A blank firing attachment, or "BFA", is a small device which attaches to the end of a gun barrel to allow the use of blank cartridges. It is required when using an automatic weapon (at least on "full auto" setting) with a gas-operated mechanism. This type of firearm uses some of the expanding gas from the exploding cartridge to blow the bolt back and chamber the next round. Blank cartridges have no bullet, and so there is nothing "plugging" the barrel (albeit briefly) to maintain this gas pressure. This is the function of the BFA. It allows automatic weapons training without giving real bullets to nervous recruits (a definite bonus).

At least on the M-16 I used in the Reserve, the BFA does not completely plug the barrel end, thus retaining a satisfyingly Robocop-esque star-shaped muzzle flash...

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