Sebot End Seal

Since a strong seal is needed to trap propellant gases behind the projectile, and keep the projectile centered in the barrel, something is needed to fill the undesirable but necessary gap between projectile and barrel, a space referred to as the windage, and this is the role of the sabot. Firing a small size projectile wrapped in a sabot raises the muzzle velocity of the projectile. Made of some lightweight material (usually plastic in smallbore guns, andaluminium - and, in earlier times, wood or papier-mâché - in cannons), the sabot usually consists of several pieces held in place by the cartridge or a loose connection. When the projectile is fired, the sabot blocks the gas, and carries the projectile down the barrel. When the sabot reaches the end of the barrel, the shock of hitting still air pulls the parts of the sabot away from the projectile, allowing the projectile to continue in flight.

Sabots are used to fire the flechettes that form anti-armour kinetic energy penetrators. This round consists of the outer cup (sabot) which holds numerous subcaliber darts. The sabot cup holds the individual flechettes together tightly until the sabot case separates after leaving the barrel. For reasons why a smaller diameter projectile can be desirable, see external ballistics and terminal ballistics.