Depending who you listen to, America is either in an ‘arms race’ or is experiencing a ‘record-breaking amount of gun sales’. Regardless of what you call it, people are buying more guns than at any point in history. Whether this is a panic-induced reaction to alarmist media conglomerates, or a healthy exercise of 2nd Amendment Rights, GunLove can’t say for sure.

All GunLove knows is guns. Big, small, muskets, tanks and everything in between…GunLove knows guns. For new gun owners, or old veterans who need a refresher, we have detailed below the different types of gun actions, accessories, rails and thrown in a few gun-related pearls of wisdom! Enjoy!

ar rifle accessories
An obnoxiously over-accessorized AR

Types of Actions

A firearm’s ‘action’ is how it handles ammunition cartridges. This is the mechanism the firearm uses to load the ammo, lock it in place, fire it, extract and eject the cartridge. To understand guns — and how they operate—you should have a basic familiarity with the different ‘actions’.

Bolt Action – Primarily used in rifles. The bolt handle must be rotated upward, then pushed forward, to eject a spent cartridge, then returned to its original position to load a new round.

bolt action rifle

Pump Action – Primarily found in shotguns. The ‘pump’ aspect is a sliding grip, usually under the barrel, that the user ‘pumps’ to eject a spent cartridge and load the next one.

pump magazine action

Lever Action – Primarily found in shotguns. This action is operated by shifting the cocking handle—located under the trigger—forward to eject a spent cartridge. The handle is then returned to its original position to load a new round.

lever action shotgun

To go a few degrees deeper, semi-automatic shotguns can either be inertia-driven or gas-driven. For a thorough explanation, GunLove recommends checking out this blog.

Hinge or Break Action – These action mechanisms can be found in rifles, shotguns and handguns. There is a hinge or ‘break’ point located near the rear of the barrel, where the firearm can be opened like a door. The front and rear ends of the gun separate perpendicularly to reveal the inner breech, where spent cartridges can be ejected and new ones inserted.

break action shotgun

Semi-Automatic Action – This action differs from the previous ones because the shooter doesn’t manually load each round. Instead, an internal mechanism uses the gun’s excess recoil energy to automatically load a fresh round after each single depression of the trigger. Most modern personal defense and warfare-oriented firearms are semi-automatic.

By contrast, a fully-automatic gun fires continually until the trigger is released. Manufacturing fully-automatic firearms (for civilian use) has been illegal in the United States since 1986, per the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act.

Revolver Action – Revolvers utilize a cylinder which contains chambers (usually six or eight) that hold the bullets. Revolvers are activated manually by cocking the hammer to rotate the cylinder. After a round is fired, the hammer must be cocked again. Some revolvers only require the hammer to be half-cocked to align the next round with the bore, and then fully cocked before firing.

6 shot revolver
A revolver

Revolvers were much more popular in the 19th and 20th centuries, and have now largely been replaced by semi-automatic pistols.


Firearms rails provide extra ‘real estate’ on a firearm, so the user can add more accessories.

Picatinny – the most popular and reliable rail system. Picatinnys come in different sizes and are highly versatile.

picatinny rail system
A Picatinny Rail all by its lonesome

Arca-Swiss – the most popular rail system for camera systems. These rails are generally a 2-piece locking mechanism to stabilize your camera and enable smooth panning and tilting.

firearm camera mount system
The Arca-Swiss quick-release component is on the top of this mechanism.

Weaver – similar to Picatinny rails, Weavers are a lighter, and often cheaper, alternative.

KeyMod/MLok – these types of rails are generally lighter than other types. The great advantage to these systems is they ‘lock’ accessories into place, giving the user peace-of-mind when operating their firearm.

These are the most popular types of rails for firearms, but this list is by no means exhaustive. For a more thorough explanation of the different types of rails, GunLove recommends checking out this blog.

Firearm Accessories

Scopes – These are the most popular—and most essential—firearm accessory. Scopes increase accuracy, which is necessary for ethical hunting. Most modern scopes are packed with high-tech features like: digital magnification, night vision, thermal imaging, video recording capabilities and Wi-Fi connectivity.

For a wide selection of quality, affordable scopes, GunLove recommends checking out

They have a wide variety of riflescopes at all price-points. Whether you’re an experienced hunter or first-timer, you can get what you need with Sightmark. They also have top-tier customer service and Limited Lifetime Warranties, so there’s no need to worry about shoddy quality or buyer’s remorse.

night vision riflescope
A Sightmark Wraith Digital Night Vision Riflescope

Red Dots – Sometime known as ‘reflex sights’, these are the accessory of choice for law enforcement, security, paramilitary militias and Hollywood tough guys. Red dots are ideal for quick-target acquisition at short- and medium-range engagements. Some are battery-powered, while others are solar & battery powered.

reflex sight red dot
A Sightmark Red Dot

Flashlights – These are self-explanatory. Flashlights can be affixed to a rail, or they may come with their own locking mechanism to attach directly to the firearm’s barrel. Flashlights are excellent for police officers and security who need to illuminate the dark!

Boresights – These nifty devices are either chambered like a regular round or inserted directly into a barrel. They emit a red dot to indicated exactly where the bore is pointing. Boresights are excellent for zeroing-in a firearm, increasing accuracy and saving users time and ammunition at a gun range.

Slings – These are rope-like accessories that attach to a firearm and loop around the shooter’s shoulder, to take the weight of the gun off their arms. There are three main types: single-point, double-point and three-point slings.

Monopods, Bipods & Tripods – Also known as firearm ‘rests’. These allows shooters to relax their muscles and let a support structure hold the weight of the gun. These rests also greatly improve accuracy, removing the tiny tremors and muscle jerks that often accompany holding a firearm for an extended period of time.

A heavy-duty tripod from Kopfjäger

Cold Range

And thus sums up mankind’s collective knowledge of firearms!

…just kidding.

This guide lightly grazed the different gun actions, rails and accessories. For true understanding, you must physically hold a gun, take it to a range or rural area, and shoot it. You should also learn how to disassemble a firearm and put it back together. Talk to experts, read more articles and stay current on gun laws and legislation. If you’re purchasing or handling firearms, there is no shortage of information, and therefore, no excuse for dangerous ignorance.

For a fuller understanding of firearm calibers, check out this blog.

To appreciate the history of firearms and optics, check out this blog.

What do you think about firearms? Did you enjoy this blog? Let us know in the comments below!

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