Firearms Definitions You Need To Know

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Improved Cartridge

A wildcat cartridge that is created by straightening out the sides of an existing case and making a sharper shoulder to maximize powder space. Frequently the neck length and shoulder position are altered as well. The caliber is NOT changed in the process.

CCW

Abbreviation for Concealed Carry Weapon

Cheekpiece

A broad, flat, raised area on the side of a buttstock.

Chamber Throat

This is the area in the barrel that is directly forward of the chamber, which tapers to the bore diameter.

Revolver

A repeating firearm in which the ammunition is held in a multi-chambered cylinder, which is rotated to bring each chamber in line with the barrel. Most revolvers are handguns, although shoulder-fired arms have been made using this sort of mechanism.

Turn-Bolt Action

A bolt action which is locked by pressing the bolt handle in and down, thereby turning its locking lugs into the receiver.

Cordite

A family of smokeless propellants developed and produced in the United Kingdom from 1889 to replace gunpowder as a military propellant. Like gunpowder, cordite is classified as a low explosive because of its slow burning rates and consequently low brisance. The hot gases produced by burning gunpowder or cordite generate sufficient pressure to propel a bullet or shell to its target, but not enough to destroy the barrel of the firearm, or gun.

Sight Picture

What the shooter sees when looking through the sights at the target.

Machine Pistol

A handgun-style fully automatic or burst-mode firearm.
A machine pistol is not the same thing as a Submachine Gun

Silhouette Shooting

A handgun or rifle shooting sport in which the competitors attempt to knock over metallic game-shaped targets at various ranges.

Bluing

Also spelled blueing. A passivation process in which steel is partially protected against rust, and is named after the blue-black appearance of the resulting protective finish. True gun bluing is an electrochemical conversion coating resulting from an oxidizing chemical reaction with iron on the surface selectively forming magnetite (Fe3O4), the black oxide of iron, which occupies the same volume as metallic iron. Bluing is most commonly used by gun manufacturers, gunsmiths and gun owners to improve the cosmetic appearance of, and provide a measure of corrosion resistance to, their firearms.

Recoil

The tendency of a firearm when fired to move backwards, and a little upwards as a reaction to the force of the projectile moving down the barrel. As Newton says, to every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction. The mass of the firearm provides some inertia to counteract the momentum of recoil. What remains is absorbed by at the shoulder or the hand. The heavier the gun, the less the recoil. The more powerful the cartridge, the more the recoil.

Tang

The recurved top part of a semi-automatic handgun's grip at the point where it meets the slide. On long guns, the tang is the top strap used to screw the receiver to the stock.

Bayonet Lug

A mounting point on a small arm that allows a bayonet or other accessory to be attached.

Underbolts

A sliding bar, running longitudinally through the watertable of a break-open side-by-side gun's action, with openings through which the lumps of the barrels pass when the gun is closed. Under spring tension, this bar moves forward when the opening control is released and its two locking surfaces engage complementary slots (bites) in the rear of the two barrel lumps. Originally operated by a hinged tab in front of the trigger guard. Now invariably operated by a cam from Scott's [toplever] spindle. Most modern side-by-side guns lock closed in this manner.

Cover

Anything a person can hide behind that will probably stopp a bullet.

Double Triggers

On guns (mainly shotguns) that have two barrels, there is a trigger for each barrel that work independently from each other.

Combination Gun

A shoulder-held firearm that has two barrels; one rifle barrel and one shotgun barrel. Most combination guns are of an over/under design (abbreviated as O/U), in which the two barrels are stacked vertically on top of each other, but some combination guns are of a side-by-side design (abbreviated as SxS), in which the two barrels sit beside each other.

Bore Diameter

The measurement from one side of the bore to the other. In a rifled barrel this means measurement of the bore before the rifling grooves are cut.

Self-Opening

Attribute of a break-open gun whereby the barrels drop down simply by pressing the toplever without muscling them open manually. The Holland & Holland system utilizes a coil spring within a cylindrical housing mounted just ahead of the forward lump to urge the barrels open. The Purdey system utilizes residual energy remaining in the mainspring after the gun has been fired. Both systems enable a shooter to load more quickly when birds are coming fast.

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