There are many different types of guns and each variety is different. One factor to be aware of is the action mechanism, which is how the weapon reloads after firing. The mechanism that is most common for modern firearms is semi-automatic. Although this may be compared to automatic guns, they are two different types of mechanisms and work differently.
How Semi-Automatic Guns Work
A firearm is semi-automatic if a bullet automatically reloads and if the gun only fires once per trigger pull. There are two main ways a gun can reload automatically. The first is by using the force of the recoil. The “blowback” sends the barrel back rapidly, which ejects the spent cartridge and loads a new one. This mechanism is most often used for smaller calibers and is common for pistols, although variations such as delayed blowback can be used for more high-powered firearms.
A gas operation mechanism uses a portion of the gases that the gun generates while firing to cycle a new cartridge into the chamber. A well-known example of this is the AR-15 model, which uses gas impingement. After firing, the gases flow through a tube into a gas block, which then transfers the gas to a bolt key in order to cycle the action. Other types of gas operation include long-stroke piston and short-stroke piston.
Semi-Automatic vs Automatic
Semi-automatics and automatics both automatically reload after firing. However, they are not the same thing. The difference is a semi-auto gun will fire only once for each pull of the trigger. A fully-automatic gun will continue to fire as long as the trigger is held. Semi-automatic firearms are fairly common. Fully-automatic machine guns, on the other hand, are more difficult to obtain. These are usually collector’s pieces and there are many regulations for owning one.
If you want to experience the difference between semi-auto and full-auto shooting for yourself, you can rent an automatic MP5 variant at our Tucson shooting range.
Other Types of Mechanisms
Some guns are neither semi-automatic nor automatic. For example, revolvers rotate to line each cartridge up with the chamber. The rotation of the cylinder and the firing of the weapon are two separate processes, even though double-action revolvers accomplish both during the trigger pull, so these guns are not semi-automatic. Most shotguns are also not semi-automatic and use a pump-action mechanism for firing. However, some modern shotguns are semi-auto.
Semi-Automatic Firearms at The Hub
At The Hub, we have a large selection of guns to choose from.