What IS a pistol?

What IS a pistol?

This is a discussion on What IS a pistol? within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; It was a GOOD day yesterday. I picked up a Kel-Tec PLR-16 last Wednesday from a local gun shop and ordered every accessory available for ...

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Thread: What IS a pistol?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array rachilders's Avatar
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    What IS a pistol?

    It was a GOOD day yesterday. I picked up a Kel-Tec PLR-16 last Wednesday from a local gun shop and ordered every accessory available for it. This past Wednesday (yesterday), it was like Christmas had arrived. First, my fore end and soft case from K-T arrived via UPS. I hadn't even closed the door when the mailman pulled up and delivered the sling and shell case deflector I ordered from Advisary13 at the KTRange. I already have several 20rd AR mags that work perfectly, so the only thing I missed was a muzzle brake I ordered from Midway, otherwise it would have been a clean sweep! With luck it also will be here before the week is out.

    Needless to say, I had a busy evening putting all the new goodies on my PLR. I even went ahead and installed my SureShot 2 laser/light combo on the grip's accessory rail and it's soooo nice.... It's going to be even better when I get a chance to take it to the range this weekend (hopefully) to show it off and make a little noise. I wonder how many people are going to tell me I'm in the wrong area when I go to the "Pistol's Only" range? I may have to take the owners manual with me to prove it! I suppose I could always get a VERY LARGE raincoat and use as my primary CC weapon. I can only imagine the look on a BG's face if I pull the PLR out during a confrontation... talk about intimidation factor!

    This brings me to my question. What exactly make a gun a pistol? Is it size, caliber, length of barrel, esthetics or what. Just compare the photo below of three of my different "pistols". My 1911 and P-3AT are obviously handguns, but the PLR is also considered a pistol, though you'd probably get a few arguments from many people. I'm just wondering where the line between long barreled pistol and short barreled rifle blurs and a gun can go either way.
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    "... Americans... we want a safe home, to keep the money we make and shoot bad guys." -- Denny Crane


  2. #2
    VIP Member Array SammyIamToday's Avatar
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    That's pretty cool looking. Definitely got to provide a range report on that.

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    Bob - I use ''pistol'' as both a generic term for handguns but prefer to reserve it for semi's. Revolvers are revolvers, period!

    Beyond that can be some grey areas - but if barrel is 16" then carbine can suit, particularly is using pistol cal ammo. Rifle will be longer barrel and usually high velocity calibers. My Contender with 14" barrel for .223 is still a handgun and I guess a pistol as, it ain't a revo, or a carbine!

    Another factor is the presence or lack of shoulder stock - another grey area sometimes, but if only pistol grip and a semi then ''pistol'' still seems suitable. The MP5 is really a machine pistol IMO, as is an Uzi.

    Congrat's on the PLR - I am thirsty for feedback on that gun. I think I place that somewhat in the CAR 15 and AK pistol category.
    Chris - P95
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    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


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  4. #4
    los
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    Pistol/Handgun definition: A firearm designed to be held and fired with one hand.
    What we've got here is failure to communicate.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Array rachilders's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by los
    Pistol/Handgun definition: A firearm designed to be held and fired with one hand.
    I suppose that's a "legal" definition that works. Still, there are quite a few guns that are designed to fit that definition of a pistol, but I'd hate to shoot them that way for long. I can imagine what it will be like to fire a few mags one handed with the PLR! I was thinking more of a common sense view of pistols vs. rifle.

    I know the law say's a rifle should have a barrel over 16" long and pistols aren't suppose to have stocks, but there is now a lot of grey area as more "assault/tactical" style weapon are hitting the market. I see lot's personal defense long guns (specially shotguns) with pistol grips, many rifles (especially cowboy style rifles) are being released in pistol calibers while more and more pistols are being chambered in what have been traditionally rifle calibers.

    I guess I'm trying to say the line between what has been considered long gun and handgun is becoming more blurry every day, just look at the PLR. At what point will they merge and then what?
    "... Americans... we want a safe home, to keep the money we make and shoot bad guys." -- Denny Crane

  6. #6
    Senior Member Array Tom357's Avatar
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    A pistol is generally a hand-operated firearm, that is, not a shoulder firearm. I don't think barrel length realistically enters into it. Some distinguish between revolvers and semi-automatic or automatic pistols. Some pistols have detachable stocks.

    A machine pistol is designed primarily to be hand-held, but may have some sort of non-fixed stock for additional stability. If it has a fixed stock, then it should not be considered a pistol.

    The definition of a carbine depends on where you look - there is some debate about maximum barrel length. In all cases, it is a light rifle (shoulder firearm with a fixed stock), but some say the barrel must be 16" or less, some say up to 20".

    So the difference between a pistol and a rifle seems to be more in whether it is hand-operated or a shoulder-mounted firearm. JMO, of course.
    - Tom
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    Senior Member Array WJP9's Avatar
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    That's a BIG "pistol". Cool though...have fun with it.
    -Bill

    "Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it."

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    the line between what has been considered long gun and handgun is becoming more blurry every day, just look at the PLR. At what point will they merge and then what?
    Bob - best thing maybe, until that ''grey'' is sorted out, is to let me look after that PLR for you! Ya know, break it in etc!
    Chris - P95
    NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.

    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


    http://www.rkba-2a.com/ - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.

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    Senior Member Array Wayne's Avatar
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    Its the way that it was built. When the receiver is "virgin" then it can be made into a pistol, a short rifle or a rifle. They just have to be classified under which one from the company.

    Lets take your pistol (please, can I have it ). At the factory, Kel-Tec could have used it for three configuations since it hasn't been "made" yet in any combination. They chose to used that receiver as a pistol and classified it as such. Now, if they would have put on a stock instead of a pistol grip (even if the stock had a pistol grip) then it would have been classified as a SBR and subject to the NFA. Now if they had attacted a stock and a longer barrel, then it becomes a rifle.

    Us "peons" can do the same. Order a virgin receiver, lets say a receiver from Mossburg (they do sell them). When you get it will have a seriel number on it but is classified as a receiver (which is still a "firearm"). Then after you get permission to build a SBS (short barreled shotgun), you can get a tube of whatever length you wish (barrel) and then you put on a pistol grip. After you do this then you do the AOW paperwork and register it with ATFE and get your stamp.

    Same with a virgin receiver to build a short barreled rifle (SBR). The only things that you cannot build, virgin receiver or not are machine guns and "non-sporting" firarms (whatever the hell that is).

    All this is IIRC and not legal advice.

    Wayne

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    Senior Member Array cmidkiff's Avatar
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    U.S. Code : Title 18 : Section 921 :

    (29) The term ''handgun'' means -
    (A) a firearm which has a short stock and is designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand; and
    (B) any combination of parts from which a firearm described in subparagraph (A) can be assembled.
    There 'ya go, it's a handgun. Revolver or Pistol should be clear enough :)
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  11. #11
    Distinguished Member Array Doc Holliday's Avatar
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    I have always refered to semi-auto's as pistols. Revolvers as revolvers. A Handgun is a term that encompasses both. I can see that there are some areas that are not so black and white. IMO if it is chambered in a rifle round and it is bigger than a full service auto or revolver then it is a rifle.
    Why Ike, whatever do you mean? Maybe poker's just not your game Ike. I know! Let's have a spelling contest!

  12. #12
    Distinguished Member Array Doc Holliday's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=P95Carry]
    Another factor is the presence or lack of shoulder stock - another grey area sometimes, but if only pistol grip and a semi then ''pistol'' still seems suitable. The MP5 is really a machine pistol IMO, as is an Uzi.

    Then how do you define a Sub Machine Gun? Wow, great discussion but this is hurting my brain.
    Why Ike, whatever do you mean? Maybe poker's just not your game Ike. I know! Let's have a spelling contest!

  13. #13
    Senior Member Array ssssthesnake's Avatar
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    bet i cant buy one of those in california i got to move soon

  14. #14
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    I have always refered to semi-auto's as pistols. Revolvers as revolvers. A Handgun is a term that encompasses both. I can see that there are some areas that are not so black and white.
    Sounds good to me...

    IMO if it is chambered in a rifle round and it is bigger than a full service auto or revolver then it is a rifle.
    Nope...not quite. You are forgetting the Contender and several other various single shot handguns that are chambered for rifle calibers but are clearly not rifles...my own chambered in .223 and .300 Whisper for instance...

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    hen how do you define a Sub Machine Gun? Wow, great discussion but this is hurting my brain.
    A sub machine gun is an automatic weapon that fires pistol rounds...an example would be the MP5 in 9mm or the Thompson Auto in .45 ACP.

    If it fires rifle calibers it is simply known as a machine gun.

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