close up of .22 rifle ammo

Ammunition 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Gun Ammo

Gun ammunition is the type of bullet or shot that is used in a firearm. Choosing the right ammunition for your gun is important because it can affect the gun’s performance and your accuracy when shooting.

Types of Ammo

There are different types of gun ammunition depending on the type of firearm you are using.

All three are different sizes and shapes to fit the specific type of gun they are used in. There are also specialty types of ammunition, such as rimfire or metallic cartridges, that are used in specific types of firearms.

Rifle Ammunition

There are many different types of rifle ammunition available, and the type of bullet you choose will depend on the specific needs of your rifle and the purpose for which you are using it.

Ammo TypeTypical UseStopping PowerExpansionPenetration
Full Metal JacketTarget Shooting, TrainingLowNoHigh
Hollow PointHunting, Self DefenseHighYesModerate
Soft PointHunting, Self DefenseModerateYesModerate
Boat-TailLong Range ShootingLowNoHigh
Armor-PiercingMilitary, Law EnforcementHighNoVery High

Full metal jacket (FMJ) rifle ammo

FMJ bullets are made with a hard outer casing that encases the lead core. These bullets are designed to maintain their shape upon impact and are often used for target shooting and training.

Ammo Brand & ModelCaliberBullet Weight (grains)Velocity (fps)Use Cases
Federal American Eagle FMJ.223 Remington553240Target shooting, training, varmint control
Winchester USA FMJ.308 Winchester1472800Target shooting, training, large game hunting*
Remington FMJ.30-06 Springfield1502910Target shooting, training, large game hunting*
Hornady FMJ.22-250 Remington553680Target shooting, training, varmint and small game hunting
Federal Premium FMJ.270 Winchester1303060Target shooting, training, medium to large game hunting*

*Note: FMJ bullets are not typically recommended for self defense or hunting, as they are designed to maintain their shape upon impact and may not expand or create as large a wound as other types of bullets. FMJ bullets are typically used for target shooting and training.


Hollow point rifle ammo

Hollow point bullets have a cavity in the tip that expands upon impact, which can create a larger wound and increase the bullet’s stopping power. These bullets are often used for self defense and hunting.

Ammo Brand & ModelCaliberBullet Weight (grains)Velocity (fps)Use Cases
Federal Premium Vital-Shok.270 Winchester1303050Hunting, self defense
Remington Premier AccuTip Bonded.30-06 Springfield1802700Hunting, self defense
Hornady American Whitetail.308 Winchester1502820Hunting, self defense
Federal Premium Vital-Shok.243 Winchester1002960Hunting, self defense, varmint control
Nosler AccuBond.270 Winchester1403000Hunting, self defense


Soft point rifle ammo

Soft point bullets have a partially exposed lead core that expands upon impact, which can create a larger wound and increase the bullet’s stopping power. These bullets are often used for hunting and self defense.

Ammo Brand & ModelCaliberBullet Weight (grains)Velocity (fps)Use Cases
Federal Premium Vital-Shok.30-30 Winchester1502390Hunting, self defense
Remington Premier AccuTip Bonded.300 Winchester Magnum1802960Hunting, self defense
Hornady American Whitetail.30-06 Springfield1802700Hunting, self defense
Federal Premium Vital-Shok.270 Winchester1303060Hunting, self defense
Nosler AccuBond.30-06 Springfield1802750Hunting, self defense


Boat-tail rifle ammo

Boat-tail bullets have a tapered base that helps reduce drag and improve accuracy at long distances. These bullets are often used for long-range shooting.

Ammo Brand & ModelCaliberBullet Weight (grains)Velocity (fps)Use Cases
Federal Premium Gold Medal Sierra MatchKing.308 Winchester1682650Long-range shooting
Remington Premier AccuTip Bonded.300 Winchester Magnum1802960Long-range shooting
Hornady American Whitetail.30-06 Springfield1802700Long-range shooting
Federal Premium Gold Medal Sierra MatchKing.243 Winchester1002960Long-range shooting
Nosler Custom Competition.308 Winchester1682650Long-range shooting


Armor-piercing rifle ammo

Armor-piercing bullets are designed to penetrate armor and hard surfaces. These bullets are typically used by military and law enforcement personnel.

Ammo NameCaliberBullet Weight (grains)Velocity (fps)Core MaterialTypical Use
M993 Armor-Piercing5.56mm1303,100Hardened SteelMilitary
M993 Armor-Piercing Incendiary5.56mm1303,100Hardened SteelMilitary, Igniting flammable materials
M995 Armor-Piercing5.56mm1253,000SteelMilitary
M61 Armor-Piercing7.62mm1502,800Tungsten CarbideMilitary
M993 Armor-Piercing Discarding Sabot5.56mm1303,100Hardened SteelMilitary, Long-range penetration

Note: State and local laws may have restrictions on the types of rifle ammunition that can be used or purchased.

Handgun Ammo

It’s not just about loading your pistol and pulling the trigger. Whether you’re defending your home, locking into a competition, or enjoying a day at the range, the right ammo makes all the difference. Think of it like choosing the best tool for the job. You wouldn’t use a hammer when you need a screwdriver, right? From hollow points for solid self-defense to full metal jackets for accurate target shooting, the bullet you load matters. Find your fit, and you’re not just shooting; you’re hitting your mark every single time. Make it count.

Ammo TypeDescriptionUse Cases
Full Metal Jacket (Handgun)A bullet with a soft lead core enclosed by a harder metal shellTarget shooting, training
Hollow Point (Handgun)A bullet designed to expand upon impactSelf-defense, hunting
Soft Point (Handgun)A bullet with a partially exposed lead tip designed to expand on impactSelf-defense, hunting
Frangible (Handgun)A bullet designed to break apart upon impact, reducing the chance of over-penetrationIndoor ranges, training
+P (Handgun)Bullets loaded to a higher pressure than standard ammunition, increasing velocity and stopping powerSelf-defense
+P+ (Handgun)Similar to +P, but loaded to even higher pressuresSelf-defense
Rimfire (Handgun)A bullet with the primer located around the rim of the cartridge basePlinking, small game hunting

Note: State and local laws may have restrictions on the types of handgun ammunition that can be used or purchased. Additionally, different types of handgun ammunition may have different requirements for storage and handling. It’s also important to make sure that you are using the correct caliber of ammunition for your handgun to ensure proper functioning and avoid any potential accidents.


Shotgun Ammo

Shotgun ammunition is a type of bullet or shot that is used in shotguns. Shotguns are long guns that are designed to be fired from the shoulder and have a barrel that is smooth on the inside. Shotguns are unique in that they can fire a variety of different types of ammunition, including pellets, slugs, and specialty rounds.

TypeDescriptionTypical UseAvailable Sizes
BirdshotConsists of small pellets, available in various sizes. Smaller sizes for smaller game, larger sizes for bigger game.Hunting birds & small gameSizes range from #9 (smallest) to #1 (largest)
BuckshotConsists of larger pellets, available in different sizes. Smaller sizes for closer range, larger sizes for longer range.Hunting large game & self-defenseSizes range from #4 Buck to #000 Buck
SlugsA single, large bullet designed for accuracy and penetration.Hunting large game & self-defenseCommonly found in 12-gauge, 20-gauge, etc.
Specialty roundsIncludes non-lethal projectiles like bean bags or rubber bullets, and unique rounds like flechettes or dragon’s breath for wider spread on impact.Law enforcement & crowd controlVarious, depending on specific type

Note: State and local laws may have restrictions on the types of shotgun ammunition that can be used or purchased. Additionally, different types of shotgun ammunition may have different requirements for storage and handling. It’s also important to make sure that you are using the correct caliber of ammunition for your shotgun to ensure proper functioning and avoid any potential accidents.


Choosing the Right Ammunition

When selecting gun ammunition, there are a few factors to consider. Caliber is the size of the bullet and is important because it determines the gun’s power. The type of bullet can also affect the gun’s performance. For example, hollow point bullets are designed to expand upon impact and may be more effective for self defense. Velocity, or the speed at which the bullet travels, can also affect the gun’s accuracy and power.

Ammo Size and Caliber Table

Ammo CaliberCompatible FirearmsBullet Diameter (mm)
.223 RemingtonAR-15, M16, and Other Rifles5.56
.308 WinchesterVarious Types of Rifles7.82
.45 ACPVarious Types of Handguns11.43
9mm LugerVarious Types of Handguns9.01
12 GaugeShotguns18.53
.357 MagnumVarious Types of Revolvers9.1
.380 ACPCompact and Sub-Compact Handguns9.5
.40 S&WVarious Types of Handguns10.2
20 GaugeShotguns15.63
.270 WinchesterVarious Types of Rifles6.86
7.62x39mmAK-47 and Other Rifles7.92
.50 BMGHeavy Machine Guns and Sniper Rifles12.95

Where to Buy Ammo

There are several places where you can buy gun ammunition.

  1. Local Gun Shops: Your neighborhood firearm store. Friendly, knowledgeable, and likely ready to share a story or two about their favorite rounds. Great for beginners and pros alike.
  2. Big Box Sporting Goods Stores: Places like Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops are stocked to the gills with ammo of all kinds. If it goes bang, they’ve probably got it.
  3. Online Ammo Retailers: There are plenty of solid websites selling ammo. BulkAmmo,, Lucky Gunner – they’ll ship it right to your door. Just make sure you know your state’s rules about buying ammo online.
  4. Gun Shows: Ah, the classic gun show. A place where you can find that specific round you’ve been looking for, along with a few hundred new friends who love to shoot just as much as you do.
  5. Membership Clubs: Places like Costco sometimes have ammo, and with the membership, you might find a sweet deal.
  6. Shooting Ranges: Many ranges sell ammunition. Handy if you’re planning to spend some time sharpening your aim.
  7. Military Surplus Stores: Looking for something a bit more rugged? These stores often have military-grade or surplus ammunition.
  8. Manufacturer Direct: Sometimes, buying straight from the maker like Federal or Winchester can get you exactly what you need without the middleman.
  9. Farm and Fleet Stores: They’re not just for tractor parts. Many carry a decent selection of ammunition.
  10. Ammo Subscription Boxes: Want something new every month? Subscription services can send you an assortment of rounds to try out.

Buying ammo is about more than just grabbing what’s on the shelf. It’s about finding the right place that has what you need, understanding what you’re buying, and knowing you’re getting a fair shake. Whether you’re a seasoned hunter, a weekend warrior at the range, or just someone looking to defend what’s yours, the right ammo is out there. These spots are a good start to finding it.


How to Store Ammo

Storing and handling gun ammunition safely is important. Make sure to follow guidelines for safe storage, such as keeping it away from children and in a cool, dry place. When handling ammunition, always make sure to point the gun in a safe direction and keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

Ammo Storage Guidelines

  1. Keep It Cool and Dry: Ammo’s no good when it’s wet or cooked. Store it where it’s cool and dry, and it’ll serve you well when you need it.
  2. Use the Right Containers: Don’t just toss your rounds in any old box. Ammo cans, specific boxes, or safes are the way to go. They’ll keep your ammo ready and raring for action.
  3. Kids and Ammo Don’t Mix: Lock it up, keep it high, do whatever you’ve got to do to keep those rounds out of little hands.
  4. Firearms and Ammo: Better Apart: It’s a smart move to keep your guns and ammo stored separately. It lessens the risk and keeps things nice and orderly.
  5. Heat’s the Enemy: Flames and heat can spell disaster for your ammo. Keep it cool and away from the stove, heaters, or anything else that burns.
  6. Know the Law: Every place has its rules. Get to know yours and stick to ’em when it comes to storing ammo.
  7. Label ‘Em: Got different calibers? Label those containers. Keeps things simple when it’s time to load up.
  8. Ditch the Bad Rounds: If it’s damaged or rusted, toss it out. You want ammo that’s up to the task, not stuff that’s going to let you down.
  9. Give ‘Em Space: Don’t cram your rounds in like sardines. They need space, just like the rest of us.
  10. Think Security: If you’ve got a big stash or just want to keep things extra tight, think about alarms or secure rooms.
  11. Spread the Word: Let everyone in your house know the deal with ammo safety. A well-informed team is a safe team.
  12. Have the Right Numbers Handy: Know who to call if something goes south. Keep emergency numbers close by.
  13. Mixing’s for Cocktails, Not Ammo: Keep those calibers and types sorted properly. It’ll save you headaches down the line.

Remember, storing ammo isn’t just about tucking it away. It’s about keeping it in fighting shape and ready for when you need it, all while ensuring it doesn’t end up where it shouldn’t be. Follow these guidelines, and your ammo will be good to go whenever you are.


Types of Ammo Storage Containers

Type of ContainerMaterialCapacityFeaturesCommon Usage
Ammo CanMetal400-1000 rndWaterproof, StackableMilitary, Outdoor Storage
Ammo BoxPlastic/Metal50-100 rndPortable, Various CompartmentsRange Use, Home Storage
Magazine PouchFabric/NylonVariesTactical Design, MOLLE CompatibleTactical Shooting, Military
Ammo CrateWood/Plastic1000+ rndBulk Storage, Often StackableLong-Term Storage, Transport
Ammo WalletLeather/Fabric10-20 rndCompact, Pocket-SizedHunting, Backup Storage
Ammo SafeSteel1000+ rndFireproof, Secure Locking SystemSafe Home Storage
Reloading TrayPlastic/Wood50-100 rndHolds Unloaded Cartridges for Reloading ProcessReloading, Handloading
Shell HolderLeather/NylonVariesBelt or Vest Attachment, Quick AccessHunting, Competitive Shooting


Ammunition vs Artillery

Ammunition is different form artillery. Artillery refers to larger caliber weapons that are designed to fire heavy projectiles over long distances. Artillery includes weapons such as cannons, mortars, and rocket launchers. Artillery is typically used in military or tactical situations, and it is generally not available to the general public.

One key difference between ammunition and artillery is the size and power of the projectiles they are designed to fire. Ammunition is typically smaller and less powerful than artillery, and it is designed to be used with firearms that are portable and easy to handle. Artillery is typically much larger and more powerful, and it is designed to be used with weapons that are mounted on a fixed platform or vehicle.



Choosing the right gun ammunition is important for the performance and accuracy of your firearm. Consider factors such as caliber, bullet type, velocity, and accuracy when selecting ammunition. You can buy gun ammunition at local stores, online retailers, or specialty stores, and it’s important to follow safe storage and handling guidelines. To learn more about gun ammunition, consider seeking out additional resources and training.