The Many Different Types of Guns

There are many types of guns. Most are split into two general categories, handguns and long guns. As a general rule, handguns use a smaller caliber ammunition than their larger counterparts and have a shorter barrel. Long guns fire larger caliber rounds from longer barrels and are meant to be fired from the shoulder.

Both of these two general categories can be broken down into subcategories:

Handguns

Handguns come in many shapes and sizes, with various options for what caliber ammunition they use. These firearms are good choices for home defense and range practice. The most basic types of handguns are revolvers and semi-automatics.

Revolvers

Revolvers are generally run by a cylinder. They are great for new firearm owners because they are more simple to operate and maintain than semi-automatic handguns. However, they hold fewer bullets and reloading can take longer.

How revolvers fire can be broken down into two categories: single-action and double-action. Single-action revolvers only fire when the shooter manually cocks the hammer. As the hammer moves back, it turns the cylinder that contains the ammunition, putting it into line to fire. You will need to repeat this every time you want to fire the weapon.

You can fire a double-action revolver either by cocking the hammer or by just pulling the trigger. Not cocking the hammer results in a longer trigger pull. If you want a shorter trigger pull, you can still cock the hammer manually. However, this may increase the firing time.

Semi-Automatic Pistols

Semi-automatic pistols are magazine fed. When you fire this type of handgun the gas released propels the slide back and forth, which ejects the old round and automatically puts a new round in. In order to fire the first round of a semi-automatic, you will have to load the weapon and pull the slide back to rack a round into the chamber. After this, the weapon will fire a single shot with every trigger pull for as long as it has ammunition. This handgun is quick loading and carries more bullets than a revolver. Some experts believe that the revolver has better functionality as the semi-automatic can jam when being fired, though this is rare.

Long Guns

Like handguns, long guns come in a large variety of sizes and calibers. How they function can vary greatly. A few of the more common long guns and rifles include lever-action and bolt-action rifles,  semi-automatic rifles, and shotguns.

Lever-Action and Bolt-Action Rifles

Lever-action and bolt-action rifles are often talked about together, but they are different in how they function. The essential differences are the way the bolt is operated and locks into position and the location of the bolt versus the location of the lever.

The bolt on a bolt-action firearm is commonly on the right-hand side of the handle. To operate the handle, the bolt is unlocked and pulled back, opening the breech. This action ejects any spent cartridge and cocks the firing pin. If available, a new cartridge is loaded into the chamber and the bolt is locked in place for firing.

The lever on a lever-action firearm is located near the trigger guard area and often includes the trigger guard itself. When the shooter works the lever, it loads fresh ammunition into the chamber of the barrel. Lever-action and bolt-action rifles have advantages and disadvantages and there is some debate over which is better. However, both types of rifles have remained popular for sporting use.

Semi-Automatic Rifles

Semi-automatic rifles are self-loading rifles. While they can vary greatly in form and functionality, they all have one thing in common. These types of guns uses gas or recoil energy to eject the spent shell and a new round is chambered from the magazine. This allows another bullet to fire when the shooter pulls the trigger again. Most also have rifled barrels, which means that there are grooves lengthwise across the inside of the barrel. When the bullet fires through the barrel, these grooves cause the bullet to spin, allowing it to travel at a greater velocity and enhancing accuracy.

These types of firearms are popular for use in sport shooting, hunting, and for self-defense.

Shotguns

Shotguns differ from rifles as they are uniquely able to fire shells containing pellets, shots, or slugs of different sizes and types. Unlike rifles, shotgun barrels are typically not rifled or grooved inside. There are two types of shotguns which differ in how they function. These are the pump-action shotgun and the semi-automatic shotgun.

Both of these use shotgun ammo, but the pump-action shotgun requires the user to move the slide backwards and forwards manually to load each shell. Semi-automatic shotguns use the force created by the previous shot to automatically eject the empty shell case and chamber the next round.

Do You Have Questions About Types of Guns?

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The Basics of Calibers

The term “caliber” can refer to a gun barrel or to ammunition. It can be measured in inches or millimeters (mm). A gun’s caliber is the internal diameter of the barrel. When referring to ammo, it is the diameter of the bullet. To clarify the terminology, a cartridge is the entire unit that you load into your firearm, whereas the bullet only refers to the metal projectile that the gun fires. Calibers are important to consider when choosing a firearm and each one has its own pros and cons.

Bullet Calibers

The following list includes some of the most popular calibers for bullets and some information about each one. Although it does not cover every type of bullet, it is a good beginner’s guide to the most common calibers you will see when shopping for a firearm or ammo.

.22 LR

.22 Long Rifle (LR), commonly referred to as just “twenty-two,” is a good starting caliber if you have never fired a gun before. It is the most commonly sold ammo in the world. Since the bullets are relatively small, the recoil on a .22 LR firearm is less intense. They also make less noise when firing. Their smaller size does have an effect on their power. Most experts don’t consider them the best option for self-defense. This caliber works well for hunting small game.

.380 ACP, .38 Special, and .357 Magnum

.380 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP) bullets actually have a diameter of 0.36 inches. This is the same as the .38 Special and .357 Magnum. The difference between the three is the length of the cartridge. The .380 ACP is the shortest and .357 Magnum is the longest. The .380 ACP is generally considered the smallest caliber that is reasonable for self-defense. .38 Special and .357 Magnum have more recoil than the .380 ACP. It is important to note that while the diameter is the same, you should not use any ammo in your gun that is not suggested in the owner’s manual and the differing lengths prevent these calibers from being interchangeable.

9mm

9mm has the same diameter as .380 ACP, .38 Special, and .357 Magnum. There are a few different types of 9mm rounds, but the most common is the 9mm Luger, which is used for pistols. 9mm is the standard caliber for most police forces around the world and it is a great choice for concealed carry.

.45 ACP

Many gun enthusiasts recommend .45 ACP rounds since the larger size gives these bullets superior stopping power. The main downsides are that the magazine will hold fewer cartridges, the increased recoil can be a problem for less experienced shooters, and ammo is more expensive than for 9mm rounds.

.223 Remington and 5.56×45 mm

.223 Remington (.223) and 5.56x45mm (5.56 NATO) calibers are very similar in size. 5.56 NATO rounds have more pressure than .223, so it is dangerous to fire 5.56 NATO ammo in a .223 rifle. In some cases, you may be able to fire .223 ammo in a 5.56 NATO gun, although you should always check the specific recommendations in your firearm’s owner’s manual. This caliber is common for AR-15-style-rifles and its smaller size results in a light recoil.

.308 Winchester and 7.62x51mm

.308 Winchester (.308) and 7.62x51mm (7.62 NATO) rounds are both rifle rounds and are similar in size. Mixing these requires special knowledge, so it is usually best to stick with the round that is recommended for your specific firearm. These are popular choices for hunting and are used in heavier caliber machine guns.

Questions about Calibers?

If you have questions about different calibers, you can always ask our experts at The Hub. Whether you are a seasoned enthusiast or a first-time buyer, we are happy to help you find exactly what you are looking for.

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