|Glossary of Terminology:
Forensic ballistics refers to the following five fields:
Automatic firearms: A firearm design that feeds cartridges, fires, extracts and ejects cartridge cases as long as the trigger is fully depressed and there are cartridges in the feed system. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
Barrel: That part of a firearm through which a projectile or shot charge travels under the impetus of powder gasses, compressed air, or other like means. May be rifled or smooth. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
Blueing: The typical blue-black finishing applied to ferrous metals of most firearms. This is a treatment which oxidizes an extremely thin layer of metal.
Bolt action: A firearm in which the breech closure (1) is in line with the bore at all times, (2) manually reciprocates to load, unload and cock, (3) is locked in place by breech bolt lugs and engaging abutments usually in the receiver. There are two principal types of bolt actions: the turn bolt and the straight pull. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
Calibre: A value indicating the approximate diameter of a missile and which is included in the name of the cardtridge.
Centre fire systems: Type of cartridge that can be identified by the primer cap located in the centre of the cartridge head.
Cocking: To place a firing mechanism under spring tension. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
Ejection: The act of expelling a cartridge case from a firearm. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
Extraction: The act of withdrawing a cartridge or cartridge case from the chamber of a firearm. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
Flintlock: A firearm ignition system where the flintlock provided a hammer or cork in whose jaws was clamped a shaped piece of flint. The spring-powered movement of the hammer striking the flint against an upright steel frizzen showered sparks into the priming powder whose flash ignites the main charge.
Firing pin: The part of the mechanism which strikes the primer to fire the cartridge. (BJ Heard, 1997).
Firing: To shoot or discharge a firearm. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
Gun coating: See blueing.
Hand cannons: The earliest form of small firearms, consisting simply of an iron (bronze or copper) tube closed at one end and fitted to a pole similar to a spike pole.
Heavy machine gun: A heavy machine gun refers to either a larger-calibre, high-power machine gun or one of the smaller, medium-calibre (rifle calibre) machine guns meant for prolonged firing from heavy mounts, less mobile, or static positions (or some combination of the two).
Locking: A general term referring to the total firing mechanism of a firearm. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
The action, either manual or automatic, of locking or supporting the bolt of a firearm immediately prior to firing. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
Machine guns: A machine gun is a fully-automatic mounted or portable firearm, usually designed to fire rifle cartridges in quick succession from an ammunition belt or large-capacity magazine, typically at a rate of several hundred bullets per minute.
Matchlock: The first mechanical system for firing a gun. A matchlock consists of a trigger - a simple lever system - connected to a hammer - like "serpentine" which holds a burning slow-match.
Needle gun: An early breech-loading rifle that used a long, slender needle-like firing pin to penetrate completely through a black-powder propelling charge and detonate a primer seated against the base of the bullet.
Percussion system: A means of ignition of a propellant charge by mechanical blow against the primer or percussion cap (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
Pistols: A handgun in which the chamber is part of the barrel. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
Proofmarks: A stamp applied to a firearm after it has passed a proof test. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
Pump action: An action which features a movable forearm which is manually actuated in motion parallel to the barrel by the shooter. Forearm motion is transmitted to a breech bolt assembly which performs all the functions of the firing cycle assigned to it by the design. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
Revolver: A firearm, usually a handgun, with a cylinder having several chambers so arranged as to rotate around an axis and be discharged successively by the same firing mechanism. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
Rifles: A firearm having rifling in the bore and designed to be fired from the shoulder. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
Rifle frames: The basic unit of a firearm which houses the firing and breech mechanism and to which the barrel and stock are assembled.
Rifling: A series of spiral grooves cut into the inside of the bore of the barrel to impart a spin to the bullet through its longitudinal axis. (BJ Heard, 1997).
Rim fire systems: A flange-headed cartridge with the priming composition in the hollow rim.
Selective firing firearms: Firearms with a lever or devise which enables the shooter to choose the type of fire - full automatic or semiautomatic, high or low rate of automatic fire.
Semi-automatic firearms: A repeating firearm requiring a separate pull of the trigger for each shot fired, and which uses the energy of discharge to perform a portion of the operating or firing cycle (usually the loading portion).
Shotguns: A smooth bore shoulder firearm designed to fire shotshells containing numerous pellets or sometimes a single projectile. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
Shoulder weapons: The act of placing a shotgun or a rifle to a shooter's shoulder to align the sights and fire at a target. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
Sights: Any of a variety of devices, mechanical or optical, designed to assist in aiming a firearm.
Single shot handguns: A handgun in which the breech closure manually, reciprocates to load, unload and cock.
Single shot rifle: A rifle in which the breech closure manually reciprocates to load, unload and cock.
Standard functioning cycle: A firearm cycle designed to feed cartridges, fires, extracts and ejects cartridge cases as long as the trigger is depressed for each shot and there are cartridges in the feed system.
Sub-machine guns: Submachine gun: A lightweight automatic weapon to use pistol ammunition and to be fired with two hands.
Unlocking: Manual or mechanical unlocking of the breech bolt lugs or locking mechanisms usually engaging abutments in the receiver or frame.
Volley firing firearms: Volley gun is a gun with several barrels for firing a number of shots simultaneously. Some volley guns could also fire their barrels in sequence. They differ from traditional machine guns in that they lack automatic loading and automatic fire and are limited by the number of barrels bundled together.
Wheellock: Wheellock, wheel-lock or wheel lock, is a mechanism for firing a firearm. It was the next major development in firearms technology after the matchlock and the first self-igniting firearm. The mechanism is so-called because it uses a rotating steel wheel to provide ignition. Developed around 1500 AD, it was used alongside the matchlock and was later superseded by the snaphance (1560s) and the flintlock (c. 1600).
List of Abbreviations:
AFTE: Association of Firearm and Tool mark Examiners.