Modern Firearms - Rifle / MG ammunition

Ammunition (cartridges) for rifles and machine guns

Below is the list of the most common ammunition types for military bolt action, semi-automatic battle and sniper rifles and machine guns, with brief historical notes and basic ballistic data. Please note that some numbers are rounded and are for comparative purposes only.


6.5x50SR Arisaka

This cartridge was first issued in 1897 along with Arisaka Type 30 rifle, and became the standard ammunition for Japanese armed forces until the end of WW2. Original version of this round was loaded with round-nose bullet, which was later changed to more modern pointed bullet with introduction of the Type 38 Arisaka rifle and Type 38 6.5mm cartridges. It was used in a number of Japanese bolt-action rifles and machine guns. After the WW2, many weapons of ex-japanese origin remained in use in SE-Asia region for a significant period. No modern firearms are produced for this ammunition, and production of this round is all but gone (few ammunition manufacturers still make modern versions of this round for those people who still own old weapons).


Designation Bullet weight, g Muzzle velocity, m/s Muzzle energy, J Comments
Type 30 10.1 630 2000 with round-nose FMJ bullet, from long rifle ballel
Type 38 9 720 2330 with pointed FMJ bullet, from long rifle ballel

6.5x52 Carcano

This cartridge was designed in Italy in 1890, and was since used in a number of bolt-action rifles and machine guns of Italian manufacture. No new weapons were designed for this round since the end of WW2, and today it is all but obsolete. It is worth of note that, unlike most other similar cartridges, the 6.5 Carcano retained its 'old-style' round-nosed bullet throughout most of its service life.


Designation Bullet weight, g Muzzle velocity, m/s Muzzle energy, J Comments
  10.5 700 2580 with round-nose FMJ bullet

6.5x55 Swedish Mauser

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This cartridge was developed in Sweden for military Mauser rifle in 1894, and was a standard rifle- and machine-gun ammunition of Swedish armed forces until 1960s. Unlike some other similar rounds, the 6.5x55 is still in production as, over the time, it became quite popular as a hunting and target round in several European countries. Originally used in military-type bolt-action and semi-automatic rifles and machine guns, today it is still chambered in a number of modern hunting and target rifles (mostly bolt-action), produced in several European countries (Sweden, Finland, Czech republic etc).


Designation Bullet weight, g Muzzle velocity, m/s Muzzle energy, J Comments
m92 10.11 720 2620 with round-nose FMJ bullet
m" 9 800 2890 with pointed FMJ bullet

7x57 Spanish Mauser

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This round was developed in Germany by Mauser factory for their improved rifle in 1892. It was adopted by Spanish army in 1893 along with Mauser bolt-action military rifle, and since then it was also adopted by several other South American countries as well. As a military round, this cartridge gradually became obsolete after WW2, but it is still chambered in several models of hunting rifles and thus it is still manufactured for civilian consumption (mostly loaded with hunting-type rifles).


Designation Bullet weight, g Muzzle velocity, m/s Muzzle energy, J Comments
  11.2 700 2760 with round-nose FMJ bullet
  9.07 850 3280 with pointed FMJ bullet

7.35x51 Carcano

This round was developed in Italy shortly before the WW2 in an attempt to improve lethality and extend service life of the current, existing infantry weapons, originally chambered for the 6.5x52 Carcano ammunition. The curious 7.35mm caliber was choosen simply as a maximum possible bore diamater that can be safely achieved by boring out and re-rifiling old, worn out 6.5mm barrels. The cartridge cas was based on the 6.5x52 Carcano, slightly shortened and necked out. The service life of the 7.35x51 was rather short, as due to logistical problems Italian army switched back to 6.5mm ammunition during early stages of WW2. This amunition was used in Caracano-type bolt-action rifles and several light machine guns of Italian origin. Today this round is obsolete by all means.


Designation Bullet weight, g Muzzle velocity, m/s Muzzle energy, J Comments
  8.4 756 2400 with pointed FMJ bullet

7.5x54 M1929C

French army set to develop a new, modern rifle- and machine gun round to replace obsolete 8mm Lebel ammunition in early 1920s, and in 1924 it adopted the 7.5x58 M1924 round, which was a close copy of the German 7.92x57 round. The similarity between these two round eventually played dirty trick with French users, as loading very similar 7.92mm round into weapons chambered for 7.5mm rounds caused excsessive chamber pressures, which sometimes resulted in damage to weapon and injury to shooter. To remedy this problem, in 1929 the cartridge case was redesigned and made shorter, so 7.92mm rounds that had cases 57mm long could not be chambered in the new French weapons. After adoption of this round all 7.5mm weapons then in service were rebarreled for this shorter round. The Mle.1929 round was standard issue ammunition for French rifles (bolt action and semi-automatic) and machine guns until 1960s. Very few (if any) commercial weapons were ever chambered for this round, and today it is obsolete for all practical purposes.


Designation Bullet weight, g Muzzle velocity, m/s Muzzle energy, J Comments
Balle C 9 820 3030 with pointed FMJ bullet

7.5x55 GP11

The 7.5mm GP11 round was adopted by Swiss army in 1911 and is still in limited service with Swiss armed forces, in few remaining automatic rifles and some medium / universal machine gun. It was a standard round for Swiss army until about 1990, chambered in bolt-action and automatic rifles, light and medium machine guns and some hunting and target rifles. This ammunition is still manufactured in Switzerland as great many older 7.5mm rifles are still in civilian use there.


Designation Bullet weight, g Muzzle velocity, m/s Muzzle energy, J Comments
GP11 11.3 780 3430 with pointed FMJ bullet

7.62x51 NATO / .308 Winchester

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This round started its life in early 1950s as a .30 T65, an experimental cartridge for the US Army's 'light rifle' program. The T65 round was intended to replace the older and overly long .30-06 military round, while retaining similar ballistics. In 1955 it was adopted as a NATO standard rifle and machine gun ammunition, and is still used in this role in all NATO countries and many other as well. In mid-1950s it was also introduced as a commercial round by Winchester, and in this guise it is known as .308 Winchester, and is highly sucessful. Many countries still use military weapons in this caliber (mostly machine guns and sniper rifles, as well as some semi-automatic or selective-fire 'battle' rifles). Civilian weapons (hunting, target etc) for .308 Winchester are produced in many countries and in large numbers, and this cartridge (in both civilian and military versions) remains one of the most popular rifle cartridges to date.


Designation Bullet weight, g Muzzle velocity, m/s Muzzle energy, J Comments
M59 ball 9.7 845 3470 with pointed FMJ bullet
M80 ball 9.5 850 3380 with pointed FMJ bullet
M118 ball 11.15 815 3695 with pointed boat-tailed FMJ bullet, for sniper rifles

7.62x54R

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This cartridge is one of the oldest service cartridges still in military use in the world. Originally adopted by Russian army in 1891, along with bolt-action magazine fed rifle, it still remains in use after almost 120 years of continuous service. Over the time, it was chambered in a number of bolt-action and semi-automatic military rifles, several machine guns, and some civilian-type rifles (mostly hunting ones). Today this cartridge is still widely used by Russian military in machine guns and sniper rifles, and it is quite popular for hunting. Many types of military- and civilian-grade loadings are still produced in this chambering worldwide.


Designation Bullet weight, g Muzzle velocity, m/s Muzzle energy, J Comments
M1891 13.7 610 2550 with round-nose FMJ bullet
L 9.7 860 3587 with pointed FMJ bullet (M1930 light ball)
D 11.9 795 3760 with pointed boat-tailed FMJ bullet (heavy ball)
B30 11 815 3650 with armor piercing bullet
7N1 9.56 820 3214 with pointed boat-tailed FMJ bullet, for sniper rifles

7.65x53 Argentine / Belgian / Turkish Mauser

This is one of the earliest cartridges, developed for Mauser-type magazine rifles during late 19th century. It was originally adopted by Belgian army in 1889, with round-nose FMJ bullet. Later it was adopted by Turkey and a number of South American countries, most notably Argentine. It was chambered in Mauser-type rifles and certain types of machine guns. Today this cartridge is mostly obsolete, although some manufacturers still produce this cartridge for civilian use.


Designation Bullet weight, g Muzzle velocity, m/s Muzzle energy, J Comments
  14.7 620 2830 with round-nose FMJ bullet
  10 830 3440 with pointed FMJ bullet

.30-06 US / 7.62x63

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This cartridge was born in 1906 as an evolution of the short-living .30-03 cartridge, that was originally adopted by US Army in 1903 with round-nose bullet. The .30 caliber M1906 cartridge, today universally known as .30-06, had slightly different case and, more important, it was loaded with pointed bullet. It served with US armed forces through both world wars and Korean war, and was gradually replaced in service with 7.62x51 NATO since 1957. It is still extremely popular worldwide as a hunting and target round, with new weapons (mostly bolt-action and semi-automatic rifles) and ammnuition being manufactured in many countries and in many styles.


Designation Bullet weight, g Muzzle velocity, m/s Muzzle energy, J Comments
ball M1 11.15 805 3610 with pointed boattailed FMJ bullet
ball M2 9.7 835 3390 with pointed FMJ bullet
AP M2 10.8 830 3730 with armor-piercing bullet

.300 Winchester Magnum

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This round was developed during 1950s by Winchester in an atempt to provide huntes with flat-shooting, long-range hunting ammunition with significant striking power. Over the time this cartridge also found its way into military and law-enforcement use as a long-range sniping round, with practical ranges up to 1000-1200 meters (as opposed to 700-800 meters with most sommon 7.62x51 / .308 Win ammunition). Many hunting and some sniper rifles are produced for this round in many parts of the world.


Designation Bullet weight, g Muzzle velocity, m/s Muzzle energy, J Comments
  9.72 987 4730 with pointed boattailed FMJ bullet

.303 British / 7.7x57R

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Originally adopted by British army in 1889, this cartridge remained in front-line service throughout British empire (later British Commonwealth) until late 1960s. Many surplus weapons chambered for this cartridge are still in civilian use, and commercial ammunition is still in limited production for those who own those old rifles.


Designation Bullet weight, g Muzzle velocity, m/s Muzzle energy, J Comments
Mk.II 14.6 640 2980 with round-nose FMJ bullet
Mk.VII 11.27 744 3120 with pointed FMJ bullet, from rifle barrel
Mk.VIII 11.27 777 3410 with pointed boat-tailed FMJ bullet, from machine gun

7.7x58SR Type 92

This round was adopted by Japanese army in 1932 (2592 per Japanese calendar then in use) as a dedicated medium machine gun round, to improve machine guns performance compared to earlier weapons, chambered for relatively 'weak' 6.5x50SR ammunition. Only machine guns were manufactured for this round, and no weapons for it were made after the end of WW2. Today it is strictly obsolete.


Designation Bullet weight, g Muzzle velocity, m/s Muzzle energy, J Comments
Type 92 12.96 730 3460 with pointed FMJ bullet, from machine gun

7.7x58 Type 99

This round was adopted by Japanese army in 1939 (2599 per Japanese calendar then in use) as an improved version of the earlier 7.7mm Type 92 round. The Type 99 round was intended for use in both rifles and machine gun, and differend from Type 92 by having a rimless case and a slightly lighter bullet. No weapons for this round were made after the end of WW2, and today it is strictly obsolete.

Designation Bullet weight, g Muzzle velocity, m/s Muzzle energy, J Comments
Type 99 11.6 760 3360 with pointed FMJ bullet, from rifle barrel

7.92x57 Mauser

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This is one of the most sucessful European rifle rounds. Originally adopted by German army in 1888 and loaded with round-nose bullet, it was later upgraded with introduction of the pointed (Spitzer) bullet of slightly different diameter, and served with German military through both World wars. It was also a standard round with other European armies, most notably Czechoslovak, Polish, Portuguese, Yugoslavian and few others. While in most countries this round is long obsolete as a military loading, it is still quite popular as a hunting round, and many countries still produce both rifles and ammunition in this caliber.


Designation Bullet weight, g Muzzle velocity, m/s Muzzle energy, J Comments
  14.6 637 2975 with round-nose FMJ bullet 
S 9.98 854 3640 with standard pointed FMJ bullet
sS 12.8 808 4190 with heavy pointed FMJ bullet

8x50R Steyr

This round was originally adopted by Austro-Hungarian empire in 1888, loaded with black powder and round-nose bullet. In 1890 it was converted to smokeless powder, and after that it served with Austro-Hungarian empire until its demise in 1918, and after all with Austran, Hungarian and some other armies. It became obsolete by the start of WW2, and no weapons were made for this cartridge since about 1930.


Designation Bullet weight, g Muzzle velocity, m/s Muzzle energy, J Comments
  15.8 530 2220 black-powder load, with round-nose FMJ bullet 
  15.8 620 3045 smokeless load, with round-nose FMJ bullet 

8x50R Lebel

This was the world's first small-bore (as per late 19th century standards) military round that was loaded with smokeless powder. Adopted by French army in 1886, it served as a primary rifle and machine gun round in French army until mid-1930s, and for much longer period in French colonies. It was used in bolt-action and semi-automatic rifles and some machine guns, all of French origins. Today this round is completely obsolete.


Designation Bullet weight, g Muzzle velocity, m/s Muzzle energy, J Comments
Balle M 15 632 2995 with round-nose FMJ bullet
Balle D 12.7 725 3350 with pointed boat-tailed FMJ bullet, made of solid brass
Balle N 15 690 3570 with pointed boat-tailed FMJ bullet, for Hotchkiss machine guns

8x56R M30 Steyr

This round was developed in Austria in late 1920s to improve performance of the obsolete 8x50R Steyr round. It was adopted by Austrian army in 1930 and by Hungarian army in 1931, and served until the end of the WW2. Today this round is obsolete.


Designation Bullet weight, g Muzzle velocity, m/s Muzzle energy, J Comments
M30 13.3 715 3400 with pointed FMJ bullet

8x59 M35 Breda

This round was developed during early 1930s on request from Italian army, as a dedicated medium machine gun ammunition, to provide longer effective range and better lethality when compatred to 6.5mm and 7.35mm rifle ammunition. Only few models of machine guns were developed or converted from earlier systems to fire this cartridge, and it never was chambered in any type of rifle (at least, no mass-produced rifles in this caliber exist). It became obsolete shortly after the WW2, and is long out of production.


Designation Bullet weight, g Muzzle velocity, m/s Muzzle energy, J Comments
M35 13.5 770 4000 with pointed FMJ bullet

8x63 M32 Bofors

This round was developed during early 1930s on request from Swedish army, as a dedicated medium machine gun ammunition, to provide longer effective range and better lethality when compatred to 6.5mmrifle ammunition. It was chambered in Browning-type machine guns, and in one type of bolt-action rifle, which was issued to machine gun crews. This round was declared obsolete and finally removed from Swedish service by late 1980s or so.

Designation Bullet weight, g Muzzle velocity, m/s Muzzle energy, J Comments
m/32 14.1 750 3980 with pointed FMJ bullet

.338 Lapua Magnum / 8.58x71

This cartridge is a purpose-designed round for long-range sniper shooting. It started its life as experimental .338/416 round, developed in around 1983 in USA by Research Armament Industries. It was based on the .416 Rigby case, necked down to .338 caliber and loaded with low-drag bullet. In 1984 RAI contracted finnish company Lapua to make production ammunition, and it soon caught up as a long-range sniper round with effective range against human targets being up to 1500 meters. Today this round is widely used in long range sniping role b military and law enforcement agencies worldwide, with many rifles being bulit for it (not surprisingly, most are bolt-action repeaters). There also few long-range target and hunting rifles in this caliber. Ammunition in this caliber is manufactured in several countries and wildey available, although expensive.

Designation Bullet weight, g Muzzle velocity, m/s Muzzle energy, J Comments
Swiss P Tactical 16.2 860 5990 with solid tombak FMJ boat-tailed bullet
Swiss P AP 16.8 830 5790 with armor-piercing bullet
Sierra MK 19.44 826 6535 with commerical long-range boat-tailed bullet

9.3x64 (9SN)

This is a specialised 'medium-heavy' sniper rifle round, recently developed in Russia to fill the gap between 7.62mm sniper and 12.7mm anti-material rifles. It is based on the old and proven 9.3x64 Brenneke hunting cartridge, and is loaded with jacketed, semi-armor piercing bullet to provide certain anti-materiel effect and defeat body armor at ranges up to 600 meters. Despite its dimensions, it is no match to .338 Lapua Magnum in accuracy and long range. So far only one weapon was observed firing this cartrdge, the semi-automatic SVD-K rifle, also of Russian origin.


Designation Bullet weight, g Muzzle velocity, m/s Muzzle energy, J Comments
7N33 16.6 770 4920 with pointed boat-tailed FMJ bullet with steel core