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
Hunter

Wow. There are so many makes, models, and options in handguns today, you’re bound to find it either exciting or confusing. Let’s eliminate the confusion so you can get excited about the fun that’s to come.

Andrea

There are two basic categories of handguns: single-action and double-action.

Hunter

The guns you see in the Wild West movies are single-action revolvers. You manually cock the hammer for each shot. Yup, those fast-draw gunfighters, they had to pull back the hammer and pull the trigger to get a shot off. Way faster than a heartbeat. Amazing.

Andrea

Double-action handguns offer two options. They can be fired like a single-action—cock and pull—or they can be fired by pulling the trigger alone. You’ll find some pistols designed for personal protection are double-action only, meaning they can only be fired by trigger pull alone. They don’t have a hammer to cock.

Hunter

Within these categories, there are three basic types of handguns: revolvers, semi-automatics, and single-shots. The revolver is the Old West gun. It has a cylinder that usually holds six shots—that’s why cowboys called them six-shooters. When the hammer comes back, the cylinder revolves, bringing a fresh round in front of the hammer and firing pin. When the trigger is pulled, releasing the hammer, the firing pin is pushed forward, striking the cartridge primer, and the gun goes off.

Andrea

Boom.

Hunter

Today, there are both single-action and double-action revolvers.

Andrea

A semi-automatic pistol fires one shot for each pull of the trigger. You load the semi-auto spring-fed magazine with cartridges and insert it into the bottom of the grip. Cycling the action by hand loads the first cartridge into the chamber at the rear of the barrel. To shoot, you move the pistol safety to fire, and press the trigger. When the pistol goes off, its mechanism uses part of the energy to cycle the action, automatically ejecting the case of the fired round and sliding a fresh round into the chamber. To shoot again, you just pull the trigger again, and the process is repeated until the gun is empty. Semi-autos are fast and fun.

Hunter

While this type of handgun is sometimes called an auto, or an automatic, that ain’t right. In an automatic weapon, you pull the trigger once, and the gun continues firing until you release the trigger. In a semi-automatic, you pull the trigger once for each shot. Automatic weapons are illegal for civilian ownership and use in the United States. Semi-automatic firearms are among the most popular firearms for protection, sport, recreation, and hunting.

Andrea

The third common type of handgun is the single-shot. Most of these are break-action pistols, though some are bolt-action. They’re most used for hunting and long-range shooting competitions, like metallic silhouette shooting. On a break-action pistol, you simply operate the release mechanism to open the gun, load a single cartridge into the chamber at the rear of the barrel, then close the action. Next, move the gun into shooting position, cock the hammer, and fire when ready.

Hunter

So, lots of different kinds of guns—lots to think about. The best advice we can give you is to go to a well-stocked range, try them all, and decide what’s right for you.