Letter I Firearms Glossary

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Improved Cartridge

A wildcat cartridge that is created by straightening out the sides of an existing case and making a sharper shoulder to maximize powder space. Frequently the neck length and shoulder position are altered as well. The caliber is NOT changed in the process.

Improvised Firearm

A firearm manufactured by someone who is not a regular maker of firearms.

Inertia Firing Pin

A firing pin which moves freely forward and backward in the breechblock.


The process of carving out recesses in wooden stocks with precision, using gouges, chisels and scrapers to accept the steel components of a firearm.

Integral Lock

A built in lock that may prevent the firearm from being fired.

Intercepting Sear

A second sear, poised just behind a second notch in the hammer. It is possible that when a cocked firearm is dropped or sharply jarred, a single sear could jump out of its notch and the hammer could fall, firing the gun accidentally. In this event, an intercepting sear would engage before the hammer could fall completely, preventing an accidental discharge. On a gun with intercepting sears, only by pulling the trigger are both sears moved out of the way simultaneously, allowing the gun to fire. Intercepting sears are usually found on better sidelock actions. They are sometimes found on best boxlocks, and can be recognized by an extra screw behind the action fences, in addition to the usual two screws (or pins) along the lower rear of the receiver.

Internal Safety

A safety which is placed within the gun and is not accessible to the user. Internal safeties are generally designed to prevent unintentional discharges when the gun is dropped or mishandled.

Internal Trigger Lock

A internal locking device built into a firearm, usually operated with a key, to render it unable to be fired. A good example of a internal trigger lock are the ones found on the semi-automatic pistols manufactured by Bersa.

Interrupted Thread

A screw with about half of its threading removed in longitudinal sections. Often used at the breech end of a takedown firearm's barrel. When the barrel's interrupted female threads are inserted into the receiver's complementary interrupted male threads, only a partial rotation is necessary for assembly rather than many full turns.

Iron Sights

The mechanical sighting system which usually comes with the firearm made of metal with no optics.

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.

Isosceles Stance

There are two basic variants of the Isosceles stance, the Traditional Isosceles and Modern Isosceles stance. In both Isosceles stances, the feet parallel pointing toward the target and are roughly shoulder width apart. Both arms are stretched almost equally forward with the gun centered forward, creating the triangular shape which gives the stance its name.

7 Other Firearms Definitions You Need To Know

Expanding Bullet

An expanding bullet is a bullet designed to expand on impact, increasing in diameter to limit penetration and/or produce a larger diameter wound. The two typical designs are the hollow point bullet and the soft point bullet. See also Dum-Dum Bullet

Thumbhole Stock

A rifle stock, with a sculptured throughole at the wrist for the thumb, said to be more ergonometric to hold than a traditional stock. Apart from being slower to mount, totally useless for a counter-dexterous person, it is so unmitigatedly graceless as to be beneath consideration.

Double Triggers

On guns (mainly shotguns) that have two barrels, there is a trigger for each barrel that work independently from each other.

Falling Block

A type of action used primarily for single shot rifles whereby some kind of lever actuates a breechblock, moving it downwards in a vertical recess to expose the chamber. May have visible or enclosed hammer. For any given barrel length, it allows a shorter overall rifle length compared to a bolt action because no space is taken up by the forward-and-back cycling of the bolt. Most of the better British makers produced them in limited numbers around the turn of the last century, the Farquharson being the most iconic. Perhaps the best-known falling block action today is the Ruger No.1.

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