The Physics
An encyclopedia of scientific essays

Mass of a Bullet

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Bibliographic Entry Result
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Zitzewitz, Paul W. & Robert F Neff. Merill Physics: Principles and Problems.New York: Glencoe, 1995. "A rifle can shoot a 4.20 g bullet at a speed of 965 m/s." 0.0042 kg
Parsons, John E. Smith and Wesson Revolvers. New York: William Morrow, 1957. "Central Fire Cartridges .45 Caliber
30 grns powder
250 grns Bullet"
0.0162 kg
Premier Ultra Mag Centerfire Rifle Ammunition. Remington Arms Company. "With the high weight retention and controlled expansion of the 250-grain Swift A-Frame bullet, the new .338 Ultra Mag has the power, penetration and energy-releasing expansion for reliable use on all North American big game and most world-wide big game." 0.0162 kg
V.G.1. Ammunition for the Self-Defense Firearm. rec.guns FAQ. "The best .25 load is the Hornady 35-gr. XTP-HP round." 0.0023 kg

Depending on the gun, the mass of a bullet usually ranges between 0.02 kilograms and 0.04 kilograms. The mass of a bullet depends on the caliber and type of gun used. A bullet can be fired from a revolver, pistol, rifle, machine gun or other weapon.

The caliber of a bullet is their diameter in centimeters, millimeters or 1/100 of an inch. The caliber ranges from 0.22 to 0.60 inches. Different types of bullets have different calibers. The two most common types are the lead bullet and the jacketed bullet. The jacketed bullet is usually metal jacketed. A soft brass or copper-plated soft steel jacket covers the inside. The jacketed bullet is usually used for hunting and military use.

A jacketed bullet is also called an expanding bullet because when the jackets are stripped back to uncover the core, the metal jacket on both ends flattens out and stays inside the person creating internal damage when fired. This allows a less dangerous situation for bystanders because the bullet will not exit the person and possibly pierce somebody.

These bullets, also called dum-dums, were outlawed for use in war. All soft bullets, split nose bullets, hollow low point bullets and jacketed bullets with the core exposed are dum-dums. Expanding bullets are mostly used in hunting.

A lead bullet is made of lead alloyed with antimony. Lead bullets cannot be used to shoot with high velocities because their soft exterior deforms during acceleration, which effects ballistics. Lead bullets may also cause jamming and can be damaged, again, because they are so soft, by how automatic weapons load. Lead bullets are now used only in .22 caliber.

Bullets get their name from the French word "boulette" which means "small ball", because early bullets were small and round. Now a bullet is defined as a pointed cylinder of lead or other metal which is fired from a pistol, rifle or machine gun.

Most soldiers and hunters use ball bullets. Tracer bullets, when fired, leave a path of fire behind them. Armor piercing bullets have steel centers and blunt noses. They are mostly used against tanks and other hard, armored targets.

The bullet has had many experiments over the years. The size and shape of bullets have varied. There have been ovals, ovoids, spheres, and a couple of hexagonal cylinders, all for rifles. At first, firing a bullet from a rifle wasn't working because the bullet had to go down the barrel freely but then cut through the grooves when fired. Most bullets could not do this. In the mid 19th century this was solved. The bullet was called a minié, after its successor, Claude Étienne Minié. The bullet expanded when needed but was smooth enough to slide through the muzzle.

A bullet can be no more than 0.02 to 0.4 kilograms. Otherwise its ability to glide through the air would be halted. It wouldn't be the right size to pierce through anyone's skin or cut through a block of wood without the correct mass.

Shantay Armstrong -- 2000