The internet is filled with people whose confidence is bolstered by the fact that they have a screen in front of them, instead of actual people. These people like to pick on other folks for using the wrong terminology and it often drives people away.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe words are important. I think it’s important that the right words be used to describe something. I also feel as though people should learn the ins and outs of a new thing, including terminology, to become as proficient as possible.
I’m a firm believer that if you’re going to do something, you may as well do it to the best of your ability, which includes using the right words when talking to others who share your affection for whatever it is you’re talking about.
It’s important because we’re stronger when we’re all on the same page. And of course, it’s great to not get picked on by the know-it-all gun owners.
That being said, if after reading this you still want to call things by other names, do whatever floats your boat. I know plenty of guys who call a magazine a clip just to get a reaction out of everyone else.
One thing I wanted to do, was compile a list of popular misused gun terms, and the more acceptable words you can use, instead, to help you out a bit. This list is meant for everyone both new to guns, and those of you who have been around for a while.
1) Is it a clip or magazine?
I used to volunteer my time at a local gunshop a couple days per week. Whenever someone came in and asked me for a clip, I have to admit that I did get a little confused and asked for clarification. I found that most people didn’t want a clip, but a magazine.
The two are different.
While many people from younger generations will tell you that there is no such thing as a clip, there actually is. It’s just not the part of the gun you think it is.
On most modern firearms, the part where the ammo is actually held and fed into the gun is not actually called a “clip.” The proper word for that thing, is called a magazine.
Where it can get a bit confusing, is when you realize that there are gun parts that utilize a clip, and it does have to do with ammo. There are things called “stripper clips,” and some older rifles, like the Garand and the SKS, made use of a clip.
But, your AR-15s, Glocks, 1911s, and almost all other firearms use a magazine of some sort, whether internal or external. “Magazine” is the correct terminology to use when talking about it.
2) Is it a bullet or cartridge?
Okay, so when you go to the store and buy a box of ammo, each individual thing inside of that box is technically called a cartridge. Calling it a “bullet,” while everyone should know what you’re talking about, is technically wrong.
The cartridge is the whole thing from the primer and the case, to the bullet and the powder.
The bullet, on the other hand, is just the part that flies out the barrel of the gun.
Let’s make it a bit more confusing, by telling you that the word “bullet” can also be interchanged with the word “projectile.”
Again, that’s the part that you hope to hit your target or assailant with, when you put the squeeze on the trigger.
3) Assault Rifle
Something misconstrued by many of those who are anti-gun, and those new to the gun world because they hear this term a lot, is the term “assault rifle.” An assault rifle is something used by the military, and is generally not something made available to the public on a mass scale.
The AR-15s found in gun safes across the nation are in fact a variant of the first rifle of this type, made by a company called Armalite. In fact, the AR doesn’t stand for “assault rifle” as many would think, but “Armalite Rifle.”
To expand on this a bit more, an “assault rifle” is something that is usually a selective fire weapon, meaning that it can shoot semi-automatic, or full automatic depending on which setting is selected (hence the term, selective fire).
If I were you, I’d just nix that term from my vocab completely, if you use it. Instead, refer to them just as “rifles,” or by their name: AR-15, or AK-47.
4) Suppressor, Silencer, or Can?
Personally speaking, I hate the word “can.” A “can” is an object that holds food or something else to be used at a later time. A suppressor, on the other hand, is an object used to muffle sound.
However, more people are calling them “cans,” which, even though it drives me nuts, is apparently an acceptable description for a “suppressor.”
I was recently talking with a guy from a suppressor company, who kept calling it a can. The cringe factor on that one was real. But I recognize when I’m losing a battle, and I’ve lost this one.
So while it pains me to say it, “can” is a proper term for the thing called a suppressor.
What a suppressor does not do, however, is “silence” a firearm. Because there are physics behind the combustion of gun powder in your cartridge that have nothing to do with the suppressor itself, it cannot silence everything.
The action of the firearm, for example, cannot be silenced.
The gun can be quieted with a suppressor and subsonic ammunition, but it’s never totally silent. The suppressor acts very similar to how a car’s muffler does. All it does, though, is muffle sound. Therefore, many folks scoff at the term “silencer” when talking about a suppressor.
Calling it a silencer or a “can” in some company is unsafe, while calling it a suppressor is always safe. I, personally, just use the word suppressor.
5) Is it a pistol, a handgun, or revolver?
This one can be tough, and I find that it really depends upon the age of the person doing the talking. The revolver is obvious, and refers to a “wheel gun” that makes use of a rotating cylinder to fire each round.
You cannot call a semi-auto pistol a revolver. It won’t work. (except for the Unica 6 I talk about close to the bottom of that article)
But there are some folks who call a “revolver” a “pistol.” I personally don’t think this is correct, but there are some folks who do, and they’re people I respect from the industry.
A pistol generally refers to any handgun that is considered to be semi-automatic. (please note that I say “generally,” because there are exceptions to every rule)
A pistol can also be something that looks entirely like a rifle, but qualifies as a pistol from the ATF (I go a little bit more into detail on that here).
And, once again speaking generally, a handgun can be used to talk about all of the above.
I’d stick with calling the guns with the rotating cylinder a revolver, and the semi-automatic guns like the 1911, Glock, Springfield XD, S&W Shields, and all similar guns a pistol.
6) Automatic or Semi-Automatic?
A semi-automatic firearm is one that shoots one round per trigger function. In other words, when a round is in the chamber, and the trigger is pulled to the rearward position, the gun goes “bang.”
On the other end of the spectrum is a firearm which shoots many rounds with one function of the trigger. Or, when there is a round in the chamber and the trigger is pulled to the rearward position and held there, the gun goes “bang bang bang bang bang” until the trigger is released.
This is important, because the media and gun-grabbers would love to have you believe that a semi-auto firearm is an automatic death killer ray gun from the future that shoots 47,000 rounds per minute and can zap bolts of lightning from the sky at people on the other side of the planet.
There is a huge difference between semi and fully automatic. They are not interchangeable terms.
Which of these 6 misused gun terms have you heard before? Are there any that I missed? Which ones have you used in the past? Please fill me in below, in the comments section.