Benefits of Centerfire Ammunition

Diagram of centerfire and rimfire ammunition

The term “centerfire” refers to the type of primer system used when making ammo. Centerfire ammo requires that the firing pin hit the center of the cartridge. Rimfire ammo needs the firing pin to hit the rim of the cartridge, which is a smaller area. Therefore, centerfire is less likely to misfire, is more reliable, and has better accuracy.


Jean Samuel Pauly created the first fully integrated version of centerfire ammo in the early 1800s. Pauly did not use a percussion cap, when making the cartridge. Frenchman Clement Pottet designed the first “true” centerfire ammo in 1829, but not complete his design until 1855. Hiram Berdan, Edward Mounier Boxer, Benjamin Houllier, Charles Lancaster, George Morse, Gastinne Renette and Francois Schneider improved on Pottet’s design to develop the modern-day version.

Centerfire vs. Rimfire

Many shooters like rimfire because it has less recoil than centerfire. Users link centerfire ammo to larger caliber guns, , although it is made for every caliber. Larger calibers have more recoil. The ammo makes the weapon less accurate at short distances, but better for long shots. Experts also choose centerfire because of its high level of velocity and muzzle energy. For that reason, it is chosen by military and law enforcement agencies, including SWAT.

Primer Types

Centerfire ammo uses one of two kinds of primer – Boxer or Berdan. Primer is a metal cup that holds an explosive which is placed into the center of the cartridge base. The firing pin crushes the explosive between the anvil and the cup to make hot gas and igniting the powder charge. Boxer and Berdan primers are not interchangeable, however the same gun can use either if the cartridge sizes are the same.

Most shooters can’t tell the difference between the two primers by looking at a loaded cartridge, however, a fired case is a different story. A casing using Boxer primer will have one hole at the base of the round, while the casing with the Berdan primer will show two holes. Stores sell Berdan primer for less expensive than Boxer primer. Military forces use it outside the United States.

Advantages of Centerfire Ammunition

Ammunition experts have different  opinions on Centerfire versus Rimfire ammunition. Shooters handloading their weapons choose centerfire because the casings can be reused, unlike rimfire casings. The reason is that centerfire rounds use much heavier casings than rimfire, making them more durable. Shooters use rimfire ammo, but know that it will damage the thinner casing, so it can’t be used for reloading. Shooters who don’t reload or shoot a lot may be better off buying ammo in bulk to save money.

In addition to reloading, centerfire ammunition is less dangerous than rimfire. The heavier round can take more rough handling than the weaker rimfire.


Shooters buy ammo based on its use more than the type of primer it uses. Centerfire ammo is more expensive than rimfire but is the best choice for military use, long-range shooting, and hunting.