Driving band

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Russian 122 mm shrapnel shell, which has been fired, showing rifling marks on the copper driving band around its base and the steel bourrelet nearer the front

The driving band or rotating band is part of an artillery shell, a band of soft metal near the bottom of the shell, typically made of gilding metal,[1] copper or lead. When the shell is fired the pressure of the propellant swages the metal into the rifling of the barrel, providing a seal preventing the gases from blowing past the shell and engaging with the rifling to spin-stabilize the shell.

The shell is stabilised for yaw in the barrel by a bourrelet band nearer the front of the projectile. The bourrelet is slightly smaller than the driving band, it does not engage with the rifling and serves only to keep the projectile travelling straight in the bore.

As the shell weight increases it becomes more difficult to engineer the driving band without the propellant gases blowing past the driving band or blowing the driving band off the shell.

Some weapons that operate at high rates of fire, such as the GAU-8 Avenger Gatling cannon, use plastic driving bands rather than soft metal. The advantage in using plastic as a swage material in such cases is reduced wear on the barrel rifling, extending the life and average accuracy of the weapon.

In a small-arms rifle, the entire bullet is typically covered in copper or a similarly soft alloy, so the entire bullet is its own driving band.


Driving bands pre-cut for the rifling have been used for muzzle loaded weapons, e.g. some mortars. Freely rotating bands can be used to reduce the spin imparted to the round as is preferable for HEAT warheads or fin-stabilised projectiles fired from general-purpose rifled barrels.

Gerald Bull worked extensively on ways to eliminate the driving band, leading to the development of his Extended Range, Full Bore ammunition using an inversion of the pre-cut rifling for his GC-45 howitzer, which is now rapidly replacing older artillery worldwide.[citation needed]

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  1. ^ [1] Archived August 17, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.

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