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What are the Basic Parts of Ammunition? Knowing the parts of ammunition is key if you want to become a proficient shooter. If you’re just learning about guns, check out our guide for new gun owners.

Whether you’re a coyote hunting enthusiast, just learning how to hunt deer, or a seasoned marksman, understanding what goes into a cartridge is essential for safety and accuracy.

What are the basic parts of ammunition? This article explains what each part is and how it works.

Parts of Ammunition

In this guide, we’ll break down all the components of ammunition and share tips to choose the right round for your gun.


Bullet or Shot

When asking, what are the basic parts of ammunition, the first word that comes to mind is bullet.

The bullet is the most well known part of the ammunition. The projectile of a cartridge is the bullet, or the object that flies down the barrel when it’s fired.

A bullet can be designed to perform differently and can include variations in shape, size and weight.

While all projectiles are designed to hit their target through kinetic energy, some may be required to create additional damage upon impact.

For example, hollow points deform upon impact with soft targets and have been engineered to increase stopping power.

The bullet is propelled down the barrel and out the muzzle by expanding gasses ignited when you pull the trigger.

Shot refers to a type of ammunition commonly used in shotguns that contains small, round pellets that scatter when fired.

These pellets are often used for hunting birds and other small game, but they can also be used for self-defense or recreational shooting.


Bullet wadding is a material that is used to keep the shot or bullet in place within the cartridge, helping to ensure accurate and consistent performance.

Primer: Charge

Second on our list of what are the basic parts of ammunition, is the primer. Primers and propellants are critical components of ammunition that ignite the propellant and propel the bullet or shot out of down the barrel and out of the muzzle.

The primer is located at the back of the bullet and is an explosive charge set off by the firing pin when you pull the trigger. This sets off the propellant – or gunpowder – which generates a controlled combustion to fire the bullet.

Different types of powders are used for different firearms, so be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions before loading your firearm with ammunition.

Propellant: Gun Powder

Propellants and primers are two of the main components that make ammunition work. As we know, the primer is a small explosive charge set into the back of the shell casing that makes contact with the firing pin, which sets off an explosion, fueled by the gun powder.

The propellant – or gunpowder – located inside the shell casing, takes this energy and propels the bullet or shot down the barrel, forcing out the bullet at high speed.

Different types of powder consist of ingredients like nitrocellulose, nickel-plated aluminum flakes, or metallic salts – all carefully blended to ensure consistent performance when shot from a firearm.

Shell Casing: Holds Everything Together

Lastly to answer your question, what are the basic parts of ammunition, we have the cartridge case or casing.

The casing is a metal or plastic container designed to hold the components of a round of ammunition, including the primer, propellant, bullet or shot, and wadding (discarded after firing).

Manufactured in different sizes to fit specific types of firearms and calibers, the cartridge cases are made from several materials – brass, steel, nickel and copper being among the most common.

For this reason, cartridge cases are also referred to as shells or hulls.


What are the Basic Parts of Ammunition

In conclusion, what are the basic parts of ammunition? Ammunition typically consists of a case, primer, propellant charge, and projectile.

The case holds all the components together and is usually made from brass, steel or aluminum.

The primer is a small metal capsule filled with an explosive material.

The propellant charge is the powder that ignites when the primer is struck by the firing pin to create pressure within the chamber and propel the bullet forward.

Lastly, the projectile is the metal bullet that exits the chamber as part of the cartridge when fired.

I hope you found this article extremely helpful in building your firearm knowledge. Take a walk back in time to learn the history of guns and when they were invented.

Now that you know the parts of ammunition, you can shop here and also be sure to check out our Parts of a Gun guide.

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