The break-action handgun operates on the same principle as a door hinge. Break actions may be found on single-shot pistols or on revolvers.
- Simple to load and unload, a hinge action is often chosen as a first handgun.
- To open the action, point the barrel at the ground. A release is pressed, and the barrel drops downward. This allows the cartridges to eject or to be removed manually if the handgun is loaded.