The break-action firearm operates on the same principle as a door hinge.
- To open the action, point the barrel(s) at the ground. A release is pressed, and the barrel drops downward. This allows the cartridges to eject or to be removed manually if the firearm is loaded.
- Hinge-action firearms have a separate barrel for each shot rather than a magazine. Most models have one or two barrels, but some have up to four.