Now that we’re comfortable with the basic terms let’s understand the different types of firearms.

Classification of Firearms:

  1. On the basis of Configuration of Firearm:
  2. Handguns– The smallest of all firearms is the handgun. There are two common types of handguns: revolvers and semi-automatic pistols.

Revolvers have a number of firing chambers or “charge holes” in a revolving cylinder; each chamber in the cylinder is loaded with a single cartridge. Revolvers are very common among handgun hunters because revolver cartridges are usually more powerful and the strength, simplicity and durability of the revolver design is well-suited to outdoor use.
Semi-automatic pistols have a single fixed firing chamber machined into the rear of the barrel, and a magazine so they can be used to fire more than one round. Military and police forces use semi-automatic pistols due to their high magazine capacities and ability to rapidly reload by simply removing the empty magazine and inserting a loaded one.

  1. Long guns– Most modern long guns are either rifles or shotguns.

Rifle is a firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder, with a barrel that has a helical groove or pattern of grooves (“rifling”) cut into the barrel walls. Rifling gives a spin to the projectile (Bullet) which lends gyroscopic stability and prevents tumbling. It includes sniper rifles, anti-material rifles etc.
Shotgun is a shoulder-fired long gun with no rifling in the barrel, designed to shoot a large number of small projectiles (“shot”) rather than a single large projectile (“a bullet”). Large number of projectiles makes the shotgun useful as a close quarter’s combat weapon or a defensive weapon

  1. Carbines– A carbine is a firearm similar to a rifle in form and intended usage, but generally shorter or smaller than the typical “full-size” hunting or battle rifle of similar time period, and sometimes using a smaller or less-powerful cartridge. The smaller size and lighter weight of carbines make them easier to handle. They are typically issued to high-mobility troops such as special-operations soldiers and paratroopers in close quarter combat operations.


  1. On the basis of Function:
  2. Semi-automatic Firearms– These weapons fire one bullet with each pull of the trigger but can fire dozens of bullets until cartridges are no longer available in the magazine.
  3. Automatic Firearms– They fire a continuous stream of bullets from attached magazines or drums as long as the gun’s trigger is pressed. The escaping gas of each bullet fired is mechanically used to prepare and fire the next bullet and to eject spent shells.
  4. Machine Guns– A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm designed to fire bullets in quick succession from an ammunition belt or magazine, typically at a rate of 300 to 1800 rounds per minute. They are used when attached to a mount or fired from the ground on a bipod or tripod.

Light machine gun (LMG) is a machine gun designed to be employed by an individual soldier, with or without an assistant, as an infantry support weapon.

  1. Submachine Guns– A submachine gun is a magazine-fed firearm, usually smaller than other automatic firearms, that fires pistol-caliber ammunition; for this reason certain submachine guns can also be referred to as machine pistols. Because of their small size and limited projectile penetration compared to high-power rifle rounds, submachine guns are commonly favored by military, paramilitary and police forces for close-quarters engagements such as inside buildings, in urban areas or in trench complexes. They are also extremely inexpensive and simple to build in time of war, enabling a nation to quickly arm its military.


  1. Assault Rifle– It is usually slightly smaller than a battle rifle but the chief differences defining an assault rifle are select-fire capability (most common limits are two or three rounds per trigger pull) and the use of a rifle round of lesser power, known as an intermediate cartridge. This reduces recoil allowing for controllable bursts at short range like a submachine gun, while retaining rifle-like accuracy at medium ranges. Generally, assault rifles have mechanisms that allow the user to select between single shots or fully automatic fire.

Modern designs call for compact weapon retaining firepower. The bullpup design, by mounting the magazine behind the trigger, unifies the accuracy and firepower of the traditional assault rifle with the compact size of the submachine gun.

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