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A handgun is a firearm designed to be handheld, in either one or both hands. This characteristic differentiates handguns as a general class of firearms from long guns such as rifles and shotguns (which usually can be braced against the shoulder).

Major handgun subtypes are the revolver and pistol (including single-shot pistols, semi-automatic pistols, and machine pistols); other subtypes include derringers and pepperboxes.

The words "pistol" and "handgun" have overlapping variations in meaning.

Although handgun use often includes bracing with a second hand, the essential distinguishing characteristic of a handgun is its facility for one-handed operation.

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