NRA Women | 4 useful pieces of gun jargon to sharpen your shooting vocabulary

If you are new to shooting sports, then welcome! We’re glad you’re here. Like any other hobby that requires special equipment and procedures, shooting has its own jargon. This article covers four terms: cartridges, bench tests, reloads, and primers. Understanding these terms and practices can save time, money, and some confusion.

1. Bullet vs. Bullet
A cartridge is a complete unit of ammunition ready for use. These include rimfire, centerfire handguns, and centerfire rifle cartridges. It is also correct to refer to a shotgun shell as a cartridge, but cartridge tends to be the more common description. A cartridge can also be referred to as “round” ammunition, e.g. B. when describing a pistol with a 15-round magazine. A cartridge usually consists of four different components, including the primer, the cartridge case, the powder (propellant), and the bullet (projectile), the metallic projectile that leaves the gun and hits the intended target.

It’s not uncommon for people to use the word “bullet” interchangeably with “cartridge” as if to say that a particular revolver can hold “six bullets” or that they bought a box of bullets today. Technically, using the word bullet in this way is not entirely inaccurate, since a bullet is part of a cartridge. If there are 15 rounds of ammunition in a pistol magazine, then there are also 15 bullets in the magazine.

However, the word bullet does not represent the concept of a cartridge. It’s like saying that wine bottles are full of “grape juice,” or that a police officer stopped you to get an autograph in his notebook. Not wrong per se, but incomplete. When referring to ammunition it is more accurate to use the words cartridge or round and save the word bullet to refer to the projectile itself.

2. Bench tests
A bench test is the process of confirming that a weapon’s action and controls are working properly. These functional checks are often performed at the same workbench (or table) where the gun is cleaned and serviced. Hence the name “test bench”. A lab check should be performed on any gun that is new to you, including a newly purchased gun, used gun, or a gun borrowed from a friend or family member. It is also important to conduct a bank check every time a gun has been disassembled or is preparing for a trip to the shooting range. In short, check it on the bench before you shoot it.

Always ensure the gun is fully unloaded before performing a bench test. Remember that each model has a unique set of controls and features, so take the time to consult the owner’s manual. Once you become familiar with the gun, a quick check will only take a minute or two. Since every weapon is different, no general checklist can be created. but this article contains the dyno tests for a specific semi-automatic pistol and revolver to give you an idea of ​​what the process looks like.

Bonus tip: Check the screws for tightness.
Any time you take a new gun to the range for the first time, check the sight, grip or stock screws to make sure they are properly tightened. Tiny visor and grip screws can loosen and fall out, never to be seen again. Take the screwdrivers and/or allen keys that match your gun to the range and check the screws once or twice during the range test. Just spending a minute or two checking the bolts can save you a lot of time, hassle, and replacement parts costs.

3. The three meanings of “reload”
A common frustration for those learning English as a second language is that so many common words have multiple meanings. A word used in different ways in the US shooter community is “reload”. It has at least three different meanings:

Reload (verb)
This is the process of loading fresh ammunition into a firearm to replace spent cartridges. When a gun has been fired until it’s empty, it’s time to reload it if you want to keep shooting. In some situations, the pistol may not be completely empty. Swapping out a partially loaded magazine for a full magazine is called tactical reloading, while adding rounds to a partially filled tubular magazine is called refilling.

A reload (noun)
In general, this is a set of cartridges stored in a device designed to speed up the reloading (verb) of a firearm. For someone carrying a defensive semi-automatic with two spare magazines filled with ammo, you could say they are carrying two reloads for their pistol. Revolvers have devices called speedloaders and speedstrips that can hold between 5 and 10 rounds of ammunition depending on the caliber and configuration of the revolver. This means that a speedloader can be carried as a reloading device for a revolver.

“Reloaded” ammunition
When a centerfire pistol, rifle, or shotshell is fired, the primer, powder, and projectile are consumed. However, the cartridge case (or the “casing” of the shotgun shell) remains. Many of these cartridge cases can be reused or “reloaded”. When used cases are cleaned, sorted and refilled by professional ammunition manufacturers, this is called “remanufactured” ammunition. When the cases are reused by shooting sport hobbyists assembling ammunition at home, the cartridges are often referred to as “handloads” or “reloads”.

Some time ago I wrote an article about the meaning of carry reload (spare magazines and speedloaders) for defensive handguns. A reader thought I would recommend remanufactured or handloaded ammunition for self-defense. This seems confusing as the use of reloaded ammunition for personal protection should be avoided due to potential reliability and legal issues.

4. Ignition Charges
Ignition charges are relatively rare but potentially dangerous. It is important to understand what they are, how they behave and what to do if one appears when shooting.

A primer is a defective cartridge that does not fully propel the bullet out of the gun. The result is a bullet stuck somewhere between the chamber and the muzzle inside the barrel. If another round is fired into the clogged (blocked) barrel, the gun may be seriously damaged or it may explode like a hand grenade. This in turn can cause damage to bystanders and the person who pulls the trigger.

Primers can occur with rimfire or centerfire cartridges, including virgin, remanufactured, and handloaded cartridges. Causes include no powder in the cartridge case, a partial powder load, or powder that has been contaminated by moisture or lubricant. Sometimes it’s a faulty or damaged primer. Although certain cartridge defects are visible to the naked eye, including a cracked cartridge case, an inverted primer, or a bullet seated too deep in the cartridge case, primers can often slip by undetected until they are fired.

How do you know if you fired a primer and now a bullet is stuck in your barrel? I ignited two squibs in my firing attempts. One was a .22 LR cartridge fired from a rifle and the other was a .38 Specialty cartridge fired from a revolver. Both cartridges produced the same three indicators of a squib:

1. No evidence of a bullet impact from range
Each bullet fired should sound or knock over a steel plate, punch a hole in a paper target, or, in the event of a miss, raise a cloud of dust where it hits a mound of earth. If you don’t see or hear evidence of a bullet impact, it may be a squib.

2. A noticeable change in the weapon’s report
A firearms report is the bang! bang! or Boom! noise it makes. The report should be about the same for every shot fired with a given ammo load. When that one .38 special charge detonated, the report fell off bang! to Pop! It ran out for the .22 LR Pop! to pffft! followed by an odd short squeaking noise.

3. A noticeable decrease in perceived recoil
Squibs are too weak so the cartridge will kick less than a properly working cartridge.

If you see or hear any sign of an explosive charge, stop shooting immediately! Do not, repeat, DO NOT try to eject the stuck bullet with another shot out of the barrel. The squib charge is less likely to cause permanent damage as it tends to be caused by low pressure levels. It’s the shots fired into the jammed bullet that result in cambered barrels, cracked actions, and in some cases a kaboom, meaning the gun blows apart.

In some cases, the fired gun can be disassembled, the jammed bullet knocked out with a cleaning rod, and then reassembled for further firing. However, there is always the possibility that the gun is damaged or glued on the inside. When in doubt, consult a qualified gunsmith to solve the problems caused by a primer.

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