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An M2 Browning machine gun, surrounded in ejected cartridge cases

An automatic firearm is a firearm that fires continuously when the trigger is pulled, rather than firing a single shot per trigger pull.

The term can be used to refer to semi-automatic firearms, which fire one shot per pull of the trigger, or fully automatic firearms, which will continue to load and fire ammunition until the trigger (or other activating device) is released or until the ammunition is exhausted.

Contents

Design

An automatic weapon fires, automatically extracts the used cartridge case from the barrel and ejects it, then loads a new case into the barrel; generally by harnessing the recoil of the cartridge's explosion.

Uses

An "automatic pistol" or an "automatic shotgun" generally refers to a semi-automatic design, though fully-automatic pistols and shotguns do exist (such as the Steyr TMP and Daewoo USAS-12, respectively). Conversely, an "automatic rifle" generally refers to a fully automatic or hybrid semi-auto/full-auto design.

Fully automatic weapons tend to be restricted to military and police organizations in most developed countries. In the United States, machine guns registered after 1986 have been off the public market since the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986.The controversial Hughes Amendment of the FOPA was meant to kill the bill, not to have an effect on crime.

Other similar designs not usually classified as automatic firearms are:

  • Autocannon, which are 20 mm in bore diameter or larger and thus considered cannons, not small arms.
  • Gatling guns, multi-barrelled bolt-action designs, often used with external power supplies to generate rates of fire higher than automatic firearms.

Similar in appearance but not able to fire in full-auto mode are some semi-automatic rifles.

Patents

See also








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