Ask the Marshall
- Written by Marshall Trimble
- Published February 22, 2011
What is the origin of “pistol?”
The word comes from the French pistole or pistolet.
Some say the French got it from Pistoia, Italy, where Caminello Vitelli is believed to have developed the first handguns in the 1540s. Others claim the term comes from the medieval French word pistallo, or saddle pommel, where the first holsters were carried.
Whatever the origin, pistol was in common usage by the 18th century.