Don't holster your knowledge. Try this gun parts quiz!



By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

How well do you know your locks, stocks and barrels? Firearms are full of complicated and vital parts that make them work. Do you know your gun components?

What is the name of the metal tube through which the bullet travels?

The barrel is the metal tube that the bullet travels through on its way to a target. Barrels are pretty simple components, but they vary a lot from gun to gun.


How is a shotgun's barrel different from a rifle's barrel?

A shotgun's barrel is smooth. A rifle, on the other hand, has a "rifled" barrel, which has spiraling grooves cut inside. The grooves add spin to the bullet, making it more accurate.


The stock is essentially the _____.

The stock is the gun's handle. It's made up of two pieces, including the butt and the fore-end.


What are the main moving components of the gun called?

The action is the part of the gun that contains the most critical moving parts, which load and eject cartridges. Some actions are manually-operated, others are fully automatic.


If you want to fire a gun, you "pull" which part?

You pull the trigger to fire the gun. Gun safety experts say you should never touch the trigger until you've decided to shoot.


Where would you find the gun "muzzle"?

The muzzle is the very end of the gun's barrel. Gunmakers must make the muzzle with great precision simply because it's the last part of the gun that touches the projectile as it speeds towards the target -- if the muzzle is malformed in any way, the shot may go awry.


Where would you find the "primer"?

The primer is most often found integrated into a cartridge or shell. When a firing pin or hammer strikes the primer, the primer ignites the gunpowder and begins the explosive process that flings a bullet forward.


What would you find inside the gun's magazine?

A gun's magazine contains cartridges, or bullets. Automatic weapons have large-capacity magazines to that they can fire many rounds before reloading.


A "choke" would be found in which sort of firearm?

A choke is a constriction at the end of a shotgun's barrel. A "full" choke greatly tightens the shot pattern; a modified cylinder choke, however, allows the shot to spread out more quickly as it leaves the barrel.


You insert cartridges into which component?

If you want to fire a cartridge from a rifle, first you must insert a cartridge into the chamber. Once a round is chambered, you're ready to shoot at a moment's notice.


Muzzleloaders don't have actions. They have _____.

Muzzleloaders are a more primitive firearms technology. They don't have actions, they have locks, which ignite a charge and then send a projectile hurtling through the barrel.


What's the purpose of the "safety"?

The safety stops the trigger from moving, and thus, prevents the gun from firing. But for the safety to do any good, you have to actually use it.


The "rear sight" is used in tandem with _____.

Shooters align the front and rear sights in order to properly aim a rifle. Failing to do so can mean shooting the sky instead of your target.


On a handgun, the _____ connects to all of the major parts of the weapon.

On a handgun, the frame is sort of the skeleton of the weapon. It connects to -- and provides support for -- all of the major components, and it makes up the grip, too.


You'd find a cylinder as part of a _____.

The cylinder is the part of a revolver that stores cartridges in discrete chambers. You can spin the cylinder menacingly before you shoot down those Old West outlaws.


What's the purpose of a "grip safety"?

As with a traditional trigger guard safety, a grip safety is meant to prevent accidental firing. Grip safeties are often used on handguns, and they are easy to operate in a natural firing position.


What's the name of the curved piece of metal that protects the trigger?

The trigger guard is the slender -- but oh so vital -- bit of metal that wraps around the trigger. It prevents accidental misfires and also protects the trigger from damage.


You'd find a "flint" on which sort of weapon?

A flint is a type of mineral that, when struck against steel, creates a spark. Muzzleloaders use a flint to ignite charges, which then create the force necessary to propel a projectile.


The "breech" refers to which part of the gun?

The breech is the rear of the gun. Most modern rifles are breech-loading weapons, meaning the cartridges are inserted into a chamber that's built into the breech (rear) of the gun.


In modern firearms, the ____ is often made of a synthetic plastic.

Many guns still have wooden stocks, of course. They are a long-standing and beautiful tradition. But to cut weight and add incredible strength, many modern stocks are made of a strong plastic.


True or false, is the "bore" the inside of the gun's barrel?

Yes, the bore is the inside of the gun's barrel. In guns with rifled barrels, the diameter of the bore determines the caliber of the weapon, and thus, the caliber of the cartridges necessary to shoot.


On a revolver, what's the name of the component that strikes the cartridge primer or firing pin and then causes the bullet to fly forward?

After you cock the hammer, you pull the trigger -- then, the hammer strikes the primer and the powder explodes, propelling the bullet out of the barrel.


On a handgun, a slide stop is often called a ____.

The slide stop is sometimes called the slide lock. After a handgun's magazine is empty, the slide lock remains in the "up" position so that you know the magazine's empty and to facilitate easier loading.


"Bluing" refers to which aspect of a weapon?

Bluing refers to the gun's finish. Bluing is a controlled chemical reaction that makes the steel of a gun look very dark blue or nearly black, and it adds beauty and (somewhat) protects the metal from rust.


What part would you NOT find in the receiver of a gun?

The barrel is not part of the receiver. The receiver has important parts like the hammer, bolt or breechlock components -- the parts that help you load and then fire a cartridge.


What would you use to remove expended cartridges from a revolver?

On a revolver, you'll often notice a small ejector rod that's attached to the underside of the barrel. The rod is meant to help the shooter dislodge spent cartridges from the cylinder.


A "combination gun" might combine a shotgun with a ____.

Combinations guns combine two types of guns, such as a 12-gauge shotgun with a .22 rifle. These types of guns used to be more common, and now, they are often collectors' items.


What's the end of the stock called?

The very end of the stock -- the part that you brace against your shoulder -- is called the butt. You can buy recoil pads to cover the butt so that it doesn't cause (as many) bruises.


If you pull back the hammer on a revolver, what do you do to the gun?

When you pull back the hammer on a revolver, you are "cocking" the weapon. Once you cock it, you can fire at will.


The "gauge" of a gun indicates what, exactly?

The gauge of a shotgun indicates the diameter of the bore. It's too complicated to explain in one quiz answer, but as the number of the gauge decreases, the diameter of the barrel increases ... and so does the power of the recoil.


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