Encyclopedia > Pistol

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A pistol is a usually small, hand held weapon, meant for personal use (used by one man) in short-range action. In the 15th century the term was used for small knives and daggers which could be concealed in a persons clothing, named for the city of Pistoia, Italy, where many such were manufactured. By the 18th century the term came to be used exclusively to refer to small firearms.

Nowdays there are three main varieties of pistol; automatic, self-loading pistols and revolvers are by far the most common, followed distantly by single-shot hunting or target pistols. Revolvers feed ammunition via the revolution of a cartridge-charged cylinder, whilst automatic pistols use the recoil or gas energy of each round to cycle the action, extract the spent case, and load the next. Automatic pistols are more accurately semi automatic[?], in that each pull of the trigger fires a single bullet; however, there are a number of fully-automatic pistols such as the Glock 18[?] and later models of the Mauser C96. Single-shot pistols are loaded manually via the breech, either from a small magazine or by hand.

The term is derived from the French pistole (or pistolet), which, in turn, comes from the Czech pistal (firearm).

In the 1780s, Alessandro Volta studied around an experimental electric pistol ([1] (http://galileo.imss.firenze.it/multi/luoghi/oggetti/imss21.jpg)) in which an electric contact caused the explosion of a mixture of methane and hydrogen.

See also: weapon, gun, handgun, small arms, machine-pistol, blowback

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