Key Topics • What is Ammunition? • Match Firearms & Ammunition • How a Firearm Works • Know Your Firearm’s Range
Objectives You should be able to… • Know how to identify modern ammunition • Identify and name the components of rifle and pistol ammunition • Identify and name the components of shotgun ammunition
Objectives (cont.) • Understand the firing sequence – what happens and why • Identify which ammunition goes with a firearm • Have a basic understanding of reloading
What is Ammunition? Modern ammunition varies depending on type of firearm. Rifles and handguns use acartridge containing a single projectile (bullet). Shotguns use ashotshellcontaining either a single slug or a large number of small projectiles (shot). The basic components of cartridges and shotshells are very similar.
Two Types Of Modern Ammunition Rifle and handgun ammunition Centerfire Ammunition used for rifles, shotguns, and handguns. Primer located in center of casing base. Rimfire Ammunition has primer contained in rim of ammunition casing. Rimfire ammunition limited to low pressure loads. Rimfire cartridges not reloadable.
AmmunitionComponents Basic components are the case, primer, powder, and projectile(s). Shotshells have an additional component called wad. • Case:container that holds all other ammunition components together. • Primer:an explosive chemical compound that ignites the smokeless gunpowder when struck by a firing pin.
AmmunitionComponents(cont.) • Smokeless Gunpowder:a chemical mixture that burns very rapidly and converts to an expanding gas when ignited. • Projectile:the object(s) expelled from the barrel. • Wad:a seal made of paper or plastic separating the powder from the slug or shot in a shotshell.
Rifle and Handgun Cartridges Critical to select correct cartridge for your rifle or handgun. Compare data stamp on barrel of the firearm against description on ammunition box and the stamp on each cartridge. Bullets used in rifle and handgun cartridges come in various designs, sizes and weights. The bullet is made of lead, but sometimes has a copper jacket. Bullets for hunting may have soft or hollow points designed to expand (mushroom) upon impact. Bullets for target shooting usually have solid points that make smaller holes.
Common types of rifle bullets • Pointed Soft Point:high velocity, accurate bullets with a flat travel path (trajectory); excellent mushrooming. • Rounded Soft Point:popular for low velocity calibers; recommended for tubular magazines.
Common types of rifle bulletscont. • Protected Tip:highly accurate with excellent expansion. • Full Metal Jacket:maximum penetration without mushrooming; these bullets are illegal for big game hunting in most states.
Shotgun shells Shotgun shells (shotshells) use a slug or shot as the projectile(s) • Slugis a lead projectile used for hunting big game with a shotgun. • Shotare multiple pellets fired through a shotgun barrel. Shot size is adaptable to the game being hunted.
Shotgun shells(cont.) Shotshells must exactly match the gauge and shell length specified by the manufacturer. This information is usually found on the barrel of the shotgun. Shotguns may be chambered for 2 ¾-inch, 3-inch or 3 ½-inch shells. This refers to the length of the shell after it has been fired.
Shotgun shells(cont.) Must choose correct type and size of shot for the shotshell. As size of your target decreases, you should decrease the diameter of the shot you use. • As pellet diameter decreases, more shot can be placed in a standard shotshell. • The smaller the shot “number,” the larger the pellet diameter.
Shotgun shells(cont.) • Shotshell marked as “magnum” means shell has more shot or more gunpowder than regular shell. Magnum and regular shotshells are interchangeable if correct gauge and shell length are used.
Steel shot Steel shot pellets react differently than lead when shot. Steel weighs about two-thirds that of lead, but is much harder. Steel does not deform and is not as unstable in flight. It will produce a tighter pattern than lead shot. If using steel shot for hunting, choose a steel shot size one to two sizes larger than the lead shot you would select.
Non-toxic shot IMPORTANT NOTE: Non-toxic shot is required throughout the U. S. for waterfowl hunting. Studies showed that many waterfowl died each year due to lead poisoning. Lead pellets from traditional shotshells were picked up and digested by waterfowl. The toxic effect spread to other birds, such as the bald eagle, who consumed the poisoned waterfowl.
Match Firearms & Ammunition Not always easy to correctly match proper ammunition to your firearm – but getting it right is critical. If you match wrong ammunition to your gun, you can cause an explosion, injuring or possibly killing yourself and any bystanders.
Match Firearms & Ammunition (cont.) • Read the specific caliber or gauge designations on side of barrel. Match that designation exactly. Shotgun barrels give gauge and length of chamber (“12-gauge for 2 ¾-inch shells” or “20-gauge magnum for 3-inch shells”).
Match Firearms & Ammunition (cont.) • Carefully read information on lid of ammunition box. With shotgun ammunition, always check both gauge and shell length, and whether it’s a magnum load to ensure it matches data on barrel. • Finally, match information on barrel to information on box before you shoot. If in doubt, ask a more experienced shooter or qualified gunsmith.
Safety practices that will help you avoid using the wrong ammunition are Purchase only correct ammunition for your firearm. Buy exact caliber or gauge and length of ammunition which your rifle, handgun or shotgun was designed. Data stamp on barrel of shotgun identifies which length of shells can be used.
Safety practices that will help you avoid using the wrong ammunition are (cont.) • Carry only correct ammunition for firearm you’re using.Never mix ammunition. Common mistake involves putting 20-gauge shotshell into 12-gauge shotgun, which causes an obstruction.
Safety practices that will help you avoid using the wrong ammunition are (cont.) • Some rifle and handgun ammunition alsomay fit into the wrong gun, creating a dangerous situation. The caliber or gauge stamped on the end of the shell must match that stamped on the gun barrel. Some are not stamped. Be sure the right ammunition is used in your gun.
Hangfire or Misfire SAFETY TIP Hangfires happen when firing pin has struck primer and there is a delay before it fires. This can occur for several reasons such as a faulty firing pin or spring, defective primer or other cartridge related problem. Misfire is when primer fails to ignite the powder.
Hangfire or Misfire (cont.) Always treat “misfire” or “hangfire” as if firearm is going to discharge at any second. Leave action closed and retain your shooting position. Most importantly, maintain muzzle control in a safe direction at all times. Failure to follow these safe handling practices could result in a tragedy.
How a Firearm Works Same physical process used to fire shotshells from shotguns or cartridges from rifles or handguns. Pulling the trigger causes firing pin to strike and explode the primer in the base of the cartridge or shotshell. Fire from the primer ignites the gunpowder that burns rapidly, converting to a gas. Gas rapidly expands and drives projectile(s) through barrel with great force.
How the rifle and handgun fire A cartridge is inserted into the chamber.
How the rifle and handgun fire (cont.) • The action is closed and firing pin is pushed back and held back under spring tension.
How the rifle and handgun fire (cont.) • The trigger is pulled, releasing firing pin which moves forward with great force. Firing pin strikes the primer, causing it to explode.
How the rifle and handgun fire (cont.) • Spark from the primer ignites the gunpowder. Gas converted from the burning powder rapidly expands in the cartridge. • The expanding gas forces bullet out of the cartridge and down the barrel with great speed.
How the rifle and handgun fire (cont.) • Rifling in the barrel causes bullet to spin as the bullet travels out of the barrel. The bullet’s speed and escaping gases produce a “bang.”
Tubular Magazines Safety Tip • In tubular magazines, the bullet tip of one cartridge rests directly on the primer of the cartridge immediately ahead. For this reason, use only rounded or blunt tips in tubular magazines.
How the shotgun fires • A shotshell is inserted into the chamber. • The action is closed and firing pin pushed back and held back under spring tension. • Trigger is pulled, causing firing pin to strike the primer producing a spark. • The spark ignites the gunpowder. Gas converted from the burning powder expands in the shell.
How the shotgun fires (cont.) • Gas pushes wad against the shot; wad and shot are forced out of plastic body of the shell. • Wad and shot leave the barrel. Escaping gases produce a “bang.” • Shot and wad separate. Shot cluster spreads and forms a pattern.
Firearm’s Range Knowing your firearm’s range is critical – tells at what distances firearm’s projectile could cause injury or damage to persons, animals or objects. When hunting, knowing the range lets you immediately assess when shot will give clean kill.
Review Questions • Name three parts of rifle and shotgun ammunition. • Name three facts about steel shot.
Modern Ammunition • You should use only ammunition that exactly matches the caliber or gauge specifications marked on what part of your firearm? • Why is it imperative that different gauge shotshells not be mixed together? • What does knowing your firearm’s range allow you to do? End