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High Tech Hunting:

There are so many topics to cover, we couldn’t really decide how to rank them in terms of importance of relevance. So, we’re taking a personal approach, and making a note every time we hear something called by the wrong name, or we hear someone asking a question about a given term or item.

Tom’s starting us off with our first post, something that’s pretty close to home for him: high tech hunting.

Hi, Guys! Tom here. This week, I was out hunting with some buddies, and got home all covered in mud and leaves, late Sunday afternoon. My son Bryce, who’s almost 8, is just starting to get interested in hunting. Now, obviously, he's still a long way from youth season. But hearing him try and understand my gun setup made me realize how far we’ve come from a “bang bang” gun like you’d see in a Western.

My gun isn’t that far out of the ordinary, but it’s still pretty loaded with bits and bobs that I guess the average Joe wouldn’t really understand without a guidebook. So, here goes: your rough guide to some of the gun lingo you need to talk firearms without getting mixed up.



Gun Tech Primer (pun very much intended):


Action: (i.e. bolt action) the mechanical parts of a gun that move the bullet into place for firing, and get rid of the casing after each shot.

Ammo/Ammunition: these are the actual “loads” you’ll be discharging from your firearm with each round. They can come in bullets, slugs, or pellets. One unit of ammunition is called a “round”. So, if someone says “I put two rounds in that target”, they mean that they shot two bullets. Ammunition is measured in a caliber or gauge, like .330.

Automatic: this means you’re looking at a gun that has a repeating mechanism. Think of the action, and now think of that as a cycle. These guns will fire round after round as long as you hold the trigger down. A lot of automatic guns are called “machine” guns, but many handguns are now automatic as well.

Barrel: the shaft or tube of the gun the bullet comes out of.

BDC: this is a type of reticle (or, sight) which gives you a target, crosshairs, and also little bubbles under the target point. These help you calculate how much a bullet will drop over distance. They’re the simplest technical reticle to understand, and will help the average hunter get a lot more accurate at range.

Bolt/Bolt Action: the bolt of a gun is the part that holds each bullet in place for firing. If you have to move it manually between each shot, the gun is called a “bolt action” gun.

Caliber: this is the “gauge” or measurement of a given type of ammunition. It measures the diameter of a bullet’s bore in relation to 1 inch. The caliber is also how you’ll refer to most guns. For instance, a .22 is named for .22 caliber ammunition.

Center-fire: these are bullets that fire by being hit right in the middle of the bullet’s rear face. They’re the most common type of ammunition, and they’re what you’ll find on most bigger guns.

Crosshairs: that’s the cross-shaped piece of iron in the eyeline. Its technical name is a reticle. The type of reticle refers to the shape of the crosshairs.

Elevation: this is a feature on most modern gun sights to compensate for elevation distance to the target, including the amount the bullet will fall over distance, as well as air pressure and wind factors.

Gauge: same as caliber.

Iron sights: these are usually on older weapons, or smaller guns like .22’s. They’re a metal crosshair that’s stuck on the end of the barrel, which you aim at the target.

Parallax: parallax is a phenomenon that occurs when the two lenses in a scope are magnified at very high or very low powers, depending on the size of the lenses. It means the image gets a bit skewed, and that can throw your aim off. That’s why many scopes have knobs on the side to adjust for parallax. It can get pretty technical, but it basically means keeping a scope in focus.

Rail: this is the bit on the bottom of the barrel. It’s like a big, long bracket, and you basically use it to attach accessories, like a laser pointer, a light or a night vision unit.

Red dot sight: these sights give you a red dot, like a laser pointer, over your target. These are good for shooting in  dark conditions, when a dark black dot doesn’t show up well.

Reticle: as we’ve said, a reticle is basically a fancy name for a crosshair. While you’ll get crosshairs attached to many barrels, a reticle will be part of a scope. A scope has two lenses in a tube, and the reticle will be somewhere in between, or on one of the lenses. As you adjust, the reticle will constantly shift, so it stays in perspective with your target.

Rimfire: this type of ammo is a bit different from centerfire cartridges. These ones fire from the rim, as you’d guess from the name. They’re a lot cheaper, and they’re more common on small guns like a .22

Scope:  the most common type of technical equipment you’ll find on a modern gun. Think of it as a combination between a pair of binoculars and your good old iron crosshairs.


These are some of the first ones that popped into my head. I’ll be updating this as I think of more. Also, please feel free to send in any burning questions you have about firearms!

-Tom

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