Metric and American

Metric Designations


Metric and American
Metric and American

Q How do the Europeans measure a cartridge? When I was in the Australian Army, we shot the 5.56x45mm and 7.62x51mm NATO round. I know the first figure is the calibre which is .224 and .308, but is the last figure the overall length of the cartridge or the length of the case?
Albert Barnes

A You could have got the answer by measuring the length of the case and the loaded cartridge, however, the second number in a metric designation is the length of the case in millimetres. Regarding the 7.62x51mm, “7.62” is the metric diameter of the bore of the barrel and “51” is the length of the brass case without the bullet. Translated into inches 7.62mm = .300,which is the barrels minor diameter, while the groove diameter is .308″ the same as the actual bullet diameter. Ditto for the 5.56x45mm. European makers generally use the barrel’s land diameter to identify the cartridge’s calibre while most American makers name cartridges after the barrel’s groove diameter, but not always, as witness the .300 WSM. About the only thing you can be sure of about cartridge designation is that it is real mess.

 

 

 


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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.

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