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Firearm Acronyms

AR, MOA, BP… what’s with all the lingo?

If you’re new, you probably already noticed that there’s a bunch of weird words tied in with gun ownership. It basically feels like another language.

I don’t blame you. With the teens these days saying random things like BRB or WYM, it can get confusing trying to remember all of these acronyms.

That is why I present you with this nice and short list of the top 15 firearm acronyms and other terms.

Let’s get right on to it, shall we?

Common Firearm Terms

Here are 15 popular terms used in the firearms industry and what they refer to. Some can mean a few different things, so it is best to use context to help determine how the term is being used.


ArmaLite Rifle-15. A lightweight, semi-automatic rifle made in different types of models. The name comes from the firearm’s original manufacturer: ArmaLite, Inc.

Assault Rifle

A selective-fire rifle used by the police force or military. Can be semi or fully automatic. Fires reduced-power ammunition and is usually fed from a large box magazine.

Assault Weapon

A political term that can be defined in a variety of ways depending on which source you look up.


A firearm that fires multiple bullets as long as you keep holding down on the trigger (can also be referred to as a “machine gun”). Difference between an automatic and a semi-automatic gun: semi-automatics fire only a singular bullet every time you pull/hold down the trigger (ex: AR-15).


Black Powder. Previously known as gunpowder. It produces a lot of smoke when ignited and is less powerful than the modern smokeless powder.


Projectile that the gun shoots out. Usually made from material like lead or copper.


The bullet’s diameter. Measures as fractions of an inch. It also tells you what size of ammunition that the firearm can fire. Used for rifles and handguns.


No, stop it. Don’t give me that look. Of course I’m adding this to the list. Typically, this is a device that uses an explosive charge to shoot a projectile. So, rifles and pistols go underneath this definition, but not air guns. However, there are some legal jurisdictions that classify air guns and bows as firearms, but they are not traditionally considered as such.

Firing Pin

This needle-shaped thing strikes the primer and helps ignite the powder, causing the bullet to shoot out.


Like a caliber, but for shotguns. It’s the diameter of the inside of a shotgun’s barrel. Gauge is determined by the amount of lead balls that are the same size as the bore that it would take to weigh a pound.


Holds cartridges under spring pressure until they are ready to be fed into the gun’s chamber.


Minute of Angle. Measures the precision of a rifle and can also be used as a measurement when you shoot long distances. Can also describe the size of a red dot’s reticle size. Yes, yes. I know that’s a lot of definitions. But if you’re confused about which definition someone is referring to, just use context or simply ask.


Mechanism used to prevent the gun from being fired (but don’t always rely on the safety when using a firearm). This can be manual with a switch you press or passive with something that blocks the firing pin.


Slang term for a round’s leftover casing after being fired. Also used to describe a shotgun’s ammunition.

Waiting Period

The legally mandated time interval where you buy a firearm and then received it. Between seven to twenty-five days. This is state-specific and some states do not require a waiting period at all.


Well, that’s it folks! If you didn’t see the term you wanted or are still curious, don’t forget to check out our complete dictionary of standard firearm terms.

When you’re first getting into firearms, I know it can seem like an overwhelming amount of information to take in, but learning the lingo is the first step. Till next time!

Confused about any firearm acronyms? Let us know in the comments down below!

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