This is a list of modern firearm cartridges that are used in the handguns found in our database.
About Measurements and Approximations
Cartridge ballistics used on this page are based on SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute) empirical tests.
Cartridges that are primarily used in handguns are specifically tested with handgun-length test barrels,
while cartridges primarily used in rifles and carbines are tested with longer rifle-length test barrels.
As such, all handgun cartridge ballistics on this page are typically listed as Measured, and the listed barrel length is typically the length of the SAAMI test barrel used.
The ballistics of rifle cartridges on this page are typically Approximated,
as the ballistics are measured using rifle-length test barrels, and do not reflect the actual ballistics of the cartridge when fired through a shorter handgun barrel.
The barrel length listed for a rifle cartridge reflects the most common handgun barrel length used by handguns in our database for that caliber.
We go into great detail HERE on the methods we use to approximate cartridge ballistics
based on a given handgun’s barrel length.
Muzzle velocity when fired from a typical handgun. Measured in feet-per-second.
Muzzle energy when fired from a typical handgun. Measured in foot-pounds.
In shooting competition the Power Factor is used to determine the competitive division in which a particular handgun/cartridge
can be used. A simple calculation of the bullet's mass times its muzzle velocity.
PF = bull. mass x muzzel vel.
TKO-Taylor Knock Out Formula
Developed by big-game hunter John Howard Taylor in the 1940's. Calculates the relative effectiveness of bullets for hunting game.
TKO = (bull. mass x muzzle vel. x bull. dia.)/7000
This cartridge holds the record for being in continuous production longer than any other commercial cartridge. It began in the black-powder era when it was introduced with Smith & Wesson's First Model revolver. At the time it was intended as a self defense round, but today its in the category of small varmint shooting and short-range gallery plinking.
This cartridge is based on a .22 Magnum (WMR) rimfire case that is necked down to seat a 17 grain, .17 caliber Hornady V-Max bullet. As done with the .17 Mach 2, the .17 HMR is sized such that manufacturers can easily re-tool .22 WMR gun designs to the new .17 HMR cartridge. This is a supersonic varmint round that travels over twice the speed of sound with near flat trajectory to 100 yards. The larger cartridge and load gives the .17 HMR more than 1-1/2 times the energy at 100 yards than the smaller .17 Mach 2.
This cartridge is based on a .22 caliber LR rimfire case that is necked down to seat a 17 grain, .17 caliber Hornady V-Max bullet. Although the overall length of the .17 Mach 2 is the same as the .22 LR, the necked portion of the casing is extended to support the smaller projectile. Keeping the overall size the same as the .22 LR made it easier for manufacturers to re-tool .22 caliber rimfire guns to the new .17 Mach 2 cartridge. This is a lightweight supersonic varmint round that, as its name indicates, travels almost twice the speed of sound. Its speed and weight provide a near-flat trajectory to 100 yards, but past that distance it looses effective energy.
This cartridge was introduced in the United States along with the Browning-designed, Colt manufactured 'Vest Pocket' pistol. Also referred to as the 6.35mm Browning, this semi-rimmed centerfire cartridge has fairly high velocity for such a small size. However, the energy it delivers at any range is quite low. This, combined with the full metal jacketed bullet, adds up to a very poor stopping or killing power on anything. The .25 ACP is not powerful enough for hunting anything but pests, nor is it adequate for serious self defense. However, the .25 auto caliber pistols are popular because of their small size and low cost.
The .25 NAA was introduced by North American Arms company for their Guardian model pistol. It is simply the .32 ACP necked down to accept .251"" diameter bullets. Its performance is very similar to the .32 ACP cartridge.
The Stevens Arms Co. developed the .22 Long Rifle rimfire cartridge from the .22 Long cartridge case developed 16 years earlier, with a 40 grain round nose bullet loaded to a higher velocity than the older 29 grain .22 Long bullet. Modern .22 Long Rifle High Velocity cartridges drive a 40 grain copper-plated bullet at a muzzle velocity of 1255 fps and muzzle energy of 140 ft-lbs from a rifle barrel. This rimfire cartridge has become the most popular sporting and target shooting cartridge in the world.
This cartridge pushes the limits of pressure possible with a rimfire case. Also referred to as the .22 WMR, the .22 Magnum was initially offered with 40 grain FMJ and JHP bullets at an advertised muzzle velocity of 2000 fps from a rifle barrel and 1550 fps from a pistol barrel. Due to the high supersonic velocity, .22 WMR cartridges are loaded with jacketed bullets. The various 30-40 grain JHP bullets are best for varmint hunting, but are overly destructive on small game.
Initially introduced in Europe, this semi-rimmed centerfire cartridge came to the United States when Colt introduced its 'Pocket Model' semiautomatic pistol. Like the .25 ACP, the .32 ACP is considered by many as too weak to be an effective self-defense round. But it has been an extremely popular caliber, notably by the fact that practically all minor and major manufacturers of autoloading handguns in the world have built millions of small pocket autoloaders in .32 Auto.
This cartridge was developed by Belgium gunmaker Fabrique Nationale for its new personal defense gun, the P90 and its companion pistol, the FN Five-Seven. The military armor-piercing variant of the round is claimed to be far superior to the NATO standard 9mm cartridge. The civilian variants of this cartridge are not available with armor-piercing bullets, and as such have a much weaker performance, closer to that of the .22 WMR (.22 Magnum).
This cartridge was developed for the Smith & Wesson First Model solid-frame hand-ejector revolver. The cartridge is known for its high accuracy and light recoil. It is considered by many as the smallest revolver cartridge deemed adequate for defense use.
The .22 TCM is a proprietary cartridge developed by Fred Craig and Rock Island Armory. It is a bottlenecked cartridge, similar in case capacity, general shape, and performance to the 5.7x28 FN cartridge.
This cartridge is basically a .380 ACP case necked down to house a 32-caliber bullet. In 2002 North American Arms offered this chambering in its Guardian mini-pistol product line. The cartridge uses a proprietary bullet designed by Hornady. It is touted by its developer to have performance better than or equal to the .380 ACP cartridge, with less recoil.
Designed by John Browning and introduced by Fabrique Nationale of Belgium, this cartridge has achieved world-wide acceptance and has even been adopted as the standard pistol cartridge by several governments. One reason for the round's success is that it is the largest practical cartridge that can be easily adapted to small automatic pocket pistols. Ballistics fall far short of even the 9mm Luger, but still prove adequate for most self-defense situations. The round has established quite a niche position in this role, often being chosen over more traditional small calibers such as the .25 and .32 Autos.
This cartridge was the result of a joint project between Harrington & Richardson and Federal Cartridge Company. It was introduced in 1984 for the five-shot H&R Model 504, 532 and 586 revolvers. The cartridge is simply the older 32 Smith & Wesson Long case lengthened by 0.155 inch. Therefore, any 32 Magnum revolver will also accept and fire both the .32 S&W and the .32S&W Long cartridges. The .32 H&R Magnum cartridge performance level is well above that of any other 32-caliber handgun cartridge currently available.
Although originally designed for the Winchester Model 73 lever-action rifle, the 32-30 became very popular as a revolver cartridge in its time. Now, the cartridge is in a semi-obsolete status, having been replaced by the likes of the .32 H&R Magnum and the .357 Magnum rounds for for performance in a revolver.
Introduced by Winchester, the .218 BEE was originally developed for the Model 65 lever-action rifle. Today Ruger, Marlin, Thompson/Center and Browning chamber guns for this cartridge. The cartridge design is based on a .32-20 case necked-down to .22 caliber. The larger case provides a somewhat greater powder capacity and as such, a higher velocity and greater effective range than the .22 Hornet. While still an effective cartridge, the .218 BEE has been largely displaced by the .223 Remington and .22-250 Remington.
This is the current Russian military cartridge used in the Makarov and Stechkin auto pistols. It was adopted shortly after the end of World War II, and its design was probably inspired by an experimental German cartridge called the 9mm Ultra. This cartridge is intermediate in size and power, between the .380 Automatic and the 9mm Parabellum. It is a well-designed cartridge for its purpose, although a little underpowered by Western standards.
This cartridge is the oldest of the centerfire .22 calibers in use today. It was developed from an old black-powder cartridge called the .22 Winchester Center Fire. Although not quite as powerful as the .218 Bee, the .22 Hornet has begun to acquire new popularity as a varmint round. It has a mixed reputation for accuracy and its range is limited to about 200 yards.
Introduced in 1898 by German arms manufacturer Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM) for their new Pistol Parabellum, commonly known as the Luger pistol. Nicknamed so after its designer, Georg Luger.
Developed by Smith & Wesson and introduced along with its Military & Police Model revolver in 1902, this was originally a military cartridge intended to replace the unsatisfactory .38 Long Colt then in use by the Army. Colt brought out its own version of the .38 Special in 1909, which differs from the original only in bullet shape, being a flat-point style. The .38 Special is considered one of the best-balanced, all-round handgun cartridges ever designed. It is also one of the most accurate and very widely used for match shooting.
In 1974, SAAMI established standards for a .38 Special cartridge with a gunpowder load that generated a higher firing pressure than the standard cartridge. Designated with a +P suffix, this cartridge has a significant, but not huge, increase in performance over the standard .38 Special cartridge.
The 223 Remington was developed as an experimental military cartridge for the Armalite AR-15 modular rifle. It is now a US military standard as well as an extremely popular commercial sporting round. The cartridge is nearly identical to the 222 Remington Magnum with the only difference being a slightly shorter case. Classified as a long range centerfire 22 round, its velocity is still supersonic at 500 yards. Note that while the military version (5.56x45mm NATO) is dimensionally the same, its higher pressure loads may be unsafe in civilian guns designated only for the .223 cartridge.
This was the official Soviet pistol cartridge adopted in 1930 for the Tokarev Model TT-30 and modified Model TT-33 automatic pistols. The cartridge is very similar in dimension to the 7.63 mm Mauser cartridge. Most brands of Mauser ammunition can be fired in the Tokerev pistol. The 7.62mm Tokarev is a fair cartridge with good velocity and flat trajectory but needs softpoint bullets for maximum effectiveness.
This cartridge was introduced along with the Luger semi-automatic pistol. The pistol and cartridge was first adopted by the German Navy in 1904 and then by the German Army in 1908. This cartridge has since been adopted by the military of practically every non-Communist power. It has become the most popular and widely-used handgun cartridge in the world. Performance wise, the 9 mm cartridge has somewhat more power than the .38 Special but falls well short of the .357 Magnum.
The +P variant is an overpressure cartridge loaded approximately 10% higher than a standard cartridge.
The .327 Federal Magnum is a new cartridge introduced by Sturm, Ruger and Federal Cartridge, intended to provide the power of a .357 Magnum in six shot, compact revolvers, whose cylinders only hold 5 rounds of the larger .357 Magnum cartridge. The .327 Federal provides performance similar to the high velocity rifle loadings of the old .32-20 Winchester, though in much shorter barrel.
In many countries such as Italy, Mexico and France, it is illegal for private citizens to own handguns in military chamberings such as the NATO 9 mm Luger. Israel Military Industries designed the 9x21mm cartridge for those markets. Based on the 9x19mm Luger cartridge, the casing was lengthened from 19 mm to 21 mm. The bullet sits slightly deeper in the casing, which results in almost the same overall length as the 9x19mm Luger cartridge. While not physically interchangeable, the 9x21mm is the ballistic equal of the 9 mm Luger.
Introduced by Colt as an improved version of the older .38 Auto, the Super Auto is identical to the original cartridge except that it uses a more powerful loading. For many years this cartridge was considered the most powerful automatic pistol cartridge made in the US from the standpoint of both velocity and energy. It can give greater penetration than the .45 Auto cartridge, bit is inferior to the .45 Auto in actual stopping power for defense use.
This was originally a blackpowder cartridge designed as one of the chamberings in the Winchester Model 73 lever-action rifle. Around 1878 Colt began chambering revolvers for it. No rifles have been chambered for the 38-40 since 1937. It is still a popular cartridge chambering for cowboy shooting revolvers
The 357 SIG cartridge was developed by SIGARMS in partnership with Federal Cartridge.The cartridge uses a bottlenecked .40 S&W casing crimped to a 9mm bullet. This is why the 357 SIG is not written as '.357', as it is not truly a .357 caliber bullet, but is instead a standard 9mm bullet (.3550 in). The 357 SIG design is an attempt to create a cartridge with stopping power that would approach the larger .357 Magnum revolver round, but in a smaller package that can fit comfortably in the grip of a semi-automatic weapon. Despite the manufacturer's claims, it is not quite as powerful as an actual .357 Magnum, but it exceeds the power of a .40 S&W cartridge.
This cartridge was developed just prior to WWII for the military to use in its newly selected Winchester semi-automatic 30 M1 carbine. It is basically a modification of the Winchester 32 Self-Loading round of 1906. It is considered in the same class as the 32-20 WCF round with an effective range of about 150 yards.
This cartridge was developed as a joint venture between Winchester and Smith & Wesson. It was an effort to to create a cartridge with the same power as the 10mm Norma round that the FBI had just started using, but in a shorter case. The shorter cartridge would facilitate accuracy and allow use of a smaller, more comfortable grip frame. The .40 S&W has become the cartridge of choice for many law enforcement agencies in the United States.
Designed by the Soviet Union during World War II and made famous by its use in the Kalashnikov AK-47. The cartridge remained the Soviet standard until the 1970s. This rimless bottleneck rifle cartridge still maintains world-wide usage due to continuing popularity of both military and civilian variants of the AK-47 platform. The 7.62x39mm is listed here because at least one handgun in our database is chambered for this cartridge.
This is one of the first generation pistol cartridges designed to use smokeless powder. Its performance is modest compared to the .44 Remington Magnum but is very potent compared to the .38 special. The .44 S&W Special round can be fired in modern revolvers chambered for the .44 Remington Magnum.
This cartridge was developed for Winchester's Model 1873 rifle. It is yet another example of an early centerfire, black-powder cartridge that has been used in both pistols and rifles. While it is greatly outperformed by the .44 Remington Magnum, this caliber is making a comeback in Cowboy Action Shooting events.
This is a proprietary cartridge designed and produced by the Czech Republic company FK BRNO Engineering s.r.o.. It was designed specifically to bridge the gap between standard handgun and carbine rifle calibers in terms of power, efficiency, range, and accuracy. As of 2020 only two FK BRNO pistols are chambered for this cartridge.
Smith & Wesson introduced this cartridge for its heavy-frame revolver. Ammunition was developed by Winchester in cooperation with Smith & Wesson. Using a lengthened and strengthened version of the .38 Special case, the .357 Magnum was rapidly accepted by hunters and law enforcement. At the time of its introduction, it was claimed to easily pierce the body panels of automobiles and crack engine blocks. While it has less power than the .44 Magnum, it compares favorably to the 10mm Norma and .45 ACP, but with better armor penetration. Today factories offer over fifty different loadings in this caliber.
This cartridge was developed by John Browning and was adopted by the United States Ordnance Department along with the Colt-Browning automatic pistol in 1911. It has also been made the official military handgun chambering by several other governments, notably Argentina, Mexico and Norway. The 45 Automatic is the most powerful military handgun cartridge in use today. This is a heavy and powerful sub-sonic round. Although its muzzle energy can exceed 400 ft-lbs, its velocity and bullet weight creates a steep trajectory curve that limits its effective range to self-defense distances.
A joint development program by Glock and Speer resulted in the .45 Glock Automatic Pistol. This new cartridge was designed by GLOCK to be used in the medium frame sized GLOCK 37 semi-auto pistol. It is based on the .45 ACP pistol cartridge, but is shorter, having the same overall length as a 9 mm Luger or .40 S&W. The .45 GAP operates at a higher pressure than the .45 ACP to make up for the smaller chamber volume. It was first believed that the traditional .45 ACP loading of a 230-grain bullet at 830 ft/sec would not be possible in the .45 GAP, but careful gunpowder selection on the part of ammunition manufacturers has realized that standard.
Initially made by Norma and chambered in the Bren Ten pistol in 1983 the 10 mm Auto was right off a formidable round. While the Bren Ten was not successful, the 10 mm cartridge was. In 1989 the FBI announced the 10 mm Auto as their officially favored sidearm. While the cartridge has proven itself over time, many felt that the cartridge was a little long for semi-auto pistols, making the pistol grip a little big for some comfort levels. When the shorter .40 S&W cartridge with very similar ballistics was introduced, it soon won popularity over the 10 mm round. The 10 mm Auto cartridge still has a strong following and manufacturers are still making pistols chambered for this round.
This cartridge was adopted by the US Army in 1873 for the legendary Colt Single Action Army 'Peacemaker' revolver. This is yet another cartridge that was originally a black-powder design. This cartridge is still very popular today, used in many derringers and cowboy action revolvers.
This term does not define an individual cartridge (i.e. .45 Colt). Rather, it designates that a particular handgun is capable of firing both the .45 Colt cartridge as well as a .410 caliber shotgun shell. Both the .45 Colt cartridge and the .410 shotgun shell have the same base and case diameters. Handguns capable of firing both cartridges have their chambers extended to 2.5 or 3 inches to accommodate the longer shotgun shell. Several factors (varying shotgun shell loads, shorter handgun barrel lengths, the presence of rifling) preclude the ability to give accurate ballistics for the .410 shell shot from handguns. As such, we only provide ballistics information for the .45 Colt handgun cartridge in our rankings.
Cor-Bon is a brand of small arms ammunition produced by Dakota Ammo Incorporated. This cartridge is simply a .45 Auto case necked down to accept a .40 caliber bullet. The advantage of this design is the ease of conversion of .45 Auto pistol models to accept the .400 Cor-Bon cartridge. The performance of this cartridge falls somewhere between the .40 S&W and .45 Auto cartridges.
These cartridges have the same external dimensions as the standard-pressure cartridges and will chamber and fire in all firearms designed for the standard-pressure loadings. The inner dimensions of the +P cartridge are different from the standard-pressure cartridge dimensions and thus allows for higher pressures to be safely achieved in the +P cartridge. If +P loadings are used in firearms not specifically designed for them they may cause damage to the weapon and injuries to the operator.
The 30-30 was the first American small-bore, smokeless-powder sporting cartridge. For nearly 100 years it has been what most hunters would consider the basic deer hunting cartridge. It was originally marketed as one of the chamberings available for the Winchester Model 1894 lever-action rifle. It's effective range is about 200 yards.
This cartridge was introduced in June 1964 along with the Smith & Wesson Model 57 revolver. This cartridge filled the power gap between the .357 Magnum and the .44 Remington Magnum cartridges. Many police departments initially adopted the .41 Remington Magnum revolver prior to the introduction of 9mm Luger and .40 S&W semiautomatic pistols.
This cartridge was announced as a joint venture between Remington Arms Co.and Sturm, Ruger and Co. It is a .33 inch elongation of the .357 Magnum case. The first handgun to chamber the round was the Ruger Blackhawk. The cartridge was conceived primarily as an ultra-velocity, flat-trajectory silhouette cartridge, but also became popular for hunting small and medium sized game.
This cartridge was developed by Smith & Wesson and Remington, and was introduced for a new heavy-frame 44 Magnum revolver. Today Ruger, Colt, Smith & Wesson and others make revolvers for this cartridge. This is a high powered pistol cartridge designed primarily for hunting. The .44 Magnum offers less power than .50 AE and .454 Casull, but much more than .357 Magnum.
This cartridge was introduced by Winchester in 1979 to be used in the gas-operated Wildey pistol. Winchester's new pistol was not much of a success, but the powerful .45 Winchester Magnum cartridge was. The cartridge is essentially an elongated version of the .45 ACP round. It was the most powerful semi-auto cartridge of its time, until the introduction of the .50 Action Express in 1988.
This cartridge is essentially a .44 Magnum case with approximately 3/8-inch added to the overall length. It was designed primarily for competition silhouette shooting but is also popular for handgun hunting of large game. The .445 Super Magnum can drive a heavy 300 grain bullet 120 ft/sec faster than the .44 Magnum cartridge can.
This cartridge was adopted by the US Army in 1873 along with the single shot 'Trapdoor' Springfield rifle. It continued as the official service cartridge for 19 years. It is still in use today, often for short range deer or bear hunting.
This cartridge was developed in 1988 for the IMI (now IWI) Desert Eagle semi-auto pistol, exclusively marketed by Magnum Research. Just like the pistol, this is a mammoth round and is considered one of the world's most powerful semi-automatic cartridges. This cartridge is almost exclusive to the Desert Eagle semi-auto pistol, although AMT produced the Automag V in this caliber for a while, and now Magnum Research is also marketing a revolver in this caliber.
From a performance perspective this cartridge falss in between the .44 Remington Magnum and the .454 Casull cartridges. It has slightly less relative recoil than either the .454 Casull or the .50 Action Express cartridges. Designed initially for use in Sturm Ruger's Super Redhawk revolvers, MAgnum Research and Taurus now also have revolvers chambered for this big game hunting round.
This cartridge was designed for the Marlin Model 336 lever-action rifle. It was an improvement over the .44 Magnum revolver round, which had gained its own popularity as a rifle round but was lacking in effective range and stopping power. The .444 Marlin cartridge extends both the effective range and stopping power inherent in the .44 Magnum round.
This cartridge employs a special case, similar to the .45 Colt, but 0.1 inch longer to prevent the round from chambering in .45 Colt revolvers. This is because the higher pressure loading in the .454 Casull would be dangerous in revolvers chambered for the milder .45 Colt cartridge. The .454 Casull is one of the most powerful revolver cartridges available and is primarily used for hunting.
This cartridge is a lengthened, more powerful version of the .454 Casull. Revolvers that fire .460 S&W are usually also capable of firing the less powerful .454 Casull and .45 Colt rounds. The .460 cartridge achieves high velocities by operating at pressures normally reserved for magnum rifle cartridges. This cartridge is typically used for hunting medium to large game.
Marlin and Hornady teamed up in 2001 to develop a high-performance cartridge that would pick up in modern guns where the older .45-70 cartridge left off. The volume of .450 Marlin cartridge is similar to the .45-70 but the working pressure is nearly double. This produces a significant performance increase over the .45-70 cartridge.
This cartridge is the most powerful factory load ever developed specifically for handgun use. It was developed by Cor-Bon with the 'X-Gun' engineering team at Smith & Wesson for use in their Model 500 series revolvers. The .500 S&W Magnum can develop over 2600 ft-lb of muzzle energy, nearly three times as much as the 900 ft-lb generated by the .44 Magnum.