Jim from Traverse
City called in a question about firearm terminology. He pointed out that the
body of a handgun is called a frame, but in a rifle, it’s called the receiver.
Receiver in its
general sense goes all the way back to the late 14th century, when
it was established as a receptacle, a repository, something that holds and
receives an object. The receiver of a rifle houses or receives the loading and
firing mechanisms—the hammer, the trigger, the bolt, the barrel, and the
magazine, if the weapon is a repeater. The receiver is where the serial number
is usually engraved. In England, it is simply called the body. As the specific
name of the core of a rifle, in print it dates back to 1851.
A related term
is the stock of a firearm. That’s the part that’s held in the hand in a pistol,
and rested against the shoulder in a rifle. In the late-15th
century, it referred to the wooden support for a ship’s cannon. By the 16th
century, it was used as the name of the wooden section of a musket or fowling
piece. In the early 19th century, it became part of a cliché: lock,
stock, and barrel. It originally came from an Old English word that meant a
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