5 Commonly Misused Gun Terms | Gunpowder Girls

5 Commonly Misused Gun Terms

Precision vs Accuracy

Think precision and accuracy are the same? Think again. While many shooters use them interchangeably to describe their ability to hit a target, there's a big difference between the two. Precision refers to a shooter's ability to group his or her shots together, whereas accuracy refers to a shooter's ability to hit a specific area of the target. In order for precision to be calculated, multiple shots must be fired. This is in stark contrast to accuracy, which only requires a single shot to be fired.

Assault Weapon vs Assault Rifle

Many inexperienced shooters (and even some seasoned shooters for that matter) are guilty of misusing the terms “assault weapon” and “assault rifle.” An assault rifle lives up to its namesake of being a high-powered rifle with military purposes. An assault weapon is classified as any semi-automatic firearm that possesses certain military-style features. The 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban defined assault weapons as possessing two or more of the following:

  • Folding or telescopic stock
  • Pistol grip that protrudes beneath the action
  • A bayonet
  • Flash suppressor
  • Grenade launcher.

Magazine vs Clips

I think we've all been guilty of referring to magazines as clips and vise-verse. So, what's the difference between them? Magazines are the rectangular-shaped items that hold the rounds in place, preparing them to be fed into the gun's chamber. Some magazines are removable, whereas others are built directly into the firearm. A clip describes cartridges held together with a strip until they are loaded into a magazine. Some magazines retain the clip until the rounds are expended and then eject the empty clip. Others only use the clip to load the magazine without retaining the clip inside.

Handgun vs Pistol

What's the difference between a handgun and a pistol? This is somewhat of a gray area; however, the term “pistol” is typically used to describe a semi-automatic handgun or revolver, whereas the term “handgun” refers to any type of hand-held firearm. The National Rifle Association's Firearms Sourcebook says a pistol is a “generic term for a hand-held firearm.” It goes on to say that most instances in which the term pistol is used refers to single-shot, revolver and semi-automatic firearms. Ultimately, though, the terminology of handgun vs pistol is a personal decision.

Cartridge vs Bullet

Last but not least, cartridge and bullet are among the most commonly misused gun terms. A cartridge is the entire system of which a bullet is comprised, including the primer, case, bullet and propellant. A bullet is nothing more than the projectile, usually being a small piece of lead, steel, aluminum, or other metal. When you discharge a firearm, the bullet is shot out the barrel while the spent cartridge is ejected.

After reading this, you should have a better understanding of the different gun terms and their respective meanings. Of course, there are plenty of other gun terms that are commonly misused, so check back with us for more tips and info!


* Image used by creative commons license, credited to Tom Hynds.

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