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What Happens When You Fire A Gun While Travelling At The Speed Of A Bullet?

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What Happens When You Fire A Gun While Travelling At The Speed Of A Bullet?

The average bullet travels a whopping 2,500 feet (762 metres) per second once it leaves the barrel. Yep, that's right, every single second. If you're talking in terms of relative speed, that's about 1,700 miles per hour (2,735 km/h).

That's pretty fucking fast - however, the sole purpose of a bullet is to reach it's intended target as quick as possible, before it has a chance to react, so the faster the better.

But that speed only exists when the person holding the weapon is stationary. If they are travelling in the opposite direction, it means the bullet will react differently.

Credit: Creative Commons
Credit: Creative Commons

However, what would happen if you were travelling at the speed of a bullet?

Interestingly, if you somehow managed to build a vehicle that could do a casual 1,700 mph, charged it down a runway and fired a gun out the back, the bullet would simply drop to the ground, according to Futurism.

Weird, huh?

It seems to go against instinctive thought, but that's the laws of relativity for you. If you're having a tough time visualising this scenario (which is understandable considering there's no land vehicle that can travel that fast), then thankfully Mythbusters has you covered.


Credit: Mythbusters/Discovery Channel

However they didn't simulate this scenario with a bullet, they decided a cannon would work better to simply illustrate the physics at play.

Thankfully, they didn't use an actual cannonball, but a football, and fired it from the back of a truck that was travelling at 60 mph. The Mythbusters team knew that the ball would travel 60 mph when the cannon went off, but they wanted to see what it would do.


Sure enough, the ball hovered in the air for a split second and then dropped directly down.

The science show has a few other handy tips about bullets, including the reaction speed you'd need to be able to dodge one. If you were 500 feet away from the shooter, you would have just 0.20 seconds to jump out of the way of it's trajectory.


The only problem with this scenario is that sound travels a lot slower than the average bullet, roughly 768 miles an hour (1235 km/h). That projectile would have enough time to hit you twice before you heard the gunshot.

Hopefully you'll never have to find yourself in that type of situation, but at least now you know the incredible speed at which you'll have to move at to survive.

Featured Image Credit: Breaking Bad/AMC

Topics: Science, Interesting, Community

Stewart Perrie
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