Difference Between Gun and Pistol and Handgun

Gun vs Pistol vs Handgun

There has been a lot of discussion on talk shows and even inside the parliament about the need for stricter gun control laws in view of increasing violence with the help of these firearms like guns and pistols. This brings us to the question posed by the title of this article. Is there a difference between a gun and a pistol and a handgun or they are mere different names for the same firearm? There are many things common between these terms as they all throw a projectile and are assault weapons that can kill human beings. This article takes a closer look at these words.


Among all words used for weapons that throw projectiles, it is the gun that is most common and generic. The first of these weapons surfaced in China around 1000 AD, and the technology soon spread to all parts of the world. The projectile thrown by guns is mostly solid and causes grave injury because of its high speed and combustion. The high speed of the projectile (bullet) is a result of the pressure of a gas. The invention of gunpowder led to the use of bamboo being used to throw it. It was only later that iron was used to make guns. While the early guns had a smooth barrel from inside their rifling or grooving from inside led to more accurate and faster guns being developed around the world.


A handgun is a gun that can be used by a person using his single or both hands. It is different from long guns like rifles that have to be mounted on one’s shoulders to fire. Revolvers and pistols are the most popular types of handguns around the world. One handed operation is the most attractive feature of handguns though many people make use of their second hand while shooting with a handgun.


Pistol is a type of handgun though in many parts of the world it is considered synonymous with handgun. The most important feature of a pistol is its chamber that is integral with the barrel. In sharp contrast is the revolver where the barrel is separate from the chamber and the chamber can be taken out of the revolver to load. A pistol can be single shot or it can fire many shots at a time if it is semi-automatic.

Gun vs Pistol vs Handgun

• Gun is a firearm that throws projectiles and the word is the most generic of all words used to refer to this firearm.

• Handgun refers to small firearms that can be used single handedly and include revolvers and pistols.

• Pistol is a handgun that has its chamber integrated with the barrel.

• A pistol is a handgun and it is also a gun.