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Ready, Aim, Fire: Your Guide to the Different Types of Rifles


Have you ever thought about purchasing your first rifle? Here is a brief guide to some of the most popular types of rifles.

In recent years, more than five million Americans have purchased their first firearm. More and more citizens are interested in owning guns than ever before.

Are you looking to buy your first firearm? Whether you want to start hunting in order to put healthy, humane meat on the table, or you want to ensure you can defend yourself and your home, rifles are often the best type of gun to buy.

There are many types of rifles available for many different use cases. Wondering what the different types of rifles are, and which are the best rifles for your goals? Keep reading below to learn all you need to know before choosing your first long gun. 

Rifle Definition

Rifles are long guns designed to be fired from the shoulder, rather than handguns which are held in front of, and away from, the body.

Rifles feature a long body and a long barrel. On the inside of a rifle barrel are groove patterns. The raised area of the grooves (called lands) makes contact with the bullet as it leaves the barrel.

The grooves cause the bullet to spin, which leads to long-distance, accurate shooting. Long-distance shots make rifles ideal for hunting and target shooting.

Rifles can be broken up into different categories depending on the type of action. Action is the process of loading a bullet into the chamber and preparing the gun to fire. Here are the most common types of rifle actions you'll come across. 

Lever Action Rifle

Lever action rifles were common among cowboys in the wild west. Even today, with modern lever-action rifles, most feature a classic wood body that revels in old-world charm.

To load a lever-action gun, you'll move the lever down and forward, and then bring it back again. Doing this pushes the bolt back while pulling a cartridge into the chamber. 

The lever is most often built into the trigger guard, which keeps your trigger finger at the ready. This positioning makes them fast to reload and shoot with.

They are good short-range rifles that make backyard plinking or small game hunting a blast. 

Pump Action Rifle

When it comes to pump-action guns, shotguns are much more popular. Pump-action rifles are less common but are still an option. 

They are simple to use, and one of the fastest rifles to reload. Just slide the pump forward and back, and you're ready to fire another round. 

You can find pump-action rifles in various calibers, ranging from 22 LR to 30-06, making them a great option for target shooting and hunting small and medium-sized animals. 

Bolt Action Rifle

When it comes to manual long guns, bolt action rifles are the most common today. They're easy to use, extremely reliable, and come in a wide variety of cartridges.

To use a bolt action rifle, you'll engage the bolt by moving it up, then pulling it back. Pushing it forward again loads a round into the chamber and prepares the rifle to shoot.

The process of reloading can be done without moving the rifle or losing your target. This makes it ideal for hunting when a follow-up shot is needed.

The rifle range on bolt action rifles is often the longest. And with calibers ranging from 22 LR to the largest, heaviest bullet you can imagine, there's nothing you cannot hunt with a bolt action rifle. 

The firing rate on bolt action rifles is still low, but that usually isn't a concern for hunters or target shooters. And magazine capacity is usually low, but again, if you shoot well, you only need to shoot once. 

The Ruger American bolt action rifle is one of the most popular and comes in a variety of styles and calibers. 

Semi-Automatic Rifle

Semi-automatic rifles are those that load a new round into the chamber automatically, using the energy produced from the previous shot. 

There are different methods for semi-auto rifles. This includes gas, blowback, blow-forward, and recoil-powered semi-automatic guns. 

But in general, the force created from the original shot causes the spent cartridge to eject and pulls a new cartridge into the chamber automatically. You can then pull the trigger again to fire your next shot.

So with a semi-automatic rifle, the process of loading a bullet into the chamber is automatic. But you have to pull the trigger for each and every shot. 

Semi-automatic rifles don't have quite the range that bolt action rifles do. But as they improve, they are becoming more popular among hunters. The Ruger 10/22 is a great option.

However, most of the semi-automatic rifles sold today are assault rifles or tactical rifles. Rather than for hunting, these are used primarily for target shooting or self-defense.

There are different types of assault rifles, but in general, they are lightweight and compact, making them easy to use. 

Types of Assualt Rifles

The terms assault rifle and AR-15 are used interchangeably. But contrary to popular belief, AR-15 doesn't stand for "assault rifle." It stands for ArmaLite, which is the company that originally designed this type of gun in the 1950s.

The gun manufacturer Colt later purchased the rights to the AR-15 design. You can still buy the Colt AR-15 today. 

But now, AR-15 is a blanket term for any gun, from any manufacturer, based on the original design of the lightweight AR-15 tactical rifle. So you can find ARs from manufacturers like Ruger, Mossberg, Remington, Savage Arms, and many others. 

Fully Automatic Rifle

Fully automatic rifles go one step further. Not only are the cartridges reloaded automatically, but they are fired automatically as well. All you have to do is hold down the trigger to continue firing the rifle.

These are generally only seen in the military, as the manufacturing of fully automatic machine guns has been discontinued for civilian use.  

The Right Types of Rifles for You

There are many different types of rifles for different types of shooters. There are rifles that are perfect for long-range hunters, looking to chase Mule Deer out West. And there are rifles designed for home defense.

Rifles can be affordable. They are easy to learn how to use, and they can provide many forms of recreation.

Check out our full selection of rifles here to find the perfect option for you. 

Action Armory, LLC, Gun Shop, Kathleen, GA