Caliber

In guns including firearms, caliber or calibre is the approximate internal diameter of the barrel, or the diameter of the projectile used in it.

In a rifled barrel, the distance is measured between opposing lands or grooves; groove measurements are common in cartridge designations originating in the United States, while land measurements are more common elsewhere. It is important to performance that a bullet should closely match the groove diameter of a barrel to ensure a good seal. When the barrel diameter is given in inches, the abbreviation "cal" is used in place of "inches." For example, a small bore rifle with a diameter of 0.22 inch is a .22 cal; however, the decimal point is generally dropped when spoken, making it "twenty-two caliber" or a "two-two caliber". Calibers of firearms can be referred to in millimeters, as in a "caliber of eighty-eight millimeters" (88 mm) or "a hundred and five-millimeter caliber gun" (often abbreviated as "105 mm gun").

While modern cartridges and cartridge firearms are generally referred to by the cartridge name, they are still lumped together based on bore diameter. For example, a firearm might be described as a ".30 caliber rifle", which could be any of a wide range of cartridges using a roughly .30 inch projectile; or a ".22 rimfire", referring to any rimfire cartridge using a .22 caliber projectile.

Firearm calibers outside the range of .17 to .50 (4.5 to 12.7 mm) exist, but are rarely encountered. Wildcat cartridges, for example, can be found in .10, .12, and .14 caliber (2.5, 3.0, & 3.6 mm), typically used for short range varmint hunting, where the high velocity, lightweight bullets provide devastating terminal ballistics with little risk of ricochet. Larger calibers, such as .577, .585, .600, .700, and .729 (14.7, 14.9, 15.2, 17.8, & 18.5 mm) are generally found in proprietary cartridges chambered in express rifles or similar guns intended for use on dangerous game. 950 JDJ is the only known cartridge beyond .79 caliber to be used in a rifle.

In some contexts, e.g. guns aboard a warship, "caliber" is used to describe the barrel length as multiples of the bore diameter. A "5-inch 50 caliber" gun has a bore diameter of 5 inches (127 mm) and a barrel length of 50 times 5 inches = 250 inches (6.35 m).

Read more about Caliber:  Cartridge Naming Conventions, Metric Versus Imperial, Shotguns, Caliber As Measurement of Length, Pounds As A Measure of Cannon Bore

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