Firearms Definitions You Need To Know

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Zeroing

The act of setting up a telescopic or other sighting system so that the point of impact of a bullet matches the sights at a specified distance.

Trigger Scale

A specialized type of hanging scale designed to test trigger pull weight.

Machine Gun

A fully automatic firearm that rapidly fires multiple rifle-caliber shots with a single pull of the trigger.

Trigger Guard

Usually a circular or oval band of metal, horn or plastic that goes around the trigger to provide both protection and safety in shooting circumstances. The shooter's finger should never be within the trigger guard unless the sights are on target and the shooter has made the decision to fire.

Obturation

The process of a bullet expanding under pressure to fit the bore of the firearm, or a cartridge case expanding under pressure to seal the chamber.

Matchlock

An early system of ignition for muzzle-loading firearms where a priming charge is loaded into a flashpan with a separate, manually-operated cover. To fire, the cover is opened and then a slowly smoldering wick, held in the nose of the curved arm, is lowered by means of a lever (precursor to a trigger) to ignite a priming charge which then ignites the main propellant charge inside the barrel.

Leading

Fouling of a firearm bore by metal particles from bullets adhering to the metal surface caused by heat or friction.

Half Moon Clip

A Moon Clip that hold enough rounds to load only a portion (usually half capacity) of a revolvers cylinder.

Cocked

A state of readiness of a firearm. The hammer (or similar mechanism if there is no hammer) only needs to be released by the trigger to cause the gun to fire.

X-Bolt

A bolt-action designed by Browning firearms. The x-bolt action features a short 60° bolt lift. So it is fast cycling and allows working the bolt quicker without the scope getting in the way.

Front Sight

The front sight is placed at the muzzle end of the barrel. It is often (but not always) in the form of a dot or a blade. To attain a proper sight picture and shoot with the greatest degree of accuracy, the shooter's eye should be focused sharply upon the front sight while shooting, allowing both the rear sight and the target to blur somewhat.

Sporting Firearm

Any gun that can be used in a sport.

Gunpowder

Also called black powder, gunpowder is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate. It burns rapidly, producing a volume of hot gas made up of carbon dioxide, water, and nitrogen, and a solid residue of potassium sulfide. Because of its burning properties and the amount of heat and gas volume that it generates, gunpowder has been widely used as a propellant in firearms and as a pyrotechnic composition in fireworks. The term gunpowder also refers broadly to any propellant powder. Modern firearms do not use the traditional gunpowder (black powder) described here, but instead use smokeless powder.

Dum-Dum

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. Expanding bullets were given the name Dum-dum, or dumdum, after an early British example produced in the Dum Dum Arsenal, near Calcutta, India by Captain Neville Bertie-Clay in the the mid-1870s. Modern sef-defensive, JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point), ammunition are based on the original dum-dum ammunition design and principles.

Cast On

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

Checkering

A regular pattern of fine grooves cut into the surface of a stock to aid in gripping a gun. Originally done for utility only, checkering has become an art form in itself; craftsmen adorning the borders with ribbons, fleur-de-lys, floral carving, etc. The amount of coverage, the precise regularity, and the number of lines per inch indicate the quality of the work. Too-fine checkering, however, defeats the purpose of the work altogether.

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

Picatinny Rail

A metal bar, available in a variety of lengths, with a continuous row of Weaver-like scope mount base slots, which when attached to a firearm, allow convenient attachment of a variety of sights, lights, slings, bipods and other accessories designed to fit this standard system.

Over-Under

Can also be spelled Over/Under, OverUnder or Over and Under. A firearm (most commonly a shotgun) with two barrels that are vertically aligned with each other, one on top of the other.

ACP

The abbreviation for Automatic Colt Pistol. It is commonly used to designate specific calibers, particularly those which were originally designed by John Moses Browning for the Colt Firearms Company which are a type of rimless pistol cartridge designed mainly for use in semi-automatic pistols. The most common ACP calibers are .25 ACP, .32 ACP, .380 ACP and .45 ACP.

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