What is The Main Difference Between Centerfire And Rimfire Ammunition?

When talking about firearms, the main focus shouldn’t be the bullet. The proper term that should be used for modern ammunition is the cartridge. Especially for the newbie weapon lovers, it’s crucial to have a solid knowledge about ammunition. The topic of ammunition typically revolves around centerfire and rimfire ammunition.

The main question that pops up is, what is the main difference between centerfire and rimfire ammunition? We’ll dive into the depths of these two terms in this article. There’s no better time to kick start the discussion.

Since our discussion will revolve around firearms, including guns, rifles, revolvers, and so on, let’s look at the working mechanism of a gun and a rifle. Talking about the working of the firearms mentioned above will provide more clarity to the whole picture.

How Does A Gun Work?

Bullets are loaded into the rear of the barrel. A barrel is a tube connected to the firing pin. As the firing pin hits the primer, a tremendous amount of heat comes to life. This heat further ignites the propellant. As the fuel starts to burn, it generates enormous volumes of gas. Immense pressure is built up inside the barrel, and the bullet roars out of the front of the armed weapon.

Every gun requires a source of ignition, a propellant to burn and a projectile to launch modern ammunition.

How Does A Rifle Work?

There’s not a major difference between the working of a rifle and other guns. But the robust design of a rifle has a lot to offer. It is more accurate and allows for higher shooting velocity. As soon as the trigger is pulled, it strikes the primer, and a spark ignites the gunpowder, which burns rapidly. This results in an explosion of gas, and the bullet eases out of the cartridge tracing its path through the barrel at a lightning-fast velocity. Going straight for the target!

There’s one principle behind every ammunition, and we must be familiar with it. So, here’s how it goes!

The Principle

From shotguns to rifles, every ammunition involves four things that work in synchronization. Those four things are:

  1.  Primer
  2. Propellant
  3. Projectile
  4. Casing

We’ve seen how these parts take part in the action inside the firearm before the bullet leaves it. Now let’s move on towards the linking topics that’ll lead us to the main topic: what is the main difference between centerfire and rimfire ammunition?

Modern ammunition comes in two major types: centerfire ammunition and rimfire ammunition. Let’s understand this ammunition one by one.

Rimfire Ammunition

In use since 1845, the primer has been placed at the bottom of the case along the rim. The firing pin strikes and crushes a part of the rim, igniting the primer. We are already familiar with how the bullet traces its path out of the bullet.

We’ll look at the working process towards the end of the article. Meanwhile, let’s have a look at an example of rimfire ammunition.

The best example of a rimfire cartridge is a .22 caliber.

.22 caliber is the oldest and the most popular cartridge in the world. The reason behind its massive popularity is it doesn’t produce ear-splitting noise and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

The rimfire cartridge is used for hunting and finds its application in a wide array of weapons, including pistols, rifles, revolvers, etc.

Advantages Of Rimfire Ammunition

  • They require minimal recoil.
  • They are simple to produce which is why it’s produced in millions around the world.
  • As far as hunting is concerned, they offer less meat destruction.

Disadvantages Of Rimfire Ammunition

  • They have a weak shell casing.

The theory behind weak shell casing is that the weaker the shell, the less pressure it can handle. Less pressure means lower kinetic energy.

  • Failure of fire incidents are quite common due to the application of primer.
  • You can’t reload the primer.

Centerfire Ammunition

In use since 1810, the primer is situated at the centre of the base of the cartridge. The primer consists of a metal cup with a small shock-sensitive compound. Revolvers, guns, shotguns, rifles or other weapons designed with centerfire ammunition are mostly reloadable.

Most ammunition today are centerfires except for the extremely popular .22 long rifle.

Some examples of centerfire cartridges are .40 and 5.56. Moreover, the centerfire cartridge is extensively used for military and self-defence purposes.

Advantages Of Centerfire Ammunition

  • They are reliable.
  • Centerfire has a thick shell casing.
  • They are known for safer ammunition.
  • Along with being effective, they are highly capable of being accurate for greater ranges.
  • Ignition is more consistent.

Disadvantages Of Centerfire Ammunition

  • Since it involves a heavier cartridge moving at a higher velocity, recoiling rounds increase.
  • The reported volume of centerfire ammunition is far too loud.

For newbies, it’s advised to train with rimfire ammunition. 

Rimfire Ammunition

Centerfire Ammunition

They are smaller in size.

They are larger in size.

The spent casings can’t be reloaded.

The spent castings can be reloaded.

They are pocket friendly.

They are quite expensive.

Can Rimfire and Centerfire Ammunition Be Interchanged?

The answer is a big NO. If you ever try to interchange centerfire ammunition with rimfire ammunition or vice versa, then you are inviting problems to show up at your door. Instead of doing you any good, it’ll help ruin things.

It’s advised to read the manual that comes with your gun to gain a piece of better knowledge about the ammunition it is designed for. 


Before jumping into the world of firearms, it’s always better to have a thorough understanding of how things work with the help of theory or videos before trying it on your practice.

The question of ammunition automatically becomes significant wherever firearms are concerned. Which is why we’ve discussed one of the most commonly asked questions: what is the main difference between centerfire and rimfire ammunition? But, before throwing light on it, we’ve looked at the working of a gun and a rifle. And have discussed the definitions with pros and cons of centerfire and rimfire ammunition.

Hope it takes your knowledge of ammunition a step further.

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Mario Garcia
Mario Garciahttps://beinghuman.org
Hello I am Mario Garcia, I find human beings fascinating, especially our more or less endearing behavior. Bit by bit I’ve come to see us human beings not as autonomous agents in conscious control of our lives, but as incredibly complex biological organisms embedded in the process of our evolving culture. Here in our blog you will find a lot of life hacks, tech tips and information about just Being Human

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