How Far Can a Bullet Travel?

A speeding bullet has long had a reputation for being one of the fastest things on the planet—or something close to it, based on what has been portrayed on TV and in the movies over the years. In reality, the short answer to how far a bullet can travel is around 1.5 miles, which is equal to about 12,000 feet. In terms of velocity, the average speed is an impressive 1,700 mph. Below, the firearms safety education professionals from Online Texas LTC, the experts to call on when you want to take a high-quality Texas CHL class, go over some of the finer points of bullet speed and distance based on popular types of bullets used in the United States.

Effective Range Compared to Maximum Range

The distance a bullet can travel and the distance a bullet is still effective are very different. The maximum distance is simply the distance a bullet travels until it hits the ground. Effective distance is how far a bullet can go and still hold enough energy to be effective against a target.

The .308 Winchester

One of the most popular bullets in the southern and eastern regions of the United States, this particular one has the potential to travel as far as 4,600 yards. This is impressive, since “ordinary” bullets can travel up to around 1,000 yards or more—and that’s on a good day when conditions are ideal. What’s more, the .300 bullet from Winchester can get up to nearly 4 1/2 miles of height if you happen to be firing upward.

The 9mm

Regarded as one of the most popular handgun calibers, a 9mm round can travel farther than most people would expect—up to 2,400 yards. However, its effective range is much shorter and can be up to 100 yards depending on the gun it’s being shot from.

The 5.56 and .223

Most often shot from AR-15-style guns, this rifle caliber can travel up to 4,300 yards. However, as with all other calibers, the effective range is much shorter and will typically max out at about 800 yards in excellent conditions.

Top Factors Affecting Bullet Speed

Not surprisingly, the type of gun used is one of the factors that determines what could happen with bullet speed. Additional factors that play a role in the speed a bullet can travel include:

  • The weight of the bullet
  • Barrel length of the gun it’s shot from
  • The shape and design of the bullet
  • Muzzle velocity
  • The altitude and weather conditions that apply when you fire

Practicing with Your Firearms

If you’re a newer gun owner, don’t be too concerned about knowing the exact distances bullets of different calibers travel. When shooting, just make sure to follow the primary safety rule of knowing your target and what’s beyond it. Typically, you shouldn’t be shooting in a location that would allow for the bullet to travel its maximum range. The more you practice, the better you’ll be at understanding your firearm. This ultimately makes you a safer gun owner and user. 

Whether you already own a firearm or you’re considering purchasing your first gun, it’s essential to know how to use it safely. Online Texas LTC is dedicated to providing the finest firearms training available. Whether you simply need to learn how to handle a gun and shoot safely or you want to take a Texas license to carry course, Online Texas LTC has what you need. Give us a call today at 512-675-2206.