Glossary of terms

Glossary of terms

A list of terms.
And what they mean.

INDUSTRY TERMS:

ARMORER
An armorer is a trained and experienced professional that supervises the safe use, maintenance, and coordination of all weapon-operations on a set. Military or Law Enforcement experience does not necessarily qualify a person to be an armorer due to the distinct nature of firing blanks on a set. In order for an armorer to provide a safe and work-efficient environment on set, it is essential that they are familiar AND comfortable with the media industry in addition to various weapons systems.
BLANK-FIRING FIREARMS
Blank-firing firearms are extensively modified weapons that are used to produce a life-like muzzle flash and "bang" comparable to a live firearm while not launching a projectile. BLANK-FIRING GUNS ARE STILL DANGEROUS AND MUST BE USED ACCORDING TO THE SAFETY GUIDELINES OUTLINED UNDER OUR SAFETY PAGE.
DUMMY ROUNDS
A dummy round is a round of ammunition that has been rendered completely inert and emptied of propellant. Even if inserted into a functional firearm and struck with a hammer/firing pin, this unit would not fire. These are used when "real, unfired" bullets must be seen. NEVER HAVE LIVE AMMO ON A SET!
NON-GUN
A non-gun is a replica that is capable of emitting an electronic flash comparable to that of a live firearm. Non-guns typically do not have any moving parts other than the trigger. Non-guns can fire the following loads (from the loudest and brightest to the least): "1/2 Loads", "1/4 Loads" or "1/4 Silent Loads".
REPLICA
Replicas are non-functional look-alikes that are used when firing is not needed and can be made from a variety of materials including rubber, resin, plastic, wood or metal.
SQUIB
A special effects devise used to simulate a bullet impacting a surface. A squib is typically a small explosive charge that may be attached to glass, clothing, concrete, brick and various other surfaces.
WEAPON
Typically a weapon is any instrument that may be used in a combat situation. In our industry, we extend this definition to include ordinary objects which can be turned against another in a violent fashion.

Firearm Terms:

ACTION
The combined parts of a firearm that determine how a firearm is loaded, discharged and unloaded.
AIRGUN
Not a firearm but a gun that uses compressed air or CO2 to propel a projectile. Examples: BB gun, pellet gun, CO2 gun.
AMMUNITION
A loaded cartridge consisting of a primed case, propellant, and a projectile. Among the many types of ammunition are centerfire rifle and pistol, rimfire, shotshells, and reloads.
ARMOR PIERCING BULLETS
A projectile or projectile core that may be used in a handgun intended to pierce steel armor that is constructed from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, depleted uranium, or a fully-jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber intended for use in a handgun whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile. The term does not include shotgun shot or projectiles intended for sporting purposes.
AUTOMATIC PISTOL
A common but improperly used term to describe semiautomatic pistols.
BARREL
That part of a firearm a projectile travels through. The barrel may be rifled (i.e., with spiral grooves on the interior of the barrel) or smooth bore (i.e., a smooth interior barrel with no grooves).
BB
Spherical shot having a diameter of .180" used in shotshell loads. The term is also used to designate steel or lead air rifle shot of .175" diameter.
BIRDSHOT
Small lead or steel pellets used in shotshells ranging in size from #12 (less than the diameter of a pencil point) to #4 (about .10" in diameter) used for short-range bird and small game hunting.
BLANK CARTRIDGE
A special type of ammunition that fires NO projectile (bullet) but creates similar forces and sounds to a live cartridge. A blank consists of a primed shell case that is simply filled with gunpowder. Note: blank ammunition bought from Weapons Specialists are made FOR Weapons Specialists' firearms; they are not interchangeable with other firearms.
BORE
The interior barrel forward of the chamber.
BOLT-ACTION
A firearm, typically a rifle, that is manually loaded, cocked, and unloaded by pulling a bolt mechanism up and back to eject a spent cartridge and load another. Bolt action firearms are popular for hunting, target shooting, and biathlon events. A bolt action rifle allows the shooter maximum accuracy, but may be too slow or cumbersome for some shooting sports.
BUCKSHOT
Large lead pellets ranging in size from .20" to .36" diameter normally loaded in shotshells used for deer hunting.
BULLET
The projectile expelled from a cartridge when fired from a gun. Bullets can be of many materials and can come in various shapes, weights and construction - such as round-nosed, flat-nosed, hollow-pointed, etc.
BULLET ENGRAVING
The grooves cut into a bullet by barrel rifling. Note: When a bullet travels down the barrel, the grooves (or rifling) leave an imprint on the bullet. The matching of the marks on a bullet to the rifling of a particular firearm is an important tool for law enforcement in determining whether a bullet was fired from a particular firearm.
BUTT
On handguns, it is the bottom part of the grip. On long guns, it is the rear or shoulder end of the stock.
CALIBER
A term used to designate the specific cartridges for which a firearm is chambered. It is the approximate diameter of the circle formed by the tops of the lands of a rifled barrel. It is the numerical term included in the cartridge name to indicate a rough approximation of the bullet diameter (i.e. .30 caliber -.308" diameter bullet).
CARBINE
A rifle with a relatively shortened length.
CARTRIDGE
A single round of ammunition consisting of the case, primer, gunpowder, and one or more projectiles.
CENTERFIRE CARTRIDGE
Any cartridge intended for use in rifles, pistols, and revolvers that has its primer central to the axis at the head of the case. Note: Most cartridges, including shotshells, are centerfire with the exception of .22 caliber rimfire ammunition. If you were to look at the bottom of a centerfire cartridge, you would see a small circle in the middle of the base, hence, "centerfire." There are a few rimfire ammunition calibers besides the .22, but they are rare and not widely available.
CHAMBER
In a rifle, pistol, or shotgun, it is the part of the barrel that accepts the ammunition. In a revolver, it refers to the holes in the cylinder where the cartridges are loaded.
CHOKE
An interior tube at the end of a shotgun barrel that controls shot dispersion. Chokes typically come in cylinder, improved cylinder, modified, improved modified, and full. Note: A cylinder choke produces a very wide shot dispersion, whereas a full choke will provide a much tighter shot pattern. Different chokes are used for skeet, trap, and sporting clays. In hunting, the type of game and conditions will determine choke type.
CLIP
See MAGAZINE.
COCK
To place the hammer, or striker, in position for firing by pulling it back fully.
CYLINDER
The round, rotatable part of a revolver that contains the cartridge chambers.
DISCHARGE
To cause a firearm to fire.
DOUBLE ACTION
A pistol mechanism in which a single pull of the trigger cocks and releases the hammer.
DOUBLE BARREL
Two barrels on a firearm mounted to one frame. The barrels can be vertically (over-under) or horizontally (side-by-side) aligned.
FIREARM
An assembly of a barrel and action from which a projectile is propelled as a result of combustion.
FIRING PIN
The part of a firearm that strikes the primer of a cartridge to start the ignition of the primer.
FLASH SUPPRESSOR
An attachment to the muzzle designed to reduce muzzle flash. Note: A flash suppressor is not a silencer.
FULL COCK
The position of the hammer when the firearm is ready to fire.
FULL METAL JACKET
A projectile in which the bullet jacket (a metallic cover over the core of the bullet) encloses most of the core with the exception of the base. They are used mostly for target shooting and military use.
FULLY AUTOMATIC
A firearm that loads, fires, and ejects cartridges as long as the trigger is depressed and there are cartridges available in the feeding system (i.e. magazine or other such mechanism). Automatic action firearms are machine guns.
GAUGE
A term used to identify most shotgun bores, with the exception of the .410 shotgun. It relates to the number of bore diameter lead balls weighing one pound. Note: The .410 shotgun is a caliber. The .410 refers to the diameter of the barrel.
GROUP
A series of shots fired at the target used to adjust the sights or determine the accuracy of a firearm.
HALF COCK
The position of the hammer about half retracted and intended to prevent release of the hammer by a normal pull of the trigger.
HAMMER
On newer guns, the part of the firing mechanism that strikes the firing pin, which, in turn, strikes the primer. On older guns, the hammer and firing pin are connected. The hammer is dropped when the trigger is pulled.
HAMMERLESS
A firearm having an internal hammer or striker.
HOLLOW POINT BULLETS
A bullet with a cavity in the nose, exposing the lead core, to facilitate expansion upon impact. Hollow point cartridges are used for hunting, self-defense, police use, and other situations to avoid overpenetration.
JACKET
The envelope enclosing the lead core of a bullet.
JAM
A malfunction that prevents the action from operating. Jams may be caused by faulty or altered parts, ammunition, poor maintenance of the firearm, or improper use of the firearm.
LEVER-ACTION
A firearm, typically a rifle, that is loaded, cocked, and unloaded by an external lever usually located below the receiver. Note: The type of rifle used in most Western movies is a lever-action.
LIVE FIREARM
A firearm which has NOT been modified and can naturally fire projectiles.
LOAD
The act of putting ammunition into a firearm. This term also refers to the magnitude of charge used in a blank-firing gun (i.e. Full Load, ½ Load, ¼ Load or Solid Plug Load)
MACHINE GUN
A firearm that is capable of operating on a fully automatic setting.
MAGAZINE
A receptacle on a firearm that holds several cartridges or shells for feeding into the chamber. Magazines take many forms, such as box, drum, rotary, or tubular and may be fixed or removable.
MAGNUM CARTRIDGE
Any cartridge or shotshell that is larger, contains more shot, or produces a higher velocity than standard cartridges or shotshells of a given caliber or gauge.
MISFEED
Any malfunction during the feeding cycle of a repeating firearm that results in the failure of a cartridge to enter the chamber completely.
MISFIRE
A failure of the cartridge to fire after the primer has been struck by the firing pin.
MUZZLE
The front end of a firearm barrel from which the bullet or shot emerges.
MUZZLE FLASH
The illumination (flash) resulting from the expanding gases from the burning propellant particles emerging from the barrel behind the projectile and uniting with oxygen in the air.
MUZZLE LOADER
Any firearm loaded through the muzzle. Muzzle loaders typically used black powder, wadding paper and a ball projectile.
NOSE
The point or tip of a bullet.
OVER AND UNDER
A firearm with two barrels where one is set above the other.
PATTERN
The distribution of shots fired from a shotgun.
PISTOL
A term for a hand-held firearm with a single chamber. (A revolver has at least five chambers.)
PLINKING
The informal shooting at inanimate objects at indefinite points. Note: Plinking typically refers to casual shooting at pine cones, tin cans, or other such objects for fun and practice.
POWDER
Commonly used term for the propellant in a cartridge or shotshell.
POWDER, BLACK
The earliest type of propellant, allegedly made by the Chinese or Hindus. First used for firearms in the 13th century, it is a mechanical mixture of potassium or sodium nitrate, charcoal, and sulfur. It makes a large cloud of smoke when fired.
POWDER, SMOKELESS
A modern propellant containing mainly nitrocellulose or both nitrocellulose and nitroglycerin. Relatively little smoke is created when fired.
PRIMER
An ignition component consisting of brass or gilding metal cup, priming mixture, anvil, and foiling disc. It creates a spark when hit by a firing pin, igniting the propellant powder.
PROPELLANT
The chemical composition which, when ignited by a primer, generates gas. The gas propels the projectile.
PUMP-ACTION
A firearm that features a movable forearm that is manually actuated to chamber a round, eject the casing, and put another round in position to fire.
RECEIVER
The basic unit of a firearm which houses the firing mechanism and to which the barrel and stock are assembled. In revolvers, pistols and break-open firearms, it is called the frame.
RECOIL
The rearward movement of a firearm resulting from firing a cartridge or shotshell.
RECOIL PAD
A butt plate, usually made of rubber, to reduce the recoil or "kick" of shoulder firearms.
REVOLVER
A firearm with a cylinder having several chambers so arranged as to rotate around an axis and be discharged successively by the same firing mechanism. A semi-automatic pistol is not a revolver because it does not have a revolving cylinder.
RIFLE
A firearm having spiral grooves in the bore and designed to be fired from the shoulder. By law, rifle barrels must be at least 16" long. Handguns usually have rifled barrels as well.
RIFLING
Grooves formed in the bore of a firearm barrel to impart rotary motion to a projectile.
RIMFIRE CARTRIDGE
A cartridge containing the priming mixture in the rim of the base, usually a .22.
ROUND
One complete small arms cartridge.
SAFETY
A device on a firearm designed to provide protection against accidental or unintentional discharge under normal usage when properly engaged. Safeties do malfunction, however, and other precautions must be taken to ensure safe firearm usage.
SATURDAY NIGHT SPECIAL
A slang phrase having no legal or technical meaning that refers to a cheaper "throw-away" handgun typically used by criminals and "women of the night."
SELECTIVE-FIRE
A firearm's ability to select between different firing modes (fully automatically, semi-automatically or, in some cases, in burst-fire mode).
SEMI-AUTOMATIC
Firearm which fires, extracts, ejects, and reloads only once for each pull and release of the trigger.
SHOTGUN
A smooth bore shoulder firearm designed to fire shells containing pellets or a single slug.
SHOTSHELL
A round of ammunition containing multiple pellets for use in a shotgun. The multiple pellets in a shotshell are called SHOT.
SILENCER
A device attached to the muzzle of a firearm to reduce (not silence) the noise of discharge. The proper name for such a device is known as a "suppressor".
SINGLE ACTION
A pistol mechanism that requires the manual cocking of the hammer before the trigger releases the firing mechanism.
SKEET
A clay target shooting sport with a shotgun. Shooters fire at clay targets crossing in front of them.
SPORTING CLAYS
Often called "golf with a shotgun," it is a sport in which shooters, using shotguns, fire at clay targets from different stations on a course laid out over varying terrain.
STOCK
The wood, fiberglass, wood laminate or plastic component to which the barrel and receiver are attached.
TRAJECTORY
The path of a bullet through the air.
TRAP
A clay target throwing device, either power or hand-operated. Trap shooting is where shooters fire at clay targets flying away from them.
TRIGGER LOCK
An accessory for blocking a firearm from unauthorized use. Most trigger lock manufacturers advise against the use of a trigger lock on a loaded firearm, as shifting the lock against the trigger could fire the gun.
TRIGGER PULL
The average force which must be applied to the trigger to cause the firearm to fire. Note: Typically, non-target mode-firearms have a minimum trigger pull of 3 pounds. Double action revolvers often have a long, heavy trigger pull of around 10 pounds.
UNLOAD
The complete removal of all unfired ammunition from a firearm.
VELOCITY
The speed of a projectile at any point along its trajectory, usually listed in "feet per second."

OTHER WEAPON TERMS:

BACK
The part of the blade opposite the edge. Double-edged sword has no back.
BASKET
An arrangement of steel bars, and panels that form a basket-like cage around the grip (and the wielder's hand). These are most commonly found on Scottish basket-hilted swords, and European rapiers.
BLADE
The cutting section of the sword.
BROADSWORD
An imprecise term applied to single-hand (especially Scottish basket-hilt) swords, generally meant to mean a broad two-edged blade.
CRUCIFORM
A generic term for any sword which when inverted point downward will form the shape of a crucifix. This was, to a degree, a religious symbol to the knights of the crusading era.
EXPLOSIVES
Any substance that detonates - or violently changes to gas with accompanying heat and pressure - by means of a chemical reaction.
GRIP
The handle of a sword, usually made of leather, wire, wood, bone, horn, or ivory (also, a term for the method of holding the sword).
SCABBARD
Sheath for sword, knife, dagger or bayonet.