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Gun Glossary - Letter W
Index of Firearm & Gun Terminology

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Letter - W Page Updated: 06 March 2003

WAD:  A space device in a shotshell, usually a cup-form plastic or paper discs, that separates the propellant powder from the shot.

WAD CUTTER (WC): 1. A bullet design which features a sharp shoulder. Designed to cut a clean, round hole in a paper target. 2. A type of bullet shaped like a cylinder with flat ends.  It is primarily designed for target shooting with pistols.  They are typically cast or swaged out of a lead alloy and usually don't have a jacket.  Wadcutters may be hollow-based, double-ended, or bevel-based.

WAR: Condition of open, armed, often prolonged conflict carried on between nations, states, or parties. 2. The period of such conflict. 3. The techniques and procedures of war; military science. 4. Condition of active antagonism or contention: a war of words; a price war. 5. A concerted effort or campaign to combat or put an end to something considered injurious: the war on drugs.

WARS: Click Here for an "Index of Armed Conflict & War"

WARHEAD: The part of a missile, projectile, torpedo, rocket, or other munition which contains either the nuclear or thermonuclear system, high explosive system, chemical or biological agents or inert materials intended to inflict damage. 

WEAK HAND:  In shooting, the off hand or non dominant hand.  For a right-handed person, the left hand. For a left-handed person, the right hand.   Standard exercises and shooting competition frequently require shooting a string with the weak hand.  When this is required (for obvious reasons) the gun is normally held at the low ready rather than drawn from a holster.

WEAK SIDE:  Then side of the shooters body of the non dominant hand.  For a right-handed person, the left side.  For a left-handed person, the right side.  Sport shooting competitions may require a shooter to wear a strong side holster.

WEAPON: Any tool that can be used to apply or project lethal force or an instrument of offensive or defensive combat.  Thus an automobile, baseball bat, bottle, chair, firearm, fist, pen knife or shovel is a "weapon," if so used.  The term "lethal weapon" is popular but redundant as in fact all weapons have the potential to be lethal. Using the term weapon to describe a firearm is not only inaccurate, it is "anti-speak".  My guns, including my "defensive" guns are simply firearms.  I hope I never have to use them as weapons and I do not refer to them as such.  Calling sporting and personal arms "weapons" just gives the "anti-gun types" an inflammatory political word to use against us.  Gun people in the know, use the words firearm, gun or sidearm to describe their arms, instead of the inflammatory and inaccurate word "weapon".

WEAPONEERING:  The process of determining the quantity of a specific type of lethal or nonlethal weapons required to achieve a specific level of damage to a given target, considering target vulnerability, weapon effect, munitions delivery accuracy, damage criteria, probability of kill, and weapon reliability.

WEAPONS:  Instruments used in combat.  The term is never used in referring to sporting firearms.  See Weapon "Anti-Speak" above.

WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION: In arms control usage, weapons that are capable of a high order of destruction and/or of being used in such a manner as to destroy large numbers of people. Can be nuclear, chemical, biological, and radiological weapons, but excludes the means of transporting or propelling the weapon where such means is a separable and divisible part of the weapon. Also referred to as WMD. 

WEAPONS SYSTEM: A combination of one or more weapons with all related equipment, materials, services, personnel and means of delivery and deployment (if applicable) required for self-sufficiency.  

WEAPON-TARGET-LINE: An imaginary straight line from a weapon to a target. 

WEAVER STANCE: A specialized form of two-handed pistol shooting that provides enhanced recoil control, mobility, and accuracy.  The term is frequently but incorrectly used to refer to any style of two-handed pistol shooting.

The Weaver Stance

Weaver StanceThe Weaver stance seems odd at first, and can be tricky if you are cross-dominant, but it allows for excellent recoil control and reacquisition of the target in your sights.  This means that, after the gun bounces up a bit from firing a round, it is much easier to align it with the target again very quickly. In Weaver, you are standing with the shoulder of your gun hand back a bit from the target and your dominant foot back a bit as well. You hold the gun toward the target with your upper body at a 45-degree angle to it, and bend both elbows. At first, this seems very unstable, but the secret to the Weaver is the isometric nature of the stance. When you grip the gun, push forward with your gun hand, and pull back with your other hand; this push-pull grip makes the gun bounce down from the recoil and end up right back on target! It also makes for extremely strong recoil control, and would allow even a small woman to handle a .38 easily.

It is very difficult to describe the Weaver stance in words, so please ask someone to demonstrate it to you before you try it. The most important part of the stance is the push-pull isometric grip, so as long as that is understood, the rest should come quite easily.

Editors Note: Like any other martial, mental or physical skill, to master a stance and to become fast, accurate and natural with any shooting technique you must practice.

Safety Note: Practice your draw and presentation with an unloaded firearm or a dummy gun.  It is a good idea to remove the ammo and magazine from the training area.  Do a chamber check and verify empty, every time you pick up the gun.  Someone else or even you may have loaded it. 

There are 3 common hand gun stances.  For more information see Shooting Stance.

That portion of a cartridge case between the bottom of the primer pocket and the interior of the case.

WHITE HUNTER:  A Professional Hunter (PH) who is of the Caucasian race.

Origin of the Term White Hunter

According to Brian Herne, from his book WHITE HUNTERS, the name WHITE hunter came about in this way:  By several reliable accounts it was the chance meeting of hunter Alan Black and a reckless amateur hunter known as “D,” the fiery Lord Delamere, that led to the term, “white hunter”. Delamare had employed the youthful Alan Black to help out on one of his Somaliland safaris in the late 1890s. When Delamere settled in British East Africa he purchased a very large acreage of ranching country. 

At the time he employed a Somali hunter to shoot meat for his employees, and he also hired Alan Black as a hunter. To differentiate between the two hunters, as well as on account of Black’s surname, the Somali hunter was referred to as the “black hunter”, while Alan Black was always called “the white hunter”, and from this difference, or so the story goes, “white hunter” came into common usage.

“Black was, therefore,” according to veteran hunter Donald Ker, of Ker and Downey Safaris, Nairobi, “the first white man to operate in a professional capacity taking out hunting parties for a living.” And, Ker adds, “Black was one of the best that ever lived.”

A natural movement of air of any velocity; especially : the earth's air or the gas surrounding a planet in natural motion horizontally.

WIND VELOCITY: The horizontal direction and speed of air motion.  For most ballistic calculations in the USA, wind speed is measured in miles per hour.

WINDAGE:  The lateral adjustment of a firearms sight to compensate for the sideways movement of the bullet in flight due to the effects of wind.

WINCHESTER:  Famous American Arms and Ammunition manufacturer, founded in 1886.  Winchester firearms are now made under license from Olin Corporation by U.S. Repeating Arms Company or USRAC in New Haven Connecticut.  For more info see the Winchester block below.


Great American Gun Makers
Winchester Repeating Arms Company

Winchester is a noteworthy name applied to a very long and historically significant line of firearms and ammunition products.  Winchester has been a part of American history, since it inception as the Winchester Repeating Arms Company of New Haven Connecticut, in 1866.  The founder and namesake of the company was Oliver F. Winchester, who was actually a shirt maker, who became a financier and amazingly had no practical knowledge of firearms or their manufacture.  Winchester's experience and understanding of corporate organization and general business acumen was outstanding and he became a major player in the arms making industry of the late 19th century and developed a great repeating rifle and a very large and successful firearms company.

Oliver Winchester's interest in arms making was the result of his purchase of 80 shares of stock, in the Volcanic Repeating Firearms Company, which had been organized to  manufacture the improved version of the Hunt-Jennings Volitional Repeater, which had just been redesigned by Smith & Wesson.  In 1857, the Volcanic Company went bankrupt and Oliver Winchester purchased the companies remaining assets in an attempt to recover his investment.  He promptly went to work and organized a new stock company named the New Haven Arms Company, installing himself as the company president and owner of 800 shares of the new companies stock.  New Haven Arms Company continued to manufacture Volcanic Arms products, but with little success.  

In 1858, Winchester directed one of his employees, B. Tyler Henry, to work on improving the Volcanic Repeater and to develop a new repeating rifle and cartridge.  These developments eventually lead to the Henry Rifle of 1860 and further lead to the success of Oliver Winchester's company.  About 14,000 Model 1860 Henry's were manufactured, the model ended in 1866.  In 1866 the New Haven Arms Company was reorganized and renamed the Winchester Repeating Arms Company.  Thereafter, all firearms and ammunition by the company were simply known as Winchesters.

The first of the line of firearms from the Winchester company was the Model 1866.  For all practical purposes it was an 1860 Henry, that incorporated some improvements by another of Winchesters men, Nelson King.  The Model 1866 by King & Henry included a hinged loading gate that allowed ammunition cartridges to be loaded into the magazine from the receiver's breech end, instead of loading them at the muzzle end in the older style removable magazine tube.  This loading gate, still in use today, allowed the magazine tube to be completely closed and a conventional wooden fore end to be used.  The closed magazine reduced fouling and decreased the time it took to reload.  It also made the handy lever action rifle easy to "top off" on the fly, without having to "face down" the muzzle, and allowed the shooter to insert cartridges without taking their eyes off the target.

Model 1866 Yellow Boy
1866 "Yellow Boy"

Winchester Model 1866 "Yellow Boy"

The Model 1866 Winchester is also known as "The Yellow Boy" due to its brass receiver frame.  About 175,000 Model 1866 rifles were made, with production ending in 1898.  The 1866 Winchester was chambered in .44 caliber rimfire and took a 28 grain powder weight. The reduction in the projectile weight from the single-shot rifles managed to increase the projectile's velocity. The Model 1866 had a 24 inch round or octagonal barrel and weighed 9 to 9 1/2 lbs. There were other variants of the Model 1866, including a musket, with a 27 inch barrel.  The musket 1866 weighed 8 1/4 pounds.   The most common variant was the 1866 carbine, with a 19-inch round barrel, the carbine weighed 7 1/2 lbs.

1866 rifles and muskets each held a maximum of 17 rounds, but they were usually loaded with fewer rounds to prevent strain on the magazine spring. The shorter carbines held a total of 13 rounds. The Model 1866 rifle also had military significance, though it is not normally rated as a military arm, the lever action Winchester 1866 was responsible for two great Turkish victories over the Russians at Plevna.  The Model 1866 was manufactured until 1898.  Replica's of this rifle are still being made and used today, as are many of the originals. 

Winchester Model 1873 Sporting Rifle

The second Winchester model followed in 1873 and was named the Model 1873 Winchester.  This may seem simplistic by today's standards, but this was back when noun-nomenclature and model numbers actually meant something and determining "what was in a name" was an easy task.  Of course there were only a hand full of arms  makers and firearm products to choose from as well, another factor of "simpler times" that I am glad we have out grown.  

The Winchester Model 1873 was designed for the new center fire cartridge and abandoned the famous "Yellow" brass framed receiver for a more common, case hardened iron frame.  It had a long life: 1873-1927 and is probably the only gun to have given its name to a movie. 

Soon after its release, the Model 1873 was available in several new calibers.  With its steel frame cartridge loading system it was much more powerful than the .44 Henry, and demand quickly pushed its production into the hundreds of thousands.  Barrel lengths were from the 20 inch carbine to the long gun with a barrel length of 30 inches.

Model 1873

With these two great American arms, the Winchester Repeating Arms Company established itself as one of the "Great American Arms Makers" and one of the worlds leading suppliers of arms and ammunition.  A position the company has retained for over 144 years.  Many people still feel that the greatest arms in the world have the Winchester name on them.

An American Legend: The Wild West

Compiled by Valerie A. Peters

Since its beginnings in 1866, Winchester has sustained the romance and legacy of its remarkable heritage as an American original. Winchester firearms accompanied American settlers as they moved west to seek their fortunes in a virgin land. Winchester's image became one with that of the cowboy, the Indian, the lawman, the
pioneer, the mesa, the mountains, the desert, and the grandeur of the west. Small wonder that Winchester is called "The American Legend." The famous horse and rider logo used by Winchester on its products symbolizes that legacy. 

The Winchester Repeating Arms Company produced the first firearm to bear its name in 1866 - the Model 66. In 1873, the company began to expand its operations to include
increased ammunition manufacture. To coincide with the introduction of its new Model 73, the company claimed it was "prepared to manufacture 250,000 cartridges per day, embracing every size and description of a quality superior to anything heretofore offered."  By 1875, cartridge capacity had been stepped up to a million a day. The
decision to expand ammunition production was one of the major policy changes in the history of Winchester. It marked the first step toward making the company one of the largest and best-known manufacturers of ammunition in the world. 

Smokeless powder entered the market in the 1890s. The adoption of smokeless powder for ammunition was one of the major innovations affecting the entire history of firearms, and started a new phase in the development of guns and ammunition. Winchester began to produce smokeless cartridges, but did not reduce its offerings of black powder shotshells because, as was the case with metallic ammunition, smokeless powder did not eliminate the demand for black-powder loads.  

Winchester owes its fame to many sources. However, one man did much to spread the
fame of the Winchester firearm more than any other -- Buffalo Bill. While Buffalo Bill was
never employed as a shooter by Winchester to publicize the company's products, he
directly and indirectly did much to increase the company's exposure. As the hero of
fictionalized Western dime novels, he was often armed by the authors with a Winchester
rifle in his fights with the Indians and the bad guys. In the famous Wild West Show, he and his fellow marksmen, including Annie Oakley, used Winchester rifles and ammunition. The Winchester Repeating Arms Company did not fail to publicize the fact that its products were the choice of Buffalo Bill and his fellow star performers. Theodore Roosevelt was another one of the famous folks that used Winchester products and publicized that fact.  

Winchester Today

The company who brought to life "the Gun that Won the West" is the same company that today continues to supply sportsmen with some of the best sporting arms and ammunition in the world.   In December, 1980, the company's board of directors authorized the restructuring of the Winchester Group to allow Olin to better focus more of the company's resources on Winchester's sporting and defense ammunition business.  With this restructuring, Winchester's U.S. sporting arms business, which had been part of the company for nearly half a century, was set up as a freestanding operation and in In July, 1981, it was sold to the U.S. Repeating Arms Company in New Haven, Connecticut.  

U.S. Repeating Arms Company or USRAC now produces Winchester brand rifles and shotguns under license from Olin Corporation.  In 1991, Olin's Winchester Division again played a part during a war. When the Persian Gulf War broke out, Winchester provided a large amount of the ammunition used by U.S. troops during this conflict. 

Winchester firearms and the U.S. Repeating Arms Company

U.S. Repeating Arms (Winchester Rifles and Shotguns) is the manufacturer of all current Winchester brand rifles and shotguns.  USRAC is a licensed partner of the Olin Corporation. Olin is the parent company of the Winchester ammunition company. There are a number of other companies, besides U.S. Repeating Arms, that are licensed to use the Winchester brand name. Each is a partner with the Winchester Ammunition division of Olin Corporation, and each is committed to the tradition of quality, reliability and excellent service that has made the Winchester brand legendary. 

A number of years ago the U.S. Repeating Arms Company acquired the rights to produce Winchester rifles and shotguns. At the same time they also acquired the entire manufacturing facility in New Haven, Connecticut. This is the same factory where Winchester rifles and shotguns have been made for nearly a century and a half — beginning when Oliver Winchester himself started the company that bears his name. An entirely new factory — the most modern firearms manufacturing facility in the world — was completed in 1994 right on Winchester Avenue in New Haven.

Today, all Winchester brand firearms are made by or for U.S. Repeating Arms Company. Most are made in the New Haven, Connecticut factory. On occasion, some are sourced to other facilities world-wide.  U.S. Repeating Arms is part of a world-wide company with facilities and associations with companies in Europe and Japan. Some special edition and limited edition firearms are currently made in Japan by one of our associated companies (Models: 1886, 1892, 1895, 63, and 52-B). The Super X2 is made in Europe with some parts manufactured in New Haven. The Supreme is still made in Belgium.

Two offices are now used by Winchester Rifles and Shotguns to conduct business. Manufacturing and firearms service are performed at our 225,000 square foot factory in New Haven. Customer Service and corporate functions are done at our second office in Utah.  Surrounded by the Wasatch mountains, just a few miles outside of the town of Morgan in a community known as Mountain Green

Historic Winchester Rifles

"The Greatest Guns in History are Winchesters"

History is worth repeating. So Winchester (US Repeating Arms Company) still makes versions of some of the greatest Winchesters rifles of all time. They are available in either Limited Edition versions (production held to limited quantities) or Classic Tradition versions (small numbers made year to year).  For more information on Winchester Firearms use the contact information below.

Winchester Arms

USRAC Product Service 
275 Winchester Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511 

Tel 1-800-333-3288 or 1-801-876-2711 

Web URL:

Information courtesy of: Winchester Firearms & U.S. Repeating Arms Company

  (.300 WSM) New short action magnum cartridge developed by Winchester and the Browning Arms Company.  The.300 WSM is a beltless,  rebated rim, center fire cartridge that is short enough to be fired from a "short action" rifle.  Even though the case capacity is about 10% smaller than the .300 Winchester Magnum, performance is almost the same, due to the modern case profile and use of a short powder column.  Several firearms will be developed around this new "Short Magnum" in 2001.


.300 WSM - Winchester Short Magnum

The first new, jointly-developed commercial Rifle Cartridge from Winchester® Ammunition in almost 20 years - and it's going to give big game hunters an unbeatable reason to "go magnum."

Simply put, the new 300 WSM cartridge is designed to deliver 300 Winchester Magnum energy and velocity performance in a short action cartridge and lighter weight rifle.  Using a "short action" not only reduces overall weight, short action rifles will also normally feed better and they cost less money to manufacture.

For starters, the unique geometry of this beltless magnum cartridge delivers the same precise head spacing and high accuracy as cartridges designed for bench rest shooting.  Plus, the WSM's "short & fat" cartridge shape delivers a highly efficient powder burn and quicker cycle time via a much shorter and lighter rifle action with a
standard magnum bolt face diameter.  

So keep an eye out for the NEW Winchester Short Magnum Centerfire Rifle Cartridge with initial firearms manufacturers Browning® & Winchester® - it's definitely the shape of things to come. 

  Brass becomes harder as it is worked. See 'Anneal".

WSM:  Abbreviation for Winchester Short Magnum.  See above.

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