The word bullet is a firearm term. A bullet is a projectile expelled from the barrel of a firearm, the term is from Middle French and originated as the diminutive of the word boulle which means small ball. Bullets are made of a variety of materials and they are available singly as they would be used in muzzle loading and cap and ball firearms, as part of a paper cartridge, and much more commonly as a component of metallic cartridges. Bullets are made in a numbers of styles and constructions depending on how they will be used. Many bullets have specialized functions, such as hunting, target shooting, training, defense, a bullet is not a cartridge. In paper and metallic cartridges a bullet is one component of the cartridge, bullet sizes are expressed by their weight and diameter in both English and Metric measurement systems. For example.22 caliber 55 grain bullets or 5. 56mm 55 grain bullets are the same caliber, the word bullet is often used colloquially to refer to a cartridge, which is a combination of the bullet, paper or metallic case/shell, powder, and primer. This use of bullet, when cartridge is intended, leads to confusion when the components of a cartridge are discussed or intended, the bullets used in many cartridges are fired at a muzzle velocity faster than the speed of sound. Meaning they are supersonic and thus can travel a substantial distance, bullet speed through air depends on a number of factors such as barometric pressure, humidity, air temperature, and wind speed. Subsonic cartridges fire bullets slower than the speed of sound and so there is no sonic crack and this means that a subsonic cartridge such as.45 ACP can be effectively suppressed to be substantially quieter than a supersonic cartridge such as the.223 Remington. Bullets do not normally contain explosives, but damage the target by impact. The first use of gunpowder in Europe was recorded in 1247 and it had been used in China for hundreds of years. Later in 1364 hand cannon appeared, early projectiles were made of stone. Stone was used in cannon and hand cannon, in cannon it was eventually found that stone would not penetrate stone fortifications which gave rise to the use of heavier metals for the round projectiles. Hand cannon projectiles developed in a similar following the failure of stone from siege cannon. The first recorded instance of a ball from a hand cannon penetrating armor occurred in 1425. In this photograph of shot retrieved from the wreck of the Mary Rose which was sunk in 1545, the round shot are clearly of different sizes and some are stone while others are cast iron. The development of the hand culverin and matchlock arquebus brought about the use of cast lead balls as projectiles, bullet is derived from the French word boulette, which roughly means little ball
A modern cartridge consists of the following: 1. the bullet, as the projectile; 2. the case, which holds all parts together; 3. the propellant, for example gunpowder or cordite; 4. the rim, which provides the extractor on the firearm a place to grip the casing to remove it from the chamber once fired; 5. the primer, which ignites the propellant.
Round shot from the Mary Rose showing both stone and iron ball shot
Matchlock musket balls, alleged to have been discovered at Naseby battlefield.
Delvigne further developed cylindro-spherical (left) and cylindro-conical bullets (middle), which received the bullet grooves developed by Tamisier for stability