Light Weapon Design

  • Duration: 5 days
  • Location: Shrivenham campus
Light Weapon Design

This five day intensive course focuses on the fundamental principles of small arms design. The weapon systems considered range from the pistol through machine guns and their ancillaries including sights and muzzle attachments. The key internal mechanisms are common to the majority of cartridge case firing weapons, particularly those with automatic firing mechanisms. This course would therefore also be of interest to those working with medium calibre cannon.

Course Objectives

The course is concerned with the design and development of small arms. It aims to provide an understanding of the systems technology employed and the design of discreet key components.

To do this, the course widens out to include the allied areas of study, including small arms ammunition muzzle attachments, sights and human factors integration, to place the design of small arms within their organisational and operational context.

Course Topics

  • Introduction to Small Arm (SA) Design and Doctrine
  • The Infantry Section and Tactics
  • Small Arms Ammunition
  • Wound Ballistics
  • Gun Springs
  • Small Arms Operating Principles
  • Barrel Attachments
  • The Design of the Firing
  • Grenades
  • Hit Probability
  • Small Arms Barrels
  • Human Factors Integration
  • Small Arms Recoil
  • Sighting Systems
  • Extractor Design
  • Dynamic Design

Upgrade to a professional qualification

10 credit points

Who should attend

The course is intended to provide engineers concerned with the design and development of Small Arms with an understanding of the systems’ technology employed and the discreet design of key components. The course would also benefit to those involved in requirements capture and procurement of automatic weapon systems.


Course Delivery

Lectures are delivered at MSc standard by Cranfield University academics, supplemented by commercial and military Subject Matter Experts. The teaching is conducted in a military environment using static displays to aid the teaching environment. Where possible the knowledge of each taught phase is followed by a practical range session to consolidate the knowledge.

Accreditation and partnerships


Course fee


Location and travel details

Cranfield Defence and Security (CDS) is a School of Cranfield University that offers unique educational opportunities to the Defence and Security sectors of both public and private sector organisations.

Based at the UK Defence Academy at Shrivenham in Oxfordshire, we are the Academic Provider to the UK Ministry of Defence for all postgraduate education at the Defence Academy College of Management and Technology and training in engineering, science, acquisition, management and leadership. Integrating the resources of the MoD and Cranfield University to deliver a wide range of postgraduate courses in science, engineering and management related to the defence sector, most of which are open to both military and non-military students. Cranfield academics in conjunction with serving officers from the Armed Forces combine to provide dynamic, applied and practice courses. Facilities on the campus include an outdoor heated swimming pool, golf course and a wide variety of other sporting facilities.

The Shrivenham campus is well positioned with easy access by road, rail and air:

  • Road: Close to the M4, located just off the A420 between Oxford and Swindon. Swindon is approximately 7 miles west of the campus and Oxford is around 24 miles east.
  • Rail: Swindon station (just 50 minutes from London Paddington and 25 minutes from Bristol).
  • Air: Heathrow (70 miles) or Bristol (60 miles).

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