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Small-arms ammunition is always fixed; full rounds are typically referred to as cartridges, and projectiles are referred to as bullets (or shot in shotguns). Brass is the most popular material used to make cartridge cases, while steel is also regularly used. Brass and cardboard are both used to make shotgun pellet shells. Most military rifle and machine gun casings are shaped like a bottleneck, which enables the fitting of a small-calibre bullet to a big propelling charge.

The most popular kind of military small-arms Ammunition  is known as ball in the United States and general-purpose in Britain. This kind of bullet often has a steel or lead alloy core that is wrapped in a copper alloy jacket or mild steel that has a copper alloy coating. Armor-piercing ammo is included in special munitions. cartridges that discharge bullets with metal cores, such as tungsten carbide or hardened steel.

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