There are basically three types of ballistics, internal, external and terminal.
Internal ballistics is the study of what happens within the barrel of a weapon from the moment the firing pin hits the primer to the time the bullets exits from the barrel. It is mainly concerned with propellant pressures, acceleration of the missile whilst it is in the bore, muzzle velocity and recoil.
Esoteric considerations such as primer ignition time, primer pressure/time curves and temperature also come within the general subject matter of interior ballistics. These considerations are, however, far too specialized to be dealt with in this book.
External ballistics deals with the flight of the bullet from the muzzle of the weapon to the target. This is truly a terribly complicated subject involving parameters such as bullet shape, sectional density, atmospheric pressure and even, in larger-calibre weapons, the rotation of the earth. With the advent of powerful personal computers, this subject has, however, now come within the realms of the average person. What took hours of complex calculations and reference to books of flight time tables can now be achieved in a few moments.
Terminal ballistics deals with the behaviour of the missile once it reaches the target. This is obviously not concerned with simply piercing a paper target, but what the missile does once it encounters a material considerably denser than air. Whilst this will usually be concerned with the missile -s performance and wounding capabilities in animal tissue, this could also include its performance in water, soil, brick, concrete, wood or bullet-resistant materials.
Handbook of Firearms and Ballistics: Second Edition Brian J. Heard © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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