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Education / Training We’re still not there!

We’re still not there!

by B.B. Pelletier

Today’s report is a little different, but I hope it will be informative as well as eye-opening. I plan to address several topics, but the principal theme is that not everyone understands the technology of shooting. Not even the majority!

Single shots
What brought this out was a casual remark made to Edith and me at the SHOT Show a few weeks ago. We were in a gun manufacturer’s booth being shown their products and the salesman remarked that the rifle we were looking at was a single shot. I asked him how that could be since he had just shown us the rifle’s magazine.

He replied, “Well, it fires only one shot every time the bolt is worked and the trigger is pulled.” Oh, my gosh! I informed him that a rifle that has a bolt to feed ammunition from a magazine is most definitely NOT a single shot. It is what is known as a repeater.

Edith then launched in on the definition of a true single shot, using an 1874 Sharps falling block breechloader as her example — a Quigley-type rifle. I think the salesman felt the Sharps was not able to be categorized! In other words, a design so archaic as to almost defy description in modern terms.

In the salesman’s eyes, if the gun fired once when the trigger was pulled and the shooter had to do something before pulling the trigger again, it was a single shot. That begs the question of what constitutes a repeater? In the salesman’s own words, “Repeaters are guns that continue to fire each time the trigger is pulled.” To my way of thinking that could either be a double-action revolver or pistol, or a semiautomatic anything. But I guess the salesman hadn’t thought about it that much. He did tell us that the rifle in question was called a single shot in the owner’s manual that his company had just produced!

When I told Edith I was writing this blog, she told me this is a common theme in customer reviews submitted to Pyramyd Air’s website. In fact, just recently a customer submitted feedback to Pyramyd AIR that he found an error on a product page, where a gun was listed as a repeater when it was really a single-shot. Apparently, some people think semiauto = repeater and don’t realize a gun can be a repeater without being semiauto.

I recently read where a gun writer described a certain revolver as having a single-action trigger because, again using his words, “…the gun fires every time the trigger is pulled. It only takes a single action to fire the gun.” Ooops! Good guess, but wrong!

A single-action gun is one where the trigger performs only a single action — releasing the sear. A double-action gun is one in which the trigger not only releases the sear, but also cocks the hammer and advances the gun’s mechanism to a fresh cartridge — two actions. Cocking and releasing the hammer (1) and loading another cartridge (2). Double-action. Get it?

Yes, they cry, but what about an M1911A1 pistol? The trigger fires the gun each time it’s pulled, and you don’t need to do anything else. Yet, it’s called a single-action. Why?

To answer that question, pick up a loaded M1911A1 that has a cartridge in its chamber. With the hammer down (i.e., not cocked) you can squeeze the trigger all day and the gun will never fire. The hammer has to be cocked first.

When an M1911A1 fires, the slide is driven back by the recoil of the exploding cartridge. As it passes over the hammer, it rocks it back to the cocked position, where the sear catches and holds it. So, it’s the action of the slide and not the action of the trigger that cocks the gun.

I have a Micro Desert Eagle pistol whose hammer doesn’t remain back in the cocked position when it fires. The slide does push it back, just like the M1911A1 slide, but my pistol is designed so the sear doesn’t catch the hammer. It follows the slide when it goes forward again. You have to cock the hammer by pulling the trigger each time you want to fire the pistol. It makes the trigger harder to pull, which makes the pistol safer to carry in your pocket. My pistol is called — get this — a double-action-only (DAO) pistol.

Micro Desert Eagle
This Micro Desert Eagle is double-action-only for safety while carrying.

Single-action mechanisms have much lighter and crisper triggers than double-action mechanisms. I use the term “mechanism” (or action) because some air rifles are also double-action-only — like the Crosman 1077. Each pull of the trigger both cocks (and releases) the hammer and advances the clip to the next pellet. That explains why those guns have such long, heavy trigger pulls, where single-action guns like the M1911A1 have very light and extremely crisp pulls.

Incidentaly, the description on the Pyramyd AIR website says the 1077 has a semiautomatic action. They do that because Crosman says it, and they want to conform to what the manufacturer is saying about their guns. But the truth is that it takes the action of pulling the trigger to cock the hammer and advance the rotary clip, and that makes it a double-action mechanism, by definition.

Why bother?
I’m sure there are people who think I’m a lecturing old dotard for insisting on the accurate use of definitions and terms this way. Well, those people never read 1984, or if they did, they missed the point of the novel. If you take away the precision of language, you dumb down the population until people no longer have the words to express complex thoughts. Every young person who calls me “dude” or “man” or even “brother-man” is doing this without knowing it.

There’s a line in the movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home in which Captain Kirk asks Spock if they can’t just mimic the sounds the alien probe is sending to earth that are ionizing the atmosphere so it sounds like the whales that have gone extinct. Spock replies, “We can imitate the sounds, but we would be responding in jibberish.” That’s exactly what some gun dealers, writers and even manufacturers sound like to me when they bend definitions and even invent new ones to describe things they know nothing about!

Calling loaded cartridges “bullets,” then discovering there is now no name for what comes out of the “bullets,” they label them “bullet tips” “bullet heads” and “bullet noses.” Calling pellet rifles “BB guns” and calling BB guns “rifles” simply extends the abuse.

When I write, I’m explaining things to people who aren’t familiar with the terminology or the technology. If I get sloppy, how many people will be confused? Lord knows, I’m sloppy enough without meaning to be. I at least have to try to be precise.

A second danger with language is to substitute emotion-charged terms for the correct terms. The nightly news is a stunning example of this. If police break into a home and find 5 rifles and 100 rounds of ammo in a closet, how they describe that find on the news depends on who’s doing the talking. On the NBS Nightly News, it’s an arsenal. On CNN, it’s a weapons cache. And on Fox News, it’s a gun collection.

The terms and definitions do matter. They matter a lot, as it turns out.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

104 thoughts on “We’re still not there!”

  1. Just a slight correction. A double action trigger means the trigger both cocks the hammer and releases it. It has nothing to do with advancing the gun’s mechanism. This is why we can have a double action semi-automatic pistol. The advancing of the mechanism is described in the name of the gun, ie: revolver, semi-automatic, etc.

  2. I have to agree that the loss of correct grammar and definitions is certainly dumbing down the populace. I’ve worked in a few different professions and find it amusing when someone from another country, english being their second or third language has to correct a natural born citizen on their english. For this reason I’m always telling my nieces to read, read, read because it keeps the mind sharp and vocabulary fluid. Sorry to stray from the topic of gun terminology but this is an issue that concerns me greatly. Carry on.

    • It happens to me almost daily “someone from another country, english being their second or third language has to correct a natural born citizen on their english” but I usually just shut up about it.

      When someone writes too when they meant 2 or the whole we’re/were/where or there/their/they’re or you’re/your.

      It’s hard for us non English people to understand sometimes but when we do get it, when someone mixes them, it just pops up for us (well for me anyways) but I don’t correct people about it. I think it must be insulting, especially in written form where there is no tone and it can sometimes come out or be taken the wrong way.


  3. I love this, I could read blogs like this all day long. I love everything “precision”.
    Not using the correct terminology (or even orthograph which is why I often asked for everyone forgiveness since English isn’t my mother tongue and/or daily language) is very important to me.

    It’s like when people use wheel and tires as if there was no difference, it kills me, not the same thing! Words that are associated with one another aren’t interchangeable.

    People wouldn’t call a car a tractor? They’re both similar, why not?

    Not using the correct term would be like using .177 ammo in a .22 gun 😉


  4. B.B.

    Bravo Sir!! Well said. Its incredible how even people connected with the trade are ignorant of the correct functions & terms related to guns. I think this should be common ABC, especially if you are an enthusiast or connected with the trade. Don’t mean to boast, but I learned all this a long time ago from my Dad & reading up on the subject.


  5. More and more I miss professional sales people. Professional, not because they have had a lot of different sales jobs, but professional because they know a lot about their product and how it will solve my problem. By and large stores now have cashiers, not sales people.

  6. Most news media, whatever their medium, are not interested in relating facts, but attracting audience. The larger their audience, the more they can charge for advertising. They want to stir emotions.

    Not only does it attract an audience, it can influence an audience. Why is it that if you want to kill babies you are Pro Choice, but if you want to save babies lives you are Anti Abortion? By repeatedly relaying a horrible shooting event, they hope to influence people to strip everyone of their Constitutional Rights, though the fact is shooting deaths are way down from their peak of several decades ago.

    Politicians use this tactic as their primary tool. If we looked at the facts instead of letting them appeal to our emotions, we would vote “None of the above”.

    • Actually, the politicized language of the abortion debate has defenders of legal abortion access calling themselves “Pro-Choice” and their opponents “Anti-Choice.” Those who wish abortion were again illegal use these terms: “Pro-Life” for themselves and, usually, “Pro-Abortion” for their opponents.


      • It CAN be decided, either way, by putting it on ballots, plural. Abortion could be made illegal or explicitly Constitutionally protected by a minimum two-thirds majority vote of the House of Representatives and a minimum two-thirds majority vote of the Senate followed by ratification by at least three-quarters of the states.


        • The supreme court has already made it legal,, and, short of a rehearing, it will remain so until a constitutional amendment is ratified. And you know how difficult that is. Abortion is an issue, like religion, that can not be decided with reason. Only through conviction. It is here that words and phrasing has the greatest impact,, not in changing convictions but in stiffening resolve,, and animosity.

          • Amending the Constitution is the process I described above. It IS difficult, and meant to be that way by its design, although it has been amended 17 times (additions to the original 10 Amendments — the Bill of Rights”) over the past 200 or so years.

            If enough people want it, and if they want it badly enough (see the 18th, 19th, and 21st Amendments, prohibiting alcohol, granting women voting rights, and repeal of Prohibition, respectively, as examples of what I’m talking about), it can be done democratically, peacefully, and legally without leaving it up to the Supreme Court.

            Gallup and Quinnipiac polled separately last July and they came up with near identical results regarding the will to change things:

            Slightly more than half of Americans believe in legal but not unlimited access to abortion, one quarter favor unlimited access to abortion, and one fifth seek to outlaw all legal access to abortion. So, 54 percent of the U.S. prefers the status quo, and the other 46 percent are filled with animosity — 26 percent to 20 percent. 20 percent does not a Constitutional Amendment make, nor does 26 percent.

            Disaffected pro-choice Americans could move to the Middle East or Africa, where abortion is illegal almost everywhere. It is also illegal in about half of Latin America. If one dislikes the way things are in a free country, they are free to try to change it (many do) or free to move to Somalia, Egypt, or Guatemala (not as popular!).


            • All this is obviously true, Mike,, but it wasn’t the point I was trying to make,, which is that words can inflame. They needn’t be eloquent,, nor grammatically correct,, but if the phrasing is in line with the crowd’s desires, and the rhetoric is sufficiently volatile,, illogical things tend to happen.

              Tell people what they want to hear often enough,, and soon they take it as fact. Language is a tool,, and the shape of tools can change. It is their use that can cause problems.

              • Ed,

                You are correct. I misunderstood you completely.

                And I agree with you about people using language to inflame people and cause anger, usually in an attempt to further one’s own political and/or financial goals. It all becomes about winning at any cost.


  7. “If you take away the precision of language, you dumb down the population until people no longer have the words to express complex thoughts.”

    Well said BB! You’ve hit the nail on the head with great precision. And all our advances in communication are accelerating the process.

    Perhaps the powerful forces who pull the levers of society really only want compliant citizens; consumers; & employees.

    From air-gunning to anthropology via linguistics- defining an absolute (but almost totally ignored) truth in my humble opinion.

  8. Political spin has nothing to do with precision of language. They absolutely know what they are saying vs not knowing the definitions. BTW, it was an airgun collection, but Piers Morgan will be spring boarding off the event, with nightly rants why Americans shouldn’t have anything that remotely looks like an “assault weapon” (anything that shoots a projectile). Deep down, I think he wishes that guns were never allowed in the colonies. 😉 The political spin is more threatening than precision of language.

  9. This post is very uplifting. It proves that the most ignorant in the world can still get a job posing as an expert!

    Sorry, people with knowledge and integrity, you have a serious handicap!

    Ok, to bring us up from my self imposed downer, I propose that PA establish an easily accessed glossary of terms so that beginners and even proud grizzled veterans can use to brush up on terms that are supposedly common knowledge. This would include not only spelled out words but also the endless list of acronyms of airgun terms. I have seen requests for such a list on this blog a multitude of times, as well as on other forums. What I haven’t seen is such a comprehensive list. For instance, ‘trigger creep’ is a term whose true meaning has escaped me for most of the duration of my airgun enthusiasm. I would be happy to contribute my limited knowledge to begin this list. We are fortunate enough to have a glut of genius level airgunners on this blog that would make such a list comprehensive. We all know that the daunting level of terminology in this hobby is a barrier to the new and uninitiated. So… let’s get it done for goodness sake! I propose the list of terms follow the lead of Wikipedia. It could be edited to clarify ambiguity or add terms that were so far undefined.

    Dumb ole slinging lead posted the following on the yellow. It is by no means comprehensive, or even necessarily correct. But it is a start.

    CPL = Crosman Premier Lite (Crosman’s 7.9 grain .177 domed pellet)
    CPH = Crosman Premier Heavy (Crosman’s 10.5 grain .177 domed pellet)
    POA = Point of Aim (The point where your scope or sights were aimed)
    POI = Point of Impact (The point where your pellet actually hits)
    HPA = High Pressure Air (Compressed air used in PCP air rifles)
    PCP = Pre Charged Pneumatic (The type of air rifles that utilize HPA)
    MPP = Multi Pump Pneumatic (Pump air rifles like the Sheridan bluestreak)
    SPP = Single Pump Pneumatic (Single pump rifles like the Daisy 753, 853, or 953)
    CO2 = Carbon Dioxide (They type of airguns that utilize cartridges or bottles filled with liquid CO2)
    RWS = The German exporter of the popular Diana brand airguns
    HW = Hermann Weihrauch (A respected German airgun manufacturer)
    AO = Adjustable objective (A scope adjustment that allows clear focus at a long range of distances)
    FT = Field Target (A hunting simulation sport consisting of targets with a smaller killzone that when struck squarely, knocks down the target)
    HFT = Hunter Field Target (Field Target but with less constrictive rules)
    BC = Ballistic Coefficient (Basically a numerical value of the aerodynamic efficiency of a pellet/projectile)
    Springer = An airgun that is powered by a coilspring or a gas strut to compress air
    Pneumatic = A type of airgun that stores compressed air in a cylinder. The compressed air can be provided by an onboard pump or externally from a pump or airtank
    Breakbarrel = A type of springer airgun wherein the barrel of the gun pivots away from the action around a pivot pin/bolt through the breech block, which cocks the gun, compresses the spring and presents the breech to load a pellet
    Underlever = A type of springer airgun with a rigid barrel that uses a seperate cocking lever to cock the gun, compress the spring and present a loading port for loading the pellet
    Bullpup = A type of rifle that has the trigger forward of the breech resulting in a shorter overall length of the gun
    Windage = Sight adjustment in the horizontal plane
    Elevation = Sight adjustment in the vertical plane
    Parallax = A sighting error that occurs due to the shooter and sights of the gun being situated relatively close to the target
    Sear = A part of the trigger mechanism. Usually a lever that releases the piston in a springer airgun or the hammer/striker in a pneumatic airgun
    Breech = The rear end of a barrel
    Muzzle = The front end of a barrel
    Crown = The surface area surrounding the barrel at the muzzle end
    Diabolo = Name of the shape of most popular airgun pellets. Consists of a flared skirt that tapers up to a narrower waist, which then flares out again to the head of the pellet.
    Wadcutter = Pellet with a flat head. Pellet used in short range target shooting
    Hollowpoint = Pellet with a shallow pit or cup in the head. Designed for hunting purposes
    Dome = Pellet with a domed, or round head. Usually the preferred pellet for long range shooting
    HDD = Hammer Debounce Device (Reduces the bounce of the hammer in a pneumatic airgun) It results in a more efficient use of the air available
    LDC = Lead Dust Collector (Attachment to the muzzle end of a barrel presumably to collect lead dust, but in reality for a different purpose of quieting the report of an airgun)
    FPS = Foot Pounds per Second, sometimes this is referred to as muzzle velocity (The speed of the pellet as measured by a device called a chronograph or chrony for short)
    FPE = Foot Pounds of Energy (The energy imparted to the target by the pellet) Foot Pounds of Energy is calculated by multiplying the pellet weight in grains times the velocity in FPS at the target squared and then divide by 450,240. This number is important because some countries restrict airguns over a specified power, and because different game will require different FPE to administer a humane kill

    • SL,

      Tom wrote up a glossary for Pyramyd AIR a long time ago. Words highlighted in product descriptions are supposed to show a balloon above them with the definition from the glossary. I will ask them again to publish the glossary on their site.


      • Edith

        I was vaguely aware of that. Thank you. And it is a good measure. What I was pushing for was a link prominently displayed at the top of every daily blog and on the homepage with a comprehensive list of all these terms laid out so that a person, especially beginners would not have to accidentally happen upon them when looking at product descriptions.

        I know that when I began visiting the blog, there were things I was ashamed to ask the meaning of because I did not want to convey the depth of my stupidity to my prospective peers. I just thought a glossary link at the top of every blog post would straighten out any confusion, keep everyone on the same page, and reduce the anxiety of the very important new airgunners that might be perusing the blog with big question marks above their heads. Like we all were at some point. It would also reduce the need for BB to write blogs that seek to straighten out popular misconceptions of common terms. Just a modest request from a very humble airgunner.

        PS What are you doing up so early young lady? I would prefer that you be well rested than responding to my crazy posts first thing in the morning. Oh well, cant tell a grown woman what to do. Good Morning Ms Edith.

        • SL,

          Posting a glossary link on the blog is a good idea. I wish I’d thought of that. If Pyramyd AIR does post a link to the glossary on their website, I think they’ll probably put it in the footer of their website, which is where the links to articles are also found. I doubt they’ll put it at the top, as that’s already got a lot of links.

          Tom’s sleeping in today since he started his workday yesterday at 3 am. I’m pulling the early shift.

          Regarding the use of a glossary to help newbies. Airgunners of all experience levels ask basic questions. That’s because there’s a lot to learn and not everyone has the same exposure to all things. Someone very experienced in using handguns may be a novice when it comes to long guns.

          When Pyramyd AIR gets feedback from people clicking the website feedback link on their site, I get those emails, too, and I frequently supply answers. We have a whole library of answers I’ve provided over the years. You’d be surprised what people don’t know…and some of them claim to have been shooting for 50+ years. No one knows everything. I hope people feel more comfortable asking questions, even if they think everyone else knows the answer. For every person who asks a question, there could be hundreds of others who have the same question but are afraid to ask.


    • Good idea. Much needed… as evidenced by this very blog post. I was just about ready to propose the same thing, but you beat me to it. Nice start on the list, by the way.

      Since BB already mentioned a few common misnomers, it could also be helpful to the uninitiated to have a list of those, as well, along with the correct term to go with the description. I.e. “bullet tips”, “bullet heads” & “bullet nose” all refer to the projectile element of a “cartridge”, which is correctly called a “bullet”.

      What do you think?

      – Jim in KS

    • But you forgot M-rod, P-rod, Disco, TSS. Well you know what I mean.

      I guess somebody could keep adding to the list as we make up new names for new guns and such. Yep that’s what we can do. Just as long as we don’t have a debate on what way to abbreviate the new name.

      And then that means I got to keep referencing back to the list so I got it correct when I write it down. Ok now this all just sounds like way to much work. But at least the people that use the short cuts wont have to reference the list all the time. So ok yes maybe this is a good idea to have the list.

      And I got another idea. Maybe somebody needs to invent a Smart Spell Checker that knows the difference of those words like(to and too and two) (or,our and are) and so on.

      And we could put it on the list also as a SSC. No we have to put that on the list because the next time I say that darn SSC just ain’t right no telling what somebody could think.

      Well at least after all of this out in the open now about how we all talk and have our slang and lingo. Now we can all be smarter more educated blog commenter’s.

      And another revolution of the world happens.
      Hmm how do you determine what that means.

        • John E
          Then we have to start a SSCA I will bet. And no I didn’t say SCCA. That means Sports Car Club of America.

          I mean Super Soakers Club Anonymous. Well at least that’s better than a ACSS I guess. American Club of Super Soakers. Hmm maybe we should change the abbreviation. Is ACSS ok to say on the blog? Just say’n you know.

      • Yeah, that is what I meant. I wasn’t paying close enough attention the first time I edited the list on the yellow. Because it was situated next to FPE I accidentally added ‘pounds’ in there.

        Nice catch.

        • I thought so… But since we’re on the subject of being precise, I thought I’d see what being on the other end of the stick is like. Usually, I’m the one being corrected. 😉

    • MPP = Multi Pump Pneumatic (Pump air rifles like the Sheridan bluestreak)
      SPP = Single Pump Pneumatic (Single pump rifles like the Daisy 753, 853, or 953)

      Misleading… Your “MPP” only has one “pump” (a cylinder with a piston and one-way valves controlling the direction air flows). Just as your “SPP” only has one “pump”.

      The nomenclature I learned is “MSP” and “SSP” — Multi-/Single- STROKE Pneumatic.

  10. It’s interesting, I agree with you to some degree, especially with how the dumbing down of the language leads to the dumbing down of people.

    That being said, I think that some people take it too far, and force terms to be more precise than they really are. A gun forum that I frequent recently had a thread about misused terms, an it was interesting the things that people were saying, people saying that things were misused when they weren’t.

    Just to open up a can of worms here, look at clip vs magazine. The age old issue of “stop calling the thing you stick in the glock a clip”.

    Well, many “magazines” have been called clips by their manufacturers. If they don’t get to name their own products, who does? As for magazines, the term is truly all encompassing. Really, any thing that holds your ammo is a magazine. The thing you stick in your Glock is a magazine. The thing you stick in your Garand is a magazine. The tube that holds your shotgun shells is a magazine. The cylinder that holds your ammo in your revolver is a magazine. So maybe that’s one that’s been taken too far.

    What frustrates me is the way certain terms get used so differently between Air guns and powder burners. I mean, really, how did we get to calling an air gun suppressor a muzzle brake? And a “barrel shroud”. Ask any black rifle guy, and they will tell you, it’s not something that quiets your gun, it’s the shoulder thing that goes up. 😛

    • I agree with you. But then again manufacturers are not immune to making huge mistakes in terminology just because they are manufacturers. In my view they above all others, need to be precise in order to inform prospective consumers and to retain credibility.

      I might be wrong, but I see a magazine as something that is a reusable, reloadable ammo container that inserts into the receiver and advances the ammo into the action of the gun by means of a spring.

      A clip is merely a metal or plastic construction that holds ammo together, usually for use in bolt action repeaters. A clip is typically discarded after it is used, in least in military rifles. Unlike magazines, in is not typically reloaded and contains no mechanism (spring) to push the next round into the action. Clips in airguns in contrast are meant to be reuseable and reloadable.

      In military terms the M16 uses a magazine, the M1 Garand uses a clip.

      In airgun terms the Benjamin Marauder uses a magazine, the Crosman 760 pumpmaster uses a clip.

      There is definitely a distinction in the difference.

  11. Here is a 1906,G.K. Chesterton quote regarding the use of language and those who would employ it: “But language, in it’s written form, especially exists for the purpose of suggesting shades of thought and starting trains of association. For this purpose every word is important. For this purpose every letter in every word is important. The letters are important because they make up the recognisable color and quanity of the word. It is not an accident that the very word “literature” has a meaning which connects it with the alphabet. It is not and accident that when we speak of a literary man we call him a man of letters.” I would submit that today , because of the dumbing down of the skill and art of writ ting , for example by texting, we are losing our ability to communicate . We soon will have almost no “literate ” people left. The dialogue that BB relates to hearing at the Shot Show from that vendor doesn’t suprise me one bit. But , do not confuse that with the “spin” the media puts on gun related issues . This is no accident, and they are just taking advantage of ignorance , and they ARE winning.

  12. I fought the dumbing down of the English language for the 30+ years that I taught science. During the first lesson of every semester, I told my students that we would be using language that had a precise definition for every word. I told them that language was a tool to allow us to exchange ideas, information and concepts. I explained how slang and dumbing down of the language would make that harder or impossible . I also gave them two descriptions of a man. In one , I used words like fat, gross, obese, etc. In the other I used plump, rotund, full bodied, etc. Then I asked them which person they thought they would like if the met him. They were surprised when I told them that it was the same man, and that it was Santa Claus ! I then explained how the mass media could influence them by the choice of a few words. I hope that there are teachers who read this blog (and readers who know teachers) Who will pass on BB,s message to their students. Ed

    • I still have problems with the word “gross” in the usage you describe…

      “gross” to me is ALWAYS 12-dozen (or 144 of something).

      For most things that “gross” seems to be used for these days, the closest match to my usage is “grotesque” (or “nauseating” — as in “that puddle of vomit is …”; grotesque doesn’t quite fit. Whereas o/~ Down in Ring’s End there’s a five-leggéd cat, and a three-leggéd donkey, a two-headed monkey … o/~ [“Quare Things in Dublin”, the Wolfe Tones] qualifies as grotesque)

  13. BB
    It is the same when people lump all hobby guns like Pellet guns, BB guns, paintball guns, cork guns and airsoft guns as airguns or air rifles. In the past I have placed ads on FB and in Buy & Sell magazines to buy used Air rifles(pellet guns) and get bombbarred with people trying to sell me airsoft and paintball guns and then they get upset with me when I tell them I only interested in Air rifles(pellet guns) they call me an ass and thank me for waisting their time.

  14. I have a Relum Telly that has a seized up piston, so i refer to it as a club. Until the day i get around to fixing it, i also had a Mk IV Meteor along the same lines which would be called a single shot if the pellet ever left the barrel. Fixed that one though in the end, sort of (a bit of a work in progress).


    Best wishes, Wing Co, Sir Nigel.

  15. Magazine vs. clip is an easy one for me, but one I still stumble over is this: a handgun with a rotating cylinder is a revolver, not a pistol. A handgun that is not a revolver is a pistol.

    Or am I still getting that one confused? And why the difference in terminology? Or is there no difference?

    Does it have to do with being single action? I ask because a flintlock handgun is a pistol as is a Colt 1911. But the most iconic of all revolvers is the SAA Colt, so . . .

    Is a DAO Glock or B.B.’s DAO Desert Eaglet a pistol, a la the Colt 1911?


    • Michael,

      No matter what I call a rotating magazine or clip on Pyramyd Air’s site, someone’s going to complain. It could be customers or vendors or manufacturers. They don’t understand that a revolving mechanism doesn’t mean the gun has to look like it was shot by Wild Bill Hickok.

      This is only the tip of the iceberg. I’ll stop here before I got off into a low earth orbit 🙂


    • If I had to be picky, I’d probably consider “revolver” to be short for “revolving pistol” vs “single shot pistol”/”semi-auto pistol”/”autoloading pistol?…

      “revolver”/”revolving” describes the mechanism (and includes pepperbox pistols). “pistol” defines the form factor — something meant for one-handed operation, lacking a shoulder stock (have to be careful here — critters like the T/C Contender are “one-handed” but have a forestock that can be rested on a crooked elbow, and many modern semi-autos have trigger guards designed for two-handed support)

  16. Well, I have figured out single and double-action but I admit to still being hazy on “striker-fired” and anything to do with trigger sears, so maybe it’s a matter of degree. But I agree about the general poor use of language in the workplace. It is stunning. And then, at least where I work, there is a continual lamentation over poor communication. It’s not hard to see why. But no policy is going to fix basic confusion with language.

    Not sure I understood the Star Trek reference although I remember that movie had something to do with whales. But I love 1984. Favorite quote about language: “When talking about politics, two and two can make five, but when making a gun or an airplane, they have to make four.” 🙂 This is an excerpt from something called The Book which sounds like a Marxist manifesto but is really not. And independent of its argument, I think, is a demonstration of what can be accomplished with a real command of language by a “powerful and systematic mind.” It’s a pleasure to read as can be seen from its beginning. “From the beginning of time, or at least since the early Neolithic period, there have been three types of people, the low, the middle and the high….”

    B.B., here’s what I had in mind with a sight in the middle of the barrel.


    If it’s not exactly in the middle, it looks pretty close. And the standard sight mount on Springfield’s M1A Scout Squad is in a similar position.

    /Dave, yes, I go in for traditional archery too. But do you know anything about a bear hair rest? I find with my longbow that as I’m drawing the bow, the arrow will slip off the shelf. Very annoying. Also the wood is getting marred over time from the friction of the arrows. I once experienced a bear hair rest that solves these problems, so this is technology I might want to go for.


    • Matt, I’m not /Dave but a traditional archer as well. You can get the “Bear Hair” rests from traditional archery suppliers like 3 RiversArchery.com, as well as feather rests and plastic rests. Or you can go to the hardware store and buy the stick on felt pads that can be trimmed to fit on the shelf. A thin leather pad glued to the side of the riser will help as well.

    • Matt,

      I will grant that AK sight is close to the middle of the barrel. The side it’s on will still determine how it has to be adjusted. When it is very close like that I imagine you have to adjust it more to get a correction, but I might be wrong.

      As for striker-fired, the opposite is hammer-fired.

      A striker is a kind of internal hammer that you don’t see, but which works the same as a regular hammer. But there is one important difference, and it’s the reason I carry a Micro Desert Eagle instead of a Ruger LCP. The LCP is striker-fired and once you release the striker, if the gun doesn’t fire you must rack the slide to cock the striker again.

      With my hammer-fired pistol, the trigger moves the hammer back and releases it each time. So I can fire my pistol more than one time if the round doesn’t go off, but an LCP has to be manipulated, which ejects the cartridge.


      • I’d argue the point…

        My P99 is striker fired BUT has a DA/SA trigger. To me a hammer is something I can normally (again, those shrouded hammer pocket pistols are an exception) cock using my thumb.

        If I recall, my P99 (a first generation variant) has three trigger positions:

        Uncocked, full stroke (10+lb pull) double-action
        Cocked, full stroke (first half of the stroke just acts as a partial tension safety — if carried cocked one has a two-stage trigger to catch “nervous tension”, the first part of the trigger motion snaps to the short-reset position) single-action
        Cocked, short reset position (one doesn’t have to release the trigger completely to get reset the sear linkage) single-action (about 6-lb pull)

        For the audience: the P99 doesn’t have a external “manual” safety, it has a decocker button. Using the decocker puts one into the 10-lb double-action pull. Holstering without decocking puts the trigger into the two-stage pull where the initial pull just puts the trigger into the single-action position (with a distinct felt change in position). In rapid fire, one does not release the trigger all the way, just letting it forward enough to rest the sear.

    • I’ve never tried bear hair, Matt. I have the loop half of the hook and loop (Velcro) on my recurve and it seems to work well with the right arrows. Nice and quiet, waterproof and doesn’t chew up the arrows either. When I start wearing that out I might try bear hair, or calf hair. I use a calf hair tab and find that it helps my release greatly. I used to use a shooting glove for a couple of years when I first started and when I switched to the tab my groups shrank by half!

    • I forgot to address the arrow slipping off of the shelf… To keep this from happening, if you are using a split finger draw simply wrap more of your fingers around the string to start. With a heavy bow, people tend to try to grip and pull their fingers tighter while drawing. This action takes the arrow off of the rest. If you start with your fingers a little more wrapped around the string, as you pull back your fingers tend to straighten a little more, rotating the arrow into the shelf instead of away. Same thing with 3 under and Mongolian thumb draws except that the thumb draw means that you have the arrow rest on the opposite side of the bow than what we consider normal. Another thing that helps is to hold your bow at an angle instead of perfectly vertical when shooting off of the shelf. A little clockwise as you look at it as you’re holding it if your right handed, or a little counter-clockwise if you’re a lefty. This also gives you a bigger sight window too for instinctive shooting.

    • Striker is internal, a hammer is external.

      If you can pull it back with a thumb, it’s a hammer. (Note: some revolvers have had “shrouded” hammers that can’t be pulled with a thumb… But “strikers” tend to be linear: a hammer pivots to hit the firing pin, strikers are typically straight line… And then there is that oddity, the T/C Contender with its “hammer the hammer” — the real hammer has to be manually cocked [thumb], but the trigger activates a striker that is cocked when you pull back on the guard to break the action open. Pulling the trigger releases a striker, and the striker hits the sear releasing the trigger)

    • Magazine: A devise that holds and feeds cartridges directly or indirectly into the firearm’s chamber.

      Clip: A devise that holds cartridges to be feed into a magazine.


  17. OK, on topic. I took a basic Hanson safety course a while ago for accw. During the class of almost all newbies, the instructor asked how many actions does a trigger so on a handgun. When no one else answered, I did and said, “three”. Asked to explain. I said, “it chocks the hammer, rotates the cylinder and then releases the hammer”. He was surprised and admitted that was correct but he was going after single versus double action. I sheepishly apologized and told the class to ignore what I just said and pay attention to what the instructor said. He later pulled me aside and took me to several other instructors and repeated what I said. They were all speechless. I again apologized telling them i didn’t realize he was going after sao vrs dao.

    Fred DPRoNJ

  18. I get it. It drives me up the wall when I see politicians trying to sound knowledgeable on guns and make themselves look like morons. Most notably is that California politician trying to make laws about ghost guns with .30 caliber 30 magazine clips that fire 3000 rounds every half a second. If you are going to talk about guns please take the time to ask questions and learn about them before you talk about them. Don’t sound like some spineless fear mongering politician.

      • Only place they are generating fear is with other spineless politicians. To the rest they come off as morons and they get publicly mocked for it for several months at a time. I see it on facebook among all my pro gun buddies and even gun manufacturers and parts makers will mock them. Even my micro company, Infidel Custom Airguns will mock them. You just can’t help it they are so blatantly stupid. People might take them a bit more seriously if they’d take a few days and learn about what they fear so much. But if they learned even the minimum about guns I guess they wouldn’t be able to justify trying to legislate them out of existence.

        Looking forward to this years new airgun offerings. I hope this year holds some exciting offerings. I’m definitely eyeballing Airforce’s new bundles. I can’t call them new airguns, but I can call them new bundles since it is so modular.

        • Unfortunately, John, they couldn’t care less about those doing the mocking,, because those are the ones they can’t influence. It is the other 90% of the population they are aiming at. And THAT group CAN be influenced by even the most ignorant offerings,, IF they are exciting or “scary” enough.

  19. Language changes. It is meant to change. Witness the difference between Latin and Italian. Change or die,, or if not die,, be relegated to text books and sermons.

    A clip,, in terms on weaponry,, is a device to hold a number of projectiles in a configuration suitable for placing in a magazine. It doesn’t become a magazine until it is inside the weapon. So,, I see no reason NOT to call these “holders of cartridges”, clips,, until they are inserted. We certainly called them that in 1967 when I was in Viet Nam,, but, perhaps that was just expediency. Isn’t that what language is?

  20. I am also involved in traditional archery. I have progressed (or regressed) from recurves to English longbows. They do not have an arrow rest , and the arrow is shot of the knuckle. I was lucky to find a bowyer close to me. I have been able to go to his shop and watch him make bows. He has made 5 bows for me and restored my 1948 bow . Sir Nigel, do you shoot in the longbow? I would love to hear from an English longbow fan. In my area, compound bows dominate the clubs . Ed

  21. If police break into a home and find 5,000 rifles and 1,000,000 rounds of ammo in a basement, on the NBS Nightly News, it’s an arsenal. On CNN, it’s a weapons cache. And on Fox News, it’s a gun collection.

    This language thing DEFINITELY goes both ways.

  22. B.B.

    I liked your blog entry today. I’ve often noticed the same kind of problem when people say they are anxious when they mean to say they are eager. I also want to comment about the use of the word accuracy with respect to target shooting. A lot of air gun reviewers talk about air gun accuracy by referring to the relative size of the shot grouping. As a laboratory scientist I must disagree with that usage of the word accuracy. Accuracy is a measure of how closely you hit the desired target point, i.e. the bull’s eye. The size of the shot grouping is not a measure of accuracy, but is a measure of the precision, i.e. how well your shots repeatedly hit the same spot regardless of where on the target that spot is.

    • Charles,

      Welcome to the blog! I am sorry to disagree with you on this, but I do believe the disagreement is one of language.

      When I say accuracy in relation to a group size, I mean accuracy potential. Because to hit the mark the sights will need to be adjusted. But I drop the potential from the term, not unlike people stopped calling ice cream iced cream, which was the original title.


      • B.B.

        Thanks for your reply. I think I understand what you are trying to say about shooting accuracy.

        I was searching the blog and the internet to see if you had ever reviewed the Umarex Walther CP99 pellet pistol. I just bought one and was doing my own bench rested accuracy tests for the customer review I will submit to Pyramyd AIR soon. I found one of your reviews of a custom edition of the CP99 from about 2006 or 2007, but it didn’t talk about shot accuracy. Have you done a shot accuracy review of the CP99 pellet pistol?

        • Charles,

          That review was the only one I have done of the CP 99. Although I didn’t post accuracy figures I can tell you that most Walther pellet pistols like the CP 99 will get a 5-shot group at 25 feet of 1-1.5 inches with the right pellets. I haver tested many others and that’s where they all end up.


  23. Good blog, I’d like to see a couple more parts to this one. I’ve ran into similar frustration researching airguns. One that comes to mind is “two stage trigger” most of the two stage triggers.Tom Gaylord is correct again, this can’t be stressed enough. American english is degrading to thee point I might ditch Webster’s for Oxford’s dictionary as my reference to proper grammar. Phonetic spelling ushered in by the texting fad just might be the death blow to American English. And I apologize if I made any grammatical errors I lack formal education and the only writing I’m proficient in is bids, bills of sale and blue prints and all of that is do with extreme accuracy and attention to detail.

  24. BB
    Again a very enjoyable read. The media call a weapon an assault rifle if it has a muzzle brake and a pistol grip! (Ever heard Piers Morgan describe guns?). I think Crosman could be excused and forgiven about the semiauto description though – after all, they make replica guns with “blow back”. I think simulated simiauto would be too complicated!
    Language evolves that’s clear. Shakespearean English is called modern English! My English teacher told me that slang does not add to a language but replaces words albeit temporarily, before they themselves are deposed by newer slang.
    When you use precise terms there is no room for misunderstandings. One word has only one meaning.

  25. BB
    Me again,
    Explain to further for me the mechanism of your mini Desert Eagle. Does pulling the trigger a second time on a misfire drop the hammer a second time on the same cartridge?

  26. I’ll never forget the first time I got on the Pyramyd AIR (PA) website.I was looking for a powerful airgun to use in place of my .22 cal.(calibre)long-rifle (lr) rimfire powder burner(PB). (boy this could slow me down) 🙂 Anyway,while navigating the site I passed over a heading “magazines”.I didn’t know the blog or the Airgun Academy existed then but I remember thinking I would go back when I had time and look at the magazines because they would,no doubt,have articles where I could learn about air guns.Also they would have useful advertisements.It was to be 2 months later when I found out that those “magazines” were to hold pellet bullets for the guns.

    Another thing that I always puzzled over was the hollow point pellet.If it has a point then it isn’t hollow,or if it is hollow then it doesn’t have a point.Get the point?(or was that too hollow?)-Tin Can Man-

  27. BB part 2 of this blog needs to be.

    Or we’re knot there yet.

    Sorry had to do that. And you know what. I spell checked the above sentence and it came up no misspellings found. That darn SSC just ain’t right you know that.

    OK I will stop now.

  28. Well I try not to do this.

    But Mr. Beazer I’m calling you out. Are you waiting for the right moment to comment? This is like right up your ally.

    You have made comments lately. And I do enjoy reading your comments when you post.
    So Sorry if I’m stepping out of place.

    And like I say I don’t usually like to bring somebody in like this but I hope you have one of your usually great Beazer comments to post. If you don’t that’s cool too. And its to late for me to turn back. I just hit the Submit Comment button.

  29. Howdy Gunner, sorry, but ya really scared me! Last time I got called out wuz in the 2nd grade. I thought those 3 big 6th graders wanted to play. Nope, they smacked me around & gave me a wedgie that lasted for 4 days!?! So when ya called me out I ran & hid under the bed. Should be ok in a few days. Have a great weekend. Shoot/ride safe.

  30. Wow, B.B., you said a mouth full and the response has been great.I am pleased to say I got the SA/DA down pat. This month is two years since they played with my cervical spine. A little Lyrica and daily appropriate exercises seem to be doing the trick. Saw “Lone Survivor” the other day. I hate to see a grown man cry so I avoided mirors for a while. I may have been more moved by this movie as I realized Marcus Luttrell (if he was home) was only 50 miles from my theater seat. I first learned of Marcus when some blankity blank perps murdered his companion dog, DASY. Now I am looking for a good PCP shoulder launched rocket gun. ~Ken

  31. makes me think of my old swiss ruben straight pull. ive heard it called a repeater,single shot ,semi auto. its a single fire repeater ,pull the bolt,pull the trigger till she is empty

  32. It’s clear and cold here in Northern Michigan today. I was on my front porch picking off a few cattail heads with the RWS 34. You got to love airguns. You can shoot when ever you want to!


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