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1,176 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi, I'm not new to guns or anything, but what is the reason for so many calibers/ cartridges out there? I understand due to ballistics, there are pros and cons to each design, especially when it comes to totally different designs, like the early 1898 .38 SPL, in black powder, then the 9mm (1902) smokeless powder, and both share similar ballistics. I just see it as companies trying to one-up another while keeping ammo price similar to what is already out there, without anything being substantially superior to a previous design.

I understand for hunting, you want a certain bullet for a certain animal, but when .243, .25-06, .270, .308, 30-06, 30-30, 7mm-08, and others, are ALL popular deer hunting calibers. Many of these have very similar ballistics, and many overlap each other to where it makes no difference, and would have no issues if the target was at 50 yards or 250 yards. With all the different game animals out there, surely an ideal caliber can overlap MANY different animals.

I understand it comes down to user preference, but when the differences are so marginal, but price isn't quite marginal, why do so many calibers exist?

Why hasn't .22LR, 9mm, .40S&W, .45ACP .223 REM, .308 WIN become the mainstay of what rifles and pistols from the past few decades to be chambered with? It'd keep price down significantly if manufacturers only made a few different types of rounds than MANY different rounds.

.17 Mach 2
.17 HMR
.17 Hornet
.17 Remington
.17 Remington Fireball

.204 Ruger
.218 Bee
.219 Zipper

.22 Short
.22 Long
.22 Long Rifle
.22 Magnum
.22 Accelerator
.22 Hornet
.22 CHeetah
.220 Russian
.220 Swift
.221 Remington Fireball
.22-250 Remington
.222 Remington
.222 Remington Magnum
.223 Remington
.223 Winchester Super Short Magnum
.224 Weatherby Magnum
.225 Winchester
.240 Weatherby Magnum
.243 Winchester
.243 Winchester Super Short Magnum
.244 H&H Magnum
.244 Remington
.25 Winchester Super Short Magnum
.25-06 Remington
.25-20 Winchester
.25-35 Winchester
.250-3000 Savage
.257 Roberts
.257 Weatherby Magnum
.260 Remington
.264 Winchester Magnum
.270 Weatherby Magnum
.270 Winchester
.270 Winchester Short Magnum
.280 Ross
.280 Remington
.284 Winchester

.30 caliber - .40 caliber
.30 Carbine
.30 Newton
.30 RAR
.30-30 Winchester
.30 Remington
.30 Remington AR
.30 TC
.30-06 Springfield
.30-30 Winchester (.30 WCF)
.30-40 Krag (.30 Army)
.30-378 Weatherby Magnum
.300 H&H Magnum
.300 AAC Blackout (7.62×35mm)
.300 Remington SA Ultra Mag
.300 Remington Ultra Magnum
.300 Ruger Compact Magnum
.300 Savage
.300 Weatherby Magnum
.300 Winchester Magnum
.300 Winchester Short Magnum
.303 British
.303 Savage
.307 Winchester
.308 Marlin Express
.308 Norma Magnum
.308 Winchester
.32 Remington
.32 Winchester Self-Loading
.32 Winchester Special
.32-20 Winchester (.32 WCF, .32-20 Marlin, .32 Colt Lightning)
.32-40 Ballard
.32-40 Winchester
.325 Winchester Short Magnum
.333 Jeffery Flanged
.338 Edge
.338 Federal
.338 Lapua Magnum
.338 Marlin express
.338 Norma Magnum
.338 Remington Ultra Magnum
.338 Ruger Compact Magnum
.338 Winchester Magnum
.338-06 A-Square
.338-378 Weatherby Magnum
.340 Weatherby Magnum
.348 Winchester
.35 Remington
.35 Whelen
.35 Winchester
.35 Winchester Self-Loading
.350 Remington Magnum
.351 Winchester Self-Loading
.356 Winchester
.358 Norma Magnum
.358 Winchester
.375 H&H Magnum
.375 Remington Ultra Magnum
.375 Ruger
.375 Weatherby Magnum
.375 Whelen (.375-06)
.375 Winchester
.376 Steyr
.378 Weatherby Magnum
.38-40 Winchester
.38-55 Winchester
.38-90 Winchester Express
.38-44 UMC
.40 caliber - .50 caliber
.40-454 JDJ
.44-40 Winchester
.45-70 Government
.400 H&H Magnum
.400 Jeffery Nitro Express
.401 Winchester Self-Loading
.404 Jeffery
.405 Winchester
.408 CheyTac
.416 Barrett
.416 Remington Magnum
.416 Rigby
.416 Ruger
.416 Weatherby Magnum
.444 Marlin
.450/400 Nitro Express
.450 Bushmaster
.450 Marlin
.450 Nitro Express
.450 Rigby
.458x2 American
.458 Express
.458 Lott
.458 Sabi
.458 SOCOM
.458 Winchester Magnum
.460 Weatherby Magnum
.460 Steyr
.465 H&H Magnum
.470 Nitro Express
.476 Nitro Express
.50 caliber and larger​
.50 Alaskan
.50 Beowulf
.50 BMG
.50 Peacekeeper
.50-70 Government
.50-90 Sharps
.50-110 Winchester
.50-140 Sharps
.500 Black Powder Express
.500 Jeffery
.500 Nitro Express 3"
.500 Nitro Express for black powder 3"
.500 No. 2 Express
.500/450 Nitro Express
.500/465 Nitro Express
.505 Gibbs
.505 Jeffery
.510 DTC Europ
.510 Whisper
.577 Nitro Express
.577 Snider
.577 Tyrannosaur (.577 T-Rex)
.577/450 Martini-Henry
.577/.500 Magnum Nitro Express
.585 Nyati
.600 Nitro Express
.600 Overkill
.700 Nitro Express
.70-150 Winchester
.950 JDJ

28 Gauge
20 Gauge
16 Gauge
12 Gauge
10 Gauge


6mm - 7mm
6 x 35 mm
6mm Lee Navy
6 mm BR Remington
6 mm Musgrave
6mm TCU
6 mm PPC
6x45mm A.K.A. (6mm-223 Remington)
6x47mm A.K.A. (6mm-222 Rem. Magnum)
6 mm Remington (.244 Remington)
6mm-250 A.K.A. (6mm International) Walker Version
6.5mm TCU
6.5 Creedmoor
6.5 mm Grendel
6.5 mm Remington Magnum
6.5-06 A-Square
6.5mm/06 A.K.A. 256/06
6.5-284 Norma
6mm/30-30 Improved
6.5x42mm Multi-Purpose Cartride (SSK Industries)
6.5x47mm Lapua
6.5x50mm Arisaka
6.5x52mm Mannlicher-Carcano
6.5 x 52R
6.5x53mmR Mannlicher
6.5x54mm Mannlicher-Schoenauer
6.5x55mm (Also 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser, 6.5 x 55 Mauser)
6.5x57mm Mauser
6.5x68mm (also known as the 6.5 x 68 RWS, 6.5 x 68 Schüler or the 6.5 x 68 Von Hofe Express)
6.8 mm Remington SPC
7mm - 8mm
7mm Shooting Times Easterner (7mm STE)
7mm International Rimmed
7mm TCU A.K.A. (25 Ugalde)
7 mm BR Remington
7 mm Dakota
7 mm Gibbs
7 mm Remington Magnum
7 mm RSAUM (Remington Short-Action Ultra Mag)
7 mm Remington Ultra Magnum
7 mm STE (Shooting Times Easterner)
7 mm STW (Shooting Times Westerner)
7 mm Weatherby Magnum
7 mm WSM (Winchester Short Magnum)
7mm-06 Mashburn
7 mm-08 Remington
7 mm-300 Weatherby Magnum
7-30 Waters
7.21 Firebird
7.21 Tomahawk
7x33mm Sako
7×54mm Finnish
7×54mm Fournier
7x57mm Mauser (.275 Rigby)
7x61mm Sharpe & Hart
7x64mm Brenneke
7x65mm R Brenneke
7x66mm Super Express vom Hofe
7x72 Rimmed
7x75mm R Super Express vom Hofe
7.35x51mm Carcano
7.5x55mm Schmidt Rubin
7.5x57mm MAS mod. 1924 7.5x54mm MAS mod. 1929
7.62 mm caliber
7.62x25mm Tokarev
7.62x40 Wilson Tactical
7.62x45mm vz. 52
7.62×51mm NATO
7.62x53mm Rimmed
7.62 x 54R (rimmed) (7.62 Russian)
7.63x25mm Mauser
7.65x22mm Parabellum
7.65x53mm Argentine (7.65x53mm Mauser)
7.63x54mm Greek Mannlicher-Schoenauer
7.7x58mm Arisaka
7.82 Patriot
7.82 Warbird
7.92x33mm Kurz
7.92x36mm EPK
7.92x57mm Mauser (8 mm Mauser or 8x57 JS)
8mm - 9mm
8 mm-06
8mm Mauser
8 mm Lebel or 8x50R Lebel
8 mm Remington Magnum
8x50mmR Mannlicher
8x56mm Mannlicher-Schoenauer
8x56mmR Steyr or Hungarian
8x58mm RD (rimmed danish)
8x60mm S
8x64mm S Brenneke
8x68mm S
9mm and larger
9x56mm Mannlicher-Schoenauer
9x57mm Mauser
9.3x64mm Brenneke
9.3x65Rmm Brenneke
9.3x65mm Collath
9.3x66mm Sako
9.5x57mm Mannlicher-Schoenauer (.375 Rimless Nitro Express x 2-1/4")
11x60mm Mauser
12.7mm British No. 2
12.7x99mm NATO (Multi-Purpose)
12.7x54mm (subsonic)
14.5 mm JDJ

1,956 Posts
Might as well ask why are there so many different models and engines for cars. Or why my wife needs 147 different pots and pans. :) It's one of those mysteries of the Universe that will never be understood.

Btw, you missed several handgun calibers, or are you just looking at long guns? ;)

3,585 Posts
Because if we all looked alike the world would be a very boring place? :D

Those few basic cartridges that you listed ARE some of the most common ones out there (at least here in the states anyway). Those "everyday" cartridges are fairly reasonably priced, because they are high-production chamberings.
When you move into the oddball, obsolete, or otherwise specialized cartridges then prices go up...but they aren't driving up the prices of the common cartridges you mentioned.

Me? I like to be different. I do have some guns chambered in run of the mill cartridges in my stable, but I tend to stick with the off-breed stuff. Since I reload for most everything the price difference isn't hardly noticeable compared to if I would be buying factory-produced ammo.

2,618 Posts
Don't forget that some of them are marketing strategies, others are ways to work replicate a competitor's patented/trademarked cartridge, etc...

2,953 Posts
It's not Why? It's Why not? That must have taken forever to type .

6,146 Posts
Part of the reason is that we are a nation of garage machinists, DIY gunsmiths, and amateur engineers. Everyone believes that they can do it better, faster, cheaper, etc.

You listed .22 LR, 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, .223 Rem, and. 308 Win as the should-be "standards" for modern firearms, though your three centerfire pistol rounds seem redundant. And yet in those "standards" are no rounds legal for deer hunting in my state.

To be sure, many of the oddball cartridges are for the purpose of getting the ballistics we want in a cartridge that our government will allow. There are 5 or 6 wildcat cartridges that have become very popular in Indiana in the last few years because the laws regarding deer hunting describe limits on cartridge dimensions.

Everyone has their own preferences. Fortunately, we're all free to choose what we want for ourselves.

2,953 Posts
My next caliber is the 6.5 Grendel for the AR I'm building.

389 Posts
Like the fellow already said, because we can! It's called freedom!!!! Oh, you're list, it's meaningless: you missed all of my favorite calibers. My guess is that you only mention about 1/3 of the calibers out there. Waste of time that you could have been shooting or reloading.

5,350 Posts
And that folks, I guess, is why they make different flavors of ice cream, Why do they make any other flavor than Black Walnut or coffee? Just don't understand.

14 Posts
I want to see them come up with another new one...personally I shoot many common rounds, but the "off breeds" sound so cool I can't wait to start getting some of those in my collection. They all have a place some of them have a great history behind them. I love reading in my hornady reloading guide the history on some of these cartridges. Pretty interesting stuff.

53 Posts
More cartridges means people will buy more rifles, more ammo, more die sets to reload the ammo. Gun magazines will have more guns and calibers to write about, and people will buy the magazines to read about all the new stuff. Then it will fuel all the "This is way better than that" debates.

7,512 Posts
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