Maximum Effective Range of a Weapon

Maximum Effective Range of a Weapon


the maximum distance over which a particular type of weapon (gun, infantry mortar, submachine gun, and so on) can throw its projectile (mortar shell or bullet).

Smooth-bore small arms and smooth-bore artillery have short effective ranges, including up to 150 m for the musket (16th to 17th century), up to 200 m for the more refined firearms of the 18th and 19th centuries, up to 1.1–1.3 km for field artillery, and up to 4 km for siege artillery. With the invention of the rifled weapon, which became widespread in the middle of the 19th century, the maximum effective range was up to 800 m for the Stutzer (a carbine of the late 18th and early 19th century), up to 2,000 m for the rifle (second half of the 19th century), and up to 3,000 m for artillery guns (beginning of the 19th century).

Before the start of World War I(1914–1918) the maximum effective range of field artillery was 4–8 km for howitzers and 6–9 km for cannon. The problem of increasing the maximum effective range of weapons became most critical in the course of World War I, when the tactical depth of the defense began to exceed the range of effective fire by field artillery and it became necessary to hit targets in the enemy rear. This problem was resolved by changing the caliber of the guns, increasing the length and strength of the barrels, using more powerful explosives in the charge, and improving the ballistic properties of the guns and shells. In 1915 in the German Army guns were built with a firing range of 45 km, which was increased to 62 km in 1917 and to 120 km in 1918. However, these superlong-range guns did not become widespread because of their great weight, difficulty of movement, inaccurate fire, and other shortcomings. By the start of World War II (1939–45) howitzers had a maximum effective range of 9–17 km, and cannon could fire 11–21 km. The maximum effective ranges of weapons in the postwar period are up to 21 km for howitzers; up to 20 km for howitzer-cannon; up to 32 km for cannon; 1.5–3.5 km for 7.62-mm small arms (carbines, submachine guns, and machine guns), which is several times greater than the firing distance for which these types of weapons are normally used; up to 400 m for grenade launchers and up to 6 km for antitank guided missiles. Depending on their purpose, missiles can hit targets at distances from several hundred meters to several thousand kilometers.


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