Handguns are firearms that can be operated and carried with only one hand. A unique weapon, the handgun is among the most popular form of firearm in the United States-of the 193 million guns in the United States nearly 38% of them are handguns. As a result of its prevalence, the handgun is the most violent firearm in circulation-75% or 7,575 of the 10,100 murders in the United States were committed via handguns in 2005.
There are currently five different classifications of handguns, all possessing unique characteristics in terms of rate of fire, loading technique, and caliber used. The five different types of handguns are:Single shot pistols, multi-barreled pistols, revolvers, semi-automatic pistols, and automatic pistols. Although many handgun experts believe there is a distinction between pistols and handguns, for this purpose we will be using the terms synonymously.
Single shot pistols
The earliest form of handguns, single shot pistols, are regarded as the most basic form of the weapon. In essence, the single shot pistol is like a miniature hand-held cannon, discharging one explosive round of ammunition followed by a manual reload. These handguns were generally labeled as "pocket pistols" because of their ability to conceal. Although archaic, single shot pistols are still available today for big game hunting purposes. Popular models include the Derringer, and the Thompson/Center Encore.
Specs for the Thomson/Center Encore hunting pistol.
Break action chamber that accommodates a wide variety of cartridges.
Calibers range from .22 rim fire to .45/70.
Barrel lengths are generally 10 to 14 inches but some bigger models come with a 16 1/4 inch barrel.
All T/C single shot pistols come with either iron sights or optical sights for more advanced hunters.
Were produced shortly after the creation of the single shot pistol. Multi-barreled handguns were created to enable the operator to fire more than one shot without having to reload. Famous examples of multi-barreled handguns include:pepper box guns, the .577 Snider, and the .476 Enfield.
Revolvers were created in the 19th century and accomplished to the task of multi-loading a handgun through a rotating cartridge-filled cylinder. These cylindrical chambers contained anywhere from five to eight rounds depending on the make. The cylinder would rotate each time the trigger is depressed, filling the chamber with a fresh round. When compared to other types of handguns revolvers are more accurate and possess powerful forms of ammunition.
Revolvers come in two different forms:single action and double action. The single action revolver is the western style, and requires a thumb cock before it can be fired. The double action is a typical police style weapon and can be fired in succession with a harder trigger depression. This form of handgun has a long and rich history in wars, crime fighting, and the wild west. Popular makes of revolvers include the .44 magnum, .45 Long Cult, and the .357 Magnum.
Specs for the .44 magnum
The .44 Magnum fires a large, heavy bullet at a high velocity
Bullets are approximately 11 mm in diameter
The accuracy of the gun is very good however it can only shoot about 100 yards before dropping off
Holds 6 high powered rounds
Semi-automatic hand guns
The next innovation following the revolver, a semi-automatic pistol uses the energy of a discharge to automatically reload the chamber for a subsequent shot. Semi-automatic handguns are either gas powered, or used recoil energy to reload the next shot. These pistols are used by infantrymen in the United States military as a sidearm. Popular models include the Smith and Wesson .45 ACP, the TEC-9, and the Desert Eagle.
Specs for the 92 Beretta
First produced in 1975
Weighs 34 ounces
8.5 inches in length
4.9 inch barrel length
Feeds through a detachable magazine which can contain between 10-20 rounds
Uses 9X21 mm ammunition
Automatic hand guns
Automatic hand guns or machine pistols are capable of rapid and consecutive fire with one simple depression of the trigger. Usually machine pistols have selective fire, which alternate between fully automatic shots and 3 round burst per trigger squeeze. These forms of handguns are rare, and difficult to control because of their lightweight and ability to rapidly fire. A popular example of the machine pistol is the Beretta 93R.
Specs for the Beretta 93R
Designed in the late 1970s, the Beretta R is meant for military or police use
This form of automatic gun fires 3 bursts per trigger squeeze making it more accurate
Can fire 1100 rounds per minute