How Guns Work

Although different types of guns work in different ways and are equipped with different firing mechanisms, bullets primarily function the same way when a gun is fired.


First, let’s go over some of the components of a gun – let’s use a handgun for reference. Today, all handguns include three main parts: the action, frame, and barrel.


1. The action is also known as the trigger group and is the part that fires the cartridges. Various types of trigger actions are available with both pistols and revolvers, such as double action, single action, single action semi-automatic, double action semi-autos, and more.

2. The frame of a handgun also serves as the grip on the firearm; all other parts of the weapon are attached to or contained within the frame.

3. The barrel is the tube that the bullet travels through when the gun is fired.



Now let’s take a closer look at the structure of a bullet. A modern cartridge contains five primary parts: the bullet itself, the case, the propellant (i.e. gunpowder), the rim, and the primer.

We’ve reviewed the basic components of handguns and bullets, here’s what happens when you actually pull that trigger.

The trigger of the gun is pulled which then sends the hammer of the gun forward, striking what is known as the firing pin. The pin then hits the primer, creating a spark that ignites the gunpowder. The explosion from the powder is what sends the bullet rapidly out of the barrel. With semi-automatic weapons, the extractor grabs hold of the rim once the weapon is fired, ejecting the empty casing from the gun to prep for the next round.

Take a look at the animation below to see this process in action.



Have any questions regarding how guns work? Feel free to send a message to or call us at (508) 456-1093.



Posted in Firearms, Handguns.

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