Understanding Rimfire and Centerfire Cartridges

Most handgun cartridges fall into two types:

1. Centerfire
2. Rimfire

The difference is how the primer is incorporated into the cartridge. In a rimfire, the primer agent (which is an explosive) is placed directly in the rim of the cartridge. The rim is usually extended beyond the diameter of the cartridge with a lip. The cartridge lip (rim) is impacted by the firing pin. The pressure causes the primer to explode, which in turns ignites the gun powder.

Since the rimfire cartridge is directly impacted, it must be thin enough to allow a firing pin to penetrate. The thin wall prevents higher pressures from being utilized in rimfire cartridges.  Rimfire cartridges are considered to be less reliable than centerfire cartridges. This is but one reason that many experts do not recommend reliance upon a rimfire for self-defense.

Centerfire cartridges utilize a separate primer cap, which is inserted into the center of the cartridge.  The primer cap is made from thinner brass, while the rest of the cartridge in turn is made of much thicker brass. This allows far greater pressures in a centerfire cartridge. While the thin primer cap allows for reliable ignition.  The disadvantage is that there is a significant cost increase in the production of a centerfire cartridge over that of a rimfire.

See Diagram Below

Published in: on January 30, 2011 at 9:54 pm  Comments (1)  
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  1. […] See prior post for an understanding of the differences. […]

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