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Chapter 2 - Firearms and Ammunition

A firearm is a mechanical device that launches a projectile at high velocity through a tube as the result of expanding gases from a burning propellant. Firearms have changed over the years, but are still based on forcing a projectile such as a bullet or shot through a barrel. 

How Firearms Work

Understanding how firearms work and the correct way to handle them is the first step in becoming a safe and responsible hunter. When learning to handle firearms always follow The Four Primary Rules of Safe Firearm Handling to prevent accidents:

  • Always point your muzzle (or bow) in a safe direction.
  • Always treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
  • Be sure of your target and what lies in front of and beyond it.


 Generally, there are three types of firearms: rifles, shotguns and handguns.

 The three basic parts of a modern firearm are:

  • action, which loads, fires and ejects ammunition
  • barrel, a metal tube that the projectile passes through
  • stock, that supports the action and in many cases, the barrel

Other terms:

the end of the stock that is held against the shoulder. Sometimes fitted with a recoil pad.
the front end of the barrel where fired projectiles exit.
the beginning of the barrel that holds a cartridge or shot shell for firing.
the rear end of the barrel, beginning with the chamber.
the interior channel of the barrel through which fired projectiles travel.
a mechanical device designed to prevent accidental firing (never to be used as an alternative to safe firearm handing).
a compartment that holds ammunition for the action to load into the chamber. This can be built into the stock or a detachable container.
the part moved by the finger that fires the cartridge or shotshell.
Trigger guard
a protective ring that deters the trigger from being accidentally struck or touched.

Parts of a Rifle

parts of a rifle with labels 

Parts of a Shotgun

Labeled image of shotgun parts

Parts of a Handgun
Revolver corrected



image of rifled boreimage of smooth bore of shotgun