Gun Talk Vocab

Gun Talk Vocab

There's a lot of chatter about guns these days, so unless you grew up with guns in your family or pursue further knowledge than what you see on TV or in video games, you probably don't understand most of the Jargon being tossed around. Fortunately, the winter 2013 issue of Home Defender Magazine put out an article on the subject, thoroughly defining many of the common terms used in firearm culture.

So if you are thinking about purchasing a gun for the first time and don't want to look like a total newbie when you're at the store, or if you finally decide to accept your father-in-law's invitation to go on that hunting trip he's been harassing you about (though we both know he just wants to hold a gun in front of you), simply review the information below and chime in every now and then with a question about something specific you don't really understand yet.

Trust me, the off-duty police officers, veterans, and gun enthusiasts you'll be talking to don't think that you're crashing their party. They love every opportunity to educate someone new about the wonderful world of responsible firearm ownership, use, and culture.

ACP
An Abbreviation for Automatic Colt Pistol that is used to identify some semi-automatic pistol cartridges - The .32 ACP and .45 ACP rounds.

Autoloading/Automatic Pistol
A pistol that uses gas pressure or recoil force to eject the fired case while automatically reloading the chamber with a fresh round. Most non-military weapons are actually semi-automatic, meaning that the weapon reloaded itself after firing, but only each time the trigger is pulled.

Barrel
The tube through which the bullet is projected into flight.

Bore
The interior of the barrel.

Breech
The area at the rear of the barrel plus the action area immediately behind.

Bullet
The projectile held in the cartridge case and launched from the pistol upon firing.

Butt
The portion of the handgun grasped by the firing hand, which usually includes the farm and grip stocks.

Caliber
The diameter of the bore, measured to the bottom of the rifling grooves, in inches or millimeters. Although caliber is sometimes used in naming a cartridge, it may not indicate actual bore size.

Cartridge
An assembly comprised of a case with primer, gunpowder, and a bullet sealed into place.

Cartridge Case
Usually made from brass, aluminum, or steel, the cartridge case is the metal container that holds the primer, gunpowder and bullet together in one loaded round.

Centerfire
A cartridge that locates the primer in the center of the head of the cartridge case. Also used to refer to guns that use such cartridges.

Chamber
In an autoloading pistol, it is the rear operation of the barrel that accepts the cartridge when the pistol is loaded. In a revolver, rounds are chambered in the cylinder.

Double-Action
The firing system found in many pistols that allows firing from a pre-cocked status or from trigger cocking, though with a longer, heavier pull.

Ejector
The device that throws the empty case clear of the pistol during the loading cycle.

Firearm
A weapon that uses internal combustion to send a projectile into flight.

Firing Pin
A pin with a rounded tip that is driven b spring action into the primer cartridge, causing the pistol to fire.

FPS
An abbreviation for feet per second, the common unit of measurement in the United States for bullet velocity.

Grip Safety
A safety designed to prevent a pistol from firing unless gripped properly.

Hammer
The spring-loaded pivoting component that gives the firing blow to the firing pin.

HP
An abbreviation for hollow point, an expanding bullet that uses concavity to promote expansion.

Locked-Breech
Any firearm in which the breech is mechanically locked shut during initial firing of the cartridge.

L.R.
An abbreviation for long rifle, the most common type of .22 rimfire ammunition.

Magazine
An ammunition storage and feeding device within or attached to a firearm.

Magnum
A descriptor used o identify a cartridge that develops higher velocities - usually by holding and burning more gun powder - than a standard cartridge of the same caliber.

Pistol
A term for any handgun. Sometimes used to differentiate an autoloader from a single-shot revolver.

Primer
The portion of the cartridge containing a tiny amount of detonating charge used to ignite the gunpowder within the case. The primer is press-fit into a pocket in the case head.

Rifling
The longitudinal spiraling grooves cut or impressed into the bore of a barrel that impart the spin to the bullet in flight to keep it stabilized.

Rimfire
The low-pressure cartridge type that stores its priming charge within a folded rim rather than in a separate, centrally-located primer.

RN
An abbreviation for round nose in describing a bullet-tip shape.

Sight Radius
The distance between the front sight and rear sight. Generally speaking, a longer sight radius allows for more precise alignment.

Single-Action
A firing system that requires manual cocking of the hammer for the first shot fired, or in some cases, every shot.

SWC
An abbreviation for semi-wadcutter, a type of bullet that is shaped as a truncated cone with a flat tip.

Thumb Safety
A movable lever on a firearm that, when engaged, prevents the handgun from firing.

Trajectory
The arcing path a projectile follows when flying through the air.

Trigger
The finger piece in a handgun that fires the pistol when pressed with sufficient force.

Trigger Cocking
The type of firing mechanism that performs two actions with a single trigger pull: the hammer is cocked, and the the hammer or striker is dropped to fire the gun.

Trigger Guard
A loop surrounding the trigger to protect it from being actuated accidentally.

Wadcutter
A type of bullet that is a true cylinder with flat ends. Used most commonly in target shooting because it punches clean, round holes in the target.

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