Pumps vs. Charging Handles

Not every shotgun or rifle uses a pump, right? Right. So what’s that thingy (for lack of a better term for now) worked back and forth that’s sort of like a pump when characters use fully automatic and semi-automatic rifles and shotguns?

That thingy is called a charging handle or cocking handle. They’re worked manually to load the first round into the chamber when ammunition is initially inserted into the firearm. After the first shot, the firearm automatically reloads a fresh round. They’re present on the following firearms (yes, some of these terms mean the same thing).

  • Fully automatic rifles
  • Submachine guns
  • Machine guns
  • Assault rifles
  • Semi-automatic rifles
  • Fully automatic shotguns
  • Semi-automatic shotguns

There’s no need to work the charging handle again if the character pauses during a shootout before the ammunition runs out.

Make sense? This is only a quick overview without getting into the nitty gritty. Leave any questions in the comments.

Get the Book

The Writers Guide to WeaponsThe Writer’s Guide to Weapons: A Practical Reference for Using Firearms and Knives in Fiction (Writer’s Digest Books) comes with everything but the ammo. Pick up a print or digital copy from these fine retailers:

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