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Cocking is preparing the firing chain for the next round. In systems with a rotary hammer, cocking is usually a matter of the bolt pressing the hammer back down into engagement with the sear as the bolt moves rearward. In systems with a spring powered striker or a fixed striker the sear usually catches the striker or bolt after it has reached its rear limit and starts to move forward.

In fully-automatic guns with a separate striker and bolt, some mechanism must be provided to release the sear once the fresh round is fully chambered.

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