A semi-automatic pistol is a type of handgun which uses a single chamber and barrel, with a mechanism powered by the previous shot to load a fresh cartridge into the chamber. One round is fired each time the trigger of a semi-automatic pistol is pulled.
A revolver, which uses multiple chambers and a single barrel, and a derringer, which uses multiple chambers and multiple barrels, also fire one round for trigger pull, but achieve this in different ways and as such are not classified as being semi-automatic.
Additional terms sometimes used as synonyms for a semi-automatic pistol are automatic pistol, self-loading pistol, autopistol, and autoloading pistol.
A semi-automatic pistol harnesses the energy of one shot to reload the chamber for the next, typically via recoil operation, blowback, or gas operation. After a round is fired, the spent casing is ejected and a new round from the magazine is loaded into the chamber, allowing another shot to be fired as soon as the trigger is again pulled.
Most types of semi-automatic pistols rely on a removable magazine to store ammunition before it is fired, usually inserted inside the grip.
Famous quotes containing the word pistol:
“The Germans are called brutal, the Spanish cruel, the Americans superficial, and so on; but we are perfide Albion, the island of hypocrites, the people who have built up an Empire with a Bible in one hand, a pistol in the other, and financial concessions in both pockets. Is the charge true? I think it is.”
—E.M. (Edward Morgan)