Types of Firearms
Firearms can be divided into two main categories – small firearms and automatic weapons. Each of these can be further subdivided and contain different types of firearms.
The handgun is the best known of the small firearms. There are three types of this gun:
- Single shot pistol
- Semi-automatic pistol
The single shot pistol is the earliest form of a small handheld firearm. It could only fire one shot at a time and then the shooter had to reload. This type of firearm is no longer in existence, except in museums. Revolvers hold several rounds of ammunition in charge holes or chambers, with a bullet in each chamber. However, the shooter has to cock the hammer of the revolver to bring the next chamber in line with the firing mechanism of the gun. Semi-automatic pistols can fire many rounds of ammunition without reloading. The ammunition is stored in a clip or magazine and each press of the trigger causes the gun to fire.
Long guns are also another class of small firearms. These are known as rifles or shotguns. There is a difference between a rifle and a shotgun because a rifle can only fire single bullets, whereas a shotgun fires packets of shot. Rifles have a long range and are very accurate. Shotguns can only be used at short range, but since the shot flies when it is shot, these are the firearms most often used in hunting flying game.
Automatic weapons have the capability of firing multiple rounds of ammunition with one press on the trigger. The types of these weapons are:
- Machine gun. This is a fully automatic firearm with a large capacity for ammunition. This firearm is used extensively by the armies of the world and is mounted on helicopters and ships.
- Gatling Gun. This is a type of machine gun with rotating barrels. Although it was one of the earliest automatic weapons invented, it played a large part in the Vietnam War of the 1970’s.
- Submachine Gun. This is a smaller automatic weapon than the machine gun and the Gatling gun. It has a magazine to hold the ammunition, which are pistol-caliber cartridges.
- Automatic Rifle. This is a long gun, in which the ammunition is stored in a magazine and has chambers for firing. However, it operates in the same manner as a machine gun.