Weapon

Weapon

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A weapon, arm, or armament is a tool
Tool
A tool is a device that can be used to produce an item or achieve a task, but that is not consumed in the process. Informally the word is also used to describe a procedure or process with a specific purpose. Tools that are used in particular fields or activities may have different designations such...

 or instrument used with the aim of causing damage or harm (either physical or mental) to living beings or artificial structures or systems. In human society weapons are used to increase the efficacy and efficiency of activities such as hunting
Hunting
Hunting is the practice of pursuing any living thing, usually wildlife, for food, recreation, or trade. In present-day use, the term refers to lawful hunting, as distinguished from poaching, which is the killing, trapping or capture of the hunted species contrary to applicable law...

, fighting, self-defense, crime, law enforcement, and war.

Weapons are employed individually or collectively. A weapon can be either expressly designed as such or be an item re-purposed through use (for example, hitting someone with a hammer). Their form can range from simple implements such as clubs
Club (weapon)
A club is among the simplest of all weapons. A club is essentially a short staff, or stick, usually made of wood, and wielded as a weapon since prehistoric times....

 through to complicated modern implementations such as intercontinental ballistic missile
Intercontinental ballistic missile
An intercontinental ballistic missile is a ballistic missile with a long range typically designed for nuclear weapons delivery...

s and biological weapons
Biological warfare
Biological warfare is the use of biological toxins or infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi with intent to kill or incapacitate humans, animals or plants as an act of war...

. Weapon development has progressed from early wood or stone clubs through revolutions in metalworking (swords, maces, etc.) and gunpowder (guns, cannon
Cannon
A cannon is any piece of artillery that uses gunpowder or other usually explosive-based propellents to launch a projectile. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees,...

), electronics and nuclear technology.

In a broader context, weapons may be construed to include anything used to gain a strategic, material or mental advantage over an adversary on land, sea, air, or even outer space or virtual space.

Prehistoric



Very simple weapon use has been observed among chimpanzee
Common Chimpanzee
The common chimpanzee , also known as the robust chimpanzee, is a great ape. Colloquially, the common chimpanzee is often called the chimpanzee , though technically this term refers to both species in the genus Pan: the common chimpanzee and the closely related bonobo, formerly called the pygmy...

s, leading to speculation that early hominids began their first use of weapons as early as five million years ago. These would have been wooden clubs, spears, and unshaped stones—none of which would leave an unambiguous record.

Some of the earliest unambiguous weapons were throwing stick
Throwing Stick
The throwing stick or throwing club is one of the first weapons used by early humans and cultures all around the world. In essence, it is a short stave or wooden club thrown as a projectile to hunt small game such as rabbits or waterfowl. In flight, it rotates rapidly cracking the target with one...

s and spears dated to around 400,000 years ago. The Schöninger Speere
Schöninger Speere
The Schöningen Spears are 8 wooden throwing spears from the Palaeolithic Age, that were found under the management of Dr. Hartmut Thieme from the Lower Saxony State Service for Cultural Heritage between 1994 and 1998 in the open-cast lignite mine, Schöningen, county Helmstedt, Germany, together...

, eight wooden throwing spears from the Lower Paleolithic
Lower Paleolithic
The Lower Paleolithic is the earliest subdivision of the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age. It spans the time from around 2.5 million years ago when the first evidence of craft and use of stone tools by hominids appears in the current archaeological record, until around 300,000 years ago, spanning the...

 era, are thought to be the earliest known example of weapons used by the genus Homo
Homo
Homo may refer to:*the Greek prefix ὅμο-, meaning "the same"*the Latin for man, human being*Homo, the taxonomical genus including modern humans...

.

Ancient and classical



Ancient weapons were evolutionary improvements of late neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 implements, but then significant improvements in materials and crafting techniques created a series of revolutions in military technology
Military technology
Military technology is the collection of equipment, vehicles, structures and communication systems that are designed for use in warfare. It comprises the kinds of technology that are distinctly military in nature and not civilian in application, usually because they are impractical in civilian...

:

The development of metal tools, beginning with copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

 during the Copper Age
Copper Age
The Chalcolithic |stone]]") period or Copper Age, also known as the Eneolithic/Æneolithic , is a phase of the Bronze Age in which the addition of tin to copper to form bronze during smelting remained yet unknown by the metallurgists of the times...

 (about 3,300 BC) and followed shortly by bronze
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 led to the Bronze Age sword
Bronze Age sword
Bronze Age swords appear from around the 17th century BC, in the Black Sea region and the Aegean, evolving out of the dagger. They are replaced by the Iron Age sword during the early part of the 1st millennium BC....

 and similar weapons.

The first defensive structures and fortifications appeared in the Bronze Age, indicating an increased need for security. Weapons designed to breach fortifications followed soon after, for example the battering ram
Battering ram
A battering ram is a siege engine originating in ancient times and designed to break open the masonry walls of fortifications or splinter their wooden gates...

 was in use by 2500 BC.

Although early Iron Age sword
Iron Age sword
Swords made of iron appear from the Early Iron Age , but do not become widespread before the 8th century BC....

s were not superior to their bronze predecessors, once iron-working
History of ferrous metallurgy
The history of ferrous metallurgy began far back in prehistory. The earliest surviving iron artifacts, from the 5th millennium BC in Iran and 2nd millennium BC in China, were made from meteoritic iron-nickel. It is not known when or where the smelting of iron from ores began, but by the end of the...

 developed - around 1200 BC in Sub-Saharan Africa, iron began to be used widely in weapon production because iron ore was much more readily available than the copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

 and tin
Tin
Tin is a chemical element with the symbol Sn and atomic number 50. It is a main group metal in group 14 of the periodic table. Tin shows chemical similarity to both neighboring group 14 elements, germanium and lead and has two possible oxidation states, +2 and the slightly more stable +4...

 required to create bronze
Bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

.

Cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

 developed once horses were bred to support the weight of a man. The horse extended the range and increased the speed of attack, but was not a weapon as much as it provided an enhanced capability.

Domestication of the horse
Domestication of the horse
There are a number of hypotheses on many of the key issues regarding the domestication of the horse. Although horses appeared in Paleolithic cave art as early as 30,000 BCE, these were truly wild horses and were probably hunted for meat. How and when horses became domesticated is disputed...

 and widespread use of spoke
Spoke
A spoke is one of some number of rods radiating from the center of a wheel , connecting the hub with the round traction surface....

d wheels by ca. 2000 BC, led to the light, horse-drawn chariot
Chariot
The chariot is a type of horse carriage used in both peace and war as the chief vehicle of many ancient peoples. Ox carts, proto-chariots, were built by the Proto-Indo-Europeans and also built in Mesopotamia as early as 3000 BC. The original horse chariot was a fast, light, open, two wheeled...

. The mobility provided by chariots were important during this era. Spoke-wheeled chariot usage peaked around 1300 BC and then declined, ceasing to be militarily relevant by the 4th century BC.

Ships built as weapons or warship
Warship
A warship is a ship that is built and primarily intended for combat. Warships are usually built in a completely different way from merchant ships. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faster and more maneuvrable than merchant ships...

s such as the Trireme
Trireme
A trireme was a type of galley, a Hellenistic-era warship that was used by the ancient maritime civilizations of the Mediterranean, especially the Phoenicians, ancient Greeks and Romans.The trireme derives its name from its three rows of oars on each side, manned with one man per oar...

s were in use by the 7th century BC. These ships were eventually replaced by larger ships
Hellenistic-era warships
From the 4th century BC on, new types of oared warships appeared in the Mediterranean Sea, superseding the trireme and transforming naval warfare. Ships became increasingly bigger and heavier, including some of the largest wooden ships ever constructed...

 by the 4th century BC.

Middle Ages




Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an warfare during the middle ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 was dominated by elite groups of knights supported by massed infantry
Infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

 (both in combat and ranged roles). They were involved in mobile combat and sieges which involved various siege weapons and tactics. Knights on horseback developed tactics for charging with lances providing an impact on the enemy formations and then drawing more practical weapons (such as swords
Swords
A sword is a cutting/thrusting weapon made of metal. Sword or swords may also refer to:* Swords, County Dublin, Ireland* Suit of swords, a suit in Latin-suited playing cards and Tarot decks* SWORDS, a ground-based military robot...

) once they entered into the melee. Whereas infantry, in the age before structured formations, relied on cheap, sturdy weapons such as spear
Spear
A spear is a pole weapon consisting of a shaft, usually of wood, with a pointed head.The head may be simply the sharpened end of the shaft itself, as is the case with bamboo spears, or it may be made of a more durable material fastened to the shaft, such as flint, obsidian, iron, steel or...

s and billhooks in close combat and bows
Bow (weapon)
The bow and arrow is a projectile weapon system that predates recorded history and is common to most cultures.-Description:A bow is a flexible arc that shoots aerodynamic projectiles by means of elastic energy. Essentially, the bow is a form of spring powered by a string or cord...

 from a distance. As armies became more professional their equipment was standardized and infantry transitioned to pikes
Pike (weapon)
A pike is a pole weapon, a very long thrusting spear used extensively by infantry both for attacks on enemy foot soldiers and as a counter-measure against cavalry assaults. Unlike many similar weapons, the pike is not intended to be thrown. Pikes were used regularly in European warfare from the...

 in conjunction with smaller side-arms (short sword).

In Eastern and Middle Eastern warfare similar tactics were developed independent of European influences.

The introduction of gunpowder
Gunpowder
Gunpowder, also known since in the late 19th century as black powder, was the first chemical explosive and the only one known until the mid 1800s. It is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate - with the sulfur and charcoal acting as fuels, while the saltpeter works as an oxidizer...

 from the Far East at the end of this period revolutionized warfare. Formations of musketeers, protected by pikemen came to dominate open battles, and the cannon
Cannon
A cannon is any piece of artillery that uses gunpowder or other usually explosive-based propellents to launch a projectile. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees,...

 replaced the trebuchet
Trebuchet
A trebuchet is a siege engine that was employed in the Middle Ages. It is sometimes called a "counterweight trebuchet" or "counterpoise trebuchet" in order to distinguish it from an earlier weapon that has come to be called the "traction trebuchet", the original version with pulling men instead of...

 as the dominant siege weapon.

Early modern


The European Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 marked the beginning of the implementation of firearms in western warfare. Gun
Gun
A gun is a muzzle or breech-loaded projectile-firing weapon. There are various definitions depending on the nation and branch of service. A "gun" may be distinguished from other firearms in being a crew-served weapon such as a howitzer or mortar, as opposed to a small arm like a rifle or pistol,...

s and rocket
Rocket
A rocket is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle which obtains thrust from a rocket engine. In all rockets, the exhaust is formed entirely from propellants carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction...

s were introduced to the battlefield.

Firearm
Firearm
A firearm is a weapon that launches one, or many, projectile at high velocity through confined burning of a propellant. This subsonic burning process is technically known as deflagration, as opposed to supersonic combustion known as a detonation. In older firearms, the propellant was typically...

s are qualitatively different from earlier weapons because they release energy from combustible propellant
Propellant
A propellant is a material that produces pressurized gas that:* can be directed through a nozzle, thereby producing thrust ;...

s such as gunpowder
Gunpowder
Gunpowder, also known since in the late 19th century as black powder, was the first chemical explosive and the only one known until the mid 1800s. It is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate - with the sulfur and charcoal acting as fuels, while the saltpeter works as an oxidizer...

, rather than from a counter-weight or spring. This energy is released very rapidly and can be replicated without much effort by the user. Therefore even early firearms such as the arquebus
Arquebus
The arquebus , or "hook tube", is an early muzzle-loaded firearm used in the 15th to 17th centuries. The word was originally modeled on the German hakenbüchse; this produced haquebute...

 were much more powerful
Power (physics)
In physics, power is the rate at which energy is transferred, used, or transformed. For example, the rate at which a light bulb transforms electrical energy into heat and light is measured in watts—the more wattage, the more power, or equivalently the more electrical energy is used per unit...

 than human-powered weapons. Firearms became increasingly important and effective during the 16th century to 19th century, with progressive improvements in ignition mechanisms
Lock (firearm)
The lock of a firearm is the system used to ignite the propellant. Types of lock include snaplock, matchlock, wheellock, flintlock, modern percussion, rotating bolt, and experimental electronic types. A complete firearm often consists of lock, stock, and barrel...

 followed by revolutionary changes in ammunition
Ammunition
Ammunition is a generic term derived from the French language la munition which embraced all material used for war , but which in time came to refer specifically to gunpowder and artillery. The collective term for all types of ammunition is munitions...

 handling and propellant. During the U.S. Civil War various technologies including the machine gun
Machine gun
A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm, usually designed to fire rounds in quick succession from an ammunition belt or large-capacity magazine, typically at a rate of several hundred rounds per minute....

 and ironclad warship
Ironclad warship
An ironclad was a steam-propelled warship in the early part of the second half of the 19th century, protected by iron or steel armor plates. The ironclad was developed as a result of the vulnerability of wooden warships to explosive or incendiary shells. The first ironclad battleship, La Gloire,...

 emerged that would be recognizable and useful military weapons today, particularly in limited conflicts
Limited war
A limited war is a conflict in which the belligerents participating in the war do not expend all of each of the participants available resources at their disposal, whether human, industrial, agricultural, military, natural, technological, or otherwise in a specific conflict...

. In the 19th century warship
Warship
A warship is a ship that is built and primarily intended for combat. Warships are usually built in a completely different way from merchant ships. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faster and more maneuvrable than merchant ships...

 propulsion changed from sail power
Sail
A sail is any type of surface intended to move a vessel, vehicle or rotor by being placed in a wind—in essence a propulsion wing. Sails are used in sailing.-History of sails:...

 to fossil fuel
Fossil fuel
Fossil fuels are fuels formed by natural processes such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms. The age of the organisms and their resulting fossil fuels is typically millions of years, and sometimes exceeds 650 million years...

-powered steam engine
Steam engine
A steam engine is a heat engine that performs mechanical work using steam as its working fluid.Steam engines are external combustion engines, where the working fluid is separate from the combustion products. Non-combustion heat sources such as solar power, nuclear power or geothermal energy may be...

s.


The age of edged weapons ended abruptly just before World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 with rifled artillery
Artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

. Howitzer
Howitzer
A howitzer is a type of artillery piece characterized by a relatively short barrel and the use of comparatively small propellant charges to propel projectiles at relatively high trajectories, with a steep angle of descent...

s were able to destroy masonry fortresses and other fortifications. This single invention caused a Revolution in Military Affairs
Revolution in Military Affairs
The military concept of Revolution in Military Affairs is a theory about the future of warfare, often connected to technological and organizational recommendations for change in the United States military and others....

 (RMA) and established tactics and doctrine that are still in use today. See Technology during World War I
Technology during World War I
Technology during World War I reflected a trend toward industrialism and the application of mass production methods to weapons and to the technology of warfare in general. This trend began fifty years prior to World War I during the U.S...

 for a detailed discussion.

An important feature of industrial age
Industrial Age
Industrial Age may refer to:*Industrialisation*The Industrial Revolution...

 warfare was technological escalation
Technological escalation
Technological escalation describes the situation where two parties in competition tend to employ continual technological improvements in their attempt to defeat each other. Technology is defined here as a creative invention, either in the form of an object or a methodology...

 - innovations were rapidly matched through replication or countered by yet another innovation. The technological escalation during World War I
Technology during World War I
Technology during World War I reflected a trend toward industrialism and the application of mass production methods to weapons and to the technology of warfare in general. This trend began fifty years prior to World War I during the U.S...

 (WW I) was profound, producing armed aircraft
Aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

 and tank
Tank
A tank is a tracked, armoured fighting vehicle designed for front-line combat which combines operational mobility, tactical offensive, and defensive capabilities...

s.

This continued in the inter-war period (between WW I and WW II) with continuous evolution of all weapon systems by all major industrial powers. Many modern military weapons, particularly ground-based ones, are relatively minor improvements of weapon systems developed during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. See military technology during World War II for a detailed discussion.

Modern



Since the mid-18th century North American French-Indian war through the beginning of the 20th century, human-powered weapons were reduced from the primary weaponry of the battlefield yielding to gunpowder-based weaponry. Sometimes referred to as the "Age of Rifles", this period was characterized by the development of firearms for infantry and cannons for support, as well as the beginnings of mechanized weapons such as the machine gun
Machine gun
A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm, usually designed to fire rounds in quick succession from an ammunition belt or large-capacity magazine, typically at a rate of several hundred rounds per minute....

, the tank
Tank
A tank is a tracked, armoured fighting vehicle designed for front-line combat which combines operational mobility, tactical offensive, and defensive capabilities...

 and the wide introduction of aircraft
Aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

 into warfare
Technology during World War I
Technology during World War I reflected a trend toward industrialism and the application of mass production methods to weapons and to the technology of warfare in general. This trend began fifty years prior to World War I during the U.S...

, including naval warfare with the introduction of the aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

s.

World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 marked the entry of fully industrialized warfare as well as weapons of mass destruction
Weapons of mass destruction
A weapon of mass destruction is a weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to a large number of humans and/or cause great damage to man-made structures , natural structures , or the biosphere in general...

 (e.g. chemical and biological), and weapons were developed quickly to meet wartime needs. Above all it promised to the military commanders the independence from the horse
Horse
The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus, or the wild horse. It is a single-hooved mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today...

 and the resurgence in maneuver warfare
Maneuver warfare
Maneuver warfare, or manoeuvre warfare , is the term used by military theorists for a concept of warfare that advocates attempting to defeat an adversary by incapacitating their decision-making through shock and disruption brought about by movement...

 through extensive use of motor vehicles. The changes that these military technologies underwent before and during the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 were evolutionary, but defined the development for the rest of the century.

World War II however, perhaps marked the most frantic period of weapons development in the history of humanity. Massive numbers of new designs and concepts were fielded, and all existing technologies were improved between 1939 and 1945. The most powerful weapon invented during this period was the atomic bomb, however many more weapons influenced the world in different ways.

Nuclear age and beyond


Since the realization of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), the nuclear option of all-out war is no longer considered a survivable scenario. During the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 in the years following World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, both the United States and the former Soviet Union engaged in a nuclear arms race
Nuclear arms race
The nuclear arms race was a competition for supremacy in nuclear warfare between the United States, the Soviet Union, and their respective allies during the Cold War...

. Each country and their allied blocks continually attempted to out-develop each other in the field of nuclear armaments. Once the joint technological capabilities reached the point of being able to ensure the destruction of the entire planet (see Mutually Assured Destruction) then a new tactic had to be developed. With this realization, armaments development funding shifted back to primarily sponsoring the development of conventional arms technologies for support of limited war
Limited war
A limited war is a conflict in which the belligerents participating in the war do not expend all of each of the participants available resources at their disposal, whether human, industrial, agricultural, military, natural, technological, or otherwise in a specific conflict...

s rather than nuclear war.

By user

- what person or unit uses the weapon
  • Personal weapon
    Personal weapon
    A personal weapon or ordnance weapon is a weapon that is issued to an individualmember of a military or paramilitary unit, e.g. to individual infantry soldiers, but also side arms carried by officers or other personnel....

    s (or small arms
    Small arms
    Small arms is a term of art used by armed forces to denote infantry weapons an individual soldier may carry. The description is usually limited to revolvers, pistols, submachine guns, carbines, assault rifles, battle rifles, multiple barrel firearms, sniper rifles, squad automatic weapons, light...

    ) - designed to be used by a single person.
  • Hunting weapon
    Hunting weapon
    Hunting weapons are weapons designed or used primarily for hunting game animals for food or sport, as distinct from defensive weapons or weapons used primarily in warfare.-Characteristics:...

     - primarily for hunting
    Hunting
    Hunting is the practice of pursuing any living thing, usually wildlife, for food, recreation, or trade. In present-day use, the term refers to lawful hunting, as distinguished from poaching, which is the killing, trapping or capture of the hunted species contrary to applicable law...

     game animals for food or sport
  • Infantry support weapons - larger than personal weapons, requiring two or more people to operate correctly.
  • Fortification weapons - mounted in a permanent installation, or used primarily within a fortification. Usually high caliber.
  • Mountain weapon
    Mountain gun
    Mountain guns are artillery pieces designed for use in mountain warfare and areas where usual wheeled transport is not possible. They are similar to infantry support guns, and are generally capable of being broken down into smaller loads .Due to their ability to be broken down into smaller...

    s - for use by mountain forces or those operating in difficult terrain. This includes modifications of existing weapons for paratrooper
    Paratrooper
    Paratroopers are soldiers trained in parachuting and generally operate as part of an airborne force.Paratroopers are used for tactical advantage as they can be inserted into the battlefield from the air, thereby allowing them to be positioned in areas not accessible by land...

    s.
  • Vehicle weapons - to be mounted on any type of combat vehicle
    Combat vehicle
    A combat vehicle, also known as a ground combat vehicle, is a self-propelled, weaponized military vehicle used for combat operations. Combat vehicles can be wheeled or tracked.- Automation :...

    .
  • Railway weapons - designed to be mounted on railway cars, including armored trains.
  • Aircraft weapons - carried on and used by some type of aircraft
    Aircraft
    An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

    , helicopter
    Helicopter
    A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

    , or other aerial vehicle.
  • Naval weapons - mounted on ship
    Ship
    Since the end of the age of sail a ship has been any large buoyant marine vessel. Ships are generally distinguished from boats based on size and cargo or passenger capacity. Ships are used on lakes, seas, and rivers for a variety of activities, such as the transport of people or goods, fishing,...

    s and submarine
    Submarine
    A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

    s.
  • Space weapon
    Space weapon
    Space weapons are weapons used in space warfare. They include weapons that can attack space systems in orbit , attack targets on the earth from space or disable missiles travelling through space...

    s - are designed to be used in or launched from space.

By function

- the construction of the weapon and principle of operation
  • Antimatter weapon
    Antimatter weapon
    An antimatter weapon is a hypothetical device using antimatter as a power source, a propellant, or an explosive for a weapon. Antimatter weapons do not currently exist due to the cost of production and the limited technology available to produce and contain antimatter in sufficient quantities for...

    s (theoretical) would combine matter and antimatter
    Antimatter
    In particle physics, antimatter is the extension of the concept of the antiparticle to matter, where antimatter is composed of antiparticles in the same way that normal matter is composed of particles...

     to cause a powerful explosion.
  • Archery
    Archery
    Archery is the art, practice, or skill of propelling arrows with the use of a bow, from Latin arcus. Archery has historically been used for hunting and combat; in modern times, however, its main use is that of a recreational activity...

     weapons operate by using a tensioned string and bent solid to launch a projectile.
  • Artillery
    Artillery
    Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

     are firearms capable of launching heavy projectiles over long distances, which can explode on impact.
  • Biological weapons spread biological agents, causing disease or infection.
  • Chemical weapons, poisoning and causing reactions.
  • Energy weapons rely on concentrating forms of energy to attack, such as lasers or sonic attack.
  • Explosive weapons use a physical explosion to create blast concussion or spread shrapnel.
  • Firearms use a chemical charge to launch projectiles.
  • Improvised weapons
    Improvised weapons
    An Improvised weapon is a device that was not designed to be used as a weapon but can be put to that use. They are generally used for self-defence or where the person is otherwise unarmed...

     are common objects, reused as weapons, such as crowbars and kitchen knives.
  • Incendiary weapons cause damage by fire.
  • Non-lethal weapon
    Non-lethal force
    Non-lethal weapons, also called less-lethal weapons, less-than-lethal weapons, non-deadly weapons, compliance weapons, or pain-inducing weapons are weapons intended to be less likely to kill a living target than are conventional weapons...

    s are designed to subdue without killing.
  • Magnetic weapon
    Magnetic weapon
    A magnetic weapon is one that uses magnetic fields to accelerate and propel projectiles, or to focus charged particle beams. There are many hypothesised magnetic weapons, such as the railgun and coilgun which accelerate a magnetic mass to a high velocity, or ion cannons and plasma cannons which...

    s use magnetic fields to propel projectiles, or to focus particle beams.
  • Mêlée weapon
    Mêlée weapon
    A melee weapon is any weapon that does not involve a projectile — that is, both the user and target of the weapon are in contact with it simultaneously in normal use...

    s operate as physical extensions of the user's body and directly impact their target.
  • Missile
    Missile
    Though a missile may be any thrown or launched object, it colloquially almost always refers to a self-propelled guided weapon system.-Etymology:The word missile comes from the Latin verb mittere, meaning "to send"...

    s are rockets which are guided to their target after launch. (Also a general term for projectile
    Projectile
    A projectile is any object projected into space by the exertion of a force. Although a thrown baseball is technically a projectile too, the term more commonly refers to a weapon....

     weapons).
  • Nuclear weapon
    Nuclear weapon
    A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

    s use radioactive materials to create nuclear fission
    Nuclear fission
    In nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry, nuclear fission is a nuclear reaction in which the nucleus of an atom splits into smaller parts , often producing free neutrons and photons , and releasing a tremendous amount of energy...

     and/or nuclear fusion
    Nuclear fusion
    Nuclear fusion is the process by which two or more atomic nuclei join together, or "fuse", to form a single heavier nucleus. This is usually accompanied by the release or absorption of large quantities of energy...

     detonations.
  • Primitive weapons make little or no use of technological or industrial elements.
  • Ranged weapon
    Ranged weapon
    A ranged weapon is any weapon that can harm targets at distances greater than hand-to-hand distance. In contrast, a weapon intended to be used in man-to-man combat is called a melee weapon....

    s (unlike Mêlée weapon
    Mêlée weapon
    A melee weapon is any weapon that does not involve a projectile — that is, both the user and target of the weapon are in contact with it simultaneously in normal use...

    s), target a distant object or person.
  • Rocket
    Rocket
    A rocket is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle which obtains thrust from a rocket engine. In all rockets, the exhaust is formed entirely from propellants carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction...

    s use chemical propellant to accelerate a projectile
  • Suicide weapon
    Suicide weapon
    A suicide weapon is a weapon that is specially designed for a suicide attack. It is typically based on explosives.In a wider sense, a suicide weapon is any weapon used in a suicide attack, and any object used as such, for example an aircraft.Examples:...

    s exploit the willingness of their operator to not survive the attack.
  • Trojan weapons
    Trojan horse (business)
    In business, a trojan horse is an advertising offer made by a company that is designed to draw potential customers by offering them cash or something of value for acceptance, but following acceptance, the buyer is forced to spend a much larger amount of money, either by being signed into a lengthy...

     appear on face value to be gifts, though the intent is to in some way harm the recipient.

By target

- the type of target the weapon is designed to attack
  • Anti-aircraft weapons target missiles and aerial vehicles in flight.
  • Anti-fortification weapons are designed to target enemy installations.
  • Anti-personnel weapon
    Anti-personnel weapon
    An anti-personnel weapon is one primarily used to incapacitate people, as opposed to attacking structures or vehicles.The development of defensive fortification and combat vehicles gave rise to weapons designed specifically to attack them, and thus a need to distinguish between those systems and...

    s are designed to attack people, either individually or in numbers.
  • Anti-radiation
    Anti-radiation missile
    An anti-radiation missile is a missile which is designed to detect and home on an enemy radio emission source. Typically these are designed for use against an enemy radar, although jammers and even radios used for communication can also be targeted in this manner.- Air-to-Ground :Most ARM designs...

     weapons target sources of electronic radiation, particularly radar emitters.
  • Anti-satellite weapon
    Anti-satellite weapon
    Anti-satellite weapons are designed to incapacitate or destroy satellites for strategic military purposes. Currently, only the United States, the former Soviet Union, and the People's Republic of China are known to have developed these weapons. On September 13, 1985, the United States destroyed US...

    s target orbiting satellites.
  • Anti-ship weapons target ships and vessels on water.
  • Anti-submarine weapon
    Anti-submarine weapon
    An anti-submarine weapon is any one of a range of devices that are intended to act against a submarine, and its crew, to destroy the vessel or to destroy or reduce its capability as a weapon of war...

    s target submarines and other underwater targets.
  • Anti-tank weapons are designed to defeat armored targets.
  • Area denial weapons
    Area denial weapons
    An area denial weapon is a device used to prevent an adversary from occupying or traversing an area of land. The specific method used does not have to be totally effective in preventing passage as long as it is sufficient to severely restrict, slow down, or endanger the opponent...

     target territory, making it unsafe or unsuitable for enemy use or travel.
  • Hunting weapon
    Hunting weapon
    Hunting weapons are weapons designed or used primarily for hunting game animals for food or sport, as distinct from defensive weapons or weapons used primarily in warfare.-Characteristics:...

    s are civilian weapons used to hunt animals.
  • Infantry support weapons are designed to attack various threats to infantry units.

Legislation


In the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, the Council Directive 91/477/EEC of 18 June 1991 on control of the acquisition and possession of weapons. defines 'weapon' as any firearm
Firearm
A firearm is a weapon that launches one, or many, projectile at high velocity through confined burning of a propellant. This subsonic burning process is technically known as deflagration, as opposed to supersonic combustion known as a detonation. In older firearms, the propellant was typically...

 as defined in the Directive and weapons other than firearms as defined in national legislation. The European firearms pass
European Firearms Pass
The European Firearms Pass is a locally-issued firearms licence in a common format that allows citizens of the European Union to travel with one or more firearm mentioned on the licence from one member state to another...

 is a document which is issued on request by the authorities of a Member State to a person lawfully entering into possession of and using a firearm. It shall be valid for a maximum period of five years. The period of validity may be extended. The 'European firearms pass' is a non-transferable document, on which shall be entered the firearm or firearms possessed and used by the holder of the pass. The pass must always be in the possession of the person using the firearm. Changes in the possession or characteristics of the firearms shall be indicated on the pass, as well as the loss or theft of the firearm.
.

See also

  • Arms industry
    Arms industry
    The arms industry is a global industry and business which manufactures and sells weapons and military technology and equipment. It comprises government and commercial industry involved in research, development, production, and service of military material, equipment and facilities...

  • List of martial arts weapons
  • List of practice weapons
  • Lists of weapons
  • Riot control
    Riot control
    Riot control refers to the measures used by police, military, or other security forces to control, disperse, and arrest civilians who are involved in a riot, demonstration, or protest. Law enforcement officers or soldiers have long used non-lethal weapons such as batons and whips to disperse crowds...

  • Toy weapon
    Toy weapon
    Toy weapons are toys that mimic real weapons, but are designed to be fun for children to play with and not dangerous.-Types of toy weapons:Some are essentially similar to the real thing, but less powerful. Weapons for cutting and stabbing have dull blades usually in plastic. Weapons formerly made...

  • Weapon mount
    Weapon mount
    A weapon mount is a weapon component used to secure an armament. Weapon mounts can be broken down into two categories: static mounts and non-static mounts.-Static mount:...


Further reading

  • U.S.Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Improving the prospects for future international peace operations: workshop proceedings, OTA-BP-ISS-167, Washington DC, US Government Printing Office, September 1995
  • Hind, Edward, My Magazine: Being a Series of Poems, Tales, Sketches, Essays, Orations, Etc.,: The Present Age - An oration J. and H. Clarke, London, 1860

External links