Its important when choosing a firearm and ammunition that both are compatible and the ammunition is correct for the application.  Ammunition is available for various needs such as personal protection, hunting, target shooting, informal plinking.  If you are not well-versed in firearms, the topic of ammunition might seem unimportant, confusing or intimidating.  It’s important to choose the appropriate ammo for optimum performance.  

How Exactly Does a Bullet Function?

A bullet (or shot in a shotgun) is a projectile(s) expelled from a firearm.  A bullet or shot functions by receiving energy from ignited gunpowder then transmitting that energy into the bullet which transmits power to the material impacted (terminal performance).  

What Are the Types of Bullets?

A bullet (projectile) can be categorized into various types:  Bullets are normally defined as projectiles from a firearm with a rifled barrel.  Shot or a slug from a shotguns.  Round lead balls are normally associated with muzzle loaders.  Bullets are identified by caliber (the diameter of the bullet like .30 caliber or 7mm etc.) and weight in grains (7,000 grains per pound).  Shotgun shot is made from very small #9 to quite largest 00 buckshot.  Slugs are identified in ounces; 7/8 oz. in a 20 ga. and 7/8 or 1 oz. in a 12 ga. being common.  Round balls are mostly used in flintlock and percussion firearms.    

Ammunition Types Most Common Are Center Fire and Rimfire 

Centerfire ammunition have a removable primer centered in the head (back end or base) of the case.  Rimfire cartridges have the priming compound located inside the case in the outer diameter of the rim.  Centerfire ammunition is most common for reloading, rimfire cases are not normally reloaded, however it can and has been done.  

Various Bullet Designs

There are many kinds of bullets. Some of them are;

FMJ bullets usually have a lead core encased in a gilding metal jacket which is a copper alloy.  These bullets normally have a closed meplat (nose of the bullet) with exposed lead core at the base.  FMJ bullets are used in military ammunition & solids for dangerous African game where deep penetration is wanted. The solids are designed to deform very little if at all when penetrating through thick bone.  Some  solids have hard lead alloy cores, gilding metal clad steel jackets to insure best performance on dangerous game.

A wadcutter or semi-wadcutter is normally a pistol bullet.  These are either entirely of lead alloy or FMJ with a lead core.  This style bulled has a sharp shoulder designed to cut a clean hole in paper targets affording easy scoring.  The semi or full wadcutter FMJ bullets normally have a rather thin gilding metal jacket.  

Soft point bullets (SP) also referred to as soft-nosed have a metal jacket encompassing the base and an exposed soft meplat (nose) of lead or a plastic material with lead core.  When fired  SP ammunition is intended to expand and create a wound channel in game larger than the original bullet diameter.  Soft point bullets are used for hunting and targets.  These are available from various ammunition and bullet manufacturers. 


Hollow Point Bullets

Hollow point (HP) bullets are very similar to soft point except the meplat (tip end of bullet) is an open cavity extending down into the bullet core.  This type of bullet is normally used in hunting ammunition quite often for varmints where rapid expansion is wanted upon impact.  Again these can be used for target shooting.   

Are Bullets and Cartridge the Same?

No, bullet are the projectile leaving the firearm.  A cartridge consists of the bullet, case (brass), gunpowder and primer.  The case holds the bullet and in centerfire is easily reloaded.  

How Do Cartridges Work?

When you pull the trigger, the firing pin (or striker) strikes the primer which ignites the priming compound this in turn ignites the gunpowder.  The powder burns producing high pressure gas, this energy is transmitted to the bullet launching it from the firearm.  

What Are the Categories of Cartridge?

A cartridge is classified into two major categories:

A. Shotgun Shells

Shotgun shells are used to shoot pellets or a from a shotgun. Smaller shot sizes used for small game , buckshot and slugs can be effectively used for home defense or deer.

B. Pistol and Rifle Cartridges

Pistol and rifle cartridges (often referred to as rounds) are used to shoot bullets (projectiles) out of firearms. 


Bullets and cartridges are a needed component when using firearms. Knowing how bullets and cartridges work is vital so you can use them safely.  We recommend all associated with firearms join the National Rifle Association.  

Those engaged in reloading ammunition can benefit from annealing the necks of their brass cartridge cases.  Go to & see a short video of the Anneal-Rite unit.  It is efficient, accurate, and reasonable guaranteeing perfect results!