Lighting the fuse ignites the gunpowder, a mixture of charcoal, sulfur and potassium nitrate), which suddenly generates a huge volume of gas, exerting a tremendous amount of pressure on the cannon ball to fly out the bore of the metal tube. It is the product of the mass of the projectile and the acceleration due to the gas pressure that blasts the target to Kingdom Come. More portable firearms in the form of flintlock pistols evolved out of this same principle. Now, they use detonators instead of fuses.
The disadvantage of early handguns was that they could fire only one shot at a time, after which the shooter had to clean and reload before firing the next shot. Next, came the revolver, which only needed to be reloaded after five or six shots had been fired. The ammunition, called bullets, rested in a revolving chamber until needed, when they advanced into the firing chamber.
Revolvers were great, but they still weren't fast enough. Enter the semi-automatic pistol. The revolving cylinder was replaced by a bullet-carrier called a magazine, that fit nicely into the butt, or handle, of the weapon. Larger magazines are had a capacity for up to 15 bullets.
The pistol had the advantage of a lighter trigger action than the revolver, too. However, semi-automatic pistols had a disturbing tendency to jam at the most inopportune moments, something to which the revolver was not prone. Automatic pistols remedy this by feeding bullets into the chamber automatically.
Today's Glock is a semi-automatic pistol and probably America's favorite hand gun. It was developed by a team of Austrian engineers and designers led by a man named Gaston Glock. Inspired by an open request from the Austrian army for designs of a new sidearm, the team came up with the Glock. Because the company was already making hand grenades out of plastic, the design team naturally incorporated the material into the new firearm.
Happy with Glock's design, the Austrian Ministry of Defense placed an initial order for 25,000 pistols. The Glock, available in all major calibers, is now America's favorite hand gun, with the 9 mm being the most popular. One of the main accessories for the weapon is the magazine, which has a higher capacity than other gun makers' magazines.
What makes the Glock magazine so interesting is the complete polarization between European and American users of the gun when it comes to whether or not the magazine should drop automatically onto the ground, sometimes partially loaded, or require the push of a button. In Europe, allowing the magazine to drop is not the done thing; in America, the magazine is almost considered disposable.
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