Previously in ours introductory series on ballistics, we’ve discussed the principle of caliber, and also ballistic coefficient and also its close loved one form factor. Today, we’re going to look at the concept of rifling, and also how the relates to cartridge stability.

You are watching: What does rifling cause the projectile to do

First, though, we’ll require to define a term:


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A cross-section that 8-groove rifling. The red highlighted segments room “grooves” and also the distance in between opposite grooves is referred to as the “groove diameter”. The blue highlighted segments are called “lands”, and also the diameter in between opposite floor is referred to as “bore diameter.” (Photo/The Firearm Blog)
Bore: The hole drilled in the barrel the a firearm, through which the bullet travels when it is fired. The earliest guns had simple tubular bores, choose a modern shotgun. In the so late 1400s, gunsmiths in what is now Germany arisen a technique of scraping grooves in barrels to permit room for blackpowder and lead fouling to develop up, hopefully extending the accuracy of the barrels before they necessary to it is in cleaned. Castle found, eventually, that by twisting these grooves in a barrel, they might dramatically improve its accuracy. These grooves became known together as “rifling” and they room a key technology in modern rifle (as the surname suggests) and also pistol barrels.

Rifling functions by rotate the projectile about its axis, causing gyroscopic pressures that spin-stabilize it throughout its flight; tighter rifling will spin a cartridge faster, when looser rifling will spin a bullet slower. The rate at i m sorry the cartridge is spun is really closely tied to just how stable it will be; also slow, and also the bullet will tumble in the air, also fast and also the bullet might break personal in flight. The speed of rotation brought about by rifling is figured out by the rifling’s key or twist rate, which describes how loosened or tight the rifling is twisted inside the barrel. Usually, rifling twist in the United states is explained by a phrase like one turn in N inches, regularly shortened come “1:N” or “1/N”, which refers to the street over which the bullet would complete one full revolution.

For example, the us Army’s M4 Carbine has a twist rate of one turn in 7 customs (“1:7” or “1/7”), i m sorry is rather tight. One M4 Carbine through a fairly new barrel firing 5.56mm M855 ammunition will spin the projectile at over 5,000 rotations per second to stabilize that flight!


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