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A bullet is a firearms term related to ammunition. It generally describes the projectile which is fired from a rifle, pistol, and other types of guns. Bullets are most commonly made of lead or copper, although armor piercing bullets may be made of steel or other alloys.

According to gun writer Matthew Boyd, a bullet is "the projectile that is propelled downrange when a gun is fired. Bullet cores are usually made of lead that is often jacketed or semi-jacketed in copper or a copper alloy. Or not jacketed at all (a.k.a. cast or swaged lead bullets)."[1]

Bullets vary widely in size. Many pistols fire bullets that are only eight millimeters in diameter. In contrast, a 50-caliber rifle fires bullets that may be larger than an inch in diameter, and some guns, such as mounted anti-aircraft machine guns, may fire bullets that are several inches in diameter.

In a broad sense, a bullet differs from a missile primarily in the fact that a bullet does not have any method of guiding or propelling itself. Both the direction a bullet travels and the velocity it reaches are determined solely in and by the barrel of the firing mechanism. In contrast, a missile, broadly defined, generally carries a supply of propellant and may include a guidance system.


See Also

Bibliography - Further Reading


  1. Boyd, Matthew J., "Basic firearms Terminology Defined." Guns and Shooting Online - Chuck Hawks.com, 2012. Accessed February 19, 2015