In knex terms, pulling the trigger will pull the firing pin back. That is true semi auto. These guns tend to be weaker than their pseudo semi auto part. A pseudo semi-auto works kinda like a true semi auto, one trigger pull=one shot, no cocking the pin, but the rounds must be pre loaded.
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I assume you're talking about a semi-auto gun. Either they use the recoil from the shot to push the slide back that ejects the empty and picks up a new round and the slide pushes it into the chamber, cocking the hammer. THere is a piece somewhere that disconnects the trigger so you don't fire full auto. There is another system that has a port somewhere up along the barrel that uses some of the gas from the firing shell to move the bolt back and so forth. There was at least one gun designed that used batteries and a motor to work the bolt, cock and reload but I don't think it ever got into production.
A semi-automatic, or self-loadingfirearm is a gun that after being fired, ejects the empty round that has been fired, loads a new cartridge, and cocks itself