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List of Bottleneck Pistol Cartridges

Today most, but not all, rifle cartridges have a neck. Meaning that the diameter of the cartridge case at the mouth (the open end) is less than the diameter of the rest of the case. Smaller at the top than at the bottom. Meanwhile the overwhelming majority of pistol cartridges are straight walled. Meaning that the diameter of the cartridge case remains the same for its entire length. There are lots of other variables that go into firearm cartridges that are beyond the length of this short post. For now, let's accept that most rifles use bottleneck cartridges and post pistols don't.

But then we come to those unusual bottleneck pistol cartridges. These are cartridges designed to be used mainly in handguns but retain the bottleneck look of the larger rifle cousins. A common goal of these cartridge designer was to increase the velocity of relatively lighter bullets with larger powder charges. There are some other factors as well that will come up as we go along. While not an exhaustive list, here are some of the most common.

List of Bottleneck Pistol Cartridges

    1. .38-40 Winchester

    This is an example of an older pistol cartridge that was also chambered in some rifles. The idea was a cowboy would only have to buy one type of ammunition to keep both his rifle and his revolver fed.

    2. .32 NAA

    This is one of the proprietary cartridges created by North American Arms (NAA) in an effort to create a more potent loading in their pocket pistols. The idea never caught on, and while ammunition is still in limited production; both the guns and the ammunition are rare.

    3. 7.62 x 25mm

    aka the 7.62 Tokarev or .30 Tok. Possibly the most well-known cartridge on this list. This was originally chambered in a Russian pistol developed for use leading up to WW2. It when on to be chambered in both copies of the Tokarev pistol and in some submachine guns (SMG). As these were exported all over the world, it still turns up in unlikely places.

    4. 5.7 x28mm

    One of the newest rounds on our list. This round was created in 2002 to meet specific NATO requirements for a smaller, lighter weapon to be used by troops assigned primarily non-combat roles. While there are a few shoulder weapons chambered for this caliber, the number of pistols using it has really grown over the last few years. While still uncommon, it is at least seen and known.

    5. 7.63 Mauser

    While few have heard of this cartridge today, almost everyone has seen the famous pistol for which this round was designed. It is no less than Han Solo's BlasTech DL-44 heavy blaster pistol. Just kidding. Sort of. The pistol is actually the iconic 1896 C96 "Broomhandle" Mauser. The movie prop guys took a few of these and gussied them up to become Han's trusty sidearm.

    6. 9x25 Dillon

    A cartridge created to excel in certain pistol shooting competitions. Almost immediately after introducing the cartridge, the rules of the game were changed. This rendered this cartridge almost immediately obsolete. Nothing wrong with it. Just not enough right.

    7. .30 Luger

    aka 7.65 Parabellum. Most people have seen the infamous Luger pistol which gained its notoriety serving the German military during two World Wars. What is far less known is that the original chambering for that pistol was not the immensely popular 9mm Parabellum. It was in fact, this darling of a cartridge.

    8. .357 SIG

    Created primarily for law enforcement in the United States during the early 90s. The cartridge saw a good amount of initial acceptance, but it is waning rapidly today. For a variety of reasons that have little to do with the effectiveness of the cartridge, most adopters have returned to either the 9mm or .45ACP. But with a die-hard cadre of users, reloaders, and general fans, this cartridge may yet again rise.

    9. Hopefully this small taste will leave you wanting more.

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