A First Time Gun Owner’s Guide to the Different Types of Ammo

Did you know that gun stores across the United States have been periodically running out of ammunition? America saw record gun sales during the coronavirus pandemic, which led to ammo practically flying off the shelves.

If you’re one of the many first-time gun owners out there, it’s essential to understand the different types of ammo. Especially today when it’s becoming increasingly harder to find the ammo you’re looking for. 

Luckily for you, we’re here to help with just that. So keep on reading, and we’ll take you through the different types of ammunition that you need to know about!

Rimfire vs. Centerfire

When it comes to ammo options, you’ll first need to know the difference between centerfire and rimfire cartridges.

The primer for the rimfire is built into the rim. The centerfire cartridge’s primer is found in the center.

A quick way to know what kind of bullet you’re dealing with is to simply look at it. If you see a circle in the middle, then you’ve got a centerfire cartridge.

Rimfire cartridges are very cheap.

Common Bullet Calibers

When you’re first learning about ammo, it’s important to know that ammo can be measured in millimeters and inches. 

The weight of gunpowder and bullets is usually measured by “grains.” Seven thousand grains is equal to one pound.

.22 LR

One of the most popular calibers is the .22 LR, also known as the twenty-two long rifle. 

The bullet weighs between thirty and forty grains and is very mild shooting in both rifles and pistols. There’s hardly any recoil, so it’s great for people who are just learning to shoot. The affordable price for the bullets is also a plus.

This is a great caliber for first-time gun owners. While it can certainly kill an attacker, the .22 LR caliber is often used to kill animals like birds, snakes, and rats.

.380 ACP

The .380 is sometimes referred to as a “9mm short.” This is usually the smallest size that veteran gun owners will consider. Thanks to the popularity of “pocket pistols,” this caliber is becoming more common.

The bullet has good penetration at close range and very little recoil. It’s not very useful at farther ranges.


Even if you don’t know much about guns, you’ve likely heard of the 9mm. 

This is the standard round used by police forces all over the world as well as in NATO countries. It’s mild shooting and can vary in grain size.

You can use a compact 9mm pistol for concealed carry, and most guns that use this size can hold around fifteen rounds in a magazine. 

Common Bullet Types and Terms

Ammo can also be distinguished by its composition and the materials that are used. Let’s go over these factors in more detail below.

Full Metal Jacket (FMJ)

The most popular kind of bullet is the full metal jacket. It’s made out of a soft metal core and is fully covered by hard metal. For example, you might have lead on the inside and copper on the outside.

These bullets are usually pointy and can be flat or round. Wound channels are usually small and go right through the target. They’re not ideal as defensive ammo but are perfect for target practice.

Hollow Point 

A hollow-point bullet is meant to expand after it hits the target. These are used by concealed weapon carriers and police officers. You’ll also want this bullet for home defense because of how effective the stopping power is.

Open Tip

An open tip bullet has an opening at the top which makes it look like a hollow point cartridge. However, the openings are too small for it to really expand. 

A regular full metal jacket bullet is made out of small copper cups. The bottom of the cup becomes the top of the bullet. An open tip bullet is the opposite. The bottom of the cup turns into the bottom of the bullet.

Shotgun Ammo

Shotgun ammo is the most varied and comes with three main kinds of loads. These are birdshot, buckshot, and slugs. 


Birdshot is made of dozens of tiny pellets in each shell. It’s ideal for shooting clay pigeons and hunting birds. You generally don’t want to use it for home defense.

The recoil is mild.


When it comes to using shotguns for home defense, your best ammo option is going to be buckshot. It contains nine solid lead balls that are the same diameter as the bullet in a 9mm pistol. 

These loads tend to come with a good amount of recoil.


A slug is a single projectile. It is usually made of around one ounce of solid metal and is extremely powerful. 

This load doesn’t have the spread of buckshot or birdshot. With that said, a skillful shooter can hit a target up to 100 yards away. 

The Importance of Knowing About the Different Types of Ammo

Hopefully, after reading the above article, you now feel that you have a better understanding of what the different types of ammo are. While it can be very exciting when you start learning about guns, it can also be overwhelming.

By getting the basics down, you’ll have a much easier time buying ammo and finding the perfect gun for your needs. And if you’re still confused, don’t be afraid to look for professionals who can help you along the way.

Are you looking to buy high-quality bulk ammo? If so, contact us today and see how we can help you!