Explaining Firearms and Their Terminology


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Since the Parkland Shooting and subsequent protests, I have been amazed at the amount of people on both sides of the political spectrum who have no idea what they are talking about when it comes to firearms. Well fear no more. I’m here to set everyone straight on what means what when you’re talking about guns.


One trigger pull. One shot.


One trigger pull. 3 shots.


One trigger pull. Many shots.


A small switch on a rifle the allows the user to choose whether they want the gun to shoot semi-automatically, burst, or automatically. The Automatic and Burst option is only available on Military Rifles.


Military Specification.

This can mean quite literally anything. If the military has a specification for it, then it can be called “Mil-Spec.” And the military has a specification for everything.

There are Mil-Spec parts in your truck, in your tv, pocket knives you use, the kind of gasoline you put in your car, the type of steel your hammer is made out of, and more. Now for a rifle to be considered truly “Mil-Spec,” it has to be manufactured to the letter of the military specification code which contains its makeup, all the way down to what kind of metal the barrel is cast in. AND THEN, it has to be inspected and passed by a certified military inspector. Only then can a rifle be considered “Mil-Spec.” No citizen can lawfully possess a Mil-Spec rifle.

Military Rifles

There are many, but the ones most often confused are the M4 and M16. The M16, and subsequent variants, has been the standard issue for the armed forces since Vietnam. It is slowly being replaced by the M4 which is a smaller, lighter, and more easily accessorized version of the M16. Both of these weapons are capable of firing in bursts or automatically.


A semi-automatic weapons system designed by a company called ArmaLite and originally mass produced by Colt. The “AR” in AR-15 stands for ArmaLite Rifle, not Assault Rifle. Most semi-automatic rifles produced by any company have been colloquialized as AR-15’s, since the original patent expired in the 1970’s. It is not capable of burst or automatic fire.


The most used automatic weapon in the world. It’s been in production since 1947, and the design hasn’t changed at all. Throw one into a swamp and come back 3 weeks later, clean it out, and it will still fire. Available in the United States only in the semi-automatic variant (ie: One trigger pull, one shot.)

Assault Weapon

This is some made up bullsh*t. Any weapon, gun, knife, hammer or anything else for that matter, is an assault weapon if it’s been used in an assault.

Assault Rifle

The term Assault Rifle originated in World War II because Hitler’s Sturmgewehr loosely translates to “Storm Rifle” or “Assault Rifle.” Basically, any rifle that follows the original capability of the Sturmgewehr would fall into the category of Assault Rifle. The original capability of the Sturmgewehr is selective between semi-automatic, and automatic fire. That does not mean that it is a good term to use as it is still broad and overreaching.


One of many weapons manufacturers. Not every pistol is a Glock.

Machine Gun

A firearm capable of sustained, automatic fire at 300 rounds per minute. Usually mounted on a tripod or vehicle. Good examples of such weapons are the IWI Negev, or M2 Browning. Not available to the public.


Not a “clip.” Load it with cartridges and insert it into a weapon.

High Capacity Magazine

This is more bullsh*t. There is no standard for what constitutes “High Capacity.” The temporary Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1993 ban limited a magazine size to 10 rounds, but there is no current standard. In fact, the gun industry is to blame for coining this term. Bill Ruger first proposed a ban to Congress on what he called “high capacity magazines.” It was most likely a sly business move to punish competition such as Glock for selling guns with larger magazines.


Not bullets. Bullets are what come out of a cartridge. A cartridge is made up of a casing, primer, gunpowder, and bullet.


Cartridges come in all shapes and sizes. The ones most commonly used in AR-15’s are 5.56/.223, which is a round designed for varmint hunting. The most popular round in the United States is a .22LR (long rifle) round. It is used mostly for target practice, competition pistol shooting, and squirrel hunting.

Bump Stock

A stock you can attach to an AR-15 that simulates automatic firing. It uses the natural recoil of a firearm to help the user repeatedly pull the trigger.


Not silencers. Designed to reduce noise and protect hearing. There is a huge misconception on the amount of noise that suppressors make. They aren’t completely silent like the movies portray them. In fact, they only lessen the explosive blast of noise by about 30 decibels. Here’s a good video on what suppressors are really like.

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About Alec Sears

Wright State University

Alec is the Vice President of Lone Conservative and a political consultant. His first experience as a conservative was helping his dad put up a spotlight and string Christmas lights around a Bush-Cheney yard sign to outdo his neighbor’s two Kerry-Edwards signs. Ever since then, Alec has been a devout conservative, the easy choice to go with his Protestant faith.

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