Different types of ammunition and when to use them


If you are a prospective gun owner, there’s that possibility of feeling overwhelmed anytime you hear about the various types of ammunition and its related terms.

Each bullet has its specific functions making its need for them dependent on the intended use. Some have general purposes, while others may be specifically used in instances of hunting, combat, objective shooting, or defense training. Therefore, as suggested by Hook & Barrel Magazine, it’s good you look out for ammunition that suits what you need them to do. However, to assist you in your decision to make an ammunition purchase, we’ve written on some ammunition types and their uses.

Basic Types of Ammunition

While there are several kinds of ammunition, they can be categorized into three major groups, which are shotgun, handgun, and rifle ammo.

Shotgun Ammo

Shotshells are used when shooting a shotgun. The major types of shotshells are bird shot, buckshot, and slugs. Although bird shot is smaller in diameter than buckshot, they are both composed of metallic pallets, while slugs are single, solid metal projectiles that are normally lead or copper.

Handgun or Rifle Ammo

Cartridges or rounds are used when firing a handgun or rifle. The major groups of handgun and rifle ammunition are rimfire and centerfire. What differentiates both is the position the primer strikes on the case.

In guns that make use of rimfire, the primer is located around the rim or below the cartridge, and the firing pin is aimed to strike the edge on the outside of the cartridge. While in guns that use centerfire, the primer is in the middle of the cartridge, and the firing pin is aimed to strike the center of the cartridge where the primer is located.

Common Types of Bullet

A bullet is not the whole piece of ammunition you place in your gun, but it is the projectile that shoots out after a gun is fired. The whole piece is, however called the cartridge or rounds. Whether it’s a 38 special, 40S&W, or 40ACP, the type of gun you shoot will determine the caliber of ammunition.

Once you are certain of the caliber, you can then pick the type of bullet to shoot. The bullet type you choose will also depend on what you want to use your gun for. The three common types of bullets are:

● Full Metal Jacket(FMJ):

FMJ is a round-nosed spritzer with its core enclosed in a jacket. Its core is normally soft lead, and the jacket is made of harder metal like cupro-nickel, mild steel, copper, or a copper-zinc alloy. It’s usually used in military service rifles and known to be non-deforming, which makes it more penetrable than bullets made to expand or part. It can be used for target shooting, range practice, and in competitions.

● Hollow Point (HP):

This kind of bullet has a cavity in its nose. It is expected that when a hollow point bullet hits a target or medium, its frontal surface area and effective diameter is increased, thereby causing its expansion. This expansion is also known as mushrooming.

As the bullet goes further into the target, the diameter of the wound cavity increases, and more tissues are damaged. At the same time, the penetration reduces as more kinetic energy is transferred to the target. HP bullets are normally used in handguns for self-defense and in rifles for hunting applications.

● Soft Point:

Soft point bullets are hybrid, falling between hollow point and full metal jacket bullets. Almost all the parts of the bullet are enclosed in a jacket aside from the tip, which is an open lead. The bullet is designed this way to promote high penetration and retention of weight to the hollow point while having more expansion and lesser penetration than the full metal jacket.

It is used in self-defense in handgun bullets. Still, it is usually of limited value because of its inability to impact velocities high enough for reliable expansion except the bone is struck.

Boat Tail Ammunition

Boat tail is more of a bullet feature than a type of ammunition. For example, an FMJ can be either boat tail or traditional. Bullets with this feature have a tapered base that is visible when the bullets are observed from the side. This feature helps to reduce drag, increases accuracy, and gives more stability in flight.

The type of ammunition you choose is determined by what you want to use it for. Also, every ammunition type is dependent on its bullet, which is chosen based on the caliber of ammunition. If you want to have an accurate and reliable firearm, then you’ll have to choose the right type of ammo. Therefore, endeavor to make an informed decision.