How Much Do You Know About Pistols?

By: John Miller
Estimated Completion Time
3 min
How Much Do You Know About Pistols?
Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

The history of humankind is marked by the evolution of many types of weapons, from simple spears to atomic bombs. But few firearms have had the kind of pervasive impact of handguns. In our quiz, we’ll blast through pistols of all shapes and sizes — do you really know anything about the weapons called “sidearms”?

Pistols aren’t just lighter and easier to transport than rifles and shotguns. Modern versions are also accurate at long range, and so powerful that some versions are intended for big game hunting, or you know, chasing annoying neighborhood children off of your lawn. (Note: We are not recommending you engage in this activity. Use a garden hose like normal people.)

Pistols began in the early days of gunpowder and were used for self-defense, war and hunting. Black powder versions eventually gave way to more advanced rimfire models. As the market evolved, legendary companies were born, including Colt, Glock, Smith & Wesson, Luger and Browning.

Single-action pistols started the handgun revolution. These days, though, semi-automatic versions are all the rage. The Beretta M9 and Browing Hi-Power are two famous semi-auto pistols. Now it’s time for you to take aim at our pistols quiz and see if you really understand these powerful and deadly tools!

Pistols are basically just ______.
rocket launchers
handguns
We won’t bore you with semantics. Handguns and pistols are essentially the same thing. They are small sidearms that can be fired using one or both hands.
shotguns

Advertisement

What’s special about a "revolver"?
It uses very small cartridges.
It has multiple chambers.
Revolvers have multiple chambers but just one barrel. After firing one cartridge, the chambers spin (revolve) to provide a fresh cartridge for the shooter.
It shoots automatically.

Advertisement

What’s slang for a revolver?
brass knuckles
Taser
six-shooter
Revolvers often carry six cartridges. They are "six-shooters." Bon Jovi knows all about six-shooters.

Advertisement

Which company made a famous pistol often called the "Peacemaker"?
Colt
Colt made a revolver officially named the Single Action Army. But in the days of the Wild West, it was often referred to as the "Peacemaker."
Remington
Winchester

Advertisement

The first pistols had which sort of action?
semi-automatic
full automatic
single shot
The very first pistols were primitive devices. They were single-shot firearms with basic functionality.

Advertisement

What was one way that early gun designers increased the firing rate of pistols?
They added more barrels.
Want a faster pistol? Just add more barrels. In the early days, some pistols had multiple barrels — as many as eight — which made the firing rate faster, but increased the weapon’s heft.
They converted them into machine guns.
They carried at least three pistols at all times.

Advertisement

When did revolvers first become popular?
15th century
19th century
Gun makers began making revolvers in the 19th century. By the end of the 1800s, revolvers were exceedingly popular, used both in war and in self-defense.
20th century

Advertisement

What’s the spinning part of a revolver called?
merry-go-round
bullet housing
cylinder
The cylinder is the spinning part of a revolver. Be sure to flick the cylinder menacingly before you step into any Old West gunfight.

Advertisement

What sort of gun is the Webley?
combination pistol/shotgun
full automatic
revolver
The Webley is a famous revolver of the late 19th century. It was most popular in the United Kingdom, and many variants of the weapon made it into the trenches of WWI.

Advertisement

What’s special about an "Apache revolver"?
It doubles as a battle ax.
It’s completely waterproof.
It includes multiple weapons.
Apache revolvers include multiple weapons — they can fire bullets and they may double as knives, too. They’re often linked to early 20th-century gangsters in France.

Advertisement

What was one major drawback with Apache revolvers?
They were radioactive.
They randomly exploded.
They had no sights.
Apache revolvers were like the Swiss Army knives of sidearms. But they had no real sights, so it was nearly impossible to accurately aim at a target more than a few feet distant.

Advertisement

How do blowback-style handguns reload themselves?
They run on solar power.
They harness the energy of recoil.
Blowback-style semi-automatics harness recoil energy to eject spent cartridges and load fresh rounds. This system greatly accelerates the weapon’s firing rate.
They are electric.

Advertisement

What was the name of the first Colt revolver to see mass production?
Model 19
Paterson
The Colt Paterson was the first mass-produced revolver. It was a five-shot weapon produced in both .28 and .36 caliber varieties.
M1911

Advertisement

What are "harmonica" pistols?
They have sliding magazines.
Harmonica pistols appeared in the mid-19th century. They used sliding magazines that looked a little like harmonicas, thus the name.
They double as musical instruments to intimidate rivals.
They shoot notes instead of bullets.

Advertisement

The Heckler & Koch P11 is meant to be fired _____.
in space
underwater
In the 1970s, Heckler & Kock unveils the P11, an underwater handgun. These stubby-looking pistols fire darts using an electronic system.
at the children walking on your lawn

Advertisement

What’s the underwater range of the Heckler & Koch P11?
about 40 feet
Water makes it very difficult for pistols to fire projectiles with any real accuracy or distance. The P11 shoots steel darts and has a range of between 40 and 50 feet, in other words, uncomfortably close if you’re trying to kill an attacking shark.
about 200 yards
about 900 yards

Advertisement

True or false, did Soviet cosmonauts have pistols on space missions?
True
You never know when your return trip will go awry and you wind up in the Siberian wilderness facing off with wolves and bears. That’s why Soviet spacecraft are equipped with pistols.
False

Advertisement

For years, the TP-82 was the pistol used for Soviet space missions. What was special about this pistol?
It fired laser beams.
It had three barrels.
The TP-82 had three barrels so that it could fire cartridges and also shotgun shells. And the stock? It included a fold-out machete. We are not making that up.
It had a flame thrower.

Advertisement

What was the name of the very first pistol made by Smith & Wesson?
Model 0
Model 1
The Smith & Wesson was unveiled in 1857, and it was the first revolver to find success with rimfire cartridges. It was just the first of many famous guns made by this company.
Model 666

Advertisement

In 1835, a man named Richard Lawrence attempted to assassinate President Andrew Jackson with a pistol. What happened?
Jackson grabbed the pistol and shot Lawrence instead.
He shot himself instead.
Both of his pistols misfired.
Lawrence’s pistol misfired, so he drew a second pistol ... which also misfired. Jackson then took his cane and beat the would-be assassin. Lawrence was mentally deranged and spent the rest of his life in an asylum.

Advertisement

What is a major advantage to top-break revolvers?
They have built-in laser sights.
It’s easy to remove spent cartridges.
Top-break revolvers have a hinged design that, once opened, allows the shooter to dump all spent cartridges at once. This design makes for much faster shooting.
They sometimes fall apart during gunfights.

Advertisement

Why did Gaston Glock, the maker of famous Glock pistols, supposedly test his newest inventions with his left hand, even though he was right-handed?
In case of an accident, he didn’t want to blow up his right hand.
Glock had no real firearm engineering experience, and he was reportedly worried about one of his test guns exploding and ruining his right hand. So for experiments, he used his left hand.
He liked to make things as difficult as possible.
He preferred to hit random targets.

Advertisement

When firing a semi-automatic pistol, how does a shooter load the first round?
You spin the cylinder.
You flip a small switch
You pull the slide.
On a semi-auto pistol, you usually pull the slide to load the first round. Then, thanks to gun’s mechanics, subsequent rounds are loaded after each shot that’s fired.

Advertisement

Which action star helped made the Smith & Wesson Model 29 even more famous?
Han Solo
Indiana Jones
Dirty Harry
In the ‘70s, Clint Eastwood was "Dirty Harry" in a series of popular action films. He played a cop who loved his Model 29, which he used to intimidate the bad guys.

Advertisement

True or false, does a semi-automatic pistol fire just one shot per trigger pull?
True
It’s true, semi-automatic pistols fire one round for every time you pull the trigger. But they’ll typically fire just as fast as you can pull the trigger, making them very effective weapons.
False

Advertisement

What sort of cartridge does the famous Smith & Wesson Model 29 fire?
9mm
.44 Magnum
The Model 29 is a big, beefy gun that fires .44 Magnum cartridges. The largest versions sport a barrel that’s more than 10 inches long.
.22

Advertisement

In 1881, Charles Guiteau assassinated President James Garfield using what sort of pistol?
pepper box
British Bulldog
Guiteau was angry that Garfield wouldn’t hire him on as part of the administration. So he decided to settle the matter by killing Garfield with a British Bulldog revolver.
Peacemaker

Advertisement

When Charles Guiteau chose a gun to kill President Garfield, he specifically chose an ivory-handled revolver. Why?
He thought it would look nice in a museum exhibit.
Guiteau clearly had ego issues. He purposely bought a really nice-looking ivory-handled .442 Webley caliber British Bulldog revolver because he figured that it would be handsome in a museum exhibit about the president's assassination.
He felt it had magical powers.
He was an ivory collector.

Advertisement

True or false, if a semi-auto pistol is in the half-cocked position, will it fire?
True
False
Many semi-auto pistols have a half-cocked position, and the gun won’t fire from this position. With a flick of the thumb, though, the weapon is ready to shoot.

Advertisement

What is the official sidearm of the U.S. Army?
Model 49
P320
In 2017, the U.S. Army announced that it has selected the Sig Sauer P320 as its next-generation sidearm. The 9mm semi-automatic will be replacing the popular Beretta M9.
M1911

Advertisement

You Got:
/30
Featured