Letter H

The Definition of Handgun

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Handgun

Synonymous with pistol. A small, short-barreled firearm designed to be fired while held in one or both hands, possibly small enough to be concealed on the person, rather than while braced against the shoulder. The term includes antique dueling pistols, modern single-shot, semi-automatic pistols and revolvers.


19 Other Firearms Definitions You Need To Know


Range Finder

A device used to determine the range to a target. Many range finders work by bouncing a laser beam off the target or nearby object and measuring the time for the reflection to arrive back at the instrument. It is also possible to use various passive optical devices such as a mil-dot telescopic sight.

Doglock

The lock that preceded the 'true' flintlock in both rifles and pistols in the 17th century. Commonly used throughout Europe in the 1600s, it gained popular favor in the British and Dutch military. A doglock carbine was the principal weapon of the harquebusier, the most numerous type of cavalry in the armies of Thirty Years War and the English Civil War era.

Head

Head [of a Stock]. The forward end of a buttstock, where it meets the receiver and accepts the bulk of the gun's recoil when fired.

Inletting

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

Open Bolt

A type of firearm in which the action is in the open position and the chamber empty prior to firing. When the trigger is pressed the bolt moves forward, chambering a cartridge and firing it and returning to the open position. When firing is stopped the bolt remains open and the chamber empty.

Forcing Cone

In a shotgun barrel, A tapered area a few inches from the breech end, providing a transition between the chamber (approximately the diameter of the outside of a shotgun shell) to the bore proper (approximately the diameter of the inside of a shotgun shell). The forcing cone provides the transition between the exterior and the interior diameters of the cartridge. Older shotguns usually have more abrupt forcing cones suitable for then-current thick-walled paper shells with fibre wads. Newer shotguns usually have more gradual, longer forcing cones suitable for thinner modern plastic shells with obturating plastic shot-cup wads.

Tangent Sight

A style of rear sight, typically used on rifles for either slow-moving bullets or for long ranges, whereby a ladder may be raised from flush with the barrel to a vertical position, and which incorporates a sliding crossbar which may be moved vertically in order to achieve significant elevation.

Key Fastener

A horizontal wedge, press-fit through the forend of a vintage gun, through a lump attached to the underside of the barrel and out the other side of the forend. To secure the forend in position. Also called a crosspin or a wedge fastener.

Detonate

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.

Hood

Front sight hood. A hollow cylinder fitted to a rifle's front sight ramp, both to protect the delicate front sight bead from impact, and to shade it from oblique sunlight which could have the effect of altering the sight's apparent position.

Bolt Thrust

The amount of rearward force exerted by the propellant gases on the bolt or breech of a firearm action or breech when a projectile is fired. The applied force has both magnitude and direction, making it a vector quantity.

Crosshairs

The cross-shaped object seen in the center of a firearm scope. Its more-proper name is reticle.

Ghost-Ring Sight

A type of aperture rear sight with a large opening and a thin rim that seems to fade out when the shooter looks through it. Sometimes installed on rifles and shotguns intended for home defense or police use.

Projectile

A bullet or shot in flight after discharge from a firearm.

Captive Ramrod

A rod, for loading and/or cleaning a muzzle-loading firearm (usually a pistol) that is permanently connected to the gun by some sort of swivel, so as to be easily utilized, but never lost.

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.

Benchrest

A device used (usually set on a counter) to support a shooters arms and/or hands to help make steadier shots.

Headstamp

Markings impressed into the base of a cartridge case, normally identifying the maker's name, the cartridge calibre designation, and sometimes the date.

Reticle

A matrix of dots, posts or lines, visible inside a rifle's telescopic sight, normally adjustable via exterior knobs for windage and elevation. After careful adjustment at a known range, the shooter aims the rifle by superimposing this matrix onto the target. With good estimation or range, cooperation from the wind, a clear eye and a steady hand, he may have a reasonable expectation of hitting his target.

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