Classification of Firearms

Firearms are a portable gun that inflicts damage on targets by launching one or more bullets driven by ballooning high-pressure gas produced chemically by exothermic combustion. Firearms used legally by the civil forces and the police department. Firearms are capable enough to take a person’s life. Mostly the Police department will only have civilian pistols and rifles. While the Military forces have a wide range of firearms starting from pistols to assault rifles. We can see the advancement of weapon technology day by day. The weapon technology also increases day by day. If we look back around 100 years, we won’t be seeing Rifles at high-speed firing rate but today we can see them with high-speed firing.


The origin of firearms started from gunpowder around 1,000 years ago.  Soon the gunpowder has found its way to use it into weaponry. Cannons and grenades were among the earliest weapons to incorporate gunpowder, followed by primitive handheld firearms, which consisted of hollow bamboo tubes, packed with gunpowder and small projectiles. Over time, people created and improve firearms. The hand cannon and black powder created an emergence of firearm evolution. When the matchlock was developed in the 1400s, more and more technologies in firearms started to develop. The matchlock was the first “mechanical” type firearm that advanced the hand cannon. The matchlock created a resting place for the match called a serpentine arm. Once the trigger was pulled the match would move to the touchhole. Therefore, after loading through the muzzle and priming the gun, you would then place the match on the serpentine and open the flash pan, when you pulled the trigger, the match would ignite the gunpowder. This was an improvement from canons but this wasn’t very accurate and it was completely useless in rain.

By the next century, the advancement of wheel-lock was constructed. It was the next major advancement in firearms technology. By spinning a spring-loaded wheel in a wheel lock, pyrite loaded in the dogshead would be used to ignite the gunpowder. The wheellock was more reliable in bad weather conditions due to a cover on the priming pan and the absence of a slow-burning match. Due to the mechanics of the wheellock, they were very expensive to produce and repair. The matchlock was still greatly used even when the wheellock was produced.

By the seventeenth century, using flint to produce a spark gave way to the flintlock. At the hammer, a piece called a vice held a piece of flint. The flint would strike a plate (frizzen) when the trigger was pulled. Misfires were common with flintlocks. The flint had to be maintained so that it stayed sharp enough to create a spark. The flintlock mechanism was popular until the percussion system was developed.  These firearms were easy to obtain, which also made them very popular. One of the famous flintlock muskets was the Brown Bess, which was significantly used by both sides in the American Revolutionary War. 

Later the percussion cap system was invented in the early nineteenth century. The system eventually took over the large popularity of the flintlocks. Instead of a flash pan, the firearms would use percussion caps that would be placed over cones. As the trigger is pulled, the hammer ignites the primer in the percussion cap. Using a percussion cap firearm was more reliable than flintlock, especially in harsh weather conditions.

Types of Firearms

There are various types of firearms and it varies from size, bullet capacity, bullet size for the particular firearm and rate of firing speed of bullets. Every firearm is made for different purpose like a civilian pistol won’t be used in a battlefield as it is not as durable as automatic or semi-automatic rifles. Every firearmis made for different purposes. The various types of firearms lists from Handgun, Shotgun, Rifles, Carbines, Assault Rifles, Machine Guns, Sniper Rifles, Submachine Guns, Automatic Rifles,Personal defense weapon and Battle rifles. The mechanism, functioning and bullet capacity of each type is different from each other.

  1. Handgun – A handgun is the smallest gun which is a pistol or a revolver which can be held and discharged with one hand. The capacity of a bullet in Handgun is very less comparing to any other gun. There are two common types of handgun which is a revolver and semi-automatic pistol. The revolver has a firing chamber in a revolving cylinder and in each revolving cylinder a single bullet will be loaded and fired whereas in semi-automatic pistol it has a single fixed firing- chamber machines into the rear of the barrel and a magazine so they can be used to fire more than one round. Each press of the trigger fires a cartridge, using the energy of the cartridge to activate a mechanism so that the next cartridge may be fired immediately.
  2. Shotgun – A shotgun is a long gun which means the length of the gun is long and the size of the gun is heavier while comparing to the handgun. The ammo size of the shotgun is from 2mm and 8.4mm. Shotguns mechanism is designed in such a manner that it has a large impact area with less range and less accuracy. Thus, shotguns can’t be used for long-range firing. The ammo size of the shotgun is from 2mm and 8.4mm. It is commonly used for hunting or people use to defend their home in the USA.
  3. Rifles –A rifle is a long gun which is also heavy while comparing to the handgun. It fires a single bullet at a time. The rifle has a long-range and high accuracy but a smaller impact. The rifle is used to defend their home and for hunting.
  4. Carbine – A carbine is a firearm similar to a rifle in form and usage but it is smaller and sometimes it uses a smaller cartridge. Carbine is mostly used by trained military officers who engage in combat. Carbines can single shot, semi-automatic, or fully automatic.
  5. Assault Rifles –An assault rifle is usually smaller than a battle rifle but the chief difference defining an assault rifle is a select-fire capability that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine. The assault rifles are short, compact, selective-fire weapons that fire a cartridge intermediate in power between submachine gun and rifle cartridges. The effective range of Assault Rifles is at least 300 meters.
  6. Machine Guns – A machine gun is a fully automatic firearm weapon that uses belt-fed ammunition mostly in a rifle-inspired calibre. The rate of firing speed of machine guns is high and since it has no fixed amount of ammunition, it can fire until the ammo finishes in the belt-ammo. Some machine guns have a pan or hopper magazine attached to the machine gun. Machine Guns are mostly used on the battlefield by the military forces. Machine guns used in defense are crewed by two men because of the difficulty involved in moving and placing them, their tripod, and their ammunition. A single person can use modern machine guns such as M249. The accuracy of machine guns varies on the factors that how it has been designed. Machine guns are often mounted on helicopters or vehicles and it will fire them from these vehicles.
  7. Sniper Rifles –A sniper rifle is a high powered, precision rifle, semi-automatic/bolt action with high accuracy and long-range weapon. These are especially built for long-range shots. It inserts a scope in a rifle for aiming which helps to shoot from long distance. A military sniper rifle is high powered which can defeat body armor or medium-light cover.
  8. Submachine Guns –A submachine gun is a magazine-fed firearm. The submachine gun is smaller, and it fires pistol calibre ammo. The submachine gun looks smaller like a pistol with a high firing rate. They also have less recoil. The military prefers to use in close-quarters engagement since it is smaller and firing speed is high.
  9. Automatic Rifles – A magazine is fed in an Automatic Rifle which is the chamber for rifle cartridges and capable of automatic fire. Automatic Rifles are capable of firing multiple bullets at once the trigger is pulled.
  10. Semi-automatic Rifles – These weapons can vary but the common feature is that every pull of the trigger launches one bullet and loading a new round is automatic.
  11. Battle Rifles –As derived by the name it is used for the battle purpose. It has high power damage and less recoil which provides an advantage to the person. It can be either semi-automatic or automatic rifle.


Firearms have evolved over time and it has served as defense purpose. A weapon cannot be used for every situation so over time people have developed and created for various purpose. In the present time, weapons have developed in various categories and serves for various purposes and have corrected in always as possible and the best has been produced. Humans have achieved the purpose of creating a weapon in a different situation in the best possible way. Firearms have served its purpose and it should always be in safe hands.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What is a firearm?
  2. How was the firearm developed?
  3. How many types of firearms are there?
  4. How do they differ from each other?
  5. What firearms can be used by normal citizens for safeguarding their houses in the USA?




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