Different Types of Guns – Everything You Need to Know

Different Types of GunsWeapon’s technology is an ever-evolving world. Back in the days, firearms could be divided into simple designs, you have revolvers, rifles, shotguns, and that is pretty much everything. However, these days things are not so simple. There are so many subsets of these three fundamental designs that it is hard to keep track.

If you are just entering the world of firearms, it might be a bit confusing to you. Which one should be your first weapon of choice? Do you go with a discreet handgun? Or would you rather have a long bolt-action rifle? It is important to know about all the options available for you.

In this article, we will give you a quick rundown of the different kinds of guns that you can buy today.

How Does A Gun Work?

A gun is a weapon that uses propellant energy to project a projectile through a barrel. It is typically designed to be fired from the shoulder (in the case of a rifle), from the hand, and can also be mounted on a tripod or vehicle (larger machine guns).

A gun is made up of three major components: the barrel, the cartridge, and the firing mechanism. The barrel contains the chamber in which ammunition is loaded; it also houses an explosive charge that ignites propellant gas at one end of its length when fired.

The cartridge contains a primer cap at one end and powder at another end. When it’s fired, pressure builds up in the chamber behind the bullet until it exceeds that of the cap; this causes it to detonate, sending hot gas out through the muzzle of the gun.

Different guns have different firing mechanisms that differ in the way they work. For example, the hammer-action rifle has a hammer that strikes an explosive charge to fire the gun, while other guns may use a long steel tube that is rammed against another piece of metal to fire it.

Mechanisms Of A Handgun Explained

Mechanisms Of A Handgun Explained

In the United States, there are more than 300 million firearms in circulation. The most common type of firearm is the handgun. It is a small-caliber weapon with a barrel of fewer than 12 inches long and designed to be easily concealed or carried.

  • Pressurized Gas

As you know, the purpose of a gun is to create high-pressure gasses that propel a projectile in a particular direction. In addition, sparks are necessary for combustion.

  • Spark

The spark is created with percussion caps in older firearms, but modern guns have primers built into the cartridges that do the same thing.

  • Firing Pin

A firing pin is necessary to strike against these two igniting techniques, so we need something physical to strike against them. We can ignite the fuel and produce high-velocity gasses by using a firing pin.

  • Barrel

We will need a container to force the gasses to go behind the projectile physically; however, to direct the gasses directly behind the projectile. Thus, the barrel is required.

In the barrel, the projectile is contained in a tightly sealed container. The gas can only escape through the other end, so this means that it must come from that end. By doing so, we can also force the projectile to exit the barrel.

  • Bolt

The bolt holds the ejector, making it an essential part of the gun’s mechanism. This removes the spent cartridge, allowing you to replace it with a new one.

  • Ejector

It is impossible to fire the gun by pushing forward the heavy bolt. As a result, we need a trigger that helps release the bolt with little force.

  • Trigger

The trigger releases a gear, and the gear fires the bolt. In turn, this force multiplication makes it more comfortable to shoot a gun, as it is less physically demanding to do so.

There are more complicated parts & systems for different types of guns than these here, but this is the basic mechanism of any gun available today.

The Main Types of Guns with Pictures

As we said before, primarily, a weapon falls under one of three categories. However, each of them comes with quite a few variants themselves.

So we are going to start off with a brief overview of the three major types of firearms in the market along with a complete exploration of the different subsets that you can find for each of them.

1. Handguns

A handgun is the smallest firearm of the three main categories. Typically, you can fire a handgun using only one hand. However, the modern gun-wielding technique recommends that you use two hands for greater stability and precision. This type of weapon is generally lighter and good for close to moderate range combat.

There are two main variants of a handgun that you can find, namely pistol and revolver. However, distinguishing between the two is not as easy.  You need to look at the fundamental design and firing principal of a handgun closely to determine whether it is a pistol or a revolver.


2. Pistols

A pistol is a type of handgun that has the gun chamber aligned permanently with the bore of the gun. It also needs to have a shorter stock compared to a revolver. Some popular pistols in the market are the Glock pistols, M&P by Smith & Wesson, and the P320 by SIG Sauer.


3. Revolvers


Revolvers, on the other hand, does not come with an aligned gun barrel and chamber. The chamber typically comes in a cylindrical shape that rotates and aligns with the barrel as you fire a shot. If you are a fan of old western cowboy films, you have already seen a revolver in action.

4. Rifles


Technically speaking, any firearm that you hold with two hands and brace against your shoulder is a rifle. Another distinguishing feature of a rifle is the rifling on the barrel that accounts for the accuracy of the bullet over long distances. This weapon is suitable for long-range precision in the hands of a skilled marksman.

A rifle fires one projectile with the pull of each trigger. However, these days, due to different types of actions available, this might not be true. This type of gun also comes with a longer barrel. In the United States, for instance, a rifle must have a minimum of 16 inches of barrel length.

Some of the popular rifles are Savage Model 119, Smith & Wesson M&P15, Anschutz, the Ak-47 etc. Rifles usually come with two types of action, bolt-action and semi-automatic.

5. Shotguns

Similar to rifles, shotguns also are fired using two hands with shoulder bracing. It even fires once with each trigger pull and has a longer barrel than a handgun. In fact, shotguns, in some cases, comes with an even longer barrel than that of a rifle. However, with shotguns, you can use a much wider range of ammunition.

Shotguns give you the benefit of firing multiple projectiles with a single shot, usually in the form of metal pellets. The two most common action shotguns types are either pump-action or semi-automatic.


Different types of Action

The “Action” of a firearm dictates the way the weapon functions when you pull on the trigger. One of the most popular action in the modern time is semi-automatic. In fact, most law enforcement officials around the world use semi-automatic handguns issued by the government.

Here is a quick overview of the different action types that you find in firearms.


Bolt-action is mostly limited to rifles. Simply put, any hunting rifle that you find on the market is a bolt-action rifle. It comes with a firing pin that you have to pull each time to fire a shot. With each pull of the bolt, the spent casing is extracted from the chamber.


Semi-automatic might be the most popular form of weapon action in the world these days. Whether you go with a handgun, a rifle, or a shotgun, you can find semi-automatic versions of these weapons. It is much quicker to fire even though it fires only one shot with each pull of the trigger.

Nearly all Glock pistols are semi-automatics. But if you are talking about popularity, the most infamous of the semi-automatics must be the Ak-47. The AR-15 rifle is also a semi-automatic weapon. Apart from that, there are also quite a handful of semi-automatic shotguns in the market these days.

Next: Our top 10 AR-15 cleaning kit list for you.


Pump-action is usually found in shotguns, and in rare cases, in some rifles. This design comes with a sliding element in the firearm that you have to pull down to bring out the used bullet casings or shells and reload your weapon. Typically this caterory firearm uses shells for ammo and comes with a low magazine capacity. The shooter needs to pump the weapon after firing each shot.

Final Thoughts

Granted, this might not be the most exhaustive discussion on the types of guns out there, but we covered the most important variants that you will be looking at if you are planning to buy a gun for yourself. We hope you found our article to be helpful and provide you with all the information that you were looking for.

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