Firearms Definitions You Need To Know

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Island Rear Sight

A rear barrel sight base, more articulated than having the sight simply dovetailed into the barrel, but not requiring as much gunsmithing as having it mounted onto a proper quarter-rib.

Pistol Grip

The handle on a pistol. Can also refer to a vertical grip behind the trigger on a rifle.

Expanding Bullet

An expanding bullet is a bullet designed to expand on impact, increasing in diameter to limit penetration and/or produce a larger diameter wound. The two typical designs are the hollow point bullet and the soft point bullet. See also Dum-Dum Bullet

Heel

The top of the butt-end of a gun stock.

Twilight Sight

A rifle front sight with a extra-large, folding bead. Typically, in addition to the normal fine bead (which allows for more precision) the larger bead, while at a cost of potential accuracy, is more readily acquired in marginal light. Also called a Gloaming sight

Speed Loader

A device used to load magazines or revolver cylinders quicker than by hand.

Bore Snake

A bore snake is a tool used to clean the inside (bore) of the barrel of a gun. It resembles a short section of rope with a smaller, weighted cord attached to one end to help feed the bore snake through the barrel. A bore snake often has one or more integrated brushes to help clean the barrel, and may also be used to apply lubricant. It is an alternative to using a cleaning rod and patches to clean the barrel of a gun. Bore snakes are made in different sizes for different calibers and gauges of guns.

Bolt

The mechanism of some firearms that holds the cartridge in place during the firing process. It must be moved out of the way to load and unload the gun; this action may be manually performed by the shooter pulling back on an exterior knob called the bolt handle and then sending it forward again, or the action may be performed by other moving parts within the firearm. When the user must move the bolt manually, the firearm is called a bolt-action firearm.

Underhammer

A type of lock in which the hammer pivots in a vertical arc, striking the nipple on the underside of the barrel. Since the nipple's flash channel goes straight into the powder at the breech end of the barrel, ignition time is very fast. For this reason, and because it gets the hammer out of the way, underhammer locks are commonly used on muzzleloading benchrest rifles which are used for target shooting, and where accuracy is the goal.

Headspace

The distance, or clearance, between the base of a chambered cartridge and the breech face (or bolt face) of a firearm. This is a critical dimension, particularly in high powered rifles. If there is too little headspace, the bolt will not close. If there is too much headspace the cartridge will not be properly supported in the chamber and the cartridge will expand upon firing and may rupture, blasting high-pressure gas into the action and possibly into the body of the shooter. Headspace should be .003" - .006" in a centerfire rifle. It can be checked with a set of "Go and No-Go" gauges specific to the calibre in question. (See below.) With a standard cartridge, the headspace is registered by the shoulder, with a belted cartridge, the headspace is registered by the forward edge of the belt.

Pair

Two shots fired very quickly with the use of the sights.

Lock Speed

The same as Lock Time

Weaver Stance

In the Weaver stance, the body is bladed partly sideways in relation to the target rather than squared towards it (think boxing or martial arts fighter stance). The elbows are flexed and pointed downward. The strong-side arm is slightly straighter than the weak-side arm. Even though the legs are not square to tharget, the hips should be square to the target. The feet should be pointed at the target. The shooter pushes out with the gun hand, while the weak hand pulls back. This produces a push-pull tension which is the chief defining characteristic of the Weaver stance.

COM

Abbreviation for Center Of Mass.

Berm

On an outdoor shooting range, a large pile of dirt that functions as a backstop.

Powder Charge

The amount of propellant powder that is suitable for specific cartridge-bullet combination, or in the case of shotshells, for a specific weight of shot and wad column.

Shell

An empty ammunition case.

Lug

Any piece that projects from a firearm for the purpose of attaching something to it. For example barrel lugs are used to attach a break-action shotgun barrel to the action itself. If the firearm is a revolver, the term may also refer to a protrusion under the barrel that adds weight, thereby stabilizing the gun during aiming, mitigating recoil, and reducing muzzle flip. A full lug extends all the way to the muzzle, while a half lug extends only partially down the barrel. On a swing-out-cylinder revolver, the lug is slotted to accommodate the ejector rod.

X-Frame

The frame designation that Smith and Wesson uses for their extra large framed revolvers like the S&W Model 500 and S&W 460XVR

Double Rifle

Two independent rifles, built on one frame, designed to allow two virtually instantaneously quick, totally reliable shots. The barrels may be arranged either side-by-side or over-and-under. The apogee of the gunmaker's art. Particularly useful against dangerous game, which may be moving, and in your direction, with vengeance on its mind.

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