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A sandbox created specifically help in the Cool Guns TRS clean up efforts.

This page is to help flesh out the write-ups so material can be put into Usefulnotes pages.


Handguns are typically any firearm that can be held and operated in one hand. The first handguns were a form of weapon first seen in China and later in Medieval Europe. They literally were a form of handheld cannon that was little more than a metal tube with a touch hole that was lit with a burning slow match. The whole apparatus was mounted on a pole with the cannon on one end Technology would advance over time producing the universally recognizable shape that generally defines a hand gun. Handguns encompass a wide and diverse array of firearms with some even sharing general traits with other firearms.

As personal firearms, handguns have almost always been considered a secondary weapon in the military for most troops but generally were issued to officers and sometimes NCO’s as primary. Law Enforcement Agencies and private citizens are among the few to carry handguns as primary weapon.

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Hand guns can be broken down into several broad and sometimes overlapping categories.

  • (Insert Useful notes link for Single Shot)
  • (Insert Useful notes link for Revolver)
  • (Insert Useful notes link for Semi-Automatic Hand Guns)
  • (Insert Useful notes link for Machine Pistols)

The following are suggested write ups for the subpage links above.


‘’Single Shot Hand Guns.’’ Any handgun whose design only allows a single shot to be fired from any given individual barrel before reloading. Fire arms in this category can be breech loaded or muzzle loaded. Regardless of the number of barrels each barrel can only fire once before it needs to be manually reloaded and is not fed from a mechanism or device. This typically is where you will find the majority of muzzle loaded black powder pistols of all varieties, target pistols, and other similar fire arms. The majority of the earliest handguns will find their way into this category as well as various special purpose or niche handgun designs. In fictions these fire arms are often exotic and/or powerful weapons to make up for their limited ammo capacity. Other depictions tend to be period depictions of fire arms such as muzzle loader hand guns of all varieties.


Revolvers. One of the earliest designs allowing for a fire arm to fire more than one shot repeatedly in a reliable manner from a single barreled weapon. Revolvers are immediately recognizable for the cylinder containing the ammo that is rotated into alignment with the barrel before being fired. The very first revolver handguns were flintlock designs made in late Medieval Europe. An alternate design on early revolvers and some compact designs is for each individual chamber to have its own barrel creating a type of multi-barreled fire arm that fired from one barrel at time from a single such as the “Pepper Box Revolver”. Because fire arms of this design rotates the whole barrel cluster and fires from a single aligned to a new barrel and chamber they are considered a revolver.

Revolvers also come in both manual and semiautomatic designs with the manual variety being the most common. Semi-automatic revolvers are still considered a revolver instead of a semi-automatic handgun because their ammo is contained in a rotating cylinder instead of removable magazine or a fixed internal magazine. Other fire arms with a revolving cylinder containing their ammo are considered whatever variety of weapon class they come from. For example revolver rifle or shotgun would just be a type of rifle or shotgun.

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Revolvers are most well known in fiction for their roles in Western film and tv works but saw a modern resurgence as powerful handgun cartridges were primarily found in the hands of action heroes like “Dirty Harry” and dangerous movie villains. Characters packing Hand Cannon of some sort are very likely to be carrying a high power and/or large caliber revolver.


Semi-Automatic Handguns. The next evolution in handgun design that allowed the repeated firing of multiple rounds out of fixed or removable magazines. Fixed magazine examples were uncommon and typically fed from a stripper clip into a space fixed to the weapon. Removable magazines are the boxes containing Instead of mechanical forces exerted either by cocking a hammer or trigger pulls on a double action trigger, semi-automatic handguns either hardness recoil forces or propellant gasses to operate a handgun mechanism. The first Semi-automatic fire arms that were actually manufactured were made around 1891, neither of which achieved any commercial success nor had limited numbers made. The first commercially successful semi-automatic hand gun is the Hugo Borchardt-designed C-93. The first commercial semi-automatic handgun had an awkward design and unusual shape. The designs would rapidly develop further into more famous and well known forms known today such as the C-96 Mauser, the Colt 1911, and later modern designs such as the Beretta 92.

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Semi-automatic hand guns make wide appearances in many action oriented works and even in some western works as they are often emblematic of the ending of the age and symbolize “The Taming of the West” and the march of technology and progress. Modern flicks are far more likely to feature semi-automatic hand guns as the fire arms lend themselves well action sequences. Directors like John Woo make heavy use of the semi-automatic handguns that have inspired shoot out scenes in shows and movies due to the frenetic amounts of gunplay presented in the scenes.


Machine Pistols. In the quest for increased and compact portable personal fire power a number of handguns are either modified or purpose built to fire in select fire modes such as burst for fully automatic. Machine pistols share some developmental efforts and early military designations with sub-machineguns which can cause some confusion. Some ultra-compact sub machine guns are about the size of a handgun but may generally be considered to be a sub machine gun rather than a machine pistol. A generally accepted method to distinguish the two types of weapons is that Machine Pistols are either post production modified semi-automatic handgun designs such as select fire variant of the C-96 and the Luger P-08. Other machine pistols are built using semiautomatic handgun actions on a hand gun frame such as the Stetchkin APS, Beretta 93R, or the full auto variants of the Glock handguns like the Glock 18. Machine pistols are designed to have an optional stock to aid in control when using select fire.

SMG designs by comparison are closer to carbine and compact carbine designs but fire hand gun cartridges. They are built with purpose made stocks and the actions are located inside a purpose made receiver rather than using some sort of handgun action. Some fire arms are sometimes classified as both a machine pistol and/or a sub machine gun. Examples would be the Mac 10 and 11, the TMP, and Micro Uzi. Most of these fire arms usually considered a type of compact or ultra-compact submachine guns.

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