Sniper rifles generally project bullets at the same velocities employed by general-purpose firearms. However, they often use projectiles that are very aerodynamic, with particularly high ballistic coefficients.

Depending on the rifle, bullets typically travel between 800 and 1000 m/s (2600 and 3400 feet per second) at the moment they leave the rifle’s barrel. The bullet slows down considerably due to friction with the air over a distance. The distance a bullet will travel is determined by its shape, weight, launch velocity and launch angle as with any projectile, the study of which is referred to as external ballistics.