Automatic Firearms – Origin, History, Types and Utilization

We are a generation of smart people using smart technologies such as smart televisions, smart speakers, smart earphones, smart glasses, smart wearables, smart clothing, smart cars, smart home appliances, and so more. The list is never-ending. We are surrounded by everything automatic, so is the Military. The defense sector all over the world is heavily influenced by technological advancement. Well, why shouldn’t it be? No country today uses conventional firearms or weapons nor does follow traditional approaches of defense.

Conventional firearms now have been replaced by fully-automatic or semi-automatic weapons and machine guns. Technological advancement if boost rocketing the modern, fully automatic/semi-automatic firearms market to new heights. Today, we’ll talk about fully-automatic, and semi-automatic firearms developed and used by countries across the world.

Brief History of Firearms


The American Revolution was fought using then developed firearms. If it weren’t for firearms, it would have been trying for Americans to win the war. The origin of guns started with the invention of gunpowder, most probably over 1,000 years ago, in China.

By the time firearms reached American colonies in the 15th Century, its designed had advanced


Samuel Colt
Samuel Colt

prominently. Colonies also carried an early model of gun – matchlock muskets – which used the match as a small piece of burning rope to burn gun powder through a tiny hole in the gun’s loaded barrel.
Throughout the Revolutionary War, some American fighters engaged in guerrilla-style approach suing their hunting rifles to shoot British soldiers from a distance.
Samuel Colt, the revolver man, designed the first handheld pistol that featured a multi-firing system based on a rotating barrel with more than one chambers that fired bullets using a lock and spring mechanism. Soon, Colt designed his famous revolver named Colt.45, often known as “the gun that won the west.”

Automatic Weapons/Firearms

Moses Browning
Moses Browning

One of the most recognized firearm maker, John Moses Browning, in 1983, started engineering for the New Heaven-stationed Winchester Repeating Arms Company. He designed a rifle which featured a pump. Pump or side-action guns follow a mechanism where a gunman pulls a grip on the gun’s forearm and then pushes it forward to release the empty shell and reload the weapon with anew shell.

John Moses pioneered the development of modern, fully automatic, and semi-automatic firearms. In automatic weapons, the force generated by the gun is utilized to eject empty cartridges and reload. Among Browning’s 128 patents, the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), M1911 Pistol and the M2 .50 Caliber Machine Gun were some a few of his well-known firearms, which he designed in 1933. The M1911 Pistol was the U.S. Army’s semi-automatic handgun, and versions of it remains an optional weapon among soldiers, law enforcement and sport shooters. The BAR was extensively used by U.S. forces during World War II.

Types of Automatic Firearms

Semi-automatic Firearms

Semi Automatic Firearm
Semi Automatic Firearm

Semi-automatic firearms, not only fire ammunitions each time the trigger is pulled but also performs all necessary steps to prepare it to launch again – refilling the cartridges remain in the firearms’ feed device. Such firearms are known for firing one bullet with each trigger pull.

Australian gunsmith Ferdinand Ritter von Mannlicher made the successful design of the first semi-automatic firearm. He revealed the design in 1885. The version 85 was followed by the innovative Mannlicher Versions 91, 93 and 95 semi-automatic rifles. Some of his famous semi-automatic weapon designs included Steyr Mannlicher M1894 – this firearm featured a unique blow-forward action and held five rounds of 6.5 mm bullets that were filled into the M1894 using a stripper clip.

Today manufacturers have introduced semi-automatic shotguns, rifles, and pistols.

Fully automatic firearms

Fully Automatic Firearms
Fully Automatic Firearms

A fully automatic weapon continuously fires rounds as long as the trigger is pulled and there are bullets in the magazine/cartridge. A machine gun is fully automatic; however, fully automatic firearms are not only machine guns. Submachineguns, rifles, assault rifles, shotguns, and cannon are also capable of fully automatic fire but are not engineered for sustained fire.

Unlike semi-automatic firearms, in which a trigger pull is needed for every round, fully automatic weapons are designed to fire for as long as the trigger is pulled.

Automatic Firearm Products

Automatic Rifle:

Automatic Rifle
Automatic Rifle

An automatic rifle is a self-reloading weapon. It comes in both semi-automatic and fully automatic modes. Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) was one of the first successful and well-known automatic weapons. Today, manufacturers are making extremely advanced automatic rifles – AK-47, M14 Battle Rifle, FN FAL, and H&K G3 are a few among widely used automatic rifles.




Machine Gunsc
Machine Guns

Machine Guns: Machine gun is an easy to understand example of machine guns. These guns are further divided into three subcategories – Light Machine Gun (LMG), Medium Machine Guns (MCG), and Heavy Machine Guns (HMG). However, the lightest machine gun is substantially larger and heavier than usual infantry weapons. It is difficult to carry medium and heavy guns on the shoulder – thus, soldiers mount these guns on a tripod or a vehicle. Modern machine guns use the principle of gas-based reloading, in which the gas act as a fuel to complete the action. The Russian PK machine gun is one example of that. There is another type which utilized recoil actuated format. M2 Browning and MG42 are two widely used machine guns of this type.


Automatic Grenade Launcher:

Grenade Launcher
Grenade Launcher

Automatic Grenade Launcher a.k.a. Grenade machine gun fires rounds of grenades in quick succession a large-capacity magazine. The U.S. Military first utilized the Mark 19 Automatic Grenade Launcher in 1966. It weighs about 62.5 kg when loaded with ammunition. UAG-40, AGS-30, AGA-40 Md.85, AGS-40, Type 87 are a few among extensively used modern grenade launcher.



Automatic Mortar Launcher
Automatic Mortar Launcher

Automatic Mortar Launcher: Advanced Mortar System (AMOS) is a 120 mm automatic dual barrelled, breech loaded mortar turret. AMOS is equipped with a GPS device and inertia positioning technologies. The electronic fire-control system uses digital maps. It is able to fire 12 rounds per minute through dual barrels. In this firearm, rounds are fired at higher angles with more trigger do that the rounds fly in the high arc. Soldiers make use of computers to adjust the shots. M2, M224, M19, M2 4.2 inch, Soltam K6 are some the modern automatic mortars used by militaries across the world.

Automatic Missile Launcher:

Automatic Missile Launcher
Automatic Missile Launcher

Automatic Missile Launcher or Auto Anti-Air Missile Launcher serves to protect a pre-determined region from invading air threats. The self-guidance system is programmed to track targets either by motion, sound, heat, size, or profile identification.



Automatic Cannons
Automatic Cannons

Automatic Cannon: Automatic cannons or autocannons come in a fully automatic type. These cannons have a longer range and a larger caliber than machine guns. However, tank guns, field guns, artillery, and, howitzers are bigger than autocannons. Due to its heavyweight structure and recoil, modern autocannons are not single person-portable or stand-alone firearms. This firearm is equipped with a variety of ammunition such as common shells include high-explosive dual-purpose types (HEDP) and armor-piercing (AP).

Gatling Gun:

Gatling gun
Gatling gun

A hand-driven machine gun – the Gatling gun was the very first automatic firearm that solved the problems of loading, reliability, and the firing of sustained bursts. The first Gatling gun designed by, Richard J. Gatling, was first used during the American Civil war. Further, it was utilized in Spanish-American war; however, was ousted by superior forearms soon after. Re-introduced by the U.S. Military, Heckler & Koch HK21, Heckler & Koch MG4, M2 Browning, Maxim Gun are a few newer versions of such guns still in use.

Utilization of Automatic Firearm

Firearms are an essential element of defense and utilized by every platform, including military, navy, and air force. Battle tanks, armored fighting vehicles and light protected vehicles are some of the few vehicles which carry or are equipped with modern automatic firearms. In navy, destroyer ships, frigates, corvettes as well as offshore patrol vessels are equipped with such firearms. Following is a list of various navy ships utilizing automatic weapons:

Utilization of Automatic Firearm
Utilization of Automatic Firearm

• Destroyers: Type 052d Destroyer, Type 45 Destroyer, Type 42 Destroyer
• Corvettes: HSwMS VISBY (K31), HMCS Sackville, INS Prahar
• Frigates: HNLMS De Zeven, INS Tarkash, Spanish Alvaro de Brazan

In the air force, fighter aircraft, helicopters, and combat support aircraft are armed by automatic firearms.
Today, self-loading handguns/pistols/revolvers, though still often seen in the civilian world, are less utilized by militaries. In militaries, automatic pistols are used as firearms for self-defense only. Civilians, law enforcement agencies and criminals use self-loading pistols due to its portable structure.

Automatic Firearm Manufacturers

  • General Dynamics Corporation (US)
  • Northrop Grumman (US)
  • Rheinmetall AG (Germany)
  • ST Engineering (Singapore)
  • KBP Instrument Design Bureau (Russia)
  • Heckler & Koch AG (Germany)
  • FN Herstal (Belgium)
  • Colt’s Manufacturing Company LLC (US)
  • Israel Weapon Industries (Israel)
  • NORINCO (China)
  • Denel Land Systems (South Africa)
  • Kalashnikov Concern (Russia)
  • BAE Systems (UK)
  • Barrett Firearms Manufacturing (US)
  • Ukroboronprom (Ukraine)

Future for Automatic Firearms Market

Our markets think tanks predict that the Automatic Firearms Market is projected to grow from $6 billion in 2018 to $8.7 billion by 2023, at a CAGR of 7.8 Along with developed countries, governments of emerging countries are also focusing on advancing their defense capabilities – thus they are increasing their defense investments, concentrating on advancement in land warfare, upgradation of existing combat platforms, and interconnected warfare.


1. What is automatic rifle?

An automatic rifle is a type of self-loading rifle that is capable of automatic fire. Automatic rifles are select-fire weapons that are capable of firing in semi-automatic and automatic firing modes.

2. Is an AR 15 Fully automatic?

AR-15-style rifles are NOT “assault weapons” or “assault rifles.” An assault rifle is fully automatic, a machine gun. Automatic firearms have been severely restricted from civilian ownership since 1934.

3. How does automatic grenade launcher work?

When the grenade is fired it begins to spin (like a well-thrown football). This motion is caused by the shape and position of the fins, as well as spiraled grooves inside the barrel of the grenade launcher. The spinning motion of the grenade generates a strong centrifugal force that pushes the weighted pins outward.


Jerry Bennett

Jerry is leading the technology column. His writings hold one of the top positions in the market. They enable the reader to understand what is happening in the technology sectors. He includes recent launches and also leaks. He chooses his words very carefully while writing so that they don’t challenge the industry. His articles always contain the theme of the website. His articles are simple but straightforward. In his leisure time, he prefers to take a walk and re-energize himself.

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