold air is denser, so a bullet will travel further in warm air.
Wind can also affect how far a bullet can travel, as it will blow the bullet side to side as it flies through the air. To preserve ammunition, you should have the best gun safe with dehumidifier, it will help you ammo have good quality.
As you can see, there is no easy, one-size-fits-all answer to this question.
It is entirely based on the other factors.
Thinking about these factors, you will be able to easily decipher what has the most impact on how far a bullet travels, but there is not one number answer to give.
With enough research, you could find a general idea for multiple calibers of weapons, but even then, these factors all apply.
Even if both rounds are 5.56, different rounds fired from different weapons in different environments will significantly change how far the bullet is able to travel.