Helsinki Committee for Human Rights










Ammunition (informally ammo) is the material fired, scattered, dropped or detonated from any weapon. Ammunition is both expendable weapons (e.g., bombs, missiles, grenades, land mines) and the component parts of other weapons that create the effect on a target (e.g., bullets and warheads). Nearly all mechanical weapons require some form of ammunition to operate.

The purpose of ammunition is to project a force against a selected target to have an effect (usually, but not always, lethal). The most iconic example of ammunition is the firearm cartridge, which includes all components required to deliver the weapon effect in a single package.

Ammunition comes in a great range of sizes and types and is often designed to work only in specific weapons systems. However, there are internationally recognized standards for certain ammunition types (e.g., 5.56?45mm NATO) that enable their use across different weapons and by different users. There are also specific types of ammunition that are designed to have a specialized effect on a target, such as armor-piercing shells and tracer ammunition, used only in certain circumstances. Ammunition is commonly colored in a specific manner to assist in the identification and to prevent the wrong ammunition types from being used accidentally.

Ammunition design has evolved throughout history as different weapons have been developed and different effects required. Historically, ammunition was of relatively simple design and build (e.g., sling-shot, stones hurled by catapults), but as weapon designs developed (e.g., rifling) and became more refined, the requirement for more specialized ammunition increased. Modern ammunition can vary significantly in quality but is usually manufactured to very high standards.

The fuze of a weapon can be used to alter how the ammunition works. For example, a common artillery shell fuze can be set to 'point detonation' (detonation when it hits the target), delay (detonate after it has hit and penetrated the target), time-delay (explode a specified time after firing or impact) and proximity (explode above or next to a target without hitting it, such as for airburst effects or anti-aircraft shells). These allow a single ammunition type to be altered to suit the situation it is required for. There are many designs of a fuze, ranging from simple mechanical to complex radar and barometric systems.

The propellant is the component of ammunition that is activated inside the weapon and provides the kinetic energy required to move the projectile from the weapon to the target. Before the use of gunpowder, this energy would have been produced mechanically by the weapons system (e.g., a catapult or crossbow); in modern times, it is usually a form of chemical energy that rapidly burns to create kinetic force, and an appropriate amount of chemical propellant is packaged with each round of ammunition. In recent years, compressed gas, magnetic energy and electrical energy have been used as propellants.

The cartridge is the container that holds the projectile and propellant. Not all ammunition types have a cartridge case. In its place, a wide range of materials can be used to contain the explosives and parts. With some large weapons, the ammunition components are stored separately until loaded into the weapon system for firing. With small arms, caseless ammunition can reduce the weight and cost of ammunition, and simplify the firing process for increased firing rate, but the maturing technology has functionality issues.

Ammunition can be stored in a variety of different methods. Ammunition that is to be used later is stored in ammunition dumps. Firearms can store bullets in magazines prior to firing them. In storage facility gunpowder is stored in a dry place (stable room temperature) to keep it usable, as long as for 10 years. Also its recommended to avoid hot places, because friction or heat might ignite spark and cause explosion.

Artillery shells are ammunition that is designed to be fired from artillery which has an effect over long distances, usually indirectly (i.e., out of sight of the target). There are many different types of artillery ammunition, but they are usually high-explosive and designed to shatter into fragments on impact to maximize damage. The fuze used on an artillery shell can alter how it explodes or behaves so it has a more specialized effect. Common types of artillery ammunition include high explosive, smoke, illumination, and practice rounds. Some artillery rounds are designed as cluster munitions. Artillery ammunition will almost always include a projectile (the only exception being demonstration/blank rounds), fuze and propellant of some form. When a cartridge case is not used, there will be some other method of containing the propellant explosion, usually a breech-loading weapon.















November 2, 2011

10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Please join the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe for a hearing that explores the nexus between Transnational Organized Crime and Human Trafficking.

Organized Crime has evolved to meet the challenges of globalization and modern technology. In this evolution major international criminal organizations and smaller highly specialized groups of criminal entrepreneurs have found new ways to expand their operations and exploit human beings into slavery. To meet these challenges new national and international strategies have been placed into action, but their results remain to be seen. This continues the Helsinki Commission’s hearing series on new fronts in human trafficking. This hearing will focus on: (1) the evolving nature of Transnational Organized Crime, (2) the role of major international organized crime groups and smaller organized criminal syndicates in human trafficking, (3) identified trends, and (4) strategies to combat these organizations and prevent the trafficking of human beings.
















Copyright * Helsinki Committee for Human Rights 2011


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