Bolt action is a type of firearm action where the handling of cartridges into and out of the weapon's barrel chamber is operated by manually manipulating the bolt directly via a handle, which is most commonly placed on the right-hand side of the weapon (as most users are right-handed). When the handle is operated, the bolt is unlocked from the receiver and pulled back to open the breech, allowing the spent cartridge case to be extracted and ejected, the firing pin within the bolt is cocked (either on opening or closing of the bolt depending on the gun design) and engages the sear, then upon the bolt being pushed back a new cartridge (if available) is loaded into the chamber, and finally the breech is closed tight by the bolt locking against the receiver.
Bolt-action firearms are most often repeating rifles, but there are some bolt-action variants of shotguns and a few handguns as well. Examples of this system date as far back as the early 19th century, notably in the Dreyse needle gun. From the late 19th century, all the way through both World Wars, the bolt-action rifle was the standard infantry firearm for most of the world's military forces. In modern military and law enforcement use, the bolt action has been mostly replaced by semi-automatic and selective-fire firearms, though the bolt-action design remains popular in dedicated sniper rifles due to inherently more rugged design, and are still very popular for civilian hunting and target shooting.
Compared to other manually operated firearm actions such as lever-action and pump-action, bolt action offers an excellent balance of strength (allowing powerful cartridge chamberings), ruggedness, reliability and accuracy, all with lighter weight and much lower cost than self-loading firearms. Bolt-action firearms can also be disassembled and re-assembled for maintenance and repair much faster, owing to their having fewer moving parts. The major disadvantage is a slightly lower rate of fire than other types of manual repeating firearms, and a far lower practical rate of fire than semi-automatic weapons, though this is not a very important factor in many types of hunting, target shooting and other precision-based shooting applications.

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