Letter H Firearms Glossary

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Hair Trigger

A trigger that breaks from an extremely light touch.

Half Cock

A middle position for an external hammer that effectively provides a safety function. With a firearm with non-rebounding hammers, when on half-cock, the firing pin will not rest on the firing-pin.

Half grip

Round knob, semi pistol grip.

Half Moon Clip

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

Hammer

The part of the gun that strikes either the firing pin or the round directly when the trigger is pulled then detonates the primer of the load and discharges the gun. Hammers may be external or internal. On a striker fired gun (a gun without a physical hammer) the firing pin is considered the hammer since it releases directly when the trigger is pulled.

Hammer Bite

The action of an external hammer pinching or poking the web of the operator's shooting hand between the thumb and fore-finger when the gun is fired.

Hammer Spur

The thumb-piece on the top rear of the hammer that enables it to be manually drawn back to full cock.

Hammerless

A firearm with a coil-spring-actuated firing pin, or with its hammer enclosed inside the action body; i.e.. no externally visible hammer.

Hand

In any mechanism, a small lever that engages a notch to actuate movement in one direction only. Specifically, a small spring-loaded lever attached to the hammer of a revolver which actuates the cylinder to advance one increment and move the next chamber into battery as the hammer is cocked.

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.

Handgun

Synonymous with pistol. A small, short-barreled firearm designed to be fired while held in one or both hands, possibly small enough to be concealed on the person, rather than while braced against the shoulder. The term includes antique dueling pistols, modern single-shot, semi-automatic pistols and revolvers.

Handloading

The process of assembling cartridge case, bullet or shot, wads and primer to produce a complete cartridge with the use of hand tools in the interest of loading for firearms for which cartridges are not available, experimenting with loads to achieve better performance, or to save money. Not to be attempted without knowledgeable instruction and careful study of the process.

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.

Hang Fire

An unexpected delay between the triggering of a firearm and the ignition of the propellant. This failure was common in firearm actions that relied on open primer pans, due to the poor or inconsistent quality of the powder. Modern weapons are susceptible, particularly if the ammunition has been stored in an environment outside of the design specifications. Reloaded ammunition may also be the cause if not reloaded properly

Hardball

Slang for a full metal jacket bullet with a round nose. The term is most commonly used in referring to .45 ACP caliber ammunition, but may be used for other calibers as well.

Head

Head [of a Stock]. The forward end of a buttstock, where it meets the receiver and accepts the bulk of the gun's recoil when fired.

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.

Headspace Gauge

Plugs of hardened steel, precisely machined in relation to the standard dimensional specifications of a given cartridge, normally in sets of three: "GO", "No-Go" and "Field". By loading these plug-gauges into the chamber in succession, one can check that the action should close on the "Go" gauge. It should not close on the "No-Go" gauge, but might were enough force to be used. And, it absolutely should not close on the "Field" gauge.

Headstamp

Markings impressed into the base of a cartridge case, normally identifying the maker's name, the cartridge calibre designation, and sometimes the date.

Heavy Machine Gun

A larger class of machine gun..

Heavy Trigger

A trigger that requires a lot of pressure to pull it past the break point. Rifles tend to have considerably lighter triggers than handguns, and even a heavy rifle trigger is often lighter than a light handgun trigger.

Heel

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

Heel & Toe Plates

Protective plates, usually of steel or horn, covering the top and bottom of a gunstock's butt only (the heel and the toe); leaving wood exposed in the center

High Brass

By convention, powerfully loaded shotgun cartridges for hunting are generally manufactured with relatively longer brass end-caps than lower powered cartridges intended for target shooting. While different-sized brass bases are of virtually no consequence to the strength of the shell in relation to the steel breech of the gun itself, they do help the shooter identify the relative power of cartridges at a glance.

High Kneeling

A shooting position in which one or both knees are touching the ground, but the shooter is otherwise erect.

High-Capacity Magazine

An inexact, non-technical term indicating a magazine holding more rounds than might be considered "average.".

Hinge Pin

A short cylindrical rod of hardened steel running laterally near the front of the bar of a break-open gun's action around which the barrel hook revolves when the gun is opened. Over the decades, this pin and its complimentary hook can wear and a gun can sometimes "shoot loose" or "come off the face." The proper cure for this condition is to replace the hinge pin with a new one, slightly oversized, to compensate for wear on both itself and on the barrel hook.

HMR

Abbreviation for Hornady Magnum Rimfire.

Holdopen Toplever

A catch built into the receiver of a break-open gun to keep the toplever in its extreme right position when the barrels are removed. This device makes it slightly easier to remount the barrels. As the barrels are mounted and the breech closed, the barrels contact some kind of release pin (marked with the arrow) and the toplever automatically returns to the center locked position. Because, however, it requires a separate act to find and to depress this tiny tab to re-center the toplever on a broken-down gun, this feature may be irritating when trying to put a gun away in its case.

Hollow-Point Bullet

A type of expanding bullet with a concavity in its nose to increase expansion on penetration of a solid target. Some hollow-point's are also designed to fragment as they expand. They are least likely to over-penetrate the target and harm an innocent bystander. Commonly used for self-defense.

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.

Holster

A gun holder that may be strapped to a human body, or affixed to the inside of a pack or bag, or dropped into a pocket. A holster serves to protect the gun's mechanisms and finish, to provide security by covering the trigger so it cannot be pulled inadvertently, and to present the grip of the gun at a constant angle for easy access. Some holsters also serve to obscure the outline of the gun so it may be more easily concealed. Typically made from leather or in plastic.

Hood

Front sight hood. A hollow cylinder fitted to a rifle's front sight ramp, both to protect the delicate front sight bead from impact, and to shade it from oblique sunlight which could have the effect of altering the sight's apparent position.

Hook

A concave, semi-cylindrical surface cut into the forward lump of a barrel set of a break-open firearm which revolves about the hinge-pin when the gun is opened.

Hornady Magnum Rimfire

A type rimfire rifle cartridge developed by the ammunition company Hornady. .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire (4.527mmR), commonly known as the .17 HMR, was developed in 2002. It descended from the .22 Magnum by necking down the .22 Magnum case to take a .17 caliber (4.5 mm) bullet.

Hot Range

A condition (status) of a shooting range that shooters may commence to fire.

Howdah Pistol

Normally, a break-open, double-barrel, side-by-side pistol of large calibre, used by a maharaja when hunting tiger on the back of his elephant (in the howdah, the basket compartment in which he sits). The howdah pistol is the weapon of last resort in case the tiger tries to join him in the howdah.