Get to know your ammo!

Firearms quickly gain new gun enthusiasts because there is always something new to learn — between suppressors, types of firearms, and expanding your skills at the gun range — firearm knowledge is always presenting ways to level up.

Then there is ammunition — a whole new breadth of knowledge that’s vital to your gun skills and becoming a person who can talk the talk about firearms.

Liberty Firearms Institute is here to explore ammo and provide a need-to-know guide so the next time you’re in our retail shop you can feel more confident about what it is you’re looking for. Learn all about ammo in today’s post.

Ammo Composition

A bullet — or more specific, a cartridge — is composed of a few basic structures including:

  • Bullet – This is the projectile that is shot from your firearm with a core of soft metal or lead and a sheath of a “jacket” or metal shell.
  • Case – The case, typically made from brass and sometimes steel, holds the cartridge together.
  • Propellent – The propellant is the gunpowder within the cartridge, and when ignited, explodes, sending the bullet out of your firearm.
  • Rim – The rim is the end of the bullet — some are rimless, meaning they’re the same diameter of the case, while others like ammo for a revolver are larger.
  • Primer – In the rear of the cartridge sirs the primer. When this tiny piece is struck, a small spark ignites the propellant.

It’s also important to distinguish a rimfire cartridge from a centerfire cartridge.

Rimfire – In the rimfire, the cartridge is built into the rim and has a solid end.

Centerfire – In the centerfire, the primer is in the center and resembles a donut at the end.

Bullet Caliber and Size

When we’re referencing ammunition, it’s typically described by the diameter or caliber — shotgun shells are measured in gauge — of the firearm it’s projected through.

.22L – This is one of the most common caliber sold and stands for twenty-two long rifle and is about as tall a quarter. It’s great for beginners because there is little to no recoil and it’s an affordable option for shooting many rounds.

9mm – A 9mm bullet stands a bit taller than a quarter and it’s a very versatile round.

Standard Bullet Types

Armor Piercing (AP)

This bullet is not made of lead, but instead has an alloy center and it’s traditionally used to pierce armor.

Boat Tail (BT)

Boat tail bullets are a tapered design and are able to stabilize amidst flight.

Soft Point (SP)

A soft point bullet is an expanding bullet with a soft metal core encased in a stronger metal jacket.

Boat Tail Hollow Point (BTHP)

A BTHP combines both the hollow point and boat tail bullet designs that make it tapered and gives it the ability to open to a larger diameter without shredding.


A frangible bullet breaks up and fragments when it enters the target — in soft tissue it breaks into smaller pieces and in a hard target it disintegrates.

Shotgun Ammo

There are three main types of shotgun ammo loads including:

  • Birdshot – Birdshot is very small pellets ranging from .05 to .180 inches in diameter and is widely used in bird hunting and clays.
  • Buckshot – Buckshot is bigger pellets than birdshot with standard sizes ranging from .24 to .36 inches in diameter.
    Steel shot (slugs) – Steel shot ammo is a single projectile composed of solid metal ranging from .11 to .22 inches in diameter — there is less spread with slugs than birdshot or buckshot, but with a skilled shooter can be accurate to a maximum of 100 yards.

Stop Into Liberty Firearms Institute Today

Need ammo or do you need more information on what kind of ammo you should be using? Stop into our shooting range and visit our gunsmith or retail shop for more guidance.