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Ballistics Meaning

The term ballistics is a mechanical phenomenon that refers to studying the path of a projectile in a flight, flight behavior, path through various sources like air, object, target, etc. After performing several experiments, it was going to buy a scientist, Fackler, in 1996. It also includes the art of designing different types of projectors for different performances and consequences. So let's explore more about the ballistics and their types.

When the body moves with free motion, momentum by applying various forces through gases from different sources like propelling nozzle, gun barrel, rifle or by gravity, etc., then the body is known as a ballistic body. If there is a missile in the place of a ballistic body, it is known as a ballistic missile.


Classification of Ballistics

The concept of ballistics had four different types of subfields. Each of them is explained as below - 

Internal Ballistics:- it is also known as interior ballistics or initial ballistics. It explains the propulsion of projectiles. It is the initial phase. If we consider a bullet, the energy of the bullet may vary from one source to another. If it is fired from a rifle, it has more energy when compared to fired from a shotgun. This propulsion of both a rifle and a shotgun was described in the internal ballistics. The internal ballistics also considers when the bullet releases from the source are propagated from a rifle.

Transitional Ballistics:- the other name of transitional ballistics is intermediate ballistics. It's a process that starts after the propagation of a bullet. It acts as a mediator between internal and external ballistics. It concentrates on the study of projectiles' behavior from its propagation to the time till it gets equalization of pressure. 

External Ballistics:- the external ballistics deals with the part of the projectile and the behavior, but it starts studying after the second phase has been done. That means whenever the bullet is about to hit the target and leaves the projectile, and the study of these consequences comes under external ballistics. Therefore, it is also known as exterior ballistics. In simple terms, we can say it is the study of the path of a projectile. The study in the path of projectiles has several formulas used for calculation.

The simplest of all is:

Kinetic Energy (KE) = 1/2 MV2

Where,

V = velocity in feet per second (fps) and 

M = mass is given in pounds, derived from the weight (W) of the bullet in grains, 

Let say, 

Kinetic Energy (KE) = W(V)2 / (450,435) ft/lb

Even though the bullet's energy leaves the muzzle, the ballistic coefficient (BC) will determine the amount of KE delivered to the target. 

Drag d can be calculator using the forward motion as follows- 

Drag (D) = f(v/a)kn & npd2v2

f(v/a)= is a coefficient associated with the ratio of the velocity of the bullet to the velocity of sound in the medium through which it travels. 

k = constant for the shape of the bullet 

p = density of the medium. 

d = diameter of the bullet, and

v = the velocity. 

Another concept of retardation is the degree of a bullet that is getting slowed down by drag. 

r = D / M

As the drag is difficult to measure, Ballistic Coefficient (BC) is often used:

BC = SD / I

SD = sectional density of the bullet, 

I = form factor for the bullet shape. 

Terminal Ballistics:- it is the last phase of ballistics. It starts studying the behavior of projectiles after it hits the target. It might be similar for both small caliber projectiles and large caliber projectiles. In the terminal ballistics, one can come to know about the wounded ballistics. Once the projectile hits the target irrespective of its velocity, the ending phenomena give rise to study and understanding. A projectile can get injured in three different ways. They are - 

  • Shock waves

  • Cavitation

  • Laceration and crushing


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Applications of Ballistics

The study of ballistics is widely applied in two different fields. These two fields are considered major applications of ballistics. They are - 

Forensic Ballistics:- forensic ballistics is ballistic, which involves the study of various bullets, they thought, fingerprints available on the bullets, etc. The complete analysis of a bullet helps produce proof to the court and sort out various criminal cases etc. To explore more about fingerprints and ballistical study, we also need to learn about tool marks and firearms. The crime branch of the police department has various benefits with these forensic ballistics.

Astrodynamics:- astrodynamics is a field that studies the motion of rockets, spacecraft, etc. For this purpose, the ballistical information along with the celestial mechanics was used. To launch a rocket, one has to do a lot of groundwork using ballistic information.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What Affects Bullet Trajectory?

Ans. Several factors are there which affect the bullet trajectories. Because these factors may change from one scenario to another. Some of the major factors that affect the ballistic trajectories are - bullet shape, air resistance and drag coefficient, muzzle velocity, air resistance, angle, the temperature of the air, etc. Apart from these factors, several other factors may change from one scenario to another. These factors may be either supportive or non-supportive. For example, if a bullet is fired from your rifle during the rain, the bullet travels in your transverse motion, whereas the raindrop comes and hits the bullet in a perpendicular direction. This will become an obstacle for the bullet motion. Then the result can be at your less than that of the normal energy. Hence the raindrop adds as a negative factor or a non-supporting factor for the bullet trajectory.

2. Explain Bullet Design.

Ans. Before designing a bullet, one should consider various factors that help to design the bullet and achieve the expected performance from the bullet. They are - ballistic coefficient, stability, velocity, cost, precision, reliability, etc. 


In general, the bullets are designed with an open tip in a reverse draw notation. The bottom part is designed like a jacket cup at the center. It is designed from rear to front. These are known as open tip match bullets. They have more precision than others. 

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