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Webley Mk VI

Webley Mk VI - .455 Webley. British revolver used by British in WWI and WWII


A revolver is a repeating handgun that has a revolving cylinder containing multiple chambersand at least one barrel for firing. Revolvers might be regarded as a subset of pistols, or as an equal-ranking subset of handguns, distinct from pistols. Though the term "revolver" usually only refers to handguns, other firearms may also have a revolving chamber. These include some models of grenade launchers, shotguns, and rifles. Most revolvers contain five or six rounds in the cylinder.

Though the original name was revolving gun, the short-hand "revolver" is universally used. Nearly all early revolvers and many modern ones have six chambers in the cylinder, giving rise to the slang term six-shooter; however, revolvers with a number of different chambers have been made, with most modern revolvers having 5 or 6 chambers.

The revolver allows the user to fire multiple rounds without reloading. Each time the user cocks the hammer, the cylinder revolves to align the next chamber and round with the hammer and barrel, which gives this type of firearm its name. In a single-action revolver, the user pulls the hammer back with his free hand or thumb; the trigger pull only releases the hammer. In a double-action revolver, pulling the trigger moves the hammer back, then releases it, which requires a longer and heavier trigger pull than single-action. Loading and unloading a double-action revolver requires the operator to swing out the cylinder and insert the proper ammunition, all while keeping the gun pointed in a safe direction.

Revolvers soon became standard for nearly all uses. In the early 20th century, semi-automatic pistols were developed, which can hold more rounds, and are faster to reload. "Automatic" pistols also have a flat profile, more suitable for concealed carry. Semi-auto pistols were not considered reliable enough for serious police work or self-defense until the later half of the century, however, and revolvers were the dominant handgun for police and civilians until modern pistols such as the Beretta 92 and the Glock 17 were developed in the 70s and 80s. Automatic pistols have almost completely replaced revolvers in military and law enforcement use (in military use, from 1910-1960; in law enforcement, in the 1980s and 1990s).

Revolvers still remain popular as back-up and off-duty handguns among American law enforcement officers and security guards. Also, revolvers are still common in the American private sector as defensive and sporting/hunting firearms.

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