Last week I discussed various aspects of ammunition; this week I’ll delve into entry-level firearms nomenclature and basic parts. Again, I’m not trying to dump a lifetime’s worth of firearms knowledge on you in one sitting; this is just meant to scratch the surface, and hopefully give the beginner a bit of knowledge so they can buy or use a firearm without flying blind. Let’s dive in, shall we?
First, all firearms share a few basic components. These are:
–MUZZLE: The dangerous end. Bullets exit the gun through the hole in the end of the barrel, referred to as the muzzle.
–BARREL: Tube the projectile travels down. The muzzle is on one end, the chamber on the other. The INSIDE of the tube is the “bore”.
–CHAMBER: The part of the barrel that surrounds the cartridge once it is inserted into the barrel.
–SIGHTS: When aligned properly, these will allow the shooter to accurately direct bullet placement.
–TRIGGER: When the shooter presses the trigger, it sets into motion the various mechanisms that are involved to make the gun fire.
–GRIP (“STOCK” IN LONG GUNS): Allows the shooter to firmly grip the firearm in his/her hand(s).
–HAMMER (“STRIKER” IN SOME GUNS): – provides actuating force for the firing pin to set the primer of the cartridge off.
Yes, there are many other parts to many other various types of guns, but when you boil it down, these are the major ones, and they apply to all metallic cartridge firearms and most black powder guns. There are other controls and minutia parts, but they will vary from gun to gun (for instance, slide stops, decocker levers, safeties, takedown levers) and I decided not to waste your minds too much on these items. Since they will be firearm-specific, I recommend reading your owner’s manuals (if you do not have one, most major manufacturers will have links to their gun manuals in .pdf form or via mail.) to see what your particular gun has and how it safely works.
Most firearms (except shotguns) have RIFLING on the insides of the barrel, or “bore”. The rifling engages the bullet and imparts a spin to it. This spin stabilizes the bullet, and makes it exponentially more accurate than a smoothbore firearm. The rifling is composed of grooves or flats cut into the barrel in a spiral.
This is the rifling in my SIG-Sauer P220. As you can see, (yes, it’s dirty. Deal.) the bore of the barrel has spiral grooves cut into it. Shotguns do not have this rifling (unless it is a dedicated slug barrel), because they do not have one projectile to accurately place, it has many to spread out.
Here we go with a huge pet peeve of mine: Magazines vs. clips!
Through widespread media ignorance and laziness in general, the terms “clip” and “magazine” have become interchangeable these days. However, there IS a difference. I know it’s a silly thing to be annoyed about, but I share this rage with many other gun guys so I’m in good company. :)
A CLIP is a small piece of metal that holds cartridges together to help facilitate loading the gun. In the case of a “stripper clip”, it merely holds the cartridges in line so they can be pressed out of the clip, into the magazine of the gun, as seen below.
A MAGAZINE can be fixed or removable; however, in either case, it completely encloses and protects the ammunition for a gun. Semiautomatic handguns, AR-15 type firearms, AKs, M1As, etc. have removable magazines. Most (but not all) semi-auto shotguns, pump shotguns, lever action rifles, and bolt-action rifles have fixed magazines that have ammunition fed into them by an external source (your fingers or a stripper clip.), but in all cases, they completely enclose the cartridges except for where they feed into the chamber.
Next week, I’ll jump into types of firearm actions (bolt, pump, semi, lever, revolver, etc.). Also, be sure to check the SHTFblog Facebook page for small tidbits of info that we insert to keep your lives informed and joyful.
And remember…keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction ALWAYS and keep that finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot! Be safe!