Differences Among Guns, Pistols, & Handguns

Gun vs Pistol vs Handgun

There has been significant discussion on talk shows and in parliament about the need for stricter gun control laws due to an increase in violence involving firearms such as guns and pistols. This raises the question of whether there is a difference between a gun, a pistol, and a handgun, or if they are simply different names for the same weapon. While there are many similarities between these terms, as they all launch projectiles and can be lethal, this article will examine the differences between these words.


Among all words used for weapons that launch projectiles, “gun” is the most common and generic term. The first of these weapons appeared in China around 1000 AD, and the technology quickly spread worldwide. The projectile launched by guns is typically solid and can cause serious injury due to its high speed and combustion. The high speed of the projectile (bullet) is a result of the pressure of a gas. The invention of gunpowder led to the use of bamboo being used to launch it. It was only later that iron was used to make guns. While early guns had a smooth barrel, the development of rifling or grooving on the inside led to more accurate and faster guns being created around the world.


A handgun is a gun that can be used by a person with one or both hands. It is different from long guns like rifles, which must be mounted on one’s shoulders to fire. Revolvers and pistols are the most popular types of handguns worldwide. One-handed operation is the most attractive feature of handguns, though many people use their second hand while shooting with a handgun.


A pistol is a type of handgun, though in many parts of the world, it is considered synonymous with a handgun. The most important feature of a pistol is its chamber, which is integral with the barrel. In contrast, a revolver has a separate barrel and chamber, and the chamber can be removed from the revolver to load. A pistol can be single shot or semi-automatic, firing multiple shots in succession.

Key Takeaways

  • Gun is a generic term for a firearm that launches projectiles.
  • Handgun refers to small firearms that can be used with one hand, including revolvers and pistols.
  • Pistol is a type of handgun with its chamber integrated with the barrel, and can be single shot or semi-automatic.
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


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