Different Types of Ammo

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“What are the different types of ammo?” The answer depends on the purpose you have in mind for your weapon. The vast majority of guns are sold with one of three goals in mind: hunting, target shooting, or self-defense.

Firearms manufacturers have created rounds designed for each of these purposes. We’ll start below with ammunition for personal protection. Make sure to check out our ammo guide for answers to questions not covered here.

Self-defense ammo

The most common type of firearm used for personal protection is a handgun, although shotguns are also a popular choice.

Rounds designed for these weapons focus on stopping power, i.e., the ability to stop attackers in their tracks. Common examples include:

  • 38 caliber: This is one of the most popular rounds for self-defense. It offers good stopping power without the blast and recoil associated with more powerful cartridges. This makes it a great all-around choice for all types of shooters, including women and younger people.
  • 357/44 Magnum: This type of ammo is synonymous with heavy-duty stopping power. It’s a common staple in popular movies such as the Clint Eastwood “Dirty Harry” series. But all that power comes at the cost of heavy recoil, so it’s not the best choice for every shooter. Still, it’s extremely effective when handled with skill.
  • 9 mm: This is currently the most popular cartridge used for personal defense, both among the general public and law enforcement professionals. It offers significant stopping power and manageable recoil.
  • 12 gauge buckshot: This is another type of ammunition that provides incredible stopping power. It’s usually fired from a shotgun rather than a handgun, although there are a few 12 gauge pistols on the market. The term “buckshot” refers to the size of the pellets fired from the cartridge.

Practice/target shooting ammo

New shooters are often tempted to buy the most powerful weapon their budget can afford. In most cases, however, they’re better off starting with a small, manageable firearm until they’ve developed their shooting skills more fully.

There’s no better way to acquire these abilities than through target shooting, and there’s no better round for this purpose than the classic 22 caliber long rifle cartridge. Reliable and affordable, it offers minimal recoil in a budget-friendly package.

22 caliber ammo does have its limitations, especially when it comes to stopping power. Nonetheless, a rifle or handgun chambered for this round can be a formidable weapon in the right hands.

Please note: Unlike the other types of ammo discussed in this guide, 22 caliber ammunition is NOT suitable for reloading. This is something to keep in mind when choosing your firearm.

Hunting ammo

The most common hunting cartridges include:

  • 22 caliber long rifle: Yes, this is the same type of ammunition we discussed in the section on target shooting. It’s a great round for hunting smaller game such as squirrels or rabbits.
  • 30-30 Winchester: This round is synonymous with deer hunting in many parts of the country. Many hunters swear by it, and it’s perhaps the best overall choice for putting venison on the table.
  • 308 Winchester: This is a more powerful round than the 30-30. It’s widely used by bear hunters, who rely on its formidable stopping power to do the job.

Important note: Most rounds designed for hunting are unsuited for home defense purposes due to their extreme range and velocity.

For example, a 308 Winchester fired inside the typical suburban home could easily blast through the walls of the residence, striking an innocent person in another room or even across the street. It could also backfire on the shooter in a big way.

For this reason, we recommend that those interested in personal protection look towards handguns or shotguns rather than rifles. A gunsmith or shooting expert in your area can recommend specific models.

Reloading helps you save money on quality ammo

Here we’ve surveyed a variety of ammunition choices for the typical shooter. One way to save money on your ammo expenses is to learn the art of reloading. You’ll find everything you need to get started here on our website. We sell top-quality reloading supplies from the most trusted brands at the lowest prices. More ammo questions? Our guide to ammunition has answers to some of the most common questions we receive from firearm owners.