Its time those who write for the gun magazines and the Internet learned something very important. When it comes to the name of a cartridge, drop the decimal point!
I had an editor once who insisted that when you wrote a cartridge name you included the decimal point because, in his words, “It is a measurement.” I argued. I lost. That is usually what happens when you argue with editors by the way.
You see, it’s not a measurement, its is a name. Now, if you are referring to a caliber that is a different story. A caliber is a measurement but too many gun writers, editors, and even manufactures use the word “caliber” incorrectly. For example, if you go to the Remington website and take a gander at the model 700 rifles you will be shown what calibers they are available in. However, instead of listing caliber, they list the cartridge or chambering.
A caliber is the diameter of the hole in the barrel. The chambering signifies what type ammunition the firearm will take. And, cartridges have names. Those names most often include a caliber reference but that does not justify the decimal point.
Some ammunition manufactures seem to understand this and others cannot seem to make up their mind. I guess that’s why some shooters, writers, and editors might be confused. If you own a 30-06 and write that it is a .30 caliber you are correct. (Actually, it’s a .308 caliber but hundredths don’t matter, right?) The thing to keep in mind is that a 30-30 Winchester, 308 Winchester, and 300 Winchester Magnum are also .30 calibers.
“What caliber is your rifle?”
“It’s a .264.”
“Cool. What cartridge is it chambered for?”
“The 260 – not the .260 – Remington.”
You might wonder how I know this. Well, I’m a gun writer, I know everything. But, if you won’t take my word for it maybe you will take the word of SAAMI. SAAMI is the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute. In other words, they set the standards for firearms and ammunition. According to SAAMI and their printed standards, cartridge names do not get, deserve, or need decimals.
I know this is a stunning fact and a difficult pill for many of you to swallow. Especially for those of you who confuse accuracy with precision. Editors and writers get this wrong all the time too. Accuracy relates to the ability to hit a certain spot. Precision relates to the ability to hit the same spot repeatedly. Those are two different things all together. However, if a rifle shoots a 0.50 inch (That’s a measurement, the decimal is OK.) group we say its accurate but what that group really proves is that it’s precise.
Measurements get decimals, names don’t, and it does not make you smarter when you use them where they do not belong.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve made this mistake many times until I learned better. If you see text attributed to me, and there is a decimal point before the cartridge name, it is either old or has been edited by a smart person.
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You see a lot of stupid stuff on Facebook about guns. Actually, you see a lot of stupid stuff on Facebook about everything. Some come in the form of posts but most are found in the comments section. Here are five of my favorites that have become Internet clichés. Don’t let the trolls post them on your page.
1: “The 223 is illegal for deer hunting in most states.”
Um…not true. In fact the 223 Remington is legal for deer – big game – hunting in more states that it is not. It is also very effective on deer when the right bullets are used. Then of course someone will say, “But with a 223 shot placement is very important.” Um…dude…shot placement is always important. Another argument is that the 223 will work for small deer but not big 200-pound northern deer. If you think a 200-pound deer is twice as hard to kill as a 100-pound deer; well, you’ve not killed very many deer.
2: “The 9 is fine but the 45 is final.”
The difference in the wounding afforded by the 9mm and 45 is so slight, trauma surgeons cannot tell the difference. The difference in bullet diameter is after all only 1/10 of one inch. (Some Doritos are thicker than that!) 9mm pistols have more capacity and velocity, 45s shoot a heavier bullet, and the 40 splits the difference. You don’t want to get shot with any of the three.
3: “It’s an answer to a question nobody asked.”
This usually comes up with the introduction of a new firearm and is often the argument presented when a new cartridge is invented. What the person is really, most likely saying is that, “I do not have the intelligence or know enough about guns to formulate a question that addresses the advantages the new cartridge offers.” And then too, maybe the question was, “Let’s make something fun to shoot.” There’s never anything wrong with that.
4: “Laser sights are a gimmick.”
Proudly spoken by folks who have never been trained in the use of a laser on a defensive handgun. Their advantages are many once you open a closed mind and become skilled in their application. They will help you shoot faster and more accurately, and they are very valuable at times when you cannot get the handgun between your eyes and the target. Shoot a bench rest group at 50 yards with your pistol using sights and a laser, and compare the difference. Laser sights are also a great training tool.
5: “I’ll just stick with my 30-06.”
First, nobody cares if you have a 30-06. Second, this is often another way of saying, you don’t have the money to purchase a new gun you secretly really like, or that you don’t understand the mechanical and ballistic advantage a new cartridge offers. And third, nobody cares if you have a 30-06. Really, nobody cares!