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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I direct this question to Dean as you obviously appreciate proper usage but throw it out to anyone who can shed some light on the subject for me:

I consider a pistol to be a handgun, any handgun. Since the word pistol predates auto-loaders by a couple centuries, when and why did it become fashionable to distinguish between handguns as revolvers or pistols. This is especially prevalent among manufacturers (as is the use of "grips" for stocks).

Something tells me it may have been started by the U.S. Army but I'm just guessing on that one.

Anyone care to comment?

Ed
 

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I'll pass on this 'cause while I'll cop to being a language pedant, and will always distinguish between pistol and revolver with the ferocity with which I distinguish magazines from clips, it is my understanding that there was a time, back before I was born… hell!, even before Charlie was born… that pistol was used for any sort of handgun, including ones that were round in the middle and, of course, single shooters.

 
 

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Even today, the dictionary definition of pistol is "A firearm designed to be held and fired with one hand." As I recall, Sam Colt called his invention a "revolving pistol." I'd guess the distinction came about starting in the early 20th century out of common usage. "Revolver" was shortened from "revolving pistol" and "automatic pistol" got shortened to just "pistol."
 

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Heck, if you go back far enough, a "handgun" would be any gun that could be carried by hand, as opposed to cannons.

Autos and revos.....

And while we're at it, why is it that "double action" means only cocking by trigger pull? It seems to me to be more appropriate to use the term "double action" to apply to a firearm which has two modes of cocking: manual or by trigger.
It would then follow that a "single action" is a gun that can be cocked only one of those ways; "single action manual" (SAM) would be a manual cocker, and "single action trigger" (SAT) would be a trigger cocker.

All that does make me wonder what H&K would call some of their guns in the USP series, what with all the options available for cocking modes, etc. ("Panacea mode," handles everything and does it all?) :wink:
 

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And while we're at it, why is it that "double action" means only cocking by trigger pull?
Raj, I think What you describe here is known as "double action only".
Double action is a gun that cocks by trigger pull as well as by drawing the hammer back. I may be wrong but this seems like I remember it.
 

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In a "double action" handgun, the trigger performs two funtions: Cocking the hammer (or striker), and firing the gun. In a "single action" handgun, the trigger performs only one function: firing the gun.
 

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Joe, that's exactly what I'm talking about. A gun that can be fired both ways is a "DA/SA." "DA only" means the gun can ONLY be fired by a complete pull through of the trigger; there is no provision for the manual cocking of the hammer.

Rob nails it-the "action" refered to is the action(s) of the trigger. Still, it seems more logical to me to refer to the general action type as opposed to the action of a single part of the gun.

Under "my classification system," Glocks would be DAO autos; 1911s would be SA autos. Should we nitpick that to death? :)
 

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Richard Jefferies said:
Under "my classification system," Glocks would be DAO autos; 1911s would be SA autos. Should we nitpick that to death? :)
It already has, RAJ… years ago when all of a sudden manufacturers were taking note of Glock's alarming incursion into their once un-assailed marketshare.

My good friend, Chuck Karwan, as good a Technical Writer as there is in the gunzine game and with excellent formal training in small arms history (West Point), made a compelling case that "double action pistols" was a corruption of, and lateral shift from, "firearms with a double acting trigger."

Ever since then… and I wrote about it in my NGW Industry Intelligencer column at the time… I've acceded to his wisdom in the matter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Anybody else care to chime in...

So what about pistols vs. autoloaders? :roll:
 

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Re: Anybody else care to chime in...

SpecialEd said:
So what about pistols vs. autoloaders? :roll:
What I think is that you probably have better fish to fry, yes?

BTW: Karwan just tried to register here and something's wrong with the Forum software… he got a "Page not found" message and this is the third time I've had to log-in today!

Fer-nan-do!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Re: Anybody else care to chime in...

DeanSpeir said:
What I think is that you probably have better fish to fry, yes?
Sadly, no. I guess my bubble has been burst. :cry: I guess I will have to go to rec.guns for the definitive answer. I'm sure I'll get a consensus. :twisted:

Cheers,

Ed
 
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