New to IAA and cartridge collecting

Hello everyone, my name is Mark. I am from northwest Missouri.

I am a new member of IAA, new to the forum and a beginning collector. I have no idea what the average age of members is, but I am 28 and have a lot to learn about cartridge collecting. I am amazed at the amount of information available from the site and very thankful there are people that feel that it is important enough to make this information available to others and are willing to share their knowledge and expertise in the field of cartridge collecting.

I have only begun collecting cartridges in the past month or so but have always had the drive to “collect”, whatever it may be. I am mainly interested in putting together a collection that displays as many different calibers as I can get ahold of. I am interested in being able to look at the difference in each caliber and cartridge design. I have only begun but I find myself getting consumed in collecting and looking for different cartridges and calibers everywhere I go. I am amazed by some of the collections that I have seen displayed or seen pictures of and can only hope to one day have amassed a collection like those.

If anyone knows of anywhere to start looking or any good leads for a beginning collector, any information would be greatly appreciated. I really wish I could make it to the St. Louis show this year, but my job will not allow me to make it this year.

Thanks for the site and forum. I look forward to spending time reading and learning about my new passion and hopefully at some point I can share some worthwhile information in return.


Welcome to the IAA Forum.

What timing on your part (got to put in a plug for the St. Louis show) “…anywhere to start looking…”- the biggest cartridge show held here in the U.S. is this week (April 1-4, 2015) in St. Louis, see: … ridge-Show. People from all over the U.S. and the world will be in attendance with lots of collectable cartridges of all types and prices. If you can’t make it this year try and plan for a future show. (I can relate to work taking precedence over getting to a show, you have to have “the job” in order to partake of the other.)

Don’t forget local and regional gun shows for hunting down cartridges for you collection.

A recent topic of discussion here on the Forum- Where to buy collectable ammunition?: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=15574

Here is the IAA home web page in case you haven’t seen it: Note the events section (cartridge shows held around the U.S. and Europe), reference section and info on the IAA membership which gets you the IAA Journal. You can down load a free sample of the Journal and see that it is an excellent publication dedicated to cartridge collecting.


Welcome! Hope to see you at SLICS.


Welcome, I’m 51, been collecting for years now with the help of a LOOOONG time collector . . . and I still have a lot to learn. That is what I like about this hobby, there is always something new to learn.

Have fun!



Do you have a specific direction or what is your main interest?


I would fall into the category of “general collector”. I am interested in every different caliber. My goal is to have an example of every different caliber or version of that caliber produced. I like seeing the differences in the cases and the designs of each cartridge. I am most interested in metallic pistol and rifle cartridges but have come across some shot shells (paper, brass and plastic) that I keep in my collection as well. I will keep anything that I don’t already have. I have not really thought about keeping different examples of headstamps yet, but might consider to delve into that once finding different calibers of cartridges gets pretty tough, just so I can add items to my collection more frequently and easily.

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Mark- You may find that the “one of every caliber” goal turns out to be a much vaster project than it first appears, once you jump into things. After a while you may find yourself drawn into some specialty and focus on that with less interest in “everything.”

The best news is that there is no right or wrong answer. Collect what YOU like and find interesting, and you are free to change your mind at any time.

As a beginning check list, and educational tool, I would suggest getting a copy of Barnes’ “Cartridge of the World.” Any edition will do, and despite some errors, it is a good starting point, and can serve as a check list for “all the calibers.” As your library expands, and manufacturers contintue to tinker, you will discover even more new and old calibers which are not listed.

Eventually, I suspect you will narrow things down a bit, perhaps to one of these smaller niches:

Rimfire or centerfire calibers.
Black powder or smokeless calibers
American or metric calibers
Rimmed or rimless calibers
Calibers introduced before 1900, after 1900, or after 1950, or even after 1990, the year your were born, or any other date range that you select
Rifle calibers or only handgun calibers
Calibers used in a certain type firearm (eg- Gatling guns, the Browning single shot, Colt SAA, or the AR-15 family)
Calibers loaded by a single maker (see the video on a nearby link about Dr. Frederickson and his books on various types of Federal brand ammo).
Cartridges with color tips (Pepper Burress has a gazillion different ones!)
Pistol caliber penetrators (see early SLICS photo thread for Matt’s display of just one type)
Pinfires (Aaron would love to see the number of pinfire collectors double!)
U.S. military cartridges (Hackley Woodin & Scranton books tell all about these)
.22 rimfires- see the IAA main site for great material on these- mainly collected as boxes, not singles
There was a display a few years ago on cartridges made in the state of Nebraska, everything from rimfires to hedgehog anti-submarine rockets.

Go for whatever you like, and have fun!

My first purchase was “Cartridges of the World”, it is the 14th edition, the newest one out. I understand that obtaining an example of every cartridge is unrealistic but I want to collect as many as I possibly can.

I already find myself collecting more American centerfire cartridges than most anything else so that is where my greatest interest is right now. I have other that I have picked up during my shirt time of collecting but American centerfire makes up the vast majority of my small collection.

I keep any new caliber or cartridge that I don’t already have and collect different designs of cartridges that I find interesting. You are correct, there are so many ways that a collection could take off in that it is hard to narrow it down to one certain direction. I am still new to collecting and have not set my sights on any one certain direction to go with my collection yet. I am sure I will get into a specialty area at some point but for now the availability of new specimens for my collection is quite large so I am collecting anything that I don’t already have.

Thanks for the reply and I will say that sometimes it feels overwhelming when you stop and just thumb through “Cartridges of the World” and realize how many different cartridges there are out there!

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Cartridges of the World is a book worth having, but it is what I can a practical book - that is, it is aimed at everyone who wants to know about ammunition. The result is that while it is great on calibers that are, or have been, either in wide use or were major calibers for a single large user (such as the Japanese rifle and pistol calibers, although there was some non-Japanese use of them). The result is, when it comes to “every caliber (case type)” it barely scratches the surface.

“One each” is a daunting task to achieve, but if that’s what you like, give it your best shot. Your enjoyment will come, just as JohnS said, not from what other people think you should collect, but from those items that bring you enjoyment.

Mark: my first book was also Cartridges of the World 11th edition I am now up to the 13th edition. My goal, like you, is to collect one of every thing. I am at the point that tho the ones I am missing are mostly beyond my check book, so then I begin to look at headstamps and then to color bullet tips then on to who knows. It is just fun to learn about the cartridges! You have come to the right place the knowledge here is unbelievable. Then you should join IAA if you can not own all the cartridges of the world you can read about them in the journal. Good luck, too bad shipping from Alaska is so bad I have 100’s of duplicates. Vic

Welcome, Mark!


Welcome to the IAA!
Collecting “everything”? There’s nothing wrong to be young and ambitious. Enjoy some shows, the excitement of finding something new or special (SLICS is somehow Mekka for me: once in a lifetime) and become aware of your vast mission that can last for the rest of your life…