any firearm that can be held and fired with one hand; a revolver or a pistol.

1400–50; late Middle English handgone. See hand, gun1

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World English Dictionary
handgun (ˈhændˌɡʌn)
a firearm that can be held, carried, and fired with one hand, such as a pistol

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Encyclopedia Britannica


any firearm small enough to be held in one hand when fired. It usually fires a single projectile or bullet, and additional ammunition may be available in a revolving mechanism or magazine. Handguns may be used for target shooting, hunting small game, or personal self-defense. Automatic handguns are illegal in many countries, and private ownership of any handgun is restricted in most of the world. See also automatic pistol; pistol; revolver.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
There is no reason that any private citizen in a democracy should own a handgun.
He said he should be able to keep a handgun in his home for personal safety.
Previous to this change, handgun carry permits were issued by local sheriff's
These firms cannot obtain a handgun license or renewal for you if you do not
  qualify, nor can they expedite your application.
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