Handgun Ballistics

Basic ballistics of a handgun

Handguns can be concealed easily, but it becomes very tough to aim and accurately hit the desired target, especially in emergency situations. Researchers have shown that only 11-25% of the bullets shot within 7 yards hit their targets in emergencies like crime scenes or riots. In most countries, handguns having low caliber values are used since it makes the gun lighter and thus, easy to carry. Since the caliber is low, the shooting can be controlled, and deaths can be avoided because the bullet isn’t so strong that it can damage organs. Low caliber handguns are used in crime scenes to injure the target and not kill it since they target might not even be the real criminal and mistakes cost a lot these days.

There have been rumors which said that many targets had been put down with the force of a bullet. But, that’s barely possible since the maximum momentum which those projectiles have even with large caliber rifles is 0.10 to 0.18 meters per second for a body weighting above 70 kilograms. The main ballistics of handguns is the diameter of the bullet fired and the amount of gunpowder in the case of the magazine. Previously cartridges had a very limited power, but modern day technologies have found that their power can triple as well, using several methods, which increases the kinetic energy produced by the bullet fired.

There are several types of calibers for bullets, and each can travel at different distance at different velocities, some of them are in the following table (the data may differ than the actual tests depending on the situations, weather, material, etc.)

Bullet Caliber Weight(in grams) Velocity(feet/second)

(for 50/100 yards)

Energy(in foot-pounds)

(for 50/100 yards)

25 Automatic 45 730/656 56/42
30 Luger 93 1110/1040 255/255
30 Carbine 110 1600/1430 625/500
32 Colt(short) 80 665/591 79/62
38 Smith and Wesson 145 650/619 135/125
380 Automatic 95 865/785 160/130
38 Special(Jacket Hollow) 110 894/850 196/176
38 Special+P 95 1003/932 212/183
9mm Luger 115 1048/971 280/240
9mm Luger(Jacketed Hollow) 147 962/921 302/277
38 Super Automatic+P 125 1130/1050 354/306
357 Magnum 110 1096/975 292/232

Formulas of Ballistic Determination

The ballistics of handguns can be determined a few formulas which are as follows,

Kinetic Energy= ½(Mass*Velocity) ²

Velocity is measured in feet per second while mass will be calculated in pounds.

Drag= f (v/a) k&pd²v²

f(v/a) is related to the ratio of the bullet’s velocity to sound’s velocity. ‘K’ is a constant which shows the shape of a bullet. ‘P’ is the density of the medium through which the bullet travels. ‘D’ resembles diameter of the bullet, ‘v’ is the velocity of the bullet

The degree of Drag can be measured in retardation(r) and the formula is, r=D/M

Or, it can be measured in Ballistic coefficient, i.e. BC= SD/I

‘SD’ here resembles sectional density of a bullet while ‘I’ is the form factor of the shape of the bullets.

The bullets in a handgun do not travel in a straight line inside the barrel; they have a rotational effect which makes them go straight after it leaves the mouth of the barrel.