A Firearms Primer (Introduction for beginners)


December 12, 2003, 02:34 AM
Hello everyone,

I've just gotten a new website going: www.firearmsprimer.com (http://www.firearmsprimer.com)

There's not too much there at the moment, but I do plan to add a lot of content over time. Right now, it's intended to be an introduction to firearms for beginners. I hadn't seen a site quite like this on the internet yet, so I thought I would make one. I hope it will do someone some good.

Comments welcome.

If you enjoyed reading about "A Firearms Primer (Introduction for beginners)" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
December 12, 2003, 08:59 AM
Wow, I am impressed. I read it word for word. I have bookmarked it and look forward to the upcoming sections.

The section that I would like to see next would be the cleaning and maintenance part. I've been shooting for a long time but am not sure that I am taking care of my firearms as well as I should. I'm self taught in that department and could stand a little direction.

Keep up the good work,


December 12, 2003, 09:36 AM
Wow! Looks really good! The pictures are a really good touch, a picture really is worth a thousand words. I look forward to the rest of the site being completed. I think we should add this to the Library link in the top right.

One comment:

4. Look into the chamber

You should also feel with your pinky or other finger that fits, to be even more sure that the chamber is empty.

Mad Man
December 12, 2003, 09:55 AM
Have you thought about adding some animation to demonstrate how certain things work? The web is a wonderful medium for this. Otherwise, you run the risk of producing just another text among a sea of many.

A firearm is a mechanical device with moving parts, and static pictures do not always convey how or why certain things work.

For example, I could explain to a newbie about how expanding gases from burning powder push a bullet out of the case, but usually they just scratch their heads. I think this animation from SafetyOn (http://www.gunsoft.com/) adds so much more.

http://www.gunsoft.com/images/bulletanim.GIF (http://www.gunsoft.com/prev1.htm)

Likewise, I could try to explain how a semi-automatic handgun works, but I have found that a lot of people are confused by concepts like the ejection of empty shells and why the slide locks back on an empty mag. But this helps:

http://www.gunsoft.com/images/siganim.gif (http://www.gunsoft.com/)

Now these are concepts that are easy to demonstrate at the range, but I like people to have an idea before I take them there. And manually manipulating a handgun to demonstrate a concept -- eg. pulling back on the slide to simulate firing a round -- is very, very confusing.

Somebody once came up with the idea of COIK -- "Clear Only If Known."

It doesn't apply to only to firearms, but keep in mind that not only must we overcome ignorance when introducing a newbie to our hobby, but also a lot of bad information and misconceptions that they may already hold.

J Miller
December 12, 2003, 09:58 AM
I like it. And the pictures are great. Any time I can read the stampings on a gun in a picture I'm quite impressed.

May I suggest that in the "Clearing a gun" section, you add Double Action revolvers, and both the Old Style, and New style Single actions.
You'd be surprised at how many people I've seen that have no idea on how to do this.
Well, maybe you wouldn't.

Good work, keep it up.


Mad Man
December 12, 2003, 10:10 AM
Your point of focus should be the front sight. (http://www.firearmsprimer.com/marks/marks_3.htm)


I was always told to "focus on the front sight," but I was shooting for 10 years before I found anybody who could tell me why.

Any time I can read the stampings on a gun in a picture I'm quite impressed.

Yes, I did overlook that. The quality of the pictures is amazing; much better than what I've seen in books and other web sites.

December 12, 2003, 11:16 AM
Looking good, for sure.

If you ever get the need for filler please consider fleshing out your "clearing" pages with other models... those that are somewhat (or "more"what) different from a 1911 or typical revolver.

I have a thread re this at http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?s=&threadid=53371 - it didn't get much attention. I had hoped to learn about others so that handling could at least start with properly clearing before "cuddling".

Maybe your site would draw an audience that could provide the necessary info.

Thanks for your great work - no small effort, for sure.


December 12, 2003, 11:21 AM
Good work there, RGO...

Wish list: Like TerryBob said, I'd love to see a disassembly and cleaning section. I'm also in the self-taught department and I'm never sure if I'm being thorough enough.

December 12, 2003, 11:44 AM
Thanks, everyone, for the responses. I'm glad to hear that you like it! Thanks to all about the compliments on the photos. I did definitely try to make them good. I think the visual aspect adds a lot, and of course, everyone loves a good gun photo. :)

TerryBob, Terminus: I am thinking about doing the cleaning and maintenance section next. I've got a lot of stuff going on right now, though (moving and general holiday-season madness), so I may be delayed for a bit.

Mad Man: I was thinking about adding some short video clips, for example, in the "trigger squeeze" section. These may come later. Thanks for the suggestion.

About focusing on the front sight: I hope I can explain. Your eye can only focus on one distance at a time. The MOST IMPORTANT sight for aiming is the front sight (example: shotguns often only have a front bead). You must focus on the gun sight to have any sort of accuracy, which precludes focusing on the target. (Even with a blurry target, you can still see it well enough to hit.) The rear sight will also appear "good enough" when you are focusing on the front sight.

J Miller: I would like to add revolvers, but unfortunately, I don't have one. I may try to borrow one.

Ironbarr: Good suggestion on adding "different" models, however, I don't have anything too non-standard right now. It's all a matter of money. :)

WhoKnowsWho: I was never taught that, but it's a good tip.

Hope I got everybody!

Brian Dale
December 12, 2003, 12:02 PM
How many times did you edit the text on those pages? - (I don't need to know; just a rhetorical Q) - You've done it beautifully; your descriptions and explanations are easy to read, succinct and to the point.

The clarity of the photographs is a real treat, too. I look forward to reading more of your stuff when you have time to add to the site.

Thanks - what a resource!

December 12, 2003, 12:15 PM
See if you can get coporate sponsorship and then maybe you wouldn't have to buy the firearms that you feature. Also, might make a little money advertising for them. Just a thought.

December 12, 2003, 12:32 PM
Nice job! Good use of illustrations, too!


December 12, 2003, 12:33 PM
RGO, great site. Really informative. How about a glossary section? Explanations for the different action types, common malfunctions, etc.

Looks like it will become a very nice resource. Thanks for your effort.


December 12, 2003, 12:39 PM
RGO, that is a great site, and you have a BEAUTIFUL Hi Power. Are those Navidrex grips?

I really like the way that you use a lot of pictures to explain. Excellent work. You're quite a photographer, too!

When I go back to visit my friends at college, I am going to teach them to shoot, by popular demand. I think I'm going to use your website, too. Not only is it very clear, you use a Hi Power, so it makes it that much more clear for my purposes.

Again, great work.

December 12, 2003, 12:40 PM
Excellent site, well done sir, added to the bookmarks here too.


December 12, 2003, 12:47 PM

Until RGO gets a chance to build his section on cleaning, here's a list of procedures I've posted earlier:

I've used this procedure on all civilian guns for over 30 years, except that I don't think I had Breakfree and Rem-Oil for the whole time:
1. Clean with Hoppe's #9, one of the smells of freedom, the other being burnt JP-4, or Breakfree aerosol (carburetor cleaner works almost as good), depending on how dirty the gun is.
2. Saturate with WD-40 (no, I've never had a problem) or Rem-Oil, whichever comes to hand first.
3. Wipe off thoroughly with cotton rag and Q-tips and slotted tip/jag with cotton patches. Get chambers bone dry (oil can kill primers).
4. Drip tiny drops of Hoppe's gun oil on points of wear.
5. For autos, put a little dab of a good grease like Rig (or the old black Outers/Garcia stuff) on the slide rails and any bright spots.
6. Apply very thin coat of Hoppe's gun oil in barrel using a wool or cotton mop.
7. Thoroughly wipe off any excess.
For magazines and moon clips, I use only Hoppe's #9 and dry thoroughly. Absolutely no oil, it can kill primers.
In the military we used milspec bore cleaner and LSA. Worked great. If you're on a budget get some of these at a surplus outlet and you'll be OK. Lots of guys have used thin motor oil or transmission fluid for gun oil with good results too.

December 12, 2003, 05:43 PM
Hi again, everyone:

Happy Bob: I did spend a good while trying to make the writing clear. :) Also, photography is another one of my interests. Every good photo is a treat, I think, so I did my best with that.

gharsh: Corporate sponsorship, huh? hmm... would be very nice.

JaviFL: A glossary is on my list. I may end up linking to someone else's, though, because there's a LOT to cover and there are a few sites that have pretty comprehensive glossaries already.

Thefumegator: Thanks for the compliments. The grips are Cocobolo Spegels. I like them a lot.

moxie: Good info. I'll get my own variation up with pictures ASAP.

ChickenHawk, GM7RQK: Thanks a lot!

December 12, 2003, 05:48 PM
Excellent site ! One thing was bugging me though. In the pics on clearing a weapon you have the left hand manipulating the slide in an extremely awkward and uncomfortable way. You might think about having the left hand's thumb point back towards you chest. This makes it easier to keep the pistol pointed in a safe direction.

Just my personal opinion backed up by my limited experience. I'm going to have my fiancé go over it when she gets home. I know I needed the read.

Here is the pic I'm talking about.


December 12, 2003, 05:58 PM
Hehe, actually, that photograph IS a little bit awkward. It had to be in order to get a good angle for the picture. :) Also, I'm not a big fan of teaching the racking method you describe to beginners. (I think you mean where you kind of point the pistol to the left, and the slide moves to the right.) From what I've seen, it is easier to get the gun pointed in an unsafe direction that way. You say the opposite, so I could be wrong about something.

December 12, 2003, 06:17 PM
What I'm describing keeps the piston completely upright, straight ahead and under excellent control. The way shown in the picture bends the left wrist needlessly and could be a source of isometric pressure which could bring the barrel to the right.
They are both fine but the way I described just seems more ergonomic thats all.
It's not criticism at all just trying to help.

Here is a pic from the Annual Handgunner tactical.


December 12, 2003, 06:28 PM
I see. Cool.

Actually, I never rack the slide like my picture shows. The pistol would actually be held sideways rather than upright. Perhaps this does need fixing. Thanks for the suggestion.

December 12, 2003, 06:32 PM
Ohh and another thing.............. those are the best photos I have seen on a how-to site in a loooooong time.

http://www.lunitixx.com/temp/emoticons/thumb-up.gif http://www.lunitixx.com/temp/emoticons/thumb-up.gif

December 12, 2003, 10:11 PM
Actually - the pics are not quite up to par ---- I mean, hey - look how clean the fingernails are!! :D

December 13, 2003, 02:07 AM
Regarding the "slide locking" position pictures I have a couple of suggestions.

Certainly the method you picture isn't easy for most -- I prefer a firm grasp over the slide with my palm as the second picture shows. That method IS prone to pointing the weapon down range though. I refrained form doing this once (while in a pistol safety class) and used the weaker "finger only" method and was corrected with these instructions:

Take a step forward with the left foot, while keeping the gun downrange. You're now facing sideways to the firing line, but your weapon is still safe. THEN it's natural to rack the slide in the strongest position.

That really helps me because I've got "girl sized" hands. I can pivot the pistol in my grip so that the slide lock is well within reach of my thumb. Everything just "grooves" better when I do this -- it' second nature now.

The other -- and this is trivial -- in your slide racking picture your finger isn't where you previously told them to keep it, sorta. Yes, it's outside the trigger guard but you've got it on the grip. Re-shooting the picture with your index finger hidden behind the frame (and maybe a note about how you're _still_ doing that) might drill the point in further.

Oh, and a red arrow pointing to where the slide lock is could help. People that don't know diddly about handguns might not know *** you're talking about.

A topic that I see missing from the primer would be DA/SA differences in semi-autos as well as revolvers. Since I don't own I revolver (just not my gig -- yet!) I wouldn't feel comfortable writing about them. However, I don't mind helping with a DA/SA/DAO/Glock SA tutorial for newbies. That's one issue that left me going "huh?" when I first got into shooting.

If you want more pictures I've got a decent digital camera and am -moderatly- competent in taking good pictures. Slap a good halogen light on the gun and I can get a good clear shot. Unfortunately I've just got a CZ-75B and two Glock's that I could grab pictures from. Rifles are another matter. There's a few fun examples laying around here.

I'm game for donating prose on issues though. I'm not authorative on anything, but I feel I can safely provide enough information for a newbie to understand things while not giving the advice that's going to lead to a hole in their wall or worse.

December 13, 2003, 02:19 AM
You know what would be an excellent addition to the page once you get some spare time?


The basics, the positions and stances, etc etc.

That is something I would really be interested in.

December 13, 2003, 09:46 AM
GigaBuist: I am certainly willing to accept contributions. If you want to write something up, I'm sure it would be a nice addition to the site.

schadenfreude: Rifles are also on the list. Thanks for the input.

I'm going to be moving a lot of things today including the computer, so I will probably be offline for a little while. Have fun while I'm gone!

December 13, 2003, 09:58 AM
In the pics on clearing a weapon you have the left hand manipulating the slide in an extremely awkward and uncomfortable way.

I think this is partially because of A) the smaller, female hands manipulating the pistol in the pics, and B) BHPs have a 32# mainspring and usually either a 17# or a 18.5# recoil spring, bringing the "racking grand total" to either 49 or 50.5 pounds. That's tough even for most BIG guys if they're not used to it.

Carry on. :D


December 13, 2003, 10:02 AM
Hehe, those are my (male) hands. See in the pic where I am demonstrating the stances. I do have small hands, and a small frame in general. Probably due to my Asian half.

Edit: Oh, and I am running the BHP with an 18.5 lb mainspring.

December 13, 2003, 10:32 AM
Hehe, those are my (male) hands.

:eek: :o OMG... I'm so sorry.

Pay no attention to the retard behind the curtain... :banghead:

Wes :o :banghead:

EDIT: On the bright side, you have VERY nice fingernails. :D

December 14, 2003, 03:05 AM
No problem, man. I did think it was funny, though. :) Actually, my hands are only slightly bigger than my fiancee's. And, um... thanks about the fingernails. heh...

December 14, 2003, 07:40 AM
Where can I get one of those guns with the bottomless supply of ammunition?


December 14, 2003, 11:16 AM
Anywhere in Hollywood. :p


January 31, 2004, 02:49 PM
Hey everyone,

Just posting to let you know that the Cleaning & Maintenence section is now up. Would have been sooner, but real life always beckons. As before, I'm sure some people will have differing ideas from mine, but I hope mine aren't too bad. :)

Also, Thefumegator, this time the hands in the pics are female. :D

- Bob

rust collector
January 31, 2004, 05:31 PM
Very well done. Congratulations. It's refreshing to see "just the facts" covered in such a clear and engaging manner.

I'm not a web designer, but they tell me the way to get more hits is to link to other pages. I would think links to storage solutions, cleaning products, manufacturers, publishers and accessory sources, similar to your Wolff link, could help to get hits and possible attention from someone interested in product placement or reciprocal links. Could even hook up with other safety sites such as state hunter safety programs.

Thank you for the effort and concern for others' safety. I'm adding your link to my hunt safe course written materials.

January 31, 2004, 05:40 PM
Also, Thefumegator, this time the hands in the pics are female. :D

LOL, I'm still sooo embarassed about that. :o I mean, how in the world do you get your fingernails so clean? :D

Good job on the site -- it's a very valuable teaching tool. ;)

Wes :o

Mil Novecientos Once
January 31, 2004, 05:41 PM
Nice pictures and good info for begginers. It's already on my favorites list.

January 31, 2004, 05:46 PM
Nice site. Be sure to post links to it for beginners on all the gun and training forums. I've never seen a site for beginners before - good idea.

January 31, 2004, 06:34 PM
Thank you.

January 31, 2004, 07:35 PM
You focus on the front sight because the human eye is only capable of focusing on one point in an infinite plane. Also, because wherever the front sight is, that is where the bullet is going to end up. And lastly, because that is how the MArine Corps teaches it, and anythig they have to say about shooting, I subscribe to.

February 1, 2004, 07:25 AM

February 1, 2004, 01:43 PM
Thanks, RGO.
The descriptions are concise and well written and the photos are clear and directly relate to the topic. Both of which are all too often lacking.
I've added your site to my bookmarks and forwarded it to a beginner that I’ve been helping. Your photos of the sight picture are the clearest that I’ve seen, and really helped clarify it for him.

February 1, 2004, 04:04 PM
rust collector: Thank you for your compliments! That's a good suggestion about linking, too. I'll put up a revision with a few links soon.

Thefumegator: Still on about the fingernails, huh? :) Actually, I think I cut them right before shooting those photos (with the BHP). Other than that, my secret is just soap and water. :) BTW, from your posts here and on the FNHipower forum, it seems that we have a similar taste in firearms and are about the same age. Drop me a line if you're ever in the neighborhood.

Mil Novecientos Once, Gocart, michiganfan: Thanks!

DaveJ: You're welcome!

Maddock: Thanks to you as well. Actually, those photos of the sight picture were probably the hardest ones to do. I wanted to get the focus on the front sight with the camera, just like we do with our own eyes. That took a bit of persistence to get right.

Ukraine Train
February 2, 2004, 09:18 AM
Excellent site! Being relatively new to handguns, something I'd love to see is an explanation of the different types of actions, ie. tipping barrel, cammed barrel, blowback. That would thoroughly de-confuse me.:)

If you enjoyed reading about "A Firearms Primer (Introduction for beginners)" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!