Different Types of Firearms | Handguns to Shotguns, every class of firearms

Firearms are the mechanical tool designed to hurl the projectile, there are multiple class of firearms like- Handguns, Shotguns, Rifles and Improvised Firearms.

FORENSIC SCIENCEFORENSIC BALLISTICS

Shubham Kumar

1/29/20246 min read

Handguns

Handguns are the smaller class of firearms, known for their compact designs, short barrels, and suitability for single handed operations. It includes firearms like Pistol, Revolvers and Daringers. Handguns are the easiest firearm to carry, lighter in weight, easy to Sealth, quick to draw and sheath. They are popular for their action mechanism, have short barrel, thick side walls and most commonly used as defensive weapon. In any defensive situation, due to its compact design, it can be easily drawn out in close space. Furthermore, due to its short barrel, it can be easily pointed towards the attacker during the struggle.

Handguns finds it applications in personal defense, law enforcement, and recreational shooting. Moreover, it offers individuals the ability to defend themselves, participate in shooting sports, and serve in military and law enforcement roles.

Handguns are being subjected to get evolved from the early single muzzle-loaded firearms (Match lock, Wheel Lock, Flint Lock) to the modern semi-automatic and automatic firearms (Pistols, Daringers, Revolvers).

Pistols

All the short-handled rifle firearms, that can be operated by single hand is referred to as pistols. A pistol is a short and thin barreled handgun, operated by a single hand, particularly used as defensive weapon. Piston is similar to the revolver at most extent, however, has one difference. Revolver is mechanized with a revolving cylinder which acts a loading section. On the other hand, pistol is mechanized with the magazine which is locked and unlocked in its grip.

Pistol is available in all the calibers ranging from 6 to 12 mm. The barrel of the pistol is thin and short, however, it has 6 lands and 6 groves which are twisted on one side for rifling. Those pistol who has 5 lands and 5 groves, and twisted on the left side, are called as colt type pistols. Whereas those pistols whose lands and groves are twisted on the right side, are called as smith & Wesson type. The mechanism of the pistol is either automatic or semiautomatic.

When a magazine is loaded in the pistols, the operator pulls the slide backwards, consequently, the live cartridge gets aligned with the barrel, ready to fire. When the trigger is pulled, the live cartridge gets ejected from the muzzle end. Simultaneously, the second live cartridges automatically gets aligned with the barrel. The operator is just needed to pull the trigger again to fire the projectile. In automatic pistols, the projectile is continuously fired as long as the trigger is held down. Whereas in semi-automatic pistols, the projectile is fired each time the trigger is pulled.

Revolvers

Revolvers are the rifled handguns which are mechanized with the revolving cylinders, which acts a s the loading mechanism. The revolving cylinders has chambers in which the cartridge is loaded. The number of chambers may vary from 4 to 7. On pulling the trigger, the cartridge aligned with the barrel is fired, followed by revolving of cylinder to bring another live cartridge in line with barrel for firing.

Revolvers are available in point 22, point 32, point 38 and point 45 caliber. Since, revolvers have short barrel, they are effective for the short range targets. Despite its specialty in short range, it has one drawback. Due to revolving cylinder, there is some space left between the breach end and the revolving cylinder. This gap causes the leakage of residues and gun powder, followed by reduction in effectiveness of the fired projectile. When the operator fires a revolver, the Gun Shot Residue (GSR) gets deposited on his hands (leaked by space).

Revolvers are available in both single action and double action. In double action revolver, when the trigger is pulled, it fires the projectile aligned with the barrel. Followed by aligning the second live cartridge with line of barrel, by revolving the cylinder automatically. On the other hand, when the trigger of single action revolver is pulled, the live cartridge is ejected. However, in this, operator has to rotate the cylinder manually by pulling the hammer backward which is cocked with cylinder. This leads to alignment of second live cartridge with the line of barrel, and the revolver can fire again when the trigger is pulled.

Daringers

Derringers are a type of small, pocket-sized handguns known for their compactness and simplicity. They typically have a single or double barrel, with the barrels pivoting to the side for loading and unloading. Derringers often have a break-open action, allowing easy access to the chambers for reloading.

Shotguns

Shotguns are the often considered as the type of rifle or long gun, however, it has some distinct features that makes it different from rifle or long gun. These firearms have long barrel, designed to be operate from with shoulder support, moreover, have smooth bore and thinner walls, due to low pressure.

In India, most of the criminals possess shotguns as their primary firearms. The oldest shotgun was the German design of short musket in 1600s called as Blunder Bass.

Shotguns finds its applications in inflicting less damage over the wide range, particularly speaking, used for hunting. This firearm is specialized to hit the moving targets, typical choice for hunting. Due to its smooth bore, shotgun lacks rifling, therefore, its range is quite smaller despite having a long barrel. The smooth bore represents, that the cross-sectional area of the barrel of the shotgun is equal at all the points i,e the perfect circle throughout the barrel.

The ammonization's of the shotguns are different from all other firearms, unlike ammos of other firearms, shotgun's cartridges are covered with cardboard. The cartridges are called slugs. Slugs contains small multiple shots packed sealed within the cardboard case. When the cartridge is fired, the shots gets scattered, followed by inflicting damage over wide area. However, due to absence of rifling, the range becomes short, therefore, majorly used to inflict less damage over wide area.

Double Action and Single Action

A shotgun is available with two actions, single barrel action and double barrel action shotguns. In single barrel shotguns, there is only one barrel. On the other hand, in double barrel shotgun, there are two barrels, either aligned upside down or side by side. The double barrel shotguns available in two actions, either hammered or hammer less. In hammered, the hammer is cocked within the handle. In hammerless, the hammer is enclosed with the body. The hammer gets cocked automatically when the breach is opened and closed.

The diameter of the shogun barrel is similar to that of the size of small shots collectively wights 1 pound lead. For Example, diameter of 12-gauge barrel shotguns is similar to that of the size of shot which weights 1\12-pound lead. Dimeter of 20-gauge barrel shotgun is similar to that of the size of shot which weights 1/20-pound lead.

This suggest that, the smaller the gauge, the larger the impact and larger the diameter of the barrel, the larger the gauge, the smaller the impact and diameter of the barrel.

Rifles

Rifles are the powerful and strong firearms, having a long barrel with enhanced action mechanism. These firearms are subjected to be operated with the shoulder support. One of the most prominent features of rifles are that they possess rifling, which ensures the accuracy and stability of projectile. Furthermore, rifles are enriched will all the necessary equipments to make a sure hit on target. Equipments like trigger sight, trigger aperture, safety notch, elongated barrel, and helical groves which causes rifling in bullet. These firearms are designed to hurl or project the projectile with a high-speed velocity, therefore, fired from the shoulder support so as to counter the recoil velocity.

Improvised Firearms

Improvised firearms, commonly referred to as country-made firearms or regional firearms (Katha), are lethal weapons crafted from crude resources and methods. These firearms are not manufactured through regulated processes or adhering to any standard specifications. Instead, they are the handiwork of ordinary blacksmiths who lack formal training and expertise in firearm production. As a result, improvised firearms have a short lifespan and can be dangerous to the user due to malfunctions or unintended explosions during firing.

In recent years, India has witnessed an alarming increase in the demand for improvised firearms, particularly in states like Uttar Pradesh (UP), Bihar, and Mirzapur. These makeshift weapons are sought after predominantly by criminals and gangsters, posing a significant challenge to law enforcement agencies. The proliferation of improvised firearms is not only a matter of concern in terms of security but also reflects broader issues related to the availability and affordability of conventional firearms.

Reference

  • "Forensic DNA Typing" by John M. Butler

  • "The Forensic Casebook: The Science of Crime Scene Investigation" by Ngaire E. Genge

  • "Forensic Science: A Very Short Introduction" by Jim Fraser

  • "Practical Crime Scene Processing and Investigation" by Ross M. Gardner