Rifleman Q & A: Mid-Range Trajectory

posted on January 26, 2018

Q: I am having a hard time understanding the term “mid-range trajectory.” I have seen this dimension expressed using a line from the muzzle to the target as a measuring point. I have also seen the mid-range trajectory expressed using the line of sight. Which one of these mid-range measurements is the correct one to use? The mid-range expression with a line from the muzzle to the target gives a yardage of 50- to 55-percent total yardage. This seems to be the reason for the name mid-range, whereas, the mid-range expression using the line of sight gives a yardage of 60 to 65 percent.

A: These terms can be confusing, but according to the NRA Firearms Sourcebook, “The maximum height above the line of sight of the bullet’s path one-half the distance for which the gun is zeroed is called the mid-range trajectory (i.e., the height at 100 yds. for a gun zeroed at 200 yds.), typically measured in inches or millimeters.” In other words, the mid-range trajectory for any gun/load combination is the height of the bullet above the line of sight at a point halfway between the muzzle and the zero range.

The same source defines a related term as, “Maximum height (ordinate) occurs at a point roughly 55 percent of the way to the zero range, or the range at which the bullet path and line of sight intersect. Normally expressed in inches or millimeters, this figure is important to determine the maximum point-blank range of a cartridge.” The term “roughly” is used because the second half of the arc defining the bullet’s flight is steeper because the rate of deceleration is faster. For any gun/load/range combination, the max ordinate is always greater than mid-range trajectory and is achieved farther downrange.


Eotech Launches Anti
Eotech Launches Anti

EOTech Launches Anti-Counterfeit Measures

EOTech has launched a campaign targeting those who create and sell illegal copies of its military sighting systems.

The .405 Winchester: History and Performance

Now largely a forgotten footnote in cartridge development, the .405 Winchester was once the most powerful rimmed cartridge capable of use in a lever-action rifle and was a favorite of Theodore Roosevelt.

Colt Mustang .380 ACP: The Pocket-Size 1911

Based off the classic 1911 design, the small Colt Mustang chambered in .380 ACP is easily concealable and shares the same classic look in its tiny frame.

NRA Reschedules The Annual Members' Meeting

The NRA has rescheduled its Annual Members' Meeting to occur on Oct. 2, 2021 in Charlotte, NC.

The Men And Guns Of D-Day: 101st Airborne Division

Watch this segment of American Rifleman Television "The Men And Guns Of D-Day" to learn more about the men of the 101st Airborne Division, their stories and the firearms they used during "The Great Crusade."

Pat Garrett's Pistol Sells for Highest Price in History

The Colt Single Action Army revolver used by Pat Garrett to kill Billy The Kid sold at auction from Bonhams for more than $6 million dollars, in what is probably the highest price ever paid for a civilian firearm.


Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.