Handgun, small firearm designed for one-hand use. According to one theory, pistols owe their title to the metropolis of Pistoia, Italy. Dating from the sixteenth century, the earliest realistic pistols commonly have been single-shot muzzle-loading hands. Using wheel-lock or a number flintlock ignition systems, and they advanced concurrently with shoulder weapons such as the harquebus, musket, and fowling gun.
The adoption of percussion ignition in the 1830s allowed more-complex handgun, relatively the pepperbox and the revolver. In turn, the creation of the self-contained metal cartridge in the 1860s allowed the comfort of breech loading. This eventually authorized the improvement of self-loading, or semiautomatic, pistols such as these made via Colt, Mauser and Beretta.

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