In a revolver, the hand is the long bar that reaches up through a slot in the standing breech. The upper tip of the hand engages a lug on the rear of the cylinder (usually part of the extractor) and turns the cylinder.
It must be adjusted carefully in order to get the cylinder to align with the barrel just as the cylinder bolt locks into its notch. An often misunderstood part of the revolver, the hand was one of the trickiest parts of Sam Colt’s first wheelguns.
Hands have been pretty much the same since. That is until some of the newest polymer frame guns were developed. In effect, they sometimes do away with the hand as we have so long known it.