For those who nothing about guns, a gun is a gun. They would have no idea what a shotgun is. They might know what a rifle is. They probably know what a handgun is. But what about a pistol?

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DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A HANDGUN AND A PISTOL

A Gun

A gun is the generic name for all firearms, or portable weapons that fire projectiles meant to kill. Portable firearms began around 1000 AD in China with the invention of gunpowder. The Chinese used gunpowder to improve their projectiles that were forced by blowing through a bamboo tube that was meant to cause harm to others. The word gun has been in use to describe these projectiles since the middle of the 14th century.

A Handgun

The name says a lot of it. A handgun is a gun that you hold in your hand. However, so is a pistol. As opposed to rifles and shotguns that require two hands to operate, a handgun only requires one. Hence, handguns can be any type of gun held in one hand and operated as such: revolver, pistol, Derringer, or a pepperbox. First developed in the 15th century, no one knows who developed these weapons.

A Pistol

Technically, a pistol is a handgun but one that only has one chamber. Holster Builder notes that revolvers are a type of pistol that have more than one chamber and are placed on a cylinder that spins. However, there are now semi-automatic pistols that can fire many shots at a time. The chambers in pistols don’t move; in revolvers, they do move, or revolve.

THE SUMMATION

All firearms are guns, which includes any type of tool that fires a projectile. A handgun is a gun that fits in your hand, which includes both pistols and revolvers. A pistol has a stationary gun chamber; a revolver has a chamber that spins.

While it can be confusing to keep the terminology separate, it is intuitive once you get the hang of calling them different firearm types. Beyond these basics, there are different types in each broad category. For example, a revolver can be a single-action only, double-action, or double-action only. In pistols, there are semi-automatic handguns that are also in single-action, double-action, and double-action only models.

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