Long guns have been around for centuries, and to this day they are still important when it comes to activities such as hunting, sporting, and self-defense. Since their inception, long guns have undergone a transformation, becoming even more versatile and advanced as the years go by.

If you are unfamiliar with long guns, the vast options that are available could make selecting a long gun seem like a daunting task. In this post, we will explore long guns in depth, learning about the basics of long guns, the different types that are available, as well as what they are useful for.


What’s Considered a Long Gun?

A long gun is a type of firearm that has a long barrel. Unlike a handgun, which can be held and operated with one hand, long guns are meant to be held with both hands and steadied by the shoulder. The length of the barrel of a long gun is subject to various gun laws that are in place. As an example, the National Firearms Act in the United State states that there is a minimum length of 16 inches for rifle barrels and 18 inches for shotgun barrels.

Long guns have shoulder stocks that provide structural support to the weapon. A gunstock is the back portion or butt of the gun, which in a long gun is often braced against the shooter’s shoulder. Modern gunstocks can have a variety of features. They are made from a variety of materials, and there are detachable or folding stocks. There are also one-piece and two-piece stocks. A one-piece stock features a butt and a fore-end that are one continuous piece, which is commonly found on bolt action rifles. Two-piece stocks use separate pieces for the butt and fore-end, and are commonly found on break-action and lever-action firearms.

Types of Long Guns

The two main types of long guns are rifles and shotguns. Rifles and shotguns have several key differences between them that distinguish them from each other.A third type of long gun is a carbine.

Rifles: A rifle is a type of long gun that has a rifled bore and shoots single projectiles. The word “rifling” is descriptive of spiraled grooves which are cut into the bore of the barrel of the rifle. Rifling causes the ammunition in the gun to spin when fired, which increases the accuracy of the bullet’s path.

Shotguns: Shotguns are a type of long gun that fire multiple pellets that spread out when they leave the barrel of the gun. One gun can shoot various sizes of projectiles. The three main types of shotguns include break-action, pump-action, and semi-automatic.

Carbines: A carbine is a long gun where the barrel has been shortened from its original length. Modern carbines are often rifles that are more compact than a standard rifle. Submachine guns are an example of an automatic carbine firearm.

How to Choose the Best Long Gun for You

When selecting a long gun, you’ll want to consider its use. Are you hunting, using the weapon for self-defense, or are firearms a hobby? Read on to learn more about selecting the best long gun for your purposes!


Shotguns and rifles are both popular choices for hunting. Shotguns are better for shooting quick-moving targets, such as quail and rabbits. They are also great for shooting at physically large animals like black or grizzly bears. They are very useful when it comes to hunting at a shorter range, while rifles tend to fair better against long range targets due to their accuracy. Animals such as deer, moose, and other large animals require a more precise shot, and a rifle is perfect for proving that.


Generally, people select handguns when their intended purpose is self-defense, but that doesn’t mean you can’t possibly use a long gun for that purpose as well. If you choose to use a rifle for self-defense, the best choice would be a semi-automatic or lever action rifle. Avoid using a bolt action rifle. However, keep in mind that rifles tend to work best when you can pick your shots carefully, which you may not be able to do in a home invasion. A shotgun might work better as the bullets will be more spread out and require less precision. Another thing to keep in mind: rifle rounds can travel through the house and land on targets you did not intend. For this reason, shotguns are preferred over rifles for home defense.

Long Guns as a Hobby

If you are simply purchasing your long guns for hobby purposes, you can really choose whatever type of gun you prefer. Consider the fact that rifles come in a wider variety of types, offering a more diverse selection to choose from than shotguns. This might make them more exciting for hobbyists and collectors.

Long Gun Calibers and Ammunition

When using a long gun, it’s important to use the right ammunition. Not all long guns use the same ammunition, and different ammunition is used for different purposes. Consult your manufacturer’s manual to learn more about your specific firearm, and remember to keep your purpose in mind.

Long Gun Safety

As with all firearms, there are certain safety rules that one should follow when using a long gun. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Long guns should be unloaded when not in use.
  • Don’t point your long gun at anything you wouldn’t want to shoot.
  • Even if the safety is on, treat the long gun as though it can fire at any time.
  • Always wear eye and ear protection when shooting.
  • Service your long guns regularly.

Maintaining Your Long Gun

It’s important to know how to maintain your long gun. For a comprehensive guide, check out our tips for cleaning a gun. It’s important that you clean your gun according to factory instructions and best practices on a regular basis. You’ll want to clean it after target practice and range time and after hunting. If your gun is rarely used, you’ll still want to clean it about 2-4 times annually to remove dust and other residue.


What is the difference between rifles and shotguns?

Shotguns and rifles are both types of long guns, but they have several key differences. A rifle fires a single projectile of a specific size, while a shotgun fires multiple pellets of varying sizes that spread out when they are shot from the gun.

How can I ensure that my long gun is functioning properly?

It’s important to take good care of your gun. You can do this by having it cleaned and serviced regularly – read your manufacturer instructions to learn how to best care for your particular firearm.

How should I store my long gun when it’s not in use?

As with all guns, your gun should be stored safely and securely when not in use. A gun safe with a lock is a great option.