Miscellaneous Questions #14

This section contains brief discussions of various ballistics and shooting related topics as requested by correspondents. If you have a question you have been trying to find an answer to (keep 'em ballistics and shooting related--see your minister for the mysteries of life) email me by clicking here  and I'll do my best to find the answer for you and if it is of general interest, publish it here. If you can contribute additional input to one of the answers I'd would appreciate hearing from you too.

Check back frequently as new topics are always being added.

On this page:

Is there a way to compute the expected weight of lead round balls?
How can I reliably test bullet performance?
How effective was the Blunderbuss?
Where can I get plans for a reloading bench and a shooting bench?

What is the advantage of the full length spring guide rods I see on many current .45 autos?
How do I scale reduced targets for practice?
What are "GO," NO-GO," and "FIELD" headspace gauges?
What are "major" and "minor" calibers?
How accurately do "tissue simulants" relate to bullet penetration?
What velocity is needed for a projectile to penetrate skin?
What was the longest deliberate rifle shot by a sniper that hit its intended target?
Why are some primers crimped into the primer pocket?
What are your favorite calibers and favorite firearms?

Q. Is there a way to compute the weight of lead round balls?

A.   To find the theoretical weight of an object you need to know the volume of the object and the specific gravity of the material it is made from.  Because specific gravity is measured in grams per cubic centimeter you need to work in the metric system and the convert the results to English units.  For a sphere:

Volume of the sphere = 1.33 * pi * r3   or  4.176 * r3


pi = 3.14
r = radius of the sphere in cm (.5 * diameter in inches * 2.54

Mass = volume of sphere * specific gravity from table below.

Material Avg Specific Gravity Material Avg Specific Gravity
Brass 8.6 Tin 7.4
Copper 8.9 1:10 Tin/Lead 10.5
Iron 7.5 1:20 Tin/Lead 11.0
Lead 11.3 Tungsten 19.2
Nickel 8.9 Uranium 18.7
Steel 7.8 Zinc 7.00
Iron, tungsten, nickel 12.0 Bismuth, tin 9.4
Tungsten, bronze 12.0 Tungsten/polymer  matrix 10.4
Aluminum 2.6 Magnesium 1.75
Antimony 6.7 Titanium 4.6

The results will be in grams.  To convert grams to grains multiply the results by 15.43.

As an example a .75 caliber lead ball (specific gravity = 11.34 from chart)

radius of ball = .5 * .75 * 2.54 = .95 cm
volume of ball = 1.33 * 3.14 * .953 = 3.58 cc
mass of ball = 3.58 * 11.34 = 40.6 g
weight of ball in grains = 40.6 * 15.4 = 625 grains

You can also use this information to determine what a lead bullet would weigh if made from a different material.  As an example a 200 gr cast lead bullet would weigh 123.8 if cast from zinc.

(specific gravity of new material / specific gravity of lead) * weight of lead bullet = new weight = (7.0/11.3) * 200 = 123.8 gr

Q. How can I reliably test bullet performance?

A. While the accepted standard of bullet testing is to use "ballistic gelatin" it is not easy to produce and use in small quantities. Kind and Knox A250 ballistic gelatin only comes in large containers (55 gallon drums) and it needs to be mixed as a 10 percent solution using water not higher than 104 degrees F and then chilled to 40 degrees F and shot at that temperature.  It is also normally calibrated using a steel BB at a known velocity against a calibration graph.  It is a known quantity that in properly prepared 10% ballistic gelatin a common steel BB will penetrate 8.5 cm (3.35") at 590 f/s 15 (180 4 m/s).  Using the penetration depth of the BB a correction factor can be applied to standardized tests but data is normally close enough that correction factors are not needed. Click here for information on making ballistic gelatin.

For individual use there are several workable alternatives which can supply results that are close enough for  non-critical studies.  The first is to use a row of common cardboard 1/2 gallon milk containers which are surprising uniform.  Filled with water and placed in snug contact with each other, each carton penetrated is the equivalent of about 2.2" to 2.6" of ballistic gelatin when expanding bullets are used.  (Bullet penetration in water is 1.8 times that of ballistic gelatin and in milk cartons somewhere generally around 1.5).  The results agree fairly closely over the velocity range of about 700 to 3000 f/s.

A second method is the "Fackler box" which is simply a wooden frame designed to hold plastic bags full of water.   The common "ZipLoc bags work well in this application.  Because of the lack of tough cardboard between the bags one can use the 1.8 factor.

A third method is to use "wet pack" which is simply standard news print paper that is thoroughly soaked with water.  To ensure proper consistency several sheets of paper should be soaked in water and then stacked in a water filled container with the fold line alternated and the process repeated until the desire thickness is obtained.  The paper is properly soaked when a 6" stack of folded in half newspaper (about 11.5" x 13.5" weighs about 40 pounds, when excess water has been squeezed out).  Properly prepared wet pack has a very close to 1:1 correlation to 10% ballistic gelatin as long as impact velocities are above 600 f/s.  Click here for detailed information on preparing wet pack 

Also see the article on "tissue simulants" below on this page.

A variation of wet pack that has been suggested is to layer soaking wet sheets of corrugated cardboard in a water filled container but I do not have a calibration factor for this material.

(A big caveat)

Note that you cannot accurately simulate the performance of a bullet at a distance by loading it to a muzzle velocity that one would get at that distance.  The reason is that the bullet's spin decays quite slowly.  As an example the M80 7.62 mm ball round has a muzzle velocity of 2750 f/s and a 300 yard velocity of 2094 f/s.  Using a 1:10 twist the bullet is rotating at 198,000 rpm at the muzzle, but at 300 yards where the velocity is 2094 the spin has only decayed to about 91% of the initial rpm or about 180,000 rpm.  If you fire the bullet at a muzzle velocity of 2094 f/s the bullet is spinning only at about 150,000 rpm and the bullet will behave differently than at 180,000 rpm.

Q. How effective was the Blunderbuss?

A. Not terribly.  The blunderbuss, that familiar old flintlock firearm with the belled muzzle is a staple of pirate movies and was considered the equivalent of the modern day riot gun.  They were not all that effective.  A test was run some years ago of a .60 caliber (at the breech) pistol with 7" barrel with a 2" flare, and two long arms, one with a .75 caliber breech, and an 18" barrel with a 11/8" flare, and the second with a .69 caliber breech, a 24" barrel, and a 11/4" flare.  They normally used "bore" diameter musket balls and the historical records for the two long arms are 12 balls of .69 caliber and 120 gr of powder for the ".69 caliber" blunderbuss and 15 balls of .75 caliber and  130-140 grs of powder for the ".75 caliber" weapon.

These weapons were fired at 40 and 60 feet at silhouette targets mounted on a 4 x 8 sheet of wall board held horizontally.  Both long arms produced lateral spreads of about 30" at 40 feet and 50" at 60 feet.  Patterns were spotty and it was possible to completely miss a single target at 60 feet.  The pistol was fired at 40 feet and gave a 40" spread but the balls lacked so much velocity that they failed to penetrate the target backer board at any range past about 30 feet..  It was noted that the muzzle bell had little effect on shot spread and was most likely just an aid to rapid loading as well as having psychological effect on the person it was aimed at.

Q. Where can I get plans for a reloading bench and a shooting bench?

A. Plans for a very sturdy reloading bench are available from the National Reloading Manufacturer's Association.  The plans can be ordered for $4.00 from

One Centerpointe Dr.  STE 300
Lake Oswego, OR
nmra reloading bench (20k jpg)

The plans are also available online in pdf format at http://www.somerssportsmen.com/bench.pdf

One modification you can make is to have slip-in inserts for your various tools.  I made my bench top from three layers of 3/4 inch particle board screwed and glued together, and made inserts to fit from two layers screwed and glued together.  It helps if you sand both the interior of the slots and the surfaces of the inserts, slightly round the edges of the inserts, and then coat with a paste wax to ensure a smooth fit.  I have done case forming with this mounting system without any problems.

Insert partially pulled out.

Close-up of insert fit Insert detail - front Insert detail - rear
(Note finger hole to help pull out)
Top view detail
(Note reinforcing screws around edge)
Extra ready to use inserts

Plans for a sturdy, permanent shooting bench were published in the January 1994 American Rifleman magazine.  You can download these plans in MS Word (nrabench.doc - 95k) format by clicking here.

Jim Ristow of RSI came up with a very nifty shooting bench.  It takes a little effort but it is worth it.

You can download the plans by clicking here.

Q. What is the advantage of the full length spring guide rods I see on many current .45 autos?

A. Not much.  While proponents claim it improves the smoothness of operation that doesn't hold up under testing.  A friend used an electronic instrumentation set-up to look in detail at the claims made by FLGR fans. Two of the test guns were ancient military clunkers, three were el-cheapo 1911 knock-offs, two were Wilsons, three were Kimbers, two were Colts, and there was one Les Baer.

Each gun was set-up on the bench with accelerometer sensors, and slide motion instrumentation. A high-speed laboratory camera recorded super-slow-motion imagery of the firing sequence.  Each gun had two full magazines put through it, the first with a standard short spring guide and the second with a stainless steel FLGR

With FLGR installed in no case did the FLGR make any significant difference that could be measured with instrumentation. None of the guns equipped with instrumentation to measure force linearity during recoil and tested with and without FLGRs showed any measurable difference in smoothness during actual firing.

However, when a horribly bent and kinked spring was installed, there were smoothness differences detectable both by hand and with the instrumentation, but ONLY when the slide was being retracted MANUALLY-- not when the gun was being fired. The forces generated during firing recoil and imparted to the mass of the slide vastly overwhelmed any small roughness from the kinked spring.

Keep in mind that with a standard (short) spring guide, that the spring is fully contained on the guide when the slide is retracted.

As to claims that the FLGRs add weight and reduce muzzle climb, consider how much they weigh.  I don't think so.

And... they negate one of the advantages of the 1911 design--the ability to completely disassemble the pistol without any tools (a problem further exacerbated by the current fad of using Torx-head or Allen-head screws and other parts that deviate from the original specs.  The original design was such that the lip on the sear spring could be used as a screw driver to remove the grips and the magazine catch, the shaft of the safety as a punch to remove the mainspring housing, and the hammer strut could be used as a pin punch (something you can't do with the current square struts).

Q. How do I scale targets for practice at reduced distances

A. If you simply reduce a full sized target to 1/3 its normal dimensions you can then use distance in feet as distance in yards for your practice.  This works well indoors for dry firing targets. (See the Safety page for info on safe dry firing procedures.)  Click here for a 1/3 scale silhouette target for dry firing or sub-caliber practice in MS Word format.

To scale a target for different full ranges use the following formula.

reduced size in inches =  (reduced range in yards / real range in yards) * target dimension in inches.

As an example suppose you want to simulate a 400 yard shot on an 18" x 30" silhouette at 250 yards

(250 / 400) * 18" = .625 * 18 = 11.25"
(250 / 400) * 30" = .625 * 30 = 18.5"

Thus use an 11.25" x 18.5" target at 250 yards to simulate 400 yards.

The following chart gives target size for several simulated distances.

Scaled Target Dimensions at Different Distances
(Based on an 18" wide target)

To Simulate 

Target width at 25 yd 

Target width at 50 yd

Target width at 100 yd



















4.5" '


Q. What are "GO," NO-GO," and "FIELD" headspace gauges?

A. These headspace gauges set the minimum, maximum, and end-of-life chamber lengths.  The bolt must close completely on a "Go" gauge (minimum chamber), bolt should only partially close, if at all, on a "NoGo" (maximum chamber) . The "Field" gauge sets the absolute maximum allowable for worn weapons and the bolt should not close on it. If it does it's time to replace the barrel.

Nominally the No-Go is .004" -.006" longer than the Go and the Field is .008" - .010" longer than the Go gauge.

Q. What are "major" and "minor" calibers?

A. In the early days of practical pistol shooting (before the win at any cost gamesmen came on the scene) scoring was partially based upon the power of the pistol being used, since in the real world the power has an effect on the on target performance.  Two power floors were established. "Major" was based on the .45 ACP round with a 230 gr GI load (nominally 230 gr @ 820 fs) out of a Colt Commander and "minor" was based on the 9 mm "GI" round with a 124 gr bullet (at about 1120 fs) from a Browning Hi-Power.

Two methods of measuring performance were used.  The first was a ballistic pendulum which was calibrated using factory ammunition.  Ammunition which moved the pendulum as much as or more than a 9 mm test round, but less than a .45 test round were classed as minor and scored 5, 3, 2.  Ammunition which moved the pendulum as much as or more than a .45 test round were classed as major and scored 5, 4, 3.  The second test method came about when chronographs became available.  Sample rounds were fired over a chronograph to obtain the velocity and the velocity was multiplied by the bullet weight and the divided by 1000 to get a number.  

The original major number was 175 and the original minor floor was 125.  The accepted values have changed over the years as gamesmen took over the sport and started to use lighter loads to beat recoil.  Within IPSC power factors have become irrelevant because they now change according to the class shot in.  For "open" class the factors are 160/125, for "standard" they are 170/125, and for "production" major is considered 125 with no minor category.  Use of the current categories has no relevance to the real world at all since it changes with the class.  It's become an aid to gamesmen in winning.

A modification that has been suggested by some is to add a scoring factor based on the diameter or area of the bullet used.  While different factors have been suggested probably the easiest is one that multiplies the competitor's score by 1.1 for bullets of .40 cal or larger.  Of course if you aren't a gamesman this is all moot.

Q. How accurately do "tissue simulants" relate to bullet penetration?

A. The table below shows the differences in performance of various tissue simulants.

Simulant Penetration
Leg of freshly killed swine 8.8 1.6 cm
10% Gelatin at 4 C 8.5 0.4 cm
20% Gelatin at 4 C 4.4 0.2 cm
20% Gelatin at 20 C 8.0 0.2 cm
Wet pack (@> 600f/s) 8.4 .5 cm
Swedish soap at 4 C 4.2 0.3 cm
Swedish soap at 20 C 5.8 0.4 cm
Calibration done using the standard .171" "BB" at 590 15 f/s

While I don't have similar data using the same standard as the table above for water, penetration in water is about 1.5 -1.8 times greater than 10% ballistic gelatin.  For information on gelatin preparation click here.  For information on wet pack preparation click here.

Data from Bullet Penetration: Modeling the Dynamics and the Incapacitation Resulting from Wound Trauma, by Duncan MacPherson.  Date on wet pack from personal notes.

Q. What velocity is needed for a projectile to penetrate skin?

A.  Tests done by several research groups using projectiles of various diameters and shapes (ranging from .17 cal airgun pellets to .45 cal bullets) report that a velocity of between about 180 to about 360 f/s is needed.  The wide range comes from the non-uniform strength of normal skin tissue.  Interestingly, projectile shape had no statistically significant effect on the penetration effect.  Keep in mind that one could still be injured even if the projectile does not penetrate the skin.

Data from Bullet Penetration: Modeling the Dynamics and the Incapacitation Resulting from Wound Trauma, by Duncan MacPherson

Q. What was the longest deliberate rifle shot by a sniper that hit its intended target?

A. As of June 2017 the record is 3450 meters (3,773 yards) by a Canadian in sniper in Iraq, using a McMillan TAC-50.  The old current record was 2815 meters (3078 yards) by an Australian sniper team in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in 2015, using 2 Barrett M82A1 .50 cal rifles fired simultaneously.   Until then the record was taken in 2004 by a Canadian sniper who used a .50 cal McMillan TAC-50 bolt action to kill a Taliban in the Tora Bora region of Afghanistan at a measured 2429 meters (2657 yards).  In addition, in November 2009 a British sniper using a .338 Lapua L115A3 rifle scored a double kill at 2475 meters (2707 yards).  Honorable mention goes to Carlos Hathcock in Duc Pho, Vietnam who used a tight .50 cal M2 machine gun fitted with an Unertl scope and firing single shot to hit a VC at a range of about 2500 yards, but he admitted that the hit was probably more luck than skill.  The problem with very long range shots isn't so much the bullet's trajectory as it is wind drift.  Wind direction and speed can change several times over long distances.  Even in 1000 yard competitions it is not unusual to see the wind flags pointing in opposite direction down range.  

Q. Why are some primers crimped into the primer pocket?

A. Crimping of primers is done primarily on military ammunition for the purpose of reliability with automatic weapons, to prevent the primer from backing out under conditions of harsh handling or sloppy headspacing, which could lead to a malfunction.  There are four basic primer crimp types as shown below.

A - Stab crimp, B - Circular stake crimp, circa WWI, C - Circular stake crimp, circa WWII,
D - US Military crimp

What are your favorite calibers and favorite firearms?

A. This is one of those questions that fights start over, but I get asked it so frequently that I guess I'll take a stab at it.  Your choices may be different but I'm happy with mine

My caliber choices are based primarily on factory production, utility and availability but a couple (.22TCM, .41 Police, .376 Steyr, and .460 A-Square) are on the list just because I think they are example of well though out cartridges.

Favorite Handgun Cartridges
Handgun Ctg Comments
.22RF The "universal" cartridge
.22TCM Basically a shortened .223 case necked to .22 caliber with an OAL of 1.26" this round is what the 5.7 x 28 FN round should have been. Chambered in 1911 style pistols it will run a 40 gr projectile at 1900 from a 5" barrel.  Might be interesting in a small rifle too.
.256 Winchester A very nifty and under appreciated cartridge
6.5 x 25 In "military" trim runs a saboted 4 mm 31 gr tungsten projectile at at 2400 from a 5" bbl and with a bbl swap will work in typical 9 x 19 mm weaponry
9 x 19 mm  Particularly in the 135 - 147 gr loadings this is the equivalent of the .38Spl +P loads for use in very compact 9 mm pistols as a hideout pistol similar in concept of the S&W 5-shot revolvers
.38 Super While called a +P round it really isn't and runs at the same pressures the standard 9 mm does.  Loaded to 38.5 Kpsi like the 9 mm +P it would be a dandy round in modern pistols. (Which is basically what the 9 x 23 mm round is.
.357 Mag Moderately powerful revolver round of great versatility, with ability to use .38 Spl cartridges. Thanks to modern metallurgy there is no reason to chamber a revolver solely for the .38 Spl ctg.  It is very nifty in a lever action carbine.
10 mm ACP (10 x 25) and .40 S&W The 10 mm is a very powerful and flat shooting auto pistol cartridge is also available in a lower velocity loading which was the basis of the .40 S&W.  The .40 S&W round offers adequate performance at the expense of running near the cartridges upper limit.  For use in a compact or 9 mm framed pistol the  .40 S&W is an acceptable choice though.
.41 S&W Mag  Primarily the now obsolete "police" loading of a 210 gr LSWC bullet at about 950 f/s which was the ideal police revolver round when combined with the S&W M57/58 revolver
.44 Spl Nicely balanced cartridge of excellent controllability and power
.44 Mag Powerful enough for anything that needs to be done with a handgun with great versatility.
.45 ACP THE auto pistol round for self defense, accurate, powerful, and versatile.  The new .45 GAP gives about the same level of power in a slightly smaller package by running at .45ACP +P pressures. in the standard loading but it is not as versatile as the ACP.
.45Auto Rim Most of the power of the big .45 Colt in a compact package for revolvers


Favorite Rifle Cartridges
Rifle Ctg Comments
.22 RF The "universal" cartridge
.22 Hornet or K-Hornet A nifty .22 center fire round of adequate power, especially in the wildcatted K-Hornet version.  In a well made compact rifle it is just the ticket when you need more power than a .22 RF without a lot of noise.  Rimless versions would be nifty.
.221 Rem Fireball While designed as a "pistol" cartridge for the Rem XP100, this round has a lot of untapped potential as a rimless successor to the Hornet in rifles
.223/5.56 NATO Current GI cartridge capable of excellent accuracy and decent ranging.
.22-250 A very accurate .22 centerfire capable of excellent accuracy way out there.  What the world needs is a 1:9 to 1:8  twist barreled .22-250 to handle the 69-77 gr bullets.
.243 Win An adequately powerful and versatile round idea for recoil sensitive shooters.  Most factory rifles use too slow a twist for good performance with 100 gr + bullets which really need a 1:9 twist or faster.
6.8 mm SPC
(6.8 x 45 mm)
This small and very well balanced cartridge is capable of outstanding performance in a properly chambered barrel and is suitable for a wide variety of medium game animals
.280 Rem A flat shooting round that with careful loading and 145 gr or less weight bullets can approach the 7 mm Mag in performance while being easy on the bore and your shoulder.
.30 Carbine Generally considered a weak round but with modern expanding bullet this is a nifty caliber.
.308 Current GI cartridge and basically the GI .30-06 in a shorter package which allows its use in shorter rifles.  Only drawback is it's inability to use 200 gr+ bullets and it performs best with 168 gr and lighter bullets due to the default 1:12 twist in many rifles.
.30-06 The most versatile rifle round made
.350 Rem Mag Basically the .35 Wheelan in a short package for use in compact rifles.  Powerful enough for anything in North America.
.35 Wheelan One of the best medium bores for use in .30-06 length actions.
.376 Steyr 95% of the .375 H&H in a .30-06 length case.
.375 H&H The "great medium bore" round.  Very versatile and accurate
.416 Taylor This is a .416 diameter bullet on the .338 Win Mag case and is a nicely balanced medium heavy cartridge for heavy game.  I've always lusted after a rifle in this caliber.
.45-70 In modern high pressure loadings as produced by Garrett Ammunition this is THE big bore lever gun cartridge, plus it has a great nostalgia factor.
.460 A-Square Short Better balanced than the .458 Win Mag it gives outstanding performance without the squirrelly pressure problems of the .458.


Favorite Handguns

Handgun Comments
Ruger MKII Relatively inexpensive and accurate pistol with a nice "feel."
S&W .22/32 Kit Gun Nifty, light weight .22RF revolver built on the J frame.  How about one on a Scandium frame?
Colt or other .22RF conversion unit for the 1911 pistol Great training aid and they can be surprisingly accurate.  I prefer the Colt unit with its floating chamber because it simulates the 1911's recoil better, especially when mounted on a dedicated aluminum frame.
Colt 1860 Army .44 To my mind this is one of the most beautiful pistols ever made.
Kahr PM9093/9094A, PM4043/4044 These very compact 9 mm and .40S&W autos are the auto pistol equivalents of the 5 shot S&W revolvers.  Very compact and reliable once broken in.
S&W 340, 640, 649 These 5-shot compact revolvers are the choice for a pocket pistol for those wanting a wheel gun
S&W M58 round butt This .41 Mag revolver is the big bore equivalent to the round butt .38 Spl M10 and just a nice looking revolver.
Ruger GP100 .357 revolvers Rugged and easy to tune medium frame revolvers that are seemingly indestructible
Ruger Redhawk .44 Mag A very rugged and reliable (and to my eye good looking) .44 Mag revolver.  A tack driver. (The good looks don't apply to the butt-ugly Super Redhawk.)
Colt 1860 "Army" Cap & Ball To my eye this is the best looking revolver ever made.  Graceful lines and adequate power.
1911 series auto pistols In either standard, Commander, or "Officer's length.  My preference is for Ruger, Kimber, Springfield, or S70 and earlier Colts.
Browning P-35 "High Power" THE Heavy duty 9 mm--especially with the old "burr" hammer
S&W M&P Pistols Very nice striker fired pistols in 9 mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP, especially when upgraded with the Apex sear kits
FN FNP Pistols Very nice hammer fired pistols in 9 mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP.  The .40 is especially nice.
Steyr M-A1 A very odd looking striker fired pistol in 9 mm and .40 that is one of the best feeling pistols in my hand.
H&R "Handy Gun ,410 This neat single shot, break action smoothbore pistol was the first handgun I ever shot.  Just plain nifty.  Classed as an "any other weapon" so it requires ATF approval and a tax stamp these days
H&K MP7 PDW Other than it's tiny 4.35 mm round this locked breach PDW is very nifty and handy. In .22TCM or 6.5 x 25 it would possibly be the ideal PDW.


Favorite Rifles
Rifle Comments
Ruger 10/22  A fun plinker
Savage Mk II FV-SR An inexpensive and scarily accurate bolt action, with Savages "Accutrigger" and a threaded muzzle
Kimber .22 RF Simply one of the nicer premium .22 rifles
Winchester M70 Classic The classic controlled feed rifle.  If I could have only one rifle it would be this in .30-06
Ruger M77 I just love the looks and all that I have owned have been tack drivers (after a little work)
M1 Carbine Light, handy, fun to shoot and with the WW 110 gr JHP or other modern expanding loads is quite effective on small game and as an antipersonel weapon (does not apply when using FMJ ammo)
Ruger Mini-14 Very neat and handy M14 style 5.56 mm, 6.8 mm, 7.62 x39 mm carbine.  Surprisingly rugged.  Many older ones have some accuracy issues but the fix is easy.
M1 Garand What can I say
M14/M1A Especially the 18" bbl "SOCOM" version
M4 Carbine The current GI battle carbine.  Handles well, reliable, and its use should be familiar to all citizens.  Particularly nifty with the 75 and 77 gr ammunition or in 6.8 mm
SIG 556 Very nice 5.56 battle carbine with amazing triggers.  My minions will be armed with these in 6.8 mm
Steyr Scout Neat, handy, super accurate, and cutting edge
Savage Scout About 90 percent of the Steyr Scout at 1/3 the cost
Marlin 1895 In either .30-30 or .45-70 it's THE lever rifle
Marlin 94 In .357  Mag  this is a very under appreciated rifle
M1898 Krag Classic looks (especially the carbine)  and the smoothest action ever.  The "old" .30-40 ctg will take anything in North America if you do your part.
Barrett M82/M107 Big .50 BMG semi-autos that are a blast to shoot and quite accurate.
Winchester 1892/1894 These classic lever action rifles are just really good looking.  The '92 is the  pistol cartridge version

If I had to build a "battery" I'd do it as follows.

Number Allowed Rifle Battery Pistol battery
1 .30-06 (.308 would also work in place of a .30-06 but should have 1:10 twist to handle bullets greater than 168 gr .357 Mag mid frame revolver
2 .22RF
22RF auto, and either a .357 Mag mid frame revolver or 1911 auto and .22 conversion
3 .22RF
.376 Steyr or .375 Ruger
.22RF auto
9mm/.40  compact auto
4 .22RF
.376 Steyr or .375 Ruger
.22RF auto
9 mm/.40 compact auto
.357 Mag mid frame revolver
5 .22RF
.376 Steyr or .375 Ruger
.460 A-Square Short
.22RF auto
9 mm/.40 compact auto
.357 Mag mid frame revolver
.44 Mag revolver
6 Same as "5" with the addition of a battle rifle M1A/AR-15 Same as "5" with the addition of a compact 1911

I was recently chastised for omitting a shogun from the battery or having a "shotgun battery." Oops!  Not being either wealthy nor a "collector" I tend to try to limit things to those that are truly useful so I don't see making a shotgun "battery."  I would recommend the inclusion of a 12 gauge pump or semiauto shotgun (I'd probably choose a Remington 870, 11-87, or a Mossberg 590, 930,) configured with two barrels.  An 18" or 20" rifle sighted barrel for defensive use and a 24" ribbed barrel with either an adjustable choke or choke tubes for hunting.  (Why 24"?  Because longer barrels offer very little increase in velocity or range with typical ammunition and the 24" barrel makes the shotgun very fast handling in the field.)

And just to round things out, here's a list of cartridges I wish they would popularize, reintroduce, or make, and a short list of some improvements to existing firearms or new firearms I'd like to see.

Cartridge Comments
.22 TCM This short, .223 case based round, will fit in a 1911 frame and is what the 5.7 x 28 should have been.  While it is produced it hasn't gotten the popularity it deserves.
.22 Hornet / K-Hornet Rimless All the fun of the Hornet in a rimless case for better feeding in bolt action rifles. Of course the .221 Rem Fireball would do this job nicely too and has a .223 case diameter but hey, everyone's introducing new cartridges.
.25 Rimfire 60 gr Loaded to .22WRM pressures this would be a nice alternative to the .17 RF rounds for those who prefer heavy bullets.
6.5 x 28 A slightly longer version of the 6.5 x 25 for even better ballistics with saboted and non-saboted loads in PDWs.
6.8 x 43 mm SPC +P or 
6.8 x 45 /6.8 x 47 mm
Well not really a +P but loaded to the original GI performance of 115 gr at 2700+ f/s for use in GI, SPC II,  and DMR chambers.  (Hornady "super-performance??)  A 45 or 47 mm case would really be interesting but wouldn't fit current AR platforms.
30 carbine 95 or 100 gr JHP With a properly constructed and shaped 95 gr bonded core JHP bullet at 2200 f/s this (along with the WW and other 110 gr JHP load) would make nifty small game, home defense, and police carbine rounds for the handy M1 carbine
.30-06 250 gr For where deep penetration is desired
9 x 23 This extremely powerful round gives real .357 mag performance in a 1911 compatible case.  Basically a true rimless .38 Super with a much stronger case it runs safely at rifle like pressures.  Why it isn't a major player mystifies me.
.357 Maximum This cartridge would come into its own in a Marlin 94
.401 WSL +P A modern high pressure version of the old .401 Winchester Self Loading cartridge.  The original round was a little weak for its size (200gr @2130 and a 250 gr @ 1870) running at around 35K CUP.  Loaded to a realistic modern pressure level of say 45-50 K psi some interesting performance (close to a 200 gr at 2400) could be achieved in a compact rifle.
.41 Special Police 180-200 gr JHP A similar round to the .41 Mag police round but with a shorter case of .38 SPL length, for use in a non-magnum capable service revolvers.
.45 Auto Rim 200-230 gr JHP +P The true power of the .45 Colt in a more compact package
10 mm ACP Magnum
(a.k.a.10 x 31 mm)
A longer cased 10 mm ACP round (like the Winchester .45 and 9 mm Magnum rounds) for use in semi-auto carbines. A 180 gr @ 1800+ from an 16" bbl carbine would be nifty.  While it has been produced in very limited quantities some good marketing would help.
Reduced loading rifle cartridges Loaded with either light weight jacketed or lead bullets at velocities of about 1150 f/s for use as quiet plinking or training rounds.  Similar in concept to the old military "guard" or "gallery" loadings.


Firearm Comments
CB Cap chambered .22 rifle A small rifle specifically chambered for the tiny CB Cap .22RF with an appropriate twist barrel.  Fun and almost no noise.
J-Frame S&W fixed sight revolvers Make a slight raised "hump for the rear sight so the notch could be a bit deeper for a better sight picture.  How about a blackened face on the rear sight on stainless steel pistols while we are at it.
10 mm Mag M1 Carbine  Just plain nifty in 10 mm Mag
Savage, Remington, and Winchester, & Ruger  detachable mag rifles How about real 5 and 10 rd double column box mags.  
Savage, Remington, and Winchester actions How about a true "tiny" actions scaled to .223 and smaller sized ammunition
1:10 or 1:11 twist .308 Win barrels as standard The standard .308 Win twist is 1:12 and based on the GI spec for 150 gr bullets.  It is barely adequate for bullets over 168 gr. Some manufacturers have seen the light recently.
Savage 110s offered with two barrels The Savage system lends itself to easy barrel swapping.  Could even supply two bolts to take standard and mag cased ammo.  How about a Savage scout with .308 and .358 barrels or even a .350 Rem mag barrel and bolt?
All autopistols How about including 3 spare magazines (1 in the gun and 2 spare) in the box
.22 RF bolt action rifles   How about decent looking stocks on inexpensive .22 RF rifles.  Doesn't have to be fancy wood, just something that looks like a stock on a center fire rifle instead of an after thought chewed out by drunk termites on crack.
Shotguns How about offering 24" ribbed barrels for field work with either an adjustable choke or choke tubes.  You lose very little in ballistics and have a very fast swinging shotgun
.308 Enfield conversion kits The British Enfield rifles are rugged and reliable but hampered by ammo availability.  Conversion kits to .308 Win (barrel, magazine, ejector, and bolt head) were common in the UK but seldom seen here.  There are lots of No. 4 and No. 5 rifles in circulation that could use these kits.

Two follow-on questions related to this topic.

First, the question was raised "what would be your minimum ammunition selection."  The answer to that question depends on just what your goals were.  If you were stocking up for a long term disaster scenario I would recommend that you stick to commonly available calibers kept in several caches in different location..  These would include: .22RF, 5.56 mm (.223), 7.62 mm (.308), .38SPL/.357, 9 mm, .40S&W, .45 ACP, and 12 ga.  You could add some boxes of whatever calibers calibers are common to your area to be complete. The .380 ACP might be an addition as trading stock.  When ammo becomes scarce, a box of .32 Winchester for your neighbor's rifle might be worth several meals or a bunch of supplies.  And don't forget a supply of detachable magazines where appropriate.

Second, the question was raised what firearms would be my choice for an EOTWAWKI (end of the world as we know it) battery.  There are all kinds of "experts" out that who recommend all kinds of esoteric arms.  But consider this: when there is no resupply where are you going to get parts and magazines for your $2200 esoteric battle rifle or pistol?  I strongly suggest that you stick with weaponry  and calibers that are common police, military, or sporting models, so parts will be available as pickups..  For battle rifles this would include M1, M1A (M14), AR15 (M16), M1 Carbine and possibly the Mini-14 Ruger and AK47 (just because they are common these days). For handguns the M1911 series, Glock and  S&W M&P autopistols, and S&W & Ruger revolvers.  For shotguns the Rem 870 and 11-78/1100, and the Mossberg 500/590/930.  For sporting rifles the Rem 700, Win M70, Ruger 77 series, and Savage 110/111, Win 94, Marlin 336.  If you simply must have an esoteric arm ensure that you have at least 1 complete set of depot level repair parts for it in a safe and accessible cache.

And to round things out, there are a number of firearms that I just like the way they look.  Among these are the 1860 Colt Army .44 cap & ball, Krag 1896 carbine, 1911 pistols, S&W M&P, Winchester M94, Ruger M77 rifles, M1 carbine, S&W 3" J-frames, Colt 1873 Peacemaker, Ruger 5" Red Hawk, and probably some others that I'll remember later.

Q. If someone gave you a blank check to build your "armory" what would you get?

A. Being rather practical I'm not into buying vast quantities just because I can.  If given such an opportunity to go nuts I'd probably go by calibers thusly.

and all the ammo I could get for the above.

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As far as I know all the information presented above is correct and I have attempted to ensure that it is. However, I am not responsible for any errors, omissions, or damages resulting from the use or misuse of this information, nor for you doing something stupid with it. (Don't you hate these disclaimers? So do I, but there are people out there who refuse to be responsible for their own actions and who will sue anybody to make a buck.)

Updated 2017-09-16