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Handguns are typically defined as semi-automatic pistols or revolvers. Both can be operated with one hand, as opposed to long guns, which usually require both hands for most shooters.
Sometimes referred to as autoloading or self-loading, a semi-automatic pistol is designed to automatically fire, eject the casing, and re-chamber a single cartridge with each squeeze of the trigger. This process will automatically repeat each time the trigger is pulled, until all of the bullets are used.
With semi-automatics, bullets are usually held in a magazine. The capacity ranges significantly from just a few to 30 shots or more.
Sometimes called a wheel gun, a revolver uses a wheel, or cylinder, to hold bullets. When a round is fired, the wheel revolves, placing the next round in line with the barrel and into the "ready" position. This process repeats until all of the shots are fired.
The operation of a wheel gun is single-action or double-action. Single-action means the hammer must be pulled back after each shot to align the cylinder and put the next round in its proper place, while double-action operation means the cylinder is automatically aligned when the trigger is pulled.
The capacity of a revolver is limited to the number of chambers in the cylinder. The most common number of chambers is six, lending the nickname "six-shooter."
Another type of handgun is the derringer, which is small and pocket-sized. The design of the derringer features one to four short barrels, and each barrel holds a single round. Some models also allow for storage of extra rounds in the grip. The capacity of a derringer is directly proportional to the number of barrels it has.
Handgun calibers range from the smaller 22, perfect for plinking and varmint hunting, to the 500 S&W Mag, which can take down big game.
The top-selling semi-automatics include handguns from SIG SAUER and Smith & Wesson, as well as Kel-Tec, CZ, Glock, and Ruger.
SIG SAUER's most popular pistols include the P365, P320, and P938. The P365 is made with a polymer frame and chambered in 9mm. Available in full-size and compact, the P320 utilizes a modular design for easy changing of the caliber and grip size. The P938 is based on the 1911 and chambered in 9mm.
Smith & Wesson's best sellers include the M&P9, M&P9 Shield, and M&P Bodyguard 380. All three models were designed for personal protection, lightweight, and made with a polymer frame. The M&P9 Shield is an ultra-compact version of the M&P9, both of which are chambered in 9mm, while the M&P Bodyguard 380 is chambered in 380 ACP.
Other best-selling pistols include the Kel-Tec PMR-30, GLOCK G43, CZ 75, and the Ruger LCP.
Some of the most popular revolvers are made by Ruger, Smith & Wesson, and Taurus.
Ruger's best-selling handgun models include the LCR, GP100, SP101, and Blackhawk. The lightweight LCR is ideal for concealed carry, while the GP100 and SP101 are also suitable for outdoor carry. The Blackhawk is an old west-styled, single-action wheel gun that has been in production for more than 60 years.
Top-selling Smith & Wesson models include the 642, a compact and lightweight J-frame revolver, and the 629, which is chambered in 44 Magnum. When it was first made in 1955, the Model 629 was the most powerful handgun in production at the time.
The most popular Taurus revolvers are the Judge, which handles 45 Long Colt and 410 bore shotgun shells, and the Model 85, a sub-compact five-shooter chambered in 38 Special +P.
The price of a handgun varies, and depends on numerous factors including manufacturer, size, and features. They can typically be found new for around $200 and can go up in price to $1,000 or more.
Guns.com sells both new and used pistols and revolvers from dozens of manufacturers. We offer something in every price range and strive to make buying a gun online easy and hassle-free.