Gun Laws in Georgia
September 25, 2017
Long Guns
October 23, 2017

Handguns

The smallest of all firearms is the handgun. There are two common types of handguns: revolvers and semi-automatic pistols. Revolvers have a number of firing chambers or “charge holes” in a revolving cylinder; each chamber in the cylinder is loaded with a single cartridge or charge. Semi-automatic pistols have a single fixed firing chamber machined into the rear of the barrel, and a magazine so they can be used to fire more than one round. Each press of the trigger fires a cartridge, using the energy of the cartridge to activate the mechanism so that the next cartridge may be fired immediately. This is opposed to “double-action” revolvers which accomplish the same end using a mechanical action linked to the trigger pull.

Prior to the 19th century, virtually all handguns were single-shot muzzleloaders.[citation needed] With the invention of the revolver in 1818, handguns capable of holding multiple rounds became popular. Certain designs of auto-loading pistol appeared beginning in the 1870s and had largely supplanted revolvers in military applications by the end of World War I. By the end of the 20th century, most handguns carried regularly by military, police and civilians were semi-automatic, although revolvers were still widely used. Generally speaking, military and police forces use semi-automatic pistols due to their high magazine capacities and ability to rapidly reload by simply removing the empty magazine and inserting a loaded one. Revolvers are very common among handgun hunters because revolver cartridges are usually more powerful than similar caliber semi-automatic pistol cartridges (which are designed for self-defense) and the strength, simplicity and durability of the revolver design is well-suited to outdoor use. Revolvers, especially in .22 LR and 38 Special/357 Magnum, are also common concealed weapons in jurisdictions allowing this practice because their simple mechanics make them smaller than many autoloaders while remaining reliable. Both designs are common among civilian gun owners, depending on the owner’s intention (self-defense, hunting, target shooting, competitions, collecting, etc.).

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