Kentucky Rifle; A little Clarification


I have sometimes been asked to explain what a “typical” Kentucky Rifle is. Unfortunately, while there are many things that typify Kentucky Rifles, there’s really no such thing as a typical Kentucky Rifle. They were not uniformly mass-produced in factories, but rather made by hand in small, private gunsmith shops all over Appalachian America (eg. Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina). Sometimes they were plain affairs, with no thrilling extras, other times they were ornately engraved or decorated with gold and silver furniture. In the early days of Colonial America, a lot of immigrants from Europe found their way here, especiallly the Dutch, Irish, and Germans. Many of the Germans settled in central Pennsylvania, around York, Lancaster, Elizabethtown and surrounding areas, and undoubtedly in and around Philadelphia–the capitol of Colonial America. These Germans had their own brand of rifles dating back to the late 1600s and early 1700s–the Jaeger Rifle. When they got over here in the Colonies, they continued to make these Jaegers (pronounced Yay-Gur), and after a while, they became as much of a regional phenomenon here as they had been in what would later come to be called Germany.

Gunsmithing was (and still is) a fine handcrafted art, and many examples of those Long Rifles are still around today. During the War of American Independence, much of the Colonial military consisted of volunteers to bolster up the Continental Line. Many of them showed up with their home-grown rifles and caused a stir among the attacking British. You see, at the time it was common to use flintlock muskets–smoothbores–as military arms, and to form lines or rows, advancing towards the enemy. Rather than taking careful aim, it was the practice to have an entire line fire simultaneously in a volley of fire, in an attempt to decimate the line of an advancing enemy. So here we had all these independent “Hunters” (Jaeger is German for “hunter”) hiding behind rocks and trees and using their rifle sites to take aim at individual enemy soldiers, to great effect. The startled British officers began buzzing about these new “Long Rifles” which were being used with success against them. Although most did not know it at the time, this was the future of warfare. Up to that point, a rifle was supposed to be used for hunting game for food, whereas a musket was a military weapon. This led to the old German Jaeger rifles to be called “American Jaegers” and then “Long Rifles” by the British.

Now we get to the Kentucy Rifle. Up to this point the American Jaegers were being called “Long Rifles” by the British, and probably some locals too. Using the Long Rifle (and allowing for the generous support of the Marquis de LaFayette’s gift of 25,000 Charleville muskets to General George Washington) and some good strategies and a little luck, America won its independence from Britain. In the War of 1812, at the Battle of New Orleans, General (Yes, he later became president) Andrew Jackson led a group of some 2,000 Tennessee volunteers (another famous term!) armed with the Long Rifles they brought with them, and were able to defeat the British. After this, amid the celebration, jounalsits coined the term “Kentucy Rifle” and it stuck. So now, in the 21st century, we still call it the Kentucky Rifle. There you have it. There are still artisans in Appalachia who make these by hand, often with magnificent results. Do a search online, and you can find some absolutely beautiful Kentucky rifle artwork out there.

There is a more detailed and expanded story on the Kentucky Rifle at  There are also stories and links to many other famous firearms at this site.  Feel free to drop in and check it out!  We have authentic non-firing and blank-firing replicas of these guns at, in addition to a large assortment of reenactor gear, accessories and other items.  If you are specifically looking for a replica of the Kentucky Rifle, we have that too.

Blunderbuss; The Nasty Little Weapon that Could

Naval Blunderbuss, also called a pirate blunderbuss

Naval Blunderbuss, also called a pirate blunderbuss

Unlike the many muskets, carbines and pistols used throughout history, the blunderbuss was a fast and loose weapon. Lacking in accuracy or range, it was a blunt and crude weapon used for fighting in close quarters on land or sea. Sometimes referred to as a “naval” blunderbuss or “pirate” blunderbuss, they were actually in use on land as well. Naval and merchant ships carried them for protection, to repel boarders such as pirates, who used them also, for the opposite purpose. Once a victim’s ship was softened up by broadsides from cannon and swivel gun fire, or caught off-guard by stealth, they would move in and board. They would often attack by throwing burning pots of sulfur, rotting fish or other nasty substances–called stinkpots–onto the decks of their victim’s ships in an attempt to cause pandemonium and nausea, to repel and demoralize them before attacking to loot, rape and pillage. They would then board forcefully using axes, pistols, cutlasses, pikes and other weapons in addition to the blunderbuss. One of a pirate’s best weapons was their reputation. The more fierce and merciless their reputation preceding them, the better to intimidate their victims. Their flags would be revealed just before they attacked, revealing their identity to strike terror into the hearts of those being raided.

For the most part, a blunderbuss was a hybrid between a pistol and a carbine or musketoon. It had a short stock, but was usually fired from the hip, as it is too short to fire from the shoulder. It also had a vicious recoil, like a shotgun, so you really wouldn’t want it up against your cheek when it went off, unless you’re looking to loosen a few teeth. The blunderbuss was usually loaded with multiple lead balls rammed onto a large powder charge, although in a pinch, the user could drop in nails, rocks, broken glass or bundle shot–a nasty projectle consisting of a small bunde of metal rods that would blast out like a swarm of tiny spears. While some of these items might damage the barrel, they could be utilized in a fight if they became necessary. Blunderbusses were also used for crowd control or clearing the decks– just having it in hand made for a strong deterrent to any challengers or mutineers. More compact than a musket–or for that matter, even a carbine or musketoon–but more intimidating than a pistol, it was relatively light and portable. They were sometimes attached to the railing of the ship or the gunwales, using a crude, mounting swivel to steady them for use as a makeshift boat gun to disperse people standing on the deck of a ship alongside. The large, flared muzzle did not improve the scatter of the shot used, but was more useful for ease of loading when in the heat of battle, especially on the deck of a rocking ship or climbing around in the rigging. Like mainstream weapons of the day, the blunderbuss was fired using a flintlock mechanism.

The earliest use of the blunderbuss was in the 17th century, and continued until the middle of the 19th century, around the 1840s. The heaviest use of the blunderbuss was during the mid 1700s, when piracy was at an all-time high. Many were left unemployed after the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714) and turned to piracy to make a living. This is often referred to as the “Golden Age of Piracy”, during which time a large portion of maritime commerce was violated and plundered. The British Royal Navy in particular waged a vicious war against piracy. When the British caught pirates, the punishment was extremely severe, and their chained bodies were often hung out in public waterfront areas, and left to rot for months as an example and warning to others. Much later, blunderbusses were used by mail and stagecoach drivers to ward off attacks on the road by bandits and highwaymen.

The most well-known blunderbuss weapons were produced by armories in England, France, and the United States. They were also produced in Poland and elsewhere. The armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia) produced a limited number of blunderbuss weapons. By far, the largest producers of the blunderbuss were the various gunmaking firms in and around London. Firms such as H. Nock, Waters & Co., Ketland & Co., and Rea of London.

For detailed information and background on the most famous firearms ever made, please visit GunClassics.Com.
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1873 Colt Single Action Army Revolver

1873 Colt Single Action Army (SAA) Revolver

1873 Colt Single Action Army (SAA) Revolver

You’ve no doubt seen them on TV westerns and on the big screen. They are such a part of our history and culture in the United States that a lot people probably hardly ever notice anymore. I’m talking about those revolvers. A large number of these are the legendary Colt Single Action Army revolvers. Easily the most famous pistol in all of American history. In 1873, the US Government was conducting tests on a new military service revolver. Having just come out of the age of the old percussion revolvers that used nitrated paper or linen cartridges and fulminate of mercury percussion caps, they were moving into the future of firearms technology by switching over to the new all-in-one self-contained cartridges that we are familiar with today. They did not really come into being until 1860, when Benjamin Tyler Henry perfected the invention of Daniel Wesson (yes, of Smith and Wesson fame) and put it to work in his wonderful new lever-action repeating rifle, which later came to be the legendary Winchester Rifle. Unlike the old percussion firearms, these could be used in any weather or conditions, and were more reliable and less prone to errors. What made things really work for the legendary Colt Single Action Army (SAA) revolvers was the fact that the cartridges were compatible in both rifles and pistols, which certainly helped to launch Colt to great heights. The SAA is still made, and in demand as much as ever. A true working pistol that helped to “Win the West” and cleaned it up afterward. As an example, take a look the old Wild West, especially places like the old Arizona and New Mexico Territories. What used to be dangerous and lawless places are now much easier to live in, thanks to the taming of those territories. The Colt revolvers played a major part in that. Famous lawmen like William Barclay “Bat” Masterson and Wyatt Earp, soldiers like TE Lawrence (as in Lawrence of Arabia) were fond of the famous Colt revolvers. So were the outlaws such as William Bonney, better known as Billy the Kid.

The guns that truly won the West are represented here. There are acutally two firearms that get credit for winning the West. The Colt was the PISTOL that won the West, and in the rifle department, that honor goes to the Winchester. While the SAA was originally chambered for over 30 different calibers, the ones most people associate with are the well-known .45 and the Smith and Wesson SW .44. Later Colts had the cylinders lengthened to accept longer cartridges. The longer cartridges hold more powder, and thus have a higher velocity. I could go on and on about the most legendary revolver in American history, but if you wish to read more, please visit, where you can also find my “Gun Pages” a resource with information and stories of many other legendary firearms throughout history.

For authentic non-firing and blank-firing replicas of the most famous firearms of all time, please visit, where you’ll also find a large selection of accessories, re-enactor gear from many different periods of history and more.

The SMLE; Short Magazine Lee-Enfield

Lee-Enfield SMLE

The legendary bolt action rifle produced by the Royal Small Arms Factory, perhaps better known as RSAF-Enfield, and a large number of other operations around the allied world, including the Ishapore factory in India, (both British Colonial and post-independence India) has fairly earned itself a place in history. As popular as ever, the Lee-Enfield SMLE has a large coterie of fans and enthusiasts around the world, and is still a prized sporting rifle. In fact, countless numbers of SMLE rifles were “sporterized” in the 1950s and 1960s, and later. The British term “sporterize or sporterise” refers to military models that were fitted with telescopic sights, reworked calibers and bores, and even rebuilt receivers and other customizations, to be used for hunting and sport shooting, or in some cases, just to meet legal requirements in certain areas.

In 1907, the SMLE first entered military service and proved itself in the coming Great War, (aka. World War I) and went on to prove itself in the second World War as well. Officially, the SMLE was used by the British military until around 1957, being replaced by the more modern L1A1 Self Loading Rifle, but continues to be used even today in other places, especially by police forces in India.

The bolt action rifle came at a time when rifles were generally used by infantry, and carbines were used by cavalry or some special forces. The SMLE was a sort of happy medium between the two. Of course there was criticism, as with all other new things, but the rifle soon proved itself in combat, and toned down a lot of that criticism. Although there were many ammunition variances, the one that prevails is the original military selection of .303 caliber. Ask any military rifle enthusiast about the “303” and the conversation will find its way to the SMLE. The rifle’s fast, easy loading, lighter weight and short length were not its only advantages. These things gave it a further tactical advantage by allowing the troops to coordinate their fire and surround and take the enemy’s stationary machine guns positions. Some German militants were even known to claim that they thought they were under attack by a force using machine guns. This parallels experiences by American troops fighting the Germans and Japanese with their M1 Garand bolt action rifles in World War II. Though not related to the SMLE, it is clearly its American counterpart. In fairness, I should also say that the Germans’ Mauser bolt action rifle would be a counterpart too, but on that point, the SMLE seems to be the most wildly popular, and for good reasons. I would consider none of them to be bad weapons. Three Cheers to the SMLE for earning its rightful place in history beside other great and legendary firearms that will never die.

Non-firing replicas of the SMLE for fans, collectors or re-enactors are available, as well as other famous firearms, made of steel and / or wood, with working mechanical parts, both blank-firing and non-firing replicas, framed replicas and box sets, re-enactor gear and more, Please Visit

There is also a source of information on history’s most famous and legendary firearms at GunClassics.Com, where you’ll find info, facts, photos, links and more. Also great links to historical re-enactment sites. There is also a more detailed, expanded page on the Lee-Enfield SMLE there. You are invited to drop by and check it out. Hope to see you soon!

A Pistol Like No Other; The Luger P08 Parabellum

Luger P08 Parabellem basic diagram

One of the most successful and famous pistols of all time, the legendary P08 Parabellum, designed by Georg Luger was manufactured by the DWM (Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken) and saw service in World War I in the German and Swiss military, usually as an officers’ sidearm. They were in service in the Swiss military starting in 1900, and Germany in 1904. Both the Imperial German Army and Navy used the P08. It found it’s way to various parts of the world, and even saw use in the Chinese Civil War. The American military also bought 1,000 of the P08 pistols for field testing, although they ended up going with the now legendary M1911 .45 semiautomatic pistol.

In the early 1900’s there was a lot of devlopment and modification to the P08 which ranged from 7.65mm to 9mm, and even included a version which had a 32-round drum-type magazine affixed to the butt, along with a removable wooden stock, that fit cleverly into a holster.

While modern firearms load and eject by pulling the breech straight backward and letting it spring forward, the P08 has a hinged arm that is pulled upward, forming an “A”shape by using a textured knob, which then springs back into place, loading the firing chamber. An 8-round spring-loaded magazine inserted into butt of the grip supplies the ammunition. This design is instantly recognizable and makes the P08 one of the most famous pistols of all time. It is also  the first 9mm semiautomatic pistol, a format still manufactured today by many firearms producers.

In addition the the innovative locking mechanism, the P08 was also noted for it’s accuracy, ease of use, and is easy to take down and reassemble for maintenance.

In 1930 production was assumed by the Mauser company, who made the P08 until 1943, when the war started to go downhill for Germany.  The famous “Parabellum” was a favorite sidearm of German officers, and was still in wide use in World War II, even after the introduction of the more modern P38, made by Walther.  There was also a commercial version of the gun with an extended barrel, made in the 1920’s.

Many of the P08 pistols were captured by allied troops and taken home to end up in various private collections, and are still in circulation today, and often turn up in auctions. They are available in various states of repair, and most still are able to fire rounds, which are still available, mostly in the successful 9mm format. They are now very expensive to acquire. They can range anywhere from $1,000 to upwards of $8,500, or even more.

The popularity of the P08 has waned little owing to it’s sleek, compact design, the mystique of their connection to NAZI Germany, not the mention the incredibly unique locking mechanism that loads and ejects cartridges like no other gun ever made.

To check out some of the Most Famous Guns in History, visit GunClassics.Com, where you’ll find info, facts, photos, links and more.
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Glossary of Firearms Terminology

  • Action
    Working mechanism of a firearm.  There are various types. Bolt
    Action, Lever Action, Single Action, Double Action, etc.
  • Automatic
    A machine gun.  Any repeating firearm that automatically
    ejects, chambers and
    fires rounds repeatedly, usually at high speed,  with a
    single, steady pull of the trigger. Also
    called Fully Automatic.
  • Backstrap
    The back of a pistol’s frame, the back of the grip.
  • Ball
    A type of bullet or projectile.  Usually used in older
    firearms such as a flintlock, musket-type weapons.
  • Barrel
    The strong metal tube of a firearm through which the bullet
  • Barrel-Cylinder Gap
    The clearance between the sides of a bullet and the bore of the barrel
    as the bullet travels down it when fired.  In the US, the
    industry-standard tolerance of the Barrel-Cylinder Gap is from 0.0001
    to 0.012 inches.  A gap any larger will cause problems with
    firing and accuracy.
  • Black Powder
    Gunpowder.  Explosive mixture
    consisting of charcoal, sulfur and saltpeter (nitrate).
    Invented by the
    Chinese in ancient times.
  • Blank or Blank Cartridge
    A cartridge that has the explosive powder charge but no projectile.
  • Blowback (Blowback-Operated)
    Utilization of the force of hot, expanding
    gases released from firing the firearm.  In modern firearms,
    strong force of the blowback is used to eject spent cartridges and a
    spring recoil replaces them with new ones in the
    chamber.  Also called “gas operated.”
  • Blued or Blueing
    The treatment of metal on firearms that results in a black or
    bluish-black finish, usually done with chemicals.
  • Blunderbuss
    Precursor to the shotgun.  Usually a flintlock weapon, shorter
    than a
    rifle or a carbine, longer than a pistol, that is identifiable by a
    large, flared funnel-like barrel.  Used for short-range
    close-in fighting, often used on ships as well as by mail and
    stagecoach drivers.  Also called a naval or pirate
    blunderbuss.  Used from late 1600s to mid 1800s.
  • Bolt
    Metal bar or rod that slides and seats and/or removes a cartridge.
  • Bolt-Action
    Firearm’s action, using a manual sliding and/or rotating bolt to
  • Bore
    The inside of the barrel, or other part that needs to be hollowed out.
  • Breech
    The rear of the barrel.
  • Breech Loader
    A firearm that is loaded at the rear of the barrel.
  • Buckhorn Sight
    An open-top sight with curved sides.  Probably so-named
    because the shape  resembles antlers on a buck.
  • Bullet
    Technically, the projectile portion of a cartridge that is blown off by
    detonation of the powder charge, and flies through the air toward the
    target, leaving the shell or casing behind to be ejected.
    People often refer to the entire cartridge as a
    “bullet.”  On older black powder or percussion firearms, the
    bullet was just a shaped piece of lead.
  • Butt
    The very rear end of a rifle stock or the bottom of a pistol grip.
    In the Old West, the butt of a rifle or pistol was used as a
    secondary weapon by lawmen to  subdue troublemakers.
    Very handy for cracking skulls!  Sometimes referred
    to as “pistol whipping.”
  • Buttplate
    On a rifle, a covering of metal, wood, plastic or other material fitted
    onto the very rear end of a rifle butt.
  • Caliber
    Interior diameter of the barrel, or the bore.  Also
    corresponds to the size of ammunition that will fit in it.
  • Carbine
    A rifle or musket with a short barrel, usually a military version.
  • Cartridge
    A modern “bullet” or metal casing, which is an entirely self-contained
    piece of ammunition, with projectile, powder charge and ignition
    primer, all in one unit.  Nowadays, there are mainly only
    kinds of cartridge: rimfire, centerfire and shotgun.
  • Centerfire
    A cartridge that is detonated by striking a primer button centered in
    its base by the firing pin.  If a cartridge has what appears
    be a “button” in its base end, it’s a centerfire cartridge.
  • Chamber
    The rear of the barrel, or part of the gun where the ammunition is
    placed, in position, ready to fire.
  • Checkering
    The crosshatched pattern or texture on a metal, wood or plastic surface
    of a firearm, usually used to improve grip, or for decoration.
    Especially used on hammers and slides and grips.
  • Choke
    The shaping or an attachment at the muzzle of a shotgun that directs
    the spray or  pattern of shot as it is fired
  • Clip
    A container or feeding system, usually spring-loaded, that holds
    cartridges in place, so that it can be inserted into a firearm’s
    magazine.  Sometimes, the clip is called a “magazine” or a
    removable magazine.
  • Compensator
    A variation of muzzle brake that diverts escaping high-pressure gases
    upwards at the muzzle, reducing the general upward kick caused by
    recoil to compensate for it, and improve accuracy.
  • Crowning
    The rounded or beveled end surfacing of the barrel opening, (muzzle)
    used to
    protect the opening and edges.
  • Cylinder
    On a revolver, the rotating “wheel” that holds the cartridges, and
    allows them to rotate into position with the chamber for
  • Damascus Barrel
    On old black powder firearms, a type of barrel made usually of separate
    bands of twisted iron. If you have a firearm with a Damascus barrel, it
    is not considered safe to shoot due to age, and the fact that such
    construction will not withstand the stresses and pressures created by
    today’s ammunition.
  • Deringer, Derringer
    Originally a brand of very small pocket pistol made for easy
    concealment.  Today, the term Deringer or Derringer (2 R’s) is
    used to
    refer to just about any brand of very small and concealable pocket
  • Double Action
    A pistol or revolver that allows the hammer to be cocked and released
    by pulling the trigger.
  • Dry Fire, Dry Firing
    Pulling the trigger and sending the firing pin and other parts into
    their full range of motion and impact without using
    ammunition.  Usually considered a bad thing to do,
    placing undue stress on the parts.
  • Extractor
    Mechanism that removes empty ammunition casings from the chamber so
    they can be ejected clear of the firearm.
  • Firing Pin
    A strong metal rod or pin that forcefully strikes the primer of a
    cartridge, firing the firearm.
  • Flash Suppressor
    Attachment (or integral part of the muzzle) that covers the end of the
    muzzle, hiding the flash created by firing a firearm.
  • Flintlock
    Old form of ignition for firearms in the days before fully
    self-contained cartridges.  A locking mechanism with a metal
    part that strikes a flint, producing a spark, firing the weapon.
  • Frizzen
    On a flintlock firearm, a curved metal plate, usually
    hinged, which is struck
    by the hammer, which contains
    a flint. When the flint strikes the frizzen, it creates a shower of
    sparks, while springing open to expose them to the powder in the pan to
    ignite it.
  • Fully Automatic or Full Automatic
    A machine gun.  Any repeating firearm that automatically
    chambers and fires rounds repeatedly with a single, steady pull of the
    trigger.  Also called Fully Automatic.
  • Gas-Operated
    Utilization of the force of hot, expanding
    gases released from firing the firearm.  In modern firearms,
    strong force of the blowback is used to eject spent cartridges and a
    spring recoil replaces them with new ones in the
    chamber.   Also
  • Gauge
    The inside diameter or bore of a shotgun barrel.  A shotgun’s
    gauge is determined by a formula of how many balls of shot taken from a
    pound of metal will fit in a certain bore size.
  • Grain
    Measurement unit of a powder charge.  One pound is equivalent
    to 7,000 grains of powder.  437.5 grains is equivalent to one
  • Grip
    The handle of a revolver or pistol.  Sometimes fully
    integrated, or mounted in pieces.  Can be wood, metal,
    plastic, etc.
  • Grooves
    Spiraled channels cut into the inside of a firearm’s barrel, that cause
    a bullet to spin upon firing, stabilizing its trajectory and improving
  • Half-Cock
    Partially cocking a firearm’s hammer so that it does not fall and set
    off the firearm.  If you slip and let the hammer fall while a
    round is chambered, you
    will discharge the firearm.
  • Hammer
    Moving part that hinges up on rear (on hammer-equipped firearms), and
    snaps back into place with force, detonating the cartridge.
    Flint-tipped hammers are also used on flintlocks, to strike
    the frizzen to ignite powder.
  • Hangfire
    A malfunction in the primer of a cartridge that causes a delay in
    firing after the trigger is pulled.  Obviously, if you have a
    long or ongoing hangfire or misfire, DO NOT look into the barrel to see
    on.  Some people have actually (stupidly?) died doing this!
  • Hollowpoint
    Bullet with a hollow area in the nose, that causes it to expand on
    impact, increasing its destructive force.
  • Jam
    Misfire, caused by a mechanical part malfunction, or by a cartridge
    being stuck midway in the magazine or chamber. Also, almost any other
    kind of mechanical blockage in the firearm.
  • Lands
    Inside the barrel of a riflled firearm, the raised areas of the metal
    that remain above the cut rifling grooves.
  • Magazine
    Spring-loaded container that feeds cartridges into the firing
    chamber.  Detachable or non-detachable. Sometimes
    called a “clip.”
  • Magnum
    A longer version of a cartridge of the same
    caliber.  The increased length is to accommodate more powder
    increased velocity, power and range.
  • Mainspring
    On a flintlock musket or rifle, a strong spring that holds the hammer
    back in the cocked position until released by pulling the trigger.
  • Misfire
    When a cartridge fails to discharge, or to discharge properly.
  • Musket
    A smoothbore barrel (no rifling) firearm.  Usually an old
    firearm with a flintlock firing system.
  • Musketoon
    Short barrel, smoothbore, muzzle-loading carbine.  A
    short-barrel version of a musket.  Similar to a carbine.
  • Muzzle
    The end of the barrel, the  opening where the bullet exits.
  • Muzzle Brake
    Attachment or shaping at the muzzle to dissipate or reduce gas pressure
    in order to reduce recoil.
  • Muzzle Energy
    The force (measured in foot-pounds) of a bullet exiting the muzzle.
    Similar to recoil.
  • Muzzle Loader
    Firearm that is loaded through the muzzle, with a solid
    breech.  Old smoothbores are muzzle loaders.
  • Pan
    On a flintlock musket or rifle, a small bowl-shaped pan that holds a
    charge of powder. When
    ignited by the flint striking the frizzen, it flashes down a drilled
    hole in barrel, igniting the main charge in the barrel.
  • Parabellum
    General name given to cartridges measuring 9 X 19mm.  Also the
    popular nickname  of a famous German Pistol in that same
    caliber, made by
    Deutsche Munitions Fabrik (DWF) beginning in the early 1900s.
    Parabellum is a latin word (si vis pacem, para bellum) meaning: “If you
    wish for peace, prepare for war”
  • Parkerizing
    A dull gray or greenish finish on a firearm to prevent rust.
  • Patchbox
    On a musket or flintlock rifle, a small compartment in the stock,
    usually with a door or lid, used
    for storing patches of greased or oiled cloth, which is rammed down
    the barrel, and used to wad or pack the
    lead ball or bullet against the powder, providing a seal for better
    compression upon firing.
  • Peep Sight
    Rear sight with a small hole, which one peeps through to line up on the
    front sight and the target.
  • Percussion Cap
    On older “Cap and Ball” or percussion revolvers, a small, explosive
    cap, usually placed on a “percussion nipple” that, when struck by the
    hammer, ignites the powder charge through a small hole, firing the
  • Percussion Revolver
    An older black powder revolver, in which the hammer strikes a
    percussion cap, igniting the main powder charge.
  • Pinfire
    Old, obsolete cartridge with a small
    pin protruding from the side, near the base, that when struck by the
    firing pin, ignites the main powder charge.
  • Plinking
    Old and obsolete type of cartridge
    that had a small metal pin sticking out of the side, at the base, which
    when struck, would ignite the charge, firing the bullet.
  • Primer
    Small charge in a cartridge that ignites the powder when struck by the
    firing pin, discharging it.
  • Receiver
    The part of a firearm that contains the moving parts, or the action. In
    modern firearms, the mechanical area that loads and ejects a cartridge.
  • Recoil
    The energy created by the explosive release of discharging a firearm,
    that pushes it back against the person shooting it. It can range from a
    gentle bump to a smashing, bone-jarring experience, depending on the
    firearm.  Remember what physicist Albert Einstein
    said?  “For every action, there is an equal and opposite
  • Revolver
    A firearm with a rotating cylinder that holds cartridges, and aligns
    them for loading, unloading and firing.
  • Rifle
    Long-Barreled firearm with a rifled groove cut into the bore of the
  • Rifling
    The grooves cut into the bore of a barrel, to cause the bullet to
    rotate when fired, improving stability and accuracy in flight.
  • Rimfire
    A cartridge that has its primer in the base, and is ignited by having
    the firing pin strike the edge (rim) of the casing, crushing the rim to
    ignite it.  Modern rimfire cartridges are mainly found only in
    small calibers, such as .22 caliber.
  • Round
    Informal way of saying “cartridge” or a shot.  Example; “I
    fired a couple of rounds at them.”
  • Sabot or Sabot Bullet
    In firearms, sabots are
    only known to be used in old black powder guns.  A sabot is
    basically an adaptor that fits onto the back end of a bullet, to help
    trap in gases for more compression, enabling a smaller bullet to be
    used in a firearm with a larger bore or caliber.
  • Safety
    A locking catch or mechanism that prevents the trigger from being
    pulled, or
    otherwise prevents the firearm from being discharged.
  • Sear
    Pivoting part of the action of a firearm connecting the trigger to the
    hammer and holding it in place until released by the trigger.
  • Selective Fire
    Feature of a firearm that allows firing either on full-automatic, or
    semi-automatic mode, usually with the use of a switch or
  • Semi-Automatic
    A firearm that automatically extracts and ejects spent cartridges upon
    firing, then
    re-chambers a new one to be fired, and can repeat this action, one
    pull at a time, until the magazine or clip is empty.  This
    action takes place very rapidly.
  • Shot
    Small metal balls, grapeshot or buckshot, used in shotgun
    cartridges.  Shot comes in different sizes.
  • Shotgun
    Firearm with a smoothbore barrel, used to fire buckhot or shot.
    Modern shotguns use brass-based plastic cartridges filled
    with shot.
  • Single Action
    Firearm that requires the hammer to be manually cocked before pulling
    the trigger. On a single-action semi-automatic, you only need to cock
    the hammer before firing it for the first round, until it’s reloaded.
  • Sight
    Blade or protusion with a notch in it, usually on both the rear of the
    firearm and on the front, above the muzzle, to allow the shooter to
    line them up with the target.  There are many different types
    of sights.
  • Silencer or Silenced
    Device attached to the muzzle of a firearm to muffle or reduce the
    sound of firing.
  • Slide
    On firearms (usually semi-automatic pistols) the top part of the action
    (usually the entire top of the pistol) that ejects and loads the
    chamber by pulling it back, sliding it back
    along the frame.
  • Spitzer
    A bullet with a pointed nose
  • Stock
    The long part of a firearm (usually a rifle or musket) held by the
    shooter, or braced against the shooter’s hip or shoulder, to stabilize
    during firing.  Can be wood, polymer, metal etc.
  • Submachine Gun
    Automatic firearm that uses pistol ammunition.  Usually a
    smaller version of a full-size machine gun.  Used for
    close-range firing.
  • Take Down
    Button, lever or other device that allows for quick disassembly of a
    firearm for cleaning, oiling and maintenance, transportation etc.
  • Tang
    Protusions on the frame or receiver that connect it to the stock or the
  • Top Strap
    Top part of the frame on a revolver.
  • Wildcat Cartridge
    Non-standard cartridge.

The Glossary Above is Proprietary and is Protected by United States Copyright Laws. Copyright © 2009 4G Company

I have added an expanded version of this glossary at Gun

Mauser C96; The Broomhandle with a Bite


In keeping with human inclination to be averse to change and suspicious of new ideas, the C96 was not as well-received as its makers hoped when it was first introduced. To give the impression that they had sold more units than were actually sold, they skipped large blocks of serial numbers–not an unheard-of marketing strategy.  Later, when production picked up, they appear to have raided their own stock of parts from previous production runs and retroactively stamped firearms with older serial numbers to fill in the gaps.  Along with the confusion caused by various modifications to the original model, there was the inevitable switching out of parts by owners further down the line.  Finally, there were the Chinese-made copies that were almost totally undocumented, along with some made in Spain.  The result is a researcher’s or collector’s nightmare!  But despite the confusion, this much is true: the C96 was the first maschinenpistole/submachine gun ever made, and since it was a major innovation for its time and went on to  enjoy considerable success, it has earned its place in history, despite the clouded provenance.

Originally, the Mauser C96 was produced for a 7.63 X 25mm cartridge. There was also a 9mm Parabellum produced, which proved successful.  The 9mm Mausers were named the “Red 9” and had a large red “9” marked on the grips, to
differentiate them from the 7.63mm version, in order to prevent the confusion of ammunition sizes.   Later, many of the original 7.63 models had the barrels bored out to accept 9mm Parabellum cartridges. This was necessary because the C96 had a single one-piece casting for the barrel and receiver, so replacing a worn-out  barrel was not an
option.  You’d basically have to replace the whole gun.  Unfortunately for collectors and researchers, some of those 7.63mm-cum-9mm conversions were also branded with the big red “9”, adding more
confusion to the equation.  The original model C96 came with a detachable stock that also doubled as a holster–a clever innovation that DWM, the makers of the famed Luger P08 Parabellum–could’nt resist offering as an option to its own successful pistol.  The 7.63mm rounds used by the C96 offered good velocity and penetration, adding
to its success.

In the years before the Great War, (aka World War I) the Mauser C96 and its many variations became very popular, and orders came in from military forces in a number of nations.  This allowed the C96 to find
its way around the globe.  They were popular with British officers, Red Bolshevik revolutionaries and Chinese militants in the
various skirmishes that plagued China throughout the 20th century. The C96 went on to see action in various wars and revolutions worldwide, and even saw limited use by Germans and others in World War II.  As a trivial sidenote, the “blaster” used by Han Solo in Star Wars was based on the Mauser C96.  The American National Firearms Act of 1934 precluded most Mauser C96 firearms from finding their way past US shores.  Even now, there are estimated to be fewer than 200 of them in circulation in the United States, even though Mauser alone produced over a million of them.  By today’s standards, the C96 is an antique and a collectors’ item, and owing to their scarcity in the US, can bring very high prices at auction.

To check out some of the Most Famous Guns in History, visit GunClassics.Com, where you’ll find info, facts, photos, links and more.

For authentic replicas of these Famous Guns, made of steel and / or wood, with working mechanical parts, both blank-firing and non-firing replicas, framed replicas and box sets, re-enactor gear and more, Please Visit  We offer a metal and wood authentic replica of the Mauser C96 with working mechanical parts at