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

Continue to see a more detailed cross-section diagram as well as step-by-step explanation of the firing sequence.

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 pulled, 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.

Video: How a Cartridge is Fired