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vapor trail

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Unread 04-11-2008, 06:26 AM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: nw arkansas
Posts: 81
vapor trail

what is a vapor trail?
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Unread 04-11-2008, 07:39 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Columbia, MO
Posts: 1,476
It's the turbulence behind a bullet in flight. If you are directly behind the shooter and know where to look you can see where the bullet flies. Easiest way is to go to somewhere with a light background and shoot 22's. It looks like a tracer, but not near as bright.
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Unread 04-11-2008, 08:10 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 184
Caused by condensation of moisture in the atmosphere, due to the drop of pressure immediately behind the bullet. Similiar to the streaks which seem to be attached to the wing tips and some control surfaces of jets during some maneuvers. Not to be confused with the engine exhaust contrails, which is a completely different situation.

It is also possible to actually see some bullets in flight, when the light is exactly right.
Personally, I have seen bullets from the 45 ACP (big and slow) when sunlight was from over my shoulder as I was shooting.

I can't remember ever seeing the vapor trail from bullets----just haven't done enough rifle shooting under the right conditions, I guess.

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Unread 04-11-2008, 08:26 AM
Gold Member
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Posts: 619
I have heard that under some condititons you can see a vapor trail, but I have never been able to do so. I generally consider it a discription of seeing the vortex od disturbed air behind the bullet as it proceeds downrange.

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Unread 04-11-2008, 09:07 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Oregon City, OR
Posts: 509

I could never see it tell I was at the range and a guy was shooting a 30-30 at 300 yrds. it was the first time i could see it, now I know what to look for. It dose get easier with longer distances.

Another trick is to shoot a longer ranges and look through a spotter that is out of foucus just a little. Focused around 100 yrds in front of the target.
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Unread 04-11-2008, 10:39 AM
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Henefer Utah
Posts: 98
Watch this video on the 500yrd shots you will see the vapor trail
YouTube - Long Range Shooting

Last edited by huntinco; 04-11-2008 at 10:43 AM.
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Unread 04-11-2008, 11:01 AM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 48
I've found it tough to see vapor trails untill the range is over 300 yards or so... once you learn to watch for the vaper trail, you'll see them most of the time. Watching videos is the best way to learn what a vapor trail looks like... Shawn Carlocks new video has a bunch of shots where you can very clearly see the vapor trail, plus it's a very neccessary addition to any long range hunter's collection.
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