bullet casings vs. shell casings

Discussion in 'English Only' started by subtitler, Jul 17, 2007.

  1. subtitler Senior Member


    Since you people seem to know pretty much everything here :), I thought I might ask you this one too.
    There's a crime scene where the police find the following items: "expended bullets from a 12-gauge shotgun, .45 calibre bullet casings, and 223 shell casings." Now, what is the difference between bullet casings and shell casings?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    I use the terms interchangeably.

    45 caliber is primarily a handgun caliber; .223 caliber is a rifle round. Perhaps the writer is making that distinction.

    For those who are not familiar with ammunition:

    Ammunition is made from the following components:

    Bullet, the actual projectile. The caliber is the diameter of the bullet; they also size bullets by weight. A 45 caliber bullet measures .45" in diameter and weighs between 225 grams and 180 grams in conventional ammunition.

    The shell casing. This is the brass part of the ammunition. At the very end of the shell casing a primer is pressed in. The firing pin of the gun will cause the primer to explode. This in turn ignites the gun powder. The gun powder burns in modern weapons and does not explode. The expanding gasses force the projectile down the gun barrel and on its way.
  3. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    You would never find a bullet from a shotgun, as shotguns do not fire bullets. They fire cartridges filled with small pellets called "shot" -- which is why they are shotguns!

    What is left behind when the shotgun is fired is the empty cartridge.
  4. JeffJo Senior Member

    USA, English
    The police probably found shotgun pellets. The word "bullet" is not normally used in connection with shotgun ammunition.

    There's no such thing as a "bullet casing" in that sense. Some bullets are made with jackets of cartridge brass (i.e. "full metal jacket,") but it's doubtful that's what meant. It's probably supposed to say pistol shell casings. The .223, as Packard already mentioned, would be rifle shell casings. Like Packard, I'd also guess the writer was trying to distinguish between pistol ammunition and rifle ammunition, but the terminology is wrong.

    .45 and .223 are both "calibers" (or "calibres" for our overseas cousins.)

    The writer should probably have written simply:

    '...expended pellets from a 12-gauge shotgun, .45 calibre shell casings, and .223 calibre shell casings.'
  5. Tafkao New Member

    English - Australia
    Solid rounds for use in a shotgun are commonly called "slugs"

    As a new memeber I'm not permitted to post links (in case i'm a spammer) so please search "wikipedia shotgun slug" for further information.

    <-----Abbreviation and off-topic comment removed.----->
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 14, 2015
  6. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    In retrospect I guess that shell casing refers to shot gun shells, the plastic part of shotgun ammunition that holds the shot and the gun powder.

    The shell casings refer to the corresponding component for th .223 and the .45.
  7. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    The writer of the original text mentioned in this old thread (2007) was clueless as to proper nomenclature and as such we cannot be sure of the intent.

    American shotgun shooters, at least the serious ones, usually say "empties," "empty shells," or, more colloqially, "hulls."

    A long, long, time ago, some shotgin shells were made of braas and MIGHT have been called casings. We never fired the brass shells we had for guard duty in the military over 50 years ago, so it never came up.

    Modern shells usually have a brass base, but are mostly plastic, and we don't call them "casings."

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