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How Not to Look Like an Idiot When Writing About Firearms

By Ben Langlotz

(Editor Note: Ben Langlotz is the nation’s leading firearms patent and trademark attorney, and the author of “The Bulletproof Firearms Business” available on Amazon. Ben is also a pro-bono attorney for our industry organization the National Shooting Sports Federation and has been a lifetime defender and supporter of firearms freedom.)

Journalists. Bless their hearts. As a rule of thumb, any time we read a news story about a subject or incident we already know a lot about, it turns out that about 25% of what’s reported is simply wrong.

This is why knowledgeable gun owners distrust many news stories involving guns: because too many “journalists” display an ignorance of firearms that would be laughable if it weren’t so appalling. If they can’t get their facts straight about gun technology and shooting, then we don’t trust them on much else.

For over 24 years as a patent attorney, I’ve taken pride in my ability to explain stuff effectively. I’m known as “The Firearms Patent Attorney” because I represent more firearms companies than any other patent attorney or law firm in the world (by a wide margin). That means I spend lots of time explaining how guns work. And I have to keep it simple because I’m not just writing for specialized patent examiners, but for juries and judges, in case there’s ever a lawsuit.

The best compliment I ever get from inventors about a patent application is “Wow! You really understand my invention!” So maybe if I’m good at making gun tech understandable, I might be the right guy to help out the technically-illiterate journalists. Here we go:

Speeding Bullet

Anti-gun activists show their ignorance. (Photo: Everytown for Gun Safety)

Lesson #1: They’re “Cartridges,” Not Bullets

Bullets are little lumps of lead. Inert, harmless little pieces of soft metal. They’re a component of ammunition, but they’re not ammunition. What you journalists are almost always talking about when you mistakenly use the term “bullet” is “cartridge.” Cartridges (or “rounds”) are little units of ammunition that go “bang” when they’re hit just right. The gunpowder burns, the bullet flies away, and the case stays behind with the gun.

Here are some correct(ed) usage examples:

“… a bill to limit magazine capacity to 10 bullets rounds…”

“…a bill to limit purchasers to no more than 50 bullets cartridges per day…”

“…bullets have been recovered as far as a mile from the rifle range…”

One classic example of how this issue can confuse the ignorant is the case when a neighbor objecting to a gun range nearby “salted” her home’s roof gutters with a few “bullets” to make it appear that they were unsafely escaping the disputed range. She foolishly had tossed live cartridges onto the roof to roll into the gutters, and the responding deputy Sheriff rolled his eyes, knowing the guns don’t expel live rounds of ammunition.

Michael Bloomberg’s well-funded anti-gun “Every Town for Gun Safety” group created a laughable propaganda image showing a rifle cartridge shooting out of the muzzle of a gun barrel.

Spiderman Pez

A Candy Magazine?

Lesson #2: They’re “Magazines,” Not Clips

When you journalists write about “clips” you’re always wrong. Always.

Magazines are containers that hold a bunch of cartridges, and are inserted into a gun to load it all at once, making reloading quick. Unless a gun looks like an old-time cowboy or a bird-hunter might use it, it probably has a magazine. A magazine itself is just a little sheet metal or plastic box with a spring inside (much like a Pez dispenser), and presents no danger of any kind. For pistols, they’re contained entirely in the grip, and for rifles, they usually stick out below the bottom, in front of the trigger.

If you’re curious, “clips” are archaic devices known only to gun enthusiasts, and are essentially never used by modern police or military, or by people who use guns for self-defense or sport. They’re used with old-style military rifles (like the WWII “Garand” they carried in Saving Private Ryan).

If you must know, clips are for loading rifles that don’t take magazines. They’re little strips of metal that hold a set of cartridges by their rear ends so they can be shoved into the rifle all at once. But they never come up in the news, so you can simply delete the word from your journalist dictionary. I can assure you that over all my years in the gun industry, I’ve never heard anyone use “clip” as slang for magazine. Maybe Hollywood gangsters and anti-gun reporters still do, but no one else does.

Incidentally, worrying about large magazines giving criminals firepower is pretty silly, because the whole point of magazines is how quick and easy it is to change them. I’ve seen live demos in which a shooter changed pistol magazines so fast it was a blur. And rifle magazines can be changed almost as fast with a little practice.

So, if you’re writing a story that involves magazines and are still confused, my advice to journalists is to drop by any gun shop and tell the guy behind the counter that you’re working on a story, and would like to see how magazines work. Trust me, you’ll learn all you need to know.

Lesson #3: Calibrating Your “Caliber”

This one confused me back when I started learning about guns. All you need to know is that caliber usually refers to the diameter of the bullet (and of the barrel of the gun that fires it).

There’s no clear rule, so don’t even bother trying to explain it. If a cop tells you the caliber of a gun used in a crime, just report it, and we’ll know what it means even if you don’t.

The cartridge designation will give you a good idea of the caliber, but can lead to confusion. 357 Magnum has a 0.357 inch diameter bullet. But so does a 38 Special. A kid’s 22 squirrel rifle has the same bullet diameter as the M16 military rifle but they’re otherwise different in almost every other respect.

Incidentally, there’s no such thing as a “high caliber” anything. Those are meaningless words used by anti-gun writers to make some gun sound fearsome. Same for “high power.” That M16 and the AR-15 fire the same round, but they’re anything but high powered. The cartridge they fire is considered borderline weak and inhumane for a thin skinned little deer, and is actually less powerful than just about every other cartridge used by ordinary hunters. Those 22 caliber bullets are much smaller caliber than 30 caliber (0.300 inch diameter) hunting bullets. They’re way smaller than the 50 caliber (half inch) bullets used in hotdog-sized cartridges that cost $5 a pop, and are used on those big belt fed machine guns on aircraft and by wealthy target shooters (who Dianne Feinstein worries are practicing to shoot through her armored limousine).

Lessons #4-11: Random Thoughts You Need to Know About Guns

#4. Guns aren’t required to be “registered” in most jurisdictions. Please don’t write that a gun was “unregistered” if there is no law requiring it to be. To those of us who know (there are lots of us) an “unregistered gun” sounds as absurd as an “unregistered baseball bat.”

#5. No self-respecting gun owner uses the phrase “packing heat.” It’s called “carrying”, whether concealed or open. “Packing heat” is old-time gangster slang with biased connotations. Avoid it unless you’re writing an anti-gun op-ed or a bad detective novel.

#6. Machine guns are legal (under federal law, and in most states). To buy one, a person must pay a $200 tax, undergo a background check, and wait maybe a year or more for the paperwork to process. But only a limited number of specially registered ones may be bought and sold by people. These are all older than 1986 and there are so few that what should cost $1000 new in a free market costs $10,000 or more. (There’s something like 1 legal machine gun per 1000 adult American males). That means that they’re only for wealthy collectors like Steven Spielberg, which explains why they aren’t used in crimes. Ever.

#7. Silencers are legal in most states. They’re properly called “suppressors” and we also use the slang term “can.” “Silencer” is OK to write, but it bothers a few gun geeks because they don’t make a gun literally silent (maybe as annoyingly loud as an air nailer – not the “phffft” or “ptew” of Hollywood movies). In Hollywood, only bad guys use them. In reality, it’s only good guys who passed a background check and paid a $200 tax just to make their guns a little easier on everyone’s ears.

#8. Sinister gun collections. When you’re reporting on some backwoods kook who was raided by a SWAT team, remember that all those guns and ammo you’re breathlessly reporting on are probably perfectly legal. The cops know that, but they know you’ll ignorantly imply that there’s something illegal about all the guns and ammo they’ve laid out on the table for you to photograph for the evening news. It’s actually quite normal for upstanding gun enthusiasts and hunters to own dozens of firearms (or to wish they did). It deceives your readers and amuses gun enthusiasts when we read that “the arsenal included over 1000 rounds of ammunition.” That’s because when we spend a weekend taking a shooting course, or just out having fun shooting at targets, we can easily shoot 1000 rounds (no it’s not a cheap hobby). 5000 rounds might sounds like a lot, but that much 22 ammo can easily be hand carried in a shoe box by a strong boy.

Also, a personal gun and ammo collection isn’t an “arsenal” unless you’re trying to demonize the owner, and strike fear in the hearts of your readers. It’s an “ample collection,” and for most gun owners, never ample enough.

#9. Ammunition in a burning building is no danger to firefighters. When the powder burns, the case just pops off the bullet. Firefighters with heavy suits and eye protection are in no danger. An excellent online video by SAAMI (one of my clients, and the organization that sets technical standards for ammunition) titled “Sporting Ammunition and the Fire Fighter” shows how surprisingly safe ammunition is in a fire and subject to other extreme stresses (and it’s cool to watch truckloads of ammo get shot up and burn up!)

#10. An “assault rifle” is a military rifle that can shoot full auto. “Semi-automatic” means that a single shot is fired for each trigger pull, and the gun automatically loads the next round. Most pistols carried by police officers are semi-automatic.

An “assault weapon” is a term made up by people trying to ban semiautomatic rifles, by falsely implying that they’re full-auto assault rifles.

“Modern Sporting Rifle” is the industry standard term for the popular AR-15 and similar rifles with a military appearance. I prefer “Sport Utility Rifle.”

#11. The NRA isn’t the “gun industry lobby.” They may have millions of individual members whose interests they represent when lobbying lawmakers and pursuing civil rights lawsuits. But the real “gun lobby” is the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) that represents all the gun companies (I’m their trademark attorney, too). The NSSF has the mission: “To promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports.” They also publish an excellent booklet that not only educates journalists, but is a goldmine for gun enthusiasts looking to sharpen their firearms knowledge.

Bennet Langlotz

Ben Langlotz, firearms patent attorney.

So, that’s about all a journalist who’s seeking to report the facts clearly and accurately needs to know about guns. However, if they’re looking to “change the world” like a bunch of “community organizers” then this might not do much good.


 

Ben Langlotz is a patent and trademark attorney with 24 years’ experience, and his clients include numerous firearms industry companies. He is the author of The Bulletproof Firearms Business – The Legal Secrets to Success under Fire, which is the leading book to help firearms business owners to navigate the minefields of patent and trademark law. Mr. Langlotz also publishes the Bulletproof Firearms Business Newsletter, which reaches over 1000 firearms industry owners and executives each month.

This article is subject to the author’s copyrights, but permission is granted for the article to be distributed and republished in its entirety including the author bio and this paragraph, with all hyperlinks intact.

{ 65 comments… add one }
  • Shawn November 22, 2015, 8:36 am

    That was a great article. Now if we could just get a journalist or two to read it.

  • Ben Langlotz September 18, 2014, 8:20 pm

    Thanks for all the good comments. The part of the article that appeared in my newsletter but was omitted for brevity was the part that explained that I was attempting to be *clear* (for the benefit of the ignorant), instead of *precise* (which would be appropriate for the gun enthusiasts here, and the thousand or so firearms industry CEOs and leaders who read my newsletter).

  • saa1903 September 18, 2014, 4:17 pm

    Good article, even considering the anbiguities. The writer may want to have a chat with SAAMI, however. I watched the video of all the ammo being destroyed (sob) and it definitely referenced “high powered rifle” in the segment where they were shooting boxes and cases of ammo with the .308.

  • Jason September 17, 2014, 6:20 pm

    Here’s another distinction you can add to your list. Referring to all fire arms as WEAPONS. They’re are fire arms UNLESS they have been used in an offensive or defensive manner to kill or maim another human being. Could careless if you call your rifle a defensive tool, hunting implement, or just rifle/fire arm….just stop calling your fire arms weapons unless you have or intend to use your fire arm in an offensive/defensive manner to maim or kill another human.

  • Jason September 17, 2014, 6:20 pm

    Here’s another distinction you can add to your list. Refering to all fire arms as WEAPONS. They’re are fire arms UNLESS they have been used in an offensive or defensive manner to kill or maim another human being. Could careless if you call your rifle a defensive tool, hunting implement, or just rifle/fire arm….just stop calling your fire arms weapons unless you have or intend to use your fire arm in an offensive/defensive manner to maim or kill another human.

  • Zach September 17, 2014, 4:43 pm

    Oh please provide a link to the source about the one with the lady throwing live bullets in her gutter. I need to read it and have a good laugh.

  • Eric September 17, 2014, 4:30 pm

    Thanks for writing this article. A lot of really good points in there that need to be understood. … Although my wife and I often break rule #5… I often remind her when she’s on her motorcycle to be sure to grab her concealed carry, and I like to refer to her as my “heat-packing biker babe”.

  • Joel September 17, 2014, 4:21 pm

    Great article but you should vet your sources a bit better. That picture from Everytown is from the fake Everytown facebook page that was put up to make fun of the real Everytown. I’m all for poking fun at how clueless those idiots are but using stuff they didn’t really make just makes us look bad.

  • Bob September 16, 2014, 10:24 am

    “Ptew”. That cracks me up.

  • James Willard September 16, 2014, 2:56 am

    Excellent article overall, you would have done well to have any one of your clients proof it before you published it, as there are a couple errors, and a few parts that while aren’t wrong aren’t right either. But the need for and basis of this article hits the nail on the head. Thanks for writing it.

  • Jim Gill September 15, 2014, 10:55 pm

    Great article, but hey… NO mention of “Bullet Proof” vests? They’re a favorite topic on our 11 O’clock news.

  • BR September 15, 2014, 10:41 pm

    Not to pick, the diameter of a bullet for a .300just-about-anything(Win.,Savage, etc) is actually .308 not .300 Otherwise nice article.

  • Chris Baker September 15, 2014, 9:36 pm

    I have to wonder what the journalists would make of the Garand which has an integral magazine and is loaded with a clip full of cartridges. Said clip comes flying out when the last cartridge is fired. Also, it doesn’t actually have to be completely full, there’s a trick where you put a couple of cartridges in crossed somehow and you can put in less than a full load of 8. It’s been a VERY long time since I had the pleasure of shooting one and I don’t remember how to do it. And Yes, I do know about the trick of throwing an empty clip up in the air so the guys on the opposite side think your rifle is empty. Surprise!

    • robert September 17, 2014, 10:39 pm

      I think throwing the empty clip in the air would take an idiot to fall for, because the m1 grand makes a very distinct “ping” noise as the clip flies out – just my 2 cents.

  • Serko September 15, 2014, 3:54 pm

    I’m actually disappointed in this. I perfectly happy letting them continue to illustrate their ignorace. Same for the politicians. Someone from Kevin De Leon’s office called me the day he made a fool of himself about a year ago and asked me about his mistakes. I told her that I wouldn’t do their job for them. She asked if it was any worse than Dan Quayle misspelling potato, I told her that it would be exactly the same if Dan Quayle was putting legislation together to put me in jail for my spelling mistakes.

    Also, I believe “assault rifle” is a term coined by the Nazi’s for the Sturmgewehr 44.

    • Rick September 16, 2014, 6:01 pm

      Actually the correct translation for sturmgewehr would be storm rifle. And there are weapons that fire from clips the WW2 Japanese light machine gun used a clip to feed from and the french also had one in WW1. And if you wish to add AA guns the 40mm bofors also feeds from 5 round clips. However all modern “small arms” fire from either a detachable magazine or a built in magazine as either a box or tube magazine. And yes I’ve been chastised by my father and other older gun smiths and enthusiasts. And again with the exception of a few weapons it still stands, A clip loads a magazine and a magazine feeds a weapon.

  • Doc423 September 15, 2014, 3:31 pm

    Great article…especially like the story of the dumb broad who threw live cartridges on her roof !!!

  • Andrew N September 15, 2014, 3:05 pm

    Good thing he’s an attorney. He would not make a living correcting other journalists, making many mistakes in his article “educating” people about wrong terminology. I had some to list, but it’s already been done. It was a nice try, and at least gun friendly, quoting some hilarious attempts by anti-gunner’s to disparage our beloved sport/survival/hobby/God given right/ etc. ( Pick your own noun and insert )

  • Ty Caldwell September 15, 2014, 11:48 am

    Thanks, Ben for this article. It always frustrates me to listen to the news and hear all of the inaccurate info reported.

  • Lee September 15, 2014, 11:39 am

    I’ll still never forget, it was summer of 1996, on the evening news a gunman used an “Evil AK-47 9mm Assault Tec-9” as the journalist pronounced. And there, before everyone’s eyes to see, the perpetrators gun… A small break top type revolver….. I was just a kid, but I realize my German Shepard was smarter than your average news reporter…

  • Houston September 15, 2014, 11:17 am

    Great article! The only correction I would make is in regard to magazines. A magazine stores ammo. There are “magazines” on battleships and the army uses buildings and bunkers as “magazines” to store their ammo. This is where the term comes from. So, even though not detachable, there are tons of guns with interternal magazines. “Clips” are actually specifically used to load magazines. Usually it’s internal magazines but sometimes they are used to load external magazines. In fact, my recollection is that they are technically called ‘stripper clips’ because you strip the ammo from the clips into the magazine. (Of course there are also “clips” that hold ammo for easy loading/unloading into revolver cylinders but those are rarely used and likely not worth bringing up to the average idiot reporter.)

    • Chris Baker September 15, 2014, 9:39 pm

      They are NOT all stripper clips. Check out the magazine/clip combination that is used to load an M1 Garand.

  • Gunny September 15, 2014, 10:48 am

    All together now: “This is my rifle and this is my gun. This one’s for shooting and this one’s for fun!”

  • Dan Temianka September 15, 2014, 10:38 am

    Great article. Bullets often use metals other than lead, and aren’t always so soft. You’ll get pushback as to lead being “harmless.”

    • Art Frailey September 16, 2014, 1:09 am

      All small ammo contain some lead filler in bullets. Some of them are steel,(ect) clad. The steel makes it much more
      penetrable then just lead. A steel point nose penetrates farther, while a flat or hollow point tear a bigger hole. (Lead is
      rarely used by itself, as it is to malleable).

      • robert September 17, 2014, 10:37 pm

        all small ammo does not contain led – there are some states that have banned the use of ALL lead in ammunition. and the U.S. military has been working on converting over to lead free ammo as well. This being said it would not be possible to shoot in states that did not allow lead, if all ammo had led in it. Not to mention, it has been illegal to hunt water fowl with anything other than steel shot for many years now.

  • Robert Sweeney September 15, 2014, 10:25 am

    The clip vs magazine argument is totally specious and very childish. In the past, the two terms have been used interchangeably, even by some manufacturers, and makes complete sense; the magazine being “clipped” into place in the gun. If your magazine doesn’t clip into your gun, perhaps your gun is broken.

    Another specious argument is the silencer vs suppressor battle. All the kool kids today call it a suppressor and are sure to berate any poor, hapless fool that uses the term silencer. Well, look it up, Mr. Know-It-All; your “suppressor” was invented by a guy named Hiram Maxim, who named his “suppressor” the Maxim Silencer.

    There are even some eggheads who bridle at the term “gun” and insist the correct term is “firearm”. Now, even I can appreciate the whimsical military humor of the anonymous poet who gave us “This is your rifle / this is your gun / One is for shooting / the other’s for fun”, but the word “gun” has been used to denote firearms of all kinds for centuries now, so please keep your egotistical word-upmanship to yourself.

    Thank you.

    • Cabezon hueca September 15, 2014, 2:14 pm

      it’s funny that you pretend to know what you are talking about, and try to correct someone who does. No clip and magazine are not interchangeable, and no not all magazines are removable. Furthermore, a gun takes several people to operate. I know you are probably a tier one delta ranger ninja keyboard commander,so thank you for your service

  • Richard Glynn September 15, 2014, 10:19 am

    Thanks Mr. Langlotz for a fun and informative article. I was once a military journalist and worked with a lot of civilian journalists. Most want to be accurate, but even some of those guys and gals couldn’t figure out the difference between a tank, such as an Abrams M-1, and a personnel carrier, such as the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Both had tracks, both had turrets, so what is the big deal (plus, tank is much shorter to spell, taking up less room in the article). Let’s hope some writers see your article and get it right in their articles.

  • Rick September 15, 2014, 9:55 am

    As my dad taught me as far as “clips” go a clip loads a magazine and a magazine feeds a weapon. And my knowledge comes from my father and 34 years Army and 17 of that as a Small Arms Repairman ( and No not an armorer ) Small Arms Repair men is a few steps above an Armorer. The SKS rifle and a few other weapons are still faster loading with a clip than loading one round at a time. AR 15 mags can wear a thumb out loading one at a time so you use a small metal tool that in the military we call a speed loader to attach a clip in so you can strip 10 rounds at a time into a magazine thus “Speeding” up the loading process.

  • Wayland Strickland September 15, 2014, 9:26 am

    Another term improperly uesd is ‘shell casing’… it should be ‘case’ as a ‘casing’ usually denotes the intestinal ‘casings’ of an animal.
    Great article by the way!

  • Arthur September 15, 2014, 9:18 am

    Well written. Nice job of not confusing the article with the more gun geeky stuff that we use. This needs spread far and wide to educate the journalistic hoard.

  • gdogs September 15, 2014, 9:17 am

    Sad to see mistakes in an article that is supposed to be a guide for mistakes. A 22lr does not shoot the same diameter bullet as a 223. In reality the 223 actually shoots a .224 diameter bullet, while the 22lr shoots a .223. And 30 caliber bullets are actually .308 diameter, not .300.

    • SmokeHillFarm September 16, 2014, 2:02 am

      You are technically correct, of course, but this was aimed at complete idiots who know NOTHING about guns and, in general, don’t care about their ignorance. If the shortness & simplicity of this article gets the attention of some of them, it has performed a real service for the firearms community.

      For these reporters who don’t know a thing about guns, tiny differences in bore diameter are irrelevant if you can only differentiate them with a good-quality micrometer. If you bog them down with minutiae, you’ll lose their attention before they even get started on their education.

      • gdogs September 16, 2014, 11:47 am

        I get what you are saying, and in pretty much any other article, these oversights would be negligible. But in an article calling out mistakes that non-gun guys make, I would expect a gun guy to – at the very least – not make any himself.

        • Administrator September 16, 2014, 2:00 pm

          Well that’s a stupid comment if I ever saw one. The whole point is to show you that we are all fallible and that we can learn from each others mistakes.

          • gdogs September 17, 2014, 3:04 pm

            Actually, I’d say your comment is pretty stupid considering the title of the article is “How Not to Look Like an Idiot When Writing About Firearms”.

          • Frank September 21, 2014, 6:24 pm

            I think the writer did a great job. Some guys out there are sooo smart they want to pick the fly specks out of the pepper can.

  • Lars September 15, 2014, 8:39 am

    Thanks for doing that article. I hope you emailed it to every single journalist with an accessible email address. I’m sure the four who read it are thankful, too. Now, regarding getting ten bricks of .22 ammo into a shoebox, I think it might be possible if you’re talking about a size 16 _boot_ box, but not an everyday shoe box.

    • Art Frailey September 16, 2014, 12:40 am

      I think I could get pretty close. But remember, he is trying to portray how little space small ammo takes up.

  • John September 15, 2014, 7:20 am

    You might consider including such items as: “shell casing” and “pistol vs revolver”

    • Chris September 15, 2014, 8:48 am

      The term pistol has been around for hundreds of years and connotes any hand held (IE handgun) firearm.
      Only the term ‘revolver’ is specific to a handgun (or pistol) with a revolving cylinder.
      Josey Wales got it right when he said: “Are you gonna pull those pistols or whistle Dixie?”
      They were carrying ‘wheel guns’ if you recall.
      Personally I like ‘shootin’ iron’.
      🙂

      • Allen September 15, 2014, 9:38 am

        However, ATF designates ‘wheel guns’ as ‘revolvers’, and semi auto’s as ‘Pistols’. So the nomenclature has now been legislated. ………….. Break open’s are “Other”.

        • Mark September 15, 2014, 1:14 pm

          And we all know how much we respect and admire the ATF.

        • SmokeHillFarm September 16, 2014, 12:45 am

          We shouldn’t let ATF botch up firearms terminology, considering that they can’t do much of anything else right.

      • John September 15, 2014, 9:39 am

        Chris, the mechanical characteristic that distinguishes a pistol from a revolver is this. A pistol has a Chamber Integral With or Permanently Aligned With The Bore.
        Among other references, I refer you to the Glossary in the back of Smith & Smith’s book “The Book Of Rifles”.
        Best regards, JPL

  • EricX September 15, 2014, 5:57 am

    My favorite is the “pump-action semi-automatic machine gun ‘m16/ak47’ ghost gun with a 200 bullet clip”
    Yea, some people need to either get the facts straight or get the f%$k out of the journalism biz!

    • Al September 26, 2014, 7:02 pm

      Understand that this is also to misdirect the public using plausible deniability as a ruse. That’s why now the term “assault weapon” (sic) now includes any tubular magazine-fed firearm with over 16 shots (like the .22 cal. Marlin model 60 for example) if you live in New Jersey – and the dopey State Legislators will play dumb and pass these stupid laws.

  • DHaddo September 15, 2014, 5:52 am

    The correct term IS silencer….that’s how it was patented, that what US owners call them…or ‘can’……very few refer to them as suppressors.

    • Jeff September 15, 2014, 3:18 pm

      Actually, you’re right AND wrong. Like the author said in the article, the correct term is “suppressor” not because of the original patent but because it more precisely describes the actual use and working of the device. Anyone who uses this device in a professional manner such as law enforcement, government, or military personnel will tell you its called a “suppressor” or a “can” and be prepared to be ridiculed if you call it a “silencer” by any operator who knows better. Calling one a “silencer” is still deemed ok by firearms enthusiasts. I would put the term “silencer” itself on par with the word “gun” in that everyone knows what both terms mean and they are in common usage but more professional terms exist so, rather than “silencer” use “suppressor” and rather than “gun” use “firearm” because the word “silencer” is inaccurate in that the device isn’t silent and the word “gun” can technically describe almost anything that expels an object by force such as a rubber band, plastic pellet, or dart whereas a “firearm” is more specific. Both terms are deemed correct but one is less professional than the other so that is the difference.

  • Al September 11, 2014, 8:26 pm

    …I get a kick out of their two favorite canards: A bullet only hits a “gentle giant” or an “honor student”.

    • Jon September 15, 2014, 3:09 am

      It is of course a great delight to call out an error made by an expert: clips were commonly used to load rifles with fixed magazines. A clip is of no use to speedily load ammunition into a rifle if there is no place to put said ammunition. The fact that the magazine is integral the rifle doesn’t change the fact that it is still referred to as a magazine. Great article, though! I holler at the TV or newspaper pretty much every time I see these goofs. Ah, the burden of being an enthusiast!

      • Mark September 15, 2014, 9:50 am

        This ludicrous statement is what I’d expect from a young and ignorant journalist:
        “Magazines are containers that hold a bunch of cartridges, and are inserted into a gun to load it all at once, making reloading quick. Unless a gun looks like an old-time cowboy or a bird-hunter might use it, it probably has a magazine.”
        “Magazine” does not exclusively mean “detachable box magazine.”
        My Winchester Model 94s look like “old-time cowboy” rifles, and each of them has a magazine, located right under the barrel.
        My Remington 870s look like “bird-hunter” guns, and each has a magazine, again right under the barrel.
        ANY repeating rifle or shotgun–bolt, pump, or lever action–has a magazine.
        Get your terms straight, Mr. Langlotz. Either that, or don’t be the pot calling the kettle ignorant.

        • Steve Corcoran September 15, 2014, 12:16 pm

          Mark,
          Surprised you didn’t point out that the term magazine is actually correctly used to identify the designated ammunition storage location on a military facility or ship of war. Quit trying to prove to everyone you know more than than they do (or trying to hide the fact you are one of the journalists Ben is referring to who do a quick online search then spout what they feel to be intelligent sounding information, when they actually come across as ignorant). Mr. Langlotz’s point is valid & if all the non-gun journalists out there followed his, admittedly somewhat simplified, terminology guidelines they would not sound like they have no clue regarding the subject matter they are reporting on.

          • Mark September 15, 2014, 1:11 pm

            Sorry, Steve, but when a guy trying to teach correct terminology says, “Unless a gun looks like an old-time cowboy or a bird-hunter might use it, it probably has a magazine,” he sounds just like the journalists he’s trying to educate.

          • DaveGinOLy September 15, 2014, 2:37 pm

            Mark pointed out a factual error in the article. Calling him out for it by reference to an alternative definition of “magazine” is not relevant because the meaning of the word is being discussed relative to how cartridges are stored in a firearm, which is totally unrelated to its alternate definition as a storage location for bulk ammunition.

          • Russ September 15, 2014, 5:08 pm

            WTG Mark, you schooled the teacher

          • robert September 17, 2014, 10:09 pm

            I was thinking the same thing that mark was thinking about the magazines. And the article said the clip is for loading guns that do not take magazines – that is false. A a device to assist in loading magazines – both detachable and non detachable. And he also said clips are not used today with modern rifles – this is wrong as well. many people use stripper clips to aid in the speedier reload of ar-15 , AK-47 and other rifle magazines ……… Just sayin.

        • SmokeHillFarm September 16, 2014, 1:22 am

          I disagree. The point of his article was to give a short primer on firearms basics for reporters that might want to learn.. I think he oversimplified purposely to keep it very simple and basic, to cover 99% of the really stupid things we see in print from reporters. I think this was exactly the right approach, and expanding it to cover irrelevant, picky points would cause him to lose his intended audience — the dummy reporters.

          Yes, it is greatly simplified — technically “wrong” — but if we start lecturing a pack of journalism weenies on the fine points of tubular magazines and en bloc magazines, their eyes will glaze over and their minds will go on hold. They’re like little children, and you shouldn’t confuse them with algebra when they can’t even add numbers together yet. If you do a good job on getting them interested, and keep their attention, you’ll probably have a chance to give them Firearms 201 later on.

    • Jeffrey L. Frischkorn September 15, 2014, 4:30 pm

      Thanks for your educated review of how we journalists mess up from time to time in regards to firearms nomenclature. Just a couple of things. “Clips” have often – and continue to be so – used interchangeably with “magazines.” Even the NRA’s authoritative “Fact Book,” Second Edition, Page 89 says such practices are common and largely okay. Also, please be aware that when you use the numbers “1000” and “5000” as they relate to how many rounds of ammunition a firearms owner may use up, you are to include a comma between the “1” and the “5” and the first “0.” Similarly it is my understanding that when .22-caliber ammunition, rifle or handgun is described one must add a decimal point before the figure “22;” something I did not see done in Lesson Number 8, or “Eight” if you really want to be picky according to the rules of reporters’ style books.

      • robert September 17, 2014, 10:18 pm

        while you are correct, the term clip and magazine are interchanged does not make it proper. If you look many words up in the dictionary, such as the word “ain’t” it is in there, but it still not proper to use it. Clips and magazines are two completely different things and both have clearly different definitions if you look them up. As stated a magazine is a device or area of the gun which holds the ammunition or cartridges, and a clip is a device used in the assistance of a speedier load time of said magazines. While I will agree – most people with an I.Q. over 3 know what you mean when you say “clip”, but it is still annoying and makes the speaker sound like an ass-hat just like miss using any other words or using any other improper grammar. (i.e. “I ain’t gona come back yall” as opposed to “I’m not coming back”) surly you as a journalist should have appreciation for what I am trying to say.

    • Nathaniel Downes September 17, 2014, 4:33 pm

      While a solid article, you are incorrect about the phrase “Assault Rifle.” The first Assault Rifle, the model 43, was a semiautomatic, not an automatic weapon. As coined back in the 1940’s, the phrase Assault Rifle denoted a weapon capable of firing a conical rifle bullet in a submachinegun-style weapon configuration. To win a military contract which Germany put out in 1943 for an improved SMG the manufacturer produced the model 44, which added automatic fire to the package. But it was clearly called an Assault Rifle beforehand, when it was semiautomatic.

      • robert September 17, 2014, 10:24 pm

        regardless of what definition anyone wants to use on either side of the debate – an assault rifle, or assault weapon is rifle or weapon that was designed with the intent and no other purpose in mind but to assault people with. There really is no argument against that – the name is pretty cut and dry. The rest is just semantics. That being said Who really cares if it is an assault weapon or not. The first s.o.b. that comes through my front door (or window) at night without being invited is going to be assaulted very heavily regardless of what weapons I have in possession at the time.

    • Trey October 26, 2015, 6:47 pm

      Since this is a “teaching” document. It might be better t if you r shorten your statements to something like

      Magazine, or even more correctly Removable Magazine is the proper term of most modern ammunition loading devices, the term Clip is often used to mean Magazine it is not correct.

      The words have a relationship as both Clip and Magazine are used to carry ammunition in some manner and facilitate its use in a firearm.

      The term Removable Magazine is not the same as Magazine that nearly all weapons other than Revolvers and Single Shot Rifles/shotgun have some form of magazine. Examples are Tubular Magazines in most Shotguns, Internal Box Magazine Like in most hunting rifles.

      There are others but Box and Tubular are most common, the key is that is some way ammunition is moved from the Magazine to the Chamber of the weapon where it can then be fired.

      Revolvers do not use the term magazine because they have multiple chambers the round of ammunition never transitions from a holding device the the chamber of the weapon.

      Since you felt the need to define clip, you might wish to amend you definition .

      There are several types of clips.

      En Block / Mannlicher style Clips also called packet clips used in many rifles like the Italian Carcano, German Commission Rifle, Austrian Styer M.95. and the US M1 Garand. These are inserted into the weapon and once the ammunition carried in them is used the clip is falls or is ejected from the weapon normally.

      Stripper Clips also called Chargers which are used to carry ammunition that can be “stripped” or pushed into a weapon rapidly both rifles and pistols have used this method the Mauser k98k and US M-1903 are good examples of Rifles and the M96 “BroomHandle” Mauser is a pistol that used a Stripper clip.

      Weapons that have Removable Magazines may also have stripper clips / chargers. The Short Magazine Lee Enfield , Swiss K-31 and US M-14 and Springfield M1A are examples.

      There are even Stripper clips for external magazines for weapons like the M-1 Carbine, M-16 and Kalashnikov rifles.

      Some revolvers even use a form of Clip often called a Moon or 1/2 Moon clip that allow a complete 1/2 or a full cylinder of ammunition to be loaded at once. They are analogous to a En Block Clip, while speed loaders that are more like a Stripper Clip.

      If you have never heard some one in the industry call a magazine a clip.. you have not listened very well the slang is used often.

      But then again I am just a hobbyist.

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