General Guns & Shooting FAQ

E-mail questions with answers by Chuck Hawks

Gun values

Q: I have a ________ (make and model) gun. Can you tell me what it is worth?

A: Unfortunately, it is impossible to accurately estimate the value of a gun without examining it. I would recommend that you look up the make and model of the gun you own in Fjestad's Blue Book of Gun Values. Fjestad's includes a great many makes and models of guns, and rates them by condition. You should be able to find a copy in most gun shops and bookstores.

Gun identification and history

Q: I inherited an old gun, the serial number is 12345 . . . can you tell me something about its history, when it was made, what ammunition is safe to shoot in it, etc.?

A: No. Unfortunately it is impossible for me to tell you about your gun without examining it. And, in any case, not being a collector it is unlikely that I could help you very much. Take it to a local gun shop and let them have a look at it, they can probably answer at least some of your questions after inspecting it.

Sending photos or attachments

Q: I sent you a picture of my gun, but I never heard back from you. Did you get my e-mail?

A: Please do not send photographs or attachments of any kind without prior authorization. Due to the volume of mail I receive I automatically delete all e-mail containing attachments or graphics.

Calcualting recoil, trajectory, etc.

Q: I shoot ________ (make and model) gun. What is the recoil? What is my trajectory like and for what distance should I set the sights?

A: Please do not ask me to compute your recoil or trajectory for you; these are things that you can figure out for yourself. GUNS AND SHOOTING ONLINE includes information to help you do this. Take a look at the relevant lists and tables on the "Tables, Charts and Lists Page," they are there for your benefit.

The Member Side of G&S Online

Q: I am very disappointed to see that you now require a fee to access your articles. I thought you were posting out of love of the sport ...only to conclude that it was about money. Bummer.

A: You might take time to notice that the Main Site of Guns and Shooting Online as well as my Photography and Astronomy, Naval and Military Affairs, Travel and Fishing, and Motorcycles and Riding sites remain totally free. (Well, not free at all, but paid for out of my pocket.)

The fact is that I am, or was before I got so involved in my web site, a retired guy on a diminishing income. Couple that with the expense of supporting the bandwidth some 2.5 million hits on require every month and something simply had to be done. My web sites are so popular that I have had to become a domain, buy my own server, pay for a 1.5 Meg. DSL line, hire professional support people (I am not a computer person, just a writer/photographer!), and so forth.

If there is to continue to be a, it has to pay for itself. Not to mention the unpleasant fact that maintaining and expanding it has become a full time job, and I can't live on good wishes alone. That is why there is now a Member Side to Guns and Shooting Online. I'm sorry that you are disappointed, but I am gratified and humbled by the success of the Member Side and its acceptance by the great majority of my readers. Also by the recognition that Guns and Shooting Online has received from so many of the fine companies that comprise the shooting sports industry.

Article dates

Q: I was hoping that you would entertain a request of mine, which is that you date the various articles and pages on your site.

A: The publication date of every article is the copyright date at the bottom. If there are two dates, such as "copyright 2005, 2007" the second date is the most recent revision.


Q: I have read your articles on firearms, bullets and reloading, etc. I find your views compelling and reasonable. Can you share some info about your background and how you have developed expertise in such a broad range of topics?

A: It is no secret: I've been interested in guns since I was in Kindergarten. I am an avid shooter and have been for some 45 years now, since my parents let me have a .22 rifle. (Longer if you count my time with BB guns--I actually scoped mine!)

I am also an avid reader and a pretty fair researcher, and have been for all of my life. My Dad taught me to read at a young age and by the time I was 4 years old I was reading adult level magazines. It just seems to be my nature to try and find out everything I can about anything in which I am really interested. It's not work to me, it's more like a compulsion--and I enjoy it!

European cartridge nomenclature

Q: What is the meaning of the "x19" as in 9x19 or the "x45" as in 5.56x45 NATO? The latter is quite a bit longer than 45mm.

A: That is the nominal case length of the cartridge in question. The 9mm Luger case is 19mm long, and the 5.56mm NATO (.223 Rem.) rifle round has a case 45mm long. This is the European method of naming cartridges. They use the bore and the case length in the nomenclature. Europeans sometimes call our familiar .30-06 Spfd. the 7.62x63, since a .30-06 case is 63mm long.

Getting started reloading

Q: My question is, if I decided (or needed) to start reloading, what can I expect to spend for the equipment? Also, how does someone learn to do it?

A: Go to your local gun shop or sporting goods store and take a look at an RCBS starter set. They are pretty much complete and come with a Speer Reloading Manual and all the information you need to get started right. Price varies by retailer so you will have to check that out for yourself. Midway USA (online) can also help you and has generally good prices.


Q: I was appalled when I went to subscribe and found that you were using PayPal to process your payments. Surely you are aware of PayPal's anti-gun policies. I cannot understand why firearm related businesses and firearm enthusiasts in general would add to PayPal's profit line by using them when other sources of financial transactions are available.

A: I am well aware of the shortcomings of PayPal. The answer to your question is simple: PayPal serves as our online bank because they are so much cheaper than local banks when it comes to processing online credit card transactions. We are a small company and we would literally have to double our monthly Membership prices just to be able to pay the transaction fee were it not for PayPal. I don't think that most customers would consider that a reasonable trade-off just to deny PayPal a relatively small percentage of their Membership fee.

Consider it a way to subvert the enemy. PayPal's relatively low online credit card acceptance rates allowed Guns and Shooting Online to reach 628,000 readers per month in 2007 (the latest year for which complete stats are available) with the good guys' message.

Rimfire and centerfire

Q: What is the distinction between rimfire and centerfire cartridges?

A: The terms rimfire and centerfire describe two basic types of cartridge design. The difference between the two types is in the location of the priming compound in the cartridge case. The priming compound initiates the burning of the main powder charge when it is struck by the firing pin of the gun.

A rimfire is so called because the priming compound is actually inside the rim of the case, which is of folded construction. Look at a .22 LR cartridge and you will immediately see what I mean. The firing pin of a rimfire rifle strikes the rim of the cartridge when you pull the trigger.

A centerfire cartridge has a separate primer in the center of the base of the cartridge case. The rim of a centerfire case is solid. Look at a .30-30 cartridge and you will immediately see the difference. The firing pin of a centerfire gun strikes the primer located in the center of the base of the cartridge, rather than the rim. Such cases are much stronger than the rimfire type, and can contain much higher pressures, which makes possible modern high velocity rifles and pistols.

Straight talk

Q: Great web site! Thanks for being willing to name names and give your opinion straight out.

A: Thanks for the kind words about my web site. I am not politically correct and I make no particular effort to be. Since I am not selling anything, and I am not beholding to advertisers, I can write what I honestly think. Bear in mind that, while I try to be fair and impartial, another equally honest and knowing observer may have a different opinion or reach a different conclusion. Two people of equal integrity can legitimately disagree. You might want to read my article "Choosing An Expert."

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Copyright 1999, 2016 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.