Types of Weapons

Prepared by Ed Lawrance, Director for Arms Control, Disarmament and Conversion of the Monterey Institute for International Studies.

Small Arms

Light Weapons

Ammunition and Explosives

Revolvers and self-loading pistols

Hand-held under-barrel and mounted grenade launchers

Cartridges (rounds) for small arms

Rifles and carbines

Portable anti-aircraft guns

Shells, missiles and mines for light weapons

Sub-machine guns

Portable anti-tank guns, recoilless rifles

Mobile containers with missiles or shells for single action anti-aircraft and anti-tank systems

Assault rifles

Portable launchers of anti-tank missile and rocket systems

Anti-personnel and anti-tank hand grenades

Machine guns

Portable launchers of anti-aircraft missile systems

Anti-tank mines


Mortars of calibers up to 82 mm inclusive


Problems resulting from excessive accumulation and availability of small arms and light weapons.

1. Criminal acts with military style weapons;
2. Promotion of violent solutions to conflicts;
3. Arming of private citizens and development of private security groups;
4. Proliferation of illegitimate centers of violence;
5. Emboldening the disaffected;
6. Threat to democratic political development;
7. Economic development stalled or threatened;
8. Difficulties in implementing U.N. peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction operations;
9. Increasing harm to civilians.

Modes of accumulation and transfer

1. Indigenous production;
2. Legitimate import;
3. Illicit import,
  • Covert government to government transfer,
  • Government arms subnational groups,
  • Black Market.
  • 4. In-country circulation,
  • Theft from government arsenals,
  • Capture from government or other subnational groups,
  • Buy from other subnational groups,
  • Acquire from criminal groups,
  • Leaking pipeline—corruption.
  • Policy Options for Dealing With the Negative Effects for Small Arms and Light Weapons

    National Level

    1. Improved laws and judicial systems,
    2. Improved policing and border control,
    3. Manufacture, export and import controls,
    4. Weapons collection programs,
    5. Demobilization and demilitarization.

    Multilateral Level

    1. Support for capacity-building,
    2. Transparency,
    3. Embargo,
    4. Use of Force,
    5. Ban on certain types of weapons,
    6. Conditionality,
    7. Demobiliztion and demilitarization,
    8. Regional cooperation,
    9. International norm building.

    FAS Home | ASMP Home | Search | About ASMP
    Publications | Sales Data | Issues | Resources