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A semi-automatic pistol is a type of handgun that can be fired in semi-automatic mode, firing one cartridge for each pull of the trigger. Whereas other types of handguns accomplish this function by using multiple chambers and a single barrel (revolvers) or multiple chambers and barrels (for example, some derringers), semi-automatic pistols use a single chamber and a single barrel, which remain in a fixed linear orientation relative to each other while being fired and reloaded semi-automatically. Some terms that have been, or still are, used as synonyms for semi-automatic pistol are automatic pistol, self-loading pistol, self-loader, autopistol, and autoloader.

A semi-automatic pistol uses the energy of one shot to reload the chamber for the next. Typically recoil energy from a fired round is harnessed mechanically via either recoil operation or blowback operation; however, larger calibers may also be gas operated (for example, the Desert Eagle). After a round is fired, the pistol will cycle, ejecting the spent casing and chambering a new round from the magazine, allowing another shot to take place immediately.

Most types of semi-automatic pistols rely on a removable magazine. It is typically located inside the hand grip, or "pistol grip."

Notable examplesEdit

  • Berretta M9
  • Desert Eagle (.44 and .50 AE)
  • Browning M1911
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