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The firing sequence for handguns and shotguns is very similar to this sequence shown for a bolt-action rifle.

Cutaway: Bolt closing with parts labeled
The bolt moves forward, compressing the firing pin spring and inserting a cartridge into the chamber.
Cutaway: Cartridge chambered
The firing pin is held back under spring tension.
Cutaway: Firing pin strikes primer
When the trigger is squeezed, the firing pin moves forward, crushing and igniting the primer in the cartridge base.
Cutaway: Cartridge is fired
The primer ignites the gunpowder, generating gas pressure, which forces the bullet forward and out of the barrel.