Common Terms in the Gun Industry

If you are new to the gun world and have no idea what kind of language your buddies are speaking when they are talking about caliber, grain, and cartridge. You have come to the right place. Many of us were in the same position not so long ago so don’t worry!

Below is a glossary of common firearm terms to help you get started in learning more about the great big world of guns.

ACP

ACP stands for Automatic Colt Pistol, it refers to a style of cartridge designed by John M. Browning in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Action

The mechanism that loads, locks, fires, extracts, and ejects the ammunition. There are many different types of actions like single action, double action, break action, and bolt action among others

Ammunition

Also known as ammo, this is what gets loaded into a firearm. It is usually measured in rounds and is composed of multiple parts.

AR

Some people believe that AR stands for assault rifle when it actually refers to the ArmaLite Rifle and the AR-15.

Assault Rifle

Most commonly used by the police or military, this is a select-fire rifle that has a detachable magazine.

Ballistics

The science of the motion, path, behavior, etc. of a projectile. Mostly in bullets, bombs, and missiles.

Barrel

The long tube portion of a gun. It helps with the velocity and direction of the bullet as well as gives the bullet a place to leave the gun.

Blank

A round that contains no bullet, it still contains a powder known as black powder that lets the gun still fire. Blanks are commonly used in films, for training, and to start a race.

Brandishing

Displaying a weapon in a threatening, angry or unlawful manner while in the presence of another person. 

Caliber

Caliber refers to the diameter of the barrel and the bullet going through it. The caliber is what distinguished the ammo size for that gun.

Cartridge

Also known as a round, is the preassembled ammo packaging. It may or may not contain a bullet and is sized to fit inside a specific barrel size. It is sometimes incorrectly referred to as a bullet.

Casing

The outside portion of the cartridge or round that holds the bullet, primer, and powder together. These are normally plastic or metal depending on the type of firearm.

Chamber

The portion at the back of a gun where the bullet is inserted or sits before being fired.

Centerfire

A type of cartridge where the primer is in the center. Commonly used in all but the smaller caliber cartridges.

Concealed Carry Permit

Known by many names, it allows people to carry a weapon, most commonly handguns, on their persons if it is easily concealed by their clothes. Each state has different concealed carry laws so please check with your state if you are interested in getting a concealed carry permit.

Double/Single Action (DA/SA)

Double/single action (DA/SA) revolvers can be switched between the two actions simply by cocking the hammer or not. When it comes to the semi automatic double/single action pistols the first shot will be single or double based on if the hammer is cocked or not and each subsequent shot will be single action.

Double Action Only (DAO)

Double action only (DAO) is when the handgun must take two actions to initiate the firing sequence; cock the hammer and release the hammer thus initiating the firing sequence.

Double Stack Magazine

Sometimes just called double stack, referrers to the way the rounds are placed inside a magazine. In a double-stack magazine they are in two columns with more of a zigzag feeding pattern.

Ejector

The part of a firearm that pushes the casing of the fired bullet out of the chamber. This allows for the new round to be moved into the chamber.

Firearm

The federal government states a firearm is any handheld or portable weapon that expels or is designed to expel a bullet, shot, slug, missile, or any projectile by use of gunpowder. In order for it to be a firearm, combustion must occur.

Firing Pin

The part of the firing mechanism that hits the cartridge initiating the detonation to release the bullet.

Grain

The weight or mass of a bullet is referred to as the grain.

Grip

The portion of a firearm that is held with the operator’s hand.

Gun Belt

A gun belt is designed with tougher materials, making it stronger and able to hold the necessary shape. For more information on gun belts check out our “Do I Need A Gun Belt for IWB Carry? Gun Belt vs Regular Belt” blog.

Hammer

The portion of the gun that strikes the primer or firing pin to initiate the firing sequence, can be internal or external.

Hollow-Point

A type of bullet in which the bullet expands upon impact with the target.

Holster Claw

A holster claw is an attachment often used to keep your gun close to your body to help avoid printing. It utilizes the natural curve of your body by pressing against your belt to push the grip end of your gun back towards you. For more information on holster claws check out our “Holster Claw: What Is It and How Does It Work?” blog.

Inside-the-Waistband (IWB) Holster

An inside the waistband holster is placed inside the waistband of your pants and typically has a clip or loop that attaches to your belt. These are popular holsters for concealed carry.

Iron Sights

Primarily a metal device located on the top of a pistol used to help aim.

Kydex

Kydex is a lightweight thermoplastic material used in aircraft manufacturing, auto-parts, gun holsters, and more due to its durable and semi-flexible properties.

Magazine

A storage and feeding device for rounds for a firearm. They can be removable or fixed depending on the gun.

Misfire

When the gun does not fire or discharge properly, also called a failure.

Muzzle

The forward end of the barrel on a gun. It is where the bullet exits the firearm.

Outside-the-Waistband (OWB) Holster

An outside the waistband holster is placed on the outside of your waistband and typically attached to the belt using clips or loops.

Primer

A chemical or device inside a cartridge that ignites the propellent powder that pushes the bullet out of the cartridge.

Printing

In reference to concealed carry, printing is when an outline of your gun can be seen on your shirt or other clothing items.

Recoil

Sometimes called kickback or kick, recoil is the backward movement created when the gun is fired.

Rimfire

A type of cartridge in which the gun’s firing pin strikes the rim of the round thus igniting the primer.

Safety

A mechanism that helps to prevent a firearm from accidentally discharging. A safety can be internal or external as a lever.

Single Action Only (SAO)

A single action only (SAO) handgun takes only one action to initiate the firing sequence; releasing the hammer.

Single Stack Magazine

Sometimes called single stack, referrers to the way the rounds are placed inside a magazine. In a single stack magazine the rounds are placed in one column.

Slide

The upper part of a pistol that recoils after the gun is fired.

Striker Fired

In some handguns rather than using a hammer, it uses a striker. These are called striker fired pistols; they are a combination of double and single action. When the slide is racked an internal spring is partially cocked. Pulling the trigger cocks it the rest of the way and releases a striker, initiating the firing sequence.