Bullet Size Chart

Bullet Size Chart Featured Image

Guns and bullets are integral to one another. When buying a gun, it is necessary to understand that the gun itself is a tool to fire bullets. It is the bullets that do the damage. The gun’s design philosophy is based on the specifications and characteristics of the bullet. As an initiation to gun culture, the new gun owner can learn a lot from a bullet size chart of the most popular ammunition.

Designing the gun is an iterative process where the requirements are based on the bullet’s characteristics. If it has more power, the gun has to be able to contain the pressures generated by the bullet. A longer reach requires a longer barrel. It should also be more reliable with a steady flight characteristic.

The most popular bullets in the world are a mix of military and civilian uses. For instance, the 9mm is included, along with the .308, 22LR, .300 BLK is used by the military. They are also available for civilian guns. It is easy to say that military use makes a particular bullet size popular. However, the sheer volume of a particular gun model can also lead to the large volume production of the ammunition.

The bullet’s characteristic is an important consideration for its use. Even with the same caliber, the bullets themselves can also vary. There are full-metal jackets, open tips, and others. These are designed with specific purposes and markets.

The continuous development and improvements of guns and ammo have resulted in various calibers on the market. There is some ammo which is made for one-off guns, but those are the exception. Gun manufacturers understand economics and they follow the market forces. They usually make guns for existing bullet sizes because the ammunition is already there.

Bullets Size Chart Infographic

The most popular bullets include:

1. .22LR

The .22LR was originally designed for rifles, hence the name .22 long rifle. However, due to its size, it has also been a favorite of small gun manufacturers. There are plenty of gun makers who have .22LR for concealed carry weapons. With a short barrel, it performs much like the .25 ACP. However, its reach is evident with longer barrels.

To meet the demands of gun owners, the .22LR has also evolved into different specialized uses. This explains the wide range of bullet specifications. It can range from 30 to 40 grains, with some bullets, and it can even go as heavy as 61 grain. There are some variants which are supersonic, while others are subsonic. Weight and size are not the only measurements of success.

.22LR Bullet

The .22LR is also forgiving to the owners, it is a rimfire with low recoil, which helps a person to keep on firing accurately. It is a fast bullet and can be easy to use, Additionally, it is designed for small game targets.

For personal defense, the .22LR does provide stopping power and can do a lot of damage to an attacker’s body when it enters.

2. 9MM

9mm is popular for different reasons for different people. Among the features is the number of bullets it brings to the table. The normal magazine is capable of 15 to 17 bullets. Some extended magazines are capable of up to 20 cartridges and more. The number of gun models which use the 9mm is also another factor. With more guns to choose from, people have more options, and a wider price range to work with.

This is a fun caliber to bring to the range. Competitors love the way the 9mm handles. It is great at close range, it is light enough as well as small enough to be able to put more than 15 in a handgun. Overall, it is true that it meets most people’s needs. Its popularity has also resulted in production by various manufacturers.

9mm bullet

The power and performance also have a large variety. It can range from 115 to 147 grains in weight, with the heavier bullet having more stopping power.

A 9mm concealed carry is not a stretch. There are several concealed carry models which use the 9mm. The resulting form factor also ranges from the smaller guns to the bigger full-frame guns. The 9mm has mild recoil and is a favorite in practical shooting ranges.

3. .308

The .308 continues to be popular ammo for military and competition use. It has its roots in the M1 Garand and Springfield rifle which both used the .30-06 cartridge. With these as the design inspiration and the direct ancestors, the .308 Winchester was introduced in 1952 for use with the AR-10. Like the .30-06 on the M1 Garand, the .308 was more than capable of hitting targets at 500 yards. In the hands of a capable marksman, it could reach 1,000 yards.

The 7.62x51mm NATO is a close copy of the .308 and recent developments have made these two interchangeable. They are not the same, but the guns which use them have been designed to enable both their use.

.308 Bullet

The performance characteristics for these two are not the same, with the 7.62 NATO producing a maximum pressure of 58,000 psi, while the .308 Winchester produces 62,000 psi. In terms of hitting a target, both bullet’s trajectories are almost the same. It is however important for the shooter to be aware that the difference in pressure would result in more wear and tear for the gun.

The .308 Winchester has been relegated to civilian use and continues to gain adherents. It is powerful, reliable and accurate. A 7.62x51mm chambered gun can use a .308 but the gun owner has to keep safe and always aware of the consequences.

4. .223

The .223 is available for military and civilian weapons. It is slightly larger and more powerful than the .22LR. The most common incarnations of the .223 are the 5.56 NATO (officially, the 5.56x45mm NATO), and the .223 Remington, which are essentially the same. It is a rifle cartridge used by the AR-15.

The .223 Remington was the original ammo used by the AR-15/M-16. However, due to NATO requirements, it was transformed into the current 5.56x45mm NATO ammo. The change was necessary to meet the NATO requirements: it has to be able to penetrate a World War II U.S. Army M1 helmet at 800 meters. This was also the same requirement for the 7.62mm NATO.

.223 Bullet

The resulting 5.56x45mm NATO has a slightly slower muzzle velocity compared to the original .223 but had longer legs due to being more aerodynamic. The newer ammo is also less prone to fragmentation, and does not maim as much as other bullets.

Whether for military or home defense, the .223 continues to grow in popularity.

5. 12 GAUGE

The 12-gauge is the standard shotgun size. There are different types of cartridges and ammunition for the 12-gauge, however, there is a reason that this is very popular. It is not only used for home defense but also competition and game.

The 12-gauge is popular ammunition for hunting, skeet shooting, and home defense. It is easy to use and has a good range. The behavior of the shot would depend on what’s inside the shell casing. The 12-gauge has a relatively short range of only about 50 yards. Smaller pellets in birdshot would have a wider spread, which is needed when hunting birds. The most popular choices for the contents of the shell are buckshot, birdshot, and slug

12 GAUGE Bullet

The slug is a single piece of metal which serves as the bullet of the shotgun. The slug can be painful but not noted for accuracy. However, with practice, it is possible to hit a big target at up to 100 yards. Birdshot is smaller pellets than buckshot. Because birdshot is smaller, it also has a bigger spread of pellets compared to the buckshot which makes it perfect for hunting birds. For self-defense, the buckshot is highly recommended. For defense, the shotgun is very effective at shredding attackers at close ranges.

6. .25 ACP

The Automatic Colt Pistol .25 caliber is larger than the .22. It was supposed to have the same performance as the .22 but with a little more power. The difference is enough to deliver more stopping power. The bullet itself has a short-range and low power. The .25 ACP is a light compact gun with great performance. The center firing design makes it a reliable shot at close range. The gun is noted for its reliability, lightweight and stopping power in short barrels.

Considering its size, the .25ACP addresses the problems of other ammo for concealed carry. Small-bore ammo typically was rimfire, low power and had poor penetration. The .25 ACP has centerfire casings which result in better reliability. 

.25 ACP Bullet

It has more power than a .22 which results in more power. Admittedly, it does not pass the FBI’s penetration test, with only 11 inches of gel penetration instead of 12 inches. However, that is to be expected with a small handgun. The .25 ACP was primarily a stealth carry. It was not designed for large guns or full-size frames. What it lacks in firepower it more than makes up in enabling for a small gun which is easy to conceal.

7. .300 BLK

Also called the Three Hundred Blackout, the .300 BLK was released in 2011. This was developed by the Advanced Armament Corporation in the United States. It was developed for use with the M4 carbine. The project aimed to have the same performance characteristics as the 7.62x39mm or the 7.92x22mm Kurtz used in the AR-15 and using regular magazines with normal capacities. However, the .300 BLK cannot be used with a gun which uses the 7.62x40mm Wilson Tactical.

Using the .300 BLK with an existing market, the bullet has become popular due to its power. When shot, the .300 BLK is a subsonic bullet which can penetrate further than the standard ammo rounds.

.300 BLK Bullet (2)

It can also be used with adjustable gas blocks providing added flexibility. The design enables fast reloading which is especially useful in real-life emergencies.

The .300 BLK can also be used with the AR 15 pistol as a defensive weapon. The 125-grain bullet has a muzzle velocity of 2,200 ft. per second, on 1,360 Joules and is priced at an average 70 cents per round. The 125-grain supersonic round has an effective combat range of 460 meters or 503 yards, with a maximum of 800 meters.

8. .380 ACP

The .380 ACP is well designed for concealed carry. It is small and light, which explains why some call it the 9mm short. There are plenty of pocket pistols which use the .380 ACP. In use, it is a low power round but since the guns are compact along with the bullet size, it can still penetrate deep when shot at close range.

The combination of characteristics results in a bullet with low recoil. This is a very convenient trait for women, or those who have problems holding guns, or generally, for users who like a light pistol.

The .380 ACP was designed for handguns with a blowback-mechanism, instead of a short recoil-operation.

.380 ACP Bullet

The blowback depends on the slide’s mass and recoil spring strength to absorb the recoil energy. The slide moves back and the next round is chambered. Blowbacks rely on the slide’s mass, and with heavier and more powerful bullets, the slide needs to be heavier as well. Alternatively, the gun would require a stronger spring. This becomes the central issue with pocket .380 ACP ammo. The guns are small, handy and light, but they can also be inaccurate because of the recoil. A well-balanced slide design makes for minimal recoil and better accuracy.

9. .40 S&W

The .40 S&W is another caliber bullet size that has a fairly recent history. It was made for law-enforcement at a time when the more popular 9mm was also gaining sales momentum. It was intended to replace the 10mm, and still able to deliver a powerful projectile to the target. It is not as heavy as it looks being between 155 and 180 grains in weight. Compared to the 9mm, the recoil is more manageable, and it produces more energy.

The .40 S&W was a spec which was designed by the FBI. After conducting their tests, Smith & Wesson and Winchester helped out threshing the gun which uses this ammo. Despite the big names associated with the development and release of the .40 S&W, it was Glock which released the first guns which use the .40 S&W. 

.40 S&W Bullet

The Glock 22 and the Glock 23 were the first pistols to be sold to the market using the .40 S&W. These were released for sale two weeks before Smith & Wesson’s gun. In 1997, the FBI officially endorsed the Glock .40 S&W for FBI issue.

Due to its use in law-enforcement, the .40 S&W achieved immediate success. There was a captive market which followed the FBI’s lead. There is nothing to fault with the FBI design. As an improvement on the 10mm, the .40 S&W bullet fits medium-frame handguns. As a law-enforcement weapon, the .40 S&W was meant to have more stopping power than the 9mm. Between the 10mm and the .40 S&W, the bullet size is almost the same. The .40 S&W, however, is shorter.

10. .45 ACP

The .45 ACP was intended for the venerable 1911 Colt. This association between bullet and gun has been a source of pride for .45 ACP fans through World Wars I and II, as well as the Korean War and the Vietnam War. The bullet is big and burly, and the guns using this ammo usually top out at 12 rounds.

Besides the experience in the various wars, the pedigree and design philosophy have to be considered when considering a .45 ACP gun. Whenever people talk about the .45 ACP, the main point of discussion is size, moderate recoil and stopping power. The stopping power is real and proven. This is due to the weight and size of the bullet. The large bullet weighs 230 grains. The bullets used during the wars were all full metal jacket, which makes them enter the body and most probably exit through and through.

.45 ACP Bullet

Users and fans don’t mind the weight of the original 1911 and the 7-round magazine. The heft and weight of the gun is part of the legacy. Today’s .45 ACP guns range widely from small concealed carry weapons with 6 round magazines, up to the H&K Mark 23 with 12 round magazines. Admittedly, 9mm handguns have the larger capacity with 15 to 17 rounds for regular full-size guns, with some guns like the Beretta which have 20 rounds in the magazine.

All things considered, the .45 ACP is a bullet with a purpose. It may cause wrist problems because of the weight, or because it has a large bulletin a small gun. It’s a good thing that gun owners like the .45 ACP as it brings joy while practicing at the gun range.

Conclusion

A bullet size chart may not be adequate to show the importance or significance of popular ammunition used today. However, such a chart should include the most common bullets and ammunition for both military and civilian use, as well as the most common bullet sizes.