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To some, this post might seem too simple to read. After all, anyone who has ever shot a gun knows how it works, right? The truth is, most shooters only know that as you pull the trigger, the bullet shoots out of the gun towards the target. However, to reloaders, our knowledge of what happens when you pull the trigger should be far above that of the average shooter. That’s why it’s good to occasionally go back to the basics before you can further your reloading game.

The Anatomy of a Cartridge

Let’s face it; we have all, at some point in our shooting careers, referred to the entire cartridge simply as a bullet. Yet, there is so much more that goes into the manufacturing of a round that we should familiarize ourselves with every aspect. Here are the different features found on a single round:

· Cartridge- This is the outer shell of the round, often referred to as the brass. It can be made out of steel but those rounds are not suggested to be reloadable.

· Primer- This section holds the explosive charge that ignites the round. It is found in the bottom portion of the round and can be either flush with the brass or concave.

· Flash Hole - This portion of the cartridge is often overlooked. It’s a tiny hole that sits between the primer and powder chamber and provides direction for the ignition.

· Powder Chamber - Refers to the section of the cartridge that houses the powder, between the flash hole and the bullet, itself.

· Bullet-This is the actual projectile that is shot out of the gun.

How Ammunition Performs

Now that we have coverage the basic anatomy of a cartridge, we can better understand what happens when you pull your gun’s trigger. Knowing this information is imperative for anyone you wants to reload their own ammunition, especially if you plan to do so effectively.

When you pull the trigger in your gun, it releases a spring that is attached to the hammer and firing pin. The action of pulling the trigger releases the compressed spring and sends the hammer into the firing pin which then, in turn, pushes into the primer at the back of the round. This sudden impact into the primer ignites the explosive compound of the primer.

Since we now know that there is a flash hole, we also know that the explosion from the primer goes through this flash hole and ignites the powder charge. Some would believe that this is the point when the gun makes the big “bang.” However, that doesn’t come till later, though this happens faster than you can blink your eyes.

The force of the explosion pushes the bullet out of the cartridge and through the barrel. However, if there was just an explosion and nothing else, the bullet would not be accurate or fast. Because of the design of many guns, the only way for the gasses that are created by the explosion to be released is through the end of the barrel. It’s the release of these gasses from the barrel that makes the big “bang” and sends the gun jolting backward. However, it’s also these gasses that help create enough force behind the bullet to allow it to reach maximum velocity and hit it’s intended mark.

Knowing this information will help you better be able to manipulate your load, allowing you to reach your fullest potential in reloading. Also, with this information you can make more informed choices on which materials to buy for reloading.