Shooter's Glossary: Feet Per Second (FPS)

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Shooter's Glossary: Feet Per Second (FPS)

In the context of firearms and the shooting sports world, "Feet Per Second" (FPS) is a measure of velocity, indicating how fast a bullet or projectile travels once it leaves the barrel of a firearm.

Additionally, FPS measures the distance a projectile or bullet travels over time - specifically, the number of feet traveled in a second.

If a bullet moves faster then 1,126 feet per second it is then moving faster than the speed of sound, and it will create a supersonic “crack” that is very loud.

Many ammunition producers create special “subsonic” ammo that travels slower than 1,126 feet per second, staying slower than the speed of sound.

This means there is no supersonic crack when the bullet is moving through the air. 

Feet Per Second Diagram

Bullet Velocity measured in feet per second (f.p.s.): Remaining velocity numbers indicate the aerodynamic efficiency of a bullet. Higher retained velocity means a bullet is more efficient at slicing through the air.

Here's a deeper dive into its significance and application:

Measurement of Speed
FPS quantifies the speed of bullets or projectiles. For instance, a bullet traveling at 1,200 FPS is moving at a speed of 1,200 feet in one second.

Performance and Ballistics
FPS is a critical component of ballistic performance. The velocity of a bullet affects its trajectory, energy, and terminal performance.

Higher FPS often means flatter trajectories and increased kinetic energy on impact, but it can also lead to increased recoil and barrel wear.

Ammunition Specifications
Ammunition boxes typically provide an estimated FPS value based on the manufacturer's tests. This gives shooters an idea of the bullet's performance, although actual velocities can vary based on factors like barrel length, atmospheric conditions, and firearm specifics.

Chronograph Usage
Shooters and handloaders use devices called chronographs to measure the actual FPS of bullets fired from their guns. This helps in load development, ensuring safety, and optimizing accuracy and performance.

Effect on Materials
Different bullet materials and constructions can behave differently at various velocities. For instance, certain types of hollow-point bullets are designed to expand reliably within specific FPS ranges.

In essence, Feet Per Second (FPS) is a foundational metric in the shooting sports world, offering insight into the performance and capabilities of projectiles, whether they're bullets, pellets, or arrows.

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