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Old 12-31-2011, 05:13 PM   #1
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Default How do Cartridges Get Their Names??

Some I understand, but why are some cartridge names so misleading??
Most seem to just drop the last number, ie, .308 is .30, a 35 Whelen shoots a .357, .45 measures .451....
For example:
The .38 S&W (also known as the .380 rimmed) bullet measures .361 and is bigger than a .38 (.357) or a .380 (.355)..
Heck why is the .38 a .38? If it measures .357, why isnt it a .35 or a .357 special?
Why isnt the .357 SIG called the 9mm SIG? It shoots a a .355, same as a 9mm..
A .44 is .429, why isnt it .42 or .43 caliber??

What the hell?!?

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Old 12-31-2011, 05:22 PM   #2
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That was fascinating! I'm posting so I can keep an eye on any answers. I'm not a reloader so I wasn't aware of most of these.

I have always wondered why .357mag and .38spl were of the same caliber.

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Old 12-31-2011, 05:25 PM   #3
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I've wondered this myself, and like Chris, I want some answers too dammit!!

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Old 12-31-2011, 05:28 PM   #4
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Signing up for answers also.

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Old 12-31-2011, 05:41 PM   #5
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Another strange one.. .38 ACP/Super isnt even .357 its .355....

The metric designations make alot more sense... The .380 ACP as its called here is a 9x17mm which makes sense, its a 9mm bullet in a 17mm case.... Even the old designations worked, ie, the .30-40 was intended to shoot a .30 cal bullet with 40grs of powder (didnt turn out that way with the invent of smokeless powder) or the .30-06 it was a .30 cal made in 1906

I looked at a old box of S&B .380 ACP I have, and its marked 9mm Browning Corto.. That even makes sense... Corto means short, and it was invented by Browning, so roughly "translated" it would be "Browning's short 9mm"

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Old 12-31-2011, 06:59 PM   #6
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For cartridges that have multiple names, what makes one the "norm"?

Like 9mm Luger.. Why is it still "Luger", now that theres so many guns chambered for it? Why didnt 9x19 or 9mm Parabellum become the norm? The .38 Special was once called .38 S&W Special but the S&W was dropped after other guns were chambered for it...

Or what about the .30-40 Krag? It was originaly called .30 US or .30 US Army... I mean my Winchester '95 is marked .30 US and I have some old Remington ammo from the 20's and 30's, Its still marked either .30 US or USA, also on the back of the box it says "Developed for the Krag, Remington-Lee, Winchester 1895, Remington and Winchester single-shot Military and Sporting rifles" Why so long after the Krag was made and there being many other rifles chambered in ".30 US" did it become .30-40 Krag?

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Old 12-31-2011, 07:09 PM   #7
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Well, to answer the only one I know. The .357 sig is named so because it was an attempt at an automatic cartridge that mimics the performance of the .357 magnum round from the revolvers that the FBI and other agencies carried.

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Old 12-31-2011, 07:37 PM   #8
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Or why is the .280 Rem the same shell as the 7m/m Express? Or why is the 6m/m Rem. the same shell as the .244 Rem.? When S&W came out with the .32 S&W long, Colt refused to call theirs that so they called the same shell the .32 Colt New Police. Winchester had the .40-65 so Marlin called the same shell the 40-60 Marlin. The list is endless. When new shells come out now(and probably always) I think they are named by the marketing dept not by R&D. The names are just names. Does your Ford Mustang look like a horse. Does your Yamaha Rhino have anything to do with that animal? The names are just for marketing. When you buy ammo just make sure that the box and the barrel say the same thing.

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Old 12-31-2011, 07:39 PM   #9
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I have a cartridge that I named "Mr. Bear" it's written down the side in permanent marker. I'm saving it for the bear that keeps leaving gigantic paw prints under my tree stand. That's how that one got its name.

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Old 12-31-2011, 08:41 PM   #10
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Gents- the history of cartridges is one of marketing, hype, narcissism, one-ups-manship, humor, and history. There is no ONE answer to how they ALL got their names, some of the answers are contrary to other answers.

Yes, the 45-70 and the 30-40 used nominal caliber and charge of black powder. However, the 30-30 was never a black powder cartridge.

The Europeans are also not immune. There are a dozen different 9mm pistol cartridges- many of which are NOT 9mm. (Hint- check diameter of a Makarov and a Parabellum)

S&W created the .38 S&W Military & Police Special. For years, if you wanted to make a gun in THAT caliber, it would bear "38 S&W Special" on the barrel, which hacked off Colt IMMENSELY. That stranglehold lasted from 1899 to 1906, when Colt brought out the "38 Colt Special", identical to the S&W round in every aspect EXCEPT a flat tipped bullet (have one cartridge of .38 Colt Special with that headstamp) And yes, it is not a .38, but they did not want to revive memories of the fairly weak black powder .36 Navy ball and cap guns.

Colt had their own marketing moments- with the .25 ACP, .32 ACP, .38 ACP, and .45 ACP. Automatic Colt Pistol. Owning the rights to the name, ACP now went on guns made by others (keep the brand name out there)

9mm Parabellum was created for the P08 Luger- but the legal name is Parabellum (for war). But the Luger was about the sexiest pistol of the time, and caught the imagination of the public.

Study of the history of cartridges can fascinating- not only of the design and engineering, but of politics, dirty tricks, and sharp business dealings of the time. Do not overlook proprietary rounds from company like Merwin & Hulbert (one of the bigger and better gun makers in the US at one time- now a history footnote) the Webleys from England, Mausers from Germany, Mondragons from Mexico, Muratas and Arisakas from Japan, and Carcanos from Italy.

There were the non-rimfire/non centerfire dead ends- the Allen lipfires, the Moore & Williams Teatfires, the Crispins, and Plant cupfires- all created to avoid one patent. There is some really neat stuff out there where a cartridge is more rare than the gun that shot it.

My personal favorite? Seriously- the .307 Schneelock Triangular revolver cartridge. From 1872.

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