15 fiery photos of tracer bullets lighting up the sky

Tracer rounds contain flammable materials that ignite and produce a bright (but deadly) trail of light towards a target. Intended to guide the shooter during adverse conditions, they can prove to be extremely valuable during low-visibility scenarios.

Due to the fact that an enemy can potentially see where the shots are coming from, they are normally used sparingly – often distributed between several normal rounds.


A Marine Special Operations Team member fires a M240B machine gun during night fire sustainment training in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

source
Sgt. Pete Thibodeau/US Marine Corps

Tracer bullets ricochet off their targets as Japanese Ground Self-Defence Force tanks fire their machine guns, during a night session of an annual training exercise.

source
Yuya Shino/Reuters

A soldier from the District of Columbia National Guard fires tracer rounds from an M249 machine gun, during crew-served weapon night fire training.

source
US Army

Machine guns fire red tracer rounds at enemy vehicles with an illumination flare overhead.

source
US Marine Corps

Anti-aircraft tracer rounds light up downtown Baghdad in a January 17, 1991 photograph. Meanwhile, US Air Force bombers and cruise missiles attack Baghdad during the Gulf War.

source
Patrick De Noirmont/Reuters

Gunnery Sgt. Dragos Coca, from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, engages targets during a desert survival and tactics course.

source
Sgt. Steve H. Lopez/US Marine Corps

Members of US Army Task Force 3/15 watch as tracer fire and flares light the sky, during a night live fire assault exercise in the northern Kuwaiti desert, December 9, 2002.

source
Chris Helgren/Reuters

US Army Rangers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment fire at a mock enemy bunker.

source
Spc. Steven Hitchcock/US Army

Machine gun tracer rounds illuminate the sky over the US Army’s Michigan Base, during an attack by militants in the Pesh Valley of Afghanistan’s Kunar Province, on August 7, 2009.

source
Tim Wimborne/Reuters

Soldiers from the Colorado Army National Guard fire tracer rounds from the M240B medium machine gun with the help of night optics at Fort Hood, Texas.

source
Liesl Marelli/US Army

Tracer bullets that are fired by Israeli soldiers in the outskirts of Jerusalem, hit and ricochet off a building in an Arab village, outside Bethlehem in the West Bank on November 1, 2000.

source
Reuters

US military police conduct a night fire exercise.

source
Benjamin Faske/DoD

A M3A3 Bradley from the 1st US Cavalry Regiment practices night-firing.

source
Staff Sgt. Aracelli Alarcon/US Air Force

Soldiers fire .50-caliber machine gun rounds at the base of a training target to indicate to nearby helicopters where to fire their rockets during partnered aerial-ground integration training between US and Iraqi forces.

source
Sgt. Mike MacLeod/US Army

Marines from 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, fire M240G medium machine guns at fixed targets in Djibouti.

source
Cpl. Jonathan R. Waldman/US Marine Corps