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generic 12-23-2009 02:32 PM

Limits on what caliber/ammo type a gun can fire?

These might be stupid questions, but I was curious about a couple of things with calibers and ammo types...

One is, can a gun use more than one caliber ammunition? Like, in a pinch, could I use .40 ammo in a .45 gun? Are there guns designed to take more than one caliber ammo?

Also, is there a limit to the type of ammo a given gun (say a shotgun) can fire so long as the ammo caliber matches? Or are there some bullets that require a specific type of gun to fire? Say I had a flare gun and a shotgun shell that will fit in it. Could I fire the shell?

CA357 12-23-2009 02:59 PM

As a general rule, NO! I't dangerous and could be catastrophic as well as hazardous to your health.

You can shoot .38 Special in a .357. But generally, the answer is a definite no. Trust and believe that you don't want to do it.

cpttango30 12-23-2009 03:14 PM

there are a limited few calibers that can be interchanged. a 454 casull can fire 45long colt, 357 can fire 38 spec. 5.56 can fire 223 410 shotguns can sometimes fire 45 Long colts.

If you stick a 12 ga shell in a flare gun your going it end up with the nick name of one eye stumpy McStupid.


Also, is there a limit to the type of ammo a given gun (say a shotgun) can fire so long as the ammo caliber matches? Or are there some bullets that require a specific type of gun to fire? Say I had a flare gun and a shotgun shell that will fit in it. Could I fire the shell?
Ok if you have a 12 ga. there are some differences in some guns. For the 12 ga you have 2.75", 3" and 3.5" shells. If you have a 3.5" chamber you can shoot any of the three if you have a 2.75" chamber then that is all you can shoot, 3" will not chamber and if they do they may blow the gun up leaving you with slightly less finger and eyes.

These are not stupid questions at all.

Some calibers us the same parent cartridge like 243, 7mm-08, 260 rem are all based on a 308 win case You can chamber all of them in a 308 chamber but you will damage your rifle by shooting undersized bullets in your gun.

When starting out be safe and shoot ONLY what is listed on the barrel. If it says 22-250 then don't go tryin to shot a 204 ruger in the chamber. If it says 410 don't go shooting 45 long cots in the darn thing.

As for how much can you shoot in a gun in one day that is up to you and how much recoil you can take. I have shot upwards of 10,000 to 20,000+ rounds in a day before ( Using up ammo on MG range in Army) Now at one point I did weld the barrel to the reciever of my M249 (BIG OOPSY) but other than that how fast can you pull the trigger and be accurate.

CA357 12-23-2009 03:26 PM

BTW, I forgot, you can shoot .44 Special in a .44 Magnum. But you cannot shoot .44 Magnum in a .44 Special. The same goes for .38 and .357 Magnum.

Just stick to the correct caliber and you'll be fine. If you have an owners manual, read it. At the very least, ask questions here. Everybody stars out new. ;)

generic 12-24-2009 03:26 PM

Wow, thanks guys! Though I kinda feel like I fell into the deep end; I had no idea there were so many kinds of ammo! But I'll certainly make sure I have enough bullets of the correct type. I do happen to like my fingers and eyes...

@noyes: Thanks for the link! I'll definitely be saving this for reference later.

@cpttango30: So there are different chamber lengths too? Is that only for shotguns, or do rifles and handguns also have different chamber lengths?

@CA357: What's different about .44 Magnum shells that they won't work in a .44 Special?

As a general question, does anyone know of a good site that shows basic comparison information on the different ammo types? I'm really not sure what the difference is between a .44 Magnum vs. a .44 Special, or a .45 Long Colt vs. a regular .45, or like cpttango30 said with 243, 7mm-08, 260 rem cartridges being based on a 308 win case...

robocop10mm 12-24-2009 04:31 PM

In metallic cartridges especially handguns, Magnum generally means more powerful than the regular load. The regular load is often called "Special". The .44 Special came first. Handloading experimenters like Elmer Keith loaded the ammo to higher and higher power until they exceeded the strength of some of the guns chambered in that caliber. They found that the Smith and Wesson revolvers would safely contain higher powered ammo than top break (Webley or Schofield type) revolvers. To market the higher powered ammo the ammo makers worked together with the gun makers and created a new cartridge that was longer so I could not be chambered in the older weaker guns. They called the new cartridges "Magnum"

cpttango30 12-24-2009 04:46 PM

Here is a page that is very good for seeing what different cartridges look like. Now don't get over loaded with info here their are an awful lot of them on this page. This is just rifle ammo.
Cartridge Drawings

Shotguns are the only ones with different cartridge lengths.

This is a great sight to learn a little about the different cartridges and where they came from.
Welcome to The Reload Bench

If you want a book look for Cartridges of the World. Cartridges of the World: A Complete and Illustrated Reference for Over 1500 Cartridges (9780896899360): Frank C. Barnes, Holt Bodinson: Books

hunter Joe 12-24-2009 10:11 PM

Another firearm I know of that is duel purpose is Taurus Judge, it will chamber 45 LC and .410 shot shells. Good firearm for home protection and killing rattlesnakes.

gandog56 12-24-2009 10:20 PM

On the other hand, my SIG P229 goes from .40 S&W to 357 SIG with a barrel change that takes me about 10 seconds to do. I know somebody makes a slide and barrel so you can go from .45 ACP to .40 S&W. And numerous makes have .22 adapter kits for guns.

I have an adapter so I can fire .32 ACP/Long/H&R magnum pistol rounds in my Mosin Nagant 7.62X54 rifles.

c3shooter 12-25-2009 03:09 AM

I have a VERY modest cartridge collection of about 1,100 different cartridges, Many are obsolete- but there are also many I do not have. Site you can learn about them? Well, I have about 6 reference books I use, most about an inch thick. Can be a field of study in itself- I am still learning.

The first key is READING WHAT IS ON THE FLIPPING GUN ! Most of us being male, we have a really hard time reading and following instructions. Will a 12 g 3 inch magnum shell chamber in a 2 3/4 gun? Most will. Are they safe to shoot? No, because when a shotshell fires, it opens OUT- and will block part of the bore if it is too long, giving really high pressures. Which is why some nice guy marked the barrel with "2 3/4". And there are some OLD shotguns that fired 2.5, 2 5/8ths, 2 9/16ths, etc.

Second Key- Learn about the guns you have- and ask questions. (I usually don't bite) If what you have is a 45 auto and a 357 revolver, worry about THOSE first- and don't worry about difference between a 38-40 and a 44-40. But DO learn about .45 Colt vs .45 ACP. Along the way, you will learn the difference between caliber and gauge, why some cartridges have a hyphen in the name, like 30-30, and some have an x- like 7.62x39, and some are Specials, some ACPs, some Express, some Magnums, some short, some Long, and some have a makers name- like .38 S&W, or .32 Colt New Police.

Last item- do not assume. While a .357 Magnum CAN safely fire .38 Special, it cannot fire .38 S&W (too fat) But a .22 Magnum cannot fire .22LR (too skinny) but most 22 LR guns CAN safely shoot 22 Shorts. Do not assume "If it fits, it's fine." An old .38 Auto pistol will happily chamber .38 Super ammo- because they are exactly the same size. But a Super can blow a .38 Auto apart- lot more power. Knew one guy that bought a .50 cal muzzle loader (black powder, loose powder and round lead ball type of gun) and was complaining about the cost of ammo for it. Showed me the 20 rounds of .50 Browning Machine Gun ammo he had just bought. Intended for a modern 30 lb sniper rifle. $80 of the wrong ammo.

Just for grins, see if you can lay hands on a copy of Cartridges of the World. Available in paperback, good basic listing of rifle, pistol and shotgun ammo. But still does not show ALL of them!

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