Bullets are projectiles fired from a gun. Bullets do not contain explosives, which differentiate them from shells, inflicting damage solely through kinetic impact. Despite modern shield and armor technology rendering them less effective than in eras past, bullets continue to see major use in combat, especially in atmospheres that can render energy and hybrid weapons less potent. Military forces across the cluster utilize bullets.
Bullets have been developed independently by every race in New Eden which achieved the technological know how to create guns, including the core races of the four empires. Early bullets were simply balls of metal, typically lead, that were packed into a barrel on top of an accelerant which was then ignited (typically gunpowder, though other explosives have been utilized to varying degrees). As manufacturing and design techniques improved, bullets became much more complex.
The first major modifications to the standard design were pointed bullets. Points improved penetrating power, as well as making bullets more aerodynamic, improving range and accuracy. The second major change was the addition of a jacket to the bullet, allowing for higher muzzle velocities, increasing lethality. Further advances improved the design and shape of the bullet to increase lethality and range even more.
The creation of electromagnetic shielding created the need for bullets that didn't respond to deflection. For a time, ceramic bullets were the solution, but they proved too brittle, and were too easily defeated by armor. Eventually, nanoalloys provided an answer, as they could be specifically designed to bypass shields while still possessing the penetrating power to damage armor.
Current advances in bullet technology are typically responses to advances in shield and armor technology designed to stop bullets. In order to remain effective, bullets must remain one step ahead of defenses against them.
Bullets remain favored by ground forces for the majority of engagements, particularly when collateral damage needs to be minimized. When compared to energy weapons or hybrids, bullets are less widely destructive while remaining highly lethal. This allows them to neutralize combatants while leaving structures mostly undamaged.
Additionally, weapons traditionally considered more advanced suffer from a number of disadvantages while used in an atmosphere. Energy weapons suffer from the issue of atmospheric bloom, where they superheat the atmosphere, causing a rapid decrease in range and power. They also can be absorbed by particles in the air, such as smoke.
Hybrid weapons, meanwhile, are difficult to make aerodynamic. While less problematic with artillery, in hand weapons where precise accuracy is important this makes them less effective. Coilguns also do not scale well, as the energy requirements of accelerating a shell to relativistic speeds remain high even with the lesser mass of a hand-held weapon.
Blasters additionally must deal with the dispersion of their plasma field. In an atmosphere, this field disperses even faster than in a vacuum, making blasters only effective at extremely short ranges.