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PostSubject: Pistols and Revolvers   27th June 2010, 9:56 am

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Firstly let me state what may seem the obvious to some, but to others is a widley used misconception of the definitions:

A Small Arm is a firearm that is hand-held: by either one or both hands while firing, This includes but is not limited to Rifles, Pistols and Revolvers either single shot or Automatic.
A Hand-gun is a firearm that is operated using only one hand which limits it to being either a Pistol or Revolver in either Single or Automatic mode.

In days of old the hand held flintlock and later the percussion cap was called a pistol because it had one barrel and was a single shot mussel loaded weapon. As times have progressed and equipment has increased in technological leaps and bounds some people still refer to all hand guns as a Pistol. Due to the fact the revolver has multiple barrels/chambers to hold a cartridge (Bullet) it disqualifies its self from the true definition of being a pistol.

French Navy, model 1849, using a Percussion cap


The modern accepted differences between a Pistol and a Revolver are thus:

A Pistol has a fixed breach and a magazine to hold and load the weapon automatically after each round is fired the empty cartridge case is ejected and the next round is loaded into the breach with the aid of a spring inside the magazine. The amount of rounds a magazine will hold is dependent on the make and design of the weapon.


A Pistol
IJ70 Russian Makarov

Where as the Revolver is broken open to load a chamber that is rotated automatically with each firing enabling the next round in the chamber to be aligned with the barrel however unlike the pistol the spent cartridge case must be physically recovered by the shooter. The typical revolver holds 6 rounds of ammunition hence the cowboy term 6 shooter.

A Revolver
A Webley Mark I Revolver, circa 1887
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