Firearms Definitions You Need To Know

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Jump

The amount of change in the bore axis, measured both vertically and horizontally, while the projectile moves from the chamber to the muzzle when it is fired.

Pitch

The angle of the butt of a gun in relation to the line of sight. Pitch is measured by resting the gun with its butt flat on a floor, the top of the receiver against a wall and its muzzle pointing up. The distance of the muzzle from the wall is the gun's pitch down.

Handspanner

German for Hand-Cocking or Cocker/De-Cocker. A type of action on a break-open gun or rifle where, in place of a traditional top tang safety, a somewhat more robust tab is fitted. Normally such a gun is carried in the field loaded, but with the action not cocked, an exceedingly safe condition. Then, when ready to fire, the shooter, instead of pushing a safety tab forward, pushes this larger tab forward, cocking the mainspring, making the gun ready to fire. Then, if the shot is not taken, he may simply slide this tab rearwards again, de-cocking the gun and returning it to the still-loaded, but very safe position.

Pellet (shotgun)

Small spherical projectiles loaded in shotshells and more often called "shot."

Patch

A small piece of leather or cloth. A patch can refer to the wadding used in loading a muzzle loading firearms or the piece of cloth used to clean a firearm bore.

Ballistic Coefficient

A measure of projectiles ability to overcome air resistance in flight. It is inversely proportional to the deceleration—a high number indicates a low deceleration. Ballistic Coefficient (abbreviated as BC) is a function of mass, diameter, and drag coefficient. In bullets it refers to the amount that drop over distance and wind drift will affect the bullet.

Scope Blocks

A pair of small dovetailed steel bases, screwed usually one to the barrel and one to the front receiver ring of a rifle, to accept mounts for target scopes such as the Unertl where the scope is allowed to move forward in the rings under the recoil of the rifle and which typically carry the windage and elevation adjustments in the mount.

Martini

A hammerless single shot action type whereby a breech-block, hinged at the upper rear, operated by an underlever, tilts downward to expose the chamber.

Magazine Pouch

Commonly shortened to mag pouch, this is a device to hold extra magazines which fastens to the shooter's belt.

Telescopic Sight

An optical sight, offering some magnification, often variable, with some kind of adjustable aiming grid inside (a reticle), which when mounted on a firearm, usually a rifle, makes sighting easier.

Controlled Pair

Two shots fired in rapid succession. It is different from a double tap because in a controlled pair, the second shot will be fired after the shooter has obtained a second sight picture, whereas in a double tap both shots are fired based upon the initial sight picture alone.

Collateral Damage

Damage that is unintended or incidental to the intended outcome.

Rifling

Spiral grooves formed into the bore of a gun barrel, which cause the bullet to spin upon firing, thus stabilizing it much like a thrown football. Rifling may be cut, swaged, or forged into the barrel.

Improvised Firearm

A firearm manufactured by someone who is not a regular maker of firearms.

Mirage

A tendency for layers of air of different temperatures near the warm ground to cause refraction in the line of sight and disturbance of the perceived point of aim.

Centerfire (Center Fire)

A cartridge with its primer located in the center of the base of the case.

Mauser Action

The premier bolt action, whose design by Paul Mauser coalesced in 1898, and from which were derived the Springfield 1903, the Winchester Model 70 and many others.

Cast Off

An offset of a gun stock to the right, so that the line of sight aligns comfortably with the right eye while the butt of the stock rests comfortably on the right shoulder. Almost all right-handed shooters benefit from a little castoff and most custom built guns are made this way. The only question is how much. The castoff of a gun is about right when, with the gun comfortably mounted, the front bead lines up with the center of the standing breech.
A stock offset to the left, for shooting from the left shoulder is said to be

Bolt Action

A type of firearm action in which the guns's bolt is operated manually by the opening and closing of the breech (barrel) with a small handle. As the handle is operated, the bolt is unlocked, the breech is opened, the spent shell casing is withdrawn and ejected, the firing pin is cocked, and finally a new round/shell (if available) is placed into the breech and the bolt closed.

Field Gun

A shotgun, generally stocked to shoot where it is pointed and of relatively light weight because one often carries it a great distance for upland birds, the consequent recoil not being an important factor because one actually shoots it very little.

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