If you like to hunt, you most likely heard that there are different actions for the firearms you might use. But what is the difference between these actions and what is an action in the first place? We will address all these aspects and some other useful information in this guide!

The short answer is that a firearm could have two actions: a single shot and a repeated style. Keep reading to learn what each one of these actions means and which type of firearm you should choose for your hunting style!

What is the action of a firearm?

The action of a firearm, according to the terminology of the industry, refers to the shooting style of the weapon in question. This action includes the mechanism that the firearm uses such as loads and locks, shots, extracts as well as ejects. There are two types of actions that a firearm could have: a single shot action or a repeated style. These two types of actions include different styles of weapons and they are split into even smaller categories that you will have to consider when you choose your firearm. However, even in different firearm models, the mechanism is the same as long as they have the same action type.

Not all firearms have actions since some models are made to be single-shot weapons such as muzzleloaders. In general, actions are a feature of breech-loading weapons.

Firearm actions

The single-shot firearm action

The most common but not necessarily the most popular type of firearm is the one with a single shot action. These firearms require a reload every time you need to use them. Revolvers, as well as handheld guns, are the most popular firearms with such an action style. You will notice that single-shot firearms use a hammer that needs to be set by hand every time you shot and the trigger will cause the hammer strike.

Pistols are also single-shot firearms but the difference between them and other firearms is that you will set them only when you shot the first time. Other shots will be generated by the slide’s action and most pistols have an external hammer. At the same time, rifles can also be single-shot firearms.

Single action firearms come with one cartridge and they don’t have magazines. Once you consumed the cartridge, you will have to remove it from your firearm and replace it with a new one. It is equally important to close the action of the firearm when you want to expand the cartridge so you don’t damage the hammer. You will have to do this operation before you use your firearm again.

There are different firearm types in the single-shot category such as bolt-action, Martini, rolling block, falling block, break-open, trapdoor, Flobert, and tin-up.

Single-shot firearms are the first type of firearms and they are the ancestors of more complex firearms that we can find nowadays on the market. However, most hunters struggle to rely on single-shot firearms during their hunting session since they require higher precision, and reloading them takes time that allows the prey to escape. But if you want to perfect your shooting technique, firearms with a single shot action can be ideal for helping you do just that!

The repeating style firearm action

Repeating style action firearms allow you to shoot several times before you need to reload them. Needless to say that these firearms tend to be more convenient and more appreciated nowadays since they evolved from single-shot firearms and they ease the hunting process significantly.

These arms come with the capacity to store more cartridges inside the same magazine. The magazine could be an internal one or a detachable one. For revolvers, the cartridges are held inside a cylinder and there are firearms that hold the cartridges inside an ammunition belt.

Firearms that use the repeating style action are commonly known as “repeaters”. However, this term is used mostly for single barrel firearms as the multiple-barrel ones such as pepperbox guns, derringers, double-barreled rifles or shotguns, volley guns or combination guns will not use magazines to store different cartridges. These multiple-barrel firearms don’t come with a moving action that helps go from one ammunition load to another and they are essentially just single-shot firearms with a bigger storage capacity that go from one single shot barrel to the next one.

There are also the rotary multiple-barrel firearms that come with magazines or ammunition belts and a system for moving ammunition so they will fire repeatedly.

To make the most out of a repeater, you will have to practice your aiming skills as well as your quickness level.

Which one should you choose?

The type of firearm action you choose to use will depend on your shooting skills and personal preferences. Both single-shot weapons and repeaters can help you succeed at any type of hunting as long as you practice your skills enough to perfect them.

Single-shot firearm,s however, require more precision and better-aiming skills compared to repeating style firearms. Beginner hunters tend to choose a repeater because they are not confident they can be successful with the first shot. But in terms of training, you will most likely upgrade your shooting skills with a single shot which makes these firearms ideal for practice.

You will also have to consider the regulation for hunting in your area. There are norms that ban different firearms during hunting season and they can differ from one state to another.

Final thoughts

The market offers a wide variety of firearms from both categories of action and the one you decide on using will most likely come after you try out several of them. So, allow yourself to experiment and see which one works for you for both training and hunting sessions. We recommend having one single shot action firearm as well as one repeater since you will find them useful in different hunting environments. Both such firearms will be an investment in the long run and if you alternate them, you will be able to notice which style goes best with your hunting technique as well.