For someone new to firearms and ammunition, it can be confusing to understand the different names and terms given to ammunition cartridges. There are several types and shapes of ammunition, and knowing the difference can make a big impact on the safety and performance of the firearm.
The confusion is brought about by the absence of a naming standard. Generally, the numbers used in ammunition indicate the metal bullet’s diameter. Therefore, a .45 means that it is .45 of an inch in diameter while the diameter of a .22 is .22 of an inch.
The compound number used to describe ammunition represents diameter to length ratio, such as:
- 56×45 mm – 5.56mm wide, 45mm long
- 9×19 mm – 9mm wide, 19mm long
Shotshells on the other hand are measured in gauge. The larger diameter is the lower number. A 12-gauge shell is 70mm in length, which is about 2.5 inches. It is also available in 3-inch magnum.
Components of a cartridge
A cartridge is the type packaging of small arms ammunition, which is composed of four parts:
- Case – which is typically made of steel, nickel or brass
- Primer – the propellant’s ignition. It is the round dimple located at the cartridge’s base.
- Propellant/powder – the gunpowder
- Projectile – the actual bullet
A cartridge with propellant but without a bullet is called a blank. A dummy or drill round does not have a primer, propellant and bullet, and typically used for training purposes and when checking the performance of a firearm. A dummy round is also called a snap cap.
Types of cartridges
As there are several types of firearms, there are also different types of cartridges that are loaded into them. The types include the following:
- 8mm Mauser (actually 7.9mm)
- 12 gauge Shotshell
- .22 Long Rifle
- 45x39mm Soviet
- 56x45mm NATO (.223 Remington)
- 62x39mm Soviet
- 62x51mm (.308 Winchester)
- 62x54mm Russian (rimless base)
- .44 Magnum (rimless base)
- .45 Automatic Colt Pistol or ACP
- 9x19mm Para. (also called Parabellum, Luger or just 9mm, but they slightly vary in length)
What is a caliber?
Caliber or calibre, (abbreviation – cal.) is the estimated diameter of the internal part of the gun’s barrel. It also represents the diameter of the projectile or the bullet. A .45 caliber gun for example means that the barrel diameter measures .45 of an inch or close to but still not quite half an inch.
Diameters can be expressed in metric as well, such as 9mm guns. The decimal point is typically dropped when said orally, but included in written descriptions.
Here are examples of the typical naming conventions, to make it easier for you to understand the caliber of the ammunition (ammo).
- 30-06 – the first number represents the caliber of the ammo, while 06 represents the year 1906 (standard rifle cartridge of the U.S. military)
- 270 Winchester – approximate diameter of the bullet (actual size – .277-inch); Winchester is the manufacturer that standardized this type of ammo.
- 375 H&H Magnum – bullet diameter = .375-inch; H&H stands for Holland & Holland, a British manufacturer; magnum is the name given to the ammo because it is slightly bigger than its counterparts
- 220 Swift – about .224″ in diameter; swift is added because it is exceedingly fast (also manufactured by Winchester)
- 45-70 Government – officially adopted for the use of the U.S. government; size is .458″
- 30-30 Winchester – first number is its diameter while the second number represents its 30 grains of black powder load.
- 45 ACP – the ’45’ represents the diameter of the bullet while ACP refers to the original gun, the Automatic Colt Pistol model 1911.
Types of bullets
The projectile or the bullet, which is the actual piece that flies out of a firearm, comes in different types, which are usually called by their acronyms, as follows:
- LRN – Lead Round Nose
- WC – Wad Cutter
- SWC – Semi Wad Cutter
- SJ – Semi Jacketed
- SJHP – Semi Jacketed Hollow Point
- JHP – Jacketed Hollow Point
- FMJ – Full Metal Jacket
- SP – Soft Point (not coating on bullet tip, exposing the lead)
- AP – Armor Piercing (alloy core)
- BT – Boat Tail (cartridge’s read end is tapered for flight stability of the projectile)
- BTHP – Boat Tail Hollow Point
- RBCD – Special (the acronym is the name of the manufacturer)
Ammunition nomenclature is definitely confusing. The important thing to remember is to have the appropriate ammunition and protection for your firearm. The diameter should perfectly match the size of the gun’s barrel to have the right seal.
With the market flooded with different makers, you need to be specific when you purchase your cartridges. A common 7.62 could be for a 7.62×59, 7.62×54 Russian, 7.62×54 Russian, 7.62×39 Soviet or a 7.62×25 Tokarov.
Contributor: Imran Khan
In case you missed it, the National Association for Gun Rights plans to recognize Congressman Thomas Massie for being a champion for gun rights. In his most recent act as such a champion for gun rights, the Congressman chose to vote against H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.
No…you did not misread that. To show his support for your gun rights, Congressman Thomas Massie voted against national concealed carry reciprocity. Now, he’ll tell you he supports “reciprocity,” but he never connects that word with “national.” This is because his support is only for the bill he introduced, H.R. 2909, which enforces reciprocity only in the District of Columbia…where he works. He also says that he opposed H.R. 38 because of the “Fix NICS” language which was added to it. But ask him if he’d support H.R. 38 without that language, and all you’ll get is silence.
No matter how he tries to spin it…he voted against my right to carry my concealed firearm when I drive through Illinois. And yours.
He voted against my right to carry a concealed firearm when traveling to Massachusetts, or New York, or Chicago for work. And yours.
He voted against my right to carry my concealed firearm into New Jersey to attend a martial arts seminar. Without the national reciprocity which Massie opposes, New Jersey can continue to jail people like Shaneen Allen or Donna Gracy. Or me. Or you.
For this, the NAGR will present him with their “.50 Cal Award.” Mind you, this is an organization whose most notable achievement in the advancement of national gun rights is that they have never actually advanced national gun rights in any meaningful way. I cannot think of a single piece of significant national pro-gun legislation which NAGR has helped pass. If there’s something they’ve done to increase my gun freedoms, I am unaware of it.
So I guess it is 1984 after all. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. And a vote against more gun liberty gets you a major award from a national gun rights group which doesn’t advance national gun rights.
Personally, I’d prefer the leg lamp.
As a postscript, I will tell you that the gun shop which is hosting this award ceremony is in my local area (Triggers in Florence, Kentucky), and if I can get free on Thursday, I’ll go check it out. If I do, it will be the last time I ever set foot in that particular store. Any gun shop which would celebrate this will never get another dime of mine.
As you probably already know, the Black Man With A Gun website recently experienced what you might call a “catastrophic event.” Kenn has successfully recovered some of the content, but much was lost for good, including over five years of my writing. As you might expect, my first, knee-jerk reaction was…well, unprintable here. But I have learned over the years that the old adage about crying over spilled milk is true…and that time spent lamenting what cannot be undone is also time wasted.
So I am embracing this “reboot” as an opportunity for a fresh start. And in the spirit of that fresh start, I have a confession to make. For those of you who are unaware, you should know that I…Dave Cole…am not black. In fact, I am as white as they come. Most of my ancestors came here from Scotland, England, and Germany shortly after the Mayflower landed, and we’ve been here ever since. I spent almost the first half of my life in East Tennessee, before serving in Texas, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Korea with the United States Army for nine years as an Air Defense Artillery officer. Then I got out and moved to Northern Kentucky near Cincinnati, where I have worked in both private industry and as a police officer.
Then early in 2012, I was listening to Kenn’s Black Man With A Gun podcast when he asked if there were any writers out there who might like to contribute to his website. I’ve always liked to use the written word as my own personal outlet, and I had some stuff I’d already written handy…so I sent it to Kenn. He emailed me back inside of an hour asking, “Can I go ahead and start posting this material?” I said “Sure,” and the rest is history.
But today…Martin Luther King Day…what is even more important to note is what Kenn Blanchard did not ask me. Before accepting my writing to post on the Black Man With A Gun website, he did not ask me what color my skin was. He simply read my writing, and judged whether it was good or not, regardless of the color of the person that it came from.
Isn’t that what Martin Luther King was talking about? Isn’t that exactly the way he would have wanted us to treat each other? Rather than focusing on our differences, Black Man With A Gun is a place where we focus on our commonalities…a love of guns, shooting, and liberty. I’m personally quite proud to be a part of this team, and excited to reboot into 2018 with all of you.
A few years ago, I met this US Army guy named Michael. Like Nightwing to the Batman, he is working on becoming MORE awesome as he partners with me. Michael J. Woodland is pushing me into the 22nd century with video. Here we are live this week. Look for us to travel, shoot and meet you in 2018.Android. You can support this podcast at http://patreon.com/blackmanwithagun
I really hate to mention it here in this realm of derring-do and expertise in all things martial.
But I’m a lousy rifle shot.
Picture it: I’m a guerrilla fighter. My comrades are counting on my sniping skills to take out a key enemy position. I aim, breathe, squeeze the trigger — and take out a cow in a barn 12 degrees to the left, alerting the enemy, losing the battle, and depriving my fellow fighters of milk they need for survival.
Fortunately, no one is likely ever to be dumb enough to rely on my sniping skills.
Still, one recent Saturday I found myself, rifle in hand, at a nearby farm in the company of 20 women and girls.
We were there to attend a LadySeed, the women-only version of an Appleseed marksmanship clinic. Project Appleseed, as you may know, is an effort to turn Americans back into expert shooters “one rifleman at a time.” Its events are put on by the wonderfully named Revolutionary War Veterans Association and are staffed entirely by volunteers.
It’s not just about shooting. Each Appleseed also features an extended history lesson focused on April 19, 1775.
But mostly it’s shooting.
A blog post is too short to cover much about the events. The quickest and best thing to say is this is valuable training for anyone — man, woman, or child — who wants to buff up on rifle skills and do it with excellent help and in good company. And if there’s an Appleseed near me in the uber-boonies, there’ll probably be one near you at some time or another. Schedules are listed on the organization’s site.
Appleseed is not ideal for someone who has never fired a gun. Still, the woman next to me on the firing line was a newbie. She began the day unable to hit the paper. By the time we dragged our tired selves home, she was punching impressive holes.
The friend who came with me and I quickly realized we had handicapped ourselves by not bringing proper equipment. She had a bolt action with a single five-round magazine, and I had a tube-fed Savage that was my brother’s Cub Scout gun back when dinosaurs ruled the earth.
A semiauto .22 with two or more mags and a sling is really a must to get the most out of an Appleseed.
Turns out there’s a good equipment list linked right from the front page of the Project Appleseed website. But since we came to the class sign-up via a different route, we never saw it and couldn’t find one. It was our fault for not digging deeper. But it would have been nice had the organizers ensured that every attendee had such a list.
That’s a nit-pick. There are many, many more positive things to say. For the sake of brevity, I’ll focus on one: the excellent volunteer staff. The instructors in our case were all women — and could easily have been professional trainers.
Appleseed got started just five years ago with roughly two dozen clinics. This year, according to our instructors, it’s putting on close to 1,000. Even the New York Times took notice — although predictably the writer put the scariest possible slant on things.
Did my friend and I emerge as better shooters? Hard to say. Most people in the class did — and that was just on the first day. For a variety of reasons, we decided to skip the Sunday session. Both of us felt we’d have made more progress had we brought semi-autos.
But there’s always another Appleseed. And maybe someday “I’ll be good enough not to pot that cow.”
California is a gun-controller’s wet dream, and it’s still not enough. In response to the recent school shooting in San Bernardino, California, Gabby Giffords has spoken the truth, even if accidentally. When she claims that California’s gun control laws (ranked #1 by the Brady Campaign) are still not enough, she lays bare the two essential truths of gun control for all to see.
The first truth is that gun control, any of it, all of it…will never be enough to stop violence. This is because…make sure you’re sitting down…criminals don’t obey gun laws. It looks like the San Bernardino killer was already prohibited by law at least a couple of times over from even touching a gun, but he did it anyway. Given his criminal history, it is unlikely he would have been able to pass a background check, but managed to obtain a firearm in violation of the law. It is also doubtful that he would have been able to obtain a concealed carry permit, either. Yet he ignored that law as well, and concealed his gun in order to sneak it into the school. Of course, most everyone is prohibited by law from taking a gun into a school, permit or not. Everybody in San Bernardino obeyed the law that day…except the murderer.
The second truth is that any level of gun control short of full confiscation will always be insufficient in the minds of Gabby Giffords and her ilk. After all, the ink wasn’t even dry on background legislation her group pushed in the state of Washington before she was in the press claiming it wasn’t enough (even as the state’s violent crime rate fell).
Sometime they tell the truth, even when they don’t mean to. Their appetite for gun control can never be sated, because it is not about guns, or crime…it is about control, and they will not stop until it is complete.
As the Christmas season ended and we were all looking forward to the New Year, the Black Man With A Gun website disappeared. I thought it was something simple like a company reboot or patch but that is not what happened. I had failed to see a email note billing me for three years. Well, I did see it but thought it was a hoax.
It was real. I lost all my sites actually. And I thought, maybe it’s a sign of the time. When is the last time you have visited the Black Man With A Gun website? See? So, with the exception of 600 plus pictures and the post from David Cole, I didn’t care. Losing Dave’s stuff hurt. But, this is the rebuild. The podcast is still going strong and Michael J. Woodland and I are making plans to do something cool in 2018 on blackmanwithagun.tv. I am going to get my post back one by one.
This year I plan to do a lot more training, shooting and video work. I’m still not feeling some of the newer guys in this community but trying not to be a hater. They have their audiences and we got each other. This show is still for the cool people in the gun community. We are mature and established. We have guns older than most of these Johnny Come lately’s with the profanity spewing but social media savvy, but I digress.
What gun are you going to master this year? I know you have a couple. Which one are you going to invest the time and money in to learn, practice with and become life saving proficient with? You are going to have to take some training with a good instructor. One that will show you if your gear is right. One that is experienced talking and teaching. One that is not on a ego trip. One that he or she themselves is still learning. And one that can challenge you. One that could stand up in court as an expert witness and defend his or her training plan. There are a lot of former bad a@@ training folks today but not all of them are worth their salt.
I have two vacancy announcements. I am looking for two people to review gear, training and guns for the Black Man With A Gun blog. If you want to write, video or be a part of the podcast, call me. I am moving more toward ministry and producing other people’s podcasts in the new year and want to share the love.
What would happen after you got started is that I would be able to get you gear and guns to review. You’d have to do the heavy lifting, FFL’s, writing and recording but I’d share your stuff but you’d benefit from it. You’d go to shows, and events on behalf of the Black Man With A Gun too. It’s a big deal to me. I’d have to trust you with a brand that has taken twenty years to make. So I have to be careful who I select BUT if you know me, and have been a long time listener I probably know you too.
SHOT show is coming up. If you are going and see something cool that would be good for others in our community to know about will you do a write up, take photos or narrate a video? Even if you didn’t want to do it full time, we would appreciate the insight and sharing.If you like the podcast, download the free app for it on IOS at http://BlackManWithAGun.org also available in Google Play for Android. You can support this podcast at http://patreon.com/blackmanwithagun
Tis the season of feeling blue, and contemplating futures at the same time of celebrating the birth of Jesus and commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. (Hanukkah) Going to whet your whistle in building your own AR platform rifle.
Michael J. Woodland and I have a great conversation that you are welcome to join.If you like the podcast, download the free app for it on IOS at http://BlackManWithAGun.org also available in Google Play for Android. You can support this podcast at http://patreon.com/blackmanwithagun
Gun Back Backs, tips for the new gun owners,
“Purity Test” from David B Cole from blackmanwithagun.com
Shoot Don’t Shoot
Interview with conservative political tv mogul Tucker Carlson taken from an episode 353
And a whole lot of old Christmas era commercials that I grew up with to put you in the holiday mood.If you like the podcast, download the free app for it on IOS at http://BlackManWithAGun.org also available in Google Play for Android. You can support this podcast at http://patreon.com/blackmanwithagun