Handguns Revolvers Pistols And More

Handguns are popular firearms and are considered to be weapons of self-defense. Thus, handguns are used by law enforcement and the military as well as by gun aficionados.

As the name suggests, a handgun is a gun that is meant to be held in the hand when fired. The fact that handguns are fired from the hand distinguishes them from rifles and shotguns as well as from mounted weapons.

Types of Handguns

Handguns can generally be classified in four subcategories, listed in order of oldest to newest handgun technology:

  • Single-Shot Pistols: Single-shot pistols are the most basic of all handguns. As the first handgun, single-shot pistols were basically muzzle-loading (requiring loading from the front of the barrel) cannons that could fit in a person’s hand. Though mostly considered a weapon of the past, single-shot pistols continue to be produced, though not in mass quantities. For the most part, revolvers and semi-automatic pistols have taken the place of the single-shot pistol.
  • Revolvers: The revolver is a handgun that features a revolving cylinder that holds ammunition. The chambers can generally hold between five and 10 bullets, allowing the shooter to fire off multiple shots in quick succession without reloading.
  • Semi-Automatic Pistols: Semi-automatic pistols emerged after the revolver. Semi-automatic pistols use the energy that is generated from one shot to reload the chamber for the next shot. After a shot, the pistol ejects the spent casing, allowing another bullet to enter the chamber. This allows shots to take place in immediate succession. You may hear semi-automatic pistols referred to as any of the following:

    • automatic pistols
    • auto-pistols
    • self-loaders
    • self-loading pistols.
  • Machine Pistols: A machine pistol is a handgun that can be fired with one hand and that is fully automatic. Often, machine pistols are simply referred to as fully automatic pistols. Unlike semi-automatic pistols, which fire one shot per pull of the trigger, machine pistols continue to load and fire as long as the trigger is being pulled. Machine pistols are rare, as their light weight, small size and extremely rapid rates of fire make them very difficult to control.