The Parts of a Round – TES

Your buddy keeps asking you to toss him a couple bullets to put in his clip, and you can’t stand it anymore you you smack him upside his head and tell him to go check out to get his terms straight. As I’m sure many of you know, us gun lovers are pretty strict about correct term usage and can be sticklers for the right word. So in today’s Every Day Shooter article I want to address one of the common mistakes people make.

First, know that there are many, many parts of a round, and what those parts are varies greatly depending on the type of round it is. This is a very basic and simplified version of what a typical round is. But that’s the point of this series: to provide you the basics so you can later expand on your knowledge. Anyways, here we go.

The Parts of a Round

Rifle or Handgun Round

parts of a roundA traditional round has a projectile or bullet that is inserted into a metal casing holding a charge of gunpowder. At the rear of the round is the primer which is struck to provide ignition for the gun powder.

  • Bullet – The bullet is actually just the projectile tip that is separating from the overall cartridge when fired. It can be made of any number of metals and polymers, but lead is the most common.
  • Charge – The charge is made up of powder and is the part that goes BOOM when the weapon is fired.
  • Casing/Shell – Traditionally made of brass, the shell holds everything in the round together. This was a huge deal in the development of firearms. I’d highly recommend you look into the history here.
  • Primer – This little piece is the part of the round that ignites the charge when struck. It makes the charge go BOOM.

Those are the parts of a round that you might use in your typical handgun or rifle. A shotgun round is a little different though, and since they’re a common firearm and a tool I strongly advocate for self defense, I want to include them in this discussion.

Shotgun Shell


A shotgun shell is similar to a traditional round, but involves a shaped plastic casing instead of a metal one. Instead of a bullet it uses buckshot, birdshot or a slug. It also has a wadding usually made of plastic to help transfer the force from the charge to the shot evenly.

So those are the basics. There’s really not much to it, although as I said before there are a lot of different round types, and each one has it’s own unique characteristics. There’s a lot of science that goes into rounds also, and in the future I will discuss some of that with a much more in-depth discussion on this topic.

Now for funsies I’m going to leave you with a picture of the nominally correct Bullet Bill; everyone’s favorite bullet:

Bullet Bill!

What’s your favorite round? Let us know in the comments below.

Sound off in the comments below!