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28.8.2014 : 9:10 : +0200

Definitions of Small Arms and Light Weapons

There is no universally accepted definition of a 'small arm' or of a 'light weapon'. The Small Arms Survey largely adopts the proposal put forward by the 1997 UN Panel of Governmental Expert (available on which considers portability a defining characteristic. The Panel’s list includes both civilian, private, and military weapons that fire a projectile with the condition that the unit or system may be carried by an individual, a small number of people, or transported by a pack animal or a light vehicle. The Panel’s list is organized into 'small arms' and 'light weapons':

To this list, the Survey has added single-rail-launched rockets and 120 mm mortars as long as they can be transported and operated as intended by a light vehicle.

The Survey may use the term 'small arms' to refer to small arms and light weapons, as well as their ammunition and parts and accessories. The term 'light weapons', however, always refers just to those items. The term ‘firearms’ comprises small arms and heavy machine guns.