What happens to bullets being shot into the air?

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Like when people fire their guns into the air, what happens to them? Do they go up into low orbit, do they burn up, do they land somewhere else?

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Eventually they lose their velocity and start falling down at terminal velocity, which is much lower than the speed at which they fly out of the barrel.

They hit the ground somewhere traveling at 300 ft per second(approximate terminal velocity of a 30 caliber bullet)

They are not fired with nearly enough speed to leave the atmosphere, nor to burn up due to friction with the air.

What goes up, must come down.

If you are in the country, odds of shooting a person are pretty small, but obviously that increases with increasing population density and shouldn’t be done anywhere.

They come down nearby – they’re nowhere near fast enough to make it to orbital heights.

If they’re shot mostly upwards they tumble and fall much slower than muzzle velocity.

If they’re shot more horizontally they can continue traveling at lethal speed and kill someone a half mile away.

If they are shot straight up they will end up losing all speed and on the way down they do not pick up as much speed due to the air resistance. So the bullets do not land with the same energy as they are shot out of the gun with. It is hard to say it could not be dangerous or even lethal but it is more similar to the dangers of ricochets then actually getting shot directly.

However there is a much higher danger with bullets that is shot upwards at an angle. Say the shooter holds the gun at a 45 degree angle instead of a 90 degree angle. In that case the bullet does not lose all its speed as it goes up but will instead go in an arch. It will still lose a lot of energy but a lot less then when shoting straight up. And although the bullet will probably hit well outside of the effective range even ineffective fire can be lethal. And people have been killed at celebrations due to gunfire into the air. And this is why when you train on shooting you are always instructed to discharge the gun towards the ground in a safe direction, preferably into a pile of sand.

The MythBusters actually covered this one! It mostly depends on the angle you fire it at, but all of them definitely come back down. https://mythresults.com/episode50

They fall down and they can actually hit people and kill them. It’s extremely dangerous to shoot bullets into the air. It’s highly discouraged.

They fall back down. Some rifle ammunition is almost fast enough to get into orbit… on the moon, but none is fast enough to even come close on earth.

The bullet will just come back down somewhere, the chances of causing injury are slim but not zero.

They fall down. They’re not nearly fast enough to get into orbit.

And yes, people being hit by falling bullets is a thing that happens and it’s why firing guns into the air is a really bad idea.

Consider this: a .50 BMG (The ammo used in a Barret) has a maximum range under ideal conditions of 5280 yards. Space is a *fuck* of a lot higher than that, so orbital flight (let alone burnup speeds) is straight up impossible.

As far as danger goes, nothing fired straight up is going to be anywhere as dangerous on the way down, although if its a rifle bullet with at actual point to it it’ll fall a lot faster than a handgun bullet, and a heavier round (again, .50 BMg territory) could cause some serious injury or even kill someone when they hit (I’ve been hit twice by falling 7.62x45mm bullets; it wasn’t fun).

When it gets dangerous is when the gun is fired at an angle, because they keep their spin and stay fairly stable. A 9mm bullet can travel anywhere from two and a half to three *miles* if it’s fired into the air at a 45 degree angle.

This is why warning shots are illegal in all 50 US states, no matter where you aim them.