If You're Not a True Firearms Expert, Dont Even Bother With This Quiz


By: John Miller

5 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Invented centuries ago, firearms changed everything for humankind. Within a few generations, the firearm became a dependable and accurate way to make hunting much more productive and warfare much, much deadlier. What do you really know about the history and functionality of firearms?

From tiny “pepperbox” pistols to shotguns so big they had to be mounted on small boats, from the Peacemaker to the Ma Deuce, firearms are one of the most significant technological advances in the history of civilization. Do you know which guns were used to conquer the Wild West … and which ones were used to push the Nazis back to Berlin during World War II?

Guns themselves are as varied as the people who wield them. The very earliest guns were all single-shot weapons, and they were incredibly difficult to reload, meaning that if you missed your target, you’d go hungry — or wind up at the mercy of your enemy’s next charge. More modern firearms are dependable, easy to reload, and in some cases, can fire hundreds of rounds per minute without stopping. Do you know how both simple and complex guns work?

Gun designers and manufacturers have profited enormously from their best-selling models. Smith & Wesson, Remington, Winchester, Glock and Mossberg are just a handful of some of the most famous gun makers ever. Their products have shaped the way we eat and defend ourselves.

Grip the stock of this quiz tightly, because the recoil is gonna kick you hard — we bet you’ll miss some of the questions no matter how hard you try. Only a real firearms expert will know all of the answers, so give it your best shot!

A 12-gauge is what sort of weapon?

The 12-gauge shotgun is one of the most popular shotguns in the world. It packs a hefty amount of lead in a weapon that’s easy to lug through both cornfields and battlefields.


What is the term for the operating mechanism on a firearm?

The action is the operation mechanism of a firearm. A "pump-action" shotgun refers to the pumping action that the shooter makes to eject one shell and load another.


Where was black gunpowder invented?

All the way back in the 800s, the Chinese concocted the first types of black gunpowder. Their invention altered the course of humanity in countless ways, from hunting to warfare.


What sort of firearm did Clint Eastwood wield in the "Dirty Harry" movies?

In the ‘70s, Eastwood was the star of the "Dirty Harry" movies, in which he played a rugged cop. His favorite weapon was the big Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum.


Modern gunpowder is called ______ gunpowder.

Early gunpowder, black gunpowder, produced prodigious amounts of smoke. In the late 1800s, modern smokeless powder was developed, to the delight of people who wanted to be able to actually see after they fired a shot.


Before firearms, there were ______.

The Chinese invented fire lances in the 10th century. In short, they were small explosive devices affixed to spears, and they immediately preceded the invention of actual firearms.


True or false, are revolvers a type of semi-automatic weapon?

A semi-automatic is any sort of firearm that can be fired repeatedly without reloading. Revolvers are semi-automatics that often shoot six times before reloading is necessary.


What is "rifling"?

The concept of rifling was discovered in 1498. When you put spiraling grooves inside a gun barrel, the projectile spins, making it more accurate at longer ranges.


When were "cartridges" first introduced?

The mid-1800s saw the introduction of the cartridge, which combined propellant with a projectile. Cartridges made loading easier and faster than ever before.


What is "hammer bite"?

Some pistols are known for hammer bite, in which part of the action pinches the web of your hand. Hammer bite takes every bit of fun out of shooting a gun.


Before the invention of the matchlock, how did shooters fire a gun?

Prior to matchlock devices, you placed a wick (or other burning object) to the touch hole of a gun to ignite the gunpowder. This system, of course, was rather unwieldy.


Which of the following guns uses the heftiest bullets?

The .357 Magnum is a large, powerful handgun that uses bullets with a 9mm diameter. If you’re ever unlucky enough to be shot by a .357 Magnum, you’ll feel it.


“AR" stands for what?

“AR" is shorthand for AR-15, one of the most popular semi-automatic rifles in the world. The "AR" stands for "Armalite rifle."


The hollow part of the gun barrel is called what?

The bore is the hollow portion of the gun barrel. The bigger the bore, the bigger the projectile that the gun can shoot.


What is a "muzzleloader"?

A muzzleloader is any firearm that’s loading from the business end of the barrel. For centuries, muzzleloaders were the only guns in existence.


What sort of firearm did Samuel Colt mass produce?

In the mid-1800s, Samuel Colt devised ways to mass produce revolvers. His Colt pistols became iconic sidearms of the 19th and 20th centuries.


The cartridge is inserted into which part of the gun?

The chamber is the part of the gun that receives a cartridge. In the case of revolvers, the cylinder itself serves as the chamber.


How many barrels does an "over and under" shotgun have?

An over and under shotgun has two barrels, one on top of the other. Some combination rifle/shotgun models use the over and under configuration.


"Empties" are also called _____.

Spent cases are "empties," or simply "brass." Many types of empties can be reloading and reused multiple times.


What’s an "assault rifle"?

Assault rifles are automatic rifles issued to military personnel. They are exceedingly deadly in the right (or wrong) hands.


What’s the purpose of a speedloader?

A speedloader makes quick work of reloading. For example, a revolver speedloader loads every cylinder of the gun in the same amount of time it would take to load just a single bullet.


What term refers to the speed of a projectile as it leaves the gun?

Muzzle velocity describes the speed of a projectile as it exits the bore. It is measured in feet per second (FPS).


True or false, do lower numbers indicate bigger lead shot in a shotgun shell?

It’s true. A shotgun shell with size 4 shot features bigger lead balls than those in, say, a shell with size 8 shot. Shot size is a critical choice in hunting situations.


What part of a cartridge ignites the main charge?

Once struck by the firing pin, the primer explodes and then ignites the main charge. And then, projectiles will fly.


What was special about the Gatling gun?

The Gatling gun, first made in the 1860s, was the first high-speed automatic weapon. It featured a crank and multiple barrels, and shot hundreds of rounds per minute, making it a terrifying sight for enemies who were accustomed to single-shot weapons.


What’s the term for the residue of gunpowder that builds up in a gun’s bore?

“Fouling" refers to gunk that builds up in the gun bore as you fire it over and over again. It's why you have to clean the weapon regularly in order to ensure proper operation.


The 1873 Winchester was the "gun that won the ______."

The 1873 Winchester rifle was fast and reliable, and it became an iconic weapon of self-protection and self-reliance. It was the "gun that won the West."


What’s a "misfire"?

A misfire is when you pull the trigger ... and nothing happens. It’s often because the cartridge is a dud.


What firearm did Joseph Laumann invent in 1892?

Why bother pulling the pistol trigger multiple times when once will do? In 1892, Laumann invented the automatic pistol, which made it much easier to blast your target full of holes.


What does the term "magnum" denote?

Magnum cartridges and shells carry more powerful charges than their smaller cousins. For example, the .44 Magnum is more powerful than the regular .44 caliber gun.


Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!