Letter G

The Definition of Gunpowder

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Gunpowder

Also called black powder, gunpowder is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate. It burns rapidly, producing a volume of hot gas made up of carbon dioxide, water, and nitrogen, and a solid residue of potassium sulfide. Because of its burning properties and the amount of heat and gas volume that it generates, gunpowder has been widely used as a propellant in firearms and as a pyrotechnic composition in fireworks. The term gunpowder also refers broadly to any propellant powder. Modern firearms do not use the traditional gunpowder (black powder) described here, but instead use smokeless powder.


19 Other Firearms Definitions You Need To Know


Submachine Gun

A machine gun that fires pistol caliber rounds such as .45 acp or 9mm Luger (Parabellum)

Dum-Dum

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. Expanding bullets were given the name Dum-dum, or dumdum, after an early British example produced in the Dum Dum Arsenal, near Calcutta, India by Captain Neville Bertie-Clay in the the mid-1870s. Modern sef-defensive, JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point), ammunition are based on the original dum-dum ammunition design and principles.

Self-Opening

Attribute of a break-open gun whereby the barrels drop down simply by pressing the toplever without muscling them open manually. The Holland & Holland system utilizes a coil spring within a cylindrical housing mounted just ahead of the forward lump to urge the barrels open. The Purdey system utilizes residual energy remaining in the mainspring after the gun has been fired. Both systems enable a shooter to load more quickly when birds are coming fast.

Drop-Box Magazine

An extra-deep magazine typical of large calibre rifles for dangerous game. The line of the underside of the wrist does not carry straight forward as with ordinary rifles. Rather the rear of the magazine aligns more towards the center of the forward edge of the triggerguard, typically allowing at least one extra cartridge to be carried.

Garniture

A deluxe set of several different associated weapons, being any combination of rifle, shotgun, various handguns, and possibly a knife or two, cased together with appropriate cleaning and loading tools.

Brick

A box of ammunition roughly equal in size and weight to a brick. Most often used to describe a 500-round container of .22 Long Rifle ammunition.

Field Grade

A plain, functional, unembellished firearm used to hunt in rough terrain where one might prefer not to put a more expensive, deluxe grade gun at risk of damage.

Cock

The term referring to the action of manually drawing the hammer back against its spring until it becomes latched against the sear, or sometimes the trigger itself, arming the hammer to be released by a subsequent pull of the trigger. Some external hammers, and all internal hammers, may be cocked simply by pulling the trigger

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.

Multi-Barreled

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

Breechblock

The part in the breech mechanism that locks the action against the firing of the cartridge.

Ejection Port

The opening through which the empty, spent ammunition case is ejected from of a firearm.

Adjustable Trigger

A trigger that can be easily adjusted by the user. Adjustable triggers are common on specialized target-shooting firearms.

Throat Erosion

The wearing of the portion of the barrel where the gas pressure and heat is highest as the projectile leaves the chamber. The greater the chamber pressure the more rapid throat erosion occurs which is compounded by rapid firing which heats and weakens the steel.

Side-By-Side

A shotgun with two barrels which are situated next to each other. Somtimes also abreviated as SxS.

Night Sights

A type of iron sights that glow or shine in the dark, intended for use in low light conditions. Some night sights consist of tiny tubes of tritium, while others use a phosphorus paint.

DAO

Abbreviation for Double Action Only. Is a type of firearm in which the firing mechanism cannot be cocked in a single-action stage. Firing always occurs as a double-action sequence where pulling the trigger both cocks and then fires the gun.

Wadcutter

A bullet designed with a full diameter flat point. It is primarily used in target competition because it cuts a clean round hole in paper targets that aids in scoring the target.

Trigger

The small lever on a cartridge firearm, which one pulls to cause the spring-loaded firing pin to impact the primer, causing the gun to discharge. Normally, the trigger simply connects to the sear. Pulling the trigger moves the sear out of its notch, releasing the spring-loaded hammer to strike the firing pin which in turn strikes the primer; or the coilspring-loaded firing pin directly. Other, often-Germanic systems have their own miniature lockwork which, when cocked, allows an exceedingly light trigger pull to discharge the firearm, a setting that would be perilous to carry in the field.

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