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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Firearms

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Firearms Verification

Gun Control Act Definitions
Pistol

18 U.S.C., § 921(A)(29) and 27 CFR § 478.11

The term “Pistol” means a weapon originally designed, made, and intended to fire a projectile (bullet) from one or more barrels when held in one hand, and having:

  • a chamber(s) as an integral part(s) of, or permanently aligned with, the bore(s);

  • and a short stock designed to be gripped by one hand at an angle to and extending below the line of the bore(s).

Note: This illustration shows the primary characteristics exhibited in the pistol category. Since pistol configurations differ significantly, various models in this classification may exhibit any of the illustrated components in a revised configuration, but not necessarily all components shown will be incorporated in any given design.

Various pistol types: single shot, multi-barrel, and semiautomatic.