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Proposed merge[edit]

I don't think ballistics is used outside the field of forensic science, so I suggest we merge forensic ballistics to the more commonly used and shorter ballistics to get rid of the unneeded "forensic". - Mgm|(talk) 09:22, September 9, 2005 (UTC)

Your suggestion seems to me to imply that all firearms use is in criminal activities. Forensic ballistics is a tiny application of external and terminal ballistics; by far the bulk of firearms ballistics work is done by firearms and ammunition companies, handloaders, target shooters, police and militaries. Ballistics in a broader sense also applies to airguns, paintball guns, archery, darts, baseball, football, frisbee, and any other sport where and object is shot or thrown through the air--while those aren't touched on here, they are still part of the science of ballistics, and definately unrelated to forensic ballistics. scot 12:17, 9 September 2005 (UTC)

Just to quote Calvin Goddard from an article that originally appeared in the Chicago Police Journal in 1936.

"In the November-December issue of Army Ordnance for 1925, I published my first article upon the comparison microscope and its uses in bullet and shell identification. This was entitled "Forensic Ballistics," and for that phrase I take full credit - and blame. We had long been concerned with developing a name for our work which would be reasonably short, concise, and at the same time descriptive. Apparently there was none which adequately fulfilled these requirements. The one chosen, and of which I was the author, seemed to come closer than any other. It was obviously faulty, in that ballistics deals with the motion of projectiles, and the forces which cause and affect these, whereas arms identification concerns as a rule only missiles in a state of rest. Yet, some familiarity with simple ballistic principles is essential to the success of the arms expert, and the exposition of his findings in court assembled is very properly termed "forensic." Unfortunately, the public took up the expression with great rapidity, but finding "forensic" a rather tongue twisting (and to the average man, unintelligible, word) soon came to omit this and refer to arms identification simply as "ballistics." This put an entirely new face upon the matter, for ballistics, as we have seen, and arms identification, are far from being one and the same. I have, therefore, found it necessary to abandon completely the use of the term "forensic ballistics," and to adopt the simpler - and more readily comprehensible ones of "firearm identification" or "arms identification," to which I shall adhere in the pages which follow.


--Rickochet 01:52, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

Balistics is used for firearms and ammo. This is not forensic ballistics. 18:57, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

I vote no on changing to forensic balistics 18:59, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

I work in a crime lab with our firearms examiners. Ballistics is most definitely NOT a forensic term. Ballistics is the physics of trajectory and has next to nothing to do with the examinations conducted in relation to a case. It should be dissociated from forensics firearms examination in each instance they appear together. TimothyPilgrim 21:42, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

It may not be completely correct, but the term "forensic ballistics" is a commonly accepted term in modern society, used in reference to toolmark analysis applied to firearms. Because the public has accepted the term, it has started making its appearance in the forensics field, such as Also, I would argue that some portions of forensics applied to firearms are in fact correctly labled forensic ballistics; for example, attempting to determine the location of the shooter from the evidence at the point of impact does involve reverse-engineering the ballistics of the cartridge; 800 fps impact may have been a .44 Special at close range, or a .44 Magnum at long range. scot 22:22, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

ballistics is 95% mechanics at least, its component sciences fall under it in most, if not all, college curricula


Ballistics is the study of an objects travel through air. Most common it is refering to weapons, because that is where it is used, but ballistics as a term is not a weaponological one. If you are talking about weapons then you have to specify you are talking about ballistics for weapons. The reason i found this article is because i'm looking for a scientific formula for the racio between acceleration, angle, gravity and wind (simple ballistics), which is what should be in an article called "ballistics" and then maybe a huge part of the article should be on the use of it weaponologicly, but if you don't understand the basics, then the weaponological angle is a lot harder to work with.

There should at least be a link to this article... Trajectory is the path the ballistic objects takes, ballistics is what explaines the path.

--- —Preceding unsigned comment added by Bloodlazio (talkcontribs) 17:23, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

Modification proposed[edit]

My opinion is also that ballistics as to do more with ammunition manufacturing than forensic science. To me this very first page concerning this subject should be amended so that each areas (internal, transitional, external, final) be described a bit more thoroughly.

If nobody sees objection, I shall prepare a modified version of this page during january 2008.

--Mdeby (talk) 23:42, 28 December 2007 (UTC)


I want to know where the information on the history of Ballistics came from. GETTA GET (talk) 07:16, 6 January 2009 (UTC)

Can the term Ballistics be used for the corporate world? eg: Performance Ballistics[edit]

Can the term Ballistics be used for the corporate world? eg: Performance Ballistics —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:38, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

Is this related to the article? --THE FOUNDERS INTENT PRAISE GOOD WORKS 19:01, 20 September 2010 (UTC)

Ridiculously biased towards guns. Needs a total rewrite.[edit]

This article is far too narrow in its references. The science of ballistics goes way beyond guns. A lot of ballistics relates to gravity, accelerations and energy stored within the object. Even a person in sport can be subject to the laws of ballistics. A high jumper, for example. The jumper's centre of gravity will always follow a predictable ballistic trajectory, regardless of technique or success.

Where are the references to kinetic and stored energy? Surely those concepts are critical to any discourse on ballistics.

The boomerang is not a ballistic weapon. It is almost entirely aerodynamic. Its flightpath does not follow a predictable ballistic trajectory in the way that a rock does.

The science of ballistics existed in Newton's time, a long time before guns became common and the gun lobby tried to appropriate it as their pet. In fact, as far as I know, Newton made no reference to guns whatsoever. Flanker235 (talk) 10:44, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

I very much agree with you; the article is very definitely start-class and doesn't cover the topic well, and emphasises gun ballistics far too much (and this is after I previously watered down the gun aspects, it used to be much worse).
Boomerangs though, there's two different sorts, the less familiar, traditional boomerangs were more throwing sticks with very little lift and they were ballistic; the more common modern ones are flying wings and you are quite correct that those are not properly considered ballistic.
If you can help out, please do so.GliderMaven (talk) 16:28, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
On boomerangs; you are correct and I should point out that I'm actually Australian! I was going off the popular perception of boomerangs as the stick you throw and it comes back. I assumed that this was what the intent of the comment was. Aboriginal weapons were in many ways very advanced; the woomera, for example, which was used to give a spear extra range.
I was trying to think of a guide for writing the article and came up with an idea that ballistics is the science which describes an object in motion whose trajectory is determined almost entirely by gravity. I know it's not an adequate definition but it might help get away from this domination of and by guns. The photo is irrelevant too. Flanker235 (talk) 18:11, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
Well... I think the current definition at the top of the article is better; drag is also present in ballistics, and is significant. The key thing in ballistics, as compared to other forms of flight, is that there's not a significant amount of aerodynamic lift. If L/D < 1 then it's probably ballistics.
By far the main problem with the article is that it just doesn't have enough stuff in it.
There's an article in Encyclopedia Britannica which is more rounded: GliderMaven (talk) 18:45, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
The thing is, you don't want to overlap too much with other articles. For example if you make too big a deal about trajectories, which is s a critical part of ballistics, but that's part of external ballistics, as are stabilisation things like tails.
Maybe it would be best to expand the 'subfields' section as subarticles, so we copy some of the material here from the specific articles in summary form to round out this article. At the moment the 'subfields' section is too small.
It would also be really good to increase the history section, that would be probably the most useful thing to do of all, but I don't know how to do that right now; I don't know enough about the history of ballistics.GliderMaven (talk) 19:10, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
Props to you for your efforts. I would like to see a lot more discussion about astrodynamics, for example. Did you put that in? I'd be happy to help but I'm by no means an expert. I used to know a theoretical physicist who might be able to provide some useful reference material. Sections on energy, kinematics and inertia would be important too. Flanker235 (talk) 19:32, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

Ballistics, n, 1a. The study of the dynamics of projectiles. b. The study of the flight characteristics of projectiles. 2a. The study of the functioning of firearms. b. The study of the firing, flight, and effect of ammunition. [Webster's II New College Dictionary, 3rd Ed (2005), Houghton-Mifflin --THE FOUNDERS INTENT PRAISE 19:13, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

Gun ballistics should be a stub or a separate article and should not dominate an article which should be about raw physics. As I said earlier, Newton wrote his laws of motion; in effect, the laws of ballistics, without reference to guns. Flanker235 (talk) 19:25, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
I doubt it's separable. Most of the references you'll find for ballistics is going to be about weaponry of one form or another. I did have a google and found that NASA was claiming that it's only really ballistics if there's no air drag, but that would rule-out normal weaponry as well, and I doubt that's a general enough definition for use in a general encyclopedia; it's a bit too specific, I'm pretty sure this article has to be about the whole field, not just the math (more math would be good at this point though.)GliderMaven (talk) 21:11, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
Maybe not. It might be worth looking at the classical mechanics side of ballistics and then going into subheadings like forensic ballistics etc. The extra links in the article provide plenty of information for those seeking information relating to guns. They should remain. In reference to the NASA comment, it's not a very complex science if you understand Newton's laws and differential calculus (I don't anymore). It's also necessary to explain concepts of stored energy and kinetics etc., since they are key to many outcomes. Once you start introducing aerodynamics into it, the subject becomes more complex and probably goes beyond what is necessary. That doesn't mean it isn't needed, just that it's not a path which we should go far down. I'm not proposing that discussions on weaponry be removed altogether. The two are inextricably linked. I just think that it is important that the subject be explained in terms of what it includes rather than being exclusive to guns. Flanker235 (talk) 21:54, 10 December 2013 (UTC)

This seems pretty good:

"ballistics (bəlĭs`tĭks), science of projectiles. Interior ballistics deals with the propulsion and the motion of a projectile within a gun or firing device. Its problems include the ignition and burning of the propellant powder, the pressure produced by the expanding gases, the movement of the projectile through the bore, and the designing of the barrel to resist resulting stresses and strains. Exterior ballistics is concerned with the motion of a projectile while in flight and includes the study not only of the flight path of bullets but also of bombs, rockets, and missiles. All projectiles traveling through the air are affected by wind, air resistance, and the force of gravity. These forces induce a curved path known as a trajectory. The trajectory varies with the weight and shape of the projectile, with its initial velocity, and with the angle at which it is fired. The general shape of a trajectory is that of a parabola. The total distance traveled by a projectile is known as its range. A ballistic missile in the first stage of its flight is powered and guided by rocket engines. After the engines burn out, the warhead travels in a fixed arc as does an artillery shell. In criminology the term ballistics is applied to the identification of the weapon from which a bullet was fired. Microscopic imperfections in a gun barrel make characteristic scratches and grooves on bullets fired through it, but use causes the marks a particular gun makes to change over time."

GliderMaven (talk) 21:11, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

Here's one I found:
"the study of the flight dynamics of projectiles, either through the interaction of the forces of propulsion, the aerodynamics of the projectile, atmospheric resistance, and gravity (exterior ballistics), or through these forces along the means of propulsion, and the design of the propelling weapon and projectile (interior ballistics)." (Collins English Dictionary, Australian Edn).
On the other hand, here is a definition of the adjective "ballistic" from the same source,
"adj. 1. of or relating to ballistics, 2. denoting or relating to the flight of projectiles after power has been cut off, moving under their own momentum and the external forces of gravity and air resistance. 3. (of a measurement or measuring instrument) depending on a brief impulse of current that causes a movement related to the quantity to be measured: a ballistic pendulum The second part of that one rings true for me as a link to classical mechanics.
Of course, it has to be emphasised that when we refer to a projectile, we refer to more than just bullets.
That photo of the gun going off is kind of irrelevant to the article, don't you think? Spectacular maybe but not of much use in what is supposed to be reference standard.
By the way, you may find this useful. It helps with the history angle you were looking for: Flanker235 (talk) 12:31, 10 December 2013 (UTC)

Irrelevant photographs[edit]

None of the photographs included in this article shed any light whatsoever on the subject. The pic of the gun going off is spectacular but contributes nothing as far as explaining what the subject is about. Same applies to the battleship. The Schliere photo is for illustrating aerodynamic phenomena, such as shockwaves, and not for ballistic analysis. Only the gif at the head of the article has any relevance. The rest should be removed. Flanker235 (talk) 22:47, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

If you can find better or more appropriate photos, I think you should go ahead and replace the bad ones. --THE FOUNDERS INTENT PRAISE 16:07, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
It's not a matter of replacing them as such. I have quoted several non-firearm examples already. The issue is not how the object becomes ballistic but its behaviour after the fact. An object it is accelerated onto a ballistic trajectory by any number of different means - by throwing or slingshot or gun or even by falling. That is not the issue. The issue is that its trajectory is subject to the laws of classical mechanics. For that reason the shots, spectacular as they are, are not relevant to the subject because it gives the impression that the subject is solely about guns rather than about the path of projectiles. To that end, the photos are misleading. Flanker235 (talk) 06:37, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
Well I'm not sure how to respond to this. --THE FOUNDERS INTENT PRAISE 12:01, 13 February 2014 (UTC)
Well, for example, I don't think the picture of the handgun with the bullets contributes anything at all. It's just a product shot. What do we learn about ballistics from it? Flanker235 (talk) 03:00, 14 February 2014 (UTC)