To help the novice collector, and those experienced in collecting antique firearms who may need a refresher, we've created a comprehensive glossary of common words and terms in relation to Antique Firearms and what they each mean.

We hope this antique firearm glossary helps!

Antique Firearm - In order for a firearm to be considered an antique, regardless of its propulsion system, it must first be established that it is made prior to 1 September 1939. Read The UK Law On Antique Guns for the full list of permitted calibres.

Barrel - A cylindrical tube that forms the path for a projectile to travel out of a firearm

Bayonet -  A long, sharp blade that can be fixed to the muzzle end of a gun and used in hand-to-hand combat.

Bayonet Lug - An attachment point for a bayonet.

Bolt Action - A type of firearm action in which the handling of cartridges into and out of the chamber is operated by manually moving the bolt via a handle, commonly found on rifles.

Steyr Model 1886

Bore - The empty interior space of a gun barrel in which a projectile is pushed through when a gun is fired.

Boxlock - A type of firearm action in which the internal lockwork is contained in a box-like receptacle, typically integrated into the receiver or action body of the gun.

Breech - The enclosed end of the barrel on a muzzle loading gun. This is where the round is detonated.

Breech Loader - A type of firearm in which the cartridge is loaded into the rear of the gun barrel, as opposed to the muzzle-loading system in which the cartridge is loaded from the front.

Black Powder - A mixture of potassium nitrate, charcoal, and sulphur. Combined, these ingredients form the standard propellant for Muzzle Loading guns. You can view our full range of Black Powder here. Also, be sure take a look at our Black Powder Comparison Chart.

Carbine - A firearm that is typically a shortened version of a full size rifle. Originally used by cavalry.

Centrefire - A type of cartridge in which the primer is located in the centre of the base of the cartridge case, as opposed to the rimfire system where the primer is located in the rim.

Damascus Barrels - Early barrels formed by hammer forging together strips of various steels. This was primarily a way of adding strength but has a secondary quality that is a beautiful pattern.

Derringer - A breechloading pistol, that typically has multiple barrels. Derringers are much smaller than 'standard' pistols.

Doglock -  A doglock is a type of lock for firearms that preceded the 'true' flintlock in rifles, muskets, and pistols. This fell out of favour with the British before 1720.

Falling Block - A type of firearm action in which the breechblock moves vertically in a single motion, to open the chamber, typically with the use of a lever or underlever.

Flashhole - The hole leading from the pan of a flintlock, or the nipple of a percussion gun to the powder charge in the chamber.

Flash Pan - Small pan that holds the priming charge and is located below the frizzen or striking arm on a flintlock.

Flint - A small piece of stone used in a flintlock mechanism to strike against the frizzen.

Flintlock - An early type of firearm mechanism that uses a flint striking against steel to ignite a small quantity of priming powder, which in turn ignites the main charge of black powder.

Frizzen - The hardened steel surface that the flint strikes to ignite the primed flash pan of a flintlock.

Hammer - A part of the firing mechanism which strikes the firing pin, primer or percussion cap.

Magazine - Either as a removable or integral part of the firearm, a magazine is a spring-loaded box or tube that holds cartridges ready for loading into the chamber.

Matchlock - An early type of firearm ignition system that uses a slow-burning fuse, or "match," to ignite the black powder.

Shooting a matchlock

Miquelet - An early type of firearm lock in which the striker is attached to the lockplate, and is cocked by a separate, external hammer.

Musket - A type of long gun with a smoothbore barrel, typically fired from the shoulder.

Muzzle - The end of a gun barrel from which the bullet or shot emerges.

Muzzle Loader - A firearm which can only be loaded with powder and projectile through the muzzle, or the front end of a cylinder in the case of a muzzle-loading revolver. Henry Krank are the number one supplier of Muzzle Loading accessories in the UK. Shop from brands such as Pedersoli, Ox-Yoke, Swiss and more here.

Needlefire - A type of firearm in which the firing mechanism uses a needle to strike a separate percussion cap in order to ignite the black powder.

Obsolete Calibre - Refers to a firearms cartridge or bore diameter that is no longer manufactured or available as ammunition. We have a fantastic collection of Antique Obsolete Centrefire Rifles which can be purchased online without the need of a licence. If you're looking to reload Obsolete Calibres, we have over 140 Bertram Obsolete Brass Cases for sale here.

Patch Box - An inlaid lidded box that is found on some Muzzle Loading rifles or shotguns, originally intended for carrying greased patches.

Pinfire - An obsolete type of brass cartridge in which the priming compound is ignited by striking a small pin that protrudes radially from just above the base of the cartridge. You can view our full range of Antique Pinfire guns here.

Pepperbox - A type of handgun that has multiple barrels that rotate around a central axis, allowing for multiple shots to be fired without reloading. Popular in the 19th century. Take a look at our range of Pepperbox Revolvers here.

Percussion - A type of ignition system for firearms that uses a percussion cap, a small metal cup filled with an impact-sensitive explosive, to ignite the black powder.

Shooting a percussion rifle

Percussion Cap - A small metallic cup containing a minute charge of impact sensitive explosive. When placed on a nipple, the striking of the hammer causes the charge to explode, which in turn ignites the powder in the chamber. In need of some percussion caps? Take a look at what we have for sale here.

Powder Flask - Carrying container for powder, commonly made of non-sparking metals, such as copper and brass. Occasionally made from stag horn or like materials. Click here to get your hands on your very own original antique powder flask.

Proof Marks - A distinctive symbol stamped into the metal of the barrel or other part of a firearm to indicate that testing of the part bearing the stamp by firing proof loads has been carried out.

Ramrod - A long, thin rod for ramming down the charge of a muzzle-loading firearm. Usually made of wood. Ramrods are commonly carried under the barrel, held by ramrod pipes.

Rifling - Spiral grooves inside the barrel designed to make the bullet spin.

Rimfire - A type of firearm cartridge in which the primer is located in the rim of the cartridge case, as opposed to the centrefire system where the primer is in the centre.

Semi Auto - A type of firearm that uses the energy of the fired cartridge to automatically cycle the action of the gun and load a new cartridge into the chamber, allowing for multiple shots to be fired without manual reloading.

Single Shot - A firearm without a magazine, holding a single round of ammunition.

Smoothbore - A firearm with a barrel with no internal rifling, typically a shotgun or musket.

Tang - Most often an extension of a firearms metalwork to securely attach the rear of the barrel to the stock.

Trigger - A small, curved lever that when pulled activates the firing mechanism of the gun to fire a cartridge.

Trigger Guard - A trigger guard is a protective loop surrounding the trigger. Designed to prevent unwanted contact with the trigger which may cause an accidental discharge.

Wheellock - An early type of firearm ignition system that uses a spinning steel wheel to strike a flint and create a spark to ignite the black powder. Henry Krank have one of the finest collections of Antique Wheellock Rifles and Pistols. Click here to take a look.

Wheellock Rifle


Henry Krank are specialists in Antique guns and weaponry. Shop our vast collection of fine antiques including Antique Pistols, Rifles, Revolvers, Armour and much more here.