Firearms Definitions You Need To Know

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Stutzen

German for a short rifle or carbine.

Accidental Discharge

An unexpected and undesirable discharge of a firearm caused by circumstances beyond the control of the participant(s) such as a mechanical failure or parts breakage. There are very, very few firearms related "accidents" and if the "Three Rules" are followed there will hopefully be no injury. Accidental Discharge should not be confused with "Negligent Discharge".

Spotter

The spotter is a helper who gives the shooter guidance on how to hit a particular target. In some cases the spotter may just report the location of the bullet impact. In other cases they may judge the speed and direction of the wind, determine the range, and give the shooter the settings to be used on the sights.

Bipod

Sometimes spelled Bi-Pod. A support device that is similar to a tripod or monopod, but with two legs. On firearms, bipods are commonly used on rifles to provide a forward rest and reduce motion. The bipod permits the operator to rest the weapon on the ground, a low wall, or other object, reducing operator fatigue and permitting increased accuracy.

Breech Pressure

The amount of rearward force exerted by the propellant gases on the bolt or breech of a firearm action or breech when a projectile is fired. The applied force has both magnitude and direction, making it a vector quantity. This is also known as Bolt Thrust on firearms that are Bolt Action

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.

FFL

Abbreviation for Federal Firearms [Dealer's] License.

Hand-Detachable Locks

The firing mechanism of a break-open gun which may be removed for inspection or cleaning without the use of tools. The release latch may be plainly visible or concealed. A feature typically seen on sidelock guns but also on the Westley Richards "droplock" boxlock action.

Bolt Face

The forward end of the bolt which supports the base of the cartridge and contains the firing pin.

Pepperbox

An early form of muzzle-loading revolver wherein, instead of the current practice of having one barrel mated to a multi-chambered rotating cylinder, multiple joined barrels revolve together around a central axis.

Jaws

The vise-like device on a flintlock hammer used to hold the flint.

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.

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.

Primer

A small metal cup that contains a tiny explosive charge that is sensitive to impact. A primer is placed in the base of a shell casing to ignite the powder of the completed cartridge. It is detonated by the striking of a firing pin in the firearm.

Choke Tubes

Short, interchangeable cylinders, of subtly different internal tapers, that screw into a threaded recess at the muzzle of a shotgun. By inserting different choke tubes, one can alter the shot pattern thrown by the gun.

Holographic Weapon Sight

a non-magnifying gun sight that allows the user to look through a glass optical window and see a cross hair reticle image superimposed at a distance on the field of view. The hologram of the reticle is built into the window and is illuminated by a laser diode.

Firepower

A volume of fire delivered by a military unit. Incorrectly used by the media to mean the ability of a small arm to be discharged many times without reloading.

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.

Wad

A felt, paper, cardboard or plastic disk that is used in a shotshell. Also in muzzle loading, a piece of cloth used to seal the bullet in the barrel. It's purpose and function is the same as a shotgun wad.

Trace

Visible disturbance in the air by a bullet. Typically this takes the form of image distortion that persists for a fraction of a second in the shape of an inverted V similar to that of a boat wake.