The ABC's of Gunsmithing

The ABC’s of Gunsmithing

This month I will be talking about the language of the gun. The firearm industry has its own way of

speaking. If you have ever gone to a gun shop or a gun show you will know what I am talking about.

You will end up over hearing conversations about pressures, ballistic coefficient, and energy. These

conversations will make you think that you have stumbled upon a conversation between a couple

physicists. Others will be using slang words that you have never heard before. It will make your head

spin. Some of the terminology in the mid-Atlantic area can be different than in the Midwest.

Whenever you hear these words or terms, make sure you ask questions. You can learn a lot.

The ABC’s of the Gun World:

Accurizing – To improve the accuracy of a firearm. This term can cover a whole host of other words that contribute to making a firearm shoot the way a person wants.

Action – The part of the firearm that determines how the firearm is loaded, fired, and unloaded. For example; Bolt Action, Break Action, Semi-Automatic, and pump action

B.C. (Ballistic Coefficient) – This is one of those words that you will here with precision shooters. Simply put, the bullet’s effectiveness in overcoming air resistance during flight. A high B.C. is what shooters are looking for.

Bedding – You will hear this term, and possibly even a heated argument about which process is best. This is how the stock and action (bolt action) are brought together, to make a rifle.

Bluing – A type of finish used on steel firearm parts to protect them. In the past most steel came out of the bluing tanks with a dark almost black hue on them, hence the name. You may be able to find an older Gun Smith shop that can still provide this finish. Today it is a very dark and rich black

Boomstick – Yep, you guess it, a gun.

Cartridge – A complete round of ammunition with all components. The bullet, case, powder and primer.

Chamber Cast – A casting of the chamber using Cerrosafe to identify what caliber the firearm is.

Deburr – Removing rough and jagged edges on parts and ammunition.

Eye-Relief – The distance from the shooters eye to the eye piece of a rifle scope.

Flash Suppressor – This is a part installed on the end of the barrel to lower the temperature of the gases escaping the barrel therefore reducing the “flash” seen.

Freedom Seeds – A slang term for ammunition. Not sure if this term is used all over the country or not. Nut used in the south

Grain – The weight of a bullet and the powder being used to manufacture a firearm cartridge

Headspace – Perfect headspace means the cartridge is fired safely, with no deformities to the case, rifle action or rifle barrel.

Hawgleg – Refers to a single action revolver

Iron Sights – Installed on firearms to help the shooter aim at a target.

Jacket – The outer covering that covers the lead core of a bullet.

Key Hole – The bullet hitting a target on its side. Usually caused by using the wrong bullet/powder combination in a firearm

Lands – Refers to the rifling in a rifle or pistol barrel. Rifling makes the bullet spin as it leaves the end of the barrel to keep the bullet in the air

M.O.A (Minute of Angle) – I would run out of space in this blog trying to explain this. Follow the link

Muzzle – The end of the firearm barrel

Neck Sizing – Used during reloading. Instead of resizing the entire case only the neck is sized.

O.A.L. (Overall cartridge length) –  Essentially the true specified length of a cartridge.

Pressure – The force that burning powder builds when ignited.

Quill – The center rod of a Revolver

Revolver aka Wheel Gun – Most common in handguns. It is a repeating firearm that has a cylinder containing multiple chambers.

Smoke Pole – Term used to describe a Black Power rifle.

Twist – This is measured in a barrel. Also known as twist rate. The measurement is given as a ratio. For example, 1:8 is for every 8” of barrel the bullet will make one complete turn in the barrel after fired. Very important when reloading. The twist rate determines what bullet, powder and primer to use to make the firearm more accurate.

U – Can’t find anything nor have I heard of anything starting with U.

Velocity – The speed a bullet travels after it has left the muzzle of a firearm

Windage – Adjustment made to a firearms sight or for a scope. This adjustment is used from left to right. Kentucky windage is making that adjustment with your eye instead of making a mechanical adjustment to sights or a scope.

X-Ring – The center of a target, the bullseye.

Yaw – I have never heard this term being used in the many years I’ve been in the firearms industry. It’s used in external ballistics. May be a good read for some of you

Zero – You will hear many talking about zeroing my rifle. This is getting the firearm adjusted to shoot exactly where you want it to. Adjusting the scope or iron sights up or down and left or right.

Hopefully some of this that I have written will help you in your gun career. I know there are more terms out there I didn’t touch on, as well as terms I have never heard.

Semper Fi!


Written by: David Johnson, Leatherneck Gunsmithing


The ABC’s of Gunsmithing