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Gun Glossary - Letter F
Index of Firearm & Gun Terminology

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Letter - F Page Updated: 06 March 2003

FACTORY AMMUNITION:  Also Factory Round. Ammunition that has been produced by a major manufacturer using new brass cartridges or other new cartridge and shell casing materials. Most firearms warranties are void if "Factory Ammunition" is not used. See Reloading for a more detailed discussion of factory and reloaded ammunition along with a discussion of why and when the distinction is important.

FAILURE TO FEED:  A malfunction condition where although the magazine contains cartridges, no cartridge is fed into the chamber as the slide, bolt or action moves forward into the locked in battery position.  This malfunction is often caused by an improperly seated or fitted magazine, under lubrication of the firearm or improper alignment of the slide or action.

FAILURE TO NEUTRALIZE: Term used in shooting competition to describe targets that were not properly engaged or knocked down in accordance with the course of fire.  Abbreviated FTN.

FALLING BLOCK: A single-shot action where the breech block moves up and down at right angles to the bore and drops or "falls" straight down when the lever is actuated.

FEBA: Abbreviation for Forward Edge of the Battle Area.  See below.

FEED RAMP: The part at the lower rear of the barrel that slopes upward into the chamber to facilitate feeding the cartridge.  Note: The feed ramp can be polished to facilitate better feeding and function of all types of ammunition.  Some older types of semi-automatic pistols, like the Walther PPK need to have the feed ramp polished in order to properly feed hollow point cartridges.

FEEDWAY: The part of the firearm in which the cartridge is placed, either by hand or by the magazine system, so as to be loaded into the chamber.

FEET PER SECOND: Standard measurement for the velocity of a bullet as it leaves the barrel.  Abbreviated FPS or (fps).

FERGUSON, PATRICK: Patrick Ferguson (1744 - 1780)  Born in Pitfour, Aberdeenshire, Scotland in 1744.  Ferguson invented the breech-loading rifle that bore his name.  The Ferguson rifle was capable of firing seven shots per minute.  With the help of this weapon, the Americans were defeated at the Battle of Brandywine (1777).  He was killed at the Battle of King's Mountain in South Carolina, USA.

FERGUSON RIFLE:  The first mass produced rapid-fire breech-loading rifle.  The Ferguson used a patented screw-breech design.  This rifle was officially adopted by the British Government on July 4th, 1776, but it was only fielded in a special rifle unit headed by Patrick Ferguson himself.  Ferguson's screw breech was a radical departure from the status quo. To understand how extreme it was, you must recognize tactics of eighteenth-century [musket] warfare as a function of European society and culture.  It was a great step forward technologically speaking capable of firing 8 rounds per minute at a time when 3 or 4 rounds per minute was hard to accomplish.  It's screw breech was also resistant to rain and damp weather as the breech was locked tight and the pan was internal.  For more information on the Ferguson Rifle see the detail block below.

The Ferguson Rifle
The Rifle That Could Have Changed The World

Ferguson Rifle

Ferguson Rifle circa 1776

The Ferguson Rifle could have changed the outcome of the American Revolution.  If not, it surely would have changed the outcome of the War of 1812.  It only failed to do so because it's inventor and advocate Major Patrick Ferguson was killed at the Battle of Kings Mountain in 1780 by Tennessee's Over Mountain men.  The British in there infinite wisdom disbanded Ferguson's 70th Infantry Riflemen after his death and stacked the Ferguson Rifles in a store room.

For more information on the Ferguson Rifle - click here

Information courtesy of:

National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association

On the web at URL:

Equipment, supplies, ammunition, and personnel involved in the use of cannon, rocket, or surface-to-surface missile launchers. 

Field artillery cannons are classified according to caliber as: 

  • Light Artillery -- 120mm and less. 

  • Medium Artillery -- 121-160mm. 

  • Heavy Artillery -- 161-210mm. 

  • Very Heavy Artillery -- greater than 210mm.

FIELD ARTILLERY OBSERVER: A person who watches the effects of artillery fire, adjusts the center of impact of that fire onto a target, and reports the results to the firing agency. See also naval gunfire spotting team; spotter. 

FIELD OF FIRE: The area which a weapon or a group of weapons may cover effectively with fire from a given position. 

FIELD STRIP:  Disassembling a firearm to the point where it can undergo routine cleaning and lubrication.

FIGHTING LOAD: Consists of items of individual clothing, equipment, weapons, and ammunition that are carried by, and are essential to, the effectiveness of the combat soldier and the accomplishment of the immediate mission of the unit when the soldier is on foot. See also existence load and basic load. 

FINAL PROTECTIVE FIRE (FPF): An immediately available prearranged barrier of fire designed to impede enemy movement across defensive lines or areas.  In standard infantry tactics, a support element would stand by with registered targets and await the command for the FPF should the attacking or defending maneuver force need to withdraw behind the defensive lines.  In light and airborne units this fire is normally produced by 60mm mortars organic to the maneuver unit, but supporting fires can also be registered and called for. 

FIRE: 1. The command given to discharge a firearm, gun or weapon.  2. To detonate the main explosive charge by means of a firing system.  

FIRES, TYPES OF:  In gunnery there are several types of fires, see the detail block below for more information.

Types of Fire

Barrage Fire: Fire which is designed to fill a volume of space or area rather than aimed specifically at a given target. 

Call Fire: Fire delivered on a specific target in response to a request from the supported unit. 

Close Supporting Fire: Fire placed on enemy troops, weapons, or positions which, because of their proximity, present the most immediate and serious threat to the supported unit.  This type of fire is also referred to a "Danger Close".

Counter Fire: Fire delivered for the purpose of destroying or neutralizing indirect fire weapon systems. Fires directed at opposing artillery, rockets and field guns, also know as counter battery fire.

Covering Fire:  1. Fire used to protect troops when they are within range of enemy small arms.  2. In amphibious usage, fire delivered prior to the landing to cover preparatory operations such as underwater demolition or minesweeping.

Deep Supporting Fire: Fire directed on objectives not in the immediate vicinity of our forces, for neutralizing and destroying enemy reserves and weapons, and interfering with enemy command, supply, communications, and

Direct Fire: Gunfire delivered on a target, using the target itself as a point of aim for either the gun or the director.  Typically fire on a close proximity target, where the gun or tube is not elevated and the projectile in not arched.  Using artillery in Anti-Tank mode or to fire on troops without elevation.

Direct Supporting Fire: Fire delivered in support of part of a force, as opposed to general supporting fire which is delivered in support of the force as a whole. 

Distributed Fire: Fire so dispersed as to engage most effectively an area target. 

Grazing Fire: Fire approximately parallel to the ground where the center of the cone of fire does not rise above one meter from the ground

Harassing Fire: Fire designed to disturb the rest of the enemy troops, to curtail movement, and, by threat of losses, to lower morale.

Indirect Fire: Fire delivered on a target that is not itself used as a point of aim for the weapons or the director. 

Observed Fire: Fire for which the point of impact or burst can be seen by an observer. The fire can be controlled and adjusted on the basis of observation.

Preparation Fire: Fire delivered on a target preparatory to an assault. 

Radar Fire: Gunfire aimed at a target which is tracked by radar. 

Registration Fire: Fire delivered to obtain accurate data for subsequent effective engagement of targets. 

Scheduled Fire: A type of prearranged fire executed at a predetermined time. 

Searching Fire: Fire distributed in depth by successive changes in the elevation of a gun.

Supporting Fire: Fire delivered by supporting units to assist or protect a unit in combat.

Suppressive Fire: Fires on or about a weapons system to degrade its performance below the level needed to fulfill its mission objectives, during the conduct of the fire mission.

Unobserved Fire: Fire for which the points of impact or burst are not observed.

Zone Fire: Artillery or mortar fires that are delivered in a constant direction at several quadrant elevations. 

FIRE FOR EFFECT: 1. Fire which is delivered after the mean point of impact or burst is within the desired distance of the target or adjusting/ranging point.  2. Term in a call for fire to indicate the adjustment/ranging is satisfactory and fire for effect is desired. This call or "fire command" signifies that the fires or artillery are properly engaging the designated target and no further adjustment fires are needed and that subsequent fires are to be placed on the same coordinates and that the battery, ship or aircraft should fire for maximum combat effect.

FIRE MISSION: 1. Specific assignment given to a fire unit as part of a definite plan. 2. Order used to alert the gun battery and to indicate that the message following is a call for fire. 

FIREARM: A rifle, shotgun or handgun using gunpowder as a propellant.  By federal definition, under the 1968 Gun Control Act, antiques and air guns are excepted.  Under the National Firearms Act, the word designates machine guns, etc. and any instrument that projects a missile by gas pressure generated by the combustion of a propellant.  Thus, by definition air guns are not firearms.  The term firearm generally refers to any of a type of hand held guns.  The term firearm and small arms are synonymous.  The term weapon and firearm are not synonymous, as most inanimate objects can be used as a weapon; to inflict harm or physical injury. The military and police seem to beat the WEAPON term to death but no sporting arms should be referred to as a weapon as it only servers to inflame anti-gun sentiment and it is incorrect usage of the term.

A Brief Chronological History of Firearms


In 1247 A.D., BACON recorded a newly discovered formula in China which he called "Gunpowder". It consisted of 75% saltpeter, 15% charcoal, and 10% sulfur. The "cannon" also originated in China to make use of this newly discovered explosive. Cannons were made from tiny hand guns to huge wheeled models, but the basic principal of the common cannon, the solid breech for holding the charge and the touch-hole for lighting the powder within the barrel, remained the same for the next 600 years.

The "First True Firearm" was the 1440 "MATCH-LOCK MUSKET". This was a smoldering wick soaked in saltpeter which was clamped in a serpentine shaped holder, to ignite the powder in a "flash pan", which in turn ignited the charge in the barrel through the touchhole. The Pilgrims brought 10 of these "Match-Lock Muskets" with them to this new world when they landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620. They were useless in windy or rainy weather.

The next musket was in 1521 called the "WHEEL-LOCK MUSKET" This was a toothed wheel which was spring-wound for each shot. When the trigger was pulled the "toothed wheel" revolved against the stationary "flint" or "pyrites", causing sparks to ignite powder in the "flash pan", similar to a present day cigarette lighter. These were too costly for general use.

In 1580 a Dutch invention originally called "SNAP-HAUNCE IGNITION MUSKET". It was brought into use by certain marauding bands, who by the Dutch were called "Snaphaans" <197> hen snappers, or poultry stealers. These worthies could not afford the "WHEEL-LOCKS" and the lighted matches for the "MATCH-LOCK" muskets were liable to lead to detection, so they devised their own "snap-haunce", little suspecting, doubtless, that their ingenious invention would be universally adopted and would maintain its supremacy for nearly three centuries.

The "SNAP-HAUNCE MUSKET" flint or pyrites was held in the jaws of a spring activated hammer. When the trigger was pulled, flint struck a stationary angles plate, throwing sparks into the flash pan. Much simpler and less costly than the "WHEEL-LOCK" The Pilgrims brought 50 of these "Snap-Haunce Muskets" with them to this new world when they landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620.

In 1630 the "FLINT-LOCK MUSKET" was invented. This was really a improvement for the "Snap-Haunce Musket", flint was held in the jaws of a cocked hammer which, when the trigger was pulled, struck a hinged steel plate called the "frizzen" or "battery", which normally covered the powder to keep it dry, but flew open when the flint struck it. The resulting sparks ignited the powder in the flash pan that led through the touchhole into the barrel chamber, where the explosion took place.

It was learned in 1547 that by cutting spiral groves inside a firearm barrel, causing the bullet or shot to spin more accurately to its target. The Germans called it "Riffelin" meaning to groove. Thus the word "Rifle" originated. This made the "Musket" obsolete.


In 1710, at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the gateway to the frontier at this time, Mr. MERTIN MEYLIN made the first "flint-lock" "Kentucky Rifle" He fired lead balls wrapped in greased linen that followed the grooved barrel and spun to the target with deadly accuracy. Before the development of the "Kentucky-Rifle" the muskets were required to hammer a lead ball with a ramrod (and sometimes with a mallet) to pack and expand the ball to fit the grooves, a very slow process. The "Kentucky-Rifleman" merely wrapped his "shot ball" of slightly smaller diameter than the bore, in a greased leather or linen patch, (carried the "Patch- Box" on the side of the stock) and slid the ball into the barrel more easily with the ramrod. DANIEL BOONE helped make the "Kentucky-Rifle" popular.

Each "Kentucky-Rifle" was hand made, with the basic fundamental features as follows: long barrel, slender graceful stock inlaid with symbols or Indian signs, sharp drop, curved butt plate, hinged brass covered wadding compartment (Patch-Box), with an average bore of 45 caliber. This rifle was truly the Colonist weapon and assisted greatly in the birth of our nation.

Its interesting to note that in the days when men loaded their muskets with "shot-ball", they would make their shot-balls by pouring molten lead from a tower 60 to 100 feet high. By the time it hit the ground it had cooled and formed a round ball. These pellets were then passed through screens of different meshes to grade them for various sizes. This method of make shot-balls was used for hundreds of years.

In 1789, before ELI WHITNEY, invented of the "Cotton-Gin" (Patent 1793) he contracted with the United States Government to make 10,000 muskets with interchangeable parts. It took him 11 years and was the very beginning of "mass production", so prevalent in the United States today.

The Spanish in 1790, developed a modern counterpart of the sawed- off shotgun. It had a funneled barrel which was not for spreading the charge, but for quick loading. Guns of this sort was loaded with black powder, broken glass, nails and stones. It was commonly called "BLUNDERBUSS", they were used to guard prison walls, and on shipboard to tear up pirate masts and sails.

In 1800, the forerunner of the "Percussion Cap" rifle was the "TUBE-LOCK", the lock having an ordinary percussion type hammer with no cup, being flat on the end. The hammer struck a firing pin through a hinged metal piece similar to the frizzen on the "FLINT-LOCK". A tube of priming under this hinged piece ignited the charge through a touchhole, when struck by the firing pin.

Seven years later, in 1807 Rev. FORSYTH patented the "Percussion Cap" Rifle, which exploded instantly when hit with a hammer, this discharge in turn exploded the powder. It replaced the "FLINT- LOCK". 41 years later in 1848, and 2 years (1850 Patent) before FLOBERT'S self contained cartridge, the United States Government ordered all of its 600,000 "FLINT-LOCK" muskets converted to the percussion system.

In 1811, HALL patented the first rifle with a hinged breech between the barrel and stock, making it possible to load the barrel from the rear, called the "BREECH-LOADER".


SAMUEL COLT, (b. 1814, d. 1862, at the age of 48 years), an circus performer in 1835, patented the first ratchet action locking cylinder firearm, when he was only 20 years of age. His first sale was a revolving rifle, similar to this. He started manufacturing them in 1836 as the "PATENT ARMS MFG. COMPANY" About 7, 000 of these Colt patent rifles were used in the Civil War.

The Colt Rifle was the very first to shoot a multiple of shots through the same barrel without re-loading. It was a 56 caliber with percussion cap ignition, using ball and powder front end loading.

As time went on the "Colt" revolver proved more practical than the "Colt" rifle because the rifle caused powder burns on the shooter's left forearm. Col. SAMUEL COLT never lived to see a metallic cartridge used in his revolvers. He died a millionaire in 1862, 9 years before the "Colt" revolver was converted from percussion to metallic cartridge in 1871.

In 1871 the Patent Arms Mfg. Co. came out with its famous "Colt Peacemaker" revolver. or the "Colt Frontier Six Shooter" which ever you called it this breach loading revolver used the same .44 caliber cartridge that the "Winchester Saddle Gun Model 73" (Carbine) thus allowing the frontier-man's to carry only one size cartridge. Over some 300,000 "Peacemakers" were sold between 1873, and 1907. (they also made in .45 caliber.)

In 1850, the first "Double Barrel Muzzle Loader" was developed by the WESTLEY-RICHARDS Co. of England. It was called the "DAMASCUS - TWIST" A piano wire coiled to form the tube, then fused together became the barrel. It carried quite a "wallop" both "for'd" and "aft", but it was a real "Wild Flower". It proved a very practical market hunter's gun in its day.

As mentioned before Mr. FLOBERT, in 1850, invented the first metallic self-contained, "rim-fire" cartridge, a .22 caliber, with the bullet attached, as is still used today. This made the "Repeater" possible.


The great firm of SMITH and WESSON stands as a living, growing monument to the development of manufacturing know-how in America. HORACE SMITH and DANIEL BAIRD WESSON were among out country's pioneers in gun development. They were among the first to recognize the need for complete interchangeability of parts, to achieve volume production with no sacrifice of quality. There could have been no better time to apply these principles to the firearms industry during the period of tension and unrest before the Civil War.

Both men inherited mechanical skills. HORACE SMITH's father worked at Springfield Armory. Young HORACE SMITH also served an 18-year apprenticeship there, earning the title of "Master Gun Maker".

DANIEL B. WESSON's father was a plow manufacture in Worcester, while young DANIEL's two brothers were gun makers. DANIEL first worked with his brother EDWIN WESSON, then after several other associations in the firearms field, DANIEL WESSON went with the ALLEN and LUTHER Co. in Worcester. It was there that he met HORACE SMITH.

Forming their partnership in 1852, SMITH and WESSON first tackled the manufacture of what was to become the "Volcanic Magazine" pistol. While the Volcanic cartridge was a disappointment, it did have a great impact of the gun's mechanical principle upon the firearms industry.

In 1856, with 25 employees, the partners commenced manufacture their famous "Model No. 1" Smith & Wesson Revolver, a breech loader made under the ROLLIN WHITE patent, and chambered for a revolutionary new cartridge which DANIEL B. WESSON invented and patented. With only minor changes, this exists today as the familiar .22 rim-fire!

The Model No. 1 was a four year success, and led to the introduction of a .32 "Rim Fire" revolver in 1861. During the Civil War, thousands of soldiers spent their own funds for these in order to be armed with the very latest and best handgun.

Note One: In 1869, the SMITH & WESSON first "center fire", large- caliber .44 revolver made its appearance. It has been reported that "BUFFALO BILL CODY (William Fredrick Cody, b. 1846 - d. 15, Jan. 1917, 71-yrs. age See Sarratt/Cody Families) used this while guiding the "GRAND DUKE ALEXIS, of Russia on a hunting trip, this powerful .44 impressed the Duke that it led to order for 250,000 of the "RUMAN MODEL" revolvers during the next 5 years.

HORACE SMITH retired from SMITH and WESSON in 1874, and DANIEL B. WESSON's three sons came into the company. On 04 Aug. 1906, Mr. DANIEL B. WESSON died at the age of 81.

Note 1. This source was from "Sports Afield" - April 1959, this writer could NOT find any record of this in the classic autobiography "THE LIFE OF THE HONORABLE WILLIAM F. CODY - Known as Buffalo Bill, the Famous Hunter, Scout and Guide" by WILLIAM F. CODY, Pub. Hartford, Conn. Fort E. Bliss, 1879, Page 107 @NOTE 1 = ..."Buffalo Bill loaned Buckskin Joe (Cody's Horse) to the Grand Duke for the occasion and also let him use his old gun Lucreata Borgia (this was a 1869 - Sharps Buffalo Gun, a .45 caliber, 120 grain of powder and 550 grain bullet weight). First the Duke tried to hit a buffalo with his pistol, but with no success"

In 1860, with the advent of the self contained cartridge, (FLOBERT, Patent 1850), the first "under-lever" repeating rifle was patented by CHRISTOPHER SPENCER. It was a .45 caliber, 7 shot "rim fire" "Spencer Carbine". The cartridge tube inserted through the butt plate.

President ABRAHAM LINCOLN approved the "Spencer Rifle" himself in 1863 and ordered over 200,000 to be delivered the "Union Army".

The same year of 1860 with the advent of the self contained cartridge the "Shot-Gun" shell was developed. This made the Pin- Fire, Breach Lock, Double Barrel Shotguns popular.


B. TYLER HENRY, was a machinist for the "SMITH and WESSON" Company when they sold out to "VOLCANIC REPEATING ARMS COMPANY" in 1855, which failed in 1857.

A gentleman by the name of OLIVER B. WINCHESTER, one of the stockholder's of the de-funked Volcanic Repeating Arms Co. took over and formed a new company called "NEW HAVEN ARMS WORKS". Mr. Winchester hired B. Tyler Henry as the new plant manager. Tyler Henry was designing an .44 caliber, rim-fire, 15 cartridges, under-lever, repeating rifle. (similar to the Spencer 7 cartridge). It was in production by 1860, and it was so well designed that there has been only a few basic changes in the Winchester to this day.

Their were approximately 10,000 manufactured by the New Have Arms Company for the Union Army. It weighed only 9 1/2 pounds. It has been reported that it was used by the Union forces in General SHERMAN'S march through Georgia and could fire 10 shots per minute. Described by the Confederates as "that dammed Yankee rifle that is loaded on Sunday and fired all week."

The "Winchester Model 1866" was the first rifle to bear the Winchester name (issued in 1866). It was made by the "Winchester Repeating Arms Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut, established in 1866. It was a improved version of the .44 rifle the B. TYLER HENRY originally designed, chambered for both flat and pointed .44 cartridges.

The Model 66 was loaded by means of a port on the side and the tubular magazine was unslotted. As a tribute to Mr. HENRY's achievement, Mr. OLIVER B. WINCHESTER has always stamped the letter "H" on the head of every rim-fire cartridge it made.

In 1869, the SHARPS MFG. CO., although the firm failed in 1874, introduced the "SHARPS BUFFALO GUN". Even though only some 2,000 of these rifles were made they obliterated the Buffalo. These powerful rifle was a .45 caliber, 120 grains of powder (the Winchester Model 73 was only 40 grains) and 550 grains bullet weight (the Model 73 was only 200 grains). In a short period of 35 years (1869 to 1904) some 50 million buffalo were slaughtered on the Nebraska and Kansas plains.

Often the only thing that was taken was the bison's "tongue". The wanton slaughter of these beasts caused many Indian attacks, for the Indians depended on the buffalo for food and shelter. By 1905 only a mere 900 buffaloes left in the entire United States. It was decided at that time to put the buffalo under protection?

In 1873 the Winchester Repeating Arms Company introduced a new lightweight magazine type repeating rifle. The "Winchester Saddle Gun" a repeating carbine. It was originally center fire, 12 cartridge, .44 caliber, 40 grains of powder, 200 grain bullet (44-40-200). This rifle was very popular in opening the West, 250,000 were sold between 1874 and 1924.

The Winchester Model 73, was the rifle the Sioux Indians, under the leadership of "Crazy Horse", wiped out General George Armstrong Custer and his 241 men at the battle of the Little Big Horn on June 25, 1876. These rifles were bought by the Indians with "Black Hills" Gold, which was discovered on their land in 1874.

Custer's men were "sitting targets" armed with their single shot rifles of the Civil War vintage, against the Sioux who literally "mowed them down" with their newer type 12 shot repeater Winchester Model 73.

In 1880, the Winchester Repeating Arms Company introduced the "Wild Flower's Dream Gun". This was a lever action shotgun, of 8, 10, and 12 gauges. The Shotgun gauges are handed down from the days of the musket, when the gauge was determined by the number of balls that could be made from a pound of lead that would fit into the barrel.

In 1885, Mr. VIEILLE, worked out the world's first successful formula for smokeless powder. No longer was it necessary to step to the side to see if your shot reached its mark.

FIRE FORM: To reform or change the shape of a cartridge case by firing it in a chamber of different dimensions.  This technique is used to create "Wild Cat" and custom cases.  It should only be used by experienced reloaders as it can render the case weak and cause ruptures that my be dangerous to the shooter or damage the firearm.  

FIRE FORMING: Reforming or changing the shape of a cartridge case by firing it in a chamber of different dimensions to get a desired shape.  Fire forming is not the same as annealing.

FIREPOWER: 1. The amount of fire which may be delivered by a position, unit, or weapon system.  2. Ability to deliver fire. 3. The aggregate or combined effect of missiles or projectiles that can be placed on a target.

FIREPOWER, SUPERIOR: Superior firepower is the capacity to deliver effective and overwhelming volume of fire on a target or set of targets and to render the target(s) ineffective, as  delivered by a military unit. 

FIRES: The effects of lethal or non-lethal military weapons.

FIRING PIN: Part of a gun which strikes the primer, firing the gun.  Motion may be imparted to the firing pin by hitting it with a hammer, or it may itself be spring-loaded and released as in a striker fired system. The firing pin lies behind the cartridge. It serves to transfer the energy generated by the hammer or striker to the primer.  The impact of the firing pin on the cartridge ignites the primer and causes the powder to rapidly burn, thus discharging the bullet.

FIRING PIN SAFETY:  An internal physical safety that prevents the firing pin from moving forward to strike the primer.  Usually, the firing pin safety is designed to disengage only when the trigger is pulled.  This is also know as a Firing Pin Intercept.

FIT AND FINISH:  Terms used to describe over-all firearm workmanship.

FIXED AMMUNITION: 1. A complete cartridge of several obsolete types and of today's rim fire and center-fire versions.  2. Ammunition in which the cartridge case is permanently attached to the projectile. See also ammunition.

FLACK: English variant of the word FLAK. 

FLAK:  Anti Aircraft Artillery and the bursting "Proximity Shells" fired from said artillery. Originally from the German, an Acronym for: FLieger Aabwehr Kanone.  An aircraft-defense gun.

FLAK JACKET: An anti-fragmentation jacket or protective garment. Most FLACK jackets are NOT bulletproof. The standard G.I. (Government Issue) Military Issue "Flak Jacket" is actually a vest that is worn over the battle dress uniform.  They are designed to stop or reduce the damage caused by fragmenting shells (artillery and mortar fire) and the debris that they project into the target area. This term is often interchanged with "Ballistic Body Armor" or "Bullet  Resistant Vests" that are enhanced and designed to stop or reduce the lethality of small arms fire.

Flak Jacket / Ballistic Vest

The modern Flak Jacket / Ballistic Vest has been engineered for use in a multitude of both military and police situations where high levels of ballistic protection is required. The new Mil-Spec Ballistic Flak Jacket Vest meets or exceeds Ballistic Armor standard equivalency Type IIIA. (Level 3-A)

It exceeds the performance of the U.S. Military Vest by also stopping most handguns, shotguns, and sub-machine gun munitions. In the model shown, the neck panels with Velcro can firmly fasten and overlap with the main vest. 

There are two pouches for the rifle cartridges, two pouches for the pistol cartridges and two straps for hand grenades on the front outer shell and one back pocket on the back of the outer shell designed for attachment of a protective mask.

FLASH BLINDNESS:  Impairment of vision resulting from an intense flash of light. It includes temporary or permanent loss of visual functions and may be associated with retinal burns. See also dazzle. 

FLASH HOLE: 1. A hole leading from the primer pocket to the inside of the case. 2: The hole running through the wall of the barrel on a flintlock arm, providing a conduit from the pan to the main charge. Fire passes through the flash hole from the pan to the main charge, firing the gun. 3. The hole between the primer pocket in a metallic cartridge and the portion of the cartridge holding the powder charge.

FLASH HIDER - FLASH SUPPRESSOR: A device attached to the muzzle of a firearm designed to eliminate or reduce the incandescent flash of the firearm's discharge.  Although they can reduce the visibility of the firearm's location when fired they are primarily designed to prevent the shooter's vision from being blinded by the flash at night.  Many flash hiders also act as a Muzzle Brake.  Under current federal law, muzzle breaks are legal and flash hiders are illegal to manufacturer or place on firearms manufactured after the 1994 Crime Bill.

FLINTLOCK: A firing mechanism or lock used primarily on muzzleloaders, using the shower of sparks created when a piece of flint strikes a steel frizzen to ignite a priming charge, which in turn ignites the main powder charge. For more information on the FLINTLOCK see the detail block below.

flintlck.gif (9732 bytes)

The Flintlock was developed in France around 1612. A key contributor to this development was Marin le Bourgeoys who was assigned to the Louvre gun shops by King Henri IV of France. The Flintlock's manufacture slowly spread throughout Europe, and by the second half of the century it became more popular than the Wheel Lock and Snaphaunce. The main difference between the Flintlock and Snaphaunce is that in the Flintlock the striking surface and flash pan cover are all one piece, where in the Snaphaunce they are separate mechanisms.

This made the mechanism even simpler, less expensive, and more reliable than its predecessor. This simplicity allowed for more creative gun designs, such as guns with multiple barrels and miniature pistols which could be concealed easily inside a garment. By 1664 experiments with rotating-block repeated fire guns were under way (like a revolver which holds a number of shots in a rotating cylinder) but such weapons were dangerous to operate and would have to wait for another century and a half to be made a standard weapon.

The northern Arabs acquired the Snaphaunce and Flintlock in the late 1600s and often designed their long guns with a sharply curving butt so that they could be tucked under an arm and fired single-handed from the back of a camel or horse.

In the early 1700s the Brown Bess Flintlock made its appearance. It probably got its name from the acid-brown treatment of its barrel. By this time, the flintlock was accurate up to about 100 yards but nobody could aim at a man and kill him at 200 yards. A shooter of average experience could load and fire two to three rounds per minute.

For more information on Flintlocks and Percussion Cap Arms and enthusiasts, visit the Kentucky Long Rifle web page at

For detailed information on the history and development of Firearm Locks - Click Here.

FLIR: Abbreviation for Forward Looking Infrared (Forward Looking IR). FLIR is an airborne, electro-optical thermal imaging device that detects far-infrared energy, converts the energy into an electronic signal, and provides a visible image for day or night viewing.

FLOATING BARREL: A barrel bedded to avoid contact with any point on the stock.  Also known as Free Floating.  Floated barrels increase accuracy buy avoiding stress or physical contact with the barrel buy the shooter or the stock.

FLOOR PLATE: Usually, a removable or hinged plate at the bottom of the receiver covering the magazine well.

FMJ:  Abbreviation for Full Metal Jacket.

FOOT POUND: A unit of kinetic energy equal to the effort required to raise one pound weight, to a height of one foot, against the normal pull of gravity.  2.  A unit of work; the energy required to lift one pound one foot. 

FOOT POUNDS ENERGY: Standard of measure for the energy of the bullet measured in foot-pounds as it leaves the barrel.  Abbreviated FPE or (fpe).

FOLLOW THROUGH: is the effort on the part of the shooter to continue the employment of the fundamentals throughout the deliver of the shot exactly as they were planned and set-up.

FOLLOWER:  The platform against which the last cartridge or cartridges in a magazine rest, and the means by which the magazine spring forces an entire column of cartridges successively into position for feeding.  In a tubular magazine, the follower is simply a round plunger riding over the end of the magazine spring;  in a Mauser-type or box magazine, it is a more carefully shaped platform sometimes provided with ribs or grooves to assist in aligning the cartridges with the feed lips for feeding into the chamber.  On some models like the SIG Sauer handgun the follower is known as the magazine feeder.

FORCING CONE:  Forward part of the chamber in a shotgun where the chamber diameter is reduced to bore diameter.  The forcing cone aids the passage of shot into the barrel.

FOREND:  The forward portion of a rifle or shotgun stock.

FORM FACTOR: A multiplier (also called the coefficient of reduction) which relates the shape of a bullet to the shape of the standard projectile used to prepare a particular ballistic table.

FORSYTH, REVEREND ALEXANDER: Reverend Alexander Forsyth (1769 - 1848) Noted Scotsman and inventor of the percussion cap.  In 1805 Forsyth built a new lock mechanism using a fulminate of mercury cap as a means of igniting the charge.  Fond of game shooting, he realized the major problem with the flint-lock gun was its unreliability in damp conditions and that the noise of the flint striking the pan and the delayed lock time gave the game birds a chance to fly away before the gun was discharged.  The percussion cap ignited an enclosed charge when struck by a hammer.  This percussion cap greatly decreased lock time and increased reliability, especially in damp or wet weather.  This cap was later developed into the modern center fire self contained cartridge. 

FOULING SHOTS: Shots fired for the purpose of clearing the bore of cleaning solution and to "settle the barrel" preparatory to sighting and record shots.

FORWARD EDGE OF THE BATTLE AREA (FEBA): The foremost limits of a series of areas in which ground combat units are deployed, excluding the areas in which the covering or screening forces are operating, designated to coordinate fire support, the positioning of forces, or the maneuver of units. Formerly and commonly called "The Front" or "Front Lines".  Also called FEBA. 

FORWARD OBSERVER: An observer operating with front line troops and trained to adjust ground or naval gunfire and pass back battlefield information. In the absence of a forward air controller, the observer may control close air support strikes. Also called FO. See also forward air controller; spotter. 

FPE:  Abbreviation for Foot Pounds Energy.

FPF: Abbreviation for Final Protective Fire.

FPJ:  Abbreviation for Full Profile Jacket.

FPS:  Abbreviation for Feet Per Second.   Also abbreviated (fps and f/s).

FRANGIBLE:  Readily or easily broken.  In Gunnery, Frangible Ammunition "breaks up" when it hits a solid target. Typical Frangible Ammunition is the so-called Safety Slug or Glazier round which in my experience are completely ineffective for defensive use and should only be used in "Shooting Houses" and range settings that are not designed to absorb jacketed or solid projectiles.

FREEBORE: 1. An unrifled portion of the bore in front of the chamber. 2. The distance in the barrel, if any, which the bullet travels before it contacts the rifling.  Some barrels are purposely "relieved" to allow the bullet  considerable free movement before it strikes rifling.  The freebore must be know to properly headspace a rifle barrel to a receiver.

FREE FLOAT:  Technique of bedding or holding a Floating Barrel on the receiver so it does not make contact with the stock, thus avoiding stress and increasing accuracy of the firearm.

FREE RIFLE: A rifle designed for international-type target shooting.  Free as in Free Form or Free Style.  The only restriction on design is weight maximum 8 kilograms (17.6 lbs.).

FREE ROCKET:  A rocket not subject to guidance or control in flight.

FRIZZEN: The part of a flintlock which is struck by a piece of flint, producing a shower of sparks. At one time it was called a hammer, before that a cock.

FRAME: The frame (also known as the receiver) is the basic structure or housing to which the other components are attached.

FREE FLOATING BARREL: A barrel bedded to avoid contact with any point on the stock.  Also known as Floating Barrel.  Free Floated Barrels increase accuracy buy avoiding stress or physical contact with the barrel buy the shooter or the stock.

FREE PISTOL, THE:  The Free Pistol is a special design of competitive firearm for achieving the ultimate in accuracy from a handgun.  Free Pistols are chambered in caliber .22 Long Rifle. The majority of free pistols have a longer barrel than the normal pistol and an extended sight radius. The trigger weight is extremely light and is adjustable from 1/2 oz to 1 1/2 ozs. There is a form fitting grip for the hand.

FROG: Abbreviation for Free Rocket Over Ground.  The infamous Scud missile is a FROG. 2. In firearms, a loop attached to a belt to hold a weapon or tool 3. On military uniforms, an ornamental braiding for fastening the front of a garment that consists of a button and a loop through which it passes.

FRONT STRAP: That part of the revolver or pistol grip frame that faces forward and often joins with the trigger guard. In target guns, notably the .45 ACP, the front strap is often stippled or checkered to give shooter's hand a slip-resistant surface.

F/S (f/s): Abbreviation for Feet Per Second.  Also abbreviated fps.

FTN:  Abbreviation for Failure to Neutralize.

FULL CHARGE: 1. The larger of the two propelling charges available for naval guns. 2. A hand loaded cartridge that uses the maximum powder charge.

FULL COCK:  The position of the hammer when the firearm is ready to fire.

FULL METAL JACKET: A bullet design that is completely encased in a hard metal jacket, which is not intended to expand upon impact. They are utilized in military small arms ammunition where bullet expansion is proscribed by the Geneva Convention, in target shooting for economy and in some hunting ammunition where extremely deep penetration is required.  Abbreviated FMJ.

FUNDAMENTALS OF PISTOL MARKSMANSHIP:  Those essential factors that the shooter must know and learn to control in order to fire an accurate shot with a pistol.

FUNNEL OF DEATH:  A "Y" shaped crossroad consisting of the many small courtyards, between the close set buildings surrounding the Bulahri Arms Market in downtown Mogadishu, Somalia.  Army Rangers and Special Forces soldiers were forced to run through the "funnel of death" in an intense cross fire, darting from one building to the other, in order to check downed or wounded soldiers and to treat the  casualties and to collect and disseminate medical supplies and ammunition. Several very brave Ranger & SOF medics made the tip in to the intense fire fight to give aid and comfort to their fallen comrades.  Because of the layout and the close proximity of the many building and small shops in this intense urban battlefield, Somali Militia and armed civilians were able to lay down very heavy and effective fires into the "Funnel of Death".  The break out came several hours later and on foot. With a few wheeled vehicles that were heavily loaded with dead and wounded, being accompanied by dismounted Rangers and SFOD-D Operators, trailing along beside and then behind the extraction vehicles. This final frantic dismounted (on foot) extraction is what was later to be called "The Mogadishu Mile".

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