How to Calculate Muzzle Velocity

Written by grace williams
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How to Calculate Muzzle Velocity
Use any gun with the appropriate bullets for a muzzle velocity test. (a gun image by timur1970 from

Muzzle velocity calculates the distance a bullet travels in a particular amount of time. Formal muzzle velocity tests require complicated sensors that trigger when the bullet fires and when it strikes the end target. Create a more informal experiment using a stopwatch and ballistics gelatin. Only those with experience and training in the use of firearms should participate in this experiment. Make sure to do the testing in an area where the bullets run no risk of hurting a person or property.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Gun
  • Bullets
  • Ballistic gelatin
  • Stopwatch

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  1. 1

    Create a range for the ballistics test. Mark out a 15-foot-long area where it will be safe to fire a weapon. At the far end of this range, place a block of ballistics gel on a raised platform to make it even with the height of the gun. The shooter may stand at full height or squat to take the shot.

  2. 2

    Load the gun with bullets per the manufacturer's directions.

  3. 3

    The observers should ready the stopwatch. It needs to be started as the bullet fires and ended when the bullet hits the ballistics gel.

  4. 4

    Fire the gun and measure the time between firing and impact.

  5. 5

    To calculate the muzzle velocity, divide the length of the range (15 feet) by the time it took for the bullet to hit the gel.

  6. 6

    Repeat the test with the rest of the bullets in the gun. Calculate the muzzle velocity of each test, then use all of the results to calculate the average muzzle velocity.

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