Glossary of firearms terms

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1 Of a breech, the inner rear surface of the barrel.
2 Of a piece, the muzzle or terminating plane perpendicular to the axis of the bore.

Falling block action see Action, falling block

The action of forcing successive cartridges from a firearms magazine into its chamber.

Feeding guides
1 At the top of the magazine, lips shaped to conduct cartridges from the magazine into the chamber.
2 Within the receiver at the top of the magazine well the surfaces are shaped to conduct cartridges from the magazine into the chamber.

Mechanism closing a firearms breech.

Loop fastened below the barrel to carry a cleaning rod or ramrod.

Field stripping
Denotes a stage in disassembling a weapon which permits normal maintenance and cleaning.

Any weapon from which a projectile is expelled by the action of expanding powder gasses.

Fire carriage
Several flintlock muskets fixed on a wheeled carriage, all capable of simultaneous loading by means of a set of ramrods fastened together and guided by a travelling brass plate.

Generally, a musket discharged by sparks produced through friction or percussion. Specifically the term was originally used to distinguish between a weapon discharged by mechanical ignition and a weapon ignited by a slow burning match. Originally in the early 17th century the term referred to wheel locks, but eventually it was applied to snaphance and flintlock systems. Rendered obsolete by the disappearance of flintlocks, the term was never applied to percussion weapons.

Fire stick
Hand gun of the 15th century, ignited by a match manually applied.

Firing mechanism
All parts, which operating together, detonate the primer and thus discharge the weapon. Specifically the trigger, sear, hammer, firing pin, mainspring and auxiliary screws comprise the firing mechanism.

Firing pin
The part of the firing mechanism which by striking the primer, explodes the propelling charge. Some firing pins are an integral part of the hammer or striker, some are mounted seperately within the hammerís forward face, some are separately attached to the strikerís forward end. Some are constructed as distinct units mounted in the bolt or standing breech, capable of moving forward when struck and of recoiling when the primer fires.

Firing tables
In ballistics, tables supplying the elements of firing data for standard conditions, together with corrections for when conditions are not standard.

First graze
Of a trajectory, the point where a projectile will first strike the ground if its flight is uninterrupted.

Fixed ammunition
Ammunition handled and loaded as a unit, with primer and propelling charge held together in a case with a bullet, none of the components being removable from the others by hand. Modern cartridges are examples of fixed ammunition.

Flash hider
A device on a rifle attached to the muzzle to reduce (not hide) the muzzle flash. Also sometimes called a flash eliminator. Often used on short rifles or carbines for jungle fighting.

Any case, either of horn, wood, leather, shell or metal designed to carry and often measure and dispense a powder charge.

Flat trajectory see trajectory

A piece of silica capable of fracturing to a sharp edge and of producing sparks when that edge is struck against steel. Clamped into a flintlocks hammer, the flint creates sparks by striking the metal frizzen.

1 Mechanism igniting a firearms charge by the sparks that are produced by striking flint against steel.
2 A shoulder or hand arm using such a mechanism to effect ignition. The flintlock was invented simultaneously in Spain and Holland near the end of the 16th century. It was used as late as the American civil war, but its greatest popularity occurred between 1670 and 1835.

Flying firing pin
A type of firing pin found in certain weapons like the Tokarev 7.62mm and the Colt Government Model .45. The length of the pins travel in the breechblock exceeds the length of the pin itself. When the hammers impact drives the pin forward to explode the primer, a spring is compressed in such a manner that immediately returns the pin to the breechblock. This safety feature prevents contact between pin and primer unless the pin is driven forward by the hammer at the instant of firing.

Folding trigger see Trigger

Part of a magazine. A metal spring actuated plate designed to exert correct pressure on cartridges to lift them successively into position for delivery through feed guides into the firearms chamber.

That portion of the wooden stock extending under the barrel forward from the receiver. Also called a forearm.

Foresight see Sight

On some muskets and rifles, the forward part of the stock extending from the trigger guard almost the full length of the barrel.

Foreign matter in the bore of a firearm, the term refers to gummy matter, burnt powder grain and light rust. Heavy rust is generally termed corrosion rather than fouling. Metal fouling or leading refers to lumpy metal deposits from bullet jackets as they pass through the bore. Deposits resulting from the action of the primer are called primer fouling. Powder fouling refers to deposits resulting from the action of the propelling charge.

Of a pistol or revolver, the receiver or non-movable forging that houses the firing mechanism, magazine, cylinder, etc. In hinged frame revolvers the frame consists of the grip section, the lockwork section, and an extension above the trigger at the forward end of which the barrel and cylinder are hinged. Frequently the term frame is applied only to revolvers, corresponding roughly to the receiver of an automatic pistol.

Also called the battery, it is part of the firing mechanism on a flintlock arm. A pivoted piece of steel (iron with a steel face) against which the flint strikes to produce sparks for igniting the priming powder. In pre-percussion days the frizzen was sometimes called the hammer. European frizzens are generally smooth. Oriental frizzens are almost always ribbed vertically to provide a more efficient igniting instrument.

Frizzen spring
The U shaped spring on a flintlock designed to hold the frizzen either erect over the pan to keep it covered or tilted forward to uncover the pan at the time of firing.

Front sight see Sight

Full cock see Cock

Fulminate of mercury
An explosive compound capable of ignition if heated, vibrated or struck. Discovered by Howard in 1800, it has in the past been extensively used as a detonator for less sensitive explosives, though now fulminate has been largely replaced by more stable priming compositions.

All the metal fittings on hand or shoulder arms except the barrel, action and assembly.

A type of flintlock similar to but smaller than a musket, introduced about 1635. Also called a fusil.

A device in a bomb or shell for setting off an explosive.