There are various types of ammunition featured in the Counter-Strike series, all of which have their own unique properties (damage, armor penetration, cost, etc.) which in turn also effects the efficiency of the weapons that fire them. Broadly, ammunition can be divided into pistol, rifle, shotgun, and heavy (Counter-Strike: Condition Zero Deleted Scenes only) categories. While there are many types of pistol and rifle ammunition, the only shotgun and heavy ammunition available are the 12 Gauge shotshells and 66mm respectively.

The simplest way to gauge the power of any particular ammunition is to observe the amount of energy it generates (in Joules) as stated in the VGUI menus. On a side note, if a cartridge is listed as AxBmm then A denotes the width of the bullet and B the size of its case in millimeters. If the notation is .XYZ, then it is the width of bullet expressed in 1/100th of an inch.


  • Ammunition originally required players to purchase them with money, adding another layer into the game's economy management.
  • In Counter-Strike: Source, players no longer need to purchase ammunition. Players automatically receive full ammo (loaded and backup) for all their weapons when a new round starts. Players will also always receive ammunition immediately after picking up a weapon, unless it was already empty. When out of ammo, running back to the buy zone and purchasing ammo for a primary weapon will get you another supply of ammunition.
    • If the player drops a weapon, its reserve ammo will also be discarded alongside with the weapon itself, unlike previous games where the player can keep the ammo of that weapon even when dropping it.
    • However, should the player wields a primary and secondary weapon that shares the same ammo, the player can keep the reserve ammo.
  • Prior to Global Offensive, if a player equips a primary weapon that shares ammo with his secondary weapon (MP5 with Glock 18 for example), the player will draw ammo from a single ammo pool. While this can make it easier to find ammo (in older games), the player's reserve rounds can easily deplete if ammo conservation is not taken into account.
  • In Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, all weapons come with their maximum ammunition when purchased and are refilled when the next round starts (like Source). However, additional ammunition cannot be bought once a round starts. This is because many weapons are balanced by having a low ammunition reserve (USP-S, CZ75-Auto, P250 etc). Ammo sharing between weapons is also disabled.
  • The caliber of a weapon can be viewed in the buy menu until Global Offensive. However, Global Offensive still includes references to weapon calibers in game files.

Pistol ammunition

Pistol ammunition is mainly used by the secondary pistols and submachine guns. Generally, pistol ammunition is cheaper than rifle ammunition, is low powered (except the .50 AE) and has poor armor penetration (except the 5.7x28mm). Pistol ammunition is typically shorter and fatter than rifle ammunition and depends upon the size of the cavity it makes to disable a target. Due to its low velocity, it has poor armor penetration, but is easier to suppress.

9mm Parabellum

It is the most common pistol caliber found in the game and in real life. Its main advantages are its low cost and high ammunition capacity of the sidearms chambered in it. On the downside, the 9mm does low damage and has poor armor penetration.

It is the starting ammunition the Terrorists spawn with. Terrorist players automatically obtain the Glock-18 and can carry a maximum of 120 spare bullets of the 9x19mm, with the exception of the CZ-75 which only allows 12 rounds in reserve.

While the 9mm ammunition is widely recognized as low-powered, the Tec-9 and CZ-75 can perform instant-kills by scoring headshots, even if the target has a helmet on.

The weapons using this caliber are:

.45 ACP

The .45 ACP is probably the second most used pistol ammunition in-game. Its main advantage is its relatively higher damage output. These advantages are countered by its relatively high cost and the long reload time for weapons using it. Also, it is the ammunition used by the only suppressed pistol, the USP .45 and later, the USP-S. A maximum of 100 spare bullets can be carried by the player. In CS:GO, the maximum capacity for the USP-S is limited to 24 rounds.

The weapons using this caliber are:

.357 SIG

The .357 SIG is a proprietary ammunition created by SIG Arms of Switzerland and is exclusively used by the P228 and P250 where are also manufactured by SIG Arms.

The .357 SIG makes the P228 and the P250 fine secondary weapons, having better armor penetration than the 9x19mm, equal or more base damage compared to the .45 ACP, and a greater magazine capacity than .45 ACP or .50 AE chambered side-arms. A maximum of 52 spare bullets of this caliber can be carried.

The P250 can only carry 26 rounds in reserve, but it made this up with the capability to perform instant kills when scoring headshots, regardless of the condition of the targets

The weapons using this caliber are:


Like the .357 SIG and 4.6x30mm, the 5.7x28mm is a proprietary ammunition of FN Herstal of Belgium. Like the 4.6x30mm, the 5.7x28mm is best classified as a PDW round rather than a pistol round. The 5.7x28mm is a direct competitor to the 4.6 HK. While both companies tout their ammunition to be better, both round are identical in performance, being high velocity, armor piercing rounds with questionable terminal effectiveness. The armor piercing round is designated SS190. Upto 100 rounds of spare ammunition can be held in reserve.

The weapons using this caliber are:

.50 Action Express

The .50 Action Express is the ammunition exclusively used by the Desert Eagle and R8 Revolver. It is by far the most powerful pistol ammunition available in the Counter-Strike games. While it lacks the armor piercing capacity of 5.7x28mm rounds, it more than makes up by its high base damage, this damage is high enough for the user to shoot through thin cover, or kill someone with helmet with a single headshot. When compared to rifle ammunition, it is between the 5.56x45mm NATO out of Assault Rifles and 7.62x51mm NATO out of Sniper Rifles. Its high power is offset by the low magazine capacity of both the Desert Eagle and R8 Revolver, as well as an expensive cost. The player can carry 35 spare bullets of this caliber with the Desert Eagle, but only 8 with the Revolver.

The weapons using this caliber are:

Rifle ammunition

Rifle ammunition is characterized by its high damage and high capacity of its weapons. Rifle bullets are up to three to four times longer than pistol bullets, extremely streamlined and typically travel at thrice the velocity. Their main wounding mechanism is the sheer velocity which can cause hydrostatic shock in the target. This is supplemented by the bullet tumbling (i.e rotating inside the target), fragmenting (breaking into pieces) etc which cause much more grievous wounds than pistol bullets. Assault rifle bullets such as the 5.56 NATO and 7.62 Russian are lighter or equal in mass to pistol bullets, while sniper bullets like the 7.62 NATO and .338 Lapua are heavier, generating enormous amounts of energy.

5.56x45mm NATO

The 5.56 NATO is the most commonly used assault rifle and light machine gun ammunition, being the chambering of choice for all assault rifles and light machine guns except the AK-47. Even the SIG SG550, a marksman rifle, is chambered in it. From a gameplay point of view, the 5.56mm NATO ammunition offers decent damage, low recoil and sheer abundance. While its per bullet damage is less than the other rifle bullets, the low recoil means more bullets can be delivered faster. It offers excellent armor penetration. It takes anywhere from three to six bullets to kill an opponent. The player can have a maximum of 90 bullets in reserve for rifle, 200 rounds (or 2 ammo belts) for LMG. The M4A1-S however, is limited to 40 rounds in reserve.

The weapons using this caliber are:

7.62x51mm NATO

The 7.62x51mm NATO is the standard sniping, marksman and battle rifle round of the NATO forces. This round offers high damage per bullet, second only to the .338 Lapua. As a downside, the semi-automatic and automatic firearms chambered in this round suffer from massive recoil, making them harder to control. These rounds are virtually unaffected by armor. In-game, sniper rifles take two shots to kill any enemy, armored or not, and a single headshot will kill an enemy instantly. Up to 90 bullets of this ammunition can be held in reserve except the M60 user, who can carry 200 rounds in reserve.

The weapons using this caliber are:

.338 Lapua Magnum

The .338 Lapua Magnum is the most powerful ammunition available in the Counter-Strike games, not counting the Deleted Scenes exclusive .50 BMG. The .338 Lapua is unaffected by body armor i.e it is perfect at piercing armor. It is used exclusively by the Accuracy International Arctic Warfare Super Magnum. As a point of controversy, this ammunition is capable of killing in one shot. Due to the absence of any portable .50 BMG rifle, the .338 Lapua AWSM is used as a makeshift anti-material rifle in the CS:CZ Deleted Scenes mission, Thin Ice.

The only weapon using this caliber is:

.50 BMG

The .50 Browning Machine gun is by far the most powerful small arms ammunition in use with the NATO forces. Originally used as a heavy machine gun round, it has also found use as an anti-material round in special armor-piercing and/or incendiary versions out of portable sniper rifles. In the Counter-Strike titles, the .50 BMG can only be used in the (fixed) M2 Browning, either in Deleted Scenes or custom maps. The damage inflicted by the rounds is variable and depends upon the coder.

The only weapon using this caliber is:

Shotgun ammunition

12 gauge

The 12 Gauge shotgun shells (18.53x69.85 mm/0.12x2.75 inch) are the only available ammunition for shotguns in the Counter-Strike games. In real life, there are many variations of shotgun ammunition such as solid slugs, bigger or smaller pellets etc. The Counter-Strike games are limited to buckshot.

Due to the spreading pattern of shotgun ammunition, shotguns inflict extremely high damage up close, but negligible from a distance. The spread pattern varies from weapon-to-weapon. The sawed-off shotgun has the most spread, while the M3 has the least, and the semi-automatic shotguns between them. Unlike other games, limited pellets do travel at long distances like in real life.

Shotgun ammunition has bad armor piercing capability.

The player can have a maximum of 32 shells in reserve.

The weapons using this ammunition are:

Heavy ammunition


  • M72 LAW - The 66mm warhead is highly effective against vehicles. In-game, it's able to destroy the T-90 in one shot. In real life however, its better to engage medium armor like the T-54/55 or the T-62. (CS:CZ Deleted Scenes exclusive)


  • In older betas, there was no option to buy primary and secondary ammo. Instead, a player had to bring up a menu and purchase the according ammunition for a weapon (example, 9mm for the Glock). As such, it was possible to buy ammo for other team members once after the reserve ammo was full (as ammunition had world models borrowed from Half-Life and would remain if not taken).
  • The rifles that use 5.56 ammunition read 5.56 NATO while the M249 reads 5.56 Parabellum. This may have been done to differentiate the assault rifles' ammo and the M249's exclusive 200 round boxes.
    • Early betas do not differentiate these two types of ammunition, which means that 5.56mm rifles can carry up to 200 rounds in reserve. This was fixed in beta 6.0.