Ammunition and bullets have had a tremendous impact on society over the years. Many wars and crises have been won by the side with better bullets. During the course of history, different countries have made use of their advancements in making bullets to win many wars.
Before the existence of gunpowder, individuals relied on different explosives and chemicals on the battlefield. The discovery of bullets brought enormous advancements to military might. Some bullets are small, while some are large. Its application depends on the rifle or weapon it’s discharged from.
Regular rifle and handgun bullets are usually small, but equally as dangerous as larger bullets, especially at close range. How do you know which bullet works for which gun? You need to know exactly how bullets work during and before discharge from a gun barrel.
What Is a Bullet, and What Does It Contain?
Many people confuse a bullet with a bullet cartridge, and a bullet cartridge is more like a shell with the actual bullet placed at the top. Hence, the metallic projectile usually inserted into the rifle is not a bullet, but a cartridge with a bullet attached. However, once the weapon is discharged, the bullet is released from the cartridge and shot out.
The cast bullet moves linearly until it eventually collides with a surface. Upon impact, the bullet brings along a powerful force inflicted on the target.
A bullet cartridge is made up of three main parts. The three parts include the primer, the propellant, and the bullet itself.
The primer is the part of a cartridge that serves as a matchbox. It can be said to be what starts the explosive force that drives the bullet. After the primer is the propellant, which is made from a chemical compound. The chemical compound causes an explosion that pushes the handgun bullet down the gun barrel and at a target.
The main part of the cartridge, which is the bullet itself, is made from metal in a cylindrical shape. The bullet is projected forward by the propellant and is discharged from the handgun at high speed toward the specified target. Bullets are designed to reduce the effects of air resistance when moving through the air.
The cylindrical shape of the bullet also helps in penetration. When a bullet is fired, the target has to be penetrated by the bullet to receive damage. If the target doesn’t have contact with the bullet, the damage is reduced: hence, most bullets have a conical or pointed end.
Apart from the primer, propellant, and bullet, a bullet cartridge has an outer casing covering the components. The casing and body of the bullet are usually made with metal to maximize their efficiency. The different components that make up a bullet cartridge include:
Ignites the propellant that launches the bullet. It’s usually found at the base region of the bullet cartridge.
A chemical compound that launches the bullet from the gun. It’s commonly known as gunpowder and has an explosive propulsion effect.
A cylindrical metal projectile that discharges from a gun at high horizontal speed. This is the bullet’s main part that can damage a target.
A container that holds all the different components of a bullet cartridge. It’s usually automatically ejected from semi-automatic rifles when fired and is often made from brass, steel, or aluminum.
How a Bullet Works
Individuals are often curious about how a bullet works. What pushes the bullet out of the gun? What happens before the bullet is shot out? In short, guns contain a spring mechanism that slams a metallic firing pin into a bullet cartridge from behind.
The firing pin ignites the charge present in the cartridge primer. Once the charge is lit, it ignites the fuel, which fires the bullet. The explosion that takes place at the propellant is larger than that at the primer.
The chemicals in the propellant burn rapidly once ignited by the primer and produce a lot of gas that pushes the bullet out of the rifle. Due to the gas’s abrupt pressure, the bullet is fired rapidly from the gun at an initial speed of about 300 m/s. Some bullets move faster than others, depending on the shape and build of the bullet.
Some bullets are also made from special materials that give them armor-piercing properties. These bullets are called armor-piercing bullets.
Rifle and handgun bullets are the only components that leave the gun after firing. The rest of the cartridge stays behind in the gun and needs to be removed before firing another round.
The bullet’s speed greatly depends on the type of fuel used in the bullet cartridge. Bullets generally move very fast, but some bullets are even faster than others and can go as fast as the speed of sound. The chemical compounds in the propellant light up in a slow manner before the full kick.
When the bullet is released from the rifle
, the pressurized gas is released with it. That’s what gives the ‘bang’ sound when a gun is shot. Sometimes, high-caliber bullets also produce a loud sound when released due to the high horizontal speed of the bullet. The gunpowder and the build of the bullet cartridge determine the speed of the bullet.
How Do Bullets Move?
Bullets look like they go in a straight line, but there’s more to it. If we could look at them carefully, we would see bullets spin fast when moving. The barrels of rifles and other guns contain spiral grooves engraved in them to allow the bullet to achieve the spinning motion and top horizontal speed.
The spinning effect of bullets also makes them very difficult to deflect. With the spin attached to a bullet, it will maintain its course to its target. When a bullet travels, various forces interact with it in the air. These forces slightly alter the path bullets take to a minimal degree due to the high speed of the bullet.
Bullets don’t move in a straight line as perceived. A bullet can move in a straight line only if the distance to its target is short. If the distance is very long, there will be slight deviations in the travel path of the bullet. This means a bullet will travel along a slight downward curve.
When forces like gravity act on a moving bullet, with time, the bullet will deviate from its straight path and start bending downwards. A traveling bullet experiences a constant gravitational pull that slowly drags it to the ground. A few other things, like recoil, also affect how a bullet moves.
Why Do Bullets Have High Damage Effects?
Bullets are known to cause serious damage. How does a bullet work that gives it great damage?
The first thing to consider is the material used to make the bullet. Most bullets are made using metal parts cut into cylindrical and pointed bullet shapes that allow maximum penetration.
A bullet rides on momentum to attain high damage points. A heavy object moves at a breakneck pace and picks up momentum.
A bullet relies on its incredible discharge speed to move fast and gather momentum. The energy gathered by the bullet when moving swiftly through the air is dealt as damage to the target.
The gun type also determines the damage a bullet will inflict. Some guns instill great damage at close range and are ineffective at long range, while some rifles can release bullets that deal damage from any distance.
Most bullets from handguns carry lesser velocity than bullets fired from rifles. Hence, rifle bullets carry more momentum and cause more damage than bullets from a handgun. Some special deadly bullets are designed to deal more damage than regular bullets, and these bullets have improved builds and penetrating ability.
Do Bullets Have to Be in a Cartridge?
In the 19th century, bullets used to be placed separately from gunpowder. However, this greatly affected the speed at which people could fire guns. The fact that the bullet and gunpowder were not together in a cartridge increased the risk of contamination.
Bringing bullets and gunpowder together in the same metal case eliminates all the problems with keeping them separate. Bullets are released faster and are more reliable when in a cartridge. The presence of a cartridge also reduces the chances of experiencing an accidental discharge, which can harm the user or anyone around.
Bullets undoubtedly play a large part in human beings’ history, making many people curious about how a bullet works. There have been many advancements in bullets over the years, from regular ball bullets loaded separately from the propellant to bullet cartridges.
Actual bullets are just a small part of a cartridge. A bullet cartridge contains four major parts: the case, primer, propellant, and bullet itself. The mechanism in the bullet cartridge allows the bullet to be shot from a rifle at incredible speed before the cartridge is ejected from the weapon for reloading.
You can get more answers to questions about your gun and other related topics here.