View Full Version : Nomenclature question

January 31, 2010, 12:46 PM
I am under the impression that 30-30 came from "30 cal w/ 30gr of black powder". If so, is a 44-40 "44cal w/ 40gr" and is a 45-70 "45cal w/ 70gr"? And so on.


Smokey Joe
January 31, 2010, 01:21 PM
94 Blue Rat--As I understand it, the 3 examples you have cited are as you describe--30 caliber, 30 grains of black powder, etc.

Naming cartridges has always been a crazy-quilt, and it's too late at this point to order any sense to it. Whoever creates a cartridge names it, and in the naming, marches to the beat of their own drummer.

Thus we have the 30 caliber from 1906 (.30-'06), the 8x57JS Mauser (which is actually 7.92 caliber, the J is really an I, for "infantry," the S is a redesign from .318 to .323 caliber back in 1905,) the .250-3000 Savage, (which was the first commercial cartridge said to break 3000 fps,) the .300 Remington Ultra Magnum (which is just made with a larger cartridge case than the .300 Winchester Magnum) and on and on, ad nauseum.

There are plenty of other disparate examples, which I leave to other posters.

January 31, 2010, 02:18 PM
you are correct as far as the .45/70 but wrong on .30-30.

Although the original name is .30 WCF, the -30 in the designation was added to the name by Marlin, who did not want to put the name of rival Winchester on their rifles when they were chambered for the cartridge soon after its introduction[3]. The -30 stands for the standard load of 30 grains (1.9 g) of early smokeless powder, which was on par with IMR/DuPont's 4064. Over time Marlin's variation on the name stuck, though ".30 WCF" is also used.

January 31, 2010, 02:36 PM
And...the 44-40 is really a .427-40, and the 38-40 is really a 40-40.

January 31, 2010, 02:58 PM
A cartridge for black powder should have 3 numbers - caliber, grains of black powder, bullet weight also grains. So 45-70-405 or 45-55-405 [carbine load] or 45-70-500 etc.

Bart B.
January 31, 2010, 08:44 PM
"Caliber" was originally meant to be hundredths of an inch. 30 caliber rifles were incorrectly named when a decimal point preced the numbers. Such is life in languages, word meanings and the like.

Seems nowadays you don't speak politically correct unless every fifth word is "like" or "actually." That started in the San Fernando Valley in the early '70's by rich teenage girls coming up with their own vocabulary to be hip and popular. They were called "valley girls" and their language is called "valley speak." Perhaps we should start a language with special words called "shooter speak."

Smokey Joe
February 1, 2010, 11:35 AM
Bart B.--We already do! Any group that engages in a highly specialized activity not done by the general public develops its own slang expressions, understood only by the initiates and annoying and confusing to the uninitiated when used on them. Best example is medical-speak, which you only hear as a victim in the ER. But computer geeks have their own language, too, which you get exposed to only when you call up a so-called "help desk." And there are any number of other examples.

Shooter-speak would include: "POA vs. POI," "wad column," "neck-sizing only," "windage," "RKBA," "drilled flash holes," "X-ring," "scout 'scope," and "gas check." I bet you understand each of these, and plenty more, that a non-shooter would not understand, or misinterpret.

February 1, 2010, 01:05 PM
Cartridge nomenclature is a tricky thing. The Europeans have a very systematic method of naming cartridges (bore diameter X cartridge case length, appending any special items like rim or belt with a letter) that has very few confusing items (like 7.62X51mm and 7.62X51mmR, namely 308 Win and 30-30 Win). In this country, we started out along the same lines, starting out with bullet diameter, powder charge, and bullet weight (44-40meaning 44 caliber and 40 gr of FFg black powder), but somewhere in the mix be got a bit scrambled (38-40 being 40 caliber with 38 gr FFg), and then we went right out the window with 56-50 Spencer (45 cal bullet in a 50 Spencer case), 38 Special (actually a 35-caliber cartridge), .250-3000 (25-caliber cartridge launching a bullet at 3,000 fps, but nothing about the rifle or cartridge measures .250"), 17 Mach IV (only does about Mach 3.5), .220 Swift, 22-250, and spiralling right down to the 7th Circle with .460 Weatherby, .454 Cassull, 244 Remington, etc. It has gotten so bad that Lazzeroni, who names his cartridges based on actual bullet diameter, is seen as being weird. Go figure!

Yes, Bart B, I agree that proper nomenclature and common use are often not the same. A caliber is defined as a measure of the diameter of a hole equalling 1/100th of an inch, just like a thousandth typically means one one-thousandth of an inch, and there is no decimal point before 30-caliber. And a caliber is not a cartridge or a chambering. Cartridges become bullets, chamberings become calibers, firearms become guns, magazines become clips, etc. As gun owners and enthusiasts, using improper terminology is kind of like a doctor calling a tumor a bump (not all bumps are tumors), or calling your hand a grabber thingy. And I am not talking about jargon, which is specilized terminology used by people engaged in specialities, I am referring to misuse of terms by ignorant, misinformed, or just plain sloppy speakers.