Your guide to today’s popular rifle types, their uses, things to consider, ammunition, and so much more.
- Each rifle type varies in length, weight, ammo, and serves its unique purpose
- The rifle you select should be the one that best fits your requirements
- Bolt-action rifles work best for hunting, while Semi-automatic and automatic rifles work best for home defense
- Semi-automatic rifles fire the fastest, whereas break-action rifles take somewhat longer
Rifles have become the most reliable weapon since their inception in the early 1700s.
Over the years, rifles have become a favorite amongst gun enthusiasts.
However, when it comes to rifle types, there's a lot of information out there, and honestly, it can be a bit overwhelming browsing through all that data.
Some rifle types that get a lot of attention, like automatic rifles, aren’t generally legal on the US market and won’t be part of your buying consideration.
In this guide, we're rounding up the top rifle types for your consideration along with what you need to know to choose the right one for your needs.
Top 5 Rifle Types to Consider
Bolt-Action serves as a manual, long-range, and precision shooting rifle.
You lift the handle on the side of the rifle to unlock the bolt, open the breech, withdraw the spent cartridge, and eject it.
Once done, move the handle forward to place a new round into the breech and lock the bolt in place.
The first bolt action rifle came out in 1824.
From the late 19th century through WW1 and WW2, these were the most commonly used infantry service weapons.
Sniper rifles used by marksmen fall into this category.
- You can disassemble and reassemble bolt-action rifles comparatively fast because they have fewer moving parts.
- Most bolt-action firearms get fed by an internal magazine. The operator can load by hand or use stripper clips.
- Bolt-action firearms have a detachable magazine, independent magazine, or no magazine at all, and this requires each round to be independently loaded. The capacity is limited to two to ten rounds.
- A decent bolt-action rifle will cost you somewhere around $150.
- 7.62x39mm is the most popular round, used in the Ruger M77 and Howa M1500. The CZ 550 uses a .243 Winchester and .308 Winchester round. However, some models may chamber a 7.62×51mm NATO round.
- The Remington 700 is one of the most popular bolt-action rifles.
These old-school, western-type rifles are another common rifle type.
The lever-action rifle works by moving the lever located around the trigger-guard area downwards to eject the spare cartridge.
You bring it back to chamber a new round, cock the firing pin, and push the cartridge forward.
When you pull the trigger, the hammer strikes the firing pin, which will then hit the cartridge, and cause the bullet to project from the rifle.
Users can either load the cartridges through the loading gate on the side or straight into the magazine tube.
- Lever Action rifles use low-pressure cartridges with rounded bullets or high-pressure cartridges with pointed bullets.
- Owners can attach a scope, laser light, wrap, and many other accessories.
- Expect to pay at least $500 for a quality Henry lever-action model.
- The .30-30 is the most commonly used cartridge. Besides this, the .41 Magnum, .45-70, .45 Colt, .32-20 Winchester, .308 Marlin Express are some of the other popular cartridges.
- Some lever-action rifles have a transfer bar safety to prevent them from firing accidentally.
- The Winchester model 1873 is one of the most famous lever-action rifles.
A Semi-Automatic rifle fires one bullet with each pull of the trigger.
It will discharge the old bullet and reload a new one with each pull and release.
The ability to automatically load the next round increases the number of rounds per minute, so the rifle works as quickly as you can operate the trigger.
- One of the most popular, lightweight, gas-operated, ergonomic, and high-capacity semi-automatic rifles is the AR-15. It comes with a typical barrel length of 20", chambers in 5.56×45mm, and has a firing range of around 600 yards.
- Semi-automatic rifles are fed by an external magazine or stripper clip.
- Most people generally use Semi-automatic rifles for sport shooting, hunting, and self-defense.
- A decent Semi-automatic rifle will set you back at least $500.
- These rifle types allow a lot of room for customization with scopes, lights, handguards, and other accessories.
The break-action rifle type is common in single-shot rifles as well as single-barrel and double-barrel shotguns.
In this action style, the user rotates the barrel down to expose the breech, allowing the loading and unloading of cartridges.
A hinge pin connects the two parts of the rifle.
Insert a cartridge into the breech, close it, and latch it. Once done, pull back the hammer and cock it.
Now, the rifle is ready to fire. Break action rifles operate identically for right-handed and left-handed operators.
Some break-actions accept very long cartridges like .410 bore shells, 20 gauge, and 28 gauge.
The H&R Handi-Rifle, with a 22" barrel and 7lbs of weight, chambers in .22 hornet and .45/70.
The single-shot "Rossi Tuffy Youth" is 18.5" and 1.8lbs of break-action beauty chambered in for a .410 bore. The Thompson Contender rifle can take a .22 Long Rifle to .45-70.
Another popular rifle type is the pump-action rifle, sometimes referred to as “slide-action” rifles.
Some popular models include the Winchester Model 62, Remington Model 12, Remington 760, and Remington 7600.
Some pump-action rifles have barrels ranging from 22″ to 28″. The tubular magazine under the barrel can hold six to eight rounds.
To use a Pump-Action, slide the forestock back to eject the spent cartridge.
Push it forward to pick up a fresh cartridge from the magazine, chamber it, and lock it in a full-forward position.
The user need not remove his hand from the trigger while reloading, making it faster than a bolt-action and lever-action rifle.
There are a number of rifle types out there, and each one has its unique specializations.
You may want a single-shot rifle or a double-barreled shotgun.
The exact rifle will depend on your needs. Some rifles work well for hunting purposes but don't do so well with home defense.
Do enough research before buying one. If you want to learn more about rifles, then check out our blogs.