The Outdoor World

Firearms

Rifle vs. Shotgun

Whether first generation or fifth generation, a hunter should be experienced with his or her firearm (or bow) before they set out on a hunting expedition, and they should always carry with them a healthy respect for the privilege of hunting. Make no mistake, hunting is a privilege!

Rifles are the most commonly used firearm for big game because of their accuracy and range. They are designed to hit a precise point with a single bullet (or projectile) and can travel at great distances and speed. A single shot can travel several miles at up to 3000 feet per second. Shotguns on the other hand are designed to shoot a spread of pellets which are contained in a plastic casing; they have a maximum range of a few hundred yards which makes them less desirable for big game hunting and more preferable for bird hunting. There’s a bit more to learn about the mechanics of rifles and shot guns, mostly having to do with the presence, or non-presence, of grooves within the barrel and why the bullet acts the way it does. To learn how rifles and shotguns work here are two excellent websites:

Rifles and Shotguns will be one of the following: single shot, pump, bolt action, or semi-automatic. The type of firearm a hunter chooses will largely depend on what he or she is hunting, what they are comfortable with, and what the laws and regulations of each state allow.

Single shot rifles and shotguns are less expensive, and usually more accurate. More importantly, where hunting is concerned, the silent action of a single shot rifle does not scare game. The down side to the single shot is that due to its ability to only shoot one bullet at a time, a hunter can not get multiple shots off quickly. If you miss your target the first time or need to fire twice you will likely lose precious time and possibly miss your shot. Additionally, when you are hunting dangerous game, having single shot capability increases the danger for the hunter. Single-shot designs can be found in all classes of hunting firearms, including rifles, shotguns, and handguns.

Pump action rifles and shotguns are distinguished by a handgrip which sits under the barrel of the rifle or shotgun. This handgrip is manually pumped back and forth in order to eject the expired shell and load a new shell into the chamber. This gives the hunter the ability to fire multiple rounds without reloading.

Bolt Action firearms are the most commonly used rifles. With bolt action firearms the process of loading shells and unloading spent casings is manual, and requires the operator to pull a small handle (the bolt) which unlocks the breech (the opening where bullets can be loaded). This handle is most commonly placed on the right-hand side of the weapon.

By manually pulling the bolt backwards and then pushing it forward again the shell casings are ejected, and another round of ammunition is inserted into the barrier chamber. When the bolt is closed and locked the rifle is ready to fire again. For more information on bolt action firearms see:

Semi-Automatic is a term generally used to describe a self loading rifle, which when loaded and cocked will fire a single bullet each time the trigger is pressed. Semi-automatic firearms do not require the operation of a bolt, lever, pump, or any other loading mechanism. Instead, the Semi-automatic firearm uses the reacting pressure of the fired bullet to eject the spent shell, at the same time loading another round of live ammunition.

Deciding which type of firearm to purchase can be complicated. Once you make the decision between single shot, bolt action, pump, or semi automatic you&##8217;ll still need to decide on single or double barrel, barrel length, chokes, and scopes, and let's not get started on ammunition. Luckily there are a lot of wonderful websites that will give detailed information on firearms and accessories. And there is plenty of help out there for those who truly want to learn how to hunt safely and successfully.

Click here for more info on Hunting Liscenses, or Hunting Safety.

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