The home of Shooting Times and Sporting Gun

Guide to shotgun jargon

Shooting has its own vocabulary and here are some of the terms you're likely to come across ...

Shotgun jargon explained

If you’ve just started shooting then you’ll need to be aware of some of the terminology used. Here’s a guide to some of the most words you’re most likely to hear frequently and what they actually mean.

Browning shotgun

How a shotgun works

Lewis Potter looks at the inner workings of a shotgun to explain and illustrate how a shotgun works

The part of the gun behind the barrel, which contains the gun’s firing and locking mechanism.

A gun in which all of the firing mechanism is contained within and directly attached to the action frame.

Cocking rod:
A rod attached to the gun’s hammers, forcing them backwards as the gun opens, thereby resetting them for subsequent shots.

Colour hardening:
A surface finish can be applied to the exterior of actions and lock plates which produces an abstract pattern of colours – usually blues, browns and yellowish-browns.

Drops at comb and heel:
The vertical distance of the comb and heel of the stock from a line projected backwards in line with the gun’s rib.

Fore-end iron:
The metal component within the fore-end wood, the rearward part of which forms part of the gun’s jointing. The iron may also be fitted with some elements of the ejector mechanism.

Fore-end loop:
Also known as the barrel loop – the steel projection beneath the barrels to which the fore-end is attached by a latch mechanism.

The metal parts attached to the action such as trigger guard, top and bottom straps.

The American term for bore – for example 12-gauge, 20-gauge, etc.

The part of the stock which is gripped by the palm and fingers of the trigger hand.

The forward part of the stock, where it joins the metal of the gun’s action.

The hinge mechanism of a break-action shotgun.

The half-round section at the forward end of the action, which forms part of the gun’s jointing.

The modern method of constructing shotgun barrel sets, in which separate tubes are sleeved into a steel forging which forms the breech ends and lump.

The official pressure testing of a gun for safety, performed by a nationally-recognised body. It is illegal to sell a gun which does not have valid proof.

Side plate:
An artificial lock plate fitted to a boxlock gun, for cosmetic purposes.

A gun with the main elements of the lock mechanism are mounted on removable plates which are attached to the sides of the action.

Single selective trigger:
A single trigger fitted to a two-barrelled gun which can be set to either the top or the bottom barrel first.

Another word for a firing pin.

Top strap:
The top, rearward part of a gun’s action, behind the top lever.

Trigger plate:
A removable plate carrying the trigger and, usually, all the major components of the gun’s firing mechanism.

Another word for a shotgun’s hammer.