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How Far Can a Centerfire Bullet Travel [Factors]

Dakota Potts | Updated February 22, 2024 | Why You Should Trust Us | How We Earn Money
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Centerfire bullets are very popular in the firearm and ammunition industry. They’re safe, reliable, and can handle the toughest situations. But an important question that any gun enthusiast will want to have answered is how far this bullet can actually travel. Let’s find out.

For more reading see our post on the best 30-30 scope on the market.

How Far Can a Centerfire Bullet Travel?

Most people who shoot often have probably wondered this before. And the answer is that it’ll depend on various factors. 

For instance, if you’re using small or short bullets, they can travel up to 300 to 350 yards. On the other hand, larger shots will travel up to 600 yards, and slug shot goes beyond 800 yards.

So, how far can a bullet travel in feet? Well, a centerfire bullet can travel between : 900 to 2400 feet, depending on the type of ammunition you’re using. (Reference 1: Centerfire Ammo)

How Far Does a Bullet Travel Before It Drops?

There are several things that affect how far a bullet will travel before it starts dropping. The major one is velocity. The faster the bullet moves, the farther it will travel before it drops.

Air resistance also contributes to a bullet’s trajectory. When you fire a bullet, it bumps into air molecules that slow it down and cause it to drop faster.

Another factor we also have to consider is the ballistics coefficient. This is the bullet’s ability to overcome air drag when in flight. A bullet with a higher BC will go farther before it starts dropping.

With those factors in mind, let’s take a 9mm bullet, for example. A 115-grain 9mm ammo with 1200 fps (muzzle velocity) can travel up to 2400 ft before it starts dropping, while a 147-grain 9mm bullet with 1000 fps will travel up to about 2000 ft before it starts dropping off.

But how far can a bullet travel horizontally? That’s another issue slightly different from bullet drop.

How Far Can a Bullet Travel Horizontally?

The horizontal distance a bullet travels depends on various factors like the firearm, weight, and muzzle velocity. Horizontally, a bullet can travel about 1760 yards, which is about a mile. However, that distance will vary based on the firing point altitude.

Be sure to avoid this misunderstanding – how far does a bullet travel before it drops and how far does it travel horizontally are two different questions. A bullet will drop but continue traveling horizontally, making these two concepts different.

So, how far does a bullet travel before it hits the ground? Let’s find out below.

How Far Does a Bullet Travel Before It Hits the Ground?

A pile of 9mm centerfire bullets

Again, several factors will determine how far the bullet travels before it hits the ground. However, if you take a 9mm bullet shot from a handgun, it’ll travel up to 7000 ft before hitting the ground. 

That said, a bullet will hardly go this far before running into something. So, you may want to avoid testing this theory to avoid damaging something or injuring someone.

Now, how far does a bullet drop in one second, then? Well, a standard bullet fired at 1200 fps will drop by about 32 to 40 inches per second.

How Far Does a Bullet Go When You Shoot It in the Air?

There are some factors in play that’ll determine how high a bullet will travel when shot straight up. However, a standard bullet can go up to 4000 ft high before it starts returning, while a high-powered bullet will go as high as 10,000 ft. (Reference 2: How far do bullets go)

Of course, it’s not wise to do this, given the actual harm it can cause when it falls back to earth. Take a look at how that works:

Also take a look at our article on how far 30-30 ammo shoots and what does centerfire mean?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the range of a centerfire bullet?

The range of a centerfire bullet is about 350 yards (320 meters) for a small shot, while for a larger shot is about 600 yards (548.6 meters). Slugs can go as far as over 800 yards (731.5 meters).

How far does a 9mm bullet travel before it drops?

A 9mm bullet will travel between 1400 to 1600 ft (426.7–487.6 meters) before it drops.

How far can a bullet travel in water?

A standard bullet can travel up to about 5 ft in water (1.5 meters), while a bullet fired from a high-powered firearm can go as far as 50 ft (15.2 meters). The exact distance will depend on various factors, including muzzle velocity, drag force, and water resistance.

How far can a bullet travel without hitting something?

A bullet can travel up to about 7000 ft (2133.6 meters) before hitting the ground, although this will vary based on the ammo used and the environmental conditions.


  1. Hunter-ed, Centerfire and Rimfire Ammunition. Retrieved from https://www.hunter-ed.com/national/studyGuide/Centerfire-and-Rimfire-Ammunition/201099_92805/
  2. Wired, How High Does a Bullet Go? Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/2009/09/how-high-does-a-bullet-go/

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