Guns come in all shapes and sizes. Let's take a quick look at some of the different types of firearms. Flintlock guns were extremely important weapons in the American Revolution; they also formed the foundation of all modern guns.
Flintlock and percussion cap guns are some of the earliest types of trigger-activated guns. Colonial America depended on these weapons for food, protection and warfare.
Dueling was practiced in America all the way through the 18th century. These dueling pistols would have been the weapon of choice. The American military relied on a larger version of these pistols.
The musket was a soldier's best friend during the American Civil War. They were loaded through the muzzle and were fired with percussion caps. Muskets became obsolete with the invention of cartridge ammunition.
Revolvers are one of the most popular gun designs of all time. Their reliability and simplicity make them a popular choice for hunting and self-defense.
Revolvers, such as this one, played a very important role in the history of the American West. Cowboys, lawmen and outlaws all relied heavily on the revolver.
This Colt .44 Anaconda is an example of a modern revolver. The basic design hasn't changed in more than a century.
A typical revolver cylinder can hold up to six or seven rounds. The cylinder rotates the round into firing position every time a person pulls the trigger.
Here's an example of a Smith & Wesson Magnum revolver. Magnum rounds are slightly longer than standard revolver ammo, giving them greater firepower. Revolvers aren't the only type of handgun, however.
The semiautomatic pistol is one of the best-selling types of handgun in the United States. It often has a higher ammo capacity than a revolver.
Instead of a cylinder, semiautomatics rely on a clip to load the ammo into the firing chamber. The handle of the gun houses the clip.
A Beretta Model 96 .40 caliber compact pistol is another example of a semiautomatic handgun. The semiautomatic has replaced the revolver as the standard sidearm for American police forces.
The Glock 17 is one of the most well-known handguns. Glocks are known for their reliability and safety features.
American police forces have adopted the Glock as their standard issue weapon.
A gun silencer screws on to the end of the barrel, giving the pressurized gas behind the bullet a big space to expand into. When the bullet finally exits through the hole in the silencer, the pressure being uncorked is much, much lower, so the sound of the gun firing is much softer.
According to Guinness World Records, the title of the smallest working revolver in the world goes to the Miniature Revolver C1ST, manufactured by SwissMiniGun. The tiny firearm measures just more than 2 inches (5 centimeters) and weighs less than 1 ounce. Next, we'll take a look at some other types of firearms.
The modern flamethrower came about in the early 20th century, but the original idea is actually thousands of years old.
Here, a U.S. soldier operates a flamethrower in Vietnam during Operation New Castle.
A U.S. Navy "Zippo" flamethrower is tested from a patrol boat. The unreliability of electronic ignition systems means that operators sometimes have had to use a Zippo lighter to ignite the fuel as it leaves the nozzle.
Shotguns fire a different type of round than handguns. Shotgun shells contain round pellets that are scattered out of the barrel of the gun when fired. This makes shotguns an excellent choice for hunting.
Semiautomatic rifles can be legally purchased in the United States. Semiautos differ from machine guns in that they only fire one round each time the trigger is pulled.
Machine guns are capable of firing multiple rounds when the trigger is held down. The machine gun has revolutionized modern warfare.
This is a modern U.S. Army M4A1 assault rifle.
The troops in Iraq and Afghanistan rely heavily on these types of weapons. Finally, we'll take a look at the most famous type of machine gun in the world on the next page.
The Russian AK-47 is the most famous machine gun in the world. It was developed in the mid-1940s and is still used by armed forces around the globe. For more information on firearms, check out the 5 Most Popular Guns.