Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Firearms

Firearms are one of the oldest and most evolved weapon systems. From flintlocks to automatic weapons and flamethrowers, learn how firearms have been used to wage wars and save lives.

Featured
How Gun Safes Work

Would you believe there are videos showing toddlers opening gun safes? Turns out some of them are not very secure. Why is that, and what should you look for when buying one?


Thought Experiment: What Would a World Without Guns Be Like?

Would populations boom and violence cease? Or would humans and human nature essentially remain the same? See more »

5 Surprising Facts About Gun Silencers

For instance, gun silencers don't make guns all that quiet. See more »

10 Innovations That Led to the Modern Bullet

Firearms get the historical spotlight, but what about the projectiles they hurl at insane speeds? Here are the innovations that gave rise to modern ammunition. Think of it as 10 rounds of ammo info. See more »

Does owning a gun change your behavior?

High-profile shootings often make people wonder if the victim or victims would still be alive if no guns had been available. But is that true? Are people more reckless simply because they have a gun? See more »

10 Hallmarks of Assault Weapons — and What They Do

Do you know which features earn an ordinary firearm the "assault" label in the U.S.? There's more to that definition than just semi-automatic action. See more »

What's the difference between a semi-automatic weapon and a machine gun?

The term "semi-automatic weapon" is used in the U.S. media often. But what does it really mean? Is it just another term for a machine gun? See more »

Gun Pictures

Guns come in all shapes and sizes. Put on your safety gear and take a look at this gallery of revolvers, Glocks, shotguns and even flamethrowers. See more »

Top 5 Most Popular Guns - and Why

Whether they're antique rifles or modern handguns and shotguns, firearms are popular in the United States. So which pieces are people packing? See more »

What's the world's smallest gun?

Sure, G.I. Joe's accoutrements are tiny, but this itty bitty gun actually fires rounds. What is it, and why is it illegal to import into the United States? See more »

How Shotguns Work

To do its job, a projectile must both make contact with the target and hit the target in a critical spot. If a rifle is like using a felt-tip pen, a shotgun is like using a can of spray paint. See more »