Firearms Essentials

“One man with a gun can control one-hundred without one.”

– V.I. Lenin-


Firearms Safety Rules:

  1. Always treat all guns as though they are loaded.

  2. Always keep your gun pointed in a safe direction.

  3. Keep your finger off of the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

  4. Always know your target and what is beyond.

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Firearms Parts:


Firearms Parts Glossary:

Action: The group of moving parts that load, fire, and unload the rifle.  Loading involves opening the action, placing a cartridge in the chamber, and then closing the action with the cartridge in place.  In most rifles, opening and closing the action cocks the firing pin, making the rifle ready to be fired.  Some rifles must be cocked separately.  Firing takes place when the trigger is pulled to the rear.  This action allows the firing pin to strike the cartridge and fir the gun.  When the action is opening after firing, the used cartridge is ejected so that a new one can be loaded.

Barrel: The metal tube through which the projectile passes when the rifle is fired.

Bolt handle: The lever that the shooter pulls back to open the action on a bolt-action rifle and pushes forward to chamber a round and close the action.

Bore: The hole in the barrel through which the projectile passes.  The diameter is measured in fractions of an inch (caliber) or millimeters.

Breech: The rear of the barrel.

Butt: The rear portion of the stock.

Chamber: Located at the breech end of the barrel and is the portion into which one round of ammunition is placed for firing.

Clip: A device to hold cartridges for charging the magazine of some rifles.  Not to be confused with “magazine”.  (See Magazine vs. Clip.)

Fore-end: the part of gun’s stock forward of the action, extending under the barrel and providing a grip for one hand below the barrel.

Grip: The part of the stock gripped by the firing-hand.

Hammer: The part the firearm that strikes the primer.  In some firearm designs the hammer directly strike the primer, while other strike a separate firing pin.

Lands: The flat, raised ridges of metal standing between the rifled grooves inside the barrel.

Magazine: A container with a spring into which several cartridges can be placed.  The two most common types are non-detachable box types located inside the bottom portion of the action, a tube type located under the barrel or in the stock, or detachable types that can be loaded and then slipped into place into the gun.  The magazine uses a spring to push the unfired cartridges into the path of the bolt for loading.  Not to be confused with “Clip”.  (See Magazine vs. Clip.)

Muzzle: The forward end (mouth) of the barrel, through which the projectile exits.

Rifling: The grooves and lands inside the barrel.   When a projectile passes through the barrel, the lands cut into the bullet to make it spin.  This spinning action makes the projectile more stable and accurate in flight toward the target, similar to a well-thrown football.

Safety: Mechanical device designed to prevent a gun from being fired accidentally.  When the safety is “on” it should block the operation of the trigger, thus preventing the firearm from firing.  Always remember that the safety is only a mechanical device.  Never depend on it as a substitute for following the safety rules.  You are the ultimate safety.

Sights: The metallic or optical devices attached to rifles that enable them to be aimed.

Stock: The handle by which the rifle is held and which holds the other groups together.

Trigger: The lever that activates a firearm when moved, usually pulled by one finger.

Trigger guard: A protective shield around the trigger that keeps the trigger from being pulled accidentally.

Trigger pull: The amount of pressure needed to fully release a trigger to fire a gun.

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Magazine Parts:

Coming soon!

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Firearm Malfunctions Causes:

Failure to Fire:

Firearm malfunction caused by a bad primer, light firing-pin strike, bolt not fully in battery, improper seated magazine.

Failure to Eject Spent Case:

stovepipeFirearm malfunction caused by a broken or weak extractor or ejector, bad ammo, dirty chamber.  The empty shell casing may remain in the chamber, or may partially ejected and hang out of the ejection port.  This is referred to as a “stovepipe”, as seen pictured right.

Failure to Properly Feed a Round Into Chamber:

Firearm malfunction caused by poorly seated or broken magazine.

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Firearm Malfunction Clearing:

Slam magazine into the magazine well. Tug to make sure it is seated. Tilt gun to the right so that any loose debris will fail out of the ejection port. Cycle Action rapidly. Pull back all the way and allow it to slam home. Hit forward assist (on AR’s).

If that does not work: Lock bolt or slide to rear. Remove magazine. Reach in and clear out chamber. Roll gun to right so ejection port is down. Cycle action three times. Insert new magazine (old one may be causing problem) Chamber round. Use forward assist (on AR’s).

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Ammunition Malfunctions:


The rare case of the priming compound not igniting immediately.  It may ignite after a delay.  Keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction for at least 30 seconds before unloading the firearm.


It happens when a cartridge does not fire when the firing pin hits the primer. When this happens, the shooter must keep the gun pointed in a safe direction and wait for at least 30 seconds before opening the bot.  The misfire normally happens because the strike by the firing pin was too weak to fire the priming compound or because there was no priming compound where the fining pin hit the cartridge’s primer.


The rare case where the primer ignites, but there are not enough gasses to force the bullet out of the barrel.  If the round fired did not sound right, nor did it hit the target, stop and do not fire another round.  A bullet may be lodged in the barrel and the firearm may burst if another round is fired.  If possible, remove the bolt or open the action and inspect the barrel from the breech.  If a bullet is in the breech, use a rod and push it out from the breech.  Never push it back in from the muzzle.  Clean the barrel before shooting again.

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Magazine Rotation:

If you are going to keep magazines loaded in your carry gun or home defense gun, I would suggest rotating magazines every six months in order to keep the magazine springs from loosing strength. Many believe that with modern metallurgy the magazine springs will not develop memory when compressed over long periods of time, however my equipment is expensive and my life is too important to take a chance. I have gotten into the habit of rotating loaded magazines every six months. For me, when we change the clocks in the Spring and Fall seasons, I rotate my magazines. I have the magazines numbered and simply download the magazine(s) that I’ve carried for the last six months and upload the next magazine(s) in sequence.

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Magazine Numbering:

Numbering your magazines will help you with loaded magazine rotation, and will help you keep up with malfunction trends and determine whether an individual magazine is faulty (example: if the gun malfunctions fairly often with magazine number 4, but fire fine with all the others, it is probably the fault of the magazine). Number your magazines with a Sharpie brand paint pen. These are readily available at Michael’s or any high-end arts & crafts store. I like the oil-based, extra fine point. They come in different colors, but I simply go with white. You can also number your magazines with an electric engraver, however this is permanent. Should you ever want to remove the painted numbers, simply use a dab of mineral spirits on an old rad with a little “elbow grease”. The paint comes right off.

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Magazine Color Coding:

Using colored electrical tape is a good way to mark rifle magazines so as to know which magazines are yours after a long day at the range or shooting class. Colored tape is also a good way to mark magazines if you choose to carry more than one type of ammunition type (example: red tape = tracer rounds, green tape = green tip armor piercing rounds, gold tape = frangible rounds, and no tape are plain old FMJ). Obviously using tape in this fashion only works on magazines that extend out of the weapon’s magazine well and only on the part that will be outside of the magazine well.

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One comment on “Firearms Essentials

  1. Check out this ammo review for golden tiger ammo. they make it for 7.62×39, 5.45×39, .223 and 9×19. Soon they will be making it for 40SW and others.

    At about the 8:50 mark he test fires GT and Wolf. There is a MASSIVE difference in velocity, between 200 and 300 fps for the same grain bullet.

    The only negatives seem to be from guys with cheap AK’s or old SKS’s with light primer strikes. No one using a quality AK or any other platform has had an issue with that. The price seems very similar with wolf/tula/barnul and with less flash, dramatically higher velocity, boat tail and better case and primer sealing, this seems like a top shelf choice to plink and stock up on especially while its fairly cheap.


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