A Glossary of Ammunition Terms
A type of bullet designed to penetrate hard or soft body armor,and/or tough objects like automobile bodies. The term is actually very imprecise and hardto define, as there are many variables involved. Virtually any centerfire rifle bullet can penetrate soft body armor (especially when firing full metal jacketed bullets) and socould be considered "armor piercing," even if the intended purpose of the bullet ishunting or target use. There are many types of true AP ammunition in both handgun andrifle calibers, most of which are unimportant for sporting or defensive use, and some of which are illegal to sell to the general public.
Once almost exclusively a military term, this is now frequently used in a civiliancontext as well; it means a bullet that is solid or non-expanding in nature. In earlyfirearms, projectiles were round lead balls, and the usage has persisted. "Ballammunition" in rifle cartridges usually means full metal jacket bullets, but in handguncartridges the term may also include solid lead bullets. The French word "balle" is theorigin of this term (and also of the word "bullet," from "boulet," a little ball.)
A bullet that's tapered at the base, to reduce wind cavitation in the back iscalled a "boat-tail" from its resemblance to the stern of a ship. These bullets are almostexclusively used in rifles, and tend to have flatter trajectories and higher retainedvelocities at long range than conventional flat-based bullets.
This is what comes
of the muzzle of the gun when you pull the trigger; asingle projectile fired from a handgun or rifle. Bullets may be made solely of lead alloy,or they may be composite structures with a lead core and a surrounding "jacket" of copper/nickel alloy. Different styles and shapes of bullets are used for different purposes,
, defensive shooting, targets, hunting, etc. Although virtually all handgun and riflecartridges are designed to shoot single bullets, sometimes special multi-projectile loadsare seen.
A means for designating the size of the bullet fired by a particular gun. Intheory, there are two methods of measuring caliber: hundredths of an inch, andmillimeters. To speak of a gun as being ".22 caliber" means that the bullet fired by it isapproximately twenty-two hundredths of an inch in diameter. A "9 mm" pistol fires a bullet nine millimeters in diameter. Unfortunately, over the years, standardization of bullet diameters has led to a nomenclature that doesn't quite correspond to physical fact,and there are many instances in which the nominal bullet diameter and the
bulletdiameter don't coincide. For example, in a perfect world, all ".38 caliber" handgunswould fire a bullet of that size; but in this imperfect world, none of them do: in fact, the"typical" .38 caliber bullet is somewhat smaller than its nominal diameter. The situation ismuch better with metric-designated bullets, and a "9 mm" or "10 mm" is really nine or ten millimeters in diameter.