Pistol Shooting

What is a pistol? A pistol is a firearm designed to be fired with one hand. There are many types of pistols but they basically fall into one of three categories.

Single Shot

Single shot pistols are usually breech-loading style guns that load from the rear and swing open on a hinge. They are usually single barrel or double barrel. Most of these types of pistols are small derringers, i.e. the o/u double barrel derringer, but there are some single barrel derringers.

Some single shot pistols are target pistols or specially designed pistols for hunting. The Thompson Contender is an example of this type of single shot pistol. They are good for both hunting and competition target shooting. The Thompson can also have optical sights to aid in shooting and help to improve accuracy.


As the name implies a revolver has a cylinder that holds the bullets and revolves when fired to put an unfired bullet in line with the barrel. The above picture shows a double action revolver with adjustable rear sights. You can either cock the hammer manually to fire or just pull the trigger fire.

Most revolvers have six (6) shots but there are some with 5, 7, and even 8 or 9 shots.

Some revolvers such as these in the picture above have to have the hammer cocked before you can shoot them. This is commonly referred to as single action (SAA) or single action army. The revolvers in the above picture are also known as cowboy guns.

Most revolvers are relatively simple to shoot and easy to clean. Most revolvers can have optics added to aid in shooting but not all of them can be fitted with optics.


What is generally referred to as a pistol is a semi-automatic handgun. The trigger must be pulled each time before the gun will fire. Automatic refers to the fact that after the gun is fired it will eject the spent cartridge, and cock the gun readying it for firing the next shot.

The above picture is of a German made Walther P-38 9 m.m. pistol used by Germany during W.W. II. Most automatics load using a magazine that inserts into the bottom of the grip. The magazines can hold anywhere from 5 to 20 bullets depending on the type of gun and the type of magazine.

Many shooters today carry or shoot automatic pistols because of the number of bullets they can hold and the ability to reload a new magazine quickly. They also allow the shooter to carry more rounds for reloading since they are carried in the magazine. This keeps the bullets stored in a safe place, without the worry of loose bullets in your pocket.

Automatic pistols can either be striker fired or have a hammer that strikes the firing pin. Striker fired pistols don’t have a hammer that can snag on clothing or get debris between the hammer and the frame stopping the gun from firing. They also can be either single action or double action type of firearms only after firing they will be automatically cocked and ready to fire again.

What’s your choice of handgun?

So what is your choice of handgun to shoot, single shot, revolver, or semi-automatic. I personally like to shoot them all but my preference is the revolver. My reason for this is that I personally feel that a revolver is the safest handgun to carry and to shoot. While I do carry a semi-automatic as my primary concealed carry gun I sometimes carry a revolver. On occasion, I carry both. What you carry and what you shoot is your choice but it should be a gun that you shoot well and enjoy shooting. As always stay safe and enjoy!

Johnny Crumpton

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