Notes for the Novices No. 4 – The Centrefire Cartridge

By Anthony Mitchell

In a previous article we looked at the .22 Long Rifle cartridge, which is a rimfire. We will now turn our attention to the centrefire cartridge and how it works. As before, the complete cartridge consists of the bullet, cartridge case and the powder charge. In this article we will look at two popular centrefire pistol cartridges, the .38 Special (left), and the 9mm Luger (right).

The Bullet The bullet may be of plain lead, like the .38 Special in the image above, or jacketed, like the 9mm Luger. Other shapes encountered may be round nose, hollow point, soft nose, etc.

The Cartridge Case Like the rimfire type, the cartridge case is brass, sometimes nickel plated. The cartridge case may be rimmed, like the .38 Special, or rimless, like the 9mm Luger. Generally speaking, rimmed cartridges are designed for revolvers, while rimless cartridges are designed for automatics.  

Calibre Depending on its origin, the calibre may be expressed in millimetres or inches. This may refer to the diameter of the bullet, the diameter of the bore, or a figure close to it. Other descriptors follow, which may refer to the manufacturer, designer, or the first firearm chambered for it. Two examples are given below.

9mm Luger The 9mm Luger is also known as the 9mm Parabellum.  It is widely used as a pistol and sub-machine gun cartridge. The European designation is 9 x 19mm. This means it is a 9mm calibre with a cartridge case of 19 millimetres overall length. (If the case was rimmed, it would be 9 x 19R) It first appeared in 1902 in the Luger automatic pistol.

.38 Special The .38 Special is also known as the .38 Smith & Wesson Special, and was developed by Smith & Wesson for their Military & Police revolver in 1902.

The Primer

he primer is located in the base of the cartridge in the centre (Fig 2). When struck by the firing pin, the primer ignites the powder charge. Unlike its rimfire counterpart, centrefire cartridges are able to be reloaded.

The recess in the base of the cartridge case containing the primer is called the primer pocket. The hole in the primer pocket is called the flash hole. This allows the flame from the primer to ignite the powder charge. Image to the right shows a cartridge case with the primer removed. The most commonly encountered primer type is the single flash hole. This is called the Boxer primer, named after its inventor.


If you examine the base of a centrefire cartridge, you will see some markings. This is called the headstamp. While rimfire cartridges usually just have the manufacturer’s name, centrefire cartridges have more information. Military cartridges usually have a factory code followed by the year of manufacture, type of projectile, etc. Commercial ammunition usually has the manufacturer’s name and the calibre. Fig. 4 has two .38 Special cartridges. The one on the left is stamped “+P”.

+P Ammunition Ammunition designated “+P” has been loaded to a higher velocity than standard. (+P means higher pressure) Check before using any +P ammunition in your gun, as many older guns may not be suitable.

Safety Always check that your ammunition is compatible with your gun, if in doubt, ask.

Until next time, have a happy and safe shoot!

Notes for Novices No.3

The .22 Automatic Pistol – By Anthony Mitchell


This article covers the principle of operation of the .22 automatic pistol, as this is the one most commonly encountered by new shooters. The pistol may also be referred to as a semi-automatic or a self-loading pistol. i.e. when the trigger is pulled, a shot is fired, the empty cartridge case is ejected, a new cartridge is loaded and the action is cocked. The following article covers general principles of operation and will enable the major components of a pistol to be identified.

This article is a general guide only. For specific details on your own gun, check the instruction manual or seek the advice of a competent person.


.22 automatics operate using a blowback action. This means that at the instant of firing, the breech block is held closed by the mainspring. This is a simple and reliable action well suited to a cartridge of this power.


Cartridges are loaded into the magazine. The magazine contains a spring and a follower. The spring forces the cartridges to the top of the magazine, ready to be loaded into the chamber. The follower usually has a button on the side. This allows the spring tension to be reduced and makes loading easier. Figure 3 shows a fully loaded magazine.


The slide contains the breech block, extractor, firing pin, and safety catch. The slide has an opening called the ejection port. This allows the spent cartridge case to be ejected clear of the pistol after firing.

Safety Catch

The safety catch is manually operated and has two positions; safe and fire. Another safety mechanism commonly encountered is the magazine safety i.e. the pistol cannot be fired unless the magazine is in place.

Loading and Firing

The loaded magazine is inserted. With the muzzle pointed downrange and the trigger finger outside the trigger guard, the slide is pulled to the rear and released. The slide travels forward under pressure from the mainspring, chambering a cartridge as it travels forward. With the cartridge in the chamber, the extractor is hooked to the rim of the cartridge. The gun is now ready to fire.

The safety catch is set to fire and the trigger is pulled, allowing the firing pin to strike the cartridge, sending the bullet downrange. The recoil pushes against the breech block, overcoming the mainspring pressure, thereby sending the slide to the rear. As the slide travels rearward, the extractor pulls the spent cartridge case from the chamber. When the spent case hits the ejector, the case is thrown clear. At the end of its rearward travel, the slide cocks the hammer. The mainspring then forces the slide forward to chamber a cartridge for the next shot.

When the magazine is empty, the follower in the magazine holds the slide in the open position, reminding the shooter that the magazine is empty.


To remove the empty magazine, simply depress the magazine release lever. The magazine will then drop out under spring tension. Insert a new magazine and press the slide release lever. The slide will move forward and chamber a new cartridge. You may then continue shooting.


To unload the pistol, depress the magazine release lever. The magazine does not have to be empty.

It is important to remember that removing the magazine will not remove a cartridge from the chamber. After removing the magazine, pull the slide back and eject any round in the chamber. Check that the chamber is clear before casing the pistol and moving from the firing line.


Modern firearms have been made as safe as possible, but safety mechanisms are not a substitute for safe gun handling.

Until next time, have a happy and safe shoot!

Notes For Novices No.2

Eyes and Ears by Anthony Mitchell

Prior to each shoot, we always have a safety brief, part of which is a reminder about wearing eye and ear protection when ordered to do so by the Range Officer. After a while, it becomes a habit, just like wearing seat belts whilst driving a car. Just in case you think there’s no need (i.e. it couldn’t happen to me), the following incident happened to me recently.

During the course of the shoot, the slide of my Walther P22 stayed in the rearmost position, which is pretty normal when the magazine is empty. Except this time, the magazine was nowhere near empty. Examination of the slide revealed a crack near the chamber,  indicated by the arrow. (Figure 1)

Figure 1 Walther P22

The metal was broken completely, allowing the slide to come off the frame on the left-hand side of the gun and jam in the rearmost position. A further check revealed a second crack in the slide, on the right-hand side near the muzzle. (Figure 2)

Thankfully, the metal was only broken through on the right-hand side; otherwise, the slide could have kept on going rearwards.  This would have been highly inconvenient for me. As it turned out, I only had to purchase a new slide. Granted, this is the first time that anything like this has ever happened to me, but it is a reminder that safety is not just a sometime thing.

Figure 2 Walther P22
Until next time, have a safe and happy shoot

Notes For Novices No.1

The .22 Long Rifle Cartridge – By Anthony Mitchell

This article has been produced to familiarise new shooters with the cartridge most commonly encountered on their first shoot.

When we talk of shooting with a .22 calibre firearm, we usually mean one chambered for the .22 Long Rifle cartridge. The .22 is available in Short, Long, and Magnum, but the Long Rifle is the most commonly encountered. It was released in the 1880s as a target and small game cartridge and was originally loaded with black powder. These are all rimfire cartridges.

The component parts of the cartridge are the bullet and the cartridge case.

The Bullet

The bullet is made of lead and is usually lubricated at the factory with wax or something similar. The shape may be a round nose, flat nose, or hollow point. Some bullets have a fine coating of copper. (These are copper washed, it does not make them copper-jacketed)

The weight of the bullet is usually measured in grains. This is an old Imperial unit of measurement. 40grains is approx. 2.5 grams.

The Cartridge Case

The cartridge case is usually made of brass and contains a charge of smokeless powder. The rim is hollow and contains a chemical compound called a primer. When the rim of the case is crushed by the firing pin, the primer ignites the powder charge, propelling the bullet down the barrel. The spent cartridge case is then ejected from the firearm and is of no further use. Rimfire cartridges cannot be reloaded.


The .22 Long Rifle cartridge is available in standard and high-velocity loadings.

Standard velocity ammunition usually has a muzzle velocity of somewhere around 1100 feet per second. This means that the bullet leaves the muzzle at less than the speed of sound. (The speed of sound at sea level is approx. 1100 fps) Depending on the manufacturer, it may also be called sub-sonic. Target-grade ammunition is usually standard velocity.

High-velocity ammunition usually has a muzzle velocity of 1250 feet per second or thereabouts. Some cartridges (e.g. CCI Stinger) have a muzzle velocity of around 1600 feet per second. These are sometimes referred to as hypervelocity.


Modern ammunition is very accurate and reliable. .22 calibre firearms, however, have a reputation for being fussy as to ammunition type. What shoots well in one gun will not necessarily shoot well in another. The most expensive ammunition is not always the most accurate. Try a few different types to see what shoots the best in your particular firearm.


Don’t forget to read what’s on the box. Manufacturers put a lot of info there, so it would be a shame not to read it. Importantly, ensure that your firearm is chambered for the cartridge being used. The photo below shows that this particular pistol is chambered for a .22 Long Rifle.

Lead is toxic. Remember to wash your hands after shooting, and especially before eating (Do you want lead with that?).

Always remember eye and ear protection.

Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Despite the small size, a .22 bullet can travel up to 2 km.

Always ensure that ammunition is stored securely (this is a legal requirement anyway)

Until next time, have a happy and safe shoot book now

A Lithgow Shootout

By Anthony Mitchell

I recently had the opportunity to conduct a comparison test between two Lithgow Rimfire rifles, a Model 1B single shot and a Model 12 bolt action repeater. Both rifles are chambered for the .22LR. Both are equipped with the original open sights and are unmodified.

According to factory records, both the Model 1B and the Model 12 left the factory in 1956.

The Lithgow Model 12
The Lithgow Model 1B

Conventional wisdom has it that the rifle with a long, heavy barrel will shoot better than a rifle with a short light barrel. The Model 1B has a 24ʺ barrel, whereas the Model 12 sports a 25ʺ with a much heavier profile.

The Model 12 Barrel (left) is much heavier than the Model 1B Barrel (right)

Testing Conditions

Testing was carried out at Belmont at a distance of 50 metres. The sights on the rifle are the standard open sights. No sight adjustments were carried out during the test. All shooting was carried out from a bench. Weather was fine and hot, with a sometimes gusty breeze drifting the shots from left to right. Five shots of each type of cartridge were fired.

Ammunition Used

High Velocity Ammunition Used
  • ICI Civic High Velocity Solid
  • Stirling High Velocity Hollow Point
  • Winchester Super Speed High Velocity Hollow Point
  • Winchester Xpert Standard Velocity Solid

As far as I have been able to ascertain, the ICI packaging was discontinued in the early 1960’s. The Stirling packaging was commonly seen in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

The best groups of the day were obtained with the ICI and Stirling ammo.

ICI Civic (L) and Stirling High Impact (R)

The Winchester Super Speed probably is a similar age to the Stirling Ammo. The K-Mart price tag indicates that the purchase price was $1.98.

Lithgow Model 12 Test Results

Stirling group size 80 x 25 mm (Circled in Blue)

ICI Civic group size 90 x 80 mm (Circled in Yellow)

Lithgow Model 1B Test Results

Stirling group size 55 x 55 mm (Circled in Orange)

ICI Civic Group Size 95 x 100 mm (Circled in Green)

Lithgow Model 12 Test Results: Winchester

Unfortunately, the Winchester did not perform terribly well in either rifle on the day, with group sizes as follows:

Winchester Super Speed 120 x 28 mm

Winchester XPert 95 x 16 mm

Lithgow Model 1B Test Results: Winchester

Winchester Super Speed 82 x 36 mm

Winchester XPert 110 x 120 mm


Both rifles shot better with the Stirling ammunition on the day. However, as can be seen from the results, there is not a great deal of difference in accuracy between the two rifles.

A check in my notebook revealed that the Model 12 shot much better with the Winchester XPert on a previous trip to Belmont. The main difference this time was the wind.

At the end of the day, the best course of action is to find which brand of ammunition works best in your own firearm.

Until next time, have a happy and safe shoot!

The Lithgow Model 12 Repeater

By Anthony Mitchell

Considered by many to be an Australian classic, the Lithgow Model 12 was a bolt action rifle chambered for the .22LR cartridge. The Model 12 was made by the Lithgow Small Arms Factory and marketed by Slazenger in the post-war period.

The Commonwealth Government established the Lithgow Small Arms Factory in 1912. The main purpose was to manufacture the Lee-Enfield .303 rifle, this being the service rifle used throughout the British Empire at the time. 

Using machinery sourced from Pratt & Whitney in the USA, the first Lee-Enfield rolled off the production line in 1912. The last Lee-Enfields left the factory in 1956.

One of the problems with running a factory is matching output with demand, and arms factories are no exception. During the period between the two world wars, the factory produced a variety of commercial goods in addition to its core products. These included items such as sewing machines, sheep shearing equipment and handcuffs. The government was keen to keep the factory ticking over to maintain skills. Also, in the post-war period, there was an effort to boost local production across a range of fields, limiting the amount of money spent on imports. To this end, SAF Lithgow entered into a partnership with Slazenger in 1944 to manufacture firearms for the civilian market. These were:

  • A single-shot .22 rifle (Model 1, 1A & 1B. Produced from 1945)
  • A bolt action .22 repeater (Model 12 & Model 55. Produced from 1947)
  • A bolt action repeater in .22 Hornet based on a Lee-Enfield action
  • A .410 shotgun based on a Lee-Enfield action.

Approx. 220,000 single shot .22’s (Some figures say 228,000) and around 85,000 .22 repeaters were manufactured before production ceased in the early 1960’s. As they were well made of military grade materials, Lithgow .22’s gained a reputation for reliability and accuracy.

A 1958 catalogue for Mick Smith’s Sports Store lists a Slazenger single shot .22 rifle for £13/5/-, while the repeater cost £21/9/6.

The Model 12 was replaced by a shorter and lighter version called the Model 55 in 1955. The photo below is a new, unfired Model 55 in the Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum.

Photo courtesy of the Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum

Using machinery sourced from Pratt & Whitney in the USA, the first Lee-Enfield rolled off the production line in 1912. The last Lee-Enfields left the factory in 1956.

A 10 shot Bibby Magazine

The Model 12 bears a passing resemblance to the Winchester 69A, which was manufactured from 1937. Unlike the Winchester, the Model 12 does not have a magazine release catch. The Model 12 magazine is located in the magazine well by two leaf springs. The rear leaf spring has a small protrusion which mates up with a slot in the rear of the magazine. To remove the magazine, simply pull the magazine down. When replacing, simply insert the magazine until it clicks into place.

The bolt cocks on opening, while the safety catch locks the trigger. The rear sight is adjustable for elevation only, with each notch equal to 25 yards.  All Lithgow 22’s were sighted for high velocity ammunition. A single takedown screw is provided to enable the rifle to be dismantled for cleaning or storage. The black plastic butt plate bears a roundel marked “Slazengers S.A.F.”


Action:                  Bolt action Repeater

Barrel Length:      25 inches

Weight:                 2.7 Kg

Chambering:        .22LR

Magazine::            5 or 10 shot detachable box magazine

A close-up view of the Action, safety, magazine, takedown screw and rear sight.

Hopefully in the not-too-distant future I can carry out a range test.

Until next time, have a happy and safe shoot!

Further Reading:

The Lee-Enfield Story by Ian Skennerton

A Classic Rimfire – The Winchester Model 69A by Ben Gregory.  Australian Shooter, April 2009.

Lionel Hartnell Bibby – Fast and Fancy Shooting by Rod Pascoe. Australian Shooter, November 2014.

Lionel Bibby and his Colt by Rod Pascoe. Australian & New Zealand Handgun, Issue 15, November 2017.

Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum Website


The author acknowledges the assistance received from the Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum.

Headstamp History

When perusing the headstamp in a cartridge case, we can usually determine the calibre and manufacturer. Military ammunition may also have a code to tell us where and when the ammunition was manufactured.
Rimfire cases, due to their small size, usually have a letter to indicate the manufacturer and not much else. For many years, Winchester rimfire ammunition had the letter “H” for a headstamp.

I’m not certain of the manufacturing date, but the packaging in the picture was
definitely around in the 1970’s. The story behind the headstamp is an interesting
Oliver F. Winchester (who later founded the Winchester Repeating Arms
Company) was a shareholder in a company which made the lever action Volcanic
rifle. The company went bankrupt in 1857. Winchester bought the assets and
formed the New Haven Arms Company.
For various reasons, the Volcanic rifle needed some refinement to make it a
success. Winchester hired a master mechanic named Tyler Henry as factory
foreman. Henry redesigned the rifle and chambered it for a .44 rimfire cartridge
which became known as the .44 Henry. The .44 Henry had a 200 grain bullet
with a muzzle velocity of approx. 1025 fps.
The Henry Rifle was launched in 1860 and was made until 1866. With its lever
action and 16-shot tubular magazine under the barrel, the Henry was the
forerunner of subsequent Winchester rifles. The Henry rifle saw limited service
during the American Civil War.
Owing to Tyler Henry’s efforts, Winchester rimfire cartridges carried the “H”
headstamp for over a century.
Until next time, have a happy and safe shoot!

By Anthony Mitchell

Rimfire Reminiscing

Researched and Written by Anthony Mitchell

With its low noise level and lack of recoil, the .22 rimfire cartridge is ideal for beginners. The low cost of ammunition means that meaningful practice can be had without breaking the bank. When we talk about the .22 calibre, we usually refer to the .22 Long Rifle cartridge, as this is the one most commonly encountered. The .22LR is not the only one available, and we will now take a look at some others.

Left to Right .22 Short. .22 Long, .22Long Rifle, .22 Magnum, .22 Shot Cartridge

.22 Short

The .22 Short is the oldest in the line-up, having been introduced by Smith and Wesson in 1857 in their First Model revolver. This revolver was intended for personal defence and was used by combatants on both sides during the American Civil War. The bullet weight was 29 grains, with black powder being used as a propellant.

As well as being used as a small game cartridge, the .22 Short was used in Olympic shooting competitions until recently.

Winchester .22 Short Cartridges. This packaging dates to the early 1900s

The Winchester .22 Short is currently listed as having a muzzle velocity of 1095 feet per sec.   During penetration tests at 15 feet, a .22 Short fired from a pistol with a 6-inch barrel penetrated 3 soft pine boards ⅞ inch thick.

.22 Long

The .22 Long was released around 1871 and used the same 29-grain bullet. The longer case held a heavier charge of black powder, giving a higher velocity. High-velocity smokeless loads had a muzzle velocity of over 1100 feet per sec. During penetration tests at 15 feet, a .22 Long fired from a pistol with a 6-inch barrel penetrated 4 soft pine boards ⅞ inch thick.

The .22 Long is commonly seen as an indoor target round. The Winchester .22 Long Z round had a muzzle velocity of 770 feet per sec.  

.22 Long Rifle

Released around 1887, the .22 Long Rifle used the same case as the .22 Long, but with a 40-grain bullet. As its name suggests, it was originally intended for rifles. Due to its length, a .22LR cartridge will not chamber in a firearm chambered for .22 Short or .22Long. However, .22 Short or .22 Long can be fired in a firearm chambered for .22LR.

These days, there is a wide range of loads available in .22LR, with a wide variety of bullet shapes and sizes.  Broadly speaking, they can be characterised as follows:

Standard Velocity

Using a 40-grain bullet, standard velocity ammunition usually has a muzzle velocity of 1100 feet per sec. or thereabouts. Sub-sonic is less than this. Target ammunition is usually standard velocity. Theoretically, standard velocity ammunition is more accurate, but this is not always the case.

Penetration tests carried out at 15 feet showed a 40-grain standard velocity bullet fired from a pistol with a 6-inch barrel penetrated 4 soft pine boards ⅞ inch thick.

High Velocity

High-velocity ammunition usually has a muzzle velocity upwards of 1200 feet per sec. Bullet weights tend to be 40 grains or less.

Penetration tests carried out at 15 feet showed the 40-grain high-velocity bullet fired from a 6-inch pistol barrel penetrated 6 soft pine boards ⅞ inch thick.

Hyper Velocity

In the late 1970s, CCI released the Stinger, with other manufacturers coming up with a similar concept slightly later. The bullet weight is dropped to around 30 grains or so, with a corresponding increase in muzzle velocity.

CCI quoted a muzzle velocity of 1680 feet per sec using a 32-grain bullet. Remington quoted 1500 feet per second with a 33-grain bullet. Muzzle energy is increased accordingly.

However, in the world of ballistics, there is no such thing as a free lunch. The ammunition cost is higher, and the light bullets tend to lose velocity more quickly. At 100 yards, the advantage over the normal high-velocity round is somewhat diminished.

.22 Shot Cartridges

Usually referred to as rat shot or snake shot, the cartridge is often seen with a crimped case mouth resembling a blank cartridge. They carry a small load of No. 11 or 12 shot pellets and are used for shooting small vermin at close range.

.22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire

Introduced by Winchester in 1959, the .22 Magnum is a longer and more powerful version of the .22 Winchester Rimfire cartridge.

The Winchester catalogue quotes a muzzle velocity of 1910 feet per second with a 40 grain jacketed bullet. This means that at 100 yards, the .22 Magnum has more energy than the .22LR has at the muzzle.

Safety Considerations

Ammunition manufacturers print a lot of information on their packaging, so it seems to be good practice to read it. There is usually a statement to the effect that the ammunition should only be used in modern firearms in good condition.

Because the .22 has been around for so long, some older guns may be proofed for black powder only, or not suitable for modern high-velocity ammunition.  Similarly, guns proofed for smokeless powder maybe around 100 years old or more. If you have any doubts, have the firearm checked by a gunsmith.

 Until next time, have a happy and safe shoot!

Note:  Velocity figures stated are from rifle length barrels


The Book of Pistols and Revolvers   W.H.B. Smith and Joseph E. Smith

Cartridges of the World 13th edition  Frank C. Barnes

Current Winchester Ammunition Catalogue

A Matter of Calibre

Focus on Safety

A Matter of Calibre

When calibre is mentioned in regard to firearms, we usually think it’s to do with the size of the projectile. Broadly speaking, this is true. However, there are some different systems for describing cartridges. We will look at some common examples below.

9mm Luger

This cartridge made its debut in 1902, and was first used in the famous automatic pistol designed by Georg Luger. The 9mm Luger cartridge was first used as a military round and was referred to as the 9mm Parabellum (from the Latin “for war). It is also a NATO standard cartridge for pistols and sub-machine guns; hence some publications refer to it as the 9mm NATO.

The European designation is 9 x 19mm, meaning a 9mm bullet seated in a rimless cartridge case 19mm long. (If the cartridge was rimmed, it would be referred to as a 9 x 19R). For this reason, many European firearms simply carry the 9 x 19 designation. The photograph above shows two 9mm Luger cartridges alongside a .22LR cartridge for comparison.

What does +P and +P+ Mean?

Any cartridge with +P or +P+ designation means that it is loaded to a higher pressure than standard, and may not be suitable for your firearm. If you have any doubts as to whether your firearm is compatible with +P ammunition, seek expert advice.

Military Grade 9mm Ammunition

Any cartridge with +P or +P+ designation means that it is loaded to a higher pressure than standard, and may not be suitable for your firearm. If you have any doubts as to whether your firearm is compatible with +P ammunition, seek expert advice.

38 Special

Released by Smith&Wesson in 1899, the .38 Special isn’t really a .38 at all. The bullet diameter is actually .357ʺ.  Originally known as the .38 Smith&Wesson Special, it is a rimmed cartridge originally intended for use in revolvers, but now can also be found in automatic pistols as well as rifles.

In 1935, Smith&Wesson released the .357 Magnum, as many law enforcement agencies felt that the .38Special lacked stopping power. The .357 Magnum uses the same diameter bullet as the .38 Special; however, the case has been lengthened slightly. This is to stop inadvertent chambering of a .357 Magnum round in a .38 Special revolver. However, a .357 Magnum revolver will quite happily chamber and fire a .38 Special. The photograph below shows a .38 Special (L) alongside a .357 Magnum.

Shotgun Cartridges

L-R: 12gauge, 20 gauge, .410 gauge

Shotgun relate to the diameter of a lead ball. Therefore, a 12 gauge shotgun shell is the diameter of a lead ball weighing 12 to the pound. A 20 gauge shell is the diameter of a lead ball weighing 20 to the pound, etc. The exception is the .410 gauge. The .410 shotgun is .410ʺ in diameter.

Shot size is given a number. The bigger the number, the smaller the size. In the photo above, the 12gauge shell is loaded with No. 7½ shot. The 20 gauge shell beside it is loaded with No. 4 shot. Larger size shot are given letter or number designations.  (E.g. SG, which is an English designation, is the equivalent to American 00)

Other descriptors for shotgun cartridges are length of the case (e.g. 2¾ʺ or 3ʺ), and sometimes the weight of shot carried (Usually in grams, sometimes in ounces).  Older ammunition sometimes carried a “dram equivalent”. A dram was an Imperial measurement, with a standard 12 gauge 2¾ʺ load being charged with 3 drams of black powder. When smokeless powder came into vogue, many manufacturers used the dram equivalent so shooters knew how powerful the load was.

Safety considerations for Shotgunners

As can be seen from the previous photograph, there is not a lot of difference between 12 and 20 gauge shotgun shells. Accidents have occurred over the years when a 20 gauge shell has been stuck in a 12 gauge gun barrel, then having a 12 gauge shell loaded into a seemingly empty gun,

3ʺ shells should only be used in guns marked accordingly. A 2¾ʺ shell can be used in a 3ʺ chambered gun, but not the other way around.

Proof Marks

Older shotguns may only be proofed for use with black powder. If in doubt, seek expert advice before using modern smokeless cartridges in an old gun.

Steel Shot

Many jurisdictions have mandated the use of steel shot for hunting. As steel is much harder than lead, it should only be used in guns proofed for steel shot.

Reading the Fine Print

Whether in the owner’s manual or on the ammunition packaging, in shooting, as in life in general, it always pays to read the fine print.

Until next time, have a happy and safe shoot!

References: Cartridges of the World 13th Edition

                   Winchester Ammunition Catalogue

The Pattern 1907 Bayonet

Researched and written By Anthony Mitchell

Back in 1907, the British Army adopted the Short, Magazine, Lee-Enfield (SMLE) rifle as standard issue for all branches of the armed forces. Previously, there were different styles of rifles and carbines for different branches of the service. The new rifle was shorter and handier than the long Lee-Enfield it replaced.

The military doctrine of the day placed emphasis on the combat use of the bayonet, and the feeling was that the shorter rifle required a longer bayonet to place the British infantryman on an equal footing with the enemy.

Various designs were contemplated, but the pattern selected was based on the bayonet used by the Imperial Japanese Army with the Arisaka rifle.

Over 5 million P1907 bayonets were made during World War 1 alone, with many manufactured by Wilkinson Sword. The P1907 bayonet coupled with the SMLE was used by British and Commonwealth forces during both world wars.

The photo below shows the bayonet in its leather scabbard

During the 1920’s, the SMLE was designated the “Rifle No. 1 Mk III*”. The Pattern 1907 bayonet stayed the same.

Australia manufactured the SMLE and Pattern 1907 bayonet until the 1950’s, so the Pattern 1907 bayonet is relatively common out here. The photograph below is a display in the Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum.  The display shows SMLE‘s and P1907 bayonets from every year of manufacture.

Until next time, have a happy shoot

References: The Lee-Enfield by Ian Skennerton and various internet sources