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Speaking the Language: Gun Terminology for the Newbie



Since people are largely fascinated with the adventure of shooting and hunting, they are only concerned in learning how to pull the trigger and have a good time, thus many people aren’t aware of the appropriate gun terminology. However, it is very crucial for all gun owners, especially those who have just started practicing to speak the language of a gun, to have a command on the various terms used around the range.

Below are some of the commonly used gun terminology that every newbie must know.


Ammunition is a collective term used to describe everything that can be shot out of a gun. The packaged component includes bullets, pellets and shrapnel. Ammunition is also commonly known as ammo. It fires out of a gun while producing a spark. Ammo is usually made of exploding materials such nuzzles, primers and gun powder all of which combine to fire in a shell or case. Fixed ammunition is a term used to describe the parts that are installed separately in the muzzle loaders. The quantity of ammunition is measured in rounds. It is important to ensure that the ammo used matches the weapon being used.


Bullet is probably the most misunderstood gun terminology and many people use the term as an alternative to cartridge. However, there is a vast difference in the two. A bullet is only a metal projectile that is released from a gun. It usually appears as a cylindrical piece of copper, lead and other materials that can be used in the barrel of a gun. Bullets can either be made totally out of these materials or by modifying them. For example, lead can be coated with a harder material to produce a more impactful bullet. A bullet is usually approximated by its diameter which is denoted in millimeters.


A cartridge is known as the single unit package of ammunition. The term can also be used to describe a shotshell. An average cartridge is generally divided into three components known in gun terminology as primer, case and powder.

A primer is a small metal object filled with certain chemicals that explode once the trigger is pulled. It is usually positioned in the center of the cartridge’s base and plays an important role in properly firing shots. The case holds powder inside the cartridge and is made of steel or brass. Cases are generally seen hanging out of semi-automatic firearms.

Finally, powder is what causes the cartridge to blow up. The powdered material inside the case starts burning rapidly which produces an intensifying gas. Once the pressure exceeds the containers limit, it causes the cartridge to burst out of the gun.


A magazine is another common gun terminology that a newbie must know. It is responsible for holding ammo and shells under coil pressure while it prepares to be fed into the weapon’s chamber. It can easily be fixed and detached from the pistol. A magazine is usually regarded a safe and protected storage for explosives and ammunition.

There are three common types of magazines, namely Tube magazine which is able to run through the ammo reserves, Drum magazines that can hold cartridges in a unique spherical form, and Box magazine which is placed in guns where the cartridges are to be vertically stacked.


The muzzle is where the main business happens. It is the front a gun from where the bullets and projectile are shot out of. A muzzle has three subparts with each one performing its own specific function. For example, a muzzle rise helps the second butt in rising up after the first one has been shot. The speed of a bullet, when it exits the gun through a muzzle, is calculated as feet per second or FPS.


It is a device the initiates the discharge of a cartridge. It appears as a curved piece that is pulled inward by the shooter with their finger. This movement activates the striker or hammer thus letting off the gun. The trigger is the most used gun terminology as it literally initiates the entire shooting process. Once pulled, the trigger enables the hammer to fall which causes the firing pin to hit the primer. The primer later ignites the powder and the burning gases force a bullet out of the case and into the barrel. The bullet then exits the muzzle and strikes the target.


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