Hagu Action
  • A modern, strong, simple, solid, well-engineered, falling-block, single-shot action designed by Munich-born Martin Hagn, now of British Columbia and made both by him and by Hartmann & Weiss of Hamburg.
Hair Trigger
  • A gun trigger so adjusted as to permit the firearm to be fired by a very slight pressure
  • A trigger that breaks from an extremely light touch.

Half Cock
  • A middle position for an external hammer that effectively provides a safety function. With a firearm with non-rebounding hammers, when on half-cock, the firing pin will not rest on the firing-pin. And, whether rebounding or non-rebounding, an inadvertent pull of the trigger should not release the hammer and fire the gun.
Half Grip
  • Round knob, semi pistol grip (Prince of Wales grip)
  • On guns so equipped, the hammer is the part that rotates to provide the percussive impact on the primer. The firing pin may be struck by the hammer, or the firing pin may be a part of the hammer. Not all guns have hammers. Many guns are equipped with strikers: notably Glock pistols and the vast majority of bolt action rifles. Hammers may be exposed or shrouded, spurred or bobbed.
  • The part of a gun lock, which driven by a spring and released by a pull of the trigger, falls and (usually via an intervening firing pin) strikes the detonating primer of the load and discharges the gun. Hammers may be external or internal.
Hammer Spur
  • The thumb-piece on the top rear of the hammer that enables it to be manually drawn back to full cock

  • A firearm with a coil-spring-actuated firing pin, or with its hammer enclosed inside the action body; i.e.. no externally visible hammer.

  • A revolver or pistol design that actually have hammers but are fully encased inside the frames, hammer designs where the spurs have been removed for concealment, or striker-fired pistols that are truly hammerless.

  • In any mechanism, a small lever that engages a notch to actuate movement in one direction only. Specifically, a small spring-loaded lever attached to the hammer of a revolver which actuates the cylinder to advance one increment and move the next chamber into battery as the hammer is cocked. Also: Pawl
  • (British) - The wrist, or the grip of a long gun.
Hand Detachable Locks
  • The firing mechanism of a break-open gun which may be removed for inspection or cleaning without the use of tools. The release latch may be plainly visible or concealed. A feature typically seen on sidelock guns but also on the Westley Richards "droplock" boxlock action.  

noun hand·gun \-ˌgən\

  • Synonym for pistol. designed to be fired while held in one or both hands, rather than while braced against the shoulder.
  • A small, short-barreled firearm, possibly small enough to be concealed on the person, and able to be held and discharged in one hand. The term includes antique dueling pistols, modern single-shot, semi-automatic pistols and revolvers.
  • Cartridges assembled by an individual person from the individual components (primer, shell casing, gunpowder, and bullet) and are typically tailored specifically for their firearm.

  • Handloading - The process of assembling cartridge case, bullet or shot, wads and primer to produce a complete cartridge with the use of hand tools in the interest of loading for firearms for which cartridges are not available, experimenting with loads to achieve better performance, or to save money. Not to be attempted without knowledgeable instruction and careful study of the process.

  • German for Hand-Cocking or Cocker/De-Cocker. A type of action on a break-open gun or rifle where, in place of a traditional top tang safety, a somewhat more robust tab is fitted. Normally such a gun is carried in the field loaded, but with the action not cocked---an exceedingly safe condition. Then, when ready to fire, the shooter, instead of pushing a safety tab forward, pushes this larger tab forward, cocking the mainspring, making the gun ready to fire. Then, if the shot is not taken, he may simply slide this tab rearwards again, de-cocking the gun and returning it to the still-loaded, but very safe position.
Hang Fire
  • A dangerous situation resulting occasionally from the use of outdated old ammunition where the primer does not fire instantly upon being struck by the firing pin. The cartridge may fire in a virtual instant or some seconds later. In the event that a cartridge fails to fire immediately upon the pull of the trigger, always count out ten seconds before opening the breech.
Hanging Tag
  • The manufacturer's descriptive tag, tied to the trigger-guard of a brand new gun on the dealer's sales rack. For such ephemera to have survived in the company of an older gun is both unusual and a small indication of the care it has enjoyed since new.


A popular designation for the 230-grain full metal jacketed round-nosed military load for the .45 ACP. By extension, loads using similar bullets in the other auto pistol calibers. Hardball, a slang term used for full metal jacket bullet pistol ammunition, particularly in .45 ACP caliber. The full metal jacket (FMJ) or full metal case (FMC) bullet is also known as "hardball." The FMJ is almost entirely encased in a jacket of a reasonably malleable metal (usually copper) harder than the bullet's core (which is usually composed of soft lead).

.45 Hardball Ammunition
.45 Hardball Ammunition


















  •  Head [of a Stock] - The forward end of a buttstock, where it meets the receiver and accepts the bulk of the gun's recoil when fired.
  • The distance, or clearance, between the base of a chambered cartridge and the breech face (or bolt face) of a firearm. This is a critical dimension, particularly in high powered rifles. If there is too little headspace, the bolt will not close. If there is too much headspace the cartridge will not be properly supported in the chamber and the cartridge will expand upon firing and may rupture, blasting high-pressure gas into the action and possibly into the body of the shooter. Headspace should be .003" - .006" in a centerfire rifle. It can be checked with a set of "Go and No-Go" gauges specific to the calibre in question. (See below.) With a standard cartridge, the headspace is registered by the shoulder, with a belted cartridge, the headspace is registered by the forward edge of the bel
Headspace Gauge
  • Plugs of hardened steel, precisely machined in relation to the standard dimensional specifications of a given cartridge, normally in sets of three: "GO", "No-Go" and "Field". By loading these plug-gauges into the chamber in succession, one can check that the action should close on the "Go" gauge. It should not close on the "No-Go" gauge---but might were enough force to be used. And, it absolutely should not close on the "Field" gauge.
  • Markings impressed into the base of a cartridge case, normally identifying the maker's name, the cartridge caliber designation, and sometimes the date.
Heat Treating
  • A process to achieve the desired balance between hardness and resilience for the intended purpose of the metal. First, the steel is heated to above its austenitic temperature (around 1800°F depending on the alloy; incandescent orange, and no longer attracted by a magnet). Then, is quenched in water or oil to cool it as rapidly as possible. Now, exceptionally hard and too brittle for most applications, it is re-heated to a specific lower temperature than before and quenched again, relieving the desired amount of its hardness.
Heavy Trigger
  • A trigger that requires a lot of pressure to pull it past the break point. Rifles tend to have considerably lighter triggers than handguns, and even a heavy rifle trigger is often lighter than a light handgun trigger.


Heel (of a rifle gun stock)

  • The top of the butt, when the gun is in position on the shoulder to be fired, is called the heel.

  • The top of the butt-end of a gun stock
Heel And Toe Plates
  • Protective plates, usually of steel or horn, covering the top and bottom of a gunstock's butt only (the heel and the toe); leaving wood exposed in the center.
  • A compact Germanic falling block single shot action developed ca 1880, which both opens and cocks when the front of the triggerguard is pulled downwards, and which incorporates an integral cocking/de-cocking mechanism.
High Brass

  • By convention, powerfully loaded shotgun cartridges for hunting are generally manufactured with relatively longer brass end-caps than lower powered cartridges intended for target shooting. While different-sized brass bases are of virtually no consequence to the strength of the shell in relation to the steel breech of the gun itself, they do help the shooter identify the relative power of cartridges at a glance.
High Capacity Magazine
  • An inexact, non-technical term indicating a magazine holding more rounds than might be considered "average."

High Kneeling
  • A shooting position in which one or both knees are touching the ground, but the shooter is otherwise erect.

Hinge Pin

Hinge Pin

  • A short cylindrical rod of hardened steel running laterally near the front of the bar of a break-open gun's action around which the barrel hook revolves when the gun is opened. Over the decades, this pin and its complimentary hook can wear and a gun can sometimes "shoot loose" or "come off the face." The proper cure for this condition is to replace the hinge pin with a new one, slightly oversized, to compensate for wear on both itself and on the barrel hook.
  • Hornady Magnum Rimfire, a type of ammunition.


A comic term for a Colt Single Action Army or similar revolver. A large caliber revolver.   A firearm, ie., old western 6 shot revolvers. shaped like a part of a hogs leg. slang for a pistol, western style. Any large caliber handgun, typically with a long barrel.

Modern Hogleg RevolverModern Hogleg Revolver                                                         Old West HoglegOld West Hogleg

Holdopen Toplever

Holdopen Toplever

  • A catch built into the receiver of a break-open gun to keep the toplever in its extreme right position when the barrels are removed. This device makes it slightly easier to remount the barrels. As the barrels are mounted and the breech closed, the barrels contact some kind of release pin and the toplever automatically returns to the center locked position. Because, however, it requires a separate act to find and to depress this tiny tab to re-center the toplever on a broken-down gun, this feature may be irritating when trying to put a gun away in its case.
Hollow Point Bullet
  • A bullet with a concavity in its nose to increase expansion on penetration of a solid target. some hollow-point's are also designed to fragment as they expand. They are least likely to over-penetrate the target and harm an innocent bystander. Commonly used for self-defense.
  • A bullet type with a concavity at its tip, designed to promote expansion upon hitting a solid target.

noun hol·ster \ˈhōl-stər\

  • A gun holder that may be strapped to a human body, or affixed to the inside of a pack or bag, or dropped into a pocket. A holster serves to protect the gun's mechanisms and finish, to provide security by covering the trigger so it cannot be pulled inadvertently, and to present the grip of the gun at a constant angle for easy access. Some holsters also serve to obscure the outline of the gun so it may be more easily concealed. Typically made from leather or in plastic.



  • A hollow cylinder fitted to a rifle's front sight ramp, both to protect the delicate front sight bead from impact, and to shade it from oblique sunlight which could have the effect of altering the sight's apparent position.


  • A concave, semi-cylindrical surface cut into the forward lump of a barrel set of a break-open firearm which revolves about the hinge-pin when the gun is opened.


  • The forward-most part of a sidelock gun's stock; the slender flutes of wood extending along the lockplates, heading up to the receiver body. Also: Fingers
Hot Range
  • Pistol can be carried loaded, also a range where the range master has given the order to commence fire
Howdah Pistol

Howdah Pistol

  • Normally, a break-open, double-barrel, side-by-side pistol of large calibre, used by a maharaja when hunting tiger on the back of his elephant (in the howdah---the basket compartment in which he sits). The howdah pistol is the weapon of last resort in case the tiger tries to join him in the howdah.