Here it goes:

At its most simple, a gun is a fairly basic machine that takes advantage of simple physics.

Does it just mean simply put?

  • 2
    When considered in terms of its basic design. But that's like saying, at its most simple, an axe is just an inclined plane that takes advantage of simple physics. – Tᴚoɯɐuo May 27 '18 at 17:11
  • The problem here is that the sentence doesn't appear semantically true. I would say that, at it's most simple, a gun is a machine that fires bullets. The concept of firing bullets is simpler than takes advantage of simple physics. So, the given description is not actually, the "most simple." – Jason Bassford May 27 '18 at 18:20
  • "Simply put" means to format a descriptive statement as concisely and in as easily understood a way as possible. Meanwhile, "at its most simple" means providing the most basic or fundamental explanation of something. The two are related but not identical. – Jason Bassford May 27 '18 at 18:23

"At its most simple"
is to reduce the engineering concept to the least complexity.

"Simply put"
is to reduce the explanation of that to the least complexity.

The two are almost, but not quite, synonymous.

Let me start by saying, not so much that I disagree with the author of your quote, but that it could have been more elegantly stated.
'Simple', twice in one sentence; 'fairly', very vague; 'takes advantage', or just 'uses'... all in all, it could have been better cast.

I don't know much about guns, but let me try...

At its most simple, a gun uses the expansion of gasses from combustion to propel a small metal object from a cylinder, closed at one end.

Simply put, a gun fires bullets out of the barrel because gunpowder explodes when struck.

So - sometimes you need both elements to "simply explain" what you mean.

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