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Kentucky Bob

A Beginner's Guide to Firearms For Survival, Hunting and Defense

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A lot of us around here are fireams owners and enthusiasts, and we talk alot about our personal preferences for what we choose for survival or defense.  I was thinking that we should have a collaborative thread to help others learn about what some of us take for granted.  If the mods agree I was thinking we could start this thread in order to help the less experienced make educated decisions about firearms.  Not necessarily a thread about what we each prefer to use, we've already covered that.  I was thinking more of a thread about firearms terminology, types of rifles, shotguns, and pistols, ammunition types, etc.  Also I thought general information about how to safely clean and care for firearms and safe storage of firearms.  Again, I don't mean something like "I prefer the Buzz-Cutter 2000 for deer", more along the lines of "The difference between a jacketed hollow-point and a soft point is..." or "the difference between single action and double action is..."


First things first:  Hunter Education courses are excellent resources for information about firearms safety, and are usually free when offered by your state fish & wildlife agency.  The best thing you could do for yourself is to take an educational course before you decide to run out and purchase any type of firearm.  I cannot stress enough that a having a firearm is a huge responsibility and you can never take safety for granted.  We have a thread on firearms safety with general advice on firearms in the field and at home:




This is in no way a complete safety instructional and should not be considered as such.  The very best way to learn firearms safety is in a structured classroom setting, and it's also a great chance to meet others interested in learning about firearms and will give you the opportunity to try several firearms you may never have had a chance to handle.  Most hunter-ed courses also offer hands-on experience with bows and archery equipment, survival and first aid.


Anyone with questions about firearms, ammunition, reloading, or any other topic should have the opportunity to ask and receive the information they need.




This information is posted as a guide only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional training.  Neither the author nor Wild Survive may be held liable for the misuse of any information--whether accidental or intentional--in this guide.  You are responsible for your own actions.

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I think that's a great idea, but I'm not a mod. I know that I have started to develop an interest in fire arms and would appreciate all the advice that I could get. So, c'mon mods, what do yous say?

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We should use the WIKI board and keep the comments out just general knowledge and opinions. We can copy and paste soem of the information into that area. This board (WIKI ) was established by Ant to put our information in one place. the posts can remain where its at but the information specific to firearms and its connection to survival can be gathered and placed in the board topic.




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We should use the WIKI board and keep the comments out just general knowledge and opinions. We can copy and paste soem of the information into that area. This board (WIKI ) was established by Ant to put our information in one place. the posts can remain where its at but the information specific to firearms and its connection to survival can be gathered and placed in the board topic.





~ I'm confused. Does this mean that you want EVERYTHING that has any kind of information in it to be posted on your Wiki board?  :blink:


Then why even have All of these different sections and divisions in your website? If everything is going to be posted on the wiki board why even have a website at all? I can google anything on Wikipedia I want. I may not know who the hell posted it, or what their knowledge base is though. That's why I just usually ignore it, or take it as opinion and not fact. I think Ant. wanted some articles that have already been written to be put on that board for easy access. But now you're acting like you want everyone to start posting anything that may be informative on that board only. And for the record, I LIKE the personal comments, and the opinions.  :thumbup: 


I'm on this website because it contains a group of experienced people who know a lot. If they didn't post their personal comments and their opinions, I might not have ever come to that conclusion.  :nono:


I hope you aren't trying to turn your website into a dictionary, or some boring encyclopedia full of general knowledge.  :scared:


K-Bob wanted to start a thread for begginers... for people who many not know ANYTHING about firearms. I think that's great. But the thread you started on the Wiki board is about how firearms can help you survive. Those are two different topics.  wacky115.gif  TOTALLY unrelated to each other.


So I am confused!  Even more so than normal.  :dontgetit:


and I don't need more confusion.  :cry:




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The WIKI area is for tutorials and information instead of scattering it all through the pages. Go ahead and post them in their propper areas and than you can copy paste the clean information in the WIKI area. Its so this information is easier to find. We have good info scattered through the pages.


For instance someone posts a good tutorial and several people comment. Later just move the post to the WIKI area without the comments.


K Bob can carry on his post and later we can move it. Try to keep up will ya.  :P

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How old should a kid be before he or she owns a firearm? Is there laws about gun ownership by minors?

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I believe that determining when they can handle one, depends on their maturity.  I wouldn't hand a firearm to a child that was prone to hissy fits.  On the other hand, I met a young boy (7), that I wouldn't hesitate teaching him proper handling and shooting safety.  Talking to this boy was like talking to a little old man.  Lots of old wisdom for such a young person.


I'm sure that gun ownership is decided on a state by state basis.


Here in California a minor can't buy a firearm, or the ammunition for a firearm.  Minimum age for rifle is 18 and for handgun is 21.  However, they can use one at any age, with parental or expert guidance.  I was shooting early in my life, but didn't have my own rifle until I was 10 or so.  I would shoulder my .22 and walk down the road towards the hills where I would be shooting and would have to walk through the downtown area and I'd get comments like, How's your dad these days, or, don't shoot your eye out, or Hey, get one for me.  These days, a young man would lose the rifle and end up in juvenile detention.  My, how times have changed.

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I would think any instruction on what not to do couldnt happen soon enough. My dad always told me many times not to assume a gun wasnt loaded. Always check. He told me never bring a loaded gun into the house too and I assumed he wouldnt. That was the time my buddy blew out the window in my bed room with a .222 that my dad left on the porch with shells in the clip. There wasnt much left of the window. My dad said"how would you have liked to have your guts spread all over the wall in there?" Than I reminded him of the no loaded gun thing.  :P  That was the end of that but it was true I assumed the gun wasnt loaded. I checked the breach but didnt look in the clip.


I dont know what the laws are here in Illinois but early firearm training if you have guns in the house is a good thing.

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What is a good firearm to start out with. I got a BB gun first and I didnt shoot my eye out. Than I got a 4-10 single shot 2.5 inch very rare.

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I think a good.., reasonably accurate pellet rifle would be good to start with. The pellets don't travel all that far. I have even used my old Crossman to put game on the table in urban environments, I've probably killed more rabbitts and squirrels with it than any other single gun I owned

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Whats the difference between a bolt action a pump action a lever action, and an automatic?

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Good question to start Swede.

All rifles have to have a method or mechanism to load the round.

The earliest were the muzzle loaders where the powder and bullet were pushed down from the muzzle with a ramrod, Next came the breech loader where a heavy plate was lowered at the rear of the barrel so a cartridge could be pushed into the chamber, the breech block was raised and the hammer cocked so you could fire.


Single shot or double barrel breech loaders or break action are still used. Mostly you will find them in shotguns and high end rifles used for extreme accuracy or in rifles chambered for very heavy hunting cartridges that produce pressures that will break many bolt actions, and are far too powerful for lever actions. Many are chambered for safari rounds for hunting elephants or other huge dangerous animals.

Ruger #1 is a single shot breech loader famous for its accuracy, and strength. It is chambered for most hunting rounds. :thumbsup:


Lever actions work by having a tubular magazine. Developed during the American Civil war in the 1860s, the main attraction was that multiple cartridges could be loaded at once for firing instead of loading 1 at a time. Much faster. The rounds are loaded end to end and fed by a spring into position so that when the lever is lowered the bolt moves to the rear of the rifle and opens the breech. a spring lifts the cartridge into position and when the lever is moved back up to close it moves the bolt forward and picks up the cartridge and pushes it into the chamber ready to fire. When the round is fired, and the lever is opened again, the spent case is ejected so the next round may be picked up.

The original lever action was chambered for a pistol cartridge using black powder, low velocity, low pressures. Modern lever actions are made much stronger, but if chambered for an original round the cartridges you buy are downloaded to mimic original pressures so if you fire them in an original weapon, the weapon won't blow up in your face! :thumbdown:


A bolt action is similar, except instead of a lever, there is a handle on the bolt and the basic actions are the same. You lift the handle, move the bolt back, and a round is picked up on the forward stroke when the action is closed.


Bolt actions may use pointed spitzer bullets that have better flight charicteristics as the cartridges are loaded into the magazine laying side by side instead of end to end.

As a bolt action usually has a stronger action they may use cartridges with higher pressures so higher velocities and speed which can improve accuracy. Usually a bolt action uses a heavier barrel as well to improve accuracy. Superb accuracy can be obtained with a bolt action that is modified to only shoot one round without a magazine. The bolt can handle very heavy rounds, but the action is long and increases the weight of the weapon.


Pump actions are a variation on the lever, but instead of the lever being located on the bottom of the rifle, you slide the pump which is the forarm of the weapon under the barrel. You move the slide back toward the rear of the weapon to open the breech, and move it forward to close.

There have been a few pump action rifles, but they were never really popular. Shotguns however use pumps in a big way. Very popular for follow up shots.


Semi Automatics are named thus because they automatically load a new round each time the trigger is pulled and a round is fired, The first round is loaded by "charging the bolt". You manually pull back the bolt to load the first round, but after that, each time you fire, some of the gas from the fired round is cycled back and pushes the bolt back to pick up the next shell.

Semi Automatics only fire 1 shot for each trigger pull. The weapons are usually heavier and bulkier in sporting calibers, but they do have a high rate of firepower. They are quick to shoot. and the followup shot is really quick, as fast as you can pull the trigger.


Full Automatics are machine guns and pistols. They work the same way as a Semi-Auto, except they fire as long as the trigger is depressed. A semi auto fires once each trigger pull, a full auto can fire a full clip, or belt up to 100 rounds at a time.

Full auto are closely regulated. Usually not available to the average gun owner.


Full auto is primarily used by the Armed Forces. They are limited in caliber choices, usually are not as accurate as bolt action or lever action, and use a LOT of ammunition. :thumbdown:


For survival, the weapon you shoot best is what you should carry. A single shot in a medium caliber will put down most game very well. They are easy to clean and care for, very few moving parts to break. Simple.


A bolt action comes next. They need some care, more moving parts to clean, but have a greater rate of fire, are accurate, and have a wide selection of rounds available.


A lever action is usually chambered for slower heavier bullets. Very nice to carry, excellent rate of fire, decent accuracy. They do have more moving parts, and need more care to keep in top condition, but are fast and light to handle. Pump actions also fall in this category.


Semi Autos need a lot of cleaning to keep at top performance. They fire rapidly so second or third shots are super quick, accuracy is good for the first shot, but you need practice to bring the sights back to target well for a followup shot. Maintenance is the biggest drawback, and in hunting calibers, the weapons are heavier than a comparable bolt, lever pump or single shot. Accuracy can be good to terrible depending on individual weapon.


I would not consider a full auto as a survival weapon except in combat. Need a lot of care and training to use effectively, use a lot of ammunition, restricted availability, and usually not great accuracy. Some weapons do a good job, but a full auto is designed to fire a lot of rounds to hit multiple targets. :bandit: :guns:


That concludes my tutorial, Firearm actions 101 :hugegrin:


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For me it is mainly;


#1 The size and number of my intended game as in what game is prevalent or available in my planned area of habitation.


#2 The lay of the land I intend to hunt in, as in at what ranges and with what backdrops will I be spotting my game.


#3 The firearms ability to multitask as overly specialized firearms can leave you hungry at the end of the day.


#4 The usual availability of ammunition, because uncommon or "wildcat" rounds can be expensive and hard to find.


#5 The quality of the iron sites, as in will I be able to employ the farearm effectively even if something happens to the optical sites (if it's a rifle)


#6 The amount difficulty of care and maintenance...., does it have a lot of moving parts that will wear out quickly, and how hard it is to acquire or manufacture replacement parts.


#7 The weight of the firearm..., will I be ready to throw it down after I have humped it through the wilderness for several miles.

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This is an EXCELLENT thread! :clap:


I'm trying to talk Uncle Hank into taking me turkey hunting but he doesn't seem to be too enthused about it.  :grin: 

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Ok, since folks seem to approve of the general idea of the thread, I thought a quick guide to firearms nomenclature would be helpful.


Here are some parts to common action types:



By bob1911a1


Semi-automatic 1911A1:


By bob1911a1


And a double-action Ruger Super Redhawk revolver:


By bob1911a1


A bolt-action rifle:



A pump-action (also known as slide action) shotgun:


By bob1911a1


Barrel, action, and stock are the three basic components shared by all firearms.  In the next post I'll try to start a glossary of terms and firearms parts.

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My weapon of choice for wild turkeys is the 12 gauge shot gun using high brass No.6.Some prefer full choke barrels.


There are various weapons used when hunting for turkeys. A shotgun, rifle, compound bow, longbow, or recurve bow are some options. Some states may only allow certain firearms to be used. Pennsylvania, for instance, allows shotgun, rifle, or bow and arrow in the fall season but only allows shotgun or bow to be used in the spring season.


The ideal is to shoot the turkey in the head at close range. The heavy feathers on a wild turkey can keep the shot from penetrating enough to out right kill the bird and he may run off only to die later. 

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My weapon of choice for wild turkeys is the 12 gauge shot gun using high brass No.6.Some prefer full choke barrels.


There are various weapons used when hunting for turkeys. A shotgun, rifle, compound bow, longbow, or recurve bow are some options. Some states may only allow certain firearms to be used. Pennsylvania, for instance, allows shotgun, rifle, or bow and arrow in the fall season but only allows shotgun or bow to be used in the spring season.


The ideal is to shoot the turkey in the head at close range. The heavy feathers on a wild turkey can keep the shot from penetrating enough to out right kill the bird and he may run off only to die later. 

When we lived in Alabama I hunted turkey as well as a lot of other things with an over and under .222 over 20 ga, I think this would also be a good choice for a survival firearm. In Alabama it is legal to hunt turkies with a rifle but here in Tennessee they are shotgun only. They are a challenging prey to kill.

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The most challenging part of wild turkey hunting is their extremely sharp eye sight and their ability to catch even the slightest movement.


Their very suspicious and cautious. Camouflage is essential. Patience and setting up before daylight has better success. Calling works if gobblers and jakes are not with hens. If they are busy courting hens they rarely will leave them to come to a call. If they are looking for hens they will come to the call sometimes rather quickly. 


If you hear them gobbling and you call and they seem to getting closer but than stop it is called "hung up" They are probably with hens.


Hens have blue heads so be careful not to shoot a hen in states that ban shooting hens.


Sometimes simply sitting and waiting in heavy traveled areas works well.

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Another thing to think about when turkey hunting is that since gobblers have red and blue--shading to white--colors on their heads, these are good colors to avoid when turkey hunting.  Do you habitually carry a bandana?  Do you drink Pepsi?  These can be colors that cause the "not-too-bright" types to fire a shot in your direction.  Sometimes some knothead will come to your call thinking he can slip up on a turkey.  Keep your back to a tree if at all possible (although I wouldn't recommend resting against the tree when you fire a 3 1/2" turkey load).



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Ok, as promised here is a partial glossary of firearms parts and terms.  I'm getting too lazy to type all of this out myself, so I copied and pasted the majority of it. 



The working mechanism of a firearm. Various types exist, including single-shots, multi-barrels, revolvers, slide- or pump-actions, lever-actions, bolt-actions, semi-automatics and automatics.



Not a firearm but a gun that uses compressed air or CO2 to propel a projectile. Examples: BB gun, pellet gun, CO2 gun.



This generally refers to the assembled components of complete cartridges or rounds i.e., a case or shell holding a primer, a charge of propellant (gunpowder) and a projectile (bullets in the case of handguns and rifles, multiple pellets or single slugs in shotguns). Sometimes called "fixed ammunition" to differentiate from components inserted separately in muzzleloaders.



By federal definition, a firearm manufactured prior to 1899 or a firearm for which ammunition is not generally available or a firearm incapable of firing fixed ammunition.



By federal definition, "a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium. Such term does not include shotgun shot required by... game regulations for hunting purposes, a frangible projectile designed for target shooting, a projectile which the Secretary finds is primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes, or any other projectile or projectile core which the Secretary finds is intended to be used for industrial purposes, including a charge used in an oil and gas well perforating device."



By U.S. Army definition, a selective-fire rifle chambered for a cartridge of intermediate power. If applied to any semi-automatic firearm regardless of its cosmetic similarity to a true assault rifle, the term is incorrect.  For instance, my Bushmaster M4 Patrolman may look like an assault rifle, but since it is semi-automatic only it is not a true assault rifle. (see SEMIAUTOMATIC)



Any weapon used in an assault (see WEAPON). 



A firearm designed to feed cartridges, fire them, eject their empty cases and repeat this cycle as long as the trigger is depressed and cartridges remain in the feed system. Examples: machine guns, submachine guns, selective-fire rifles, including true assault rifles.



A term used often to describe what is actually a semi-automatic pistol. It is, technically, a misnomer but a near-century of use has legitimized it, and its use confuses only the novice.



Originally a spherical projectile, now generally a fully jacketed bullet of cylindrical profile with round or pointed nose. Most commonly used in military terminology.  Often when called a full metal jacket it's abbreviated as FMJ.



The earliest type of firearms propellant that has generally been replaced by smokeless powder except for use in muzzleloaders and older breechloading guns that demand its lower pressure levels.



A round loaded with blackpowder or a special smokeless powder but lacking a projectile. Used mainly in starting races, theatrical productions, troop exercises and in training dogs.



A gun mechanism activated by manual operation of the breechblock that resembles a common door bolt.



The interior of a firearm's barrel excluding the chamber.



A synonym for expended metallic cartridge cases, usually made of brass.  Some companies like Wolf brand ammo use steel cases, but a guy standing on the range will say, "Don't forget to collect your brass..."



The projectile expelled from a gun. It is not synonymous with cartridge. Bullets can be of many materials, shapes, weights and constructions such as solid lead, lead with a jacket of harder metal, round-nosed, flat-nosed, hollow-pointed, etc.



The nominal diameter of a projectile of a rifled firearm or the diameter between lands in a rifled barrel. In this country, usually expressed in hundreds of an inch; in Great Britain in thousandths; in Europe and elsewhere in millimeters.  For instance, in the U.S. a .50 caliber is a half-inch in diameter or in Britain a .500.  A 9mm or millimeter is, of course, 9mm in diameter.



A rifle with a relatively short barrel. Any rifle or carbine with a barrel less than 16" long must be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Shotguns with barrels less than 18" long fall into the same category. 



A single, complete round of ammunition. Sometimes people call this a 'bullet', but the bullet is only a part of the cartridge.



The envelope (container) of a cartridge. For rifles and handguns it is usually of brass or other metal; for shotguns it is usually of paper or plastic with a metal head and is more often called a "shell."



A cartridge with its primer located in the center of the base of the case.  See RIMFIRE.



The rear part of the barrel that is formed to accept the cartridge to be fired. A revolver employs a multi-chambered rotating cylinder separated from the stationary barrel.



A constriction at or near the muzzle of a shotgun barrel that affects shot dispersion.  There are several different types of choke, enough to cover a post of their own.  Generally speaking, tighter chokes are wanted to shoot at longer distances, open chokes are usually for closer up to the shooter.



A device for holding a group of cartridges. Semantic wars have been fought over the word, with some insisting it is not a synonym for "detachable magazine." For 80 years, however, it has been so used by manufacturers and the military. There is no argument that it can also mean a separate device for holding and transferring a group of cartridges to a fixed or detachable magazine or as a device inserted with cartridges into the mechanism of a firearm becoming, in effect, part of that mechanism.  See MAGAZINE.



An inflammatory phrase having neither historical basis nor legal or technical meanings.  I include it only because the phrase has been thrown about for so many years. 



The drum of a revolver that contains the chambers for the ammunition.



A small single-shot or multi-barrelled (rarely more than two) pocket pistol.



To explode with great violence. It is generally associated with high explosives e.g. TNT, dynamite, etc., and not with the relatively slow-burning smokeless gunpowders that are classed as propellants. 



A handgun mechanism where pulling the trigger retracts and releases the hammer or firing pin to initiate discharge.  A single-action revolver must have the hammer pulled back or "cocked" to be able to fire it.  A single-action semi-automatic pistol must have the slide pulled back or the hammer cocked to be readied for firing.



A British military bullet developed in India`s Dum-Dum Arsenal and used on India`s North West Frontier and in the Sudan in 1897 and 1898. It was a jacketed .303 cal. British bullet with the jacket nose left open to expose the lead core in the hope of increasing effectiveness. Improvement was not pursued, for the Hague Convention of 1899 (not the Geneva Convention of 1925, which dealt largely with gas warfare) outlawed such bullets for warfare. Often "dum-dum" is misused as a term for any soft-nosed or hollow- pointed hunting bullet.  Another modern use came about when some would cut an 'x' or cross into the nose of a lead bullet to cause it to deform when it struck a person.  If I recall correctly this practice is illegal, but I may be mistaken.



A projectile containing an explosive component that acts on contact with the target. Seldom found and generally ineffective as such bullets lack the penetration necessary for defense or hunting.



Any substance (TNT, etc.) that, through chemical reaction, detonates or violently changes to gas with accompanying heat and pressure. Smokeless powder, by comparison, deflagrates (burns relatively slowly) and depends on its confinement in a gun`s cartridge case and chamber for its potential as a propellant to be realized. 



A rifle, shotgun or handgun using gunpowder as a propellant. By federal definition, under the 1968 Gun Control Act, antiques are excepted. Under the National Firearms Act, the word designates machine guns, etc. Airguns are not firearms.



A complete cartridge of several obsolete types and of today's rimfire and center-fire versions.



A muzzle attachment intended to reduce visible muzzle flash caused by the burning propellant.



The bore size of a shotgun determined by the number of round lead balls of bore diameter that equals a pound.  A 12 gauge shotgun basically means that 12 round lead balls of that particular bore size will make up a pound of lead.  16 gauge, 20 gauge, and so on.  The exception is the .410 shotgun.  Note the "."  This is a caliber designation, not a gauge.  A .410 bore shotgun is something like a 67 gauge, but they figured no one would buy a 67 gauge shotgun, so they named it the .410 bore.  Marketing is as important in the firearms industry as it is in any other!



The British restrict the term in portable arms to shotguns. Here it is properly used for rifles, shotguns, handguns and airguns, as well as cannon.  Do not, DO NOT call your rifle a "gun" in front of a Marine drill sergeant... :nono:



Chemical substances of various compositions, particle sizes, shapes and colors that, on ignition, serve as a propellant. Ignited smokeless powder emits minimal quantities of smoke from a gun's muzzle; the older blackpowder emits relatively large quantities of whitish smoke.



Synonym for pistol.



An inexact, non-technical term indicating a magazine holding more rounds than might be considered "average."  In some jurisdictions civilians are limited to magazines that hold 10 cartridges or less.



A bullet with a concavity in its nose to increase expansion on penetration of a solid target.  It may or may not have a jacket of copper or brass to better control expansion, a "jacketed hollow-point", abbreviated as JHP. 



The envelope enclosing the core of a bullet.  Usually made of copper or brass, however the Winchester Silvertip line of handgun bullets are actually jacketed in aluminum.



A gun mechanism activated by manual operation of a lever.  The Winchester Model '94 is the quintessential lever-action.  Ever watch a Western?  You probably know what a lever-action is.



A firearm of military significance, often crew-served, that on trigger depression automatically feeds and fires cartridges of rifle size or greater. Civilian ownership in the U.S. has been heavily curtailed and federally regulated since 1934.



A spring-loaded container for cartridges that may be an integral part of the gun`s mechanism or may be detachable. Detachable magazines for the same gun may be offered by the gun`s manufacturer or other manufacturers with various capacities. A gun with a five-shot detachable magazine, for instance, may be fitted with a magazine holding 10, 20, or 50 or more rounds. Box magazines are most commonly located under the receiver with the cartridges stacked vertically. Tube or tubular magazines run through the stock or under the barrel with the cartridges lying horizontally. Drum magazines hold their cartridges in a circular mode. A magazine can also mean a secure storage place for ammunition or explosives.



A term indicating a relatively heavily loaded metallic cartridge or shotshell and, by extension, a gun safely constructed to fire it. 



A gun with more than one barrel, the most common being the double-barreled shotgun.



A description of a bullet whose forward diameter has expanded after penetration.



The open end of the barrel from which the projectile exits.  Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction!



An attachment to or integral part of the barrel intended to trap and divert expanding gasses and reduce recoil.



The earliest type of gun, now also popular as modern-made replicas, in which blackpowder and projectile(s) are separately loaded in through the muzzle. The term is often applied to cap-and-ball revolvers where the loading is done not actually through the muzzle but through the open ends of the cylinder`s chambers.



A rifle or pistol using compressed air or CO2 to propel a skirted pellet as opposed to a spherical BB. Not a firearm. 



Small spherical projectiles loaded in shotshells and more often called "shot." Also the skirted projectiles used in pellet guns.



Synonymous with "handgun." A gun that is generally held in one hand. It may be of the single-shot, multi-barrel, repeating or semi-automatic variety and includes revolvers.  Sometimes there are those who will say "pistol" when specifically referring to a semi-auto, for example they may say something like, "I prefer a revolver to a pistol..."



The handle of a handgun or protrusion on the buttstock or fore-end of a shoulder-operated gun that resembles the grip or handle of a handgun. A "semi-pistol grip" is one less pronounced than normal; a "vertical pistol grip" is more pronounced than normal.



Informal shooting at any of a variety of inanimate targets. The most often practiced shooting sport in this country.



The ignition component of a cartridge, generally made up of a metallic fulminate or (currently) lead styphnate.



In a firearm the chemical composition that is ignited by the primer to generate gas. In air or pellet guns, compressed air or CO2.



A trade name for a blackpowder substitute, the only such safe substitute known at this time.



The housing for a firearm's breech (portion of the barrel with chamber into which a cartridge or projectile is loaded) and firing mechanism.



A gun, usually a handgun, with a multi-chambered cylinder that rotates to successively align each chamber with a single barrel and firing pin.  Sometimes called a "wheelgun" or "hogleg".



A shoulder gun with rifled bore.



Spiral grooves in a gun`s bore that spin the projectile in flight and impart accuracy. Rifling is present in all true rifles, in most handguns and in some shotgun barrels designed for increasing the accuracy potential of slugs (a slug is a single projectile rather than the more common "shot".)



A rimmed or flanged cartridge with the priming mixture located inside the rim of the case. The most famous example is the .22 rimfire. It has been estimated that between 3-4 billion .22 cartridges are loaded in the U.S. each year.



Synonym for a cartridge.  "I have about 20 rounds left..."



A lightweight carrier surrounding a heavier projectile of reduced caliber, allowing a firearm to shoot ammunition for which it is not chambered. For example, a hunter could use his .30-30 deer rifle to shoot small game with .22 centerfire bullets.  Commonly used today with muzzleloaders and shotguns.



A device intended to prevent the accidental discharge of a firearm.  Usually a switch or button that has to be pushed in order to prevent the gun from firing or to ready it for firing.  Safeties are mechanical devices that can break, and should not be trusted entirely.  Don't put your finger on the trigger even when the safety is in the "ON" or "SAFE" position.



A catchy phrase having no legal or technical meaning.  Also the title to a catchy song by Lynyrd Skynyrd...



Common term for federally restricted "short-barreled shotgun (rifle)" i.e. a conventional shotgun with barrel less than 18" (rifle less than 16") or overall length less than 26." 



A firearm's ability to be fired fully automatically, semi-automatically or, in some cases, in burst-fire mode at the option of the firer.



A firearm designed to fire a single cartridge, eject the empty case and reload the chamber each time the trigger is pulled.  Sometimes called an "auto" or "automatic" especially when referring to semi-auto handguns.



A shoulder gun with smooth-bored barrel(s) primarily intended for firing multiple small, round projectiles, (shot, birdshot, pellets), larger shot (buck shot), single round balls (pumpkin balls) and cylindrical slugs. Some shotgun barrels have rifling to give better accuracy with slugs or greater pattern spread to birdshot.  Also a great song by Jr. Walker & the Allstars...



The cartridge for a shotgun. It is also called a "shell," and its body may be of metal or plastic or of plastic or paper with a metal head. Small shotshells are also made for rifles and handguns and are often used for vermin control.



A virtually prohibited device for attachment to a gun's muzzle for reducing (not silencing) the report. Better terms would be "sound suppressor" or "sound moderator."



For a revolver, a firearm that must have the hammer manually cocked back in order to fire.  Double-action revovlers can also be fired in this way, but single actions MUST have the hammer cocked back.  Semi-auto handguns may also be single-action, meaning the hammer is fully cocked back to fire the pistol.  Some semi-autos have internal hammers that aren't visible.



A gun mechanism lacking a magazine where separately carried ammunition must be manually placed in the gun's chamber for each firing.



A gun mechanism activated by manual operation of a horizontally sliding handle almost always located under the barrel. "Pump-action" and "trombone" are synonyms for "slide-action."



Descriptive of (usually) a revolver with an unusually short barrel.



An automatic firearm commonly firing pistol ammunition intended for close-range combat.



Trade name for a synthetic sometimes used to coat hard bullets to protect the rifling. Other synthetics, nylon for instance, have also been used as bullet coatings. None of these soft coatings has any effect on lethality.



The part of the gun used to actually fire it.  The trigger is normally located on the lower portion of the firearm and is usually protected by a 'trigger guard.'  Keep your finger off the trigger until you want it to go 'bang.'



Webster defines it as "an instrument of offensive or defensive combat." Thus an automobile, baseball bat, bottle, chair, firearm, fist, pen knife or shovel is a "weapon," if so used.


This is by no means a comprehensive or complete list of terms, but just a good start.  Others are going to be needed as we go along, and we'll fit those in as we go along.  gen165.gif






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Good list KB.  I wanted to comment on whether an air rifle like pellet or bb gun, is a firearm.  If those reading this are from California,  if an area is marked that you can't discharge a firearm, or you know that it is illegal to shoot a firearm in the area, your pellet or bb gun will get you into trouble.  For that matter, so would a bow, atlatl, slingshot, blowgun (illegal anyways) and anything else that discharges, launches or shoots a missle.

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Long Live the People's Republic of Kahleefornya. You know, I've noticed a few things about this state since Arnold became our Governator:



Marraige between man and woman - TERMINATED

Off-Highway Vehicle trails - TERMINATED

2-cycle engines (motorcycles included) - TERMINATED


Tight Border Control - TERMINATED




I'm just posting this temporarily in response to my current foul mood of our State, I'll delete it later tonight as not to get this topic off on a tangent......

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