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Caliber Nomenclature and Formatting Rules
Caliber Nomenclature and Formatting Rules
by Jonathan Carter August 28, 2013
Nearly all calibers of interest to us and our customers are designated using one of two main measurement systems. A caliber can be stated using the US Customary system in decimal inches or using the Metric system in whole millimeters. Other measuring systems have been used to designate calibers but they are relatively obscure and beyond our scope.
Sometimes calibers are stated using both systems. Sometimes manufacturers switch back and forth between the two measurement systems selling the exact same cartridge using different names for marketing reasons. And quite often caliber names are misunderstood and misrepresented in the media, especially on the interent. As a result the same cartridge can end up with multiple names leading to a great deal of confusion, especially among inexperienced shooters and reloaders.
For example; the 7.62x54mmR is a rimmed cartridge developed by the Russian Empire in 1891. It is still in common use worldwide today. Uneducated Americans assumed the “R” stood for Russian when in fact it simply meant “Rimmed”. This misconception was widely repeated in the shooting media such that even today many people incorrectly refer to the caliber as 7.62 Russian.
Employing the following "rules" will help us improve the consistency of information on our web site, reduce confusion for our customers, reduce customer support phone calls and emails, improve our reputation as a trusted source for accurate information, increase search results on search engines and thereby increase customer satisfaction and sales.
For calibers stated using the US Customary system:
- Always begin with a decimal number like .357, .45, .308, etc.
- Old-time Black Powder calibers, even though they are now often loaded with modern smokeless powders, should be formatted like .44-40, or .45-70. Never with a slash like 44/70 as is often the case on leeprecision.com
- Abbreviations like ACP, WSM, etc. should be spelled out in the first use on the page. For example; .45 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP) or .300 Winchester Short Magnum (WSM). Thereafter the abreviation can be used like .45 ACP or .300 WSM.
- Manufacturer names should be spelled out. For example; Winchester, never Win., Remington, never Rem., Holland & Holland, never H&H., etc.
- Magnum should always be spelled out, never use the abbreviation Mag,
For calibers stated using the Metric system:
- Always begin with a whole number and often include 1 or 2 digits following the decimal point like 5mm, 5.56mm, 6.8mm, 10mm.
- Often the decimal size is follwed by an x and a 1 or two digit number. In such cases the x should always be lower case like 5.6x9 or 6.5x55.
- The millimeter designation is always abbreviated and lower case without a trailing period, for example;mm—never mm or Mm or mM.
- Most often themm desigantion follows the size with no space or other characters like 5.6x9mm or 6.5x55mm
- Sometimes themm designation is preceded by other characters which are always capitalized. For example; 6.5x50SRmm Arisaka. In this case “SR” stands for “Semi-Rimmed” cartridge.
- Sometimes themm designation is followed by other characters which are always capitalized. For example; 7.62x54mmR. In this case the “R” which has often erroneousely been thought to mean “Russian” simply means this is a “Rimmed” cartridge.
- Often themm designation is followed by a space and other characters or names. For example; 5.45x39mm Soviet, 5.7x28mm FN, 6.5mm Grendel, etc.
Searching on Wikipedia.com is the easiest way to verify the proper formatting of a particular caliber name. While the information on Wikipedia is not perfect, it is very good.
Properly formatted caliber designations should be included in:
- Product names where caliber is important as with reloading dies. This is important for search engine ranking.
- Product short descriptions where the product fits only specific calibers as with shellholders. This is important for customer recognition of our products in search and shopping results.
- Product long descriptions where the product fits only specific calibers. This is important for search engine ranking and customer information.
- Bulleted lists of features in product long descriptions. This is important for search engine ranking and customer information.
- The custom field "Calibers:" where the product fits only specific calibers. This is important for customer information and for a custom caliber search and selection tool that is currently in the design phase with deployment anticiapted in 2014.
Caliber Sort Order
Our method of sorting calibers is designed to help customers find the product(s) for which they are looking. Since many of our customers don't have decimal caliber to milimeter translators in their heads, our system sorts decimal calibers separate from milimeter calibers and sorts pistol calibers separate from rifle calibers. This can most easily be accomplished by employing the 5 simple rules shown below.
- Use sort order numbers based on caliber numbers
- Use single digit order numbers for non-caliber items
- Use a 2 digit order numbers for decimal pistol
- Use a 3 digit order numbesr for decimal rifle
- Use a 4 digit order numbers for mm pistol
- Use a 5 digit order numbers for mm rifle
|Caliber||Sort Order Number||Type|
|.256 Winchester Magnum||25||Deicmal Pistol|
|.357-45 GWM||35||Deicmal Pistol|
|.40 Smith & Wesson||40||Deicmal Pistol|
|.44 Magnum||44||Deicmal Pistol|
|.45 ACP||45||Deicmal Pistol|
|.500 S&W Magnum||50||Deicmal Pistol|
|.17 Remington||170||Decimal Rifle|
|.22 Hornet||220||Decimal Rifle|
|.22-250 Remington||.222 Remington||Decimal Rifle|
|.25-06 Remington||250||Decimal Rifle|
|.30 M-1 Carbide||300||Decimal Rifle|
|.30-06 Springfield||300||Decimal Rifle|
|.45-70 Government||457||Decimal Rifle|
|7.62mm Nagant||7620||mm Pistol|
|9×18mm Makarov||9018||mm Pistol|
|10mm Auto||9999||mm Pistol|
|6.5×55mm Swedish Mauser||65055||mm Rifle|
|7mm Remington Magnum||70000||mm Rifle|
|7×57mm Mauser||70057||mm Rifle|
References where you can read more about it:
- Ammo Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition, by Michael Bussard
- Barnes Reloading Manual 4th Edition, by Craig Boddington, Sam Fadala, Brian Pearce, et. al.
- Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading 9th Edition, by Neal Emery
- Modern Reloading, by Richard Lee
- Modern Reloading 2nd Edition, by Richard Lee
- Nosler Reloading Guide #7
- The Illustrated World Encyclopedia of GUNS, by Will Fowler, Anthony North, Charles Stronge and Patrick Sweeney
Battenfeld Technologies, Inc.
The Battenfeld website is a good starting place for Battenfeld product descriptions and product photos.
Battenfeld brands include:
Non-Typical Wildlife Solutions
We have permission to copy product descriptions and photos from the Battenfeld web site for use in selling their products. Their website includes some excellent action photos of products in use. And while most of their basic product photos are high quality, some exhibit surprisingly poor photography. However, you should take the information on their web site with a grain of salt. The web site includes technical errors. Information taken from the battenfeld web site should be checked and verified with another source before use.
Chuck Hawks Metallic Cartridge Nomenclature
An excellent introduction to the sometimes confusing world of cartridge and caliber names. In this article, Chuck Hawks includes a straightforward description of how the most common calibers in use today got their names and why.
Lee Precision, Inc.
The Lee Precision website is a good starting place for Lee Precision product descriptions and product photos. We have permission to copy product descriptions and photos from their web site for use in selling their products. Their most recent product photos are well done, though some of them include some surprising errors. And the web site's product descriptions also include many technical errors. Therefore you should take the information on their web site with a grain of salt. Information taken from the Lee Precision web site should be checked and verified with another source before use.
Midway USA is a great source for confirming details and for inspiration in writing product descriptions. While not perfect, the information on Midway USA is often better than found on websites of Manufacturers. We must not copy and paste anything from Midway USA. Photos from Midway USA can't be used. Any product descriptions must not be copied and must be reworded and incorporated in our own, original descriptions.
The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute (SAAMI)
SAAMI was established in 1926 at the request of the US federal government to:
- Create and publish industry standards for safety, interchangeability, reliability and quality.
- Coordinate technical data.
- Promote safe and responsible firearms use.
Their website lists, among other very detailed technical data, the recommended full names and abbreviated names for many cartridges.
Wikipedia is an excellent source for quick info on specific calibers. While not as technically detailed as SAmmI, Wikipedia is more easily search-able and easier to read and understand. The caliber information on Wikipedia is very high quality. Information on Wikipedia is supposed to be freely useable, though that is no guarantee what you find on Wikipedia is not copyrighted by someone. Therefore, information found on Wikipedia, including images and video clips, should not be copied and pasted to our web site but rather should be used to verify technical details and as inspiration for writing our own, original product descriptions.
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