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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This is a about a pet peeve of mine concerning terminology.
I have been surfing through firearms forums this morning and have, already, come upon a number of polls and general questions wherein someone poses a question like "what is your favorite caliber?" Really, what they mean is "what is your favorite cartridge?" but that is not what they write.
Since when did the terms become interchangeable?
Pete
 

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This subject comes up every once in awhile. They are commonly confused terms. My favorite caliber is .35. I believe I like everything .35 caliber with .25 caliber a close second.
Ed Matunas once wrote his button was pushed by using the decimal before a cartridge name “.35 Remington” Vs “35 Remington.” A small thing he admitted, but it bothered him.
 

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I think the problem is that, for a lot of people, one cartridge typifies a given caliber. For example, to the less astute hunter, "30 caliber" means 30-'06 and the only 24 caliber they know of is the 243 Winchester. If they are aware of other cartridges for a given caliber, they will refer to them by name and probably not even know they are of the same caliber. Too many people fail to understand that you can load the same bullets in a 300 Weatherby case as you can in a 30/30.

Even in William's reply above, he says he likes the ".35 caliber with .25 caliber a close second.". Well, that is just plain incorrect. It's 35 caliber or 25 caliber, or if you want to use a decimal point, it's .357"/.358" and .257".

Misnomers aside, as long as you understand what the person's trying to say, I don't think it's all that important that they be technically precise, unless they're talking about load recipes or trying to help a very new shooter/hunter understand something.
 

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I saw an add a few days ago for the sale of a firearm. It was a company add in a magazine. It stated:
".308 caliber" when it was refering to .308 Winchester (308 Winchester).
 

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Gosh, this just begs the comment that I'd MUCH rather have a 6mm Remington over the .244 Remington
 

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Well I personally don't get excited when someone says "caliber" I love the caliber in the .338 but have several such as the .338/06, .338 Win mag, .338/300Ultra Mag, so there is no big deal really as far as I am concerned. I know which one is going to be used for this or that species of big game and take things with a grain of salt.;)
 

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I used to work in a gun store, and the almost daily jaw-clencher for me was some yahoo who'd demand "a box of seven emm-emm bullets." They expected me to know exactly what they meant, as if I were a mind reader.

Most of them, as it turned out, actually wanted 7 rem mag ammunition - but how the heck was I supposed to know that?

To the original post, I long ago began writing "chambering" to describe guns. I.E.; a revolver in 38 Special chambering. As to the decimal point, some magazines prefer it one way and some the other. I'd rather drop it as personal preference, but I adhere to the Writer's Style Guide for a particular publication when I write for them. In informal writing, like here, I usually drop it.
 

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Even in William's reply above, he says he likes the ".35 caliber with .25 caliber a close second.". Well, that is just plain incorrect. It's 35 caliber or 25 caliber, or if you want to use a decimal point, it's .357"/.358" and .257". QUOTE]

True, Ed M pulls my chain so when I think of it I include the "."
 

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Even in William's reply above, he says he likes the ".35 caliber with .25 caliber a close second.". Well, that is just plain incorrect. It's 35 caliber or 25 caliber, or if you want to use a decimal point, it's .357"/.358" and .257". QUOTE]

True, Ed M pulls my chain so when I think of it I include the "."
I get it wrong all the time, saying cartridge, when I mean caliber, or vice versa. It's not a big deal, just one of those things some folks like to nit-pick about.
 

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I, too, would prefer having the whole caliber rather than just a fraction of it.

Guns have been around for awhile, and we seem to have accumulated multiple naming conventions over time. Slang truncations change and units change. The very word "caliber" is a corruption of the word "caliper", referring to the instrument used to measure the diameter across a bore or groove. Only metric cartridge names are expressed consistently and specifically in millimeters, though even they toss a few hundredths of a millimeter around here and there to distinguish a name or because the commercial diameters have changed over time, allowing history to erase the literal value of the name. The metric names pretty consistently refer to bore diameter and case length, not bullet or groove diameter and case length. So it's really the chambering name the cartridges are labeled with.

We and the Brits like to confuse things more. Many of our rounds are named for bullet or groove diameter rather than bore diameter, but we do both, and on occasion use the approximate case diameter. 38 Special comes to mind, where the bullet is closer to 36 caliber and the bore almost exactly 35 caliber). Using the singular "caliber" when it should be pluralized with an s on the end is another convention that's stuck with us over time. Sometimes we speak in inches by asserting the decimal place, while at others we speak in thousandths of an inch. An example would be saying: "Three Hundred RUM"; that's three hundred of those little thousandths. Nobody would say "Point Three RUM" or "Thirty RUM". The manufacturers go a step further with labels that include trailing zero's that ask for that pronunciation in thousandths and, again by convention, we take that to imply we should not mention the decimal place, "Point Three Hundred" would be an egregious misuse of thousandths. But labels still sometimes put it there and sometimes don't.

Confusing enough? It's old language refusing to settle on a standard. If I had my druthers, we'd just go metric to avoid confusion with the artillery term "caliber", meaning the number of shell diameters the length of the barrel is, regardless of shell diameter. We'd be upset for awhile, but all the digital calipers and micrometers have in/mm switches on them now, so I think we'd get a handle on it pretty fast. We reload plenty of metric named stuff now, and the full metric name convention would avoid the situation where someone walks into Rocky's gun store and asks for some "7 mm bullets" when they really want a box of some specific 7 mm cartridges for a specific 7 mm chambering.
 

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Even if you say it correctly, you may not be relaying the proper answer. For instance, when someone posts something like, "Best deer rifle caliber?" they are actually asking for not only caliber (i.e. .308) and cartridge (i.e. 30-06) but also, and maybe without knowing it, they're asking for particular load (i.e. Winchester 180grn Silvertips).

To further confuse the issue, they rarely define what type or terrain they plan to use it in. As a Win '94, 30-30 isn't the best choice for most long range (150-300yd) shooting and a 22" bbl Win M70, 30-06, Leopold 12x scope isn't the best choice for most short range brush or wooded area shooting.
 

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I saw an add a few days ago for the sale of a firearm. It was a company add in a magazine. It stated:
".308 caliber" when it was refering to .308 Winchester (308 Winchester).
To go along with that, I have a bunch of rifles that have their "cartridge(s)" listed as caliber and stamped as such on the barrel. How many rifles do you own that say "caliber .308., 30/06, .270, etc" stamped on their barrels?? Have a look and you might be surprised what rifle manufacturers use as correct nomenclature for their rifles. It only took me two minutes to look through one small portion of my collection to find 6 such certerfire rifles (made by CZ and Winchester).;)
 

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Without offending the poster who asks "which caliber", I try to answer with specific ".308, 30-06, .35 Remington", etc to define the cartridge. Also, it is "chambering" and not "caliber" when asked about a certain rifle's cartridge.

"Weapon" is another peeve of mine. In the military I was taught that any firearm was a "weapon". In civilian life (even a stint with a local police department), it became a "firearm'. Most non-shooting folks have an aversion to the term "weapon".

Also, I call loaded ammunition "cartridge" and not "round". Again, in the military it is indeed a "round". Civilian lingo calls it a "cartridge".
 

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In referring to small arms, caliber means bore size, whether the unit of measure is inch, millimeter, angstroms, what-have-you. 35 caliber, in common parlance, would mean a bore of 35" -- pretty darned large for a rifle!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for the responses. Nice to read through other folk's take on the idea.
Pete
 

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In referring to small arms, caliber means bore size, whether the unit of measure is inch, millimeter, angstroms, what-have-you. 35 caliber, in common parlance, would mean a bore of 35" -- pretty darned large for a rifle!
Kinda depends on your perspective. . .

The Navy's 5 inch 38 caliber rifle comes to mind. (A 5" .38 would be a real snubby!)

Grins,

The Old Guy
 

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Kinda depends on your perspective. . .

The Navy's 5 inch 38 caliber rifle comes to mind. (A 5" .38 would be a real snubby!)

Grins,

The Old Guy
That's why I specify rifles and handguns, meaning small arms. In artillery, caliber means length of barrel relative to bore size. A 5", 38 caliber gun would have a barrel 38 times the bore diameter, or 190", in length.

Yes, with a 5", 38 caliber revolver you would, at long last, see real "knock-down power", at both ends! :)
 

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I like to use the cartridge names such as 22 Hornet, 221 Fireball, 222 Rem., 223 Rem., 22-250 Rem., and 220 Swift . All are of the same caliber and rifleing grove diameter and use a .224 inch diameter bullet. 6 MM is smaller grove diameter than the 243 Win., 6 MM Rem., and the 244 Rem cartridges which use the .243 diameter bullet or 24 caliber. The good old 38 Special uses a .357 diameter bullet that is 35 caliber. The .308 diameter bullet ,30 caliber is used in the 30-30 Win ,307 Win.,308 Win., 300 H&H Mag and a number of other cartridges. I would like the cartridges to be named by using the length of the empty case in inches, the diameter of the bullet in inches and the grains of water the case holds.
 

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Without offending the poster who asks "which caliber", I try to answer with specific ".308, 30-06, .35 Remington", etc to define the cartridge. Also, it is "chambering" and not "caliber" when asked about a certain rifle's cartridge.

"Weapon" is another peeve of mine. In the military I was taught that any firearm was a "weapon". In civilian life (even a stint with a local police department), it became a "firearm'. Most non-shooting folks have an aversion to the term "weapon".

Also, I call loaded ammunition "cartridge" and not "round". Again, in the military it is indeed a "round". Civilian lingo calls it a "cartridge".

I'm right in line with Ken here... its a weapon if I'm a soldier or cop and use it in my job - I don't play that game anymore, its a rifle, handgun, or shotgun to me, not a weapon. I am careful to say cartridge or chambering when discussing things of this nature at the gun shop or with friends over coffee. Most of them say caliber.

I feel the decimal is correct, and I use it about 50% of the time, although its tough to say. :D
 

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I'm right in line with Ken here... its a weapon if I'm a soldier or cop and use it in my job - I don't play that game anymore, its a rifle, handgun, or shotgun to me, not a weapon. I am careful to say cartridge or chambering when discussing things of this nature at the gun shop or with friends over coffee. Most of them say caliber.

I feel the decimal is correct, and I use it about 50% of the time, although its tough to say. :D
I agree and I seldom agree with anyone.
 
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