Glossary of firearms terms

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Machine gun
A weapon firing small arms ammunition on the automatic principle at a high rate of fire.A fixed mount to direct fire and sustain the force of recoil distinguishes the machine gun from the automatic rifle, though the distinction is becoming less precise.

The operating assembly holding a number of cartridges to facilitate loading for successive discharges. In a rifle the magazine may be an intrigal part of the weapon or a separate device attached to the weapons action. On most selfloading handguns the magazine is removable, a metal box with a spring operated feeding device. The cylinder of a revolver is a magazine, though the term is never applied. There are many different types of magazine including drum, rotary-box, tubular and box.

Magazine rifle see Rifle, repeating

The spring actuating the striker or hammer of a firearm.

Mannlicher system see Clip

An early type or revolver, invented near the end of the 18th century and characterised by a number of barrels bored into a solid piece of metal, the barrels revolving about a central axis.

A specific model of a weapon or article of equipment, used as a designation by the British Government.

A fuze used to ignite a charge of powder. A slow match consisted of twisted cotton strands, usually soaked in saltpetre solution, or hemp twine saturated with lead acetate and lye (wood ash) solution to retard the burning rate. Burning at four to five inches an hour, the slow match was used to ignite the priming charge of a matchlock weapon, the lighted end being placed in the serpentine jaws and brought into contact with the priming powder in the pan. A quick match, also made from strands of cotton, was soaked in a mixture of gunpowder and gum arabic and coated with mealed powder. It burnt at the rate of one yard in thirteen seconds.

Match bullet
Any bullet designed specifically for use in competitions.

1 Mechanism for igniting a firearmís charge by bringing a lighted match into contact with priming powder in the pan.
2 A shoulder arm using such a mechanism to effect ignition. Invented towards the end of the 14th century, the matchlock represented the first attempt at automatic ignition. It served as the principal weapon of the infantry soldier in Europe until superseded by the flintlock during the 17th century. Japan continued to use matchlocks until the 19th century.

Of metalwork, a dull lustreless surface.

Mauser system see Clip

Maximum ordinate
Of a trajectory, the vertical height of the summit measured from the muzzle projected horizontally.

Maynard primer see Primer

Mechanical safety see Safety

Metal cased bullet see Bullet

Metallic cartridge
A metal case, usually of brass, containing a bullet, primer and powder.

Metallic sight see Sight

Metal patched bullet see Bullet, metal patched

Minie ball, Minie bullet
An elongated lead bullet, pointed in front, with a cup shaped hollow in its base. Action of the expanding gasses caused the base to spread on discharge, forcing the metal into the grooves of the rifling. The invention of the bullet is credited to a French Captain of Infantry, C. E. Minie.

The earliest Spanish flintlock, deriving its name from the robber bands of Catalonia who used the weapon. Until recently the miquelet was still used in Turkey.

The total failure of a cartridge to discharge after its primer has been struck by the firing pin.

Moenchs buchse
A small hand cannon approximately 11 inches in length and 5 inches in diameter, a precursor of the wheellock.

In mechanics, a cavity, hole or opening into which or through some other part fits or passes. For example "the breechblock is lowered into its mortises".

Of a cartridge case, the open end into which the bullet is inserted.

Multi ball cartridge
A cartridge loaded with two or more bullets.

Multi firing
A firearm able to discharge more than one round without reloading.

Mushroom bullet see Bullet

On impact of a bullet, an expansion outward from the nose, the bullet remaining largely in one piece and retaining its original weight. No necessary connection exists between a mushroom bullet and a bullet exhibiting good mushrooming qualities, any type of bullet may mushroom.

Musket, Mousquet
1 Originally, a smoothbore small arm invented about 1540, much heavier and more powerful than the harquebus. The latter term became in time the designation for a gun of fine workmanship, as distinguished from a common infantry arm to which the term mousquet was applied. The mousquet thus tended to be a matchlock, a less expensive ignition system than the wheel lock, which was associated with the harquebus. On the abandonment of the matchlock system towards the end of the 17th century the term mousquet was discontinued in favour of fusil or flintlock.
2 A military smoothbore with a long barrel and a fore end extending to the muzzle, popular during the transition period from single shot to magazine rifles. The term rifled musket was in time applied to single shot military rifles, presumably to distinguish them from repeating rifles.

Musket arrow see Spright

A musket shortened for cavalry use.

In military training, that branch dealing with ballistic qualities of rifle fire, including the effect thereon of range, terrain, meteorological conditions and human variations in handling the piece.

A shoulder weapon bearing both matchlock and flintlock ignition systems, used before the latter had become sufficiently well developed to be reliable.

The end of the barrel from which the bullet leaves the weapon.

Muzzle blast
At the gun muzzle, atmospheric disturbance after discharge, resulting from expansion of powder gasses into the air.

Muzzle brake
A device attached to the muzzle of a firearm to utilise propelling gasses in counter recoil after the bullet has been ejected from the barrel. Also called a compensator.

Muzzle energy
The computed energy of a bullet in terms of foot pounds, as it leaves the weapons muzzle.

Muzzle flash
The incandescent flash at the weapons muzzle following the bulletís departure. Caused by the ignition of oxygen, the expulsion of burning powder grains and the expansion of powder gasses.

Any firearm only capable of being loaded through the muzzle.

Muzzle velocity see Velocity