A semi-automatic pistol is a type of handgun which utilizes the energy of the fired cartridge to cycle the action of the firearm and advance the next available cartridge into position for firing. One round is fired each time the trigger of a semi-automatic pistol is pulled.
During the early and mid 1800s, single-shot pistols began to lose popularity as revolvers became more common. It was only close to the end of the 1890s, when they began to regain popularity, due to the invention of semi-automatic pistols. We've already covered the actions that these weapons use, such as toggle lock recoil action, blowback action, short recoil action, gas operated action etc.
Semi-automatic pistols use some of the energy generated by a fired cartridge to automatically extract the fired cartridge case, cock the pistol and insert a new cartridge into the firing chamber. The user needs to pull the trigger each time to fire a new bullet.
Most semi-automatic pistols use either blowback action or recoil action, as these are more suited for smaller weapons. However, there are a few larger pistol models, such as the Desert Eagle, that use the gas operated action.
All semi-automatic pistols come with a magazine to hold multiple cartridges. In semi-automatic pistols, the magazine is located inside the handgrip. The magazine has a spring inside it and cartridges are loaded by pushing against this spring pressure.
Invention of semi-automatic pistols
John Moses Browning,an American designer of small arms and automatic weapons, best known for his commercial contributions to the Colt, Remington, and Winchester firms and for his military contributions to the U.S. and Allied armed forces.
Inventive as a child, Browning made his first gun at the age of 13 in his father’s gun shop. In 1879 he patented a self-cocking single-shot rifle, which he and his brother Matthew sold to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. His later patented designs were acquired by the Colt, Remington, Stevens, and Winchester arms companies, contributing directly to their prosperity, though Browning gained little recognition for their success. Of his more than 120 individual firearm-mechanism patents, many proved successful. Among Browning’s most-famous designs were the Winchester Model 1886 lever-action rifle, the Remington Model 1905 semiautomatic shotgun, and the Colt Model 1911 semiautomatic pistol. Among foreign-made sporting arms, Browning’s most popular was the superposed (two barrels aligned vertically, colloquially referred to as an “over-under” design) shotgun made by Fabrique Nationale d’Herstal of Belgium.
The Browning automatic rifle was adopted by the U.S. Army in 1918 and used until the late 1950s. From about 1920 until the 1980s the U.S. armed forces used Browning-designed automatic and semiautomatic weapons almost exclusively: the .45-calibre Model 1911 auto-loading pistol; the Model 1918 .30 calibre Browning automatic rifle (BAR); crew-served .30- and .50-calibre machine guns, in several variations and modifications for air, naval, and land use; the .45-calibre auto-loading pistol; and the 37-mm automatic aircraft cannon. The first two arms saw regulaton U.S. issue over 40 and 75 years, respectively. In the 21st century, improved variants of those military weapons remained in use around the world.