What You Learned
Rifles and handguns use a cartridge. Shotguns use a shell (shotshell).
The two types of rifle cartridges are centerfire and rimfire. The four main parts of cartridges are the case, primer, powder, and bullet.
Common rifle and handgun calibers are .45, .44, .40, .357, .308, .270, and .22.
The bottom of a centerfire cartridge usually has a number stamped on it. Use this number to make sure your ammunition matches your gun.
When you pull the trigger on a rifle, shotgun, or handgun, the firing pin strikes the primer in the base of the ammunition. This causes the primer to explode. The primer ignites the gunpowder, generating gas pressure. The pressure forces the projectile(s) out of the barrel.
Cartridges are very powerful. Make sure you know the range for your rifle or handgun.
Shotshells contain shot, pellets, or slugs. All shotshells are centerfire. The five main parts of shotshells are the hull (case), primer, powder, wad, and shot. The bottom of the shotshell usually has the gauge stamped on it. Make sure your ammunition matches your shotgun. Only carry the shotshells for your shotgun.
Choose your shot size based on the game you are hunting. The smaller the shot number, the larger the shot size. Use smaller shot sizes for smaller game and larger sizes for larger game.
Shotshells do not shoot as far as cartridges but are still dangerous when fired carelessly. Make sure you know the range for your shotgun.
Here are some of the Washington laws and regulations for ammunition that apply to all hunters.
- Waterfowl hunters must use non-toxic ammunition.
- Shotguns used to hunt upland birds and waterfowl must not hold more than three shotshells.
- Shotguns used to hunt deer and bear must use slugs or #1 or larger buckshot. It is illegal to use 28-gauge or .410 shotguns to hunt deer or bear. You may hunt big game other than deer or bear with 10-gauge or 12-gauge shotguns using slugs.
- Unless you have the appropriate deer or elk tags with you during modern firearm deer or elk seasons, you may not hunt forest grouse with centerfire rifle or handgun ammunition that is .24 caliber or larger or with shotguns containing slugs or buckshot.
Non-toxic shot made of steel, tungsten alloy, or bismuth is required throughout the U.S. for waterfowl hunting.