Civilian Gun Types

Hunter, Girl, Dog, Hunting, Rifle, Gun

This article is meant to be a 5-minute explanation of legal gun types currently available to citizens of america. I hope to give a fundamental understanding for those new or just interested in the definitions of gun types.

For this article, I’m not going to be including exotic, military, illegal, home made, or simulate weapons. This boils down to essentially 3 categories: Handguns, Rifles, and Shotguns. First, however, there are a few terms that are relevant to all three types. I’ll cover those first.

Double activity refers to being able to cock and fire the weapon with one trigger pull.

All the weapons below are available in single or double action. Semi-automatics are also available in double/single action.

We now have single shot, which are typically bolt action, lever action, or fracture violation, being fed ammo manually, by tube, or clip. Revolvers and semi-automatic weapon automatically load the next round to be fired from another trigger pull. Ammo is held in the cylinder or fed by tube or clip. The words clip and magazine mean the same thing.


The expression handgun refers to handheld weapons which don’t use shoulder stocks. There are single shot, revolvers and semi automatic, and are fed ammo manually, by cylinder, or clip. All types can be found in a wide range of calibers. Handguns are usually created for targets under 100 yards away.


This refers to weapons with a shoulder stock, and a barrel over 16 inches long. Rifles are designed to fire further than handguns. More than 100 yards, a skilled shooter with the right equipment could fire accurately 1000 yards or more. Rifles can be bolt, lever, or semi-automatic, and fed bullets manually, by clip or tube. Rifles also have a wide range of calibers available.


Shotguns fall under the rifle category in proportion, but fire a shell full of shot rather than a bullet. Shells range in gauge and electricity and may contain a single slug or hundreds of birdshot. Shotguns can be found in fracture violation, bolt, pump and semi-automatic, fed shells , by tube or clip. Shotguns are made to fire a pattern of shot on a short distance.

Meaning a fully automatic weapon that fires more than 1 round per trigger pull. These aren’t available to the public without extensive licensing.

This is merely a name many people unfamiliar with guns associate with fully automatic weapons. While the army version usually is, civilian versions are not. “Assault Rifle” only refers to a weapon that looks military. It has nothing to do with the capability or function.

I hope this was enlightening. I will discuss, in more detail, each of these types of weapons, their respective functionality and uses, calibers, ammunition and accessories in future articles.

Be Safe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *