Shooter's Glossary: Ammo Casing

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Shooter's Glossary: Ammo Casing

Ammo Casing refers to the container that holds all the components of a cartridge or shell together and houses the propellant, primer, and projectile.

Casings can be brass, steel, aluminum or plastic in some cases. Shotgun shells use a brass base and a plastic hull for the rest.

At a firing range, you can usually observe hundreds or even thousands of spent brass casings on the floor.

Ammo Casing Diagram

Here's a more detailed breakdown:

A typical cartridge casing houses the primer, powder, and bullet (for rifles and handguns) or shot (for shotguns).

Casings can be made of various materials, but the most common are brass, steel, aluminum, and plastic (primarily for shotgun shells). Each material has its advantages, depending on the intended use of the ammunition.


The casing serves several functions:

It holds the gunpowder (or other propellant).

It provides a place for the primer to be inserted, which is struck by the firearm's firing pin to ignite the propellant.

It ensures a gas-tight seal in the chamber, preventing high-pressure gases from escaping backward and ensuring they propel the bullet or shot forward.


Many shooters collect spent casings, especially those made of brass, to reload them. Reloading involves replacing the spent primer, refilling the casing with powder, and seating a new bullet or shot.


The shape and size of casings differ widely based on the caliber and type of firearm. For instance, a shotgun shell is typically plastic with a metal base, while a rifle cartridge is often made entirely of brass or steel.


The base of a casing typically has a headstamp. This imprint often indicates the caliber or gauge of the ammunition and might include the manufacturer's name or logo.

Rifle Casing Diagram

In summary, the casing is an essential component of ammunition.

It plays a crucial role in the safe and effective firing of a round, ensuring that the bullet or shot is propelled accurately toward the target.

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