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Semi-auto or Auto

Semi-auto or Auto

A reader responded to a blog with his concerns over proper use of the terms “automatic” and “semi-automatic.” In terms of describing the type of action used in many magazine-fed firearms, automatic means continuous fire as long as the trigger is depressed and ammo is available in the gun. Semi-automatic means one shot for each trigger press and reset.

However, early literature uses automatic as describing a gun that not only fires when you press the trigger, but also reloads its own chamber. It came into common parlance in that sense around the time when we needed to differentiate between handguns with cylinders and those with magazines.

I see no reason why we shouldn't describe the Model 1911 as an automatic pistol. After all, it is chambered for the .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) cartridge, not the .45 SACP (Semi-Automatic Colt Pistol).

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