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Learning the Lingo: Essential Terms Every Gun Owner Should Know

Gun slang and Industry terms

Below, in no particular order are common slang and/or industry terms used in gun stores and ranges every day. Use this list as a helpful guide to shopping for guns or learning about firearms.


"We made sure to buy enough ammo to last the whole day at the range." Cartridges, specifically the projectiles that the firearm shoots. See Bullet/round/shell


“Do you have ears and eyes?” Sometimes referred to as “ear pro” and/or “eye pro” all terms for hearing protection and protective glasses.



“Did you take the clip out?” Refers to detachable box magazines. The magazine stores the ammunition (cartridges, bullets, rounds, etc...) Technically clip is an antiquated term that refers to stripper clips used in world war 2 era firearms.


“How many bullets fit in the clip?” Typically refers to cartridges, as a bullet is only one component of a cartridge, the others being casing, primer and powder.


“He upgraded to some nice furniture on his rifle” Refers to the aesthetic and ergonomic customizable components of a firearm, such as the grips or fore end.


“Once we get your glass put on, you will be able to really test out your rifle.” A traditional scope, generally one with magnification features.


“She shot a very tight grouping.” A series of shots and their proximity to one another.


“I prefer DA only, for safety purposes” the action of the pistol. Double action only, singles action only or double and single action.


“My handgun is locked out of battery!” Where the slide is in relation to the chamber. For instance slide locked back, action open means the gun is out of battery.


“We were all impressed with how quickly he zeroed his glass.” To coordinate and match up the reticle of your scope with where your gun shoots.


“I want a beam on my gun to help me shoot!” Generally refers to a projecting laser sight. Not to be confused with “red dot” or “rmr” which do not project.


“I carry my gun with a loaded chamber.” The part of the firearm that houses the “loaded” cartridge.


“You need to rack your slide to load your weapon” pulling back the slide to chamber and load or unload a firearm.


 “Your slide is out of battery” the part of an automatic pistol that houses the barrel and spring and guide rod.


“The magazine release is on the frame of the gun.” The lower receiver of a handgun, typically the part of the gun that is legally considered a hand gun and is serial numbered.

Open carry 

“In Arizona open carry is pretty common.” Wearing a gun on your person exposed and in the open, visible to anyone that can see you.

Concealed carry 

“You need to take a class to get a conceal carry license in most states.” Carrying a firearm on your person underneath your clothing so that it is not visible.


“I only shoot in minor classes when I compete.” Competition shooting term that refers to projectiles (bullets) smaller than .40 caliber.


“The grading for shooters that use major are much more lax.” Competition shooting term that refers to projectiles (bullets) larger than .40 caliber.


“I tuned my pistol for match shooting.” Specifically can refer to customizing the trigger springs of the pistol for speed. Generally can refer to overall customization of a firearm for any reason I.e. tuning a rifle for hunting, or defense.


“I chose the match variation of the rifle.” Refers to a firearm specifically tuned or configured for competition.


“He shouldered the rifle to get a feel for the optic and furniture.” To level the sights or optic of a long gun at eye level while simultaneously pushing the buttstock into your shoulder.


“In our family, Sundays are for plinking.” Recreational shooting, usually with small calibers.


This list is meant to help limit confusion amongst shooters and potential gun owners. Not as a technical guide but more as a welcome list for anyone new to gun ownership or the shooting sports. We hope you find it helpful.