Finally saw the vapor trail


Well-Known Member
May 25, 2002
Wow, I got to see my first bullet vapor trail today. It was strange, I was shooting my 338UM and my spotter told me that he saw the trace smack onto the target I was shooting at. He said it was like an arc just flashed down and smacked the target. I finally saw what he was talking about a little later in the day. It was really sweet to be able to watch the trace and call the shots. It helped us get on target much quicker at the longer ranges.

While watching the trace it looked kind of like the slow motion shooting seen in the Matrix where they showed the ripple coming off the bullet only not as large or dramatic. (Can you imagine a squirrel doing the whole Keanu Reeves matrix move at 600 yards
I noticed that we really started seeing it as the sun got closer to the horizon. Towards the end of the shoot we could see the trace for every bullet fired. The sun was about 3 hours from setting and at our back.

Does the sun's position affect the ability to see the trace? I figured it might be something like rainbows where the sun needs to be at the correct angle to see it. I can see now how it wouldn't be that difficult to call a hit or miss on an animal at long ranges.

[ 08-04-2003: Message edited by: Pennell ]
The visibility of the vapor trail is definitely light/mirage dependent. You ought to get the Point Blank series video tapes of some of these guys shooting across long valleys at deer back east. The vapor trail can be seen on most of their shots-- pretty neat. Available from Hart + Son's in PA. (i think).
Just last week, while viewing through my window mounted spotting scope, I watched as my buddy shot his 6mm @ a groundhog that was 575yds across a corn field.
At the sound of the shot I could see the vapor trail blaze over the top edge of the standing corn and actually watch the direct hit on the hog.
This is something that I have RARELY seen over the thousands of rounds that we have fired afield. Very coooool.
A couple of weeks ago frank4570 and I were shooting at bowling pins when we started seeing the vapor trail, he first noticed it when I was shooting my 7 mag, but the real kicker was when we shot my sharps 45-70. You would not believe the trail left by that big slow moving bullet, it really did look like slow motion-- real cooool
I have seen it in MT shooting p dogs. One of the coolest was a pdog at 491 I was able to get back down on the scope and call a head shot.
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