Rifled Weapons

Rifled weapons are characterized by having parallel spiral projecting ridges (or lands) extending down the interior of the barrel from the breach to the muzzle. This rifling causes the projectile, in this case a bullet (see Fig. 9B), to spin as it is ejected from the weapon and thus impart gyroscopic stability along its flight path. The rifling also leaves characteristic scratches and rifling marks that are unique to that weapon on the bullet surface. There are three common types of rifled weapons: the revolver, the pistol, and the rifle. The revolver, which tends to have a low muzzle velocity of 150 m/s, is a short-barreled weapon with its ammunition held in a metal drum, which rotates each time the trigger is released. The spent cartridge case is retained within the cylinder after firing. In the self-loading pistol, often called "semi-automatic" or erroneously "automatic," the ammunition is held in a metal clip-type magazine under the breach. Each time the trigger is pulled, the bullet in the breach is fired, the spent cartridge case is ejected from the weapon, and a spring mechanism pushes up the next live bullet into the breach ready to be fired. The muzzle velocity of pistols varies between 300 and 360 m/s. The rifle is a long-barreled shoulder weapon capable of firing bullets with velocities up to 1500 m/s. Most military rifles are "automatic," allowing the weapon to continue to fire while the trigger is depressed until the magazine is empty; thus, they are capable of discharging multiple rounds within seconds.

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