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Handgun Ammunition - Components and Differences

You always hear how "Guns kill people" or "People kill people", well they are all wrong, it is the ammunition that kills people. Without ammunition the handgun would be nothing more than an expensive blunt force instrument.

Firing sequence of the cartridge:

Pulling the trigger of the pistol will cause the firing pin to hit and ignite the primer - the flame generated by the primer ignites the powder in the cartridge - the powder burns very rapidly and produces high volume of gas - it is the gas that expels the bullet out of the cartridge and to it's target at a high rate of speed.

Pistol cartridges date back to around 1845 with the 1st 22 bb cap shooting gallery rifle. The modern pistol cartridges is made up of four basic components: the case, the powder charge, primer and bullet or projectile.

Case: The case is a metal cylinder usually made of brass that is closed at one end and contains the other three components

Primer: The primer is an impact sensitive chemical compound used for ignition. In a rimfire cartridge the primer is contained in the inside rim of the cases base. In a center-fire cartridge the primer is contained in a small metal cup, and is located in the center of the case's base.

Powder Charge: Is a fast burning chemical compound used as a propellant and it is contained inside the body of the case.

Bullet: Is a projectile, usually made of lead and sometimes covered with a layer of copper or other metal, and is located in the mouth of the case.

The cartridge is commonly referred to as the "round". A live round is a cartridge with all its components intact and is unfired.

There are to primary types of modern cartridges, the rimfire and the center-fire.  As explained earlier is has to do with the location of the primer, the rimfire's primer is in the rim of the case and the center-fire's primer is in the center of the cartridge case.

You must use the correct ammunition for your handgun. Only a cartridge designed for your handgun can be fired safely. Even though a round may fit into your handgun, it does not mean it is safe to shoot in your handgun. You need to determine which is the correct cartridge for your handgun. The easy way is to consult with a professional to determine which is correct. You can also determine this information by looking at your handgun, most times the cartridge designation can be determined by looking on the side of the barrel. For example a 380acp will fit into a 9mm, however it is unsafe to fire the 380acp in your 9mm handgun. Also some cartridges are rated +P or +P+, these are loaded to much higher pressures and if your handgun is not rated for these it could damage your handgun and/or cause you injury. Again the best way to determine the correct round for your handgun is to ask a professional. All the employees of the Centerfire Firearms Training academy and the Indy Gun Bunker are fully trained to help with the proper cartridge selection.

List of most popular cartridges



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