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Firearms Dictionary of Gun Terms, Slang and Abbreviations

Firearms Definitions You Need To Know


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Cannelure

A groove or indention around the circumference of a bullet. Its purpose is to permit the cartridge casing to be crimped tightly against the bullet shank to hold it firmly to the casing. A groove or indention around the circumference of a bullet. Its purpose is to permit the cartridge casing to be crimped tightly against the bullet shank to hold it firmly to the casing.

Die

A piece of tooling used to form a sequence of uniform parts through the use of heat and/or pressure; especially, in firearms terminology used to form brass cartridge cases accurately to their correct size for reloading.

Three Gun

A shooting sport where cometitors use three different guns on each stage of the competion; shotgun, rifle and handgun.

Terminal Ballistics

A sub-field of ballistics, is the study of the behavior of a projectile when it hits its target.

Cross Dominant

This means a shooter who is right-handed but left-eyed, or left-handed and right-eyed.

Penetration

The distance travelled by a projectile from the point where it strikes the target to the point where it stops.

Mouse Gun

A name for any palm sized handgun which fires a small caliber.

Plinking

Informal shooting at any of a variety of inanimate targets.

Chamber

The rear portion of the barrel or firing cylinder in which the cartridge is inserted prior to being fired. Rifles and pistols generally have a single chamber in their barrels, while revolvers have multiple chambers in their cylinders and no chamber in their barrel.

Off Hand

To shoot while standing and without bracing against anything. Sometimes it can also mean to shoot with your non-dominant hand.

Feed Ramp

An inclined, polished area on a repeating firearm, just behind the chamber, that helps guide a cartridge into the chamber when pushed forward by the closing bolt or slide.

Gas Vent

A passage built into a firearm to allow the safe conduct of unexpected gas, as from a pierced primer, to minimize damage both to the gun and to the shooter.

Firing Pin

A needle like metal part of a modern firearm that gives a vigorous strike to the primer initiating the firing of the cartridge.

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.

Antique Firearm

Defined according to Section 921 (a) (16), Title 18, U.S.C. as:

A. any firearm (including any firearm with matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system) manufactured in or before 1898; and
B. any replica of any firearm described in subparagraph (A) if such replica (i) is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition, or (ii) uses rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition which is no longer manufactured in the United States and which is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade.

Musket

A Muzzleloading long gun which has a completely smooth bore and is intended to fire a single projectile rather than a collection of shot.

Leading

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

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.

Loading Gate

The hinged cover over the opening through which cartridges are inserted into the magazine.

Tap, Rack, Bang

The slang term for the procedure to clear a misfeed. To clear a misfeed, tap the base of the magazine firmly to be sure it is properly seated, rack the slide to eject an empty case or feed a new round, and assess to be sure your target still needs shooting. If it does, pull the trigger to create the bang.

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