Parts of a Gun

by Ryan Maxwell


There is a wide variety of firearms available today and an even wider range of parts for each one of those firearms. Fortunately, the basic parts are shared throughout the entire spectrum. Some of the types of firearms include the revolver, semi-automatic handgun, shotgun and rifle, and each weapon shares similar part names like barrel and trigger. The appearance and the function of these parts can vary from gun to gun.



The revolver can be broken down into four basic parts: the grip, frame, barrel and cylinder. The part you hold onto is called the grip. It's commonly made of plastic, rubber or wood, though it can be made of more exotic materials like bone or mother of pearl. The grip fits onto the frame. The frame is the main body of the revolver. Within the frame is the trigger assembly, hammer assembly and firing pin. These springs and levers are the reason that pulling the trigger lowers the hammer. Attached to the frame is the barrel, which can vary in lengths, and the cylinder. The cylinder is where the bullets are inserted. Some cylinders are attached to the frame using a rocker arm. This is the part that lowers the cylinder to the side, allowing easy loading.

Semiautomatic Pistol


The semiautomatic pistol can be broken into similar parts like the revolver. The grip, as with revolvers, can be made of several materials. The lower part of the pistol that the grip is attached to is also called a frame. The frame usually contains a magazine well where the magazine is inserted, as well as the trigger and hammer assembly. Unlike the revolver, the firing pin assembly is connected to the upper part of the pistol, known as the slide. The slide contains the barrel, the guide rod and spring, which act as a buffer to reduce recoil. The safety switch can be attached to the slide or the frame, depending on the model of handgun.



The shotgun is one of the more basic weapons. It is made up of a stock, which is the wood or composite framework that holds everything together, a barrel, the trigger and hammer assemblies, a bolt assembly that houses the firing pin, and in semiauto and pump-action shotguns, a magazine tube. The magazine tube differs from pistol and rifle magazines in that bullets are stacked one on top of the other while shotgun shells are lined up end to end. Semiauto shotguns contain a mechanism known as a charging handle, which the user pulls back to chamber a round. The charging handle is attached to the bolt assembly. In pump action shotguns, the pump action is connected to the bolt assembly to manually chamber each round.



The rifle consists of many of the parts that a shotgun has. One of the main differences is that most select-fire rifles contain a switch that can change them from safe to semi to burst or fully automatic. Most semiautomatic rifles contain something known as a buffer assembly. This is usually composed of a rod of some sort and a large spring. This buffer assembly is designed to drastically reduce the recoil felt by the shooter. Military-style rifles such as the M-16 also are separated into two main parts, an upper-receiver group and a lower-receiver group. The upper-receiver group contains the barrel, bolt carrier assembly, charging handle and sights while the lower-receiver assembly contains the trigger assembly, magazine well, stock, hammer assembly and buffer assembly.

Expert Insight


For more detailed information on any particular gun parts, the best source is the manufacturer of the specific weapon you wish to know more about. Many gun manuals are available online and are also included with all new firearms. These manuals contain much more detailed parts listings of a specific gun.

About the Author

Ryan Maxwell began his professional freelance writing career in 2009. He is a former U.S. Army military police officer, as well as a published poet and photographer. While attending Finlandia University, Maxwell majored in criminal justice with a minor in English studies. Ryan is also very skilled in computer maintenance, upgrade and repair with almost 20 years of experience.

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