Everyone has to start somewhere. If you’re new to guns, learning the difference between centerfire and rimfire ammunition is important.Let me backtrack a moment. The first time I went out on the gun range, I had zero idea that there were different types of ammo for different types of weapons. All I knew at that point was that you put these little metal things in a gun and it makes it go pew pew. But there’s much more to it.That said, learning about the various types of ammunition is important. Here’s what you need to know about the difference between centerfire and rimfire ammunition.

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How a Gun Works – The Basics

Before we can talk about the difference between the two, we really need to go over basic mechanics of how a gun operates. If you weren’t already aware, the way shooting a gun works is that you pull the trigger and the firing pin inside the gun hits the primer, which creates a mini-explosion that ignites the gunpowder, sending the actual bullet itself forward out of the gun.Why is it important to know this? The difference between centerfire and rimfire ammunition takes this chain of events into account, so it is highly important to remember as we continue on in this discussion.

The Difference Between Centerfire and Rimfire Ammo


Now, there are two types of ammunition that you’ll come across: centerfire and rimfire. According to this simple description from Hunter Ed, centerfire ammunition is most commonly used in rifles, handguns, and shotguns. The primer in this type of ammunition is located in the center of the casing base. This is usually ideal because it creates a bigger explosion, making it easier to shoot larger sized bullets from the casing with much higher accuracy.
Centerfire .380 bullets
With rimfire ammunition, the primer is located in the rim of the shell casing. Some people prefer this type of ammo as it does not have the same level of recoil as the centerfire variety. For those who have a tendency to flinch in anticipation, this can be a better alternative.
Rimfire 22 caliber bullet
You can easily tell the difference between centerfire and rimfire by looking at the bottom of the casing. Centerfire will have a small circle in the middle, showing the location of the primer. (Hence the name.) In contrast, rimfire ammo will not have this circle.

See more: What Does A Triangle With A Circle In It Mean ? What Does A Triangle Inside A Circle Mean

What Calibers Are Centerfire and Rimfire?

Both centerfire and rimfire ammunition come in a wide range of calibers designed for use with various kinds of guns.Rimfire ammo is available in numerous sizes, but the most popular varieties are the .22 Long Rifle and also .22 Short.There are many different calibers of centerfire ammo available on the market today. Most modern shotgun shells are centerfire and nearly all ammunition with the following calibers are considered centerfire:.38.357.

Which Type of Ammunition Can Be Reloaded?

The only type of ammunition that can be reloaded is centerfire. Rimfire ammo creates too much of an explosive reaction during shooting, which can damage the outside case and make it less reliable. Thus, it cannot be reloaded.

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— Walter J., Silverdale, WA —
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