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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
How far will my bullet travel?

There was a story posted in another thread about a guy that was mugged and fired at his attacker 20 times. There was some chatter about Myth Busters, etc. and how the bullets fired wouldn't seriously hurt anyone. The fact is, that if you miss your target, the bullet could travel hundreds of yards and seriously hurt or kill someone. In the Myth Busters show, bullets were fired straight up in the air. While it is possible, I doubt someone would fire 20 times straight up into the air when being mugged, but stranger things happen.

Apparently, no person was hit during the above barrage of bullets and if the mugger was shot while running away, the shooter might have been arrested and charged. (That is another discussion.)

Story: Here in Indiana, a gunsmith (who should have known better) lived in a rural area. He was working one night and decided to test fire a .45 he was working on. He went out on his back porch and fired one round into the woods. Lady Luck was not with him that night. The bullet he fired traveled 200 yards through woods, missing every tree but finding a neighbors house. The bullet penetrated the exterior of the house and hit the sleeping neighbor in the head killing him.

So it got me wondering, how far could bullets travel when fired from your handgun. Of course, your mileage may vary, but I did find this nifty table for your entertainment:

Max Rage of Ammunition.jpg

Update: For further insight, we turn to Hatcher's Notebook (1962) by Major General Julian S. Hatcher, a U.S. Army ordnance expert. Hatcher described military tests with, among other things, a .30 caliber bullet weighing .021 pounds. Using a special rig, the testers shot the bullet straight into the air. It came down bottom (not point) first at what was later computed to be about 300 feet per second. "With the [.021 pound] bullet, this corresponds to an energy of 30 foot pounds," Hatcher wrote. "Previously, the army had decided that on the average an energy of 60 foot pounds is required to produce a disabling wound. Thus, service bullets returning from extreme heights cannot be considered lethal by this standard."

I can't remember who first said it; "There is a lawyer attached to every round we send downrange."
 

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Wow.....EVERYONE of those rounds missed EVERY tree?

Seriously, it's good information and important that we remember that we are responsible for every round that leaves our gun. And there could be a lot of people between the muzzle and 5,600 yards (or about 3 miles).....
 
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Good information. Stray bullets can go really far, and do really bad things. We are responsible for everything that comes out of our firearms.
 
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Thanks for posting. It's always a good reminder on how far a bullet will travel. Shooting at a range with a backstop is one thing but if you had to fire in self defense there is definitely an increased risk a bystander may be injured or killed.
 

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My one next door neighbor, who is a cop, regularly shoots at a piece of cardboard out in his field. Nothing but sparse woods behind the target. Now a business has put up a metal building and looking through the trees, which have no leaves right now, it sure looks darn close. I know I wouldn't want to shoot in that direction without a backstop.
I'm not sure how that will affect his shooting.
One thing you have to realize though is that most of us shoot with our guns pointed at a target on the same plane. So if a 9mm drops about a foot in 100 yds, and it's only 5' off the ground to start with, and pointed at a target that's 5' off the ground, it's not going to travel 2400 yds like the chart says.

So what is the chart based on? I'm assuming some sort of trajectory, or arc, to be able to travel that far. Is it the maximum distance/optimum angle?
 

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Good thing to keep in mind.

I assume that table has someone shooting up in the air? Shooting horizontally, a handgun round is unlikely to make it past 300 yards before it hits the ground.
 

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In “Hatcher’s Notebook” I remember Gen. Hatcher was testing 30/06 fired from a Garand, at 30 degrees elevation and shooting down the beach some bullets landed as far as 5 miles downrange.
 

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How far depends on bullet velocity, muzzle angle (45 degrees to horizontal for max distance), ballistic coefficient and other factors. Theoretically, if you fired horizontally and dropped a bullet from gun height at precisely the same instant, both bullets would hit the ground at the same time assuming level terrain. A travel of 1000 feet would be nominal for handgun velocities and substantially further with the muzzle elevated
 

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We have a couple of scientific minded folks on here, engineers and such.

So I'll leave it alone. My math can be a little sketchy.
 

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I don't always shoot at nothing. But when I do, I like to know what's beyond it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Good thing to keep in mind.

I assume that table has someone shooting up in the air? Shooting horizontally, a handgun round is unlikely to make it past 300 yards before it hits the ground.
I believe the angle is about 30 degrees give or take. Unless you have "treed" someone before shooting at them, you are correct, it is not likely that the missed rounds will travel the full distance in the table. The table is more of a worst case or potential distance a round could travel.
 
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I shot an arrow straight up once. I didn't know whether to run or stand still. I stood still and covered my head with my hands (like an idiot). The arrow hit about 5 feet away. Not going to chance it with a bullet. Never claimed to be the smartest person around.
 

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Always know your backstop or what's beyond your target. Then again, identify your target. I can't help but remember the boy that was killed in one of those construction porta potties several years ago that someone decided made a good target.
How far will a bullet ultimately travel? Depends on a lot of things. Firing straight up in the air has been known to kill people. As far as "standards", there's always that fluke or something that got overlooked that sets a new standard.
 

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This is one instance where theory is great - until reality gets a hold of it. Bullets don't get fired straight up in the air, the barrel is always tilted at some angle. This allows the bullet to maintain its spin throughout it's flight, until it hits its target. MB included that part as well after talking to a coroner who's had to deal with celebratory gunfire.
 

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I shot an arrow straight up once. I didn't know whether to run or stand still. I stood still and covered my head with my hands (like an idiot). The arrow hit about 5 feet away. Not going to chance it with a bullet. Never claimed to be the smartest person around.
When I was in high school, we had archery as part of a phys-ed program and a girl in the class did that. The whole class scattered like a kicked fire ant bed.

Nobody got hurt, but there was sure an intense pucker-factor for a few seconds! :gah:
 
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I believe the angle is about 30 degrees give or take. Unless you have "treed" someone before shooting at them, you are correct, it is not likely that the missed rounds will travel the full distance in the table. The table is more of a worst case or potential distance a round could travel.
In “Hatcher’s Notebook” that was the same angle Gen. Julian Hatcher used for maximum range in his tests.
 

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In my youthful days (daze) I must have shot a wheelbarrow full of .22 rimfire at various birds on the wing never gave it a thought about where the bullets landed.
 

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Every box of 22 I ever bought said on the box *Range 1 to 1.5 miles. Be Careful.*

As coffeecup above me said I shot at a few birds mostly crows/ravens at our summer place 13 miles out of Bremerton went I was 18 and got my first bolt action rifle. After I winged one of them I stopped shooting at birds. In 1977-78 I tried my hand at ducks and upland birds. Miserable weather convinced me I could find better ways to spend my time. So I sold my Rem 1100 to my hunting partner for around 50-60 bucks. By this time I wasn't shootin' stupid no more.
 

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How far will my bullet travel?

There was a story posted in another thread about a guy that was mugged and fired at his attacker 20 times. There was some chatter about Myth Busters, etc. and how the bullets fired wouldn't seriously hurt anyone. The fact is, that if you miss your target, the bullet could travel hundreds of yards and seriously hurt or kill someone. In the Myth Busters show, bullets were fired straight up in the air. While it is possible, I doubt someone would fire 20 times straight up into the air when being mugged, but stranger things happen.

Apparently, no person was hit during the above barrage of bullets and if the mugger was shot while running away, the shooter might have been arrested and charged. (That is another discussion.)

Story: Here in Indiana, a gunsmith (who should have known better) lived in a rural area. He was working one night and decided to test fire a .45 he was working on. He went out on his back porch and fired one round into the woods. Lady Luck was not with him that night. The bullet he fired traveled 200 yards through woods, missing every tree but finding a neighbors house. The bullet penetrated the exterior of the house and hit the sleeping neighbor in the head killing him.

So it got me wondering, how far could bullets travel when fired from your handgun. Of course, your mileage may vary, but I did find this nifty table for your entertainment:

View attachment 109748

Update: For further insight, we turn to Hatcher's Notebook (1962) by Major General Julian S. Hatcher, a U.S. Army ordnance expert. Hatcher described military tests with, among other things, a .30 caliber bullet weighing .021 pounds. Using a special rig, the testers shot the bullet straight into the air. It came down bottom (not point) first at what was later computed to be about 300 feet per second. "With the [.021 pound] bullet, this corresponds to an energy of 30 foot pounds," Hatcher wrote. "Previously, the army had decided that on the average an energy of 60 foot pounds is required to produce a disabling wound. Thus, service bullets returning from extreme heights cannot be considered lethal by this standard."

I can't remember who first said it; "There is a lawyer attached to every round we send downrange."
Couldn't have been much of a woods.
 
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