Hunting > Firearms
A B C
D E F
G H I J
K L M
N O P Q R
S T U V
W X Y
Action: The part of a firearm that loads,
fires, extracts and ejects ammunition.
Action Release: The part of a firearm that unlatches or opens the
action to give access to the chamber.
Air Gun: A firearm that uses compressed air or carbon dioxide to
propel a projectile.
Ammunition: The projectiles fired from guns. The term also
includes the fuses, propelling charges, or primers of the projectiles.
Aperture Sight: A rear sight with a hole for viewing the target.
Also known as a peep sight.
Automatic: An action that fires cartridges in rapid succession
during one sustained pressure of the trigger.
a) A lead projectile fired
by black powder firearms.
b) Full metal jacket ammunition.
Ballistics: The study of projectiles in flight and what affects
them. This means the barrel, in flight and within the target,
including trajectory, force, impact and penetration.
Barrel: The metal tube of a firearm. The bullet, shot or
projectile accelerates through it when the firearm is fired.
Barrel Length: The distance from the muzzle to the chamber,
including the chamber itself. This measurement does not include
accessories or barrel extensions like flash suppressors or muzzle
brakes. The barrel length of a revolver is the distance from the
muzzle to the breech end immediately in front of the cylinder.
BB Gun: A type of air gun designed to use spherical steel BB
Big Bore: A rifle shooting term which refers to center-fire
firearms or ammunition.
Black Powder: A finely-ground powder, mainly used in
muzzle-loaders and antique cartridge firearms. The basic ingredients
are saltpeter (potassium nitrate), charcoal (carbon) and sulfur.
Bluing: An oxidation (rust) process applied to
firearm metal parts. Controlled by applying oil which mixes with the
nitrates used in the process. The oil prevents further rusting by
sealing the metal. This gives the metal a blue/black color which
resulted in the name "bluing".
Boattail: The tapered rear end of some bullets, used to
increase ballistic efficiency at long range.
Bolt: A steel rod-like assembly which moves back and forth in
an action, sealing the cartridge in the chamber during firing.
Bolt Action: For registration purposes, a repeating firearm
that has a magazine and in which the breech bolt or closure device
operates in line with the bore; manually operated by a permanent
projection or handle attached to the bolt or closure device.
Bolt Face: The forward end of the bolt which supports the base
of the cartridge.
Bore: The inside of the barrel of a firearm excluding the
chamber. The channel through which the bullet or other projectile is
fired from the gun.
Bore Diameter: The measurement from one side of the bore to the
other. Also, see rifling and caliber.
Breech: The rear end of the barrel into which the ammunition is
loaded. See chamber.
Breechblock: The part in the breech mechanism that locks the
action against the firing of the cartridge.
Breech Loader: A firearm loaded through the breech.
Buckshot: Large lead pellets used in shotgun shells.
Bullet: A projectile designed to be fired from a rifled barrel.
Butt: The rear end of a rifle or shotgun (the portion that
rests against the shoulder.) In a handgun, the bottom part of the
Butt Plate: Plate put on the butt end of a stock. May be used
for cosmetic reasons, for cushioning, or for aiding in the duplication
of rifle position.
Butt Stock: In long guns, the part of the stock which extends
from the receiver to the butt.
Caliber: A measurement in metric or imperial
units to describe the inside diameter of the barrel of a rifled
firearm. Caliber is also used to describe the diameter of a projectile
in a cartridge.
Cap: See percussion cap.
Carbine: A light short-barreled rifle.
Cartridge: A complete unit of ammunition consisting of a case,
primer, powder and a projectile. Modern cartridges are generally
classified into two categories: center-fire and rim-fire. Also, see
Cartridge Magazine: A container for cartridges or shotshells
with a spring and follower to feed cartridges into the chamber of the
firearm. It may be detachable or an integral part of the firearm.
Case: Also called casing. The container of a cartridge. It is
usually of brass or other metal when used for rifles and handguns.
When used for shotguns, it is usually of paper or plastic with a metal
head, and is more often called a hull.
a) As a verb - the command to stop shooting, unload firearms and step
behind the cease-fire line.
b) As a noun - time or period of range inactivity while targets are
changed or other activities are conducted.
Center-Fire: A cartridge with its primer located in the center
of the base of the case.
Chain-Firing: The term used to describe the dangerous result of
not using grease over the balls used in a black powder revolver. When
the primary cylinder is fired, lack of grease on the other cylinders
may cause them to discharge before they are lined up with the barrel.
a) The portion at the breech end of the barrel. The cartridge is
placed in the chamber ready for firing. A revolver is multi-chambered.
b) To place a cartridge in the barrel.
a) The amount, by weight, of the powder in a cartridge.
b) In the case of black powder, the amount, by volume, of the powder
c) To fill a magazine with cartridges.
Cheek Piece: A lateral projection from the comb of the stock.
Provides additional support and contact to the cheek when the rifle is
shouldered in the firing position.
Chief Firearms Officer: The person in authority in a province
or territory responsible for licenses, authorizations to transport,
authorizations to carry and other functions related to the
administration of the Firearms Act and its Regulations.
Choke: Narrowing at the muzzle end of a shotgun barrel which
determines the shot pattern.
Cleaning Kit: A set of specialized accessories used to clean
and maintain a firearm.
Clip: A term improperly used to describe removable magazines
containing cartridges. Technically, a cartridge container designed to
rapidly reload the firearm's magazine. Also called the stripper clip.
CO2 Powered: Carbon dioxide. A propellant in which the energy
source is obtained from compressed carbon dioxide gas.
Cock: To set the action into position for firing. On some
firearms, the action has an intermediate position called half cock.
On muzzle-loading firearms, the cock holds the flint or match.
Coking: The burning of black powder residue with much heat and
Comb: The upper edge of a rifle or shotgun stock where the
holder's cheek rests.
Conical Bullet: A cylindrical shaped bullet with a cone shaped
Core: The part of a bullet that is covered by a jacket, i.e.
the center of a bullet.
Corrosion: The gradual eating away of the metal parts of a
firearm caused by rust or other chemical reactions.
Crimp: The portion of a cartridge or shell case that is bent
inward to hold the bullet or shot in place.
Cross-Bolt Safety: A device that blocks the firing mechanism of
Cross-Hairs: The sighting lines in a telescopic sight.
Cylinder: The part of a revolver that rotates and in which
chambers are bored to hold cartridges. It combines the functions of
magazine, feed system and firing chamber.
Cylinder Bore: A shotgun barrel having the same diameter
throughout, i.e. without choke. It is used to fire solid slugs.
Damascus Barrels: An early technique for making
barrels where strips or wires of iron and steel are twisted or braided
in a spiral fashion and forged into a barrel. Such barrels are not
strong enough to withstand the pressures of modern ammunition.
Dangerous Range: The maximum distance at which
a projectile will travel. Also, see range.
Derringer: A generic term applied to a variety of pistols that are
designed to be kept in a pocket. Originally associated with small
handguns designed by Henry Derringer.
Detachable Magazine: A large variety of removable magazines.
Dominant Eye: See master eye.
Double Action: An action that cocks and fires with a complete
pull of the trigger.
Double Action Only: An action which cannot fire in a single
Double Action Revolver: A revolver that both cocks and fires
with a complete pull of the trigger.
Double Barrel: A firearm with two barrels, either side-by-side
or one over the other.
Doubling: The unintentional firing of a second shot usually caused
by a malfunction of the firearm.
Down Range: The direction from the shooting position towards
the target on a range. Also, see range.
Drilling: A three-barreled gun, popular in Germany, with a rifle
barrel beneath two shotgun barrels.
Drum Magazine: A large-capacity magazine in which cartridges
are arranged in a spiral around a central wind-axis.
Dry Firing: Firing of an unloaded firearm to practice handling
and shooting techniques. This can damage some types of actions,
Dummy Ammunition: Inactive ammunition used for practicing
handling of firearms. It has no primers or propellants. Also, see live
Effective Range: The maximum distance for a
shooter at which he or she can confidently hit the target. Also refers
to the useful range of the projectile(s). Also, see range.
Elevation: Vertical adjustment of the rear sight to change the
projectile's point of impact either up or down.
Ejector: The mechanism which expels the cartridge or case from
Extraction: The removal of a cartridge or case from the chamber
of a firearm.
Feed: The action of moving a fresh cartridge
into the chamber.
Feeding Path: The path a cartridge follows within an action.
Field Stripping: Taking apart a firearm for regular maintenance
Firing Pin: The part of the breech mechanism which strikes the
primer of the cartridge.
Flash Suppressor: Muzzle attachment designed to cool emergent
gases and prevent or reduce muzzle flash.
Flat-Nosed Bullet: A bullet with a flattened front end. It is
used mainly in cartridges designed for rifles with tubular magazines.
Flechette: A small dart stabilized by fins. It is encased in a
discarding sabot (case) and loaded into a shotgun shell. Usually, one
shell will contain a number of flechettes. This type of ammunition is
Flint-Lock: The gunlock of early firearms in which flint is
struck against steel. This causes sparks to ignite the powder charge.
Floor Plate: The metal plate at the bottom of some cartridge
magazines. (The floor plate is usually hinged at the front and held by
a release spring located just ahead of the trigger guard.)
Follow-Through: Staying in the same position after squeezing
the trigger or continuing the swing in firing at a moving target. This
helps to shoot accurately.
Follower: The part of a magazine between the spring and the
ammunition. You must be able to see or feel the follower to know the
magazine is empty. Also, see magazine follower.
Forcing Cone: In smooth bore and revolver barrels, a cone which
joins the chamber to the bore. It assists the passage of the
projectile(s) into the bore. Also called a throat.
Forearm: The forward part of a one or two piece stock. It is
sometimes called a slide on pump action firearms.
Fore-Stock: The front portion of a one-piece or two-piece
shoulder arm stock. Located under the barrel, the fore-stock serves as
a hand-hold. It is also called a fore-end.
FPS: Feet per second. A unit of measurement to express how fast
a projectile is traveling (velocity.)
Frizzen: The metal arm of a flint-lock mechanism. The flint
strikes the frizzen to create sparks in the flash pan. It is also
called a battery.
Full Cock: The position of the hammer or striker when the
firearm is ready to fire.
Full Metal Jacket: A bullet with a jacket, usually of harder
metal, encasing the core. It is also called a hard-point bullet. Used
in ball ammunition
Gas Check: A metal cup placed on the end of a
lead bullet to protect it against the hot gasses of the burning powder
Gas Port: A small hole in the barrel of a gas-operated firearm
through which expanding gases escape to power the autoloading system
or reduce recoil.
Gas-Operated: An automatic or semi-automatic firearm where the
propellant gases are used to unlock the breech bolt and then to
complete the cycle of extracting and ejecting.
Gauge: The measure used to identify shotgun bores. It is based
on the number of bore-sized lead balls equal to one pound. For
example, twelve lead balls that fit the diameter of a 12 gauge shotgun
equal one pound. The most common sizes of shotgun gauge are 10 gauge,
12 gauge, 16 gauge, 20 gauge, and .410. The .410 is the exception in
that it is measured as a caliber not a gauge.
Grain: A unit of weight (7,000 grains equal one pound) commonly
used to measure the weight of ammunition components.
Black powder and its substitutes are measured in grains by volume.
Modern powders are measured by weight.
Grip: In handguns, the grip is the handle. In rifles and
shotguns, the portion of the stock to the rear of the trigger is
considered the grip or wrist.
Grip Safety: In some handguns, such as the venerable .45 Colt
semi-automatic pistol, an auxiliary locking device located on the grip
prevents firing until it is depressed.
Grooves: See rifling.
Gunpowder: Any of various powders used in firearms as a
Half Cock: A safety feature on some firearms.
When the hammer is pulled back half-way, it cannot be fired by
squeezing the trigger.
Hammer: The part of the action that drives the firing pin
Hangfire: A malfunction causing a delay in firing a cartridge
after the firing pin has struck the primer.
High Power: A term applied to the first smokeless powder
cartridges with velocities of approximately 2,000 feet per second.
High Power Rifle: Generally, a firearm that uses center-fire
Holding: The action of keeping the sights on the target while
squeezing the trigger.
Hollow Point: A bullet with a hollow at the tip (nose) that
makes it expand more on impact.
Hull: The outer covering or casing of a shotgun shell.
Jacket: The outer covering over the inner metal
core of a bullet.
Kick: See recoil.
Lands: See rifling.
Leading: Particles from shot or bullets that stick to the metal
surface of the bore. This is due to heat or friction.
a) An action operated by a lever located underneath it. (A secondary
purpose of the lever is to serve as a trigger guard).
b) For registration purposes, a repeating firearm that has a magazine
and a breech mechanism cycled by an external lever, usually below the
receiver or frame.
Line Of Sight: An imaginary straight line from the shooter's
eye to the target; usually through the sights.
Live Ammunition: Ammunition containing primers and propellants
capable of firing bullets or other projectiles.
Load: To prepare a firearm for firing by inserting ammunition
Loading Gate: The hinged cover over the opening through which
cartridges are inserted into the magazine or chamber on a revolver.
Loading Port: The opening through which cartridges are inserted
into the magazine or chamber on a revolver.
Lock: The firing mechanism of a muzzle-loader.
In firearms that are loaded through the breech, the lock is both the
firing mechanism and breech-sealing assembly.
Long Gun: Generic term used to describe rifles and shotguns.
Magazine: See cartridge magazine.
Magazine Cut Off: Disengages magazine feed from firearm.
Magazine Follower: Spring-loaded platform in a magazine. It
pushes cartridges or shells to the feeding position.
When checking that a firearm is completely unloaded, the magazine
follower should be clearly in view. This is especially important with
Magazine Release: A button or switch which allows for the
removal of a magazine from the firearm.
a) A cartridge or shell with a larger capacity or with a higher
velocity than average (e.g. 3.5 inch Magnum shot shell, .300
Winchester Magnum rifle, .44 Remington Magnum handgun). Firearms that
use magnum ammunition may also be called magnum.
b) A marketing term used by manufacturers which may or may not
indicate greater power or range.
Mainspring: A strong spring which activates the striker or
hammer of a firearm.
Malfunction: The failure of a firearm to work properly. This
can be caused by a jam or stoppage, or a mechanical or structural
Master Eye: The stronger eye; the eye through which a person
usually views an object as when sighting a firearm.
Match: A long cord soaked in saltpeter, which burns slowly.
Used to ignite powder in early firearms.
Matchlock: A firearm action which uses a serpentine or S-shaped
piece of metal to hold a smoldering match. The burning match contacts
the priming powder in the pan to ignite the charge.
Metallic Cartridge: A cartridge with a metallic case. In
contrast, early cartridge cases were made of linen, paper, etc.
Mid-Range: The point in the trajectory halfway between the
muzzle and the target.
Mini-Ball or Minie Ball: A cylindrical shaped bullet used in
muzzle-loaders. It has a pointed tip and a hollow base which spreads
as it is fired.
Misfire: The failure of a cartridge to fire after the firing
pin has struck the primer. Do not confuse with hangfire, which is a
delay in firing.
Monte Carlo stock: A stock with a raised comb. Provides
elevated eye alignment when using a telescopic sight.
Mushroom: The shape many soft-point bullets become when they
expand upon impact.
Musket: An early smoothbore shoulder firearm.
Muzzle: The opening at the end of the barrel from which the
Muzzle Brake: A device attached to the muzzle which softens the
recoil of the firearm. Also known as a compensator.
Muzzle-Loader: A firearm that is loaded through the muzzle.
Nipple: The hollow, cone-shaped tube screwed
into the breech of a percussion firearm upon which the percussion cap
is placed. When struck by the hammer, the flame from the percussion
cap passes into the chamber to ignite the powder charge.
Open sight: A type of firearm sight,
usually with a "V" or "U" notch in the rear sight. Also, see sight.
Over-And-Under: A firearm, usually a shotgun, with two barrels
placed one over the other.
Pan: The small container located on the side or
top of a matchlock, wheel-lock or flint-lock firearm used to hold the
a) A small piece of leather or cloth that is greased and placed around
a bullet before ramming it down the barrel of a muzzle-loader.
b) Also a piece of cloth drawn through the bore of a firearm to clean
Patch Box: A small compartment in the butt of a muzzle-loader
used to store patches or other small items.
Pattern: Distribution of the shot in a shotgun charge. This is
measured at a standard distance of 40 yards and in a 30 inch circle.
Peep Sight: A rear sight with a hole through which the target
is viewed. Also known as an aperture sight.
Pellet: Small round projectiles loaded into shotgun shells.
Usually referred to as shot. Also a lead projectile used in some air
Penetration: The depth that a projectile travels into a target
before it stops.
Percussion Cap: A small metal explosive filled cup which is
placed over the nipple of a percussion firearm.
Pistol: A small hand-held firearm.
Pneumatic Power: A propulsion system in which compressed air is
stored under pressure and when released provides the energy to propel
the projectile. A pneumatic gun normally has either a pump system or
oxygen cylinder to provide the compressed air.
Powder: The general term for any propellant used in firearms
which burns upon ignition. The two major types are black powder (an
explosive) and smokeless powder (a propellant).
Powder Burn: Charring caused by gunshot residue.
Powder Charge: The amount of powder by weight in the case of
smokeless powder, and by volume, in the case of black powder.
Prime: In the case of a black powder firearm, to place powder
on the pan or percussion cap on the nipple. Also, to place a primer in
a cartridge case.
Primer: The overall term for the priming compound, cup and
anvil which, when struck, ignites the powder charge.
Primer Pop: The term to describe when a cartridge does not
contain the correct amount of gunpowder.
Projectile: A bullet or shot in flight after firing from a
Propellant: The chemical substance which, when ignited, propels
the projectile. Also called powder.
Pull-Through: The cord used to pull a bore brush or cleaning
patch through the bore of a firearm.
Pump Action: For registration purposes, a repeating firearm
that has a magazine and is manually set in motion usually parallel to
the barrel; also called slide action or trombone action.
Ramrod: A wood or metal rod used to push the
patch and bullet down the barrel of a muzzle-loader.
Range: Range has the following meanings:
a) the distance traveled by a projectile from firearm to target;
b) a projectile's maximum traveling distance;
c) an area or facility designed for the safe shooting of firearms;
d) dangerous range: the maximum distance at which a projectile will
e) effective range: the greatest distance a projectile will travel
Receiver: A firearm's metal frame that generally contains the
of breech, locking and loading mechanisms. Normally the serial number
is on the receiver. Also called frame.
Recoil: The backward movement of a firearm when it is fired.
Also called kick.
a) A repeating handgun that has a revolving cylinder with a series of
chambers. The cylinder may revolve in either direction, depending on
b) For registration purposes, a firearm, usually a handgun, that has a
revolving cylinder with a series of chambers, and is discharged
successively by the same firing mechanism. The chamber may revolve in
either direction depending on the manufacturer.
Revolving Action: An action with a revolving cylinder
containing a number of cartridge chambers. One chamber at a time lines
up with the barrel.
Ricochet: The redirection of a projectile after impact, usually
with a hard surface. For example, a bullet bouncing off a rock.
Rifle: A shoulder firearm with a rifled bore. Designed to fire
one projectile at a time. Also, see rifling.
Rifled Barrel: A barrel with a spiral pattern of grooves cut
into its bore for the purpose of imparting a spin on the projectile as
it is forced through it.
Rifled Slug: A large, single projectile with spiral grooves
used in shotguns.
Rifling: Spiral grooves inside the barrel. Rifling causes the
bullet to spin, increasing its accuracy and range. The depressed
portions of the rifling are called grooves and the raised portions are
Rim: The edge on the base of a cartridge case. The rim is the
part of the case that the extractor grips to remove the cartridge from
Rim-Fire: A cartridge that has its primer located inside the
rim of the case. Also, see cartridge.
Rod: A rod used for cleaning a firearm. It is used to check for
obstructions prior to loading the firearm. It may also be referred to
as a ramrod, proving stick or dummy rod.
Round: One shot fired by a firearm. It is also a complete item
of ammunition or a cartridge which has all the components needed to
fire one shot.
Round Nose Bullet: A bullet with a rounded nose.
Sabot: A plastic sleeve that holds a slug which
is smaller than the bore diameter of a firearm. It is used mainly in
shotguns and muzzle loading firearms.
Safety: A device that blocks the firing mechanism of a firearm.
Scope: See sight.
Sear: Part of the firing mechanism linked to the trigger. The
sear holds the hammer, firing pin or striker in the cocked position
until the trigger is squeezed.
a) An action which fires, extracts, ejects, chambers and cocks with
each separate pull of the trigger.
b) For registration purposes, a repeating firearm requiring that the
trigger be pulled for each shot fired and which uses the energy of the
discharge to perform part of the operating cycle; sometimes called
auto-loading or self-loading actions.
Semi-Wad Cutter: A cylindrical bullet with a short truncated
cone at the nose. Often used for paper target shooting.
Shell: A complete unit of ammunition consisting of a hull,
primer, powder, wad and projectile(s) for use in shotguns.
Shotgun: A shoulder firearm with a smooth bore designed to fire
multiple pellets called shot, or a single projectile called a slug.
Shot Shell: A cartridge used in a shotgun. It contains multiple
shot pellets or a single projectile called a slug.
Side By Side: A firearm, usually a shotgun, with two barrels
placed side by side.
Sight: A firearm device, either mechanical or optical, that
helps the shooter aim accurately.
Single Action: An action which releases the hammer from a
cocked position when the trigger is pulled. Usually found on handguns.
Single Action Revolver: A revolver which requires the hammer to
be cocked manually. Pressing the trigger will not cause it to fire
until this is done.
Single Shot: A single-barrel firearm that is manually loaded
and has no magazine-feed device.
Single Stroke Pneumatic: Only one stroke is needed to power the
Slide Safety: A device that blocks the firing mechanism of a
Sling: A strap used to carry and aid in aiming a rifle.
Slug: A large single projectile used in shotguns. Also, see
Small Bore: Generally refers to a .22 caliber firearm or
Smokeless Powder: Propellant powder used in modern firearms.
Smooth Bore: A firearm with a bore that is not rifled, such as
Soft Point Bullet: A bullet with a partial jacket exposing a
portion of the lead core at the nose.
Spire Point Bullet: A bullet with a cone-shaped nose.
Spent Bullet: A bullet near the end of its flight which has
lost nearly all its energy. Despite a loss in energy, spent bullets
can still penetrate targets.
Spring Pistol: Also known as spring-air or adiabatic system. A
system in which the projectile is propelled by air pressure which is
created by a piston moved by a spring.
Stock: The part of a rifle or shotgun used in holding the
firearm against the shoulder when firing.
Tang Safety: A device that blocks the firing
mechanism of a firearm.
Telescopic Sight: See sight.
Throat: The area forward of the cartridge chamber extending to
the point where the bore begins to have its full bore diameter. Also
known as chamber throat.
Toe: The bottom part of the butt of a rifle or shotgun.
Top Strap: The portion of a solid frame revolver that passes
over the cylinder.
Trajectory: The path a projectile takes during flight.
Trap Door Action: This action was used after the Civil War and
was most famous as the type of action used by the U.S. Cavalry at such
famous conflicts as General George A. Custer's last battle at the
Little Big Horn. A top-hinged breechblock pivots up and forward to
open. Locking occurs by a cam located at the rear of the breechblock
that fits into a mating recess.
Trigger: The part of the firearm mechanism which releases the
part of the action that fires the cartridge.
Trigger Guard: The metal loop around the trigger made to
protect it and prevent accidentally touching the trigger.
Trigger Pull: The amount of force that must be applied to the
trigger of a firearm to cause the sear release.
Tubular Magazine: A tube-shaped magazine in which cartridges or
shotshells are arranged end-to-end. It may be located under the barrel
or in the butt stock.
Velocity: The speed at which a projectile
travels in a given direction.
Wad: A paper fiber or plastic disc used to
separate the powder charge from the shot or slug, to seal propellant
gases behind the charge, and to hold the shot together in the barrel.
Wad-Cutter: A cylindrical bullet with a sharp, shouldered,
nearly flat nose. It is designed to cut paper targets cleanly so they
can be scored accurately.
Wheel-Lock: An early firearm mechanism. A wheel with serrated
edges is spun against a piece of iron pyrite. This sends sparks into
the pan to ignite the charge.
Windage: The adjustment or adjusting mechanism that moves the
projectile's point of impact along the horizontal plane.
Wing Safety: A device that blocks the firing mechanism of a