Letter B

The Definition of Breechloader

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Breechloader

A firearm loaded through the breech.


19 Other Firearms Definitions You Need To Know


Wildcat Cartridge

A wildcat cartridge, or wildcat, is a custom cartridge for which ammunition and/or firearms are not mass-produced. These cartridges are often created in order to optimize a certain performance characteristic (such as the power, size or efficiency) of an existing commercial cartridge. Developing and using wildcat cartridges does not generally serve a purpose in military or law enforcement; it is more a hobby for serious shooting, hunting, gunsmithing and handloading enthusiasts, particularly in the United States. There are potentially endless amounts of different kinds of wildcat cartridges: one source of gunsmithing equipment has a library of over 6,000 different wildcat cartridges for which they produce equipment such as chamber reamers.

Handspanner

German for Hand-Cocking or Cocker/De-Cocker. A type of action on a break-open gun or rifle where, in place of a traditional top tang safety, a somewhat more robust tab is fitted. Normally such a gun is carried in the field loaded, but with the action not cocked, an exceedingly safe condition. Then, when ready to fire, the shooter, instead of pushing a safety tab forward, pushes this larger tab forward, cocking the mainspring, making the gun ready to fire. Then, if the shot is not taken, he may simply slide this tab rearwards again, de-cocking the gun and returning it to the still-loaded, but very safe position.

Safe

A firearm is said to be on safe when its safety is engaged and off safe when it is ready to fire.

Shell Casing

A hollow, piece of metal (or plastic in the case of a shotgun shell) that is closed on one end except for a small hole which holds a primer. The open end holds the bullet. The hollow portion holds the powder. Together the assembled unit is called a cartridge.

Overbore Ammunition

Small caliber bullets being used in large cases. E.g. .22 bullet in a .45 acp case.

Backstrap

The rearmost surface of the grip on a handgun. the term originated with old pistols. The grips surrounded the frame, making the rearmost of the frame appear as a strap.

Sniper Rifle

A specialized, highly accurate rifle, fitted with an optical sight used by military snipers to engage personnel and hard targets at long range.

Takedown

A firearm that can be separated into (at least) two subassemblies in order to make a shorter package than when put together, without tools. There is no specific requirement regarding how this disassembly must be accomplished; the mechanical design is up to the creativity of the maker. This arrangement allows for more convenient transportation of a firearm, but with rifles, where the action normally separates from the barrel, usually at a small sacrifice in accuracy. Takedown firearms can also be called take-apart firearms. Good examples of a takedown guns are the Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle, the Ruger 10/22 Takedown or the TNW Aero.

Boattail

The tapered rear end of a bullet. This design is used to increase ballistic efficiency at long range.

Blank

A type of cartridge for a firearm that contains gunpowder but no bullet or shot. When fired, the blank makes a flash and an explosive sound (report). Blanks are often used for simulation (such as in historical reenactments, theatre and movie special effects), training, and for signaling (see starting pistol). Blank cartridges differ from dummy cartridges and snap caps, which are used for training or function testing firearms; these contain no primer or gunpowder, and are inert.

Prime

To prepare or charge a muzzle loader for firing.

Bedding

That part of the stock on a rifle or shotgun into which the barrel fits.

Break Action

A firearm whose barrels are hinged, and rotate perpendicular to the bore axis to expose the breech and allow loading and unloading of ammunition.

Die

A piece of tooling used to form a sequence of uniform parts through the use of heat and/or pressure; especially, in firearms terminology used to form brass cartridge cases accurately to their correct size for reloading.

Follower

A smooth, sometimes contoured plate, within a magazine, at the top of a spring, across which cartridges slide when being loaded into a chamber.

Mouse Gun

A name for any palm sized handgun which fires a small caliber.

Matchlock

A black powder muzzleloading firearm action which relies upon a serpentine or S-shaped piece of metal to hold a smoldering match. By pressing the lower end of the serpentine, the upper end holding the burning match contacts the priming powder in the pan.

Kick

Slang for Recoil.

Bullpup

A firearm configuration where the magazine and action are behind the trigger.