Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW)

Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) are defined by the International Tracing Instrument / ITI ( International Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely and Reliable Manner, Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons) as “any man-portable lethal weapon that expels or launches, is designed to expel or launch, or may be readily converted to expel or launch a shot, bullet or projectile by the action of an explosive, excluding antique small arms and light weapons or their replicas.”

The categories and types of weapons in this Guide follow those listed in the ITI.


by category by weapon name

According to the definition provided by the International Tracing Instrument (ITI), Small arms “are, broadly speaking, weapons designed for individual use.”

Pistols (Semi-autos) use part of the energy produced by burning cartridge powder to remove the used cartridge from the chamber, cock the hammer (or striker) and load a new cartridge in the chamber, so the pistol will be ready for the next shot. Cartridges are usually fed from a box magazine, located in the pistol's handle. Box magazines may contain up to 15 cartridges (or more) in single or double columns, depending on the pistol model, and are easy (and very quick) to reload.

Revolvers got their name from the rotating (or revolving) cylinder, which contains cartridges. Usually the cylinder holds from 5 to 8 cartridges.

The bolt action rifle is a weapon which requires a manual operation to reload a weapon prior to each shot. The term "bolt action" comes from the "bolt" - a part of the weapon that is used to feed cartridges into the chamber and to lock the barrel upon the fire.

The submachine gun is an automatic or selective-fired shoulder weapon that fires pistol-caliber ammunition.

An assault rifle is loosely defined as a selective fire rifle designed for combat that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine. Assault rifles are the standard infantry weapons in most modern armies.

A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm, usually designed to fire rifle bullets in quick succession from an ammunition belt or large-capacity magazine, typically at a rate of several hundred rounds per minute.

According to the definition provided by the International Tracing Instrument (ITI), Light weapons “are, broadly speaking, weapons designed for use by two or three persons serving as a crew, although some may be carried and used by a single person.”

It is similar to light machine-guns, usually the caliber is more than 12.7mm (.50)

Basically, the grenade launcher is a weapon which fires a grenade – a small shell, filled with high explosive or other agent, such as tear gas for less lethal application, bright burning compound for illumination purposes, incendiary filling etc. Of course, in most cases the grenade also must be fitted with a fuse, and with a safety, to avoid damage to the grenadier or handler.

Anti-tank guns are guns designed to destroy armored vehicles. In order to penetrate the armor of tanks and other armored vehicles they generally fire shells of smaller calibre than regular indirect-fire artillery guns, propelling them at higher velocity.

A recoilless gun or recoilless rifle is a lightweight weapon that fires a heavier projectile that would be impractical to fire from a recoiling weapon of comparable size. Technically, only devices that use a rifled barrel are recoilless rifles.Recoilless rifles are capable of firing artillery-type shells at a range and velocity comparable to that of a normal light cannon, although they are typically used to fire larger shells at lower velocities and ranges.

An anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) or anti-tank guided weapon (ATGW) is a guided missile primarily designed to hit and destroy heavily-armored tanks and other armored fighting vehicles.ATGMs range in size from shoulder-launched weapons which can be transported by a single soldier, to larger tripod mounted weapons which require a squad or team to transport and fire, to vehicle and aircraft mounted missile systems.

Man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) are shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). They are typically guided weapons and are a threat to low-flying aircraft, especially helicopters.