Thanks to narrator Chris Grall for his permission to republish this information that he originally posted on Facebook.
Tip for writing pronunciation: full-cap the syllable with primary emphasis, title-cap the syllable with secondary emphasis. Example: ELL uh Vay ter
It is a general rule to ignore dashes and dots.
Letters will follow the phonetic alphabet for the given Country’s service. Leading letters are almost always said like normal people. Example:
M-16 = Em sixteen, AK-47 = Ay Kay Forty Seven
Trailing letters are almost always phonetic:
m-240b – a crew served machine gun – “em two forty bravo”
HAHO -referring to a Hi Altitude High Opening parachute jump. The narrator is pronouncing it Ha Ho, when the correct pronunciation is HAY ho. This is easier to remember alongside its counterpart,
HALO -High Altitude Low Opening, which pronounced just like you think: HAY lo.
SOF -Special Operations Forces. The Narrator is pronouncing S O F. The correct military pronunciation is SOF, like “soft” without the T.
CH -47 Chanook – Twin bladed cargo helicopter – “See Haich Fortyseven Shinook” or “Shuhnook”
HMMWV -High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle – “Hum-vee”
When talking about ammunition, depending on context:
5.56 should be pronounced “five five six.” You should drop the “.” Don’t say “point.” Additionally, in dialogue the mm is never said.
9mm is always “nine millimeter.”
Caliber is a measure of the diameter of the round (bullet). It is measured in inches. When pronouncing a caliber number, ignore the decimal.
It is correct to say “fifty caliber” or “forty five caliber”. It is NOT correct to say “POINT forty-five caliber”. (Technically, that would be saying 45 one-hundredths of one one-hundredth of an inch–a very tiny bullet diameter!)
When reading, depending on context, you may or may not want to use “caliber.”
Example 1: Narrator
The man was armed with a .38 Smith & Wesson revolver – yes, use caliber. It is fully informative and not subject to slang. Read as:
The man was armed with a 38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver.
Example 2: Dialogue
He was aiming that .38 right at my head! – no, don’t use caliber. This is a time for abbreviated terminology or weapons pronouns. Read as:
“He was aiming that 38 right at my head!”
Example 3: Dialogue
The man was armed with a .38 Smith & Wesson revolver. – judgement call. You’ll have to feel this one out by how the character is talking in context to that section of the passage.
.22 is “twenty-two”
.223 is “two two three”
.308 is “three oh eight”
.357 is “three fifty seven”
.380 is “three eighty”
.45 is “forty-five”
.455 is “four fifty-five”
.50 is “fifty”
.500 is “five hundred”
30.06 is “thirty aught six”
7.62mm is “Seven Six Two”
5.56mm is “five five six”
9mm is “nine millimeter”
Various types of ammo have names/types along with caliber. These are significant. .45 Colt is not the same as .45 ACP.
ACP is “Ay See Pee”
Casull is “cuh SOOL”
kurz is “KERTS”
Luger is “LOO ger” NOT “LOO zher” like the Olympic sledder
Magnum is “MAG num”, NOT “MAH nyoom”
Webley is “WEB lee”, NOT “WEE blee” or “WELL bee”
Other resources on this topic:
- You may want to check the related article about pronouncing military ranks.
- The Welcome Center lists several options for assistance with pronunciation research.