Firearm Basics: Basic Parts of a Gun

Firearm Basics – A beginner’s guide to the basic working parts of Rifles, Shotguns and Handguns.

All Firearms have three basic groups of parts; these include the Action, The Stock, and the Barrel.

ACTION: The action is really the guts of the gun. It includes all the moving parts that load, fire, and eject the firearms shells or cartridges.

STOCK: The stock (or Handle) of the gun in composed of two pieces (the Butt and the fore-end).

BARREL: A guns Barrel is the long metal tube, bored out to provide an exit path for the discharging projectile. Once the projectile is fired, it’s forced down the barrel and out of the muzzle by expanding gas forces. In a rifle or a handgun, the bullet travels through the barrel; in Shotguns the Shot or the Slug is shot through the barrel.

Most Firearms have similar parts, pictured below are the parts that one would find on a rifle.

Parts of a Rifle

Shotguns are a type of firearm that fires shells containing either shot (small round pellets) or a slug (a solid projectile). Below are the parts of a common pump-action shotgun.

Parts of a Shotgun



Handguns are handheld short-barreled firearms. The picture below shows the common components found on a pistol and a revolver.

Parts of a Handgun

Breakdown of the basic components of a Firearm.

Bore: The bore in the inside of the buns barrel through which the projectile travels when fired.

Breech: The Breech is the area of the firearm that contains the rear end of the barrel, where the cartridge is inserted.

Cylinder: The Cylinder is the part of a revolver that holds cartridges in separate chambers. The Cylinder of a revolver rotates as the gun is cocked, bringing each chamber into alignment with the barrel.

Grip: The Grip is the portion of a handgun that’s used to hold the firearm.

Hammer: The Hammer on a revolver is the part that strikes the firing pin or the cartridge primer directly, detonating the primer which discharges the gun.

Magazine: A Magazine is a spring-operated container, that can be fixed or detachable, which holds cartridges for a repeating firearm.

Muzzle: The muzzle of a gun is the front end of the barrel where the projectile exits the firearm.

Trigger: The Trigger is the lever that’s pulled or squeezed to initiate the firing process.

Trigger Guard: The trigger guard is the portion of a firearm that wraps around the trigger to provide both protection and safety.

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31 Comments

  1. I really don’t know a lot about guns so this helps me understand things a little better. Can you guys do some more beginner article on guns.

    • We are in the middle of a beginner series right now. Check out our first in the series, which is a must read for anyone interested in learning about firearms. The first article in on gun safety and can be found at: https://offgridsurvival.com/firearmbasics-gunsafety/

      I would also suggest finding a good qualified instructor in your area who can teach you the proper techniques.

      • Did you all ever develop a beginners series? I just started working for a well known custom gun shop and I would love to be more knowledgeable of their products.

  2. I liked this. I’m not exactly a beginner with guns, but I appreciate you having this on your site. There are plenty of things I am a beginner at and articles like this one would be really helpful in giving me (and others) some traction on various aspects of prepping. Thanks.

    • Thank you for mentioning that. *sheepish grin* Having never touched a fire arm before, I was frantically trying to figure out where the “buns” of the barrel might be located, based on the diagrams.

  3. Hhaaaa tis is very usefull to becase I’m a beginner thanks for showing me simple and easy thanks
    Now i’lput some over seanes to my friends

  4. Hhaaaa tis is very usefull to me becase I’m a beginner thanks for showing me simple and easy thanks
    Now i’llput some over seanes to my friends

  5. I was hoping to find the names of internal parts, e.g. seer, base pin, etc. This title led me to just external parts, which I already new since childhood.

    • Bob,
      I am not sure if the title escaped you or not but, the title says BASIC parts of a gun. The things like sear, base pin,striker, etc,. are all parts known by people that are more experienced in firearms.

  6. it cracks me up i have been following you guys’ page on FB for about a year and i just started gunsmithing school and one of the articles i had to read links directly to this page hahahaha. small world.

  7. I’m a 16 year old teenager who knows a little too much for my own good, but since there’s no turning back, and i’m not the only one, i might as well go all out. Thanks for the info, i’m going to the shooting range this weekend! :)

  8. im just 13 yrs old and find firearms interesting to study and I have known a lot about primarily pistols and revolvers for a while, and in this, I already knew a lot but o have definitely learned some new parts. This page has gotten me a little more advanced outside of handguns.

    • I recommend getting a repair manual fot the AK-47. That should have all the parts listed with different views. The expolded view it will show all pieces of the firearm and which order they are assembled.

  9. i do like this site broke it down was easy to read not that i am a beginner witch i not but thanks for the recap.

  10. Just thought I’d point out that the “pump-action” shotgun shown in the picture is actually a semi-automatic, gas-operated shotgun; not a pump-action.

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