The Basics - FirearmsTypes of FirearmsCommon Firearms Types
These will be included in the glossary portion of Firearms 101, but are also included here for convenience and clarity.Pistol
- A short firearm intended to be held and fired with one hand. Revolver
- A handgun having a revolving chambered cylinder for holding a number of cartridges, which may be discharged in succession without reloading. Rifle
- A firearm meant to be held to the shoulder when fired. Named for the spiral grooves cut in the inner surface of the gun barrel to give impart rotation on the projectile for increased accuracy.Carbine
- A long-gun similar to, but shorter than a rifleShotgun
- A firearm, usually with a smooth bore capable of firing multiple projectiles (shot, pellets). May also fire a single projectile (slug) with or without the addition of a rifled barrel.Machine gun
- A small arm operated by a mechanism, able to deliver a rapid and continuous fire of bullets as long as the trigger is pressed.Submachine gun
- An automatic carbine, designed to fire pistol cartridges.Automatic rifle
- A rifle capable of fully-automatic operation; that is, when fired, it will continue to fire until the trigger is released or it is out of ammunition. Sometimes referred to as an assault rifle
to be confused with an "assault weapon."Assault Weapon
- A term introduced into usage by gun control groups. The idea of an assault weapon is notably vague, as any instrument used to assault someone or something is an assault weapon. In common usage, an assault weapon is identical in operation to legally available semi-automatic or single-shot rifles, pistols or other firearms with the exception of the presence of certain, arbitrary cosmetic features.
Common Types of Firearms Actions
The "action" of a firearm refers to physical mechanism that loads, unloads or otherwise manipulates cartridges and/or seals the breech of the firearm.Single Shot
- A type of action in which the firearm is capable of holding and firing only one round at a time before requiring manual unloading/reloading by the user. Examples include break-action, tilting-, falling- and rolling-block actions, and some bolt-actions.Revolver
- A revolver houses cartridges in a rotary cylinder and advances them in-line with the bore prior to each shot.Bolt Action
- An action in which the opening and closing of the breech is operated manually by manipulating handle attached to the bolt.Lever Action
- Uses a lever to eject and chamber cartridges.Pump Action
- An action in which the fore end is manually operated in a sliding or pumping motion by the user to eject and chamber rounds.Semi-automatic
- A type of firearm operation in which the pulling of the trigger causes the chambered round to be fired, the spent case to be ejected and the following round to be chambered for the next shot, which requires a subsequent trigger pull. Examples include blowback, recoil, direct impingement and gas piston operation.Automatic
- Similar in operation to semi-automatic firearms with the exception that continuing to depress the trigger will cause the firearm to keep firing until out of ammo or the trigger is released.
Firearms - Parts
These diagrams show the basic parts of a variety of firearms
This animation shows the cycling of a semi-automatic pistol.