Ballistics is the study of the physics involved in the four broad areas of a bullet or projectiles journey. Internal, intermediate, external and interior ballistics.

Table of Contents


Ballistics is the study of the physics involved in the propulsion, flight and terminal impact of a bullet or projectile. These areas are broken down as the following:

  • Internal ballistics
  • Intermediate ballistics
  • External ballistics
  • Terminal ballistics

Areas of Ballistics

Internal Ballistics

Internal ballistics starts in the chamber of a firearm, where the chemical energy of a propellant coverts into the kinetic energy of a projectile. It ends when the bullet leaves the muzzle.

Internal Ballistics

Intermediate Ballistics

Intermediate or transitional ballistics occupies the area between when the bullet leaves the muzzle and the pressure propelling the projectile is equalized.

External Ballistics

External ballistics covers the bullet trajectory or flight. If only under the influence of gravity then the bullet trajectory is parabolic. There are other forces at play however:

  • Projectile mass.
  • Bullet drag coefficients.
  • Atmospheric density.
  • Lift.
  • Spin drift.
  • Magnus effect.
  • Gravity variation.
  • Target movement.
  • Transonics.
  • Precipitation.
  • Temperature (including propellant temperature).
  • Muzzle velocity.
  • Coriolis effect.
  • Eötvös effect.
  • Planetary axis deviation.
  • Tailwind, crosswind and headwind components.
  • Slope inclination.
  • Height of sight above the bore centerline.

Terminal Ballistics

Terminal ballistics is the study the bullet when it hits the target.

Photo Credits: SD-Pictures | Pixabay

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