New to Handguns?

Important Rules!

  • Always assume all guns are loaded!
  • Always keep a gun pointed in a safe direction!
  • Always keep your finger off the trigger AND out of the trigger guard until you wish to fire!
  • A trigger is not a finger rest!
  • In a single-action revolver, the hammer is manually cocked, usually with the thumb of the firing or supporting hand. This action advances the cylinder to the next round and locks the cylinder in place with the chamber aligned with the barrel. The trigger, when pulled, releases the hammer, which fires the round in the chamber. To fire again, the hammer must be manually cocked again. This is called "single-action" because the trigger only performs a single action, releasing the hammer.
  • It is the gun that won the west (cowboy era 1860-1880).

DOUBLE ACTION REVOLVER (1894/Smith and Wesson)

Smith and Wesson has made handguns since 1853 but the swing out cylinders common on all modern double action revolvers began around 1894.

Most double-action revolvers may be fired in two ways.

  • The first way is single-action, that is, exactly the same as a single-action revolver; the hammer is cocked with the thumb, which rotates the cylinder, and when the trigger is pulled, the hammer is released.
  • The second way is double action, that is, from a hammer-down position. In this case, the trigger first cocks the hammer and revolves the cylinder, and then trips the hammer firing the round in the chamber.

Most Police forces used the mid-size frame revolver up though the late 1980’s.


Magazine fed auto pistol. In order to fire a round must be chambered first and each and every trigger pull is the same. The safety must be manually applied and released. There is a grip safety as well. This gun can be safely carried cocked with the safety in the ON position.

This is the gun used by the US military in WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam, and is again beginning to be used increasingly again in today’s military operations.


This design allows for the first round to be fired double action to help compensate for stress and the following rounds can be fired single action for enhanced accuracy. Most have a de-cocking devise to lower the hammer when firing of the pistol is stopped. This type of firearm with a de-cocking mechanism can be safely carried uncocked.

Many pistols of this design are still used by police agencies and is the type used currently by U.S. Military.


Some modern semi-automatic pistols are Double Action Only, that is, once a round is chambered, each trigger pull will cock the hammer, striker, or firing pin, and will additionally release the same to fire a cartridge in one continuous motion. Each pull of the trigger on a DAO semi-automatic pistol requires the same amount of pressure. Double-action-only handguns often have few, if any, manual safety devices because they only are cocked during firing. This benefit may appeal to some police departments because no external levers exist that can snag on the clothing of officers who carry the handgun concealed.