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How is a Cartridge Ejected from a Firearm?

How does a gun extractor work? How is a cartridge ejected from a firearm?

In bolt-action, lever-action, pump-action, and semi- or fully automatic firearms, extractors typically work in conjunction with ejectors to remove completely a fired, empty cartridge case from the weapon. The extractor removes the cartridge case from the chamber, essentially pulling the case to the rear. At some point in the rearward travel, the case typically makes contact with the ejector, which "kicks" the expended case out of the firearm, making room for an unfired cartridge to be loaded.

Extractor - The extractor has a notch into which a cartridge rim fits snugly. It pulls the agent cartridge backward with the slide.

Ejector - The ejector is attached to the gun frame and has a small ramp at the front that pushes a spent cartridge upward.

Together the extractor and the ejector send the used cartridge upward and outward clearing the chamber.

The above animation credit and content courtesy of Jacob O'Neal via

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