What Are Straight-Wall Rifle Cartridges?


A straight-wall cartridge is a unique type of ammo that does not have a taper or shoulder on the case. Straight-wall cartridges have the same diameter across the entire length of the case, unlike other rifle ammo, like .223 Remington and .308 Winchester, which taper toward the end. There has been an increase in the development and interest in straight-wall cartridges recently, even though they are not a new invention. This is primarily because certain states only allow the use of straight-wall cartridges for hunting game animals, such as deer, during their annual gun seasons. Some of these states include Ohio, Michigan, and Iowa. If you’re an aspiring deer hunter and want to learn more about straight-walled cartridges, here is what you should know.


Hunter Dragging Whitetail Buck Through FieldAs mentioned earlier, some states only allow the use of straight-wall cartridges for deer hunting during the annual gun season. This is because the way straight-wall cartridges are designed negatively impacts their ballistics, preventing them from traveling as far as tapered rifle cartridges on average. This occurs because the straight-wall design does not allow for as much pressure as tapered cartridges, which directly reduces the projectile’s overall velocity. Typically, the states that only allow straight-wall cartridges are those with flatter topography. While this reduces the overall effective range, the bullets fired from straight-wall cartridges have a lower chance of over travel, reducing the risk that a missed shot accidentally strikes someone’s property.


There are many straight-wall cartridges, some of which have been around for a long time. Below is a brief list of some of the most common calibers that use straight-wall cartridges. However, if you plan on hunting whitetail deer or another big game animal with one of them, make sure you check state regulations that the caliber meets the minimum requirements for legal use. Certain states have minimum caliber and muzzle energy requirements for legal use while hunting, especially during deer season. Requirements vary between states regarding barrel length and type of firearm as well.

  • .38 Special/.357 Magnum

  • .44 Special/.44 Magnum

  • .444 Marlin

  • .375 Winchester

  • .450 Bushmaster

  • .350 Legend

  • .45-70 Government

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You can find many rifles chambered in calibers that use straight-wall cartridges, including lever-action rifles, break-barrel rifles, bolt-action rifles, and AR-platform rifles. What many like about straight-wall cartridges is that you can use many of them in lever guns without needing a detachable magazine. Something else that lends itself to the popularity of straight-wall cartridges, particularly .450 Bushmaster and .350 Legend, is that there are now many AR-platform rifles that are being made specifically for these calibers. If you want to purchase an AR 15 upper receiver, you can even build your own! This means you can have a 10-20 round magazine of a high-powered hunting round, giving you plenty of versatility with the weapon.


Straight-wall cartridges are an excellent option option for states that limit the use of shouldered rifle cartridges for hunting. There are many straight-wall cartridges that are capable of effectively hunting a variety of game animals, whether you’re after mule deer, whitetail, elk, or something else. These cartridges can also be found in many hunting rifles, making them useful for a wide range of applications.

If you’re in need of other hunting supplies to round out your kit, look no further! We have tons of hunting apparel available, as well as spotting scopes and binoculars. We also have a wide variety of in-stock rifle scopes if you need something to upgrade your new hunting rifle.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>