Most bullets travel at speeds of 300 to 900 meters per second. If the question arises regarding, how fast can a bullet travel? Then there are several facts that you will come across. But the effectiveness of a bullet does not depend exclusively on the speed with which it hits the target.

To be able to cleanly shoot down a target, it must also have a suitable design that allows it to transfer a large part of the kinetic energy that it carries at the moment of impact to the target.

The principle on which a bullet kills has been the same: to ensure that, when the bullet hits a target, it carries a large part of the energy and causes lethal injuries.

The best way to get the shot, at a certain distance, to be more powerful (to hit the target with greater kinetic energy) was by using a rifle of a larger caliber.

Almost all the most powerful ammunition is developed at very similar speeds between 1,300 and 1,400 feet per second.

Flat-tipped bullets, although they were used in all types of ammunition, were especially useful for making cartridges that developed moderate speeds because, due to the greater choke front, they gave up more energy than rounded ones.

In this piece, we will be discussing some amazing facts about a bullet’s speed, so keep reading on, if you want to discover some interesting secrets about a bullet.

How fast does a Bullet travel?

The bullet’s diameter, also known as Caliber, determines how fast a bullet travels. A bullet comes in different calibers, which means that the speed of a bullet can also vary.

A bullet with the 0.22lr caliber will have a speed of 820 to 1200 mph once it exits the barrel. Similarly, a larger 0.50 diameter bullet will shoot at an approximate speed of 1900 to 2100 mph.

A commonly used handgun contains a typical 9mm bullet that has a speed of 820mph. That’s quite a long-range. This translates to the fact that the bigger the diameter is the higher the speed will be.

There may be a lot of other factors that will satiate the answer for this simple question, how fast does bullet travel. Let’s go through them.

What does Bullet speed mean?

Measuring speed can vary according to the subject. For example, the speed of the car is determined by how many miles can it go in an hour or so, while there are different ways to determine the speed of light or train. However, when it comes to determining the speed of a bullet, it may not be an easy task as the speed of the bullet varies according to:

  • The caliber of the bullet
  • The ammunition manufacturers
  • The rifle manufacturers
  • The weight and
  • The length of the barrel

Additionally, muzzle velocity (the speed through which the bullet leaves the barrel) also counts when figuring out the speed of the bullet.

Does Bullet Material help increase or decrease the speed?

Most bullets are flat, therefore, they damage the target quicker as the transfer of energy increases due to its flat shape. However, the size and shape of the bullet have evolved to make it travel faster when it leaves the revolver and hits the target without a miss.

The bullets that are made with a lead core and covered by a metallic sheet are faster than the flat bullets. While some bullets designed with a steel shell and are manufactured without lead core are specially made for faster speed.

The fast bullets could be that of a rail gun: bullets are fired at speeds of Mach 6; but their momentum comes from a series of electromagnets mounted along the entire length of the barrel.

It can always be useful to have a weapon that shoots like a ‘laser’ at certain distances, but its use would be extremely limited. The cost of the weapon and the ammunition would be considerably higher than that of traditional weapons.

Bullet speed by the caliber

As mentioned before, the speed of the bullet depends on its caliber; it is also important to see the number of rounds performed with respect to muzzle velocities. As the muzzle velocity changes when the caliber changes, look at the following table to see how much they are directly proportional to each other.

RoundCaliberMuzzle Velocity (ft/sec)
.22LR0.223 in (5.7 mm)1,500 ft/s(1022 mph)
.380 ACP0.355 in (9.0 mm)1,125 ft/s(767mph)
5.56/2230.224 in (5.7 mm)3,160 ft/s(2155mph)
.38 SPL0.357 in (9.1mm)1,100 ft/s(750mph)
9mm0.355 in (9.0 mm)1,200 ft/s(820mph)
.357 Mag0.357 in (9.1 mm)1,500 ft/sec (1022 mph)
10mm0.400 in (10.17 mm)1,300 ft/s(885mph)
.40 S&W0.400 in (10.2 mm)1,200 ft/s(820mph)
.45 ACP0.452 in (11.5 mm)1,100 ft/s(750mph)
.30-06 Springfield0.308 in (7.8mm)2,850 ft/s(1940mph)
.308 Winchester0.308 in (7.8 mm)2,650 ft/s(1800 mph)
.50 BMG0.510 in (13.0 mm)3,000 ft/s( 2050mph)

The above table would be helpful for you in determining what would be the speed of a bullet according to its caliber.

Final Thoughts

Knowing these interesting facts about bullets may seem cool, but this also brings a responsibility on you to be safe and keep people around you safe as well. Also, it is very much important to know that guns and ammunition are no toys, thus keeping them away from going in the wrong hands will do good to all.

A bonus fact before we conclude this article: The bullets that have a speed of 250 fps are the ones that are used to kill someone, as this is the minimum speed at which it can penetrate the skin.