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Course Outline

With so many kinds of firearms and types of ammunition, it’s not always easy to match the proper ammunition to your firearm correctly—but getting it right is critical. If you match the wrong ammunition to your gun, you can cause an explosion, injuring or possibly killing yourself and any bystanders.

To match the proper ammunition to your rifle, shotgun, or handgun correctly:

  • Read the specific caliber or gauge designations on the side of the barrel. Match that barrel stamp designation exactly. For example, if it says “.270 Winchester,” you cannot use “.270 Weatherby.” Shotgun barrels will give the gauge and the length of the chamber (for example, “12-gauge for 2¾-inch shells” or “20-gauge Magnum for 3-inch shells”).
  • Carefully read the information on the lid of the ammunition box and on the head stamp on the ammunition. With shotgun ammunition, always check both the gauge and the shell length, and whether it’s a magnum load, to ensure it matches the data on the barrel.
  • Finally, match the proper caliber of cartridge, or gauge and length of shotshell, on the ammunition box and the ammunition head stamp to the barrel stamp before you shoot.
The rear of the shotgun barrel should be marked with the gauge and the length of the chamber.
The barrel stamp of a rifle is usually stamped toward the rear of the barrel.
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