What is caliber? Gauges smooth-bore and rifled weapons

The fact that such a caliber is well known to all hunters, employees of special units, the military and people who are just addicted to the subject of small arms. The question is not simple: there are many calibers, they differ from each other, they are used in different units for hitting the target.

what is caliber

general information

Let us first try to formulate in simple, understandable words what caliber is: it is the stem diameter from the inside, which characterizes a certain firearm. It should be remembered that all weapons known in our time are divided into two major categories depending on the internal arrangement of the trunk: it can be smooth, rifled. Each type is characterized by its own unique calibers, the measurement of which is carried out according to certain rules, which are characteristic strictly for this weapon category.

If we consider, for example, a rifled weapon, then the caliber for it will have to be calculated in millimeters or inches, or rather, in its hundredth, thousandths. It should be remembered that the inch is equal to 25.4 mm.If the classification system with inches is used to classify small arms, then do not put a zero before a point in the notation, only this symbol and the numbers after it are written: “.45”. Such a rifled caliber is 0.45 inches, that is 11.43 mm.

And what about the smooth barrel?

Weapons in this category are usually classified depending on the characteristics of the device a little differently. Quite a long time ago, in Great Britain, a fairly well-developed, rational system was developed, and it is precisely this system that is in use today. To determine the caliber, it is necessary to predict exactly which lead bullets of the maximum size can be used when firing weapons. Calculate how many such bullets can be made from lead alloy weighing 0.454 kg. The weight is not chosen by chance, it corresponds to the traditional English pound. The higher the figure in the description of a specific device for firing, the larger the caliber, the more it can be made from almost half a kilogram of lead bullets applicable in this product. It is logical to assume that the diameter of each individual small consumables will be smaller.

weapon caliber

Quite in great demand are traditional twelve caliber rifles.Normally, their barrel diameter is 18.4 mm, although much depends on the specific manufacturer: some produce products with a 18.2-mm barrel, while for others the value reaches even 18.8 mm. The caliber of weapons, characterized in the conventional system as the twentieth, can be described with a gun diameter of about 15.7 mm. Specified minimum value, a specific manufacturer can produce a product with a larger barrel. The twenty-eighth caliber is described with a diameter of 13.8 mm. However, wherever there are rules, there are exceptions. For example, the barrel caliber .410: it is used to characterize shotguns with a smooth barrel, and is indicated by the parameter characteristic of rifled. A similar confusion is observed in the description of the relatively new development of the gunsmiths of our state - the .366TKM cartridge.

Bullet and caliber: similar, but different

Many are interested in why the size of the bullet and the caliber are different parameters for the weapon. This is due to the structural features of the products used to destroy the target. For example, if we are talking about rifled, then the calibers here can be measured by as many as two methods, taking into account either the rifling fields or the bottom part.Usually the bullet is of such a size to correspond to the bottom parameter of the rifling. Small tolerances are possible. That is, the caliber of the weapon is a somewhat more informative characteristic than the size of the bullet.

Formerly in the Soviet Union, and now in the territory of our state, it is customary to measure the caliber of rifled fields. Consequently, the cartridges, when measured showing 5.45 mm, are in fact characterized by a bullet diameter of 5.7 mm. Nine-millimeter caliber can be described by a bullet, the size of which is 9.2 mm. But abroad often prefer to focus on the bottom rifle. Considering what a Luger caliber is, they usually speak of a 9 * 19 cartridge, and, when measuring a bullet, you can get an accurate response of 9.02 mm.

The farther into the forest ...

Applied to certain types of weapons, the caliber becomes a very conventional, inaccurate characteristic. This is most characteristic of a parameter measured in inches. Thus, the caliber of ammunition for a revolver, on sale presented as .38 (special edition), when accurately measuring the bottom rifling shows a bullet diameter of 9.1 mm, which in the English metric system is 0.358 inches (+/- 0.001).But for the "Magnum" used ammunition belonging to .357. Their bullet diameter coincides with that described above, but in comparison with the special release .38 the sleeve is longer, and the powder charge is increased for greater strength.

Similar confusion is observed when considering different calibers of rifles. For example, a bullet diameter of 0.224 inches may be indicated by completely different symbols for different makes and types of weapons. For the "Hornet" it will be the twenty-second caliber, for the "Remington" .222, .223, and for the "Fireball" and altogether .221. It is absolutely impossible for a non-professional to even assume that it is about the same parameter of the bullet diameter!

barrel caliber

Caliber one, cartridges differ

It is such an amazing discrepancy that is observed now. Truly, the world of firearms classification is extremely confusing. On the other hand, to some extent this simplifies the work of experts who are able by charge to determine from which gun it was fired. Currently, there are innumerably many such cartridges, which are on sale represented by the same caliber, but cannot be replaced by one, because in fact these products are very, very different, despite the similarity of the bullet diameter.This applies to hunting calibers, and all the rest. Currently, for example, more than a dozen types of commercial twenty-second caliber are used only in the American open spaces. For all of them, the bullet diameter is described as 0.224 inches, but the products differ from each other by various parameters and characteristics. All currently used varieties were included in a single standardized system called SAAMI. However, as can be seen from practice, even this systematization did not make the task of orienting in the abundance of weapon ammunition for those who do not possess specific knowledge in any way easier.

Considering what a weapon's caliber is, it is always necessary to remember about this feature, to understand that the phrase often has a rather broad meaning. In fact, it is possible to take out an exact idea of ​​what type of cartridge is used in the weapon, but it is not often possible to understand which specific instance will fit - here you need to have specific knowledge about a particular model of firearm.


Smooth-bore calibers are most often labeled in accordance with the system developed in the UK. This indicates how large the chamber is.Thus, with the designation 12/76, one can speak of mutual substitutability with the 12/3 prevalent in America. ” This caliber is intended for use in firearms, the three-inch chamber chamber, which is 76 in millimeters. From practice, it is clear that most modern short cartridges can be used during firing from a weapon whose chamber is larger in size, but in the opposite direction does not work, such operation of the gun will be extremely dangerous to the health and life of the shooter. Having at your disposal ammunition 12/70, you can use them if you have a gun 12/76 in your hands. When practicing the seventy-millimeter chamber and sleeves, the length of which is 76 mm, a person threatens himself.

gun calibers

If we consider the currently common rifled small arms, it will become clear that the caliber of cartridges is more often formal. In this case, the sleeve length is reflected in millimeters. The situation is quite common when, with equal metric parameters, the cartridges differ in some important indicators. In such a situation, the name is supplemented with suffixes or special unique names that allow to distinguish products from each other,the arrow gives the opportunity to choose a suitable consumable for sale so that the process of using products is not fraught with danger to life.

How does it work in practice?

Imagine that we were interested in a 9 mm caliber. You can find two patrons that formally belong to this class: police officer 9 * 18 and PM 9 * 18. In addition to the formal classification, they coincide in case length - 18 mm. True, the 9 * 18 PM in fact differs somewhat more bullet than the police "analog". The reason for such a discrepancy is that these cartridges were developed in different countries, the national weapon classification system was applied to them, local features of the manufacture of firearms were taken into account. As in the case of a mismatch caliber pistol and used consumables, and with the careless choice of the described cartridges can be faced with unpleasant consequences. For example, if you put in cartridges designed for 9 * 18 PM in the police model of the weapon, it can be completed badly for the shooter himself.

In some cases, additional suffixes are added to help more accurately identify the characteristics of a particular product by name. Most often in practice you can find the suffix "P".If such is indicated, therefore, a bright design feature is a protruding lip. In our country, these were exploited, for example, in some models of TOZ. But the most famous and popular at different times, the cartridge, which had the edge, on sale is present under the name of 7.62 * 54R. It is intended for use in appropriate rifles.

Curious features

As experts say, 12 gauge is currently in greatest demand in our country. There is nothing surprising in this, because it is intended for hunting. Get a gun in which such consumables are applicable, and any hunter who plans to go for wild birds such as pheasant, quail or goose should charge him. Having the skills and a sufficient amount of ammunition, you can please the house with wood grouse, black grouse, duck. However, only birds will not exhaust their prey, with good luck a hunter will bring a hare, a fox as a reward for talent and perseverance.

pistol caliber

As noted by professionals, the 12 gauge has a number of important positive features, thanks to which it has become so common among hunters.With decent speed characteristics loaded with such cartridges gun will have great firepower. Since from the very beginning the cartridge achieves good speed, it helps to save on the lead calculation if the mining flies across. Therefore, even beginning hunters who do not have much experience in this difficult hobby will have decent results. Even in winter conditions, the shot will be sharp, which means that the campaign in the forest itself will be successful.

Rules and laws

Some time ago, a 308-caliber hunting carbine was considered completely unacceptable in an ethical hunt, and the people using it were automatically transferred from specialists to poachers. In principle, this approach concerned not only the specified model, but all rifled semi-automatic devices in general. Indeed, the speed of the re-shot makes it possible to shoot at the wounded animal several times in a row with minimal time intervals - the prey will not go away for sure.

Currently, quite a lot of rifled semi-automatic machines of the above-mentioned caliber are on sale. Opinions still diverge, but there is no such absolute, total condemnation from the public.Many believe that anyone can poach, and even the flaws of weapons will not prevent him if that is the goal set before him, while an ethical hunter, even with a rifled semi-automatic, having high firepower among his capabilities, will still be hunting adequately, in compliance with regulations. Since the issue is more ethical, and manufacturers in the past few years have released several new products that are attracting the attention of wide circles, probably the near future will show in which direction the pendulum of public opinion will swing and whether a stable position on this issue will finally be determined.

Systematics and metrics

Many are interested in whether there is any single standardized system for converting between gauges. Professionals answer this question categorically negatively. Despite the serious confusion in the aforementioned question, to this day it was not possible to develop a unified approach to designation. Many believe that in the future nothing like this will appear - at least not in the next few decades.

12 gauge

Artillery and Rifle

At present, in our country, it is customary to refer to small arms such specimens that are characterized by stem diameter within two tens of millimeters.If the figure exceeds this limit, the product will have to be classified as small-caliber artillery. However, such standards are typical for our state and for the present. But in different countries and at different time intervals, people’s ideas about the correct classification of concepts were quite different. So, at a certain point, the Germans perceived only such weapons as artillery, the stem diameter of which was 30 or more millimeters. However, exceptions to the rules - this seems to be the main rule of the arms world. In our country, two interesting domestic developments are on sale - the Drake (a fourth-caliber hunting rifle), the KS-23. Despite the size of the barrel, exceeding the established limit, such products are not classified as artillery.

As experts pay attention, when using weapons it is desirable to follow the rules of operation, in particular, to select only suitable cartridges. The use of several excellent ammunition is always associated with an increased danger for the shooter himself. When choosing consumables, one should take into account both a formal calibration and the type of cartridge recommended for a particular weapon recommended by the manufacturer.

Caliber Chamber

It is no secret that in our world, standardization is the area of ​​activity of special state stations. There are those that are responsible for the rules for measuring weight, others - for the footage. Similarly, the Chamber, which deals with gun calibers, was introduced. At the international level, the standing commission “tastes the ball” is engaged in testing handguns for manual use. Its position is subject to the whole of Europe. Our country has also become part of this commission, so all weapons that are produced and sold within the boundaries of the country must comply with the standards of the PMC. This fact is sure to check. The rule applies to products for personal use, and intended for officials.

The verification process involves identifying compliance with established standards in terms of the size of the chamber, the stem channel, the level of pressure allowed for a particular trunk. Be sure to control the characteristics of cartridges.

cartridge calibers

A similar area of ​​activity is at the American SAAMI Commission. This organization is included in the large ANSI system, in fact it implements the same powers as described for the PMK.

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