[Guest Post] You Don't Say?

Steve Johnson
by Steve Johnson

[ I am pleased to present this guest post written by Matt Groom.]

For many of us, our window to the world of guns is books, magazines, and the internet. Unfortunately, when you see a word or a name that you aren’t familiar with, you tend to do what you learned to do in school, sound it out in your head. This has lead to a plethora of often mispronounced words and names in the firearms community, and it makes us all look like rubes. I would like to point out some often heard examples along with the proper enunciation of each. Please note that I am neither German nor Scandinavian and I speak no languages other than American English, but I have asked and been corrected by people who do speak these languages.

Heckler & Koch

Probably one of the most well-know arms companies in the world is known by its initials because nobody seems to know how to pronounce the last names of its founders. And everybody says their marketing department is SO great…

How most people say it: Heck-ler and C-au-k like “Cock”, or Coach, or KA-t-ch (?)

How it’s actually pronounced: “Heck-ler and Coke” Example: “Well, I’ll have a coke, then.”

Why is it mispronounced? “Cock” would be a very appropriate name for a gun company “Cock your hammer!” or “Those guys at H&K are a bunch of… Germans.”


America’s first military repeater is also the most mispronounced of all service rifle names. No less and authority than the late great Col. Jeff Cooper corrected me on the proper way to say this name, and ultimately, he was incorrect.

How most people say it: Ker-Ag ,or Ker-egg Jor-gen-son

How it’s actually pronounced: Kr-Ah-g (like “Frog”) Yor-gen-sen.

Why is it mispronounced? A popular ballad during the Spanish-American War and the Pilipino Insurrection had a refrain that went “Underneath our starry flag, civilize ‘em with a Krag!” which certainly had a better ring to it than “If you want to eat a frog, do not shoot him with a Krag”. The proper enunciation may have been intentionally bastardized for pop-culture.

Makers of everything from Weed whackers to Motorcycles to full-auto military rifles, this name seems to dumbfound even the people who sell them. A Swede who was a former employee of the firm in the 1960’s told me how to say it.

How most people say it: Husk-a-varn-a, Husk-Q-var-na

How you’re supposed to say it: Who-sk-Var-na

Why is it mispronounced? It’s Swedish.

These Serbian makers of high quality ammunition available at bargain basement prices have rapidly earned popularity in the US. After being sold for a number of years under different names by different distributors, they are now selling ammo under their own name and confusing many people with their Balkan-esque spelling.

How most people say it: Pervy Party-san

How you’re supposed to say it: PR-iv-A Part-iZ-on

Why is it mispronounced? Triple Consonants don’t make a whole hell of a lot of sense to most English speakers.

I have it on good authority that these are correct, but nobody’s perfect. There are lots more of these, but we’ll save those for another post. Let’s hear some suggestions for gun related names and words that are often mispronounced or which are confusing in the comments!


Roy recorded himself pronouncing Heckler & Koch, Walther, Sauer, Luger, Mauser, Blaser, Weihrauch and Schmeisser.

Stefan recorded himself saying Anschütz, Heckler & Koch, Mauser, Sauer, Steyr Mannlicher, Walther and Weihrauch.

Steve Johnson
Steve Johnson

I founded TFB in 2007 and over 10 years worked tirelessly, with the help of my team, to build it up into the largest gun blog online. I retired as Editor in Chief in 2017. During my decade at TFB I was fortunate to work with the most amazing talented writers and genuinely good people!

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  • Makeitshort Makeitshort on Jul 16, 2010

    of course ´ch´ exists in english. you guys can do this, i know! listen to darth vader´s famous breathing. that´s exactly this sound. now try to imitate him, it´s really simple ch....ch....ch no kidding!


  • Cary Harrison Cary Harrison on Sep 23, 2010

    For Mosin-Nagant, the complication is that it's two surnames from different national origins. Mosin was a Russian designer and Nagant was a Belgian. Because they are proper names, the most correct pronunciation would be to use the respective linguistic pronunciations, so we get:

    "MOE-seen Na-GAHN"

    Léon Nagant's name is practically a lesson in French letter sounds. It uses the French hard "g" (because it comes before the letter "a" - if it came before "i", "e", or "y" it would be pronounced with a soft "g", like in "mirage"). That means it sounds pretty much like the English hard "g", as in "goat". The ending "t" is silent, since there is no "e" following it. The "a" in "Nagant" is pronounced somewhere between the English "a" and "o". Basically, it's like the second English "a" in "animal".

    Two other Russian ones that come up are "Tokarev" and "Makarov".

    What lots of people say: "TOKE-arev"
    What's right: "TOH-a-rev"

    The "o" is actually more like it is in the English words "on" or "not". The other Russian one is

    What lots of people say: "MAK-uh-rov"
    What's right: "Muh-KAR-ov"

    Many Russian names accent the second or middle syllable, with "Tokarev" up there being an exception (of which there are a confusingly large number!). The poster who mentioned "Stolichnaya" earlier got a good example of this. Everybody in the US says "STOLIK-naya", but the correct pronunciation is more like "Sto-LEECH-nai-ya".

    Source: My old Russian friend, armed forces engineer, and vodka-drinking friend Gennady.