Black Butte Range

A GUIDE TO AMMO

a guide to ammo

A GUIDE TO AMMO

The ammunition marketplace is crowded with many different manufacturers and types. Although price can be one factor in choosing ammunition, you should choose the ammo that fits your needs. Training ammo and service-grade defense ammunition are much different. Here is a primer on ammo to help you understand the many options when you’re shopping.

ANATOMY OF A CARTRIDGE

Although ammo is often referred to as bullets, the actual term is a “cartridge” which has the casing and bullet. The case is the shell that holds the cartridge together. Inside the case is the explosive powder, AKA propellant, that when it explodes, it sends the bullet out of the barrel. The bullet is the projectile. Ammo is usually typed by what type of projectile is seated in the cartridge.

CARTRIDGE METALS

Casings usually come in brass, aluminum or steel. Brass has the ability to expand under pressure in the chamber, which means the integrity of the cartridge isn’t compromised. Brass cartridges can also be reloaded, but they do tend to cost more than aluminum or steel. Aluminum or steel are cheaper than brass, but not suited to reloading.

FULL METAL JACKET ROUNDS

Full metal jacket rounds have a soft metal core, usually lead, surrounded by hard metal. These rounds can be inexpensive, but they don’t make good CCW ammo. Lead is a cheap material, so FMJ rounds are better for practice, not for defense. An FMJ round won’t expand when striking a target. Instead, it goes through the target, potentially hitting bystanders.

JACKETED HOLLOW POINT AMMUNITION
Jacketed hollow point ammunition is identifiable by the depression in the middle of the center of the round. When a JHP round enters a body, the bullet expands inside the target, slowing the projectile down with the purpose of stopping within the target. These are popular for CCW.

FRANGIBLE AMMO
Frangible ammo is made of compressed copper powder, which crumbles when it hits something hard. There’s little chance of ricochets with a frangible bullet. They are often used as defense ammo in urban settings.

CALIBER AND GRAINS
On ammo, you will see two measurements. The caliber represents the diameter of the cartridge for the correct bore size. Grain is the weight of the bullet. At 437.5 grains to an ounce, you may not notice the weight of a bullet when you’re first shooting. For target shooting, weight really isn’t an issue. In self-defense, it gets a little trickier. Bullet weight becomes more important when you’re shooting for accuracy. A heavier bullet won’t get blown off target, but if it’s too heavy, it may not have the velocity to reach the target. Practicing with different weights can help you find the right one for your needs.

PURCHASING AMMO WISELY
When you’re starting out, you might shop for the cheapest ammo for your gun to learn to shoot, but as you improve. Learn to store your ammo correctly, in a cool, dry, dark place so that it doesn’t degrade. Don’t buy in bulk until you’re sure that the ammo works well for your weapon and your needs.

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Black Butte Range

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