5 Worst Cartridges

Ranked in ascending order of awfulness:

  • .45 GAP — Glock’s answer to… what was the question again?
  • any “Short Magnum” rifle cartridge — e.g. .300 WSM, .270 WSM, etc. They don’t do anything their longer predecessors can’t already do, their sharply-shouldered casings can cause feeding problems, and they were really just a sales gimmick like today’s new darling, the 6.5mm Creedmoor.
  • FN 5.7x28mm — expensive and designed by modern-day Europeans, it’s basically a .22 Win Mag, just worse.
  • .22 Hornet — while a good performer, it’s difficult to reload because of the tapered casing, and other .22 cartridges (e.g. the .223 and .222 Rem) perform as well or better.
  • .25 ACP / 6.35mm Browning — as the saying goes, if you ever shoot someone with this little thing, and he finds out about it, you’re going to be in trouble.

Your suggestions on the topic in Comments.


  1. The first two were designed to get equal performance out of a shorter action. Or to generate profits which is a valid purpose. I don’t really feel the need for either but I don’t think they are useless. Got to agree on the other 3. Since the 25acp is from 1905 though, there must be other obsolete cartridges that are equally stupid today. 6.5 ariska or 6.5 carcano perhaps. 22Long? Webley 380?

  2. Col. Copper said in ranking defensive cartridges that a pistol in 25acp was “best used as a watch fob”. Of course the iPhone generation has no idea what a watch fob is.

  3. The .25 ACP is often derided as being useless, but it isn’t.

    For example, it’s a lovely choice for hunting the common house cockroach, as long as it doesn’t glance off the carapace.

  4. Yes, the .22 Hornet is a reloader’s nightmare, but I had a .22 K-Hornet barrel for a T/C Contender and that cartridge was easy to reload. Alas, it, along with the Contender and several barrels of various calibers (including the wonderful little wildcat cartridge called 7mm T/CU [a .223 case necked up to 7mm]), have gone to new homes as my interest in IHMSA waned, and my interest in IDPA waxed.

  5. I agree about the 25 acp cartridge and other of like power designed just before and after 1900. However, during that time considering the medical knowledge, a shot or two to the belly was 50-75% fatal. The pistols were meant to be carried by persons who would not be in a dangerous situation normally, but needed some means of self defense. They were never considered to be accurate and were typically employed at zero to ten feet. That said, I have a Colt 1903 in 32 acp with which I can get three inch groups at fifty feet with slow aimed fire,

    1. I don’t know about the .25; I seem to remember an EMT remarking he’d zipped up many a body bag with .22 and .25 holes in them. I’m pretty sure a eyeball shot with either will slow you down. 50-75% fatal, if you give them enough time.

      These days though, it’s more of a “get off me” gun when you absolutely positively can’t carry anything bigger.

      1. Yup. A Browning Baby is incredibly small. Not the first choice in a gunfight, but a damned sight better than nothing.

    2. Semi-sidetrack, I’m often surprised and pleased how accurate my Colt 1903 and 1908 are.
      If mags weren’t so expensive, it would be fun to shoot them at my local bowling pin match.

  6. As a non-shooter (naturally clumsy people should not shoot) may I propose the 8-track tape? Not all cartridges are ammunition.

    1. yes, most units had no rewind or fast forward! I had to endure three crappy tracks to get back to Convoy by C.W. McCall

      1. Imho, I would never shoot any of these obscure rounds for many reasons, so you miss nothing. just follow kim’s well documented advice for beginners. I’ve used it before on new shooters with much success.

  7. Dunno about your call on the Hornet. I never had any problems reloading it. And the key is to consider why it was developed in the first place. There weren’t any other cartridges like it at the time. 100 yard groundhog/varmints on the farm. Nowadays just a fun round . OTH I do have a Savage 210(?) single shot break-action in Hornet that will shoot(if I do my part) one-inch groups at 100yards until I run out of ammo or get tired, heh, heh.

  8. 45 Glock was to get a 45 into their regular length actions. I guess if you are into Glocks and 45s this is a good thing.

    The short magnums are designed to go into short actions. If you want to shoot full power loads in short actions they are great I suppose (again, not for me personally, I mostly shoot rounds that were designed like 100 years ago in standard actions).

    From the numbers I lookup, the 5.7 has about 3 times the muzzle energy of a 22 Mag – and of course it is rimless which is better for auto-loaders. I think the real purpose of the round is to be fired out of short barreled PDW’s with steel core (or similar) rounds to defeat body armor in a personal defense setting. This seems useful, although not to to me personally at this time.

    22 Hornet was not a bad round for 1930, there are just better solutions today.

    25 ACP – yea, I don’t see the point since it is so under powered. I guess if it were loaded into longer barreled pistols it could be an interesting “gallery” target shooter, but I don’t think it has ever been used that way and the various 22’s have that niche covered. So I am at a loss there.

    1. There was a period when many of the short magnums were released when the gun media buzz was heavily favoring the short bolt action rifles; weight savings, Scout rifles, whatever.

      I’ll stick with my long action bolt guns (.30-06 and 6.5×55).

  9. 25 ACP.. Much more reliable than .22LR in small auto pistols.
    I have an Encore barrel in .22 Hornet. Shoots great. Biggest problem is finding ammo or brass. Only ammo with reasonable price is PPU. All the rest over $50 a box. Usually cheaper to buy the PPU and re-load than trying to find new brass.

  10. .40 S&W. Yes, I drank the koolaid and after one mag I ordered a 9mm replacement barrel and a couple of spare mags (this was for a G23.)

    The recoil was brutal in a way that .45ACP was not. Actually painful to shoot (and I shoot .357 mag all day long.) And ammo was pricey compared to the scads of uber-cheap 9mm on the market.

    A pure marketing gimmick IMO. From what I’ve heard, most LE agencies who switched to .40 with great fanfare in the 1990’s have quietly gone back to 9mm.

    1. Advances in hollowpoint technology have something to do with that. .40 S&W was an attempt to get the 10mm FBI load into a cartridge that would fit a 9mm pistol frame. It worked, but the accuracy of the .40 never came close to the 10mm.

  11. The 6.5 Creedmoore? A gimmick?

    I dunno about that Kim. There are a lot of very cool kids in the gun game glomming on to it. When that many people go for it… I am inclined to take it seriously. I think we’ll need a couple more years before we can judge that one way or the other.

  12. Disagree about the creedmoor, it fills a very interesting niche. Reaching out way past 308 range with power and accuracy, and little recoil, and fits in a regular length action.

    As others mentioned, the Hornet had it’s time, but now there are other chamberings that surpass it, though it is a fun little round to shoot. But nothing 223 doesn’t do better.

    1. I am coming from a position of ignorance, but why not just go with the 30-06, instead of the Creedmore? As for some of the other posts, I thought that the .40 cal. was to replace the 10 mm as many of the female, and some male FBI agents could not handle the recoil of the ten.

  13. I think the 6.x wars have only begun. There’s clearly a gap, it’s probably the optimum caliber for a military rifle, but nobody really has the upper hand just yet.

  14. Re the 5.7: All those hit center of mass at Fort Hood died. 13? Thereabouts.

    Low-powered weirdlie: A Bernadelli semi-auto in .22 Short. Why?

  15. As a tale from the Lawdog will note, a .25ACP works perfectly well if you’ve jammed the pistol up the guy’s nose. Some gun is ALWAYS better than no gun at all.

    However, for ‘why would you make that’, I really must nominate the Kolibri. Chambered for a diminutive 2.7mm round, it’s just the thing for fending off the odd field mouse or unusually aggressive mosquitoes.

  16. “…if you ever shoot someone with this little thing, and he finds out about it, you’re going to be in trouble…”
    A variation of Col. Cooper’s response when asked about the usefulness of the .25ACP as a defensive weapon:
    If you shoot somebody with it, all you’ll do is make them angry.

  17. IIRC, the .25acp was designed by JM Browning. The PR problem it has is that people are comparing it’s performance to .22RF from target pistols. Try comparing it in equal barrels, in the one to three inch lengths typical of pocket pistols. It was intended to replicate .22LR in a reliable form.
    I suspect that barrel inconsistancies may also be a factor in some cases. In the 80’s, Beretta couldn’t seem to make decent .25acp barrels. Of 3 guns, one tumbled bullets by 5yds, one by 10yds, and the third was good to at least 25yds. That was the tiny 950BS. (2- 5/16″ barrel.)

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