A group of the different kinds of handguns that you can buy

What Are the Different Types of Handguns?


A handgun (pistol) is any firearm that can be safely and successfully fired while being held in one hand. You can also use both hands for good stance, extra stability, and precision but it is more common to use just one. In the United States, the handgun is one of the most used concealed carry firearms. Due to its extensive use, it is regarded as the most hazardous firearm in circulation. In this article, we'll study the many types of handguns and their parts.


Parts of a Handgun


An image showing 8 different kinds of guns that you can buy

Credit: Joshuashearn


There are three basic parts to modern handguns:



The parts that discharge the cartridges are contained in the action, often known as the trigger group. Modern handguns use several different sorts of actions.



This is the handgun's outside metal shell that also functions as the grip or handle. It contains or is connected to all other components.



The bullet passes through the barrel, which is a cylindrical tube. A handgun's barrel length is substantially shorter than a shotgun or rifle barrel length. This is because they are meant to be shot with either one or two hands rather than resting it against the shooter's shoulder.


Types of Handguns


different types of handguns


Every gunman should be able to tell what kind of handgun they're working with. Knowing what type of handgun you have can help you understand how it works. As a result, you can conduct simple tasks like reloading. So, what are the different types of handguns?

Handguns are currently classified into five categories, each with its own features in terms of firing rate, loading mechanism, and caliber. The following are the various kinds of handguns:


1) Single Shot Pistols


A single shot pistol capable of firing one round at a time

Credit: Sort It! Apps for Collectors


These weapons are pretty self-explanatory. This type of gun is only capable of firing one round at a time. The gun then has to be manually reloaded to fire once more. They are not intended for long-term use. While they are good at producing a single round, they are slow to reload.

Because the single-shot pistol is the earliest type of handgun, it is also the most basic. Single-shot pistols were utilized in the 14th century, and they looked like little cannons designed to fit in one's hand. Of course, the ignition systems that these handguns used were constantly updated throughout time, and they got even more powerful. Single-shot pistols may not be functional, but they are always fashionable. They are now commonly used for target shooting, hunting, and exhibition games.


Popular examples include:

  • Derringer
  • Thompson/Center Encore


2) Multi-Barreled Pistols


A multi barreled pistol that can ischarge a large number of shots without having to reload

Credit: Graema Davis


These were made shortly after the single-shot handgun was invented. They are a step higher than single-shot pistols. They were designed to allow the operator to discharge a large number of shots without having to reload.

They are a type of firearm with several barrels, which are used to increase the firing rate and prevent barrel erosion or overheating. They're made up of many single-shot barrels that are joined together to fire a large number of shots at once or in rapid succession.


Popular examples include:

  • Pepper Box Guns
  • .577 Snider
  • .476 Enfield


3) Revolvers


A revolver thats chamber can hold 5 to 8 rounds of ammunition

Credit: Smith and Wesson


Revolvers are immediately identifiable and are frequently referred to as "wheel guns." They were invented in the 19th century and were designed to multi-load a pistol by rotating a cartridge-filled cylinder. Depending on the manufacturer, these cylindrical chambers may hold anywhere from 5 to 8 rounds. The cylinder rotates every time the trigger is pressed, filling the barrel with a new round of bullets.

Revolvers, in comparison to other types of pistols, are more accurate and have more powerful ammo. These weapons might be extremely small or even ridiculously large.


Popular examples include

  • .44 Magnum
  • .45 Long Cult
  • .357 Magnum


There are two types: single-action and double-action revolvers:


Single-Action Revolver

This is the old-fashioned cowboy gun trigger. The hammer must be cocked to the back first before the gun can discharge. While it is an older design, it is still used in a number of hunting handguns.


Double-Action Revolver

This is a more conventional and modern system. The trigger both pulls and releases the hammer in this motion. This is where a great lot of contemporary revolvers fall. These guns are frequently carried as main defensive handguns or as backup weapons. They are simple to use and are usually small in size. Many people assume they are less complicated on the inside. However, the average revolver has twice as many parts as the average automatic.


4) Semi-Automatic Handguns


A seni automatic pistol that can be either gas powered or recoil energy

Credit: Judson Guns


Semi-automatic pistols were the next innovation after the revolver. These guns harness the power of a discharge to mechanically reload the chamber for a second shot. Semi-auto pistols are either gas-powered or reloaded with recoil energy.

Infantry soldiers in the United States military and law enforcement officers frequently carry a semi-automatic pistol as a sidearm. These guns are magazine-fed and allow the user to carry a large number of bullets as well as additional magazines.


Popular examples include:

  • The Smith and Wesson
  • .45 ACP
  • TEC-9
  • Desert Eagle


5) Automatic Handguns


An automatic handgun on some wooden slats

Credit: Randy Wallace


Last but not least, there are automatic handguns. As the name suggests, automatic handguns or machine pistols can fire many times in quick succession with a single press of the trigger. Machine pistols usually have selective firing, which alternates between fully automatic and three-round bursts for each trigger pull. Because of their small weight and ability to shoot quickly, these kinds of handguns are uncommon and difficult to handle. While they aren't particularly useful in self-defense, they are a lot of fun to shoot. 


Popular examples include:

  • Glock 18 
  • Beretta 93R


The Best Handgun Accessories Every Shooter Needs to Have


Having the right accessories can enhance the performance and safety of using a handgun, whether you're at a shooting range or carrying for self-defense. Below are some common handgun accessories that every gun owner needs to have:


1) Holsters


woman putting gun in holster
Credit: Envato Elements/ svitlanah


A holster is a critical accessory for safely carrying and storing a handgun. It provides a secure and easily accessible way to carry your firearm. There are various types of holsters, each designed for specific carry methods and preferences:


  • Inside-the-Waistband (IWB) Holsters: These holsters are worn inside the waistband of your pants, offering concealed carry with minimal printing. A good option to consider is the Springfield Hellcat Holster. This product comes with an undercut trigger guard and a sweat-resistant shield.
  • Outside-the-Waistband (OWB) Holsters: OWB holsters are worn outside the waistband and are more comfortable for larger handguns. An excellent option to consider is the Versacarry Guardian Series Holster.
  • Shoulder Holsters: These holsters are worn across the shoulder and under the opposite arm, allowing for concealed carry with easy access.
  • Ankle Holsters: Ankle holsters are worn around the ankle, suitable for backup or deep concealment purposes. A great option to consider is the Fobus Ankle Holster.
  • Pocket Holsters: These are designed to carry smaller handguns in your pocket, providing an inconspicuous way to carry. A good option to consider is the DeSantis Nemesis Pocket Holster.


2) Handgun Cable Locks

gun locked with cable lock
Credit: Envato Elements/ joebelanger


Cable locks are important for securing firearms and preventing unauthorized access, especially in homes with children or when transporting guns. These locks typically consist of a cable that runs through the gun's action, rendering it inoperable until the lock is removed. For a reliable and secure cable gun lock solution, the RioRand Trigger Lock is an excellent choice. With its durable steel lock body and integrated combination lock, this product ensures continuous protection for your firearm.


3) Eye and Hearing Protection


man with hearing and eye protection aiming gun
Credit: Envato Elements/ LightFiledStudios


Protecting your eyes and ears while shooting is crucial to prevent damage from loud gunshots and debris. These accessories include:

  • Shooting Glasses: Designed to protect the eyes from debris, shell casings, and other hazards on the shooting range. A good option to consider is the HUNTERSKY safety glasses.
  • Earmuffs: Provide noise reduction and protect your hearing from loud gunshots. A great option to consider is the Walker's Razor Slim Earmuffs.
  • Earplugs: Similar to earmuffs, earplugs offer noise reduction but in a smaller form factor. An excellent option to consider is the Decibullz Custom Molded Earplugs.

4) Handgun Grips


gun with grips
Credit: iStock


The grip of a handgun significantly affects how well you can control and shoot the firearm. Some handguns come with interchangeable grips to accommodate different hand sizes and preferences. Aftermarket grip options are also available, including ergonomic designs, textured surfaces for improved grip, and customization options to enhance comfort and accuracy. If you’re looking for textured surfaces for improved grip, the Red Cat Pistol & Gun Grip Tape is a great option. this product offers a grip material volume that surpasses that of other brands, ensuring superior control and handling.


Safety Tips When Using a Gun


All weapons today have internal systems to prevent accidental shooting. The most prevalent category is a safety. It's a simple lever that, when flipped, prevents the firing pin from striking a cartridge primer.

Let's speak about the four simple guidelines that everyone who handles weapons knows—or should know—while we're on the subject of responsible gun ownership.


1) Treat All Guns As if They Are Armed at All Times


A lady holding a gun that may or may not be loaded

Credit: NRA Women


People often overlook the fact that a firearm is armed or loaded. It is possible that the weapon was loaded without their awareness. If someone hands you a firearm, you should always assume it is loaded. Even if you simply saw another person do it, double-checking it to see if there is a round in the chamber is an excellent exercise.


2) Always Keep the Barrel Aimed in a Safe Direction


A lady helping another lady at the shooting range on how to hold a gun

Credit: Guns and Ammo


Always point weapons away from people regardless of whether the weapon is armed or empty. Although modern engineering almost guarantees that today's guns will not fire due to a design error, this safety guideline is intended to reduce the risk of catastrophe in the event of neglect. If the pistol fires unexpectedly, this ensures that the bullet does not accidentally hit anyone.


3) Keep Your Finger Away From the Trigger Unless You Intend To Shoot


A man holding a gun but his finger is off the trigger for safety reasons

Credit: American Gun Association


This may seem obvious, but many people who are new to firearms discover that their fingers are irresistibly pulled to the trigger. To those unfamiliar with firearms, it seems like a good place to rest your index finger. When the person holding the weapon is frightened or shoved, his or her finger may involuntarily press the trigger, causing the weapon to fire before it can be properly aimed.


4) Understand Your Environment


Two men at the shooting range in a safe environment with their guns

Credit: Clackamas County


Tunnel vision is something that everyone has experienced. This can happen when you're entirely concentrated on shooting a target. This makes identifying any possible dangers between you and your target difficult until it's too late. Only shoot in places where you know that the path that the bullet will be safe.



This introduction to the different types of handguns is intended to offer you a basic understanding of their terminology and technology. Choosing the right pistol is a very personal decision that is often influenced by external variables and the all-important "feel" of the weapon in your hands.

Guns must be used with great care since they can be lethal. You will become a more responsible gun owner as you learn more about them, their workings, and the guidelines for safe use. If you are looking to practice your accuracy, make sure to check out EasyShot's shooting targets.


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