If you're a first time gun buyer and you want to purchase a handgun, understanding the characteristics of a pistol may help you decide if this is the gun for you.

Pistols Have Rifled Bores

Pistols are a type of handgun that fire single projectiles through a rifled bore each time the trigger is pulled.

Rifling refers to the spiraled grooves that are cut into the bore of the pistol's barrel along with the lands (ridges of metal that rise between the grooves).

Rifling causes the ammunition to spin once fired which, in turn, causes the bullet's trajectory to be more accurate. Rifling also enables the bullet to travel farther than if the bore were not rifled.

Removable Magazines

Pistols typically hold their ammo in a removable magazine.

revolver schematic

Pistols are Categorized by Caliber

Pistols are frequently categorized by caliber. Caliber refers to diameter of the pistol's barrel and consequently the diameter of the ammunition that can travel through it.

Common pistol calibers are:

  • 9mm
  • 40S&W
  • 45ACP
  • 380ACP


First Time Gun Buyer explains the basics about pistols

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