Terminology 101: Yes, it Does Matter (Even When You Comment)

Let’s talk about the importance of words, a little terminology 101. After all, you never know when you might learn something new – or find something worth passing on to a newbie (or even if it isn’t exactly new, it might serve as a gentle reminder of its value). And if you love guns like I do (passionately, ridiculously, and possibly obsessively), you’ll probably be nodding your head in agreement as you go, even as you roll your eyes. Yes, we love guns, so please, let’s get a few things straight.

It’s Not a Clip!

The old clip-versus-magazine discussion. In the world of journalism, there’s a joke about learning gun terminology to ensure the greatest possible accuracy in writing: it’s a clip. It’s a clip, it’s a clip, it’s a clip. The “it’s a clip” comment is often made by many who know better. For example, a friend going through the police academy grew frustrated listening to an instructor give a speech where he yelled, “You put it in your gun; you don’t read it, so it isn’t a magazine!”

What’s the difference? I’m so glad you asked (or are being forced at gun point to read this…whichever…).

There’s a simple explanation: the magazine feeds the weapon, and the clip feeds the magazine. Magazines hold rounds using a spring for pressure and are loaded into the gun so rounds can be fed into the gun’s chamber. Just to confuse matters, there are several kinds of magazines, including tubular, box, drum, and rotary. To further confuse things, some magazines are removable, and some are fixed.

A clip doesn’t have a spring. It holds rounds in a neat row so you can charge that particular gun’s magazine. In addition, there are stripper clips which speed things up by helping strip rounds into a magazine. The M1 Garand is frequently used as an example of clips being fed into the magazine; when all the rounds have been fired, the clip is ejected.

Faster Than a Speeding…

“Bullet” just might be the most misused word in the industry  – and in the gun control world, too. In fact, a large gun control group released an ad admonishing gun owners for their possession of evil firearms, claiming guns take away children. In the ad is a gun supposedly being fired, complete with a blurred-motion…cartridge. Apparently if you really want to stop someone you use the entire round. It could even be a new ad campaign: “When just a bullet won’t do.”

A bullet is the projectile that exits the barrel of a gun. It isn’t an entire cartridge. The cartridge, or round, is what you see tucked in neat rows in a new box of ammo. Bullets are the part that does the damage. Of course, without the other components, the bullet won’t get far. The term “cartridge” refers to the finished product, as does “round,” and includes the: case, primer, propellant, and projectile (yes, that’s the bullet). So, members of anti-gun campaigns and certain others, kindly stop referring to a round as a bullet.


How Big Is It?

A brief word on caliber. The caliber of the bullet – yes, back to bullets once again – refers to its size. Caliber refers to the diameter of the bullet and is expressed numerically by millimeters or hundredths of an inch. We’ll avoid a riot by not starting a caliber debate today.

Accurate? Or Precise? Exactly…

Accuracy vs PrecisionThis one is frequently misused: accuracy versus precision. There’s a tendency to use these terms interchangeably, but they aren’t. Accuracy refers to how consistently you’re able to hit a particular target. Precision refers to how tight your groups are.

The source of this example might surprise you, but it’s too good to pass up. NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) put out an article on this very topic: “Accuracy vs. Precision.” They used a rifleman firing four, four-shot groups, with results as follows:

* The first time the shots are a mess, scattered all over the target. Neither precise nor accurate.

  • Next time the shooter manages a tight four-shot group, but it’s in the far corner of the target. Precise, because all four shots are tightly grouped, but not accurate – they’re off-target.
  • Now all four shots are near the target’s center, but in a wide group. That’s accurate, because the shots are near the intended target, but not precise: it’s a wide group.
  • Finally, he gets a tight four-shop group right on the bullseye. Now it’s accurate; it’s dead center. It’s also precise because it’s a nice, tight group.


Yes there’s more where these came from, but let’s leave it at this for now. Suffice to say words do matter when you’re talking about guns – even when you’re making comments. Some say it’s being picky to insist on proper use of terminology, but would you call a cat a dog? They’re both animals, right, so does it really matter? I could go on, but I think you get the idea. When it comes to terminology, at least take a shot at using the right words. Remember, words hurt – at least they hurt those of us who are terminology Nazis (think of us like grammar Nazis, only with dictionaries instead of style guides).

TFB Staffer

TFB Staff, bringing you the latest gun news from around the world for a decade.


  • Phil Hsueh

    What about shoulder things that go up?

    • Twilight sparkle

      You mean the barrel shroud?

    • PK


      • politicsbyothermeans

        Dianne Feinstein gets scarier looking every year.

        • jay

          I thought it was pelosi.

          • politicsbyothermeans

            The jokes… they write themselves, no?

          • Patrick Selfridge

            I thought that was Hillary on her best day.

          • Christopher89

            Now that’s just mean The Predators are a proud and noble race of hunters. To slander them with such a terrible comparison is completely uncalled for.

          • Joel WS

            I see what you did there.

          • John1943

            The “shoulder thing that goes up” is Carolyn McCarthy.

        • Joel WS

          Fitting comment for a known CC-er who is anti-2nd for everyone else!

          • rick0857

            I think by calling McCarthy a CC’er you might really be referring to Cynthia McKinney. She’s the one who got busted for carrying a concealed pistol into the capitol building.

          • Joel WS

            I was referring to Dianne Feinstein and her history of personal hypocrisy.

          • rick0857

            Ahh, I’ve never heard of Fein-Swine referred to as a McCarthy…that must be where I got confused, although the two are nor were they EVER ALIKE!

      • Joe Shipley


  • Don Ward

    Oh boy. Now I can be pedantic about things that don’t really matter and pass myself off as a gun expert. Will we learn in the next installment about not posing for a picture with your finger on the trigger. I hope so.

    • Twilight sparkle

      Hey now I know of at least one expert that did that

      • Travis

        Maybe he was shooting a rabbit, and o’l John had really good peripheral vision???

        • iksnilol

          More likely he was executing a no good, doggone idea thief.

          • Travis

            I bet you’re right!

          • iksnilol

            Just look at those eyes. Those are the eyes of a tired man who was pulled the trigger, sprayed the blood on his face and disposed of a body so many times he simply does not even react to the muzzle flash or deafening boom of the shotgun.

            He’s done this so often, that it”s like peeling an apple or breathing.

          • Twilight sparkle

            Did you know he could also shoot them out of airplanes and through walls?

          • mazkact

            Much like the “Duke” John Wayne, JMB can do no wrong.

    • billyoblivion

      A FOAF was SAS back in the 1970s and 80s (Ireland, Falklands Island) etc.

      He was trained to keep his finger INSIDE the trigger guard and consciously pressing to the front of the guard.

      Not recommending it, just saying that different times and places have their own ways of doing things.

      • jay

        The secret service supposedly are trained to place their finger on the trigger when pulling the pistol. I know it’s true, I saw it in a movie.

        • billyoblivion

          This wasn’t the case of “I heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend who heard it”. It was a case of “I read the guy’s writing and know he was who he said he was because he’d worked with a friend of mine and we had several other contacts in common”.

          • jay

            Actually in the early part of the 20th century, that was the standard safety, at ready move. Like in the pictures of M. Browning, above. I read it somewhere else, unfortunately I don’t remember where. This type of finger setting requires a lot more trigger control and awareness, though. So today, it’s the trigger finger above the trigger and guard. BTW, I was being sarcastic, and trying to be funny. Sorry I failed. ;-}

          • Joel WS

            I got it right away. I love subtle humor.

          • billyoblivion

            No problem–it came across as snide, but you did have a point, what one hears from “friends” about other folks is suspect.

            Heck, what you hear directly from some folks is suspect.

        • Joel WS

          Is that the one where a six round revolver fired 11 times without reloading?

    • Pete M


      Don, you need more joy in your life. A hug perhaps? Find the nearest human or animal and lick in an embrace.

      • Swarf

        Last time I tried to lick in an embrace I ended up in county.

        • Pete M

          Ha. Talk about a vocabulary mixup!

    • Joel WS

      Well, if it’s an action shot, you could. Obama did it, but look how that turned out. Never mind.

  • It’s not to get huffy and puffy; but words matter. So learning the correct terminology makes you informed – and correct. Thanks for the article TFB!

    • Joel WS

      Precise and accurate.

    • WRBuchanan

      The root of all evil since the beginning of time has been the misunderstood word.
      Every conflict is a result of someone not understanding what the other guy said.
      Talks break down, and war ensues.
      If you think about how many times you have had someone take exception to something that you meant no harm by, this concept sells itself.
      I would suggest everyone get out the Dictionary and look up the words “Regulated and Militia as they applies to the 2nd A. There is more than one meaning and the vast majority think that “Regulated” means controlled with rules.
      Definition #2 is the correct context.
      It actually means accurately “Sighted In” and/or “Trained,” Derived from Naval Gunnery terminology.
      A militia is defined as “All Able Bodied Men,” not a bunch of Right Wing Nutcases with guns. And by extension, in todays context of Females in the military it could be extended to mean all able bodied People period!
      Half of the current Supreme Court Justices do not know this.
      And by not knowing this they foment conflict.

      • rick0857

        I have to take issue with just one of your statements, to wit:
        “Talks break down, war ensues, and somebody gets their ass kicked.”

        While the statement itself is essentially true, one should also include the modifier “unless we have a democrat in the White House” to make the statement both “accurate and precise.”

  • Brocus

    Assault Rifle is my trigger word.

  • LG

    “The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms.” – Plato

    • DaveGinOly

      This is why Obama can’t bring himself to use terms like “Muslim terrorist” and “radical Muslims.” To define a problem is the first step in solving it, and he has no interest in solving our problem with “radical Muslims.”

    • Steve

      How true. It seems that these discussions are always carried out by two distinct groups. First, those that take pride in using the correct terminology. Then, there is the second group that by their own admission, do not wish to use the correct terminology, as it is not important and further are offended by the educated first group.

  • Big Daddy

    The first step to learning skills is to learn the proper words for things. This makes exchange information easier. By knowing the proper words it makes it easier to learn the next step in this process. This is a normal process for any subject. Lets take football for instance, you have to know what the positions are to learn what a play is. They call the guy who throws the ball and runs the offense a quarterback, the guy who runs the ball a running back. Using the wrong terminology impedes the process of learning. Knowing the proper words, terminology and nomenclature is the first step to improving you knowledge of a subject. To ignore it or dismiss it is ignorant.

    • Iggy

      What on earth are you on about? In football the guy who can throw the ball is the goalkeeper, the ones in front of him are the defenders and in front of them are mid-fielders, then up front are the strikers. : P

      • Tassiebush

        Nobody throws the ball in football! You can only kick or handball it!

        • ostiariusalpha

          Any game where you have to punch the ball is obviously the most legitimate version of football.

          • Tassiebush

            Absolutely only punching and kicking allowed and no protective gear other than maybe mouth guards and none of this excited jumping on each other for a cuddle like in soccer. The punching of other players used to be an acceptable part of the game too albeit this has fallen out of favour. My wife’s late grandmother watched the game for that part.

          • Evan

            I had some Australian soldiers attempt to explain AFL to me once. I was at a loss. I like rugby though.

          • Tassiebush

            Haha I can’t blame you. I’m really just doing my duty extolling the virtues of AFL because I live in an AFL state. (I’m secretly a football code agnostic)

          • Tassiebush

            The punch ups are sadly missed https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DFQwJIJcXJY

      • durabo

        And American Football is the bastard offspring of Rugby Football.

    • Bugaboo

      BD, you are absolutely right. Anyone involved with boating will agree on the importance of using the correct terminology. ‘Cleat the mainsheet’ is clear. ‘Wrap that rope around that metal thing’ could mean anything, and could quickly lead to a dangerous or expensive situation.

      With firearms, you are dealing with a unique vocabulary, not generally used anywhere else in daily life.

      Learn the terminology – help others learn as well. Most people don’t like being ignorant. I did say, ‘most’. 🙂

      • Big Daddy

        Agree 100% Bugaboo, boating anything really, how about building a house, hey bring me one of them things that hits the nails.

        What is typical internet is how my post turned into something about football.

        • robnob

          Yep, I think it’s one of Murphy’s Laws: Of any discussion string containing x responses, there will be y% ADD responses.

          • Big Daddy

            Cool lets talk about ADD now and poor grammar and spelling…LOL.

  • sean

    So the barrel shroud that pops up on the Predator’s shoulder, does that take clips or mags?

    • PK

      Neither, the Yautja’s plasmacaster (or shoulder cannon, or plasma cannon, or laser cannon, but plasmacaster is the most common) is a directed energy weapon and seems to run on batteries/capacitors, not physical cartridges.


      • jamezb

        It’s nuke-ular.

        (see what I did there?)

  • Julio

    Naming of Parts (1942)
    Henry Reed

    Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
    We had daily cleaning. And tomorrow morning,
    We shall have what to do after firing. But to-day,
    Today we have naming of parts. Japonica
    Glistens like coral in all of the neighbouring gardens,
    And today we have naming of parts.

    I just couldn’t resist Katie’s click-bait. [The shame of it!]

    • Paul White

      And please do not let me see anyone using their finger.

  • AMX

    OK, I just *have* to throw some more confusion out there:
    There are clips that have a spring (it’s a flat spring putting pressure on the cartridges to keep them from sliding out by themselves).
    Some magazines do not have a spring (they are mechanically operated).
    En-block clips were originally called “magazines” (the distinction between clip and magazine didn’t exist until stripper clips were invented a couple of years later).

    • jamezb

      To make matters worse, the Garands en-block IS a spring – kinda.. :p

      • Twilight sparkle

        Stripper clips actually have a flat leaf spring

        If you look up the definition for magazine it actually includes a place where arms, amunition, and explosives are stored, so technically since clips store ammunition they’re also magazines

        • Don Ward

          Those stripper clips are just trying to make some extra money to pay their way through college!

    • Tinklebell

      Must…..resist…..cannot…..aaaarrrrrgghhhh……en bloc*

  • Chris

    No less an authority than Jeff Cooper referred to a magazine as a clip from time to time. So, when you’re finished genuflecting, get over the clip/magazine thing. And no less an authority than this blog refers to “.45ACP.” So if caliber is hundredths of an inch, that’s one tiny bullet/cartridge/thingy you’re referring to.

    • Cymond

      … I thought calibers in the Imperial system were supposed to start with a .
      It’s roughly 0.45 of an inch, so it makes sense to write .45ACP, that’s what is considered technically proper. I’m lazy so I usually drop the period when writing.

      Now don’t get me started on “40mm Glock” pistols.

      • Evan

        Or the .9mm pistols either.

  • Sasquatch

    I am fairly laid back until some one says “it came with two clips and a scaber”. This sends me into a frenzy that I have to control. Then I politely say “you mean two magazines and a holster.”

    • Phil Hsueh

      What’s a scaber?

      • Sasquatch

        Had a brain fart check it now.

        • Phil Hsueh

          That makes much more sense now. But don’t worry, everybody has a brain fart moment every now and again.

  • Michael Blair

    Oh god yes.
    Pont blank (I am still not sure I have ever heard a satisfactory definition for this one), shrapnel, the terms people get wrong are almost endless.

    • Twilight sparkle

      Point blank: when you don’t have to compensate your elevation to hit your intended target.
      Shrapnel: high velocity debris created by explosions and/or impacts
      I didn’t look at a dictionary though I should be pretty accurate; but maybe not precise… those terms aren’t improper but it’s easy to use them in an improper manner.

      • Tassiebush

        Haha you have fallen into the tar pit of shrapnell. Sorry I think you’re talking about shell splinters, grenade or bullet fragments etc. The actual pedantic use of the term is to limit it only to the balls from shrapnel shells. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrapnel_shell
        It has subsequently been misused so grievously that even some dictionaries get it wrong! The horror!

        • Twilight sparkle

          Dang I knew that too… That’s what I get for not fact checking myself.

          Since shrapnel shells have become obsolete. It can either remain in its place being used synonymously with fragmentation or it can die out.

          • Tassiebush

            Yeah it’d be forgotten if not for incorrect usage and arguably language changes over time and becomes legitimate

          • ostiariusalpha

            Shrapnel needs to make a come back!

          • mikee

            Its called splintex!

          • Tassiebush

            It could be like a claymore mine you shoot at a distant target from something like a Carl Gustav

        • ozzallos .

          “You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well known is this: never to mistake shrapnell for shrapnel!”

          • Tassiebush

            Haha well done sir! Oh dear I have shown my deficiencies whilst trying to display superiority!

        • Steve

          That is correct. Sort of like the historic definition of the word “decimate,” and how it has evolved into its more common, possibly inaccurate, usage.

      • Klaus Von Schmitto

        I think that “point blank” is a little more involved. My understanding is that point blank range is the range that the bullet’s arc is never more than 3 inches high or 3 inches low from LOS. For instance, my 300 Weatherby is 2.1″ high at 100 yards, 2.7 high at 200, and doesn’t drop to 3″ low until it’s 365 yards out. My PBR is then 365 yards.

        • Twilight sparkle

          Any numbers added to a point blank definition are arbitrary, the height of your target and the ballistics of your firearm determine what point blank range is for you.

          • Klaus Von Schmitto

            I thought I was pretty specific about the ballistics of a particular firearm. I was trying to correct you or anything, I agree with your original statement in fact. With that 300 Wby with the load I know follows that path, I can put the scope on a deer’s shoulder and as long as it’s within 365 yards, I’m going to hit it within 3 inches of the crosshair. Pretty much like you said “without compensating for elevation”. Chuckhawks has a pretty good page devoted to point blank ranges.

          • Twilight sparkle

            That’s a fairly good number to use for a hunting point blank range, but point blank range for a military usually includes all of the human torso so that’s significantly larger when compared to just trying to get a humane shot on an animal.

          • Klaus Von Schmitto

            Point taken. My point of reference is rarely shooting at people though.

  • Sarig

    “A brief word on caliber. The caliber of the bullet – yes, back to bullets once again – refers to its size. Caliber refers to the diameter of the bullet and is expressed numerically by millimeters or hundredths of an inch. We’ll avoid a riot by not starting a caliber debate today.”

    What about just a tiny riot?

    The caliber does not always refer to the diameter of the bullet, it can also refer to the distances between the rifling. Case in point, 308 and 30-06. The projectile is the same, but .308 (7.92) is the diameter of the projectile, whereas .30 (7.62) is the distances between the rifling.

    • Paladin

      Which can be further complicated by whether the measurement is between the lands or the grooves. And in some cases, (such as the 380ACP and 38 Special) rounds were actually named for the diameter of the case rather than that of the projectile.

    • William Johnson

      In Texas a “riot” is 7 or more people, so I guess it depends on your definition of “tiny”.

      • Joel WS

        If they are all mutes, could they be termed Quiet Riot? (I know, I need therapy.)

    • Klaus Von Schmitto

      And in naval rifles it notes the length of the barrel.

  • John

    By now I am sure that MOST the news media members know the difference between a magazine and a clip, but they just choose to use the incorrect terms. I’m sure the reason behind their purposeful misuse of terminology is nefarious I just can’t figure out why….

    • Klaus Von Schmitto

      It goes against their purpose to introduce any facts or correct information into their firearms related “reporting”.

    • Simcha M.


      I think you are giving the media WAY too much credit. Not only do they not know the difference between a clip and a magazine, they could truly not give a fast, flying f*ck.

    • jay

      To ban everything. If nothing has a concrete definition, then anything can be obfuscated. Which in the end will assist in banning it all.

  • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

    Can we please, finally, for once, shut down the term “military grade” ???

    • Pete M

      But how will I know what weaponry to buy?

    • bee O bee

      One that drives me nuts is “….aircraft grade aluminum.” Why not call it what it is, “….beer can grade aluminum.”?

      • ostiariusalpha

        You know, I’m not aware of any airplanes or firearms that use 3000 or 5000 series aluminum grades.

        • Klaus Von Schmitto

          The you never saw a Cesna Citation being made.

    • Mazryonh

      What’s your problem with it? Something like a hand grenade or a 40mm grenade launcher would be considered “military grade.”

  • El Duderino

    “muzzle break”

    • Major Tom


      • CissyScum

        Loaded with ammunition specifically designed by George Zimmerman to murder kindergartners.

    • Tritro29

      Assault Rifle!

      • Alex Agius

        Except “assault rifle” is a real term its “assault weapon” that you’re looking for.

        • Tritro29

          Yes, I know that, they don’t. Ever seen Uzis labelled assault rifles? Well I even have seen them labelled AK47.

          • Anon. E Maus

            I’ve seen Rosie O’Donnell call a Tec-9 pistol an “assault rifle”.
            Wrap your head around that one.

          • Budogunner

            To her, a spork is an assault spoon. Curious she never tried banning those.

          • nicholsda

            She should have sued them for making her fat.

          • jay

            My head don’t wrap that wide.

          • Mike Lashewitz

            The only thing I care to see wrapped around Rosie is concrete ballast.

  • Cymond

    It’s a little ironic, considering the number of typos, misspelled, and misused words on TFB. Steve Johnson himself frequently writes “duel” when he really means “dual”.

    And I’m bad about some of it. I usually say “suppressor” but use “cans” in running conversations. I know it’s “receiver extension tube” but I use the colloquial “buffer tube”.

    I’m divided on language. On one hand, words have clear meanings, and it is important to use the right words. On the other hand, the purpose of language is to communicate, and language evolves, so pedantic definitions are irrelevant as long as you’re understood.

    • Pete M

      I use “cans” all the time. Yes it’s slang, but it gets old writing (and reading) the word suppressor over and over.

  • Salty

    Good call lg. Always easier to convince folks when you quote smart or respected folks

  • Squirreltakular

    I have to say something about the accuracy/precision one: it seems like you’re referring to the shooter and the weapon at the same time in that context. A weapon can be accurate or precise on its own, mechanically, but the accuracy or precision of the shooter is different from that. At least in today’s language, both terms are synonyms.

    • ostiariusalpha

      They’ve been used as synonyms in a non-technical sense long before “today’s language,” though they’ve never actually been synonyms in any technical field of science or engineering. Accuracy has always been about the reduction of observation errors, and precision is the reduction of random errors. Unless your rifle is some version of an TrackingPoint or a self-aiming sentry gun, it can’t do any observation for itself, and therefore accuracy is not a relevant term to use on most firearms. Both the rifle and shooter though are subject to errors from randomness; rifles get a variety of harmonic interferences, and shooters drink too much coffee, get nervous/excited/tired, flinch, or might be in a less stable shooting posture.

      • Squirreltakular

        Now this is the response I wish I’d known enough to make. Thank you.

  • ozzallos .

    So this is one of those “somebody on the internet is wrong, dammit” stories?

  • Bob

    *Ahem* I believe technically a clip is like that of the Garand, which stays in the gun, and so called stripper clips are actually chargers, which are discarded after loading.

  • adverse4

    If I own it I call it whatever I damn well please.

  • Justin Roney

    Words matter. In order to communicate technical information in an unambiguous manner, you must use the correct words. If you don’t, through laziness or slang or improper usage, you risk the message being interpreted incorrectly. The fields of aviation, law, and engineering all have many examples of problems caused by improper or ambiguous wording. The people complaining about others wanting to use precise verbiage are usually the ones that got D’s in English class, IMHO.

    • durabo

      “Cover me!” means something different to an infantryman and a police officer.

      • MichaelZWilliamson

        And an animal handler. And the animal.

  • Seriously?!

    Great article! I’m glad these things are like fingernails on a chalkboard to someone besides me. While we’re on the subject, let’s talk about what it’s called when you can use something with either hand. The word is ambidextrous. The word is NOT “ambidextrious”. There is only one “i” in this word. Don’t even get me started on “periphial vision”…

    • Evan


    • jeezlouise@yahoogle.co.uk

      grow up pal. just because lots of people are morons, doesn’t make you all mister smarty pants.

      • Seriously?!

        Well, I never claimed to be a smarty pants. And maybe my lighthearted tone didn’t come through in my comment. However, being able to spell and pronounce words in your native language should be considered a pretty basic requirement for any adult. Maybe the reason lots of people are morons is because so few people even bother to actually learn to speak properly anymore or place any value on it. The biggest problem with that in regards to the firearms community is that the people who are working night and day to erode the rights of firearms owners jump at the chance to make us look and sound like uneducated idiots who aren’t smart enough to be trusted with firearms. Why would you want to give them that ammunition (pardon the pun), especially when it’s not true? If you think it’s important to protect your right to own firearms, then it’s important to be able to talk about them correctly. As soon as your mistakes can be pointed out, you lose all credibility. And, frankly, that’s not something we can afford right now.

        I’m the first to admit that I have a lot to learn about many subjects. But, with proper communication skills it’s much easier for me to achieve my goal of becoming a bona-fide smarty pants.

  • Tassiebush

    Well my wife is a bit of a nerd and she does complete me so I suppose that statement is true for me but who would know if that is accurate for everyone commenting here?

  • Jerry Sullivan

    A couple of my favorite sayings… “If you do not know what you’re talking about, STFU”…”If you intend to quote passages from a book as being knowledge, STFU”… “If you haven’t been there (an old Vietnam Era saying) STFU”. Always good advice.

  • Pete Sheppard


  • Cope

    In the Marine Corps, we even referred to loaded mags as sammiches, and they damn sure aren’t food now are they? Clip on, ya’ll!

  • Nashvone

    Improper usage is a great indicator of someone’s lack of firearm expertise.

  • Paladin

    Correct terminology is important for communication. Clips and magazines are two distinct things. Referring to one by the name of the other only serves to confuse. If I were to say that a particular firearm is loaded with a clip, that wouldn’t tell you much unless you understood the difference between a clip and a magazine.

    • moderator@please.com


      Words are what we make of them. They have no objective meaning.

      You are being pedantic, because it makes you feel superior. Lighten up, and let the language — and the culture — breath a little. The stifling odor of self-importance scares aware normal people. Which is bad for America.

      What’s next, you are going to tell some kids how to differentiate between an epee and a rapier when they’re having a pillow fight? Get. Over. Yourself. Go take a Mensa exam maybe, and congratulate yourself for being so awesome? While the Real Genius(es) just get on with life and don’t waste time arguing on the internet.

      • Paladin

        The fact that terms can be arbitrarily defined does not mean that those definitions do not matter. The purpose of language is the communication of information. If two people do not share a set of definitions for terms they will not be able to communicate meaningfully.

        The very fact that we are able to have this discussion is a direct result of this. At any point I could simply choose to redefine any of the terms I’m using, but if I were to do so, then what I say and what you understand would no longer be the same, and we would no longer be able to communicate.

        Yes, language does shift over time in common use, no there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but again, the purpose of language is communication. In many cases linguistic ambiguities that would be tolerable in common speech can cause significant misunderstandings in specialized topics, particularly those of a more technical nature. In every day speech the difference between mass and weight are inconsequential, but to a physicist the difference is very important. The physicist needs both terms and needs them to mean distinct things or he cannot communicate about his work effectively. The same applies to those of us who want to communicate about firearms and firearms design. We need the distinction between a clip and a magazine because we’re talking about two different parts that serve two different purposes. What then, I ask, is the reasoning behind equating the two? What purpose does it serve to use them interchangeably other than simply to serve your own laziness?

      • Steve

        But it is just so easy to get it right, rather than use the wrong term.

  • Bonzaipilot

    I hate to see anything but a stripper clip does have a spring that’s what holds the rounds in place under spring tension in till the rounds or press down once the clip has been inserted into the guide and the rounds are pushed either into a detachable magazine or the fixed magazine of the gun

  • Tinklebell

    As a translator, I argue over the definition of words for a living. One thing I think you should’ve added is that often people don’t know the difference between caliber and bore diameter. Or, even worse, the difference between bore and barrel. I don’t care so much when talking to laymen though. In fact, I get annoyed when people get too pretentious about it, just as I get annoyed about people who argue about how to pronounce Steyr or Heckler und Koch. Yes, I can pronounce these things the way they’re supposed to be pronounced, even in languages I don’t speak, but I absolutely do not hold others to the same standard. That’s just be pretentious douchebaggery and we really do have much more important things to argue about than that.

    • Evan

      I personally hate it when people refer to the AUG as the “awg”, but I pronounce the letters the English way and not the German way.

      • Big Daddy

        I’m from New Yawk, it’s pronounced awg…been trying to lose that accent for years.

        • Evan

          Funny, cause I’m from Queens myself and have never had a problem saying A-U-G.

          • Big Daddy

            Brooklyn man, Brooklynese yo…..it’s another form of the English language.

          • Evan

            No, it isn’t. It’s a slightly different accent that virtually anyone else in the English-speaking world can understand quite easily. And since I learned my ABCs in the New York City public schools, I imagine they taught them to you as well. So yeah, you and literally everyone else who speaks English from Scotland to Australia can pronounce the letters A U G.

          • Big Daddy

            I knew a lot of people that could not, but of course you’re right, it’s the internet.

    • jay

      Sounds like you know my ex wife. She used to correct people using Spanish. But couldn’t speak more than a grade school conversation. Really annoying!

      • DaveGinOly

        Were you married to Peggy Hill before Hank married her?

        • jay

          Ha ha.

        • rick0857

          You beat me to it! Of course I’m a week late on this thread anyway so…I got that going for me!

  • DIR911911 .

    next up . . . Punctuation is Your Friend

    • Joel WS

      You missed your period.

  • smartacus

    *and don’t forget the decimal place in firearm terminalolology
    i gotta put .10mm caliper bullets in my clip

    • TB

      Yes, translators making subtitles here in Europe are always gettining this wrong. A .45 or .50 caliber weapon, for instance, becomes a 45 mm and 50 mm. They obviously never stop to think about what a 50 mm rifle would actually look like…

  • K.T. Huskyberg

    Your accuracy explanation isn’t correct. Scientifically, accuracy is the difference between the desired result & the average of all results. If your gun shot all four corners of a 10’x10′ target at a distance of 6 feet, you would be holding an accurate gun (The average of all shots would be the bullseye). Accuracy in the gun world is the combination of good accuracy & precision. No one is going to start describe their rifle as accurate & precise. It’s just accurate.

  • Cmex

    Can this just be a FAQ on all firearms fora?

  • jon spencer

    In one of his patent drawings John Moses Browning used the word clip for the magazine.
    If he can do that I can do it too.

  • Martin frank

    Articles like this is what i’ve come to expect from this particular author.

  • Jim Drickamer

    To write is the right thing to do and somewhat a rite of passage for those who would lead others in the right use of their Second Amendment right.

    • Tassiebush

      I heard a ship wright correctly write that

  • John

    I have a clip of ammunition for me little Armalite, and ain’t none ya sonsabitches do tell I otherwise!

  • A.WChuck

    Thank you!

  • durabo

    Let us not forget a lecture to the presstitutes of the LameStream EneMedia and other hoplophobes on the difference between semi-automatic and automatic actions.

  • Joel WS

    I thought I was a grammar Nazi until I read this article. Turns out I’m really a terminology Nazi. Maybe we should start a support group? (Not to reform – to enforce!)

  • durabo

    Re “clip”: Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office firearms instructors have a large glass jar filled with quarters, “donated” by newbies who use that term. The jar, which sits near the front of the classroom, is usually brimming, and needs to be emptied every month.

  • Norm Glitz

    One of the most common misuses is “tolerances” when the writer means “clearances”. An AK-47 or a 1911 doesn’t rattle when shaken due to large tolerances. Those gaps between parts are the clearances necessary to function. The clearance itself may have a min-max tolerance.

    To be even more accurate, tolerances are on drawings, not parts. A given part may be in or out of the drawing tolerance.

    And then there’s “original blueprint”.

  • Jerry Sullivan

    Amen Katie!! One of my pet peeves in life is the indiscriminate use of terms by writers and MOSTLY today’s “talkers” on the net who know little and talk a lot.. often rude, abrasive and ignorant of fact, they know not when to STFU! Well done!

  • wjkuleck


  • Old Gringo

    Is the term “crooked Hillary” a noun, pronoun, or maybe a summary term describing a lifetime of related events?

  • MichaelZWilliamson

    And I’m glad you didn’t confuse them further with the difference between stripper clips, charger clips and en bloc clips.

  • Robert Sweeney

    “We love guns!” Really? Well how do you feel about FIREARMS? Because you’re writing about firearms, not guns. I mean, as long as we’re getting all technically correct and everything. GUNS are those big tubular things on battleships.

    “Yeah, well”, you say, “‘gun’ has been a common usage synonym for firearm since, like, forever!”

    Right. And ‘clip’ has been a common usage synonym for detachable box magazine since, like, forever.

    Also, handguns of all action designs have been ‘pistols’ since someone coined the word ‘pistol’. Pistols didn’t stop being pistols when revolving cylinders were invented, anymore than levers and turn bolts turned rifles into something other than rifles.

    Personally, I’m more than a little tired of the self-proclaimed terminology experts puffing up their egos by ridiculing others for minor language infringements. Especially when they continue to break their own rules by resorting to common usage when it suits them.

  • Ken

    What about “high powered rifle”? Everything is high powered to the anti-gun crowd.

  • Haird

    There, their, they’re.

  • Mike11C

    How about the made up term “gun violence”? Just plain “violence” would cover that just fine but, it wouldn’t fit the liberal narrative.

  • Mike Lashewitz

    A picture like this?

  • Mike Lashewitz

    The person who sais English was a living evolving language is probably the same person who said the US Constitution was a “living evolving document” an early Liberal.

  • Blatant Abuse

    I went to the auto mechanic and told him my engines were a little low. He said “Sir, you’re pointing at the tires.” That’s rude. He’s a car snob.

  • wiggiefifes

    I can see by your pic, that you are a youngster, Ms Katie. So, you won’t remember the Seventies. I’d like to educate you on two of your points. First, on the clip Vs magazine issue.
    In the Seventies, Ruger came out with a 50 round “magazine ” for the 10/22, It was advertised as the “50 round Banana CLIP”, because in the Seventies, THAT was the “terminology”.
    H&K had a rifle, I believe was the G36, (I’m sure some Fart Smeller…I mean Smart Feller… will correct me if I’m wrong) Which Used the entire Cartridge as a projectile, although, the G36 did not do very well, due to over heating issues, it did use the entire cartridge.
    So be careful correcting us old guys on YOUR terminology, ours was different, and I wish you “GOOD LUCK” trying to teach us Old Dogs, new tricks!!!!

  • CavScout

    I personally like ‘assault’ and ‘storm’ rifles. You all have to admit, many gun rights types are fudds in a big way. ‘It’s not an ‘assault’! It’s a ‘modern sporting’ rifle! Everyone make sure to say it correctly!’ Because god forbid the 2nd amendment allows for ‘military style assault weapons’ as they’re defined in Minnesota. Point is; sick of noobs stressing over clip/magazine, and the adaption of all this corporate-fudd PC language.

  • nicholsda

    Magazine is the name for an item or place within which ammo
    or other explosive material is stored. It is taken originally from the
    Arabic word “makhāzin” (مخازن), meaning “(gunpowder) magazine or
    storeroom”, via Italian and Middle French. From Wiki.

    As noted, correctly, no current usage of the term magazine by itself can include the use of a spring as a requirement. Naval ships have magazines without springs. Firearms have magazines with or without springs in them depending on the model. As an example, a 1911 has a magazine without a mag in place. The use of magazines for firearms is just as incorrect as use of clip is. Even when 1911s first came out, the US Army referred to the removable part holding the rounds as a clip.

    A clip is something that holds things together. In the case of an M1, an En Bloc clip holds the ammo even when it is in the magazine. Push the clip release and the ammo and clip will come out. The ammo due to pressure from the Op Rod Spring, Follower Rod, Follower Arm, and Follower plus the Clip by means of the Clip Ejector.

  • 427cobraman

    Gentlemen and Ladies; Accuracy in language matters because disinformation and propaganda must be fought against. Pro 2nd A people people who repeat Left-wing talking points or spread false information need to reflect on the damage they do.
    When writing or speaking on political matters, I believe that it serves us to not fall into the trap the anti-gun Left has set for us. They specialize in coining inflammatory terms or misapplying terms to define their subject matter, and we unthinking, use that term without deconstructing it and thus further advance their propaganda.
    In a specific example, we should never use the term “Assault Weapon”, even in quotation marks without adding: “In reality it is a semi-automatic rifle-not a machine gun!” This term (assault weapon) was highjacked by Sarah Brady’s minions and is INTENTIONALLY misleading. Witness the effects: in June of 2012, Bill O’Reilly had Rep. Jason Chaffetz as a guest to debate gun control. During this show segment, Bill went on a rant: “Anyone in this country can walk into a gun store and buy a machine gun, rocket launcher or heavy weapons!” O’REILLY MADE A HUGELY FALSE STATEMENT BECAUSE HE IS PROPAGANDIZED BY THE LEFT WING MEDIA. Specifically, O’Reilly believes that “Weapons of War” are obtainable at any gun shop and gunshow!! and he broadcast this lie to millions of people!
    For those of you that don’t know, in order to legally purchase machine guns and other (class III Destructive Devices) military hardware in the United States, the effort is long and arduous, including a $200. fee and a review by a Federal Judge, and of course a thorough background check. In the 1980’s, President Reagan signed into law a regulation that prohibited any NEW fully automatic weapons from being sold to private citizens. Machine guns manufactured before this that are available for sale are relatively few and the lack of supply has driven up the price to sometimes as high as $30,000.00! In addition, there has only been one murder committed in this country with a legally purchased and registered machine gun. This is the power of propaganda.

    For those of you that would like to be accurate, the very first assault weapon was the Nazi Sturmgehwer ’44 invented by Hugo Schmeisser. It was pesesented to Hitler as the “Machininpistole’43” (machine pistol 1943) and he promptly renamed it “STURM” (to storm or assault) “GEHWER” (weapon) It was unique because it was the first Lightweight Single-man carried machine gun in a rifle caliber. Prior to this were extant only sub-machine guns (which fire pistol ammo) and belt-fed, crew served rifle caliber machine guns. (The BAR doesn’t qualify because it was too big long and heavy for paratroops to jump with and be ready to “assault” upon landing. It is instead a squad light machine gun.) Hugo and his design team did this by shortening the cartridge case of the 7.92 Mauser rifle and machine gun round and lightening the bullet (which became known as the 7.92 Kurz or “short”) as well as using the expanding gunpowder gases to cycle the gun. From this weapon, the AK-47 was copied. The very name Sturmgehwer means “Assault weapon”.Therefore, any “Assault Weapon” must be fully automatic and not a semi-automatic rifle. There is not a military force on this planet that would assault any objective armed with semi-automatic rifles! They would be cut to ribbons in seconds. For you liberals, the difference between semi and fully automatic rifles is proportional to the difference between a hatchet and a chain saw. Sadly our low information voter is convinced that Obama is trying to ban machine guns. THIS IS BECAUSE THEY USE TERMS SUCH AS “ASSAULT WEAPON”, “MILITARY STYLE RIFLES” AND “WEAPONS OF WAR” and when we repeat these terms we are helping them!!. It is long past the time when we should stop parroting the Left’s disinformation. Don’t you think???
    Long-winded? I guess, but knowledge is power. You will notice more inflammatory terms from the Left being mouthed by the Right: John McCain re; immigration “people hiding in the shadows”. He got it from Schumer. You will hear examples of it again and again. We can fight or we can fight effectively. Why would we use the Left-coined term “gun violence”? Instead of repeating this and arguing the merits we should ask the left: why they are opposed to gun violence but never any other kind of violence?
    Are they good with knife violence and blunt object violence? They never mention any other kind of violence, now do they?? Only “gun violence” should be fought against, as opposed to the roots of all violence? My conclusion is that they don’t care about violence at all, but what they really care about is eradicating guns.
    It’s our choice. I personally stop all discussion of “Assault Weapons” and “gun violence” until the subject has been clarified, or the discussion ends.

  • Archie Montgomery

    Very good. Being one of those ‘words mean something’ individuals, I am irritated by those who constantly mis-identify items and then defend themselves by saying “That’s what I call it”.

    In the discussion of ‘accuracy’ versus ‘precision’; an old word in the subject is ‘registration’. The word refers to the connection between ‘sight picture’ – a proper sight alignment directed at the designated impact site or target – and the actual impacts on the target. When an arm shoots a tight group, but is not properly centered on the desired place, the ‘registration’ is off.

    Also, the term ‘caliber’ does indeed stem from a physical dimension. In the strictest sense, it refers to measurements in ‘hundredths’ (.01) of an inch. However, usually English measure (inches) are presented in ‘thousandths’ (.001) of an inch. Currently, ‘caliber’ is presented in Metric measurement (millimeters), which is just a bit confusing. However, the term now has two meanings, which are used somewhat loosely in popular speech.

    One is the actual bore diameter of the arm. Which is the – more or less – original meaning. It was in use when all firearms were caseless and muzzle loading. The second meaning is the descriptor or name of the full cartridge – that which distinguishes .45 ACP from .45 GAP, for instance. Both cartridges are the same ‘caliber’ in terms of bore diameter, and they look remarkably similar; but they do not function properly in each other’s place.

    Then, there’s the word ‘gun’ itself. Or ‘assault weapon’, a non-technical term used as an invective in the mass-media.

    I’m rattling on. My apologies. However, I salute your attempt to encourage precision into the language and discussion. It applies to most subjects and demonstrates the marked distinction between those who know the subject and those who do not.

  • seancaseytx

    I was kicked off The Firearms Forums years back after a suspension merited by me trying to be helpful and let a newbie know some nomenclature. When i corrected a 10/22 seller on his ‘clips’ versus ‘magazines’ I was brutally foul mouthed and reported. Further, the PC crowd on the board decided to suspend and then boot me. Now i keep my comments to myself, except with those I train.