The dictionary of gun reviews

Specialized fields often require separate dictionaries to understand the technical definitions of terms used therein.  Politics is an example of this, and Ambrose Bierce has given us a vocabulary list to aid sorting through candidates’ speeches.  In the firearms community, we have a number of shibboleths that alert us to the presence of the uninitiated—clip, for example, or assault rifle.

And then there’s the world of the gun review.  This magazine has regular articles on that subject, as do many other magazines.  If you like videos, Hickok45 is a good source.  But as always, there are words that take a bit of studying to know what exactly was meant.  With that in mind, I offer a sample of gun-review terms:


during firing, the bullets generally do not fly in the direction of the user when the gun is fired from a bench rest


recent Powerball winners will be able to buy one


a description of the texture of a surface, meaning anything from shallow dimples to a surface sufficient to strip varnish from woodwork


works well for right-handed people


the quality of manufacture makes the gun capable of surviving firing at least one box of ammunition


fulfills laws in states like California or Massachusetts that render the gun  inoperative


too small to make a proper firing grip possible


while the grip remains the same size, the barrel has been shortened

Decent trigger:

not quite as heavy as that found on a Nagant 1895 revolver


the shooter was able to remain awake while using

Full size:

limber and caisson sold separately


designed with just enough alterations to avoid a patent infringement suit; a design that is in keeping with everything done over the last two centuries of firearms

Manageable recoil:

the gun did not fly out of the shooter’s hands upon firing one round


the gun does not conform to the user; the user conforms to the gun

Mission specific:

useful for the one type of hunting or self defense carry that you will never do


lots of fiddly parts that fit more or less


the gun did not fall apart upon opening the shipping box

Satisfies everyone:

much like Muzak, this means guaranteed to annoy all buyers equally


testing and evaluation—a sample of the design, hand-made by gunsmiths in a shop in Switzerland for purposes of review


several times more expensive than other designs of equal function, but always available in black

To see these terms used in context, consider the following sample review:

After speaking with the customer service representative of Cacafuego Arms, I received a T&E copy of the new Defender Mk. III, the company’s answer to the growing concealed carry market.  The rugged design impressed me with its attention to detail and fine machining.  The pistol has an ambidextrous magazine release and slide stop, and the trigger is also ambidextrous.  It comes in both compact and full size versions, and I requested the latter.  Both come with the option of a California-compliant time-lock on the safety and a three-round magazine

Given its weight, carry is not difficult, and recoil was manageable, thanks to the aggressive grips.  The mission of this design is not something the company wanted to be too clear on, since they are seeking contracts with Hollywood armorers at the moment, but suffice it to say that you will never feel unarmed with this pistol the next time you are confronted by jihadi vampires.

The pistol is fully tactical, with modular rails that allow the attachment of sights—sold separately—and a GoPro camera.  Using the optional ultraviolet laser, I was able to achieve the kind of accuracy that I have come to expect from sidearms of this type.  The mil-spec trigger was decent, and I would anticipate it improving after several thousand rounds.  Depending on market demand, Cacafuego may release a stainless version in the future.

This innovative design is sure to satisfy all customers and is well within the budgets of most of us.  I can’t recommend it strongly enough for your gun safe.

And there you have it, a model article, illustrating the typical language of the gun review.  With these terms in mind, you can know what any reviewer means to say about any new gun appearing on the market.

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revolver barrel loading graphic