Rimfire vs Centerfire Ammunition

Last Updated on July 14, 2022 by Albert Smith

Difference between ​Rimfire and ​Centerfire Ammunition

​Maybe when you are doing your own research before buying a rifle or a pistol, you may have encountered terms such as “rimfire” and “centerfire”. Technically, these terms are being used to know what kind of ammunition a certain firearm makes use of. Of course, people who are already veterans in the world of firearms and ammunitions have already known the differences of these two kinds of ammo and have been using these terms loosely with their fellow shooting mates but these could be much of a confusion and can necessitate an even thorough kind of explaining to newbies in the world of firearms and ammo. These are the two categories in which the ammo for the rifles and pistols of today’s use, and so it is very important for you to understand the differences between those two.

Definition of Rimfire

​The priming compounds of the rimfire cartridges are located in the rim of the cartridge. The priming compound is the one which sparks in order for the gunpowder to ignite while it is on the cartridge case. Meanwhile, the rim is what the firing pin precisely strikes when the user blows off the gun’s trigger. In this case, ignition is very reliable since the powder charge is directly located just in front of the priming compound.

The simplicity of rimfire cartridges is the one who makes it very preferred by shooters and shooting enthusiasts alike. Its simplicity also makes it easier to make as manufacturers will only need a small amount of gunpowder and only generates small amount of pressure. Having a smaller amount of pressure also means that the shooter can only feel a little or no recoils at all. Also, rimfire ammos also generate a lot less noise compared to other centerfire ammos. Usually, rimfire guns are the first kind of guns that first time shooters use.

Definition of Centerfire

​The centerfire ammunitions of today very much differ from their rimfire counterparts. In fact, centerfire cartridges make use of a much thicker brass case than those of their rimfire cousins. Additionally, they also use a component they call a primer. If you have seen the rear end of a .38 special, .308 cartridges or a .45 ACP, you will see that there is a button-like metal fixture embedded on the center of the brass rim. That folks is what you call the primer. It is somehow already fitted into its brass case while it is being manufactured. Just like rimfire’s full rim, it is in the primer where priming compounds are located in the case of centerfire cartridges. By the time the firing pin strikes the primer when the shooter fires the gun by pulling its trigger, the priming compound found inside the primer is crushed against the anvil, an another part of the primer. That crushing of the priming compound will trigger a shower of sparks going to the powder charge inside the brass case.​The addition of primers in the overall cartridge construction of centerfire cartridges makes it more difficult and complicated to manufacture that their rimfire counterparts. In addition to that, a primer for centerfire cartridges comes into availability in different sizes and power levels. A primer for small rifle and small pistols has a 0.175 inch in diameter and large rifles and large pistols have a 0.210 inch in diameter. A magnum version is also available for each of these kinds of guns.​If you decide to reload or refill your centerfire cartridges at some point of your shooting career, then you will find out that these sizes play an important role into it. Reloading is basically reusing your previously fired brass cases by reloading or refilling them with new primers, powders and bullets. For serious competitors, shooters and hunters, this is an activity for them that can be very enjoyable, as it can help you improve your accuracy when shooting and at the same time be economical and save money as you don’t have to buy new ammos.

However, centerfire cartridges works at a much higher levels of pressure than rimfire cartridges has. This means that you will experience much recoil and louder bangs. But the good thing to this stuff is that centerfire cartridges can travel at longer distances in a faster speed which makes it perfect when shooting longer distances and hunting.

​Difference between Rimfire ​and Centerfire

Difference Between Rimfire and Centerfire Ammunition

Difference Between Rimfire and Centerfire Ammunition

​Now that we know what is the definition of rimfireand definition of centerfire, it is now the part for us to know the difference between rimfirevscenterfire.

  • The appearance between rimfire and centerfire
  • The easiest and most obvious way to tell which is a rimfire and which is a centerfire based on its outward appearance is to look for a circular primer in the center of the base of the casing. If you can see a primer or a button-like thing in the center of the base, then it is automatically a centerfire. However, if you see a smaller cartridge that doesn’t have the primer thing, then it is surely a rimfire cartridge.
  • How the cartridges ignite
  • Rimfire ammos are called rimfires because the gun strikes the rim of the cartridge in order for it to ignite the primer. On the other hand, centerfire ammos are called centerfire because the gun strikes the center of the ammo where the primer is located for it to ignite.
  • Size
  • Rimfire ammos are usually used to guns with much smaller calibers since the cartridge walls should be thin enough to be crushed by the gun’s firing pin and ignite its primer.
  • Cost
  • Since rimfires are relatively smaller than their centerfire counterparts, of course they are much cheaper. In addition, rimfires are also much easier to make and only need smaller proportions of raw materials needed for it to be produced.  However, rimfire ammos cannot be refilled or reloaded unlike its centerfire counterparts so you need to treat rimfire ammos as more of a disposable than centerfires. In the case of centerfires, you will only need to buy a brand new once then have it refilled for the rest of its life.
A hunting addicted person who love to explore the word and do hunting life long. I am sharing my knowledge about rifle hunting on this blog. I have 17 years experience on air rifle hunting and I really enjoy this job .

Albert Smith

A hunting addicted person who love to explore the word and do hunting life long. I am sharing my knowledge about rifle hunting on this blog. I have 17 years experience on air rifle hunting and I really enjoy this job .

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