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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Some common firearms terminology

I'm not suggesting that everyone needs to be well versed in firearms terms, far from it, it helps sep the wheat from the chaff in seconds in gunshows, meetings, and such. However, there are some good reasons for knowing proper terms, or at least terms that are in correct common use and my intention with sharing some of this is to spare some of the younger folks unnecessary embarassment or inconvenience if they're interested in firearms.

If someone wishes to use incorrect terms or has a reason to argue against proper terminology, that's not what this is about. I'm hoping that we can get some common terms down.

Walk into some gun shops and use the wrong terms and you'll be marked as a novice (and unsafe). In the nice, professional gunshops they'll generally school you. In one I know of, they'll toss you out because they focus on experienced shooters, LEO's and military. In the bad gunshops they'll smirk, make fun of you and not really provide help.

So it pays to know...


Some commonly confused terms:


1. Clip and Magazine.

With few exceptions, clip and magazine are very different, but without getting into the odd and confusing examples, let's make it simple. When you see a metal or plastic box like item that's inserted into the grip of a pistol or a magazine well what you're likely looking at is a magazine. A clip normally consists of several rounds held together by some sheet metal that's inserted into a magazine, either internal or external.


2. Revolver and Pistol.

A revolver might be a pistol (generally is, with a few exceptions), a pistol might be a revolver, but not all pistols are revolvers. A revolver is a firearm that has a cylinder that goes around, bringing each chamber into position so the bullet can go down the cylinder. A pistol is a handgun that can have any of many feed mechanisms, including automatic, revolver, single shot, etc.

3. Bullet and Round.

Narrowing this down to modern ammunition for simplicity, a bullet is the part that goes through the barrel and hopefully strikes the target. A bullet is part of a round, and a round consists of a projectile (bullet), a shell casing, propellant (powder) and a primer. This illustration shows the parts, and indicates a part of the casing, the rim. (and the primer consists of parts as well.)