With about 120 firearms for every 100 residents, the United States has – by a very long shot, as it were – the most heavily armed civilian population on the planet. And that means the U.S. is also a major consumer of bullets. (These are the states with the worst gun laws.)
About 12 billion rounds of ammunition are sold in America annually, according to Guns & Ammo magazine, citing data from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
Aside from being used to commit violent crimes and mass shootings, guns are employed outside the battlefield for four purposes: self-defense, hunting, range-shooting, and competitive marksmanship. And each of these types of shooting can require different types of bullets – the fastest of which are used if speed, distance, and accuracy over long distances are preferable to greater force or short- to medium-range shooting. (These are the 50 most popular guns in the world.)
The fastest bullets in the world include six with velocities of at least 4,000 feet per second, led by the .220 Swift, a rifle cartridge developed by Winchester.
While these bullets all have lower grains than what’s typically used for self-defense or hunting, the fastest bullets aren’t necessarily ones that weigh the least. For example, the .220 Swift has double the grain of the second-fasted bullet, the .17 Remington.
A grain is a standard unit of measurement for the weight of the projectile, excluding the bullet case and gunpowder (there are about 438 grains to an ounce). Some of the most powerful bullets, like the ones used to hunt big game like elephants, can weigh a whopping 1,000 grains – but they travel at about half the speed of the fastest bullets and the high grain causes the bullet to drop from its trajectory sooner than lighter bullets.
The lightest (lowest grain) bullets are typically used for long-range marksmanship but they can be used for other purposes, such as hunting small game when less firearm recoil is preferable.
To identify the fastest bullets in the world, 24/7 Wall St. looked at the data compiled by Wide Open Spaces, an online media company dedicated to the great outdoors, on the fastest bullets in feet per second. Cartridges that deliver the fastest bullet velocity currently available in a centerfire rifle cartridge.
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