How To Select The Right Rifle Ammo For Your Firearm

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Choosing the right ammo for your rifle is of utmost importance and can pose a challenge for novice shooters or those switching to a different kind of gun.

If you are currently reading this, it means you have decided to find more information from a verified online source. Therefore, let’s dive into the world of ammunition and discuss the tips on how to choose the right rifle ammo for your needs.

Components of Rifle Ammo

Rifle ammunition, like all ammunition, consists of four main components: a primer, casing, gunpowder, and bullet.

A primer is a small metal cup located at the base of the casing. It contains a small amount of explosive material that is designed to ignite when struck by the firing pin of the firearm. This explosion ignites the gunpowder inside the casing, causing it to burn rapidly and create a high-pressure gas that propels the bullet out of the barrel.

A casing is an outer shell that holds all of the other components together. It is typically made of brass, although other materials such as steel and aluminum are sometimes used. A casing also contains gunpowder and a bullet.

Gunpowder is a mixture of chemicals that burns rapidly when ignited. As it burns, it creates a high-pressure gas that propels the bullet out of the barrel. The type and amount of gunpowder used can affect the velocity and accuracy of the bullet.

A bullet is a projectile that is fired from a firearm. It is typically made of lead or a lead alloy, although other materials such as copper and steel are sometimes used. The shape and weight of the bullet can also affect its performance, with certain shapes and weights being better suited for specific purposes such as long-range shooting or hunting.

In addition to these main components, rifle ammunition may also contain other elements such as wads, which are used in shotshell ammunition to keep the shot pellets together as they travel down the barrel, and crimps, which are used to hold the bullet in place in the casing.

Rifle Ammo Types

There are several types of rifle ammunition, each designed for a certain purpose. Here are some of the most common types:

  1. Full Metal Jacket (FMJ)—The main advantage of FMJ is its speed and accuracy during shooting. As they don’t tend to expand upon hitting a target, FMJ bullets are not recommended for hunting or self-defense. They are best for target practice and competition shooting.
  2. Hollow Point (HP)—HP bullets are designed to expand upon impact, causing more damage to the target. They are commonly used for self-defense and hunting because of their stopping power.
  3. Soft Point (SP)—SP bullets have their lead tip exposed and soft lead core covered in a hard jacket, allowing for controlled expansion upon impact. They are commonly used for hunting because they are effective at taking down game without causing excessive damage.

Rifle Ammo Applications

Whatever type of gun you use, you should choose your ammo based on the application. The usual rifle applications involve hunting, personal/home defense, training, and target shooting.


If you are selecting rifle ammo for hunting, you want your cartridge to be powerful and your bullets to be able to kill your target quickly and humanely. Therefore, your best choice is hollow-point bullets which expand. Other types of bullets such as FMJ (full metal jacket) only penetrate the skin without instantly killing the animal. Due to ethical reasons, this is to be avoided at any cost.

Hunting with a rifle allows for different types of ammo depending on the kind of game you plan on hunting. You can choose between:

  1. Birdshot—Birdshot is a type of shotgun ammunition that contains multiple small pellets, typically made of lead or steel. These pellets are small and lightweight and are designed to spread out over a wide area, making them effective for hunting birds, small game, and clay pigeons.
  2. Buckshot—Buckshot is a type of shotgun ammunition that contains larger pellets than birdshot, typically between 8 and 00 sizes. These pellets are heavier and more powerful and are designed to penetrate deeper and cause more damage to the target. Buckshot is commonly used for hunting larger game, such as deer or wild boar.
  3. Slugs—Slugs are a type of shotgun ammunition that contains a single large projectile, typically made of lead or a lead alloy. Slugs are designed to travel further and penetrate deeper than birdshot or buckshot, making them effective for hunting large game, such as bear or moose.

Simply put, if you are choosing to hunt always select the rifle ammo designed for hunting. Make sure your cartridge fits the size of the game the bigger the animal, the more powerful cartridge you need to use.

Personal/Home Defense

For personal defense, it is best to choose hollow-point bullets that expand upon hitting a soft target leaving a wound channel and causing sufficient damage without overly penetrating the target. HP bullets are less likely to over-penetrate and pose a risk to unintended targets, making them a safer choice for home defense.

Unlike birdshot pellets which are too lightweight to stop the target, Buckshot pellets are a good choice for self-defense, especially 00 with a .33-inch diameter.

Training and Target Shooting

If your goal is to use your rifle for training and target shooting, keep in mind that you will shoot a lot of ammo in shorter timeframes. This will require purchasing ammo in larger amounts.

The best option for target shooting rifle ammo is a .22 Long Rifle cartridge. It is lightweight, low-power, and quite affordable. It is great for novice shooters due to its mild recoil. Another affordable option is birdshot shotshells loaded with lightweight pellets (number 7 and higher).


When choosing your rifle ammo, consider factors such as bullet weight, velocity, and shape. Also, keep in mind your intended application, be it hunting, personal and home defense, or target shooting and training. The ammo you choose should align with your goals.

It’s important to select ammunition that is appropriate for the firearm being used, as well as the intended purpose. Using the wrong ammunition can be dangerous and can cause damage to the firearm.

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