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How Guns WorkThe U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) defines a firearm as, “Any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive.” In other words: If you have a tube and a projectile, and the projectile is designed to fly out of the tube as the result of an explosion, you have a firearm. This is a broad definition that covers everything from potato guns to fully automatic machine guns, but it provides the basic definition of what a gun is and how it works.In the most basic sense, guns work like this: A bullet is loaded into the rear of the barrel, which is a tube connected to the firing pin. Mechanically speaking, the trigger is the catalyst that sets a chain of events off starting with the release of the firing pin which flies forward, striking a tiny explosive charge located in the base of the bullet. That explosion ignites the gunpowder, which is tucked inside the shell casing surrounding the bullet. How Guns WorkHow Guns Work, The pressure change forces the bullet out of the casing and down the barrel toward the target.Admittedly, the rapid evolution of guns makes it hard to look at them and see their basic components—a trigger,firing pin, and tubes. Today’s firearms have magazines capable of holding up to 30 or more bullets, or more than one barrel, or can fire more than one bullet per pull of the trigger. Some guns have lights, lasers, rifle scopes, bipods, and other accessories to identify a target or aid in marksmanship. It’s true that many guns operate quite simply, but as technology progresses, newer models are continually becoming more sophisticated.Bullets also have different shapes or other features to take on different tasks. Hollow point bullets have a cavity in the nose of the bullet that allows the lead to spread outward on impact, morphing the aerodynamic bullet into a deadly, high velocity metallic flower, creating gaping wounds. Tracer bullets are designed to allow the shooter to see where his or her bullets are striking at night, and armor-piercing bullets can penetrate body armor and light steel armor. Both are generally restricted to military use. “Snake rounds,” pistol rounds that fire a spread of small metal pellets are useful for killing—you guessed it—dangerous snakes at a distance.Types of GunsThere are many kinds of guns in circulation today, but they can be divided into two categories: long guns, including rifles and shotguns, and handguns, including revolvers and pistols. As a general rule, long guns fire large-caliber rounds from long barrels and are meant to be fired from the shoulder. Handguns are smaller-caliber weapons with shorter barrels, and are meant to be fired using one or both hands.Shotguns: Shotguns are large-barrel long guns that fire a large amount of small steel or lead pellets (“shot”) with each pull of the trigger rather than a single bullet. The shot flies from the barrel in a narrow cone-shaped pattern. This dispersal aids the shooter in hitting small game animals, especially those in flight, such as ducks. The size of the shot varies, with smaller birdshot less likely to kill or incapacitate a human, while larger buckshot is more useful for home defense. Shotguns can be single-shot weapons, pump action weapons in which a single pump chambers a round, and semi-automatic. Examples of shotguns include the Mossberg 500 and Remington 870. How Guns Work

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