View Full Version : Ranges of various rifle calibres

Pond, James Pond
June 30, 2012, 04:17 PM
I don't know much about rifle calibres, but I'm slowly building a basic understanding. However, one thing I still struggle with is the relative potency of different rounds.

Some sites with give you the speed and energy of the round but, again, as an absolute value, I have no idea what one energy level equates to in the real world.

Is there a website that would tell me the effective ranges of different calibres out of typical weapons chambered in that round.

For example, I've read that a .223 out of an AR can remain accurate and effective out to about 600m.

Where might similar information be available for cartridge comparison?

June 30, 2012, 04:21 PM
Here is a place to start. http://world.guns.ru/index-e.html It reads like a bad technical manual for the Mack Bolan crowd but it will give you stated numbers which are not exactly hard and fast or set in stone.


June 30, 2012, 04:25 PM
Mr. Pond, try Chuckhawks.com. There is a wealth of information on ballistics, calibers, rifles, ect. He is very opinionated, but also well informed. He has he llikes and dislikes and tells it like he sees it. Not all shooters or gun makers agree with Chuck, but I generally tend to. Good luck, Pal.

Pond, James Pond
June 30, 2012, 04:54 PM
Thanks for those links. The first I was aware of: great site for gun trivia!

The Chuckhawks site I did not know. Also lots to read: looked very interesting. They had a ballistics table but I was blinded by numbers: don't understand enough yet to put them in context.

Just to clarify, I am looking for a comparative table or resource with the data in layman's terms.

22LR from a 20" barrel is effective out to about 200yds
.223 from a 20" barrel is effective out to about 600yds
.308 from a 20" barrel is effective out to about ???yds

Then I have an idea of which is more powerful than which and to which kinds of distances can be expected.

(although, this page (http://www.chuckhawks.com/rifle_trajectory_table.htm) gives me some perspective with the MPB data.)

June 30, 2012, 04:55 PM
You could use an online ballstics chart to get some ideas. This is from Remingtons website.


Just select a chambering to see a chart of the factory loads they offer. It will show various bullet weights available, the velocity and energy numbers as well as trajectory at various ranges out to 500 yards.

Almost all ammo companies offer similar charts, but the numbers between various brands only differ slightly. This won't tell you anything beyond 500 yards, but there are some that show ballistics at up to 1000.

June 30, 2012, 04:55 PM
The main considerations are the intended use of the round- and at what range.

Hunters (and Operators, that hunt two-legged quarry) are concerned about retained energy at point of impact. Will the bullet still have the necessary velocity to expand (if intended) or yaw, and do the necessary tissue damage required for the kill?

Target shooters are not concerned about energy. It's more about getting the bullet to the target faster (less time for wind and gravity to act on the bullet), and bullets with superior ballistics that fly straighter- with less resistance.

The resources noted above will help with general external ballistics.
For specifics, there are many (free) online ballistic programs where the parameters can be input (bullet weight, BC, muzzle velocity, environmental factors) and the results known.

When you say "effective out to "X" yards", it's gonna depend on all those factors.
Soft-point hunting bullets have comparatively lousy BC's, shed velocity and energy faster, than other bullet types. Lighter bullets of a given caliber can be pushed faster than heavier bullets...but which is better...lighter bullet- faster, or heavier bullet? Depends on the application.

There's no specific answers, unless you have a specific application.

June 30, 2012, 05:05 PM
You were apparently typing at the same time as I was on my previous post. If you had trouble understanding Chuck Hawks charts the Remington chart will not be any easier.

Saying a certain round is effective at "X" range is hard to pin down. Looking at the charts you can get an idea of how much bullet drop you will get at various ranges. The less drop, the easier it is to make hits at unknown ranges. But in target shooting this is less important since you know the range. You can always adjust the sights to make hits at longer ranges even if the round you choose has more drop at long range.

For punching holes in paper targets bullet energy is not that important. A 223 can hit targets at 1,000 yards, but has borderline energy to humainely kill a deer at 200 yards, some would say 100 or less. Same with a 308. It has power and trajectory to hit targets at 1,000 yards as well, but it's larger, heavier bullet is capable of taking a deer at 500 yards or slightly more if the shooter is good enough.

Pond, James Pond
June 30, 2012, 05:15 PM
@tobnpr & jmr40

Thanks for those relative explanations.
The penny half dropped... Or is in the process of dropping...sort of!!:o

However, I can now begin to visualise what you mean about a bullet travelling out to a certain distance, and what energy levels it could effectively transfer, once it got there.

June 30, 2012, 06:30 PM
Even better than "visualizing" bullet flight- is actually seeing it...
Yup, bullet vapor trails...
If you've ever shot on a day with the "right" combination of lighting and humidity- it's cool to see.

This is one of the best videos I've seen of it- crank up the resolution to 1080p and watch it full screen!

Also amazing to see the arc of the bullet in flight compensating for bullet drop.
Really allows you to visualize how quickly gravity would act on a bullet- and drive it into the dirt- without elevation adjustment to get the bullet to fly in an arc.

What I've often wondered- and the ballistics programs don't provide- is the maximum elevation of the bullet arc above the bore's line of sight. But as we can see in the 1500 yard shots- the bullet approaches the top of the viewing screen- so it's "up there", for sure...


June 30, 2012, 11:30 PM
For centerfire rifles, I think an argument can be made that the potential effective range is about as far as the bullet remains supersonic; as a bullet slows the transition through the sound barrier can cause instabilities in the bullet's flight that reduce accuracy. (Target shooters using the .308 Win or 7.62 NATO round at 1000 yards have to be careful with load selection because of this effect.)

The thing is, there's a lot of hand-waving when it comes to figuring effective range, which is a function of actual ballistics, rifle accuracy, and shooter capability. Let's say that a consensus is reached that a round is "effective" at 600 yards; does that mean the target is safe at 700? Nope.

July 2, 2012, 10:39 AM
Is there a website that would tell me the effective ranges of different calibres out of typical weapons chambered in that round.

Effective range is almost a philosophical concept.

How far can the shooter hit the target? , how much energy is there left in the bullet?, and will it cause sufficient damage, assuming it hits something vital.

There are plenty of Civil War accounts of “spent bullets”. Minie balls that hit people but did not have enough energy to penetrate. Still hurt like heck, from what I read.

Those people were not being aimed at though, because the common musket of the era was so ill sighted and so ill bored that 800 yard + hits were not possible.

Modern rifles will shoot 2000 yards. You get on sniper web forums and there are all sorts of posts claiming essentially 2000 yard plus hits on tea cups. On demand and all the time.

I don’t believe it.

Modern rifles and cartridges will shoot further than 99.999% of shooter can hit.

Chuck Dye
July 2, 2012, 11:23 AM
As a kid I fell in love with the concept of maximum point blank range for sighting in a hunting rifle. Calculators are available such as


I tend to think of "effective" hunting range as the MBPR of my rifle and load combo. My .30-06 is ±3" to 287 yards with the loads it likes. The gun and ammo are good for considerably greater range. I am, too, if I have reliable range information. Until I buy a rangefinder, I will stick to shots withing 300 yards. A second consideration is accuracy. That .30-06 throws a .7MOA cone of fire with those preferred loads, great for deer and elk within the MPBR. With the cheap surplus ammo I have and its 2+ MOA cone of fire, the golf ball at 1000 yards is a different matter. Of course those are rested accuracies. Standing on my hind legs like a human and using only a sling, that golf ball nearly has time to escape.:D

July 2, 2012, 11:51 AM
Effective range is almost a philosophical concept.
I am happy that someone said that.
Define "effective". For a target shooter that 600m .223 might be effective out to 1000m. For a hunter....? For a sniper?
What gun is being used? What sights? What bullet? (for that .223 bullet weights can go from 35 grains to 90 grains. The 35 may not be very effective at long range while a VLD 90 may well be accurate at 1000 yards.)

July 2, 2012, 01:21 PM
Decent way to kill a couple hours:


July 2, 2012, 09:50 PM
Generally, comparing bullet weight and point-blank range should give a good relative idea of the performance of various calibers... Reloading manuals are a great source for ballistic and dimensional info, and if you can find any books by P.O. Ackley, read them.