Projectile Weapons (We Usually Call Them Firearms)

Where the Term Firearms Came From

The term "firearm" is an English word which was used in the Middle Ages to distinguish the arm in which the match was held that was used to light the touch hole on the hand cannon. Since the effects of the barrel were hazardous to the well-being of the user, the gunner had to be located somewhat behind the weapon, steadying the hold on the weapon with the other hand. This is where the term "hand gun" comes from and is synonymous with "fire arm". Even though the word "gun" is thought of as a synonym for firearm, in military and special usage the word "gun" refers more to artillery pieces rather than hand-held firearms.

A Little Bit of History

The predominant weapons used by man in recent centuries are firearms (as opposed to bows and arrows and knives) and modern warfare, ever since the Renaissance, has relied upon firearms - affecting history in general, and military history specifically. A whole new kind of battle was fought with firearms and those battles have forged modern warfare.

Firearms are sometimes referred to as small arms, meaning they can be carried by a single person. Aimed at their target visually by using optical sights, the range of accuracy for small arms firearms is generally limited to one mile and often far less than that distance.


The smallest of all firearms is the handgun, or pistol, as it is also called. There are three common types of handguns: single shot pistols (they're more the olden days), revolvers and semi-automatic pistols. Handguns are small and are usually designed to be carried in a holster so both hands remain free. They are very easily hidden so they are a popular choice for personal protection. Handguns are also used for sport shooting and hunting, although they are not typical for hunting. When they are used in hunting it is commonly in dense underbrush where a longer rifle would be a hindrance and they are also often used to address larger pest animals like feral hogs and coyotes.

Long Guns/Rifles

The musket is the forerunner of today's modern rifles and shotguns, called long guns. They are most frequently used for hunting and for home or business protection. Rifles are generally used to hunt larger game and shotguns are used, as a rule, for birds (or burglars). There is a huge variety of rifles and shotguns available to the buyer.

Automatic Weapons

Firearms that are capable of firing multiple rounds with one pull of the trigger are called automatic weapons. The Gatlin gun has been considered to be one of the very first, if not the first, automatic weapon. This type of firearm is generally restricted to use by the military or paramilitary groups - notwithstanding the use of automatic weapons by gangsters and their ilk. From there we go to machine guns, submachine guns and automatic rifles, all of which are most commonly associated with military use.

What This Section is All About

In this section, we'll take a look at some manufacturers of firearms, their company histories and the products they produce. You'll read about Beretta, Glock, Remington and Smith & Wesson Firearms among others. Enjoy.