Question: does exploding shrapnel from a hand grenade travel faster than a bullet from a gun

  1. I have not done the experiment, but I would expect a bullet to be faster.

    When a grenade explodes it spreads its energy in all directions and to lots of pieces of shrapnel. In addition not all of the energy is directed into shrapnel, some of it just goes through the air. However when a bullet explodes inside a gun barrel the barrel ensures that almost all of the energy from the explosion is directed in one direction and to one thing (the bullet).

    So while a grenade explosion is bigger it is designed to be spread out and cause damage nearby. While a bullet’s explosion is focused on the bullet to accelerate it in one direction.


  2. Hmmm, that’s a good question… wouldn’t like to do the experiment myself!

    I’d have to make an educated guess that a bullet would be faster in most cases. Bullets usually travel faster than the speed of sound (over 1000km/h) and can go a long way at that speed because of the way a gun is designed. Most guns and rifles put rotation onto the bullet so it keeps flying straight, and it’s a streamlined shape so it has low wind resistance. Shrapnel might go fast initially but would slow down really quickly because of it’s shape and also because the energy form the explosion is spread out in all directions, rather than focussed.