Firearm Pedantism

What level of specificity is appropriate in a conversation about firearms? This consistent topic, and one that has a variety of answers, usually depends upon the audience.

The 9-Hole video, as well as a video from Forgotten Weapons, highlights how I believe the most constructive way to explain niche concepts should go. What do I mean?

If someone were to say a DI AR, everyone worth their time as being familiar with the subject would know what type of firearm is being discussed. If someone were to then pipe up and say, “Actually they aren’t direct impingement…” and then proceed down the explanation contained in this and Ian’s videos, that person is an asshole. They are not helping anyone, they are probably not furthering the knowledge base of those around them, they are merely flexing how smart they are.

Not neat. The opposite of neat, actually.

The tone and tenor of constructive and educational conversations involving firearms need to consider both the appreciable understanding of the audience and the best way to orient that audience to new learning. The overplayed bits of esoteric knowledge that is ‘technically more correct’ than the audiences’ general understanding can often hamper learning and turn people off of continued education.

Below are some examples, and again this video and Ian’s video covering this particular topic are excellent formats of how to present this information positively and informatively instead of as a 1-up over the listeners.

“It’s magazine, not clip…”

This is probably the most common one. Clip is making its way out of our vernacular slowly but steadily, and I was certainly guilty of this bit for awhile too, but when someone asks for a gun’s ‘clip’ I know what they mean. You know what they mean. We all probably know what they mean.

What we do from here is often formative in the inquirer’s experience with ‘gun people’ and so a positive inquiry back that includes the term magazine is preferable to a confrontational one. “You’re looking for a Ruger magazine?” or “What gun are you looking for a magazine for?” are positive and assistance driven, “It’s called a magazine.” is dickish. Avoid being dickish. Some old timers will only say clip, that’s fine. Let them. It isn’t worth your time to try and change it when you already know what they mean.

For new owners this will be a core interaction as they learn.


I don’t know the actual number of AK47 rifles within the United States, but of that particular model it is really low. However when anyone says “AK47” we know they are quite likely talking about either an AKM or a model later than the AKM and not the original AK47. This is fine. Especially in the 7.62×39 models it can be used as an interchangeable term with no harm. Only among the well learned and in certain contexts where differences in model and origin are poignant to the conversation, a Chinese Type 56 vs a Yugo M76 for example, will the differences matter.

In most of these the audience and level of the conversation are the driving factor in the level of detail that is appropriate and most productive.

“AR-15’s aren’t Direct Impingement”

This was a neat thing I found out and it made sense from Ian’s video a couple years back, it is reiterated here.

I then saw the internet troll lords immediately go to work one upping every current thread they could find with the term “DI AR” in it. Cool, you were given a cool new technically more correct piece of information and now this is your whole personality. Splendid. I’m sure you have helped tens of people with your knowledge today that you until now also used wrong…

What’s next?

It’s a revolver, not a pistol.”

This is one I find tremendously tedious, personally. More so when the government is using the distinction to purposefully deflate numbers of incidents involving small concealable firearms, looking at you ATF.

“That’s just an AR-180 you know…”

Yes, everything modern is an AR-180 it feels like. Cool. Next.

G36, SCAR, ACR, Bren 805, Bren 2, MSBS Grot, Carmel, MCX, JAKL, BRN-180, yep. Lots of 180 evolutions out there, they run well.


Those are some of the major ones. They all tend to gravitate around the being ‘overly detailed for the sake of ego’ instead of information schtick. There is a time and place to land detail home and use superior knowledge as a bludgeon (New Mexico’s Governor’s office is a current example) but in most instances using the vocabulary the audience, instead of the expert, is familiar with will better produce the desired result.

Keith Finch
Keith is the former Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. He got told there was a mountain of other things that needed doing, so he does those now and writes here when he can. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. Teaching since 2009, he covers local concealed carry courses, intermediate and advanced rifle courses, handgun, red dot handgun, bullpups, AKs, and home defense courses for civilians, military client requests, and law enforcement client requests.