Thursday, November 28, 2019

Handgun Introduction

Handguns are roughly classified into 2 types: 1) Revolver & 2) Semi-Automatic.


In 1871, Colt introduced its first revolver models using rear-loaded metallic cartridges. These are a classic firearm that is still very popular today (and affordable), and led to many other similar designs. Understanding how to use this pistol will provide shooting skills that enable you to use many other revolver (and semi-automatic) models.

This old western revolver, is perhaps the best know pistol in history; the gun that won the west. On a very tight budget, this in a .22 caliper, is perhaps the Best Low Cost First Gun to start out, with prices starting under $150. Now a lot of people owning $500 plus guns will argue with this with very good reasoning, but ask someone who owns no other guns but this one, and most will tell you they are very pleased with it.

Revolvers have three types of (firing) "action" meaning you can shoot them one of three ways, depending on the gun design. There is 1) Single Action, 2) Double Action and 3) Double Action only.

1) Single Action means it can only be fired one way. That way is by cocking the hammer and then pulling the trigger.  This is ideal for quick draw shooting and not pulling the trigger and shooting your leg as you draw it out of your holster.

2) Double Action can be fired either by cocking and then pulling the trigger like a Single Action, OR by simply pulling the trigger (without cocking). This feature was added later to shoot faster by not having to cock the gun each time.

3) Double Action only is the same as Double Action except omitting the Single Action aspect. It can only be fired by pulling the trigger.  Why this design?  Some pistols are hammer-less, so there is no hammer to cock.  The snub nose .38 caliper revolver below is an example of a hammer-less pistol that is single action only. 

This design is ideal for pocket or purse, and the lack of a hammer allows it to be withdrawn with out hanging up during a time of urgent need.

We mentioned above that this was a .38 caliper.  What this means is that the bullet diameter is 0.38 inches in diameter compared to the .22 caliper above.  The bigger the bullet, the more it will kick (recoil), but also the more effective it is at knocking down an attacker before they can harm you.  One other factor to consider is the bullet weight which is measured in grains.  The .22 caliper at the top typically uses a 40 grain bullet, while the .38 special often has a 158 grain bullet. Broadly, there are two types of bullets:  1) Target Rounds (inexpensive) and 2) Personal Protection rounds which have more power, usually a hollow or special point and better quality materials.  There are a variety of different bullet points, with the rounded ball nose and hollow point being the main two.


Another classic pistol, the M1911, a.k.a. the Colt Government, is a magazine-fed, recoil-operated pistol chambered typically in a .45 ACP cartridge. It served as the standard-issue sidearm for the United States Armed Forces from 1911 to 1986 and is still very popular today.

Designed by John Browning, the M1911design heavily influenced nearly all modern semi-automatic pistols today. It is popular with civilian shooters in competitive events, and with law enforcement.
Understanding how to use this pistol will provide shooting skills that enable you to use many other semi-automatic models.

There are a variety of other pistols like the two shot Derringer (below), introduced in 1852 and named after Henry Deringer, who was a second generation colonial gun smith.  While we couldn't possibly discuss all the different types, it is safe to say that the top two probably cover 90% of the pistols in the US, with semi-automatics being the most popular.

Having taught many first time shooters from over 10 countries around the world, the main problem (after gun safety) I encounter is teaching them how to Aim the gun.

Aiming a pistol

The key is getting the front sight and the back sight aligned with the target. Notice on the pistol pictures above there is a sight or blade (high spot) on the end of the barrel. This is the front sight. 

Front Site

There are two blades on the back of the gun (rear sight), but with a slot in between them. 

Rear Site

Most people are right eye dominate and tend to close their left eye and aim with only their right one.  Start out this way, then try each eye, one at a time, and/or both at the same time and use what works best for you.

The idea is to fill the slots on the back site, perfectly with the blade on the front sight, and then have all that in line with the bulls eye.  Above you can see that the front sight (center dot) is high relative to the back sights; this will make the gun shoot high.

Above the sights are aligned with each other, but not in line with the center (cross hairs) of the target.

Here, the dots are aligned with each other and with the center of the target (cross hair intersection). 

At this point, put your finger on the trigger, take a deep breath, relax and and gently pull the trigger, by squeezing only your trigger finger and not tensing your whole hand. Squeezing your whole hand will pull the gun off target.

Two highly important recommendations:

 1) Take Shooting Lessons from a professional instructor
 2) Always rent and test shoot any gun before you buy one.  Mistakes are expensive.

Before handling a gun, first learn Gun Safety, then be safe and enjoy shooting!

For additional information, see the following links:

 Best Handgun Selection Criteria
Active Shooter  What should you do?

Top 10 List of Prepper info
Top Rated Prepper Handbook Posts of all time

Top Rated Prepper Website
Top 15 Prepper Movies or Shows

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