Letter S

The Definition of Self-Opening

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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.


19 Other Firearms Definitions You Need To Know


Trigger Group

The entire collection of moving parts which work together to fire the gun when the trigger is pulled. It may include trigger springs, return springs, the trigger itself, the sear, disconnectors, and other parts.

Cylinder Drum

On a revolver, a spring activated device housed in the bottom of the frame beneath the cylinder that engages alignment notches in the cylinder. It stops the cylinder's rotation and holds it in place each time a chamber in the cylinder is in alignment with the barrel.

Lock Speed

The same as Lock Time

Cartouche

A mark within a border, typically stamped into the wood, especially of an American military rifle. It shows the initials of the name of the accepting inspector and often, the date he accepted the firearm into service.

Grip Panels

The interchangeable surfaces that are installed on the part of the gun that you hold. Users change grip panels to improve the look or feel of the firearm, or to personalize it so that the gun is more suited to a different hand size. Some grip panels are chosen for function, while others are chosen for looks. Common grip-panel materials are wood, plastic, and rubber.

Youth Stock

A short stock, often ideally sized for teenagers, average-sized adult women, and small-statured adult males.

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.

Flat Nose

A bullet shape with a flat nose rather than a rounded one.

Long Rifle

Typically used in the .22 caliber cartridge designation .22 Long Rifle, which is abbreviated .22LR.

Cordite

A family of smokeless propellants developed and produced in the United Kingdom from 1889 to replace gunpowder as a military propellant. Like gunpowder, cordite is classified as a low explosive because of its slow burning rates and consequently low brisance. The hot gases produced by burning gunpowder or cordite generate sufficient pressure to propel a bullet or shell to its target, but not enough to destroy the barrel of the firearm, or gun.

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.

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.

Biathlon

A shooting sport that combines both skiing and rifle shooting. It is the only shooting activity in the Winter Olympics. There is also a summer biathlon which involves running and shooting but it is not yet an Olympic event.

Shotshell

Same as a Shotgun Shell.

Makarov

The Soviet Union's standard military and police side arm from 1951 to 1991 replacing the Tokarev TT-33 semi-automatic pistol and the Nagant M1895 revolver. Designed by Nikolay Fyodorovich Makarov, it is a blowback operated semiautomatic pistol which fires the 9x18mm Makarov cartridge, and holds 8 rounds in the magazine.

Saturday Night Special

A slang term for a small inexpensive handgun. Saturday night specials have been defined as compact, inexpensive, small-caliber handguns with perceived low quality; however, there is no official definition of "Saturday night special" under federal law, though some states define "Saturday night specials" or "junk guns" by means of composition or materials strength. Low cost and high availability make these weapons attractive to many buyers despite their shortcomings.

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