Burst of fire

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A burst of fire (also sheaf or fire sheaf ) is a structurally determined number of projectiles (usually two or three) that are automatically fired from a handgun when the trigger is pulled once . It is thus possible to fire several shots in quick succession at a target without moving your finger (= without pulling the trigger again) without distorting the weapon.

In the Bundeswehr , a “burst of fire” is also used to describe the arbitrary firing of a volley of a few shots from a fully automatic weapon that does not have a burst device that restricts the firing of the shot.

The number of shots is limited by mechanical effects, often by means of gears, in the loading and triggering mechanism. After a burst of fire, the chamber is reloaded and the weapon is ready to fire again.


The burst of fire was introduced in the Vietnam War . The young, inexperienced soldiers quickly panicked in the jungle fight and fired an unnecessarily large amount of ammunition because the fingers cramped on the trigger or they were only shot wildly. In order to put a stop to the waste of ammunition, the burst was developed.


Modern handguns are surprisingly ineffective in firefighting. With a possible rate of several hundred rounds per minute, commercially available magazines, which usually contain around 20-30 cartridges, are empty after a very short time. At the same time, the stress in the shooter ensures that - compared to shooting at the shooting range - very few projectiles hit the enemy. Therefore, many thousands of shots are often fired without effectively fighting an opponent. In the Vietnam War, inexperienced soldiers used their M16 assault rifles like their “personal machine gun” and automatically fired their ammunition very quickly.

Due to the burst of mostly three rounds, the weapon only rips after all the projectiles are already on the way. This means that the three projectiles in a burst are much closer together than three individual shots. This is even more true in combat. At the same time, the fact that the trigger has to be pulled again after each “burst” ensures discipline for the soldier, who can no longer empty the entire magazine in a panic with one trigger , but ideally fire a single burst of fire.

The burst function was the rifle HK G11 used to the extremely high theoretical cadence of firing 2,000 rounds per minute three shots in a tenth of a second. In the mechanically delayed continuous fire mode it was only 450 rounds per minute. The rapid firing sequence in the burst improves the shooting precision. The reduced rate of fire in continuous fire reduces ammunition consumption and the heating of the weapon.


The reduced rate of fire can be problematic in combat. Especially at short distances, it can make sense to hold down the opponent with as many projectiles as possible so that one hits or at least he cannot venture out of cover. In addition to single fire and the 3-shot burst, modern trigger groups of assault rifles also offer the possibility of a burst that is only limited by the magazine capacity.

Modes of burst of fire

The mode can be set for most weapons to single shot, burst and continuous fire. The number of shots per burst is invariably due to the design and usually two or three shots depending on the type.

Three-shot burst

The most common mode of burst of fire is the three-shot burst of fire. It is a mode selection ("3F") option on many modern rifles .

Two-shot burst

The two-shot burst is also used in individual types. It occurs mainly in handguns, less often in rifles.


  • Rolf Abresch, Lothar Schulz (Hrsg.): Modern hand weapons of the Bundeswehr . Report, Frankfurt am Main et al. 2001, ISBN 3-932385-10-1 .
  • Rolf Abresch, Lothar Schulz (ed.): The soldier and his equipment . Report, Frankfurt am Main et al. 2002, ISBN 3-932385-13-6 .

Web links

Wiktionary: burst of fire  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Sheaf. In: Digital dictionary of the German language . Retrieved June 25, 2013
  2. Sheaf of fire. Spelling, meaning, definition. In: duden.de. Retrieved August 21, 2018 .