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Official Montana Hunting Safety Course Link to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks

Hello, hunter! Montana's online hunting course has moved. Click here to go to the latest version of the Today's Hunter in Montana course—the official hunting safety course of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

The following course material is for reference only. Please go to the new course to complete your Montana certification.

Ammunition

Rifle cartridges and shotgun shells have similar designs, share the same basic parts, and depend on the same physical and chemical reactions to work, but are used for different purposes.

cartridge: Ammunition used in modern rifles and handguns; a case containing primer, gunpowder, and a bullet

shotshell: Ammunition used in modern shotguns; a case containing primer, gunpowder, wad, and a slug or shot

Basic Components of Ammunition

The basic components of ammunition are the case, primer, powder, and projectile(s). Shotshells have an additional component called wad.

  • Case:The container that holds all the other ammunition components together. It’s usually made of brass, steel, copper, paper, or plastic.
  • Primer: An explosive chemical compound that ignites the gunpowder when struck by a firing pin. Primer may be placed either in the rim of the case (rimfire) or in the center of the base of the case (centerfire).
  • Gunpowder: A chemical mixture that burns rapidly and converts to an expanding gas when ignited. Modern smokeless powder will burn slowly when ignited in the open (outside of the case). Black powder is less stable and can be explosive when impacted or ignited in the open.
  • Projectile: The object(s) expelled from the barrel. A bullet is a lead projectile, usually containing lead, fired through a rifle or handgun barrel. A slug is a lead projectile fired through a shotgun barrel. Shot is a group of lead, steel, tungsten, alloy, or bismuth pellets fired through a shotgun barrel.
  • Wad: A seal made of paper or plastic separating the powder from the slug or shot in a shotshell. The wad prevents gas from escaping through the shot and holds the shot together as it passes through the barrel.

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Official hunting safety course for Montana hunters last modified: November 16, 2011
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