How To Choose The Right Ammunition For Your Gun

With the different types of ammunition (ammo for short) available in the market, choosing one that best suits your needs can be challenging. Understanding various factors is critical in selecting the applicable ammo for your gun.  

While there’s nothing wrong with going for cheap steel-cased ammo, you may want to read this guide to learn more about ammo. You’ll gain insights into what works best for target shooting or hunting. You’ll also be able to distinguish which can cause more damage. In the end, you’ll determine the right ammo for your gun.

Know the Caliber, Gauge, And Cartridges of Your Gun  

When purchasing ammo, you must have information on your gun’s caliber, gauge, and size. The size of a bullet in terms of diameter is known as a caliber. It also pertains to the diameter of a gun’s barrel. You can look for your gun’s caliber in the owner’s manual. Always follow the owner’s manual instructions and purchase the type of ammo suggested. 

Gauges are often used in shotguns to show the diameter of their bore. Your gun’s chamber is designed to fire a specific gauge or caliber. Although some firearms can fire various calibers, choosing the right ammo for your gun is vital. Failure to do so risks the chances of damaging your gun and causing injuries to the shooter.  

You should also pick the correct cartridge for your gun. Also known as rounds, cartridges are the single units of ammo that comprises four different components, including:  

  • Projectile or bullet. This part comprises various metal alloys that leave the gun barrel and are used in hitting the target.  
  • Primer. This is a metal cup that contains an explosive that’s impact sensitive. It’s often used in modern ammo.  
  • Powder propellant. A low-explosive charge in the gun propels a bullet once a primer ignites it.  
  • Case. It’s the part of a gun that holds everything in place and tends to expand upon firing to protect powder against moisture by sealing the breach.  

Rimfire and centerfire are two types of cartridges. Rimfire ammo is used in pistols, whereas centerfire ammo is used in rifles. Older designs of rifles commonly use rimfire ammo.  

These two types can be easily distinguished. Rimfire ammo is relatively small and affordable, thanks to its design. By contrast, centerfire ammo is larger and causes more damage to the target thanks to its composition. Regarding velocity, rimfire ammo has lower muzzle velocity than its counterpart. 

Choose Ammunition Based on Use 

How To Choose The Right Ammunition For Your Gun

Irrespective of the type of firearm you own or use, you should choose your ammo based on its application. The last thing you’d want is ammo that overperforms or underperforms. The three common purposes of guns are as follows:   

1. Home And Personal Defense  

You may have purchased a gun for home and personal defense. To be able to carry out the job, you’d want ammo that can neutralize threats as fast as possible. The best way to hinder a threat is by using a powerful cartridge.   

By using a powerful cartridge, you’ll be able to cause the most damage to your threat. Hollow-point bullet cartridges are said to be the most effective ammo when it comes to self-defense.   

These bullets are known to cause effective damage as they expand upon entry. When the projectile expands, it leaves a significantly larger wound resulting in greater damage. These bullets are also known for staying in the flesh.  

2. Hunting  

When hunting, you’ll need ammo that will kill fast without inflicting much pain. A powerful cartridge is considered the best ammo for killing your target quickly and easily.  

Usually, a hunting bullet is designed to cause puncture on hard muscles and thick skin. When you fire a hunting bullet, it will penetrate deep and cause damage to vital organs.   

Avoid using ammo that will exit the animal as it won’t cause instant death, leaving the animal to suffer before dying. As a hunter, ethical killing should be your priority. This is why you should consider using ammo that will kill the animal fast rather than leaving it running while wounded before dying.  

Consider working with bullets that are primarily designed for hunting. For the best hunting experience, you should choose the right ammo for your animal. This is equally important since the bigger the animal, the more powerful your ammo should be. And to help you pick out the right hunting bullet, here are some factors to consider: 

  • Size: A bullet’s size, that is, its weight and caliber or diameter, determines how well it can perform in bringing down a game animal. This means lighter and compact bullets work perfectly fine when hunting a smaller animal. But for bigger animals, you’ll need a bulkier and larger bullet. Remember to also balance the bullet size with that of the cartridge. A cartridge that’s too big will lower your shooting accuracy and produce a greater recoil effect.   
  • Terminal performance: This term refers to a bullet’s reaction after striking an animal. The perfect hunting bullet should penetrate the animal’s body and get to the vital organs, for instance, the lungs and heart. It can only do this if it can expand well to create a big wound on the animal and maintain its weight.  
  • Accuracy: You must consider this factor when looking for a hunting bullet. All your efforts would be in vain if you won’t hit an animal. The best bullet would be a heavy one. Having a bullet with high accuracy can boost your confidence while out hunting.  

Although already a good choice for home and personal defense, you can also consider a hollow-point bullet ammo for hunting. As previously mentioned, it expands upon entry, so it is stuck in the animal. This type of ammo allows you to deliver kinetic energy to the game, hence killing it humanely.    

3. Target Shooting  

Target shooting is about improving your aim at a shooting range. If you’re a newbie or just having fun, you don’t have to invest in expensive ammo. Purchasing expensive ammo means you’ll have fewer chances of shooting. 

To have more fun and improve your aim with ease, you’ll need to invest in cost-effective ammo with low recoil. Guns such as .22LR offer more bullets, are light in weight, and offer low recoil, making them ideal for target shooting.  

When it comes to shotguns, choose one that is relatively affordable. Inexpensive birdshot shotshells with lightweight pallets, such as No.7, are considered the best shotgun ammo for target shooting.  

Full metal jacket (FMJ) ammo is also another favorite for target shooting. This type of ammo allows you to shoot lots of it quickly. Unlike hunting and self-defense ammo, target shooting ammo has a soft lead core enclosed in a copper shell.  

Understand The Different Types Of Bullet  

Bullet type is an important influencing factor when choosing the right ammo for your gun. A .22 handgun normally requires ammo that is sized .22 with rimfire style. Bullet type is where major differences arise. Although cartridges and sizes play a significant role in a bullet’s performance, its design will change its functionality. Here are some of the most popular bullet types:  

  • Hollow Point   

As discussed above, a hollow-point bullet is the best option if you’re in the market for ammo to neutralize threats or hunt animals. This bullet expands after penetrating a target to create a large hole.  

FMJ bullets are designed to hurt; however, they leave behind relatively small wounds that are easy to manage. Unlike FMJ, hollow point bullets are known to cause more damage, pain, and catastrophic internal injuries. Simply put, if your aim is to take out your target, this is what you need. 

  • FMJ

This ammo comes with a soft lead core enclosed in stronger metal shells such as copper. Due to their designs, FJM bullets cannot expand upon entry. As a result, they move through their target, causing less severe injury.   

This type of bullet is popular ammo among the military as they tend to penetrate through intermediate barriers such as thin walls, glasses, and body armor.   

  • Soft Point  

This type of bullet is between FMJ and hollow point bullets. Upon hitting the target, a soft point bullet expands. This is possible because of the soft point jacket. As a shooter, you’ll have a chance to enjoy the best of FMJ and hollow point bullets when using a soft point bullet.   

It’s due to this aspect that soft point bullets are recognized as the most popular. Rifles are considered the best guns for using soft point bullets as they don’t expand when shot at low velocity.  


Ammos have different functionalities and are often determined by the type of gun you’re using and the intended task. The best ammunition for your gun is the one that will carry out its task with utmost perfection. 

The tips discussed in this article, along with the relevant information, can go a long way in helping you choose the right ammo for your gun. Remember to always purchase your ammo from a trusted dealer. This is especially important if you’re a newbie, as they’ll help you choose one that will best suit your task and work effectively with your gun. They may even give you extra tips, like how to take care of your gun.

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