Parts of a Handgun

These Are the Different Parts of a Handgun

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From January to October 2020, gun sales in the US reached a whopping 17 million sold units. This represents the highest number of guns sold in the US compared to any other year.

Many gun owners say they purchased a gun as a means of self-defense. This is especially true for females; one in five women in the US now own a gun.

If you plan to buy one yourself, a pistol may be the best starting point. However, it’s best to learn more about the parts of a handgun first. This knowledge can make all the difference in a dangerous situation.

Don’t worry, though, as that’s exactly what this post covers. Read on to learn all about the parts of a pistol and the crucial roles that they play in gun use and safety.


The muzzle is the hollow tube of metal found at the very front end of a gun. A small part of it pokes through the gun’s barrel, as this is where the bullet exits. It’s the very last point of contact between the gun and the projectile.

Front Sight

The front sight is a small piece of metal also found at the very end of a handgun, but above the muzzle. It serves as an aiming or sighting device designed to help improve accuracy. Most handguns have a permanently-fixed front sight aside from a removable rear sight.


The barrel is the metal rifled tube that sits at the very top of a handgun. It encases the muzzle, in which a bullet or projectile propels through and exits from. Expanding gases, in turn, rapidly moves the ammunition through the barrel.

Rear Sight

The rear sight is also a small aiming device that sits at the very back end of a gun’s barrel. This is the sighting device that’s closest to the gun user’s eye. Its combination with the front sight allows for even more enhanced accuracy.

Correct use of the front and rear sight allows for “proper sight alignment.” To achieve this, the user must first look through the circular hole, called “aperture,” of the rear sight. The marksman then aligns the front sight post within this hole prior to pulling the trigger.

Slide Stop

A slide stop, also known as “slide release” or “slide lock,” is a feature found in semi-automatic handguns. This is one of the parts of a semi-auto pistol that you won’t find in a revolver. That’s because you’d need to manually cock and reload a revolver.

In any case, a slide stop functions as a visual indicator that the gun is already empty. It “unlocks” once the gun has expended all of its ammunition. The marksman then pulls back this slide in order to reload the gun.

Trigger and Hammer

The trigger is the mechanism that activates a handgun’s firing sequence. This is what initiates the gun to release a bullet through the ignition of the propellant powder.

The trigger works hand in hand with a gun’s hammer, which serves as a striking device. When you pull the trigger, it causes a pin to release, which, in turn, drives the hammer to rotate. This movement ignites the propellant or gun powder, thus, firing the bullet.

As you shop around and read handgun reviews, look for information about the “trigger pull.” This refers to the amount of pressure you’d need to apply on the trigger to fire the gun. The “heavier” the pull is, the more difficult it is to actuate the firing of the firearm.

Single-action triggers are easier to pull since these mechanisms only have one task to do. Whenever you pull an SA trigger, it only has to release the hammer, and the gun goes off.

By contrast, double-action triggers have two functions, one of which is to also let go of the hammer. However, it needs to cock the hammer first before releasing it. That’s why DA triggers require more pressure; hence, they are harder to pull.


Of all parts of a gun, the grip is the component that has the most contact with the hand. After all, this is the portion that you hold whenever you shoot a firearm.

However, the grip on a semi-automatic pistol also serves as a magazine housing. This is where you slide a magazine in. Once fully expended, you slide the magazine out and reload it with a fresh case.

Grip Safety

One of the most important parts of a pistol is the grip safety, which serves as a form of “locking” mechanism. It’s like a lever or a switch right below the barrel and at the back of a grip. Do note that not all handguns come with this feature.

The grip safety “locks” the gun from expending a bullet until you fully depress the switch. Now, this may make it seem like a hassle, but the lever will depress so long as you have a proper gun grip.


While all parts of a pistol are important, it’s useless without a magazine. That’s because the magazine serves as a storage container and feeding device. It houses the ammunition, and it’s the component that feeds the gun with the bullets you fire.

Many handguns have removable or detachable magazines. Others rely on “integral” magazines, which are “internal” and permanent fixtures.

Magazine Safety

The magazine safety is also a safety mechanism that prevents the discharge of a bullet. The magazine safety engages if the magazine doesn’t sit properly inside the grip. In this case, you won’t be able to fire the pistol unless you correct the placement of the magazine.

Master the Parts of a Handgun to Keep Yourself and Others Safe

There you have it, a complete guide on all the parts of a handgun and how they work. Knowing the roles of each of these components is crucial to a safe gun operation. So, make sure you memorize them so you can also prevent accidental discharges.

Ready for more of the latest news in safety, security, and special interests? Be sure to check out our site’s many other categories and blog posts then!

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