type of handgun where the firing chamber is integral to the barrel
(Redirected from Semi-automatic pistol)

A pistol is a handgun. The word may be used broadly to mean any handgun, or narrowly to mean only a magazine pistol, as distinct from a revolver.

Main parts of a pistol

In a magazine pistol, the cartridges are in a magazine, which is a metal or plastic box. The magazine is usually inside the handle of the pistol. When the pistol is fired, the empty cartridge pops out, and the next one comes up into position. The magazine is spring-loaded so it pushes the next bullet into place as the empty cartridge is ejected. For that reason pistols are sometimes called "semi-automatic". When the magazine runs out of cartridges, it can be reloaded by inserting more cartridges.

The term has long been variously used. For example, in the American Old West revolvers were used but were then (and even today by some) called pistols.[1] The word "pistol" entered English before 1600, from the French. At that time it usually meant a single-shot handgun.

Gun safety

Hearing protectors. This pair also has a microphone for hearing normal sounds

One of the most important rules of gun safety is to keep guns out of the hands of children.[2] Guns should be locked up and kept away from children and others who do not appreciate how deadly they are.[2] Pistols like all guns should always be handled carefully. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.[3] A shooter should keep their fingers away from the trigger until the moment they intend to shoot.[3] Always respect guns as a tool that can cause harm if used incorrectly.[3] Always assume a gun is loaded until you are certain it is not.

A bullet is not the only part of a gun that can cause injury. Hearing protection will protect the eardrums of the shooter and those nearby.[3] These can be inexpensive foam earplugs or more costly hearing protectors that have a Noise Reduction Rating or NRR.[3] The higher the NRR number the better.[3] Eye protection should be worn at all times while shooting or observing other shooters. Their impact-resistant lenses protect against bullet fragments, stray bits of gunpowder, and other debris.[3]

Pros and cons of pistols

A Heckler & Koch USP semi-automatic pistol

The advantage of pistols over revolvers lies in the somewhat faster reloading of magazines that carry more bullets that a revolver's five or six rounds. This is why most police and military organizations use pistols. Also, pistols are often thinner and can be worn concealed better than revolvers.[4]

Pistols have a few disadvantages when compared to revolvers. They are more complicated and have more moving parts.[5] A pistol may use heavier springs that younger and elderly shooters may find difficult to use.[6]

Modern pistols usually only fire one shot every time you pull the trigger. Some special pistols, called machine pistols, can fire more than one shot at a time. Some famous pistols are the Colt M1911 and the Beretta 92.

Pistols were not often used in the western United States during the 1800s. They used revolvers. The first successful pistol being used then was the Borchardt C-93. It was designed in 1893, and became available in 1894.



  1. Kyle Wintersteen (22 July 2014). "9 Most Misused Gun Terms". Guns&Ammo/Outdoor Sportsman Group. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Editorial Board (19 October 2015). "Keeping guns out of children's hands". The Washington Post. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Grant Cunningham, Gun Digest Shooter's Guide to Handguns (Cincinnati: F+W Media, 2012), p. 6
  4. 14 June 2011 (June 14, 2011). "Difference Between Revolver and Pistol". Difference Between. Retrieved 29 December 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  5. Grant Cunningham, Gun Digest (18 September 2013). "5 Advantages of the Revolver". The Daily Caller. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  6. "Revolver vs. Auto". Personal Defense World/Harris Publications, Inc. 23 October 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2015.

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