Semi-Automatic pistols are carried by most law enforcement officers. These firearms distinguish themselves from a typical 6 to 7 shot revolver through the use of a removable magazine (also called a "detachable mag") that has a higher magazine capacity (typically 15 to 17 rounds or more for a .9mm or .40 Smith and Wesson, and 13+ rounds for .45 ACP), that can be quickly reloaded allowing for a higher total rate of fire with fewer and faster reloads.
- Single Action or "SA" - The trigger is incapable of cocking the hammer, so it must be manually cocked prior to the first shot. The trigger pull is generally light. In semi-automatics, single-action models will typically have the hammer cocked by the slide with each round after the initial manual cocking.
- Double Action/Single Action or "DA/SA" - The trigger cocks the hammer. In addition, the slide is capable of cocking the hammer. Although this mechanism is capable of employment in the single action mode, the first round is generally discharged in the double action mode with follow-up shots in the single action mode. This results in a marked difference in trigger pull.
- Double Action Only or "DAO" - The trigger is capable of cocking the hammer, the slide does not cock the hammer. This results in a heavy trigger pull for each shot, but every shot is consistent and this is considered by some to be a safer trigger.
- Striker Fired - Also referred to as a "pin gun", this mechanism does away with the hammer entirely, employing in its place a spring-loaded firing pin. This action typically functions in either double action only (DAO), or will partially cock the striker.
Semi-automatic pistols tend to be available with a wider array of safety features than most other firearms, especially in progressive police states/Nanny states such as California, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and Illinois where liberal bureaucrat lawmakers make more mala prohibitum laws to demonize then criminalize ordinary law-abiding gun owners and then authorize asset forfeiture (theft) of private property. California especially has a California Department of Justice Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale, that strictly limits what handguns are allowed for purchase to a small variety that are "authorized" by the state with dangerous required features such as "magazine disconnect safety" and useless require features such as microstamping.
Some common safety features are:
- Manual Safety - A switch, usually located at the end rear of the pistol, that enables or disables the gun, usually by blocking the firing mechanism.
- Grip/Palm Safety - A pressure switch on the back of the grip that is disengaged by the web of the hand, enabling or disabling the gun. This is commonly seen on the M1911.
- Trigger Safety - A trigger safety uses to interdependent components that both need to be pressed to successfully fire the gun, making it less likely for unintentional pressure to discharge the firearm. These are included on all Glock pistols.
- Magazine Safety/disconnect - These disconnect or block the firing mechanism when the magazine is removed so that if there is a round left in the chamber, it cannot be fired. Magazine disconnect safeties, mandated in all new firearms by the Nanny state of California, are dangerous and can get you killed in the face of an armed criminal because if you accidentally hit or bump the magazine release button the mag will drop free or imperceptibly disengage from the magazine well causing you not to be able to fire the gun. This bumping of the magazine release can commonly happen with certain poorly designed holsters or waist packs where the magazine appears to be in the mag well but is no longer properly seated and hence the gun cannot be fired. Also in close quarters combat, if a criminal were to struggle with you for control of your gun and they deliberately push on the mag release button causing the mag to drop free to the ground, then you cannot shoot at them without reloading the magazine into the mag well.
- Decocker - A switch that safely uncocks the firing mechanism.
List of Semi-Automatic Pistols
Here are the semi-automatics that are popular or of notable historic significance.
- Browning HP/GP - Called Browning High Power
- Colt M1911 - now manufactured by numerous other firearm manufacturers than the original 1911 A.D. inventor Colt.
- Glock - Despite there being 43 models of Glock pistol, the most popular models are the:
- "Baby Glock" Sub-compact pistols: Glock 26 in .9mm, the Glock 27 in .40 Smith and Wesson, the Glock 42 in .380 ACP. Best for concealed carry in an IWB holster, in a waist pack or a pocket holster (also called a "wallet holster"). The pocket holster works best with the 380 ACP G42, however the slightly larger 9mm G26 and 40S&W G27 will also work.
- Heckler & Koch USP - "HK USP"
- Tokarev TT-33
- .22 LR
- 5.7x28mm or Five-Seven
- 6.35mm or .25 ACP
- 7.65mm or .32 ACP
- 9x17mmK or .380 ACP
- 9x18mm Makarov
- 9x19mm Parabellum or Luger
- .40 S&W
- .45 ACP
- Service pistol
- Submachine gun
- Machine pistol
- Semi-automatic rifle
- Submachine gun
- Machine pistol
- Semi-automatic rifle
- List of handgun ammunition
- Ballistics By The Inch Shows the relationship between barrel length and bullet velocity for handguns
- California Department of Justice Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale, Accessed February 12, 2015
- Hoffman, Gene, "Yes, we’re suing to overturn the California handgun Roster and microstamping!." Roseville, California: Calguns Foundation. Accessed February 12, 2015
- Glock Wallet Holsters on eBay, Glock Pocket Wallet Holsters by PocketHolsters.com, "Glock wallet holster" search on Duck Duck Go. Accessed February 15, 2015