Universal Ammunition

Tony: I'm out. Gimme, give me. You've got extra mags?
Rhodey: They're not universal, Tony!

An odd phenomenon in some video games with guns in that any ammunition you pick up works with either any gun whatsoever or an entire class of guns. In the real world, cartridges have a variety of different calibers, lengths and propellants based on a number of factors, including desired stopping power, target penetration, and the amount of recoil and gas pressure needed for a semiauto or automatic weapon to cycle itself (or, the other way around, prevent it from exploding in your face).

These cartridges are then loaded into clips and magazinesnote  designed for specific weapons, so that even if the cartridges are identical between two or more guns, you'll have to unload and reload one painstaking round at a time before you can take advantage of it; nevermind the question of where you're getting the empty magazines from. Sitting down and filling up mags is "not always an option" in a pitched firefight, and largely qualifies as an Acceptable Break from Reality. This trope is similar to One Bullet Clips since both of them treat ammunition like water that's just decanted into a container of the right type when needed; here the container in question and its contents can magically change depending on what it is being attached to, whereas there it's more about the way every magazine not being held is immersed in the ammo-liquid until it is as full as possible.

Before adding examples please keep in mind that a lot of weapons from video games are based on real-life weapons. Many military and civilian weapons very intentionally use common "standard" ammunition sizes and magazine types (like the NATO 5.56 and 7.62 rounds for assault and battle rifles). Most 5.56mm weapons use the magwell dimensions specified under the draft STANAG 4179, meaning one can take a magazine from any such weapon and use it in another. However, if the magazine is interchangeable but visibly different depending on the weapon (for example, a steel 30-round magazine for an M4 turning into a polymer PMAG when it's put in an HK416) it is still this trope. If two weapons that have interchangeable ammunition in real life use different ammunition in the game, it is an inverted example.

"Compatible magazines" is an important distinction: if a Luger, MP40, MP5 and Glock 17 all share a "9mm ammo" pickup, there's still behind-the-scenes magic going on. Let's say you pick up a 32-round MP40 magazine under the above. You can use it to reload the 8-round Luger, the 17-round Glock, and the 30-round MP5. This could only really work if you picked up the MP40 magazine itself along with four empty Luger mags, 2 empty Glock mags, and 2 empty MP5 mags. Obviously, you didn't just pick up nine magazines, eight of them empty, so instead of having magic transforming bullets you have a magic transforming magazine.

Note that most Energy Weapons batteries/power sources, in contrast to the panoply of batteries in Real Life, are portrayed as universal. Just pop in a random battery and they're good to go.

In fictional settings, such as science fiction, this is sometimes purposely justified by declaring there has been a worldwide standardization causing an actual adoption of universal ammunition or some sort of literally universal ammunition that's capable of reconfiguring itself to completely differing weapons.

See also Bottomless Magazines, One Bullet Clips.

Inexplicable video game examples:

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    First-Person Shooter 
  • GoldenEye (1997) has two main types of ammo, pistol and rifle. No matter what pistol or submachine gun you use, it'll take the same ammo. Likewise, no matter what rifle you pick up, it'll take whatever rifle ammo you have. However, there are unique types of ammunition specific to certain weapons such as rocket ammunition for the rocket launcher or shotgun shells for the shotgun.
  • Perfect Dark and its prequel add a category for SMG ammo, but otherwise retain the same ammunition setup as in GoldenEye. Even funnier is that there are some alien weapons in the first game which draw from these pools (and some of them even have reloading animations of putting an extra glob of goob into the gun!) - good thing the Skedar chambered their handguns for 9mm, right?
  • Medal of Honor: Allied Assault has wildly different guns from four nations all accepting the same carts and mags if they're the same "type" (pistol, rifle, etc.). The original PSX game averted this for pistols and sub-machine guns (for instance, salvaged 9mm guns would not give you ammo for your .45 Colt or Thompson), but played it straight with rifles. The 2010 reboot switches to the standard modern system of weapons sharing ammo based on real-world caliber, and also allows you to ask certain allies for more ammo regardless of whether he would logically be carrying that kind of ammo on him.
  • In the game version of The World Is Not Enough ammo types are, for the most part, identified by caliber, and are only shared by weapons that share them in real life (ignoring the One Bullet Clips issues that result). However, since the ammo types are identified solely by diameter (e.g. "9mm bullets" rather than "9x19mm bullets"), this still results in the 7.62x39mm AKS-47 inexplicably loading the same ammo as the 7.62x51mm sniper rifles.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • Once upon a time, picking up any weapon dropped by a dead player gave you half of your maximum ammunition, even if it was something like the Pyro's flamethrower, the Soldier's rocket launcher, the Demoman's bottle, a wooden bat, a dead fish, or 150kg of metal in the shape of a minigun. Spies could also somehow recharge their cloak meter with these same objects, as could the Engineer regain metal to build sentry guns and teleporters (where this got odd is that dropped hats gave no metal, despite them being made out of enough of the stuff to craft at least 36 weapons). With the Gun Mettle update, a dead player will drop both the weapon and a medium ammo pack. The dropped weapon instead can be freely picked up and used by another player of the respective class until their death or the end of the match.
    • Lampshaded in Poker Night at the Inventory. According to the Heavy, his minigun uses ammo with classified diameters so that his enemies cannot use it. It could be a case of not being able to manufacture more, but even then it's still absurd.
  • Call of Duty:
    • Averted to a slightly unrealistic degree at times in the earlier games. Even the normal and sniper versions of a weapon did not have interchangeable ammunition; while in some cases like most bolt-action rifles this was at least slightly-accurate since attaching a scope made it impossible to reload them using stripper clips, it was even the case when the weapons should have used exactly the same ammunition loaded exactly the same way, like the Sten being nearly-impossible to replenish despite taking the same magazines as the MP40s every other German soldier drops, or a scoped Mosin-Nagant reloading with clips anyway but not being able to take more from unscoped ones.
    • Call of Duty 4 changed this around and would allow you to take ammo from any dropped weapon if it fired the same kind of bullet as what you already had, and if it isn't already the exact same gun you're using, the gun itself would stay on the ground in case you wanted to swap for it. You can also increase the amount of maximum ammo for a gun by carrying another one that fires the same kind of bullet (such as the 5.56x45mm M16, M4, and/or G36C, which falls into this when you're using two guns that are clearly not using the same magazines). Multiplayer here and singleplayer in later games is a bit stricter, where you can only take ammo from another gun if it's the same base model (i.e. an M4 with any attachment[s] would give ammo to any other M4, but not to an M16; this is usually not very limiting in singleplayer, however, as the player's starting gun usually has more attachments and reserve ammo than is normally possible or even necessary to complete the level, and anything you could replace it with would get more ammo from every enemy or ally that dies during the level).
    • Multiplayer in later games would occasionally go back to ridiculously strict requirements to pick up ammo from another gun on the ground, but games since Modern Warfare 2 also allow this to be played straight with the "Scavenger" perk - every casualty (except those killed by explosive weapons in later games) will drop a backpack with one full magazine for whatever guns you're carrying, another piece of your primary equipment, and one special grenade. In Modern Warfare 2, this backpack also contains a 40mm grenade or four shotgun shells if your gun has the grenade launcher/shotgun attachment. Yeesh, good thing the enemy didn't know they were carrying all this stuff...
  • Turning Point: Fall Of Liberty suffered from a glaring lack of ammo commonality. No two of the game's many 9mm weapons could share ammo. In fact, if you had the scoped and unscoped versions of the same gun, they still do not share ammo. Did we mention the game was an Obvious Beta?
  • In Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, the Strogg use the exact same pickup for all their ammo and their health restoration. This would normally fall under Justified Examples... except that the pickup in question was established in Quake IV to be a specially treated slurry of liquefied human remains, and could not conceivably function as ammunition for anything except a particularly disgusting squirt-gun.
  • In Far Cry, the MP5 and P90 use the same ammo, with boxed "SMG" ammo found in the game having "9x19" written on it. Right ammo for the MP5, but absolutely wrong for the 5.7x28mm P90.
    • In the various sequels (Far Cry 2, 3, Blood Dragon and 4), all weapons of the same type (with distinctions for which slot they go in for 2) use the same ammunition and can get more by walking over any other weapon of its type dropped by dead enemies. This means, for example, as of Far Cry 4 the pistols are all simultaneously chambered in .45 ACP, both 9mm Makarov and Para, .44 Magnum, 7.63mm Mauser, .455 Webley, and .50 Action Express. And that the same ammo pickups feed sniper rifles chambered for 7.62x54mmR, .308 Winchester, .50 BMG, and a .700 Nitro Express hunting rifle. They apparently tried to justify this for the automatic rifles in Far Cry 2, where they all use 7.62mm bullets in real life (even going out of their way to include an obscure 7.62mm predecessor to the AR-18 rather than any form of M16), but they ignored the fact that the AK-47 doesn't use the same 7.62 bullets as the others; conversely, this also means that the player can be carrying two 40mm grenade launchers or 12-gauge shotguns and not share ammo between them for no other reason than because one of them is being used in place of a pistol and the other in place of a rifle.
    • Most ridiculously, in Far Cry 2 "flame" ammo is shown as a gas can, which can somehow morph into ammunition for a flaregun.
  • Half-Life's pistol and submachine gun use the same ammunition. This isn't a problem with regards to the Glock and MP5, using 9mm pistol ammo, although Fridge Logic arises in how Gordon transfers the ammo between guns (he likely does so the same way he transfers bullets between half-used magazines - that is, his HEV suit does it for him). However, the Hi-Def pack - an overall graphical upgrade - changes the Glock into a Beretta and the MP5 into an M4 assault rifle. That creates a new problem - the M4 uses 5.56x45mm ammo, not 9x19mm. Another problem comes when combining the Opposing Force expansion with the Hi-Def pack, which adds an M249 SAW that should share ammo with the M4, but doesn't. This was fixed in the PlayStation 2 port, which used the hi-def models, added a separate ammo type for the M4, and does not include the weapons from Opposing Force.
    • Totally averted in Half-Life 2, as every weapon uses unique ammunition that even has a unique world model (so the submachine gun ammo appears as an ammo box correctly labeled as holding 4.6x30mm ammo, and grenades for its launcher are noticeably different from the hand-thrown ones). One Bullet Clips still apply.
  • BioShock 2 features various Rapture citizens carrying around the world's first custom-made .50 BMG Thompsons, so that their weapons can share ammo with Subject Delta's huge Gatling gun. Of course how the hell they could actually use a .50 BMG Thompson is never dealt with.
  • Averted in S.T.A.L.K.E.R., where there there are some guns that use unique caliber suitable only for them, not to mention each gun has two or three different types of ammo for various situations.
    • Although a criticism with this is that 9x19mm (9mm Parabellum) looks a little too similar to the 9x18mm (9mm Makarov), both in the in-game name and icon. Some players not used to this may wonder why they can't use one or the other when they're both 9mm. The game does occasionally make up for this with either alternate versions of guns chambered for a different, more plentiful ammo type (such as a unique MP5 firing 9mm Makarov) or the ability to convert a gun using one to use the other via upgrades.
  • The pistol and minigun in Unreal and Unreal Tournament share ammo; likely in reference to this, both of their Secondary Fire modes just increased firing speed at the cost of accuracy. Later games gave the two weapons separate ammo pools, culminating in Unreal Tournament 3's minigun firing Tarydium shards rather than conventional bullets.
  • Exhumed (a.k.a. Powerslave) has a variation in the Sega Saturn and PlayStation versions in which the ammo pickups are all generic blue orbs that refill whatever weapon you are holding at the time, but the weapons themselves all have different ammo pools beyond that.
  • In Guns Of Icarus Online, players can equip special ammunition to apply various advantages and disadvantages to their weapon. Special ammo works in any weapon, regardless of whether the weapon is firing bullets, missiles, or burning gasoline.
  • PlanetSide 2, unlike its predecessor, uses universal ammunition for its weapons. An engineer dropping an ammo pack will refill anyone's ammo; be it the slugs for a Gauss Rifle, caseless ammo for the Mini Chaingun, the plasma batteries for a Lasher, or the high-explosive rockets for a Decimator.
  • The primary and secondary weapons of PAYDAY 2 use separate ammunition pools, but ammunition pickups restore ammo for almost all weapons (though different weapons and ammo types replenish at different rates; a box of ammo from a dead street cop will probably give you three or five bullets for your assault rifle, but only one or two extra shells for your secondary shotgun, possibly not even that if loading it with slugs or explosive shells). An attempt at justification can be seen in the ammo pickups having multiple ammunition boxes clustered together, but that does not explain why a player who only needs shotgun ammunition somehow makes all of the handgun ammo from a pickup vanish, or why a policeman only armed with a single 9mm pistol is carrying five different types of ammo, including a box very explicitly labeled as carrying 5.56mm ammo. Nor does it explain how a player filling up on saw blades from an ammo bag, which looks to be filled only with magazines for specific assault rifles, somehow reduces the amount of .50 BMG ammunition available for a Thanatos-equipped player.
    • Then this trope is averted to the other extreme with the Akimbo skill/perk. A player may wield two of a handgun as a primary and another of the same type of handgun as a secondary, but ammunition for each is distinct and separate.
  • Blockstorm uses a system similar to the above-mentioned Call of Duty's Scavenger perk. Every time a player dies they drop a backpack, and any other player who picks that up before it disappears gets one full magazine for both of their weapons and one more round for or instance of their explosive weapon, regardless of what either player is using. The backpack also gives a full refill for the placeable team-colored blocks, even if the killed player had none left themselves. This gets particularly silly following the update that added Humongous Mecha to the game, where they can pick up those backpacks to get more Arm Cannon-gatling ammo and another rocket, too.

    Platformer Games 
  • In Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project, you have 3 different ammunition types: Ammo, Pipe Bomb, and Energy. Ammo is used for your Desert Eagle, Shotgun, and Assault Rifle, though the minor pickups only show 3 Desert Eagle rounds (the Major pickups show one of each round). Pipe Bombs are used for Pipe Bombs and the RPG. Energy is used for the De-Mutator (a glob-throwing weapon that de-mutates any mutants you run across) and Pulse Rifle.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • In Star Ruler, all ships draw from an abstracted ammo supply with no attempt to distinguish types. Given that you can have any number of ships in varying sizes from fighters to planet-sized (or bigger!) super-battleships, trying to manage individual ammo types would be a real pain in the arse anyway.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Irvine in Final Fantasy VIII has ammo for his Limit Break, but these work for all the guns he can equip in the game.
    • Averted, since you custom-make all of his weapons yourself, with the exception of his starting weapon, which the first upgrade is created from by using it as a base. In this case, you're modding the rifle to the ammo, most of which you can make yourself as well. Double averted?
  • All weapons in Fallout that use the same caliber take the same ammunition. The issue of different cartridges in the same caliber is ignored, magazines/clips/belt links don't need to be kept track of, and characters seem to load mags in the heat of combat.
    • Possibly justified by the fact in a world with definitely limited ammunition guns would be modified to accept the most common types.
    • Fallout 2 has a car that can be recharged by both Small Energy Cells and Fusion Batteries - themselves used as clips for a wide assortment of energy weapons.
    • Due to a bug in Fallout 2, the P90 expy gun was originally loaded with 9mm ammo, which was extremely rare and only designed to be used in this one gun (it wasn't even the only specialized 9mm ammo, either - elsewhere in the game is a Mauser that takes 9mm (ball) ammo). However, once emptied, it then took extremely common 10mm ammo.
    • In Fallout 3, Lincoln's Repeater (an authentic Henry Rifle) uses the same ammo as the .44 revolver. A .44 Magnum round might fit inside a Henry rifle, but the rifle's pin would hit the wrong part of the cartridge, missing the primer entirely and thus failing to fire. Even if it could fire, the higher pressure would likely destroy the rifle in short order.
    • The .32 Caliber pistol and Hunting Rifle both use .32 caliber ammo, however the rifle is much more powerful than the pistol. The pistol is probably the weakest weapon in the game. This is because the Hunting Rifle is actually firing .308 projectiles, and someone accidentally set it to use the wrong ammo; even if it weren't a glitch, the long-barreled rifle with a sealed chamber would be able to fire the bullet with much more energy than the tiny, unsealed revolver anyway.
    • Fallout: New Vegas has several weapons which share ammo pools, some more sensibly than others. For instance, it's not too far out of the question that the 9mm SMG uses the same round as the 9mm pistol, but there's a few questions as to why a superheavy machine gun loads handgun rounds and two of the miniguns load revolver rounds. The most questionable universality in ammo might be that of the flame weapons: weapons that fire flamer fuel can somehow use this ammunition type to produce a flamethrower's flames, an incinerator's arcing fireballs, or most oddly, a flare gun's magnesium flare.
      • A high enough Science skill will allow you to use workbenches to convert the three main types of energy weapon ammunition between each other, effectively invoking this trope yourself. You can also transfer the energy in fission batteries to small energy cells (then covert them to whatever type you need)—which mysteriously creates five charged cells for every drained one the recipe requires.
  • All firearms in Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, barring a few exotic examples, take the same bullets. Larger guns just shoot more than one at a time. Of course, the Bullets schematic only requires the ingredients for black powder, so it's unclear just what exactly you're shooting.
  • On a larger scale in EVE Online, one unit of a certain "size" of projectile ammunition can be chambered in up to five calibers. For example, one unit of "Large projectile ammunition", meant to be fired from battleship guns, can be used interchangeably in Dual 425mm, 650mm, 800mm, 1200mm, and 1400mm guns. Also, a unit of ammunition unloaded from a 800mm autocannon takes up the volume as ammunition unloaded from a 1400mm howitzer.
  • Averted in 7.62mm High Caliber, with each gun taking the proper caliber and many calibers coming in multiple brands and types that can be mixed and matched in the magazines, and each gun takes its own magazine. One error is that the Mauser pistol and carbine take Tokarev ammo (which will load in a Mauser but are too powerful to safely use, and require 7.63mm Mauser ammunition instead).
  • Played absurdly straight in Persona, where your first ammo pickup is "9mm bullet" (followed by "12ga bullets" before moving on to "Tranquilizers", "Mage Killers" and so on) which you can equip with any gun type, be it an SMG, a shotgun, or an assault rifle.

    Simulation Game 
  • Averted in Operation Flashpoint and its Spiritual Successor ARMA. Unless the type of ammunition is used in a whole closely related family/series of firearms, you'll have to find appropriate ammo for each gun. You won't have much luck firing an AK-74 with a magazine of M16 bullets. As noted, however, related firearms can take the same ammo (most assault rifles of Western origin in the series use the same magazines as the M16, for example); in a reversal, though, most of the weapons in ARMA III actually do take the same bullets as the equivalent weapons from the other factions, but use different magazines that can't be exchanged.

    Survival Horror 
  • A recurring trope in the Resident Evil games:
    • Resident Evil 4: Ammo, for the most part, is totally interchangeable within any weapon of a certain classification. This leads to the 5.7x28mm Five-seven firing 9x19mm Parabellum, and the .30-06 Springfield and 5.56x45mm SL8 sharing ammo (though the inventory screen flat-out states the Springfield is firing .223, so it could have been converted).
      • Furthermore, the magazines are the same size for each gun, but the ammo cap for each gun can be upgraded. Is Leon putting two mags in on top of each other?
    • Though justified in the main game of Resident Evil 2 (both Leon's VP70 and Claire's Hi-Power do, in fact, use the same type of ammunition in real life), it is invoked poorly with Claire's bonus weapon, the Colt .45 revolver. Granted, it's to fit the whole "cowgirl" theme along with her outfit, but as its name suggests, the revolver uses .45 Long Colt rounds, not 9mm ones.
    • It's invoked even more poorly in Resident Evil Gun Survivor, where all four of your available handguns use 9mm rounds, which includes the Nambu pistol, a gun that was chambered exclusively in 8mm. This is very weakly Hand Waved by the gun being described as "Custom," even though a Nambu would likely blow apart if one ever did go to the trouble of rechambering it for 9mm.
    • There are three handguns in Resident Evil 7: Biohazard: an M1911, a Glock 17, and a Makarov PM. In the real world, these guns are chambered respectively in .45 ACP, 9x19 Parabellum, and 9x18 Makarov. In the game, they all magically use the same ammo. note 
  • The first Parasite Eve game had this. The only unique ammo was the rocket launcher. Otherwise, you just had generic bullets. 9mm Parabellum = .45 ACP = 12 gauge = 7.62x51mm = 5.56x45mm = 40mm. For those who don't know ammo, pistol ammo = bigger pistol ammo = shotgun shell = rifle ammo = smaller rifle ammo = grenade.
    • Averted in Parasite Eve 2, each ammo type is Color-Coded for Your Convenience. This even gets lampshaded by one of the NPCs, who notes that another character jammed a pistol by trying to force the ammo from a different pistol caliber into it.
  • The third game in the Dead Space series exchanges the previous games' "each gun has its own ammo type" system for this trope. Partially it was explained as a simplification for the new weapon crafting system, but the fandom reacted with They Changed It, Now It Sucks (coupled with Lying Creator, as the initial Word of God was that this was only there for the demos).
  • Unturned plays with this. All guns use specific magazines that have to be pre-loaded — for example, the Maplestrike uses NATO mags and the Timberwolf uses Lapua mags. However, the magazines are reloaded with boxes of a broader type of generic ammunition - both the Maplestrike and Timberwolf use military bullets. The number of rounds provided by a box varies by the magazine.
  • The first ObsCure game had pistol and shotgun ammunition used across all weapons in each category. It's justified for the shotguns, which are all presumably 12-gauge, but the pistol ammo is used in everything from the old pocket pistol you find early on to the custom heavy pistol you take from the principal's safe to the Hand Cannon magnum revolver, which all vary widely in power. The second game averts it, with each gun using different ammunition, but the spinoff Final Exam goes even further and has all guns, from the pistol to the rocket launcher, use the same generic ammo.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • In darkSector this is played pretty much straight with everything but the starting pistol, which only shares ammo with its own burst-firing upgrade; the Klin PP9 (9x18mm), AKS-74U (5.45x39mm) and G36C (5.56x45mm) all share an ammo pool, as do the Webley Mark IV revolver (9x20mm rimmed) and the SOCOM 16 rifle (7.62x51mm NATO).
  • Zig-Zagged by Tomb Raider. Each of Lara's weapons (bow, handgun, shotgun and rifle) use a different type of ammunition. However all upgrades use their same respective ammunition. This is justified with the bow and shotgun, but is played ridiculously straight with the pistol and rifle: Lara replaces her Beretta 92 (9x19mm Parabellum) with an M1911 (.45 ACP) and then somehow upgrades that M1911 into a Desert Eagle (.50 Action Express), while the rifle starts as a Type 100 (8x22mm Nambu) and is eventually turned into an AK-47 (7.62x39mm Soviet) and then some strange combination of it and an Ultimax 100 Mark 3 (5.56x45mm NATO); in both cases the very same ammo pickups will give you bullets for these guns regardless of what stage of upgrading you have them at. She also uses the same grenades for the rifle's grenade launcher to create "grenade arrows" (though that one is arguably justified). Also, all previous modifications (padded stocks, port-vented slides, etc.) automatically carry over when Lara upgrades her weapons - even in the above case of replacing her Beretta with the 1911 rather than upgrading it into one.
  • In Red Dead Redemption, each of its 21 firearms are in one of 6 categories: Revolvers, Pistols, Rifles, Repeaters, Sniper Rifles, and Shotguns. Each category has an associated ammunition type (i.e. shotgun ammo for shotguns) which is universal across all weapons in the category.
  • Inconsistently applied in Sniper Elite V2, where you can search the corpses of enemies to get ammo, but each weapon has its own ammo pool and SMG ammo is almost never found in this manner. You can typically find American .30-06 or Russian 7.62x54mmR rifle rounds on a dead German who was armed with an MP 40, but you can't find 9x19mm rounds for that very same MP 40 of his if you decide to take it. Or, worse, you can, but they'll be only usable in the Welrod or Luger pistol instead. This gets even worse with weapons added through DLC, where that same dead German may now have British .303 or even Japanese 7.7x58mm rounds on him for some reason.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • In Jagged Alliance 2 all 7.62mm calibre weapons of WarPac/ChiCom origin use the same ammunition - 7.62mm, which would be logical, except there are three kinds of 7.62mm Warsaw Pact ammunition in real life: 7.62x54mmR, as used by the Dragunov and most of their MGs, 7.62x39mm as used by the AK-47/AKM and their relatives, and 7.62x25 used by the PPSh/Type 65 and other pistol type weapons. They are definitely NOT interchangeable; the second numbers denote case length, which means the first one would be more than twice the size of the chamber for the last. This was eventually fixed in the v1.13 modification.
  • While normally being pretty faithful to Real Life World War II weaponry, Silent Storm does have a few odd-balls. For example, some submachine guns can be reloaded by equivalent bullets used by machine guns (submachine gun mags take up 2 vertical Grid Inventory squares, while machine gun clips take up 4). One has to wonder how a large circular magazine fits into the normal-sized mag housing. The same is also true for the Energy Weapons that become available late in the game. The handheld versions are bazooka-sized, but there are also energy-armed Panzerkleins. All the mags for these are large (4 squares) but carry only a charge for a single shot. However, an extremely-rare Random Encounter can result in you getting your hands on an energy assault rifle, which uses rifle-sized magazines (1 square) with 50 shots in each. Once you give the rifle to the quartermaster as the base, you can get unlimited 50-shot mags that also work with any energy weapon. So, instead of lugging around huge canisters that only offer you a single shot, you can carry 4 mags for 200 shots in the same space.
  • Downplayed in Aurora when it comes to missiles. Every launcher can launch missiles equal to and smaller than the size of the launcher, but there is a Min-Maxing potential to encourage using the missiles they're made for. For instance, smaller launchers are quicker to reload, fire control designed for one type of missile will lose much of its efficiency if used for launching smaller ones (fighter fire controls tend to be poor resolution and small size so they are much shorter-ranged than escort/capital ships, and that could mean the difference between pounding enemy from a safe distance or entering the range of his own anti-ship missiles).

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Most Grand Theft Auto games play this trope straight.
  • Terraria has a very small selection of ammunition types, but said ammunition feeds a rather diverse variety of guns. For instance, standard Musket Ball ammunition will fire from muskets just fine, but it will also feed BB guns, revolvers, Uzis, shotguns, sniper rifles, and a half-minigun half-shark monstrosity.

Justified video game examples

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Borderlands has over 17 million guns, with Universal Ammo for each type of gun. The same bullets do different things, from explode to multiply, based on which gun they are loaded into. The second game suggests that a technology known as 'digistructing' might be the cause of this; specifically, Tediore guns are discarded explosively with a fresh copy built anew in the user's hands, complete with a fresh load of ammunition for whatever type of gun it is. It isn't too hard to believe that this might be the case for all weapons simply creating fresh ammo in magazines from a generic supply on your person.
  • The Vanu Sovereignty in PlanetSide chamber the same type of ammunition (batteries) for their main weapons, as they all need similar levels of power. Their anti-tank laser cannon however, requires a much larger battery pack. Almost all handheld projectile rifles and pistols are chambered in 9mm ammo, bar sniper rifles, allowing a Terran Republic soldier behind enemy lines to reload his Mini Chaingun with ammo looted from New Conglomerate Gauss Rifles, for example.
  • Deus Ex: Invisible War takes this trope to the extreme. Anything that uses ammunition uses the same ammunition as everything else. The in-game explanation is that ammunition is reduced to a slurry of nanomachines that form into the proper ammunition for the weapon. This includes battery packs, flame thrower fuel, regular bullets, and even rockets. The creative reason behind this is that the inventory system got simplified, and carrying 20 types of ammo didn't sound appealing when you only had 7 spaces. This has the major drawback of burning your ammo with one gun, or even doing too much shooting late in the game means you're screwed, since you can still only carry about as much ammo as you could in the first game but that limited supply is stretched across four or five guns now.
    • Averted in the first game, and wasn't an issue because ammo was stored in a Hyperspace Arsenal (your coat) separate from the normal Grid Inventory. That said, pistol and sniper ammo were simply cartons of loose bullets rather than magazines. That's One Bullet Clips for you (on top of an attachment increasing the mag size of a specific weapon.
    • Human Revolution averts this even further, as ammunition takes up inventory space and almost every weapon requires specific ammunition; only very similar weapons like the regular and double-barrel shotgun or regular and silenced sniper rifle use the same ammo. One Bullet Clips are still present.
  • The Blake Stone games have all the weapons using the same ammo. Justified in that all the weapons are energy-based and the ammo is energy packs. Just don't go too crazy with the more ammo-hungry guns that you have to resort to using your emergency self-charging pistol.
  • The Doom trilogy: the first two games had four types of ammunition for six guns (seven if you include the second game's super shotgun). The Plasma Gun and BFG share ammo, as do the aforementioned super shotgun and the original shotgun, which are both justified as the former two are both energy weapons powered by battery packs and the latter two are fed with loose shells, is justified. The pistol and chaingun also share ammunition, which is less justified. Doom 3 averts the trope entirely; every gun now uses separate ammo (except for, once again, the new super shotgun in Resurrection of Evil, which shares ammo with the base shotgun). Doom (2016) goes back to the style of the first two games, using four ammo types for seven guns and two special ammo types for the special weapons.
  • Wolfenstein 3D uses this trope, but to its credit, there's only three guns, and the P08 pistol and MP40 SMG both use 9mm cartridges (though not from the same magazines). The minigun? Well it is fictional. Later ports of the game add a rocket launcher and flamethrower weapon, each of which use separate ammo types from each other and the regular guns.
  • Back to Half-Life: the gluon gun and tau cannon share the same (nuclear) battery packs. According to the Half-Life wiki, these weapons are powered by a revolutionary miniature nuclear reactor fueled with depleted uranium - the contents of said battery packs.
  • Partially subverted in Dark Forces; despite all the weapons being energy-based, they use two different kinds of battery packs/cells. The main exceptions are the Dark Trooper assault cannon, which uses two different types of ammo exclusive to it, and the explosives, which are individual units.
  • In Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force Federation weapons use energy, while the those of the Delta Quadrant aliens run off dilithium crystals.
  • The 90's Battlezone games' Hover Tanks feed their machine guns, cannons, rockets, mines, extras from mines to the Phantom VIR and even energy weapons from the same "nano-ammo" supply.
  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein uses this for some of the guns; first for the Luger, MP40 and Sten all using the 9mm Parabellum rounds (the British designed the Sten specifically to use MP40 magazines for work behind enemy lines) along with the M1911 Colt pistol and Thompson both using .45 rounds, and the Mauser and FG 42 both taking 7.92mm rounds. The other guns, however, each have their own ammunition, and you're not going to be pilfering more ammo for them from the corpses of your enemies unless you stole the gun from one in the first place. Interestingly, the Venom gun has its own unique ammo supply, which is justified but in two entirely-incompatible ways - the in-game operations manual you can find before you get it states that it uses a specific variety of 7.92mm ammo that the Mauser and FG 42 presumably are not using, but its ammo pickups are identified as 12.7mm (i.e. .50-caliber) when you grab them.
  • Serious Sam's shotguns always share ammo. The Minigun also shares ammo with the Tommy Gun in 1 and the Uzis in 2 - NETRISCA's info screen for them specifically mention the latter two are re-chambered for 5.56mm rounds, while the former is a man-portable version of a 5.56mm Minigun. Inexplicably, Sam 3 gives the minigun its own ammo supply, even though its Assault Rifle is still firing the same ammonote .
  • Soldier of Fortune II has weapons draw from the same ammo pool depending on caliber - the 9mm SMG's all use the same ammo, the .45 ACP Grease Gun instead draws from the ammo pool you feed the M1911 and Mk 23 with, and the AK-74 is actually noted as having been converted from its original 5.45mm cartridge to the same 5.56mm the other assault rifles use. There are still some oddities, though, such as the Desert Eagle sharing the same ammo as the other two handguns (no .45 ACP version of the Desert Eagle exists in reality), and none of the grenade launchers share ammo (realistic in the case of the XM29's 20mm grenades, but the M203 and Hawk both use the same 40mm ones in real life).
  • Tron 2.0 takes place Inside a Computer System, which justifies the trope by having all weapons being "primitives" or "programs" that draw upon a common energy supply. The player's Disc primitive costs no energy to use, and is versatile enough that running completely dry on energy is not crippling.
  • Left 4 Dead justifies this: all guns have separate ammo pools and replenish that or get upgraded ammo from the same pile/box, but they are all clearly shown to contain a variety of different types of ammo. There are also a few weapons that cannot be reloaded from the ammo piles but can get explosive or incendiary ammo, specifically the grenade launcher and M60.

  • Metroid Prime Hunters have actual nanotech-based Universal Ammo that fits all of your special weapons. Only the missile launcher uses different ammo. Since all the guns are at least partially energy weapons, it's a bit more believable, though, as the ammo itself probably doesn't need to shape itself to extreme tolerances - even for the explosive Battlehammer, "close enough" will do, allowing a quick configuration to be at least somewhat plausible.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Mass Effect also takes this to the extreme. Ammunition in the game is nothing more than a metal block that gets shaved into the proper form. However, unlike above where it's crippling, this game has as-good-as-unlimited ammo, with rate of fire being limited by the weapon's heat sink. The block in a standard assault rifle is about 5,000 shots, which is more than enough to fight a war, and with field tools a new block can be swapped into place in a matter of minutes. In Wrex's back story, he once fought a duel that lasted three days. He ran out of ammo and had to take a gun from a merc he'd killed in the process.
    • Mass Effect 2 kept the unlimited ammunition, but added "thermal clips" that absorb heat from the weapon and eventually need to be discarded. Essentially, they act just like ammunition. The clips are universal - pick one up and it adds more total shots to all of your weapons. However, the game does feature a more straight example of the trope with the Heavy Weapons, which do use traditional ammo... the same ammo, whether the weapon is a rocket launcher, an experimental BFG, or an alien energy weapon built from technology beyond what anyone else has. That this "ammo" is actually a high-density power cell doesn't explain either its universal compatibility or the weapons' ability to form complicated projectiles from that raw energy - though it may be that, like standard mass effect weapons, at least the second point is rendered moot by the weapon typically having more than enough ammunition to go through a full load of energy dozens of times, and being serviced on return to the Normandy. Also, Shepard can run out of thermal clips for one weapon, yet still have plenty of shots left in the others, which is inconsistent with said ammunition being universal.
  • Fallout: New Vegas allows weapons to share ammo, with differences in damage dealt per shot by them often depending more on what type of ammo is loaded into them rather than the weapon itself; overpressure ammunition (or overcharged/max charge energy cells and microfusion cells) deal greater damage and have better armor penetration. It's not even usually a clear choice, either, as Breakable Weapons is in effect and the most common ammo that deals more damage tends to be surplus bullets that degrade your weapons faster. Likewise, there are low power versions of cartridges (like .223 for 5.56mm weapons or .38 and .44 Special for .357 and .44 Magnum, respectively) that deal less damage but cause less degradation. There are even special hand loaded, match grade rounds and bullets like wadcutters or jacketed soft points that deal extra damage and have better armor penetration without degrading the weapon, and rounds that deal better damage (hollow points) or have better penetration (AP) while doing less of the other type of damage. Simply put, there's such a huge variety of ammunition that the game had to include reloading benches to let players reload their ammo with powder, lead, and primers (either purchased from vendors or taken from broken down ammo that you don't need to use) or build their preferred loads. A major part of the modding scene for New Vegas is adding more ammunition types and expanding the reloading aspect to ensure that everyone can make whatever they want.
    • New Vegas also inverts this with shotguns for the sake of Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness: most common, early-game shotguns use 20-gauge shells instead of 12-gauge, even though only one of the three shotguns' real life bases was available in 20-gauge.
    • Most (though not all) small energy cell, microfusion cell, and electron charge pack-using weapons justify the universality by not strictly using the cells as ammunition — being energy weapons, the cells only provide the energy to power the attack, which makes it a great deal easier to universalize things and simplify logistics to just one of three types of ammunition. Much like ammo above, the player is also able to recycle used cells, convert one type to another, and buy or produce low-charged "bulk" cells (which reduce damage but also weapon degradation) or overcharged ones (which increase damage and degradation instead).

    Shoot 'Em Up 
  • DownWell features gunboots that can fire a variety of ammunition. This is because they run off of "charge" rather than ammo; you're reprogramming them to fire differently when you pick up a gun mod.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • This was earlier implemented to much less outrage upon reception in Oni. Oni has two kinds of ammunition: Kinetic, which supposedly consisted of explosives/propellant and slugs, usable for everything from SMGs to rocket launchers, which configured them appropriately on loading; and energy, which was for things like typical plasma blasters and tasers. The bigger the gun, the fewer shots any given ammo will provide before being used up.
  • Resident Evil 4 again may fall into this. Among the weapons that share ammo are the Broken Butterfly revolver and the semi-auto Killer7, both of which take .45-caliber rounds. So long as they were rimmed cartridges, this would be entirely possible; revolvers will generally shoot anything you can fit into their cylinders.
    • The TMP, meanwhile, has its own unique ammo that, despite being identified as the same caliber, cannot be used in any of the pistols; this is justified with the catch-all series Hand Wave that the 9mm rounds for your TMP are "Custom."
  • Averted in Max Payne, where the only weapons that share ammo are the two 12 gauge shotguns, which are reloaded with loose rounds. Every other ammo type is identified by the weapon it matches; even two of the other guns that do share ammo in real life load it from entirely different magazines that the other could not possibly use.
  • Subverted, of all things, in Red Faction: Armageddon. Every gun takes unique ammunition and picking up a gun will only give ammo if you have a copy of that gun in your inventory. However, the vast majority of your ammunition comes from generic containers loaded with a random amount of ammo for some or all of the guns you have. These containers will only ever contain ammo for the guns in your inventory, so the game (in practice, if not in form) has a sort of universal ammunition pickup.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas' pistols don't share ammunition (one fires a bigger bullet than the others, and another presumably uses lower-velocity ammo to complement its suppressor). The SMGs and shotguns can take ammo from other weapons in their class, which are justified by all using the same rounds (and being fed with loose ones in the case of the shotguns).
    • However, the AK-47 and M4 both share ammo.

Non-video game examples

    Comic Books 
  • Rogue Trooper's Action Special that came out in the mid 1990s did a Schematized Prop for Friday's equipment. His rifle is stated to be able to vary its calibre and rifling, allowing him to fire any standard Nort or Souther round.
  • Subverted in Tex Willer: while the Colt Single Action Army was available in the same .44-40 round as the Winchester 73, Tex and his friends explicitely use the .45 Colt version, as indicated whenever they buy ammo.

  • Most blasters in the Star Wars universe use a substance called Tibanna Gas and Power Packs. Apparently power packs come in a universal format too; the power packs for E-11 rifles and DH-17 pistols are visibly identical (being based on the same real life submachine gun).
    • KoTOR 2 had you run a across a Proud Warrior Race Guy who was hiding from some predators. If you choose to mock him for managing to run out of ammo, he will ask if you have ever emptied a blaster and needed to reload.
      • Power packs are separate from the blaster's supply of energetic gas; an E-11 as used by the stormtroopers requires the power pack to be swapped out much like a rifle magazine every 100 shots, while the gas will last for about 1000 shots but require more detailed work and time to refill.
      • Also worth mentioning is the fact that the above remark hangs a lampshade on the fact that both KOTOR games have Bottomless Magazines.
    • The Dark Forces Saga had one type of blaster ammo in the first game, and two in later games, both of which could be recharged from the same power stations.
  • Used incorrectly in Courage Under Fire where a key plot point was whether or not there was ammunition for the M249 SAW. At the same time, there was ammunition available for their various M16s. Both weapons take 5.56mm NATO rounds, and the version of the M249 shown in the film even has an adapter to accept M16 magazines.
  • A guide to the James Bond movie series states that Bond's favorite gun is the Walther PPK because its ammo is easily found around the world, fitting his globetrotting lifestyle. This is probably no longer canon post-reboot, when Skyfall explicitly stated that the new, high-tech PPK he'd been issued was in 9mm Short rather than 7.65mm/.32 ACP, which dates back to the tail end of the 19th century and was so ubiquitous as a police and self-defence pistol calibre that it was grandfathered in behind the Iron Curtain. However, China still uses it in a limited capacity for police sidearms and .32 rounds are still fairly popular.
  • Referenced, subverted and parodied in Iron Man 3: Tony asks for Rhodey's extra magazines, and he reminds his friend that "It's a different gun! Those aren't universal!".
  • Die Hard only gave McClane one starting magazine for his Beretta, but once he captured some of the enemy MP5 submachine guns, he also was able to top off his lone pistol mag because the two weapons share 9mm ammo. It helps that McClane had a lot of downtime during the whole ordeal, where he's presumably loading magazines off camera.

  • Similar to the Invisible War example in above, in John Scalzi's Old Man's War, the rifles used by the Colonial forces use nanotechnology-based ammo that reconfigures itself into whatever you're asking for—including rockets, grenades, bullets, and microwaves. You can even create your own custom firing macros (eg., fire a grenade followed by a blast of flame for good measure)

    Live Action TV 
  • Humorously averted in a scene in Burn Notice where Sam is needling Michael about having no life outside the spy business. Sam offhandedly mentions that his girlfriend Veronica once asked him if bullets came in different sizes.
  • Being forensics shows, CSI and its spin-offs and bandwagon-jumpers routinely avert the trope. In a notable recent example on CSI, the very fact that the rounds used in the crime were of an unusual caliber and design was a plot point. The rounds aren't even commercially available in the States. Turned out they came from a batch of FN P90s stolen from US forces in Pakistan.
  • Humorously averted in Shameless (US). Frank gets hold of an old WWII Luger and wants to shoot it in order to scare his girlfriend. However, there is no ammunition for the gun so he just grabs some random bullets that fit into the gun. When he tries to fire it, the gun blows up in his hand.
  • Averted on Elementary. A man murders his wife using a plastic gun that he made using a 3D printer. He later makes another plastic gun from the same blueprints and tries to kill his accomplice with it. However, this time he makes the mistake of using a slightly more powerful bullet and the gun blows up in his hand since the plastic cannot handle the increase in pressure.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The tabletop RPG Shadowrun suggests handling ammo this way: all weapons of the same class use the same ammo, for simplicity.
    • Then again, its Sega Genesis game fits the above Inexplicable Example table, as Ares Universal clips not only fit any gun they're loaded into (regardless of class), but round themselves off to maintain a roughly equal percentage of ammo remaining across unequal magazine sizes.
  • Played fairly straight in BattleTech. No matter where or when in the competing Successor States the weapon and ammunition were manufactured, as long as their general type matches it'll fit; AC/5 ammo will work in any AC/5 ever built, never mind that those can canonically come in different calibers. The weapons and feeding systems are even flexible enough to handle special-purpose ammunition that is canonically sufficiently heavier than normal to halve the number of shots! Yet on the other hand, the 'general type' match must be strict — no shooting standard shells from a more advanced (say, LB-X or ultra) autocannon of the same size or vice versa, no feeding missiles from an LRM-15 bin into an LRM-5 rack despite the fact that both get 120 identical missiles to the ton and feeding launchers of the same size from any matching magazine mounted somewhere on your unit is A-OK.
    • Justified when it comes to Gauss Rifle technology; since they are basically Magnetic Weapons in function, all they need (in-universe anyway) is a sufficiently aerodynamic ferrous slug of adequate weight, and as it is considered high technology, everyone's designs are based on recovered information from a more unified, more advanced era. The Clans, as descendants from the military of this same high-tech era, also drew from the same blueprints. It turns out that the Star League had proved the best results come from flinging a chunk of metal about 125kg at mach 2.
  • Painfully averted in GURPS: High Tech which gives an exhaustive list of ammunition types. Played more straight in Ultra-Tech where there are only a dozen different rounds between all the guns. High Tech even has a table explaining ammo compatibility (including showing how less powerful and/or smaller parent cartridges fit into their descendant guns, like .38 Special into .357 Magnum, but not vice-versa), and optional rules that let the GM determine the effect of loading incompatible ammo that somehow fits in the gun (with the best result being lower efficiency and possible jamming, and the worst result being the gun exploding).
  • An odd version in the Wasteland RPG. Ammo calibers were standardized (.45, 9mm, 7.62x39mm, and energy), but the clips themselves were 'universal'—a rifle ammo clip could fit in any rifle. Their capacity was determined only by the weapon they were loaded in: the same clip that put 7 rounds in a .45 pistol gave 30 to a submachine gun.
  • KULT handles this absurdly, stating that any weapon can fire ammo of the proper caliber or smaller.
  • At least one expansion splatbook for Mutants & Masterminds / True 20 list ammo as Pistol 1-3, Longarm 1-3, and so on, with higher numbers corresponding to higher calibers. So Pistol 1 ammo fits holdout pistols (Derringers), while Pistol 3 ammo would be chambered by heavy pistols like the Desert Eagle.
  • Most Role Playing Games set in some sort of science fiction genre list only one or two types of ammo for energy weapons, usually an energy cell for 1-handed blasters and a power pack for longarms.

  • Nerf darts do fit with the majority of Nerf guns, it's when you have a non-Nerf brand gun (like Buzz Bee or Air Zone or any knockoff) that you run into problems...
    • Of course, darts come in a variety of diameters, which obviously won't fit smaller weapons. This is mostly an issue for Bows, the Titan rocket launcher, the Elite Demolisher's underbarrel grenade launcher, and blasters that use either ball ammo or the older Mega Darts.
    • Modern post-2000s blasters tend to use several common shared ammo types:
      • All N-strike and N-Strike Elite blasters that use the Clip System magazines share the common Streamline Micro Dart as well as the new Elite Streamline and Elite Suction-cup Darts.
      • All muzzle-loading blasters and a number of non-CS blasters can share the Sonic Micro/Whistler micro darts or the Suction Cup micro darts. Most of them can also share the Tagger micro darts with Dart Tag blasters.
      • Several revolver blasters, like the Maverick, Spectre, and Strongarm, are all able to use any Micro Dart due to the short dart posts in their chambers.
      • All Vortex Blasters share the XLR disc ammo.
      • Elite Blasters can all use the streamlined Elite Micro Darts, and mostly retain backwards compatibility with the older N-Strike Streamline Micro Darts. The Rebelle and Zombie Strike series blasters also use the same base ammo type. The only exceptions are the Elite MEGA blasters, all of which can use MEGA Elite Darts but not the smaller Elite Micros, some of the Rebelle bows that use unique arrows, some Zombie Strike blasters that are chambered for XLR Disc ammo, and the Elite Demolisher's underbarrel Grenade Launcher, which takes unique "Mega Dart Tech" grenades.
      • N-Strike, N-Strike Elite, Zombie Strike, Rebelle, and Doomlands blasters that use Clip System Magazines can all swap magazines, for the most part. Yes, this means you can use your drum magazines from your old Raider with most other Clip System blasters.
    • All BOOMco (competing brand by Mattel) blasters use the same "smart dart" design, where the body is light, flexible plastic with a spongey rubber tip.
    • Some Buzz-Bee darts, especially more recent ones (2012 on) use the same diameter as official Nerf darts, allowing the ammo to be swapped between them. However, Buzz-Bee makes almost exclusively suction darts, so only Nerf blasters that can use Micro Darts (like the Maverick or Barricade) can use them. Note that they aren't entirely identical, and Nerf blasters with longer dart pegs will have shortened range.
  • Any type of squirt-gun, of course. Some can even load soda bottles filled with water, in a pinch.

    Western Animation 
  • A Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids has an episode where a kid is playing with an unloaded real gun. Eventually, the kids find a real bullet and want the kid to shoot it. However, none of the kids have any idea about calibre specifications for bullets and the gun wielding kid can barely chamber it. Before Fat Albert and the kid's father can get to him, he fires it and the gun explodes in his hand. Fortunately, the father was able to render first aid and get his son to a hospital.

    Real Life 
  • Kind of Truth in Television for armies of the world. The less kinds of ammo you have to stock and distribute, the easier it is to supply your troops. Imagine the logistics nightmare during World War II for the U.S., when any one squad needed .30-06 (M1 Garand, M1903 Springfield, and various machine guns), .45 ACP (M1 Thompson, M3 Grease Gun, and M1911), and/or .30 carbine (M1 Carbine). Compared to today where a squad usually only needs one caliber: 5.56mm.
    • As mentioned in the opening of the page, NATO's draft standardization agreement 4179 decreed that all NATO weapons chambered for 5.56x45mm were to be designed to take the same magazines as the American M16. Note though that this agreement was never actually ratified, and a good chunk of the NATO members who do use weapons that take STANAG magazines also tend to use direct derivatives of the AR-15, most commonly the Colt Canada C7 and C8; rarely someone will use another weapon that isn't expressly designed for them but can take them anyway, like Fabrique Nationale's FNC, which is designed to use magazines which are almost identical to STANAG ones and can be interchanged with little issue. Some NATO members like France and Germany do make STANAG-compliant versions of, or adapters for, their standard-issue weapons, but they're far more commonly used with proprietary ones. The French also use a different pattern of rifling to the rest of NATO, probably at least partly out of sheer contrariness; the FAMAS can chamber and fire NATO-standard 5.56mm rounds, but unless it's the G2 variant it will have horribly degraded accuracy and range (equivalent to that of a modern 9mm pistol).
    • One of the major reasons for the controversial U.S. Army replacement of the Colt M1911 pistol with the Beretta M9 in The '80s was so that NATO armed forces would only need to stock one type of pistol-caliber ammunition (the M1911 was chambered for .45 while pretty much everyone else was using sidearms chambered for 9mm).
    • This was also what led to the development of the American M14 and German G3 in the 50's. NATO had standardized the 7.62x51mm round at that time and were pressuring everyone to adopt rifles of that caliber. America, owing to nationalism and wishing to make their own weapons instead of buying from another country, created the M14 based on their earlier M1 Garand rather than adopt the FAL nearly everyone else was fawning over. West Germany, meanwhile, initially wanted to adopt the FAL, but FN wasn't willing to grant them a license to produce it, owing to the fact that Germany had steamrolled over FN's home country of Belgium not very long ago. Twice, at that. As a result, the Germans turned to a design based on a Spanish rifle of the same caliber that their border guards were very approving of.
    • As of 2012, the main service pistols of the world's three largest armies are chambered in 9x19mm Parabellum. America's Beretta M9, China's QSZ-92-9 (5.8mm variant was not adopted), and Russia's MP-443 Grach. With the majority of both NATO and SCO's armies using the 9mm, it has become the universal pistol caliber.
    • The Luger P08 had cemented its cartridge's status as such as early as 1918, with the Bergmann MP18 initially designed to load rounds from its famous 32-round "snail drum" magazines.
    • The NATO 5.56x45mm service rifle munition was based on the .223 Remington round. Though mostly the same in form factor, the NATO-standardized version has a higher chamber pressure. Some older guns that were stated to be chambered for .223 could be damaged by firing 5.56mm, but most current-manufactured civilian firearms chambered for .223 have been idiot-proofed against such damage. The inverse issue is true for the NATO 7.62x51mm battle rifle round and its parent munition in .308 Winchester - owing to the kinds of big game .308 rifles are meant to hunt, the 7.62mm NATO round actually has a lower chamber pressure than .308, so civilian rifles don't need any such idiot-proofing.
  • Played with in real life. While ammo will work in any gun chambered for it, magazine designs are quite often incompatible. Many civilian gun manufacturers produce proprietary magazines, which would be the only magazines that could work with their firearms. Fortunately, due to the explosion of aftermarket magazines, as well as of the third-party Gun Accessories industry in general, this practice has become much less pervasive over the past 10 years, but especially since the expiration of the Clinton-era AWB in 2004. This phenomenon is partially due to the fact that gun buyers now more frequently go after a generic platform of firearm (such as Kalashnikov, AR-15, M1911, etc.), made by several different companies, rather than buy a brand-exclusive gun. Smaller gun companies also tend to make a significant portion of their profits from aftermarket magazine and parts sales, and it is cheaper for such companies to build guns which will work with common magazines for brand name guns (a lot of modern submachine guns are specifically designed to load from Glock magazines, for instance, since there are versions of the Glock in nearly every pistol bullet currently in production, including extended 30+-round magazines for most of them). It's pretty much like between buying Ibuprofen or buying Motrin, but making your decision based on the container rather than the contents.
    • Ruger infamously limited its sales of magazines bigger than 5 rounds exclusively to law enforcement. As a result, many small fortunes have been made creating third-party magazines for Ruger firearms. It should be noted that standard magazine capacity for two-handed weapons is anywhere between 10 to 30 rounds, depending on caliber, and even when a state has laws on maximum capacity for civilian weapons they usually only restrict them to ten.
  • The Colt Single Action Army Revolver or "Peacemaker" was available in .44-40 Winchester, which made its ammunition interchangeable with the Winchester Model 1873 lever action rifle. A useful trait in the Wild West, and what started the trend of carrying a carbine and sidearm in the same caliber so that you only had to carry a supply of one cartridge. In fact, the .44-40 was the most popular civilian cartridge for revolvers in general in that era, for exactly that reason. A less common but still popular choice was the .38-40 Winchester, which traded slightly less power for reduced recoil and was also available in both the Winchester 73 rifle and the Single Action Army.
  • Fabrique Nationale's P90 Personal Defense Weapon and Five-seveN pistol share the same ammo, the 5.7x28mm cartridge, expressly designed for both guns. The AR-57 goes one step further - it is an upper receiver for AR-15 rifles that can be used to make them fire 5.7mm bullets, even loading them from the exact same magazines designed for the P90.
    • The P90/Five-seveN is the most well-known example (and one of the few surviving ones) of the PDW fad that lasted from about 1985 to 2005, where firearm manufacturers were trying to win government and private security contracts by manufacturing submachine guns that used small, high-velocity rounds that could penetrate lighter body armor and were accompanied by a handgun chambered for the same round. Its biggest competitor, the German H&K MP7 (chambered for a 4.6x30mm round), wound up having its handgun counterpart, the H&K UCP, scrapped after nearly 5 years of delays. The MP7 is a perfect example of a gun that was meant to use this trope and ended up being a near-perfect aversion of it (several other companies now make PDWs that can be special-ordered in or converted to 4.6mm, but it took close to a decade for it to happen).
  • In general, submachine guns are issued in the service pistol caliber of the nation in question. This is usually 9x19mm Parabellum or .45 ACP.
  • Generally, while there are different kinds of calibers, many shotguns tend to take 12 gauge shells. 20-gauge and .410 are the second- and third-most common nowadays; previously-popular shells like 16-gauge are very rarely encountered anymore.
  • Similarly, there are different sizes of airsoft pellets, but the most common ones are 6mm. That said, even among 6mm pellets there's still room for an inability to exchange ammo, for instance some weapons are specifically designed for lighter 12g pellets, while others may require 20g or heavier to work properly. On top of that, magazines are rarely interchangeable - one could have two or more airsoft versions of the same weapon but be unable to exchange magazines if they're made by different companies, but then load the magazine from one into a completely different pistol made by the same company. Meanwhile, some magazines are stated as compatible but require some form of modification (like wrapping duct tape around them) to get them to fit properly.
  • One of the main advantages to the .22 Long and its variations was that a rifle fitted for one caliber could take any that had a shorter casingnote . A few other calibers (the .38 for instance) also did this. This only works with rimmed cartridges though.
    • A revolver chambered for .357 Magnumnote  can safely use .38 Specialnote  or +P rounds. They're the same diameter, but the .357 case is slightly longer, so it cannot be used in a .38 weapon for safety reasons. Likewise, the .44 Magnum and .44 Special. Some modern revolvers are also sold with a second cylinder meant for an automatic pistol cartridge of the same diameter, e.g. a .357 Magnum revolver (9x33mmR) coming with a cylinder for 9x19mm. As a general rule with revolvers: if it fits in the hole, then it's OK. Automatics firing revolver rounds are generally okay, as well, though in the case of some like the Desert Eagle, you'll have to swap out the springs in its heavy slide to get it to work properly with the lower-powered rounds.
    • This sort of thinking was the reason why nearly all Soviet small arms from at least 1891 to about 1951 fired 7.62mm bullets - even though they had different such cartridgesnote , if they ran critically short of barrels for anything during wartime production, they could take old Tsarist-era Mosin-Nagant rifles and recycle their barrels for use in other guns. For example, one of the old 31.5 inch barrels from the original Mosin-Nagant long rifle could be cut down into 3 PPS-43 submachine gun barrels. And early production PPSh-41 SMGs were made by taking 29 inch barrels originally intended for the M91/30 Mosin-Nagant and cutting them in half, then trimming the halves down to the proper length.
    • AK-pattern rifles may have honorary status for this trope; in addition to the original 7.62 and 5.45mm bullets for the AK-47/AKM and AK-74, the weapon's action has also been adapted or copied for 9x18mm, 9x19mm, 5.56x45mm, 7.62x51mm, and even 12- and 20-gauge, among various other calibers. The modern AK-12 is being advertised for its adaptability, able to swap between various Russian and NATO calibers (including most of the listed ones just above) with little more than a barrel and magazine change.
    • One of the ways in which Heckler & Koch's UMP submachine gun was meant to be a modern upgrade to the MP5 was that it was expressly designed to be easily converted from one caliber to another (as opposed to the MP5 being expressly a 9mm weapon, with alternate calibers requiring entirely separate variants like the MP5/10) - all that's required is a swap of the bolt, barrel, and magazine, the mags being designed to all fit into one universal magwell.
    • The Mark XIX version of the Desert Eagle is much the same: Switch out the barrel and magazine of a .50AE version for a .357 Magnum one and you can switch ammo. Unlike the UMP, however, there's little point in doing so because you're probably never going to use a Desert Eagle in a real gunfight.
    • A word of warning: Some rounds are available with more powerful propellant loads. It is entirely possible to load up a .38 Special revolver with overloaded .38 Special ammunition that will blow the gun apart (in your hand, no less) if the particular gun is not designed to handle that propellant load. This is most common with older 9mm handguns (modern 9mm cartridges are more powerful than they had been a hundred years ago due to improved gun metallurgy) and rifles in .223 Remington or .308 Winchester (the military 5.56 and 7.62mm NATO rounds have the exact same dimensions, but 5.56mm has a higher propellant load than .223, while 7.62mm has a lower load than .308; a gun designed for the higher-powered round can fire the other with no trouble, but the reverse is not true).note 
      • And to go even further, some guns require ammunition that might as well be proprietary to function properly, even if they are the exact same dimensions. The French FAMAS fires the 5.56x45mm, but it cannot fire the standard NATO round. The rifling cannot stabilize modern ammunition, and the powerful blowback action will tear apart standard brass cartridges. But hey! At least the G2 variant uses STANAG magazines.
  • This was extremely common in the age of smoothbore muzzle-loaders, although if calibres were markedly different it could make a difference, so during the Napoleonic Wars it was possible to shoot French musketballs from British "Brown Bess" muskets, but balls suited to the Bess's larger calibre could not be fired from the standard French "Charleville" musket.
    • Wellington ordered that only pistols that could fire musketballs could be used in his army. This however had an underlying reason: Pistols of a smaller calibre usually were dueling pistols.
    • In the cases where a bullet wouldn't fit as-is, since it was just a bare lead ball, one could have captured enemy ammo, melted down the lead (which melts at a relatively low 327.46 °C/621.43 °F), and recast it in the appropriate caliber.
  • Intentionally subverted by the Soviets. Before and during World War II, the standard size for a medium mortar was 81mm. The Soviet Army built a medium mortar firing an 82mm round. That wasn't just cheap oneupmanship. The 82mm mortar could fire captured enemy ammunition at reduced efficiency, but if the enemy captured a supply of 82mm ammunition, it was completely useless to them unless they captured a mortar as well.
    • They did so again when they adopted the 9x18mm pistol round in the '50s - under normal circumstances, a round of that diameter could theoretically be loaded into and fired from a weapon designed for the NATO standard 9x19mm, so the 9mm Makarov was designed to use a slightly-larger 9.2mm bullet. This may have been a result of the earlier 7.62x25mm Tokarev cartridge being simply a more-powerful version of the German 7.63x25mm cartridge as used in the famous C96 pistol - German units that had captured Soviet submachine guns were able to load 7.63mm Mauser into those guns they didn't convert to 9mm and fire them without incidentnote .
    • The French did a similar subversion with the Chatellerault M1924/29 a few decades prior, though for the opposite reason as the Soviets. When it was first adopted in 1924, it was designed to use a 7.5x57mm round. This round was close enough in appearance to the German 7.92x57mm Mauser round that some auxiliary troops in Morocco who used captured Mauser rifles and ammo would accidentally load Mauser rounds into an M1924/29, with disastrous results. Starting from 1929 it was modified to use a slightly-shortened and now much more famous 7.5x54mm round so that 8mm Mauser rounds wouldn't fit into it or any future French weapons.
  • The Steyr AUG assault rifle also comes in a "Para" version firing 9x19mm. Conversion kits exist to change 5.56mm AUGs to 9mm. Counts doubly as this trope, as this version of the AUG is designed to load from the same magazines as Steyr's earlier MPi69 submachine gun. And, as above about NATO standardization agreements, there is a version of the gun (AUG NATO) designed to load from M16 magazines, though at the cost of ambidextrous usability.
  • One weird example is the Destroyer Carbine, chambered for the 9x23mm Largo pistol cartridge. This carbine was developed in Spain for police use. It was a bolt-action weapon whose action was basically that of a scaled-down Mauser 1893 rifle (not the WWI Mauser Gewehr 98 or the K98 we usually see, as the 1893 Mauser bolt cocked upon closing, whereas the G98 and K98 bolts cocked on opening) and fed by the six-round or ten-round magazines used by the Bergmann-Bayard Pistols employed by said Spanish Police units. So the average Spanish cop after 1921 was usually armed with both a pistol and a carbine chambered for the same ammo. In 1976, the Destroyer was no longer produced, having been slowly replaced by the Star Z-62, also chambered for 9x23mm Largo. Picking on cops in Spain tends to be Bullying The Dragon.
  • This is even the case for bows and arrows, which have to be precisely matched to each other's draw length, stiffness etc. if they're to be used with anything approaching accuracy. Some armies in the past used bows with extremely short draw lengths, so that their short arrows would be literally useless to the enemy.
  • Of special note is the British Sten, a submachine gun that was not only chambered in the same 9mm Parabellum that was standard issue in the German army, but was designed specifically to use the same magazines as the German MP-38 and MP-40 submachine guns so to allow troopers and partisan formations to use them. The same or similar solutions were used in partisan-made submachineguns, such as the Polish Błyskawica (who used the same magazines) and the Italian Variara (that used the magazines of the FNAB-43, made from 1944 onward for Mussolini's puppet state).
    • Likewise, the Besa machine gun (used only in certain tanks) was left in its original 7.92x57 Mauser chambering due in part to the time and effort needed to convert it to .303, the fact that Armored Corps' supply chain was separate from the rest of the British Army and so would not be handicapped by using a nonstandard round, and the ease of using captured enemy ammunition.

Alternative Title(s): Universal Ammo