About the Study Guide

You are looking at the Connecticut Handgun Education Study Guide. At the present time, you cannot obtain handgun education certification from Handgun Safety Course. However, you can use this Study Guide as a resource to learn more about handgun safety.

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Video Transcript
Andrea

This is a handgun—a.k.a. a pistol, a piece, a sidearm,or a heater.

Hunter

This is ammunition—a.k.a. bullets, cartridges, ammo, or shells. Without ammo, the handgun might also be known as a boat anchor, paperweight, decorative wall hanging, or a very poor excuse for a smartphone.

[TELEPHONE RINGING SOUND]

Hunter

Hello?

Andrea

Ammunition is what makes the whole system function. It’s the fuel for your handgun. They’re properly called cartridges. There are basically two types of ammo: centerfire and rimfire.

Hunter

Centerfire is the most common. In centerfire ammo, there is a visible primer in the center of the base of the cartridge. When the firing pin strikes the primer, it causes a small explosion and a spark that ignites the gunpowder inside the cartridge. The powder burns very fast, and gases expand to drive the bullet out of the barrel. Rimfire ammo works much the same way, except the primer is inside the rim, on the base of the brass cartridge case. You can’t see it, but it’s there. Other than that, it operates just like centerfire.

Dawn

I shoot a 9 mm.

Lisa

I shoot a .380.

Brad

I shoot a .45.

The next speaker is such a tall man, the camera has to pan up for viewers to see his face.

Ken

I shoot a .22.

The others laugh.

Ken

It was a present from my grandmother.

Andrea

OK, so what do all those numbers mean? The numbers are the names of different sizes of handgun ammunition. Think of it like—like shoe sizes, only much more precise. The number in the name indicates caliber, which is the diameter of the bullet.

Hunter

For example, a .45 ACP bullet is 0.45 inches across. A .357 Rem Mag measures 0.357 inches diameter. So what do you think is a 9 mm Luger bullet’s diameter? Hmm?

Andrea

Nope, not a trick question. It’s 9 millimeters. Cartridges of European ancestry are often metrically named. The letters or words that follow the numbers in ammo names are very important, too, as they reveal the specific guns in which the ammo is safe to use. Think about it as first, middle, and last names. There may be lots of Karens out there, and there are lots of Fredericksons, too. But when you put Karen, Joyce, and Frederickson together, now we know exactly which one you mean.

On screen: Today’s Ammo Potluck

Brad

OK, hold on, hold up. I got the .45 Long Colt—old-school style.

Lisa

.40 Smith & Wesson’s all you need.

Dawn

.45 ACP.

Ken

.44 Magnum, baby. Bam! Let’s mix these babies up.

The potluck attendees empty their boxes of cartridges into a bowl. They each grab a handful. A warning alarm sounds, and the universal-no symbol appears.

On screen: Never mix ammo!

Andrea

One of the most important things about handgun ammo is not to mix your cartridges.

Hunter

Ammo does not mix. Firing any ammo in your handgun other than for which it was built is extremely dangerous. At the least, it will wreck your gun. And it very well could wreck you.

Andrea

The same warnings go for mixing magazines. You should only have out the magazines for the gun you’re shooting at the time—no others. If your participation in handgunning grows, you may notice fellow shooters using some nontraditional types of ammo in their guns. There’s a big surge in the popularity of handguns built to fire the .410 shot shell. That’s normally shotgun ammo. Ammo makers have created personal-defense ammo that makes these handguns an efficient choice for personal protection.

Hunter

And the single-shot pistols used by hunters and long-range competition shooters often fire much longer, necked centerfire cartridges more common to rifles.

Andrea

That was a lot of ground to cover in a short time: centerfire, rimfire, numbers, letters.

Hunter

First names, last names, shoe sizes.

Andrea

But you got it all, right?

Hunter

Yeah, I got it.

Andrea

He’s got it.