Letter P

The Definition of Pistol

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Pistol

Synonymous with "handgun." A gun that is generally held in one hand. It may be of the single-shot, multi-barrel, repeating or semi-automatic variety and includes revolvers.


19 Other Firearms Definitions You Need To Know


Mauser Safety

A small lever mounted to the cocking piece of a Mauser 98 action (and its copies such as the Springfield 1903), rotating on a longitudinal axis from left (Fire), up to the top (Safe, but allowing bolt movement), and over to the right (Bolt and firing pin locked Safe). While commendable for locking the firing pin instead of just the trigger, its up-and-over arc of operation requires a scope to be mounted awkwardly high. Paul Mauser is not to be blamed; when his safety was developed, telescopic sights were in such infancy as not to be worthy of mainstream consideration.

Keyhole

The tendency of a bullet to tip in flight and hit a target sideways, leaving a distinctly oblong hole. This destabilization of the spinning bullet in flight is typically caused by a bullet weight inappropriate for the rate of twist of the rifled barrel, an out-of-balance bullet or its having nicked an impediment such as a blade of grass, in flight.

Martini

A hammerless single shot action type whereby a breech-block, hinged at the upper rear, operated by an underlever, tilts downward to expose the chamber.

Cartridge Overall Length

This is the maximum overall length the cartridge can be (and is expected to be) in order to function properly in magazines and the mag well of a bolt action rifle.

DA

Abbreviation for Double Action

Rimless

A cartridge in which the base diameter is the same as the body diameter. The casing will normally have an extraction groove machined around it near the base, creating a "rim" at the base that is the same diameter as the body diameter.

Jeweling

A cosmetic process to enhance the looks of firearm parts, such as the bolt. The look is created with an abrasive brush and compound that roughs the surface of the metal in a circular pattern.

Cast Off

An offset of a gun stock to the right, so that the line of sight aligns comfortably with the right eye while the butt of the stock rests comfortably on the right shoulder. Almost all right-handed shooters benefit from a little castoff and most custom built guns are made this way. The only question is how much. The castoff of a gun is about right when, with the gun comfortably mounted, the front bead lines up with the center of the standing breech.
A stock offset to the left, for shooting from the left shoulder is said to be

Ejection Rod

The sliding metal dowel located at the muzzle end of a revolver cylinder. After firing, the shooter opens the cylinder and depresses the front end of the ejection rod, which forces the empty cases out of the cylinder.

Sling

A strap, usually of leather or sturdy webbing, fitted to the fore and aft (usually) of a rifle as an aid to carrying over the shoulder and as an aid to holding the rifle steadily while aiming.

Grain

A unit of weight widely used to express the weight of bullets and of powder charges. Equal to 1/7000 pound.

Monoblock Barrels

A method of building a pair of barrels where the entire breech end of both barrels and the lumps together are machined from one solid piece of steel. The barrel tubes are then fitted separately into this monoblock and the ribs attached. Often identifiable by a distinctive ring around the barrels about three inches in front of the breech end. The favored jointing method of the Beretta company. An incorrect euphemism for sleeved barrels.

Model 70 Type Safety

A small lever mounted to the cocking piece of a Winchester Model 70 rifle, rotating on a vertical axis from front (Fire), halfway back (Safe, but allowing bolt movement), and fully back (Bolt and firing pin locked Safe). While, like the Mauser, commendable for locking the firing pin instead of just the trigger, its fore and aft movement is both easier to operate and it allows lower mounting of telescopic sights, reducing parallax between the line of sight and the line of the bore and increasing the range of distances for which the scope may be reliably sighted-in.

Elevation

The setting on the sights of a firearm that controls the vertical placement and the altitude above mean sea level. This is important for long range precision shooting because the air density changes with elevation and affects the path of the bullet.

Flintlock

A system of firearms ignition, in general use circa 1660 - 1825, whereby the pull of a trigger releases a sear from a notch in a spring-loaded hammer, which holding a properly knapped piece of flint, strikes a vertical slab of steel (called a frizzen) scraping off tiny molten particles of the steel, and pushing it forward causes an integral flashpan cover to open forward, exposing a bit of fine gunpowder below, which when contacted by the falling sparks, ignites and sends a flash of fire through the touchhole, into the loaded breech setting off the main charge and firing the gun. The Flintlock system was supplanted by the Percussion system around 1820.

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.

Match Grade

A higher quality item used to increase accuracy, generally used for competition in a match. Match grade ammo and barrels are the most common improvements made to a firearm to improve accuracy for competition.

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