The following are terms related to firearms and ammunition topics.
A firearm is any type of gun designed to be readily carried and used by an individual. The term is legally defined further in different countries.
A rifle is a long-barreled firearm designed for accurate shooting, with a barrel that has a helical pattern of grooves (rifling) cut into the bore wall. In keeping with their focus on accuracy, rifles are typically designed to be held with both hands and braced firmly against the shooter's shoulder via a buttstock for stability during shooting. Rifles are used extensively in warfare, law enforcement, hunting, shooting sports, and crime.
In firearm designs, the term single-shot refers to guns that can hold only a single round of ammunition inside and thus must be reloaded manually after every shot. Compared to multi-shot repeating firearms ("repeaters"), single-shot designs have no moving parts other than the trigger, hammer/firing pin or frizzen, and therefore do not need a sizable receiver behind the barrel to accommodate a moving action, making them far less complex and more robust than revolvers or magazine/belt-fed firearms, but also with much slower rates of fire.
A bullet is a kinetic projectile, a component of firearm ammunition that is shot from a gun barrel. They are made of a variety of materials, such as copper, lead, steel, polymer, rubber and even wax; and are made in various shapes and constructions, including specialized functions such as hunting, target shooting, training and combat. Bullets are often tapered, making them more aerodynamic. Bullet size is expressed by weight and diameter in both imperial and metric measurement systems. Bullets do not normally contain explosives but strike or damage the intended target by transferring kinetic energy upon impact and penetration.
A cartridge or a round is a type of pre-assembled firearm ammunition packaging a projectile, a propellant substance and an ignition device (primer) within a metallic, paper, or plastic case that is precisely made to fit within the barrel chamber of a breechloading gun, for the practical purpose of convenient transportation and handling during shooting. Although in popular usage the term "bullet" is often informally used to refer to a complete cartridge, it is correctly used only to refer to the projectile.
In firearms terminology, an action is the functional mechanism of a breech-loading firearm that handles the ammunition cartridges, or the method by which that mechanism works. Actions are technically not present on muzzleloaders, as all those are single-shot firearms with a closed off breech with the powder and projectile manually loaded from the muzzle. Instead, the muzzleloader ignition mechanism is referred to as the lock.
In guns, particularly firearms, caliber is the specified nominal internal diameter of the gun barrel bore – regardless of how or where the bore is measured and whether the finished bore matches that specification. It is measured in inches or in millimeters. In the United States it is expressed in hundredths of an inch; in the United Kingdom in thousandths; and elsewhere in millimeters. For example, a US "45 caliber" firearm has a barrel diameter of roughly 0.45 inches (11 mm). Barrel diameters can also be expressed using metric dimensions. For example, a "9 mm pistol" has a barrel diameter of about 9 millimeters. Since metric and US customary units do not convert evenly at this scale, metric conversions of caliber measured in decimal inches are typically approximations of the precise specifications in non-metric units, and vice versa.
A semi-automatic pistol is a handgun that automatically ejects and loads cartridges in its chamber after every shot fired. Only one round of ammunition is fired each time the trigger is pulled, as the pistol's fire control group disconnects the trigger mechanism from the firing pin/striker until the trigger has been released and reset.
A breechloader is a firearm in which the user loads the ammunition via the rear (breech) end of its barrel, as opposed to a muzzleloader, which loads ammunition via the front (muzzle).
A repeating rifle is a single-barreled rifle capable of repeated discharges between each ammunition reload. This is typically achieved by having multiple cartridges stored in a magazine and then fed individually into the chamber by a reciprocating bolt, via either a manual or automatic action mechanism, while the act of chambering the round typically also recocks the hammer/striker for the following shot. In common usage, the term "repeating rifle" most often refers specifically to manual repeating rifles, as opposed to self-loading rifles, which use the recoil and/or blowback of the previous shot to cycle the action and load the next round, even though all self-loading firearms are technically a subcategory of repeating firearms.
Caseless ammunition (CL), or rather caseless cartridge, is a configuration of weapon-cartridge that eliminates the cartridge case that typically holds the primer, propellant and projectile together as a unit. Instead, the propellant and primer are fitted to the projectile in another way so that a cartridge case is not needed, for example inside or outside the projectile depending on configuration.
Lever-action is a type of action for repeating firearms that uses a manually operated cocking handle located around the trigger guard area that pivots forward to move the bolt via internal linkages, which will feed and extract cartridges into and out of the chamber, and cock the firing pin mechanism. This contrasts to other type of repeating actions such as the bolt-action, pump-action, semi-automatic, or automatic/selective-fire actions. A firearm using this operating mechanism is colloquially referred to as a levergun.
A gun barrel is a crucial part of gun-type weapons such as small firearms, artillery pieces, and air guns. It is the straight shooting tube, usually made of rigid high-strength metal, through which a contained rapid expansion of high-pressure gas(es) is used to propel a projectile out of the front end (muzzle) at a high velocity. The hollow interior of the barrel is called the bore, and the diameter of the bore is called its caliber, usually measured in inches or millimetres.
Internal ballistics, a subfield of ballistics, is the study of the propulsion of a projectile.
A blank is a firearm cartridge that, when fired, does not shoot a projectile like a bullet or pellet, but generates a muzzle flash and an explosive sound like a normal gunshot would. Firearms may need to be modified to allow a blank to cycle the action, and the shooter experiences less recoil with a blank than with a live round. Blanks are often used in prop guns for shooting simulations that have no need for ballistic results, but still demand light and sound effects, such as in historical reenactments, special effects for theatre, movie and television productions, combat training, for signaling, and cowboy mounted shooting. Specialised blank cartridges are also used for their propellant force in fields as varied as construction, shooting sports, and fishing and general recreation.
Blowback is a system of operation for self-loading firearms that obtains energy from the motion of the cartridge case as it is pushed to the rear by expanding gas created by the ignition of the propellant charge.
Accurizing is the process of improving the accuracy and precision of a gun.
In the field of firearms and airguns, obturation denotes necessary barrel blockage or fit by a deformed soft projectile. A bullet or pellet, made of soft material and often with a concave base, will flare under the heat and pressure of firing, filling the bore and engaging the barrel's rifling. The mechanism by which an undersized soft-metal projectile enlarges to fill the barrel is, for hollow-base bullets, expansion from gas pressure within the base cavity and, for solid-base bullets, "upsetting"—the combined shortening and thickening that occurs when a malleable metal object is struck forcibly at one end.
Recoil operation is an operating mechanism used to implement locked breech, autoloading firearms. Recoil operated firearms use the energy of recoil to cycle the action, as opposed to gas operation or blowback operation using the pressure of the propellant gas.
A repeating firearm or repeater is any firearm that is capable of being fired repeatedly before having to manually reload new ammunition into the weapon.