Gun terminology

Guns are one of Humanity's weapons. An evolution of Bows and later Crossbows, to use chemical compounds to propel projectiles at significantly higher speeds for greater distances. Usually resulting in more damage and higher lethality rates. This page is more about the various parts or terms of guns.

Firing Types

Automatic - (also known as Full Auto) Automatic weapons are ones where the user can hold the trigger and the gun will continue to fire as long as the trigger is held and there is ammo. This will put a lot of bullets out, but it is not very accurate because the force of every bullet fired will act on the weapon (causing it to wander).

Semi-automatic - Semi-automatic weapons are ones where the user must squeeze the trigger for each shot they want to fire. (The semi-automatic derives it's name from the fact the gun will eject the spent round and load a fresh one into the chamber on each trigger pull.) This mode makes the weapons more accurate and conserve more ammo.

Burst fire - Burst fire is where on one trigger pull, a gun will fire several rounds (usually 2 or 3) then stop. This allows multiple bullets to be fired in a hurry without going fully automatic. (This mode is normally only found on Assault Rifles and sub-machine guns)

Selective-fire - This is a mode on certain assault rifles that allows a user to switch how they fire the bullets. Usually with the options of Safe/Locked, Semi-automatic, Burst fire and Automatic.

Pump-action - This is normally a shotgun only term, it means in order to eject the used cartridge and load a fresh one in a pump mounted on the underside of the gun has to be pulled back then slid forward.

Bolt-action - This is primarily a rifle/sniper rifle only term, it means in order to fire the gun a cartridge must be loaded by hand into the chamber then a secured in by a locking mechanism called the bolt. (Usually by sliding the bolt forward then twisting it down to lock into place.) To reload the gun, the bolt must be opened and the spent round manually removed before a new round can be inserted and the chamber closed.

Ammunition terms

Primer - A small piece on the back of the round that, when struck by the gun's hammer, will ignite the gunpowder inside the round and shoot the bullet.

Gunpowder - A complex chemical that fills most rounds. Explodes to send the bullet racing forward (out of the barrel, the only direction it can go… hopefully at least) at high speeds.

Recoil - When a round is fired, the force of the explosion pushes back on the gun forcing it to move. Repeated shots push back harder and move the gun more making sustained fire on one target difficult.

Muzzle flash - This is the split second when fire is visible from the tip of the gun due to the bullet being fired and the explosion behind propelling the bullet. At night this can be visible for quite some distance.

Bullet - For exact terms, the bullet is only the tip of the whole cartridge or shot. The bullet is specifically the part that gets launched forward at the high speed. Though colloquially, bullet is often used to mean the cartridge too.

Cartridges - These are the cases which hold everything inside them. From the cap which ignites the gunpowder, to the gunpowder and bullet.

Round - This is the same as a cartridge (a single case with the bullet, powder and primer inside) so this term can be used interchangeably with cartridge.

Shell - These are typically larger rounds used in heavy artillery (like tanks). Though shotgun ammunition is also referred to as shells because it normally has an empty casing with multiple smaller pellets inside.

Magazine - This is a container for rounds. They come in many sizes and capacities. (From 5 round mini up to 100 round drums. Though not all guns can handle all magazine sizes.)

Belt - This is an alternate container for rounds. They come packaged in long fabric holders, often these are larger rounds for larger weapons.

Parts of a Gun

A gun is comprised of several parts. Each of which can have a drastic affect on the overall operation.

Muzzle - This is the very tip of the gun. Sometimes fitted with a silencer (reduces noise of shots, but reduces how far a bullet will travel).

Barrel - This is the part where the bullet travels through before it reaches the muzzle then exits. The barrel on most guns has grooves inside to make the bullet spin (this increase the accuracy of the shot compared to a smooth barrelled gun like a shotgun or black powder rifles).

Chamber - The chamber is where the bullet that is going to be fired sits.

Slide - Typically a pistol only feature, the slide covers the ejection port to prevent the cartridge from being ejected too soon. (Too soon reduces the bullet's speed by allowing the expanding gas that is propelling the bullet to escape from other places.)

Ejection port - This hole sits on the outside of the gun and when the gun is fired the spent cartridge is flung out from here so the next round can be loaded in. (If the gun is empty, a round can be loaded in through here on certain guns. Shotguns and bolt-action sniper rifles are common ones that can be loaded this way. Some sniper rifles can only be loaded and unloaded this way.)

Hammer - The hammer is the moving part that strikes the back of the cartridge and causes the bullet to be fired.

Trigger - The trigger is the part that moves the hammer and forces the bullet to be fired. Every gun has a different amount of force needed to pull the trigger. (Which can be customized by a knowledgeable user to allow easier trigger pulls or make it tougher.)

Grip - This is the part that the user holds onto. Some guns (typically sub machine guns or assault rifles) may have two grips (one at the back where the trigger is and the other is a secondary one attached to the underside of the gun's barrel.)

Magazine - This is where the loaded ammo is stored. There normally is a mechanism that loads the next round into the gun.

Stock - This is often the back of the gun that the user presses up against their shoulder to help them brace themselves and absorb recoil when they pull the trigger. There are many different kinds of stocks, though not all guns can use every kind. (Pistols typically don't have stocks, though there are some exceptions like the German Mauser C96.)

Types of Guns

Handgun - A handgun is simply a short weapon with a lower force output that can be fired with a single hand (depending on the person) that can bring down small to medium sized targets at fairly close ranges (up to 100 meters.) Typically semi-automatic, though some variants are capable of full auto. Handguns usually have between 8 and 20 rounds per magazine. Revolvers are a different class of handgun though. (Reloading a handgun)

Revolver - A revolver is a handgun that has a limited number of rounds (typically 5, 6 or 8). Each round has it's own slot inside it's own chamber. When the trigger is pulled the chamber is rotated (moving the spent round away from the barrel) and the fresh round brought in. The bullet is then fired. Unlike other guns, revolvers must be opened and unloaded before more rounds can be placed in the chambers. This makes reloading time consuming and more dangerous. (Reloading a revolver)

Sub-machine gun - A sub-machine gun is a fully automatic, two handed weapon that uses pistol rounds. This allows for a high rate of fire while not reducing accuracy during rapid fire (when compared to firing a pistol quickly). Though this means sub machine guns are predominantly only useful for closer quarters fighting (similar to the pistol range).

Shotgun - A gun often used for hunting (or in cases where high stopping power at close ranges is needed) that when fired (using the typical ammo) unleashes multiple tiny pellets. It is devastating at close range (about 30 feet) but over that it is highly inaccurate and significantly less lethal. Shotguns also feature numerous different types of ammo making them useful for a variety of situations.

Rifle - Rifles are a class of guns that feature a longer barrel over a pistol or sub-machine gun. Typically they use a larger bullet. They are also the basis for long ranged weapons and can usually be fitted with scopes to allow more accurate shots.

Assault Rifle - Assault rifles use a much larger bullet than a sub-machine gun so they pack a lot more power, though they are longer and weigh more which makes close quarters fighting tougher. So in this regard, Assault rifles are more useful in open spaces and at longer ranges. Many military class assault rifles use the 5.56x45mm Rounds.

Carbines - Carbines are basically assault rifles… except shortened in a few ways. They often take identical ammunition compared to their full size versions but have shorter barrels and different stocks. This means they may not be as accurate at longer distances though. But they are much more adept at close quarters situations (like inside buildings) where longer barrels would make movement tougher.

Battle Rifle - Battle Rifles are a type of Assault rifle, except they are just bigger and usually use a larger round. (Like the 7.62x51mm.) In a pinch, with the right set up, a battle rifle can be used as a makeshift sniper rifle.

Sniper Rifle - Sniper Rifles are weapons designed for much longer ranges (anywhere from 500 yards to 2 thousand yards), and as such they always have a powerful scope to help the user see their targets. Sniper rifles are designed for more power per bullet, often achieved via raw speed, so accuracy is the key with a sniper rifle.

Machine gun - Machine guns are massive weapons, usually using huge rounds (often times sniper rifles and machine guns use the same rounds. EX- the PKM and Dragunov both use the 7.62x54mm R.) They are designed for fully automatic firing and so they often have larger magazines or belts of ammo. Machine guns are also sometimes mounted on vehicles for a support role.

Common Bullet Types

Abbrev. Name Description
AP Armour Piercing These rounds have an extremely tough bullet and are designed to pierce through hardened plates of metal. These rounds are typically not found in anything smaller than sniper rifles. Though some assault rifles do have them. Pistols do have armour piercing rounds… But they aren't as effective as the larger weapons because of the pistol's lower bullet speeds.
FMJ Full Metal Jacket These bullets are lead but then wrapped in another metal to increase their damage by allowing for greater speed when fired. (Though this can be detrimental too because it can reduce wounds because that bullet just passes through and doesn't shatter to transfer it's kinetic energy.)
HP Hollow Points These bullets are designed with a hollow centre so when they hit a target they flatten and cause increased damage at the cost of less penetration.
JHP Jacketed Hollow Point These are just hollow point bullets that have been treated or coated with another metal to increase their toughness and allow for further penetration before they flatten out. (These rounds are favoured over the regular hollow points and are much more common.)
SP Soft Point rounds These bullets are ones that have part of the lead centre exposed to allow for more expansion of the bullet in the wound, but still allow for the bullet to be fired without causing damage to the gun. (Pure lead bullets scrape along the inside and leave lead which builds up and can make the gun fire improperly or jam or worse… Explode in the gun.) Though these types of bullets are fairly rare.
- Incendiary Rounds These bullets, for assault rifles or larger, are designed so that the tips of them will ignite after a certain amount of distance. Though these rounds are highly illegal and their use is restricted.
- Rubber These bullets, while not actually rubber, are not designed to kill the target, only to hurt them. Mostly used for riot control and target practice. They can be fired from all sorts of different guns… Sniper rifles (Long range target take down) and pistols (short range personal defence) are the most common though.

Shotgun specific

These shells are all ones specific to shotguns for the most part.

Name Description
Buckshot This is the shotgun's most common round. It is a round filled with 12 gauge balls of lead that spread out when fired. Good damage but they loose stopping power quickly at a distance.
Slugs This is a shotgun round that, instead of firing a spray of pellets, fires a single mass of metal.
Flechette This round is full of needles instead of pellets. These needles can punch through bodies easier… Though they share the same flaws buckshot does.
Frag These shells pack a small explosive charge in them. They are marked with a green casing.
Dragon's breath This shotgun round is a specialty round that uses magnesium to produce a short ranged shot of fire instead of a bullet.
Beanbag This shotgun round is another specialty that is nonlethal. Used primarily for taking down human opponents, it HURTS and will cause most people to reconsider taking action.
Taser These rounds contain two small barbs that strike the target and deliver a powerful electric shock.
Gas These rounds are full of tear-gas and are used by police to disperse riots.

Common Gun Attachments

Silencers - Contrary to their names, silencers do not make gun shots completely silent (so no Hollywood style silencers). At best they reduce the total noise by about 30-50 decibels. (Normal gunshots will exceed 150 decibels… Or greater than a jet engine at take off.) However this does still serve tactical purpose as quieter shots means less likelihood of enemy forces noticing gun shots. The downside though is that silencers will reduce a gun's range. Note that silencers for pistols are also highly illegal in North America and permitted only for law enforcement personnel in specific situations.

Grenade launchers - Military use only - Assault rifles sometimes have 40 millimetre grenade launchers added to underside their barrel for an extra bit of firepower. Though most times only users only have a few grenades to shoot this way.

Red Dot Sight - An attachment that goes on the top of the gun and displays a red dot to help the user visualize where the bullet will go when shot.

Scope - An attachment that uses lenses to help users shoot at targets farther away. Scopes for Assault rifles are often 3.4x to 6x magnification while Sniper rifle scopes are anywhere from 8x to 40x or beyond. These sorts of scopes will often have markings on the lenses to help users figure out where to aim at longer distances to land hits.

Laser sight - A simple laser pointer added to the gun to help the user quickly see where they're aiming.

Flashlight - A small Light Emitting Diode (LED) used for dark environments. (Or making it difficult for enemies to see exactly where to aim…)

Bipod - Bipods are a set of small legs which the shooter uses to rest the gun on to help steady it when getting ready to shoot. The legs often can be folded up for when the user wants to carry the gun. Typically Bipods are only for snipers or machine guns where long range or high powered rounds are used.