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A weapon mount is a weapon component used to affix an armament for stabilization. Weapon mounts can be broken down into two categories: static mounts and non-static mounts.
A static mount is a non-portable weapon support component used on a self-propelled vehicle.
A gun turret protects the crew or mechanism of a weapon and at the same time lets the weapon be aimed and fired in many directions.
A turret is a rotating weapon platform. This can be mounted on a fortified building or structure such as a coast artillery battery, or on an armoured fighting vehicle, a naval ship, or a military aircraft.
Turrets may be armed with one or more machine guns, automatic cannons, large-calibre guns, missile launchers, and recently directed-energy weapons and Laser Weapon Systems. It may be manned or remotely controlled, and is often armoured. A small turret, or sub-turret on a larger one, is called a cupola. The term cupola also describes rotating turrets that carry no weapons but instead are sighting devices, as in the case of tank commanders. A finial is an extremely small sub-turret or sub-sub-turret mounted on a cupola turret.
The protection provided by the turret may be against battle damage or against the weather, conditions and environment in which the weapon or its crew operate.
A coaxial mount is mounted beside the primary weapon and thus points in the same general direction as the main armament, relying on the turret's ability to traverse in order to change arc. The term coaxial is a misnomer as the arrangement is often actually paraxial (i.e., parallel axes, as opposed to the same axis).
Nearly all main battle tanks and most infantry fighting vehicles have a coaxial machine gun mounted to fire along a parallel axis to the main gun. Coaxial weapons are usually aimed by use of the main gun control. It is usually used to engage infantry or other "soft" targets when the main gun collateral damage would be excessive, or to conserve main gun ammunition.
Some weapons such as the M40 recoilless rifle and the LAW 80 have a smaller caliber spotting rifle mounted in coaxial fashion on the weapon's barrel, which allows the operator to visualise where the primary weapon's projectile will hit.
A fixed mount is not moveable with respect to the vehicle. The vehicle must move in order to change direction of fire. Fixed mounts are most commonly found on aircraft, and most commonly direct the weapon forward, along the aircraft's vector of movement, so that a pilot could aim and steer at the same time. Some minor aircraft designs used different concept of fixed mounts, as found in Schräge Musik or AC-47 Spooky.
A pintle mount is a fixed mount that allows the gun to be freely traversed and/or elevated while keeping the gun in one fixed position. It is most commonly found on armoured vehicles, gunner stations on bomber aircraft, and helicopter gunships. Unlike a turret, a pintle has little or no armour protection.
A swing mount is a fixed mount that allows a far greater and more flexible arc of fire than the simple pintle mount system. Utilising a system of one or two articulated arms the gunner can swing the weapon through a wide arc even though the gunner's position is fixed relative to the mount. These systems vary in complexity from a simple arm, to a double arm with the ability to lock the weapon in any firing position.
A ground mount is a sub-class of weapon mount that is portable.
A monopod has one leg and does not provide stability along the coordinate axis of motion. Monopods have the advantage of being light and compact although when used in firing mode it does not have enough stability to be used with large firearms. Monopods are typically used on short-barreled, precision-fire firearms. They are also used as "butt spikes" as a rear support on precision rifles.
The bipod permits the operator to rest the weapon on the ground, a low wall, or other object, reducing operator fatigue and permitting increased accuracy.
Bipods can be of fixed or adjustable length. Those of higher quality can be tilted and also have their tilting point close to the bore central axis, allowing the weapon to tilt left and right a small amount, allowing a quick horizontal sight picture on uneven ground and keeping the operator close to the ground. Bipods are for the most part folded forward, not back.
A tripod has three legs and provides stability along the left-to-right and fore-and-aft coordinate axis of motion. Tripods have the disadvantage of being heavy and bulky although when used in firing mode it has enough stability to be used with large firearms. Tripods are typically used on long-barreled, rapid-fire firearms.
The tripod permits the operator to rest the weapon on the ground and thus the gun feels lighter to the shooter and accuracy is increased.
Another form of tripod is the tripod gun handle. The tripod gun handle provides a forward vertical pistol grip plus a slide out pivotal tripod. It is attached to the gun by a picatinny rail. The legs of the tripod can be deployed by the press of a button and can be pushed back up into the vertical grip.
On firearms, shooting sticks are commonly used on rifles to provide a forward rest and reduce motion. Shooting sticks permit the operator to rest the weapon on the ground, a low wall, or other object, reducing operator fatigue and permitting increased accuracy.
Shooting sticks can be of fixed or adjustable length and can be home made products by their operators or factory products.