Gun ownership is a rare privilege that we enjoy in the United States. The right to bear arms is one of the most important amendments in the Constitution. It allows us to hunt, target shoot, and protect ourselves, families, and homes.
However, there are countless types of guns out there. They all serve different purposes. Similarly, each gun type has its own unique set of pros and cons.
If you’re interested in buying different guns, it’s important to know your options. And, of course, when dealing with something that causes devastating harm if used improperly, it’s important to educate yourself as much as possible.
We’re here to shed some light on the topic. Keep reading for an ultimate guide about the different firearms available on the market.
Rifles are some of the oldest and most versatile types of guns. The term filing refers to the inner grooves of a barrel that forces the projectile to spin. Rifles date back to the 15th century when they were loaded through the muzzle.
Since then, rifles have evolved drastically. They can shoot farther and more accurately now than ever before. The longest recorded shot is 3.4 miles.
There are two primary categories of rifles – hunting rifles and assault rifles.
Hunting rifles are powerful firearms designed for taking down wild game from long distances. Traditionally, hunting rifles are bolt-action or lever-action, based on the shooter’s preference.
Bolt-action and lever-action rifles can only fire one round at a time. Then, the shooter must complete the action manually to cycle a new round into the chamber.
The size of the hunting rifle you need (and the size of ammunition) depends on what you plan to hunt. For example, if you’re hunting big game animals like moose or elk, you’ll need something with a lot of stopping power, like a .308 or .30-06 round.
For slightly smaller animals, you can use .280 rounds or smaller. If you’re hunting rabbits, coyotes, or any other type of small game, even a .22 caliber rifle will be effective. However, .22 caliber rifles have limited accuracy and range due to the smaller round size.
Of all the different guns, the most commonly recognized are assault rifles. These were created for military use but have been modified for civilian consumers.
Civilian assault rifles are created to be semi-automatic. The weapon only fires once per trigger pull.
Military assault rifles, on the other hand, have automatic and burst-fire options. However, civilians who apply for special licenses can obtain assault rifles that have these functions.
Even semi-automatic assault rifles are considered tactical for a number of reasons. First, assault rifles can be outfitted with a number of accessories. This includes:
- Fore-end grips
- Laser sights
- Quick target acquisition sites
- And more
Furthermore, assault rifles have magazines that hold a large number of rounds that are automatically fed into the chamber after each shot.
One of the best things about assault rifles is that they are highly customizable. If you want, you can buy an AR-15 complete upper to change the type of round your weapon fires.
Next, let’s take a look at shotguns. There are many different guns that fall under this category. Some shotguns have long barrels while others have extremely short barrels.
Generally, what sets shotguns apart is the ammunition that is used in these types of firearms. Shotgun cartridges contain BBs that spread out, covering a wide field when fired. This makes the shotgun ideal for bird hunting and home defense.
However, shotguns can also shoot slugs, which are massive, single pellets. They are used for hunting medium to large game at shorter distances. Tactically, shotgun slugs are used to punch through barriers and doors.
Break-action shotguns are old-school. A lever above the handle allows the firearm to hinge open at the base of the barrel.
It is here that you load your shotgun cartridges. These types of guns come in both single-barrel and double-barrel options. Double barrel shotguns can be side-by-side or stacked.
Pump-Action and Lever Action
Pump-acton shotguns are perhaps the most common type of gun in this category. These shotguns have a cartridge tube located beneath the barrel that can hold anywhere from 5 to 10 shells.
To load a round into the chamber, the shooter must pump the grip attached to the cartridge tube. This makes cycling the weapon simple, fast, and efficient.
Like rifles, there are different guns in the shotgun category that are lever-action. These are cycled using a lever that also serves as the trigger guard.
Automatic and Semi-Automatic
Lastly, there are the semi-automatic and automatic shotguns. These types of guns are far less common than the pump-action models.
Semi-automatic shotguns will fire as fast as you can pull the trigger. While this has the potential to lead to wasted ammunition, it’s handy for hunting and self-defense.
Automatic shotguns are not available to most consumers, but they do exist. As the name suggests, you can simply pull and hold the trigger to expend all of the cartridges in your tube or magazine. Due to the kick created by most shotguns, this is generally not fun for your shoulder.
About 70% of gun owners report owning handguns. Handguns can be used for concealed carry, home defense, animal defense, target shooting, competition shooting, and more.
There are two different guns in this category – pistols and revolvers. The type of handgun that’s best for you depends on what you’re going to be using it for.
Revolvers were the original handgun and came around long before pistols. Typically, revolvers have a cylinder that holds five to six rounds. Although, some cylinders are designed to hold more.
Each time you pull the trigger and fire a bullet, the cylinder revolves (hence the name revolver) to align the next round with the firing pin and barrel. The empty shells are not automatically ejected.
Revolves are reliable and accurate. However, they have limited ammo capacity and take longer to reload. Yet, some people still prefer them to pistols for personal defense.
Revolvers are particularly useful for animal defense because they are capable of firing larger rounds. For example, the .44 magnum is even effective against bears.
On the more tactical side of handguns, we have pistols. Pistols are semi-automatic handguns that use magazines loaded into the grip of the weapon. These types of firearms come in a variety of calibers, such as:
- .40 caliber
- .45 caliber
- .50 caliber
- And more
Pistols that use smaller rounds hold more ammunition in the magazine. It’s not uncommon for 9mm pistols to carry 15 rounds. Conversely, a .45 weapon has a lot more stopping power, yet, less capacity.
Different guns in this category come with different gun safety features. Some pistols have safety switches and grip safeties while others have trigger safety features.
Pistols make ideal personal defense weapons. They make compact versions that can be easily carried and concealed. This makes it more comfortable to carry as well.
If you’re interested in buying a gun for self-defense, familiarize yourself with your local gun laws. Additionally, practice with these weapons to make sure you know how the guns work.
You need to develop muscle memory with your preferred carry weapon. In a real-life situation, your adrenaline will be pumping and you won’t be thinking as clearly. Any hesitation or fumbling could cost you dearly.
Finally, let’s talk about machine guns. By definition, machine guns are those that fire automatically while the trigger is held down.
The different guns in the categories listed below can become available to civilians. However, you’ll need to acquire the proper licensing to own one legally.
Sub-machine guns are smaller than assault rifles. Civilians can pick up modified versions of these that are semi-automatic.
These types of firearms were created to be tactical weapons carried by police and military forces. The rounds used in SMGs are generally the same rounds you’ll find in pistols.
As such, SMGs are not ideal for targets wearing body armor. As a civilian consumer, of course, this hardly applies to you.
SMGs are fun to shoot because they are compact, easy to control, and quick. They make for fantastic target shooting.
Heavy Machine Guns
Of all the different guns on our list, heavy machine guns are perhaps the most devastating. Like some light machine guns, heavy machine guns are belt-fed and usually require multiple people to fire them effectively. However, these types of firearms use massive rounds that can tear through buildings, cars, and other structures.
Heavy machine guns are typically mounted on vehicles or other surfaces, as they can’t be carried by the shooter. They must also have some form of heat dissipation. Firing an HMG without cooling it can literally melt the barrel.
Light Machine Guns
Light machine guns are a step between assault rifles and heavy machine guns. They are designed to fire rounds rapidly and can be magazine-fed or belt-fed.
They differ from heavy machine guns in that they can be carried and operated by a single person. Like heavy machine guns, however, LMG shooters must be careful not to overheat their weapons.
Do You Know the Different Guns Available to You?
As you can see, there are countless different firearms you can buy to target shoot, hunt, or protect your home. We hope our guide to the different guns available on the market provides the information you need to make your purchase.
Just remember to learn about your local gun laws and, of course, about gun safety. And if you’re looking for more consumer insight or lifestyle tips, you’re in the right place. Read through some of our other articles before you go.