What is the fastest cartridge?


Well-Known Member
Nov 18, 2003
DFW Texas
Wildcat, factory or whatever. What is the fastest cartridge in the world? I know there are some velocities in the 4000's but how fast is the fastest? Bullet size does not matter, simply speed. Just curious, not interest in building one.


Lets keep it civilian rifle.

[ 11-18-2003: Message edited by: 5Redman8 ]
Kyle, you will have to do some research into hyper velocity projectiles. I just saw a test and if correct, they were launching their projectile at around 12000fps.

Was set up on a rail in the desert, rocket propelled and traveled several miles of track in seconds. On impact, there just wasn't a heck of a lot of anything left.

don't have more details then that but the US govt holds the record for sure.

Rifle cartridges will probably top out around 4700fps since that is the speed of expansion of the burning powder. Again, I could be off on my numbers but whatever that speed is, will be the max. You can't go faster then the force accelerating you.

Looked up the PO Ackley entry and he recorded 4,600fps with the 22 Eargesplitten Loudenboomer. It was then shipped to Mr. Hutton who ordered the rifle. Ackley suspected Hutton would surpass this velocity but I can't find info on his tests.

Cool stuff,
mach V is rather easy to reach with sabot

22 bullet ( solid bullet as Barnes in sabot 30 cal with 300 wea or better 300 RUM

30 cal bullet on 50 cal sabot

velocity over mach V is very hard to get with conventional barrel/cartridge

good shooting

I get a measured 4280 FPS with my 22 CHeetah MK 1 and a 52 grain bullet, with accuracy. A few of the guys from this board saw last summer how it dispatches woodchucks to 675 yards. Quite a few of the hits where, "Caught on Tape".

I use the "classic" load of 44gr of IMR 4064 and a CCI-BR2 primer. I use 243 brass versus 308BR brass so I can use the large primer.

If outer space shots count then there is one more that is the fastest. I think that is was just over 25,000 fps. It was in popular sience a while back.

Thought that Weatherby, on some earlier tests performed for the US military, using 300 Weatherby mag or 378 Weatherby mag brass, necked down to 22 cal., pushed bullets beyond 5000 or possibly 6000 fps. Heard that at that time they had problems with bullets holding together. Have also heard of 50 BMG brass necked down to 30 Cal. The rifle at that time was called "America" or American, or something like that. That was in the mid to late 80's. Still have the pictures of it in my head.
Seems to me that back in the summer there was an article in the American Rifleman were a hyper-velocity gun being tested by the military with an Acetyl Delrin (ie, hard structural plastic) projectile was fired at 27,000 fps. That would pretty much minimize the drop chart, eh?

For an off the shelf gun though , a 220 swift is the king of speed. I have one that shoots quite well with the factory heavy SS barrel on it but I don't shoot it any where near the numbers listed above. It has a supposed 26" barrel but it's a ported version so the real barrel length is about 23". It runs in the 3700's with a 55gr and yes, the 50's and 40 go faster but I like the heaviest weight the 14 twist will shoot. If I was interested, I know it will shoot faster than that, but watching a shot at 400 yds from a 22 hit a steel plate before the gun recoils far enough to loose sight of it in a 32 power scope is fast enough for me.

I had a 22-250 that actually had a 26" barrel with no porting and it was faster than my swift. It just didn't shoot as well so I sold it. The 22-250 however, IMHO, is a better round and is easier to get to shoot well. It is just as fast, and get's more speed / gr of powder than the swift without the Pain in the ___ rimmed case of the swift. (Rim is larger than the head of the case). Had I known how hard they were to feed in a magazine, I would have gotten another 22-250. It's the only carry gun I own now, and I wish it fed ammo better. Many times cases stick in the mag. Other than that, it's a ton of fun to shoot, and a site cheaper than the 30 cals I have for plinking.

Remington hasn't made the VSSF with a P for a few years now. (the factory ported version). It's a shame because it's an awesome gun out of the box. I have 500 yard 5 shot groups of 2" and under hanging on my reloading room wall shot off a bipod with no rear rest from this gun. It's a little reworked and bedded and has a nice Burris 8-32 scope but it still has the Rem barrel and stock and reworked factory trigger. I get almost 200 rds out of a pound of powder and a box of Nosler BT 55's is $30/250. Not too bad for someone shooting on a budget. (My budget #'s a little liberal)

The gun has around 1200 rds through it and shows no sign of groups opening up yet. It was factory freebored pertty long so I don't know if the throat has moved or not, not that I would care. I know people say freebore is not conducive to accuracy but in my experience, I see nothing wrong with it.
I had a 220 swift many years ago that was my prarie dog gun, i loaded the 45 spitzer with 414 and you could see a vapor trail of sorts, cronoed at 4400. My 50BMG with 150gr 30cal bullets in Sabos with 260grns of 4831 cronoed at 5200, bullets went all over the place, but they got there in a hurry where ever that was,
The .220 Swift is the fastest factory round, at 4200 fps.

The 22 Chetah gets up to 4285 fps using a 50 grain bullet and a necked down .308 cartridge.

The .22 Eargesplitten Loudenboomer hit over 5000 fps, based upon the .378 Weatherby in the 60's by P.O. Ackley.

I've seen two reports of +5100 fps speeds, one with a 22-243 Middlestead and the other with a 22-250AI.

Mark in Utah
I have a 220 swift AI. Have shot 40gr.BT's at 4850fps but the bullets don't hold together. Pressure is still moderate and plenty of room in case for more powder I'm sure they would top 5000. I have been meaning to try some other bullets without plastic tips, I think that is the problem.
22/284 with a 30" barrel and 40 gr Bullets will get you "over" 5000 FPS.

Don't blink your eyes at 500 yards or you'll miss the hit.

Ask John Smith at Williamsport about it.

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