All About Pistols

Pistols come in a wide array of types for a variety of purposes and needs. Here you can learn about pistol sizes, calibers, actions, and styles. Learn the working parts of a pistol, what makes it fire, need-to-know terminology, and more.
rtf glock pistol sizes
rtf glock pistol

GLOCK Pistol Sizes

The GLOCK with the longest slide on the market offers the greatest distance between sights, fast target acquisition, and GLOCK-grade performance.
With a slightly shorter slide and barrel than the longslide models the GLOCK competition models feature adjustable rear sights and are made for sports shooters who value accuracy and reliability.
The GLOCK classic that thousands of soldiers and law enforcement officers have come to appreciate. Perfect magazine capacity paired with GLOCK dependability.
Slightly reduced in length and height compared to the standard models, this GLOCK offers a good punch in a compact package.
A pocket-size, double stack pistol designed as a backup weapon. This subcompact gun will accept all standard GLOCK double stack magazines, making it the most versatile subcompact on the market.
The concealed-carry choice for thousands. The GLOCK single stack slimline pistols are the smallest GLOCK pistols with the same trusted accuracy and reliability.
GLOCK's first ever "Crossover" pistol, the GLOCK 19X, combines the best features of two of its most popular and most trusted field-tested platforms. The full-size GLOCK 17 frame and the compact GLOCK 19 slide have joined forces to produce the ideal pistol for all conditions and all situations.
All about pistols

There are two main types of handguns:

Semi-Automatic Pistols

A semi-automatic pistol is a type of handgun that uses a single chamber and barrel. The pistol fires a chambered round, extracts and ejects the empty casing and then loads a new round into the chamber (if additional rounds are in the magazine) with each trigger pull.


A revolver is a handgun that contains a cylinder with multiple chambers. When the trigger is pulled, the cylinder rotates around a central pin to align the next chamber with the firing pin. A single barrel will fire one round per trigger pull.

How a Semi-Automatic Pistol Works

There are eight actions that occur as a pistol fires a projectile:

  1. Feeding – Moves a cartridge from the magazine toward the barrel.
  2. Chambering – A cartridge moves fully into the barrel chamber area.
  3. Locking – The barrel and slide 'lock' together mechanically.
  4. Firing – The cartridge primer is hit by the firing pin, powder is lit, pressure builds, and the projectile (bullet) leaves the barrel.
  5. Unlocking – The slide and barrel mechanically separate slightly.
  6. Extracting – The slide moves rearwards and the extractor 'hook' pulls the empty cartridge casing out of the barrel by its rim.
  7. Ejecting – The ejector hits the empty cartridge rim, turning it/pushing it out the slide ejection port.
  8. Cocking (resetting the action) – The trigger and the firing pin are set together and ready to fire another round.

What is the Action of a Gun?

The action of the gun consists of all the moving parts that facilitate the loading, firing, discharging of the empty case, and unloading of the gun. There are two types of action:

A long trigger pull both cocks and releases the hammer/firing pin to fire the gun.
The trigger is used only to release the hammer/firing pin and does not cock the firing mechanism.
All about pistols

Four primary parts of a semi-automatic pistol


The frame makes up the basic structure of the pistol to which the other major parts are attached.


The barrel is a long hollow tube through which the projectile travels on its way to the target. The ‘rifled’ (grooved) texture inside spins the bullet, creating velocity and accuracy. In most cases, the length of the barrel determines the velocity. The shorter the barrel, the less velocity is produced.


The slide is the steel upper portion of a semi-automatic pistol. The slide chambers ammunition into the barrel and extracts the spent casing after the round is fired. It also slides along its tracks during the recoil process to provide the link between the breechblock and barrel.


The magazine contains the ammunition and ensures that it is fed properly into the barrel.

Other Parts of a Pistol


The trigger guard is the material around the trigger that provides protection and safety.


The hammer impacts the firing pin or cartridge directly, discharging the ammo.

Firing pin

The firing pin is the hardened pin centered behind the primer of a chambered cartridge. When struck by the hammer, it impacts the primer cap of the cartridge and discharges the ammunition.


Ammunition is also known as a ‘cartridge’ or ‘round’. It consists of casing, primer, powder, and projectile.

Find a Range

The best way to learn about pistols is to get on the range! Use our Locator to find a range near you.

Shooting Tips

Learn more tips about training with your GLOCK pistol.