rating: 0+x

Basic Information

A tracer round is a round of ammunition with a pyrotechnic device built into it that allows the user to track its flight path. Due to the speed at which almost all tracer rounds are fired, the shot leaves a streak of light behind it rather than being visible as a discrete point - these streaks then allow the user to adjust his fire so that the tracers land on his point of aim.

Popular colours for tracer include red-orange (NATO) and green (WarPac), although other colours are possible.

Tracer is most useful in fully automatic weapons since the information that they report is more or less irrelevant in any other context. Tracer rounds will normally be mixed into a feed of ammunition at a given percentage - one to every three or four ball rounds is common - rather than being used on their own.

The disadvantages of tracer include the fact that they sometimes have different ballistics to ball in some of the weapon's range band (which can make them worse than useless at those ranges) and/or that the pyrotechnic doesn't burn for long enough for the round to achieve maximum range, making them useless beyond the burnout distance. Finally, it is entirely possible for enemy forces to follow the colourful stream back to the users location and use it as an aiming aid for their own fire, although some modern designs - known as 'dark start' tracer - have a delayed ignition for the pyrotechnic to make this harder.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Tracer colour can be a useful rule of thumb to tell who is shooting at whom (especially at night) … unless of course both sides are from the same power block. What colour tracer you use can control who fires on your position.
    • This can be useful for preventing friendly fire incidents… or for a false flag operation.
      • Especially given than troops with small arms may follow "friendly coloured" tracer to find targets at night … and/or assume that whoever is firing that tracer is on their side…
  • The arc of tracer doesn't necessarily indicate where fire is landing - ballistic mismatching could potentially lead to the bulk of the rounds landing somewhere completely different.
  • Streams of tracer have a very distinctive appearance and make good set-dressing and a good indication that heavy weapons are in play.
  • Since tracer rounds are pyrotechnic, they could be useful against beings vulnerable to fire but otherwise immune to kinetic damage.
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License