Handguns 101

Pistols and handguns

Owning and operating a handgun is awesome. They are some of the best-utilized firearm for defense and safety. Whether you are a seasoned firearm owner or someone who is just beginning to look into owning a firearm, there is always something that anyone can learn about operating a handgun. So here is a little crash course in handguns that you may find useful.

First, let’s take a look at some of the types of handguns that are currently on the market. Some of the most common types are:

  • Pistols

These have always been a very common type of handgun. The single-shot pistol dates back to the mid-1300s. Evolutions and modifications over the centuries have included double-barreled pistols, flare guns, and a wide variety of other handheld firearm.

  • Semi-automatics

This is also referred to as a closed-bolt firing system. These handguns can be fired in rapid succession – generally as fast as the operator can pull the trigger.

  • Revolvers

This is another type of pistol that is classified by its revolving chambers. This chamber enables ammunition to be cycled for rapid fire succession.

  • Derringers

These small pistols are designed with a large bore and are often utilized and most effective at close range. These are not ranged firearms, and accuracy greatly diminishes with any range.

Each of these firearms is made up of roughly the same anatomy. There are some universal components that comprise nearly every handgun. Some of these include:

  • Muzzle – this is the end of the barrel from which ammo exits the firearm.
  • Barrel – this is the tube through which gas expands to propel the ammo from the firearm at high velocity.
  • Frame – this is the part of the handgun that offers housing for the hammer and firing mechanism.
  • Slide – this is found on semi-automatic handguns and moves during the operating cycle where the firing pin/striker is typically stored. It serves as the bolt of the firearm.
  • Trigger Guard – this is the loop that surrounds the trigger protecting it from accidental discharge. It also serves as a resting place for a finger that should not be placed on the trigger.
  • Trigger – the trigger is the starting mechanism that initiates the firing sequence of a handgun.
  • Magazine (Chamber) – this is where ammunition is stored in the handgun.
  • Grip – this is the point where the hand holds the firearm in a vertical orientation. For handguns, this is also the hand that would operate the firearm.
  • Hammer – this is the place where the initial energy comes from to provide a source of energy to fire ammunition.
  • Safety – this is the device that is intended to help prevent the accidental discharge or firing of your handgun.

While the components are similar, the uses for a handgun differ. Some of the common uses include self-defense, hunting, target shooting, or competition shooting. Determining how you intend to use your handgun will help determine what type will be right for your purposes. It will also dictate what accessories you might need for your firearm. Handgun scopes can help target or competition shooters, while larger handgun magazines could benefit people looking to fire off more rounds in succession. That being said, there are many different types of people who use handguns. Law enforcement and service personnel are typically issued a handgun. Many people who cannot aim or handle the kick or recoil of high caliber handguns or rifles utilize pistols for self-defense. Many hunters carry a pistol with them in case a dangerous animal comes too close. Handguns really are a universal firearm that nearly everyone can find a need or a use for.

For anyone new to owning or operating a handgun, proper cleaning of your firearm is a must to maintain optimal performance. After rigorous exercises shooting on the range or out in the field, it is a good idea to clean and detail your firearm to keep all of its components functioning properly. As with all firearms, handguns have four important safety rules:

  • Treat every handgun as if it is loaded
  • Always point your handgun in a safe direction
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire
  • Do not pull the trigger unless you know your target and what is beyond your target

Enjoy continuing to learn about your firearm, be safe, and have fun shooting.

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