Police, military, and certain types of scientists all need to know about and identify the different types of firearms. There are heavy regulations in most countries about what kinds of firearms are allowed, including the US.
For the average consumer, knowing the different firearm types or types of guns you’re looking at can keep you out of hot water with both law enforcement and regulators.
Do you want to stay up on your firearm classifications and stay safe? Keep reading to find out all you need about the different types of firearms!
Why Everyone Should Know Firearm Classifications
First off, we want to talk about some statistics about responsible firearm use, storage, and trade. North America is the source for a very large number of guns moving through Central and South America, and Western Asia.
Part of the process of responsible gun ownership is purchasing your firearms from licensed and legitimate vendors. They should be an expert in different types of guns and ammunition, but also the best manufacturers. Visit here to make use of that expertise.
They help you stay out of trouble by guiding you through the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986. It’s still good to understand it yourself.
Types of Firearm Classifications
Now to the meat and potatoes, firearm classifications. The full list is as follows:
- Sub-machine guns
- Machine guns
- Craft weapons
“Other” types of firearms are types that are air or gas-powered or even antique guns. Craft weapons are usually crude firearms made from whatever is lying around but can be custom crafts from gunsmiths.
Pistols and revolvers are handguns that share many things in common, including the possibility of semi-automatic functions. A revolver has a cylinder or drum that holds rounds of ammunition while a pistol has a cartridge.
Revolvers can handle more powerful rounds than any semi-automatic pistol, due to their fewer and more rugged parts. Pistols have a slide that must retract fully for the next round to enter the chamber correctly, which means you can’t use underpowered rounds. Revolvers are much more forgiving in this manner and will take pretty much anything that fits into the drum, even if it’s undersized.
A handgun generally must have a barrel below 12″, can fire with one hand, and should have high concealability. Different definitions exist state to state and country to country, however.
Sub-machine guns or SMGs got named by the inventor of the Thompson submachine gun, or “Tommy gun,” John T. Thompson. It’s an automatic weapon that’s lighter and has less power than a machine gun — thus a “sub” machine gun.
They almost always use the same rounds as in handguns, which limits their power and their firing distance. Their compact nature, however, does lend themselves to more concealability and for use as a PDW (personal defense weapon) in urban warfare and other close-quarters fighting.
More Powerful Guns
Machine guns are long-barrel, autoloading firearms with cartridges or feeds. Both are designed for sustained fire with powerful, large-caliber rounds. There are “light,” “medium,” and “heavy” machine guns, but even the lightest machine gun (the Ares Shrike) is over seven pounds unloaded.
Shotguns are smooth-bore long guns with a relatively thin-walled barrel.
Rifles are another type of long gun, but with a rifled barrel. Rifling is the machining process of boring the barrel with a spiral, to increase the spin and accuracy of the round being fired. Both shotguns and rifles are fired from the shoulder.
Assault rifles are selective-fire intermediary weapons between SMGs and machine guns. Adolf Hitler had the privilege of naming this category during the design of the MP43. It gets its name from the German word “sturmgewehr.”
Restrictions on the Types of Firearms
Anything of the automatic or selective-fire type of weapon will more than likely fall under restrictions.
Regulated firearms under the 1934 NFA are short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, machine guns, and suppressors. Recently, in 2018, as backlash from the Las Vegas, Nevada shooting, “bump” stocks have also been banned.
The bump stock itself is a way around the rules, which specify that internal components of a gun cannot be modified in order to engage automatic firing. Even burst firing of a series of rounds by a single pull of the trigger isn’t allowed by these federal rules.
Modifying an allowed weapon could make it restricted under the NFA, as well. Take for example the case of Jack Miller and Frank Layton. The Arkansas federal district court charged the two with violating the Act in 1939, only five years after the Act came into effect.
It was upheld unanimously in the supreme court, though the pair argued Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms. The supreme court even overturned the dismissal of the case by the Arkansas federal district court to pursue this case.
They ruled that because the sawed-off double-barrel shotgun didn’t reasonably preserve or enhance a well-regulated militia, the Second Amendment didn’t apply to this type of weapon.
Since then, modifying a shotgun by reducing its barrel length to less than 16| or an overall length of 26″ has been illegal. Even owning a sear (a part of the internal mechanism of guns) that enables automatic firing constitutes owning an automatic firearm.
To make it easy, these are the main types of illegal firearms according to these federal rules:
- Firearms with removed serial numbers
- Stolen firearms
- Illegally sold or obtained firearms
- Sawed-off shotguns or long-gun barrels
- Bump stocks
- Unregistered firearms
- Firearms with automatic or multi-round firing capabilities
Knowing Your Types of Firearms
Now that you know about the different types of firearms, you are probably ready to go out and buy them sure of your legal rights. If you’re getting ready for law enforcement, we hope this helps you to better identify what you’ll be dealing with.
Need more tips, advice, and knowledge on firearms? Keep browsing our articles for updates and information on all you’ll need!