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Buying Your First Gun

By December 21, 2017The Hunt

Buying Your First Gun

Should you buy a handgun, shotgun, or a rifle, and what kind of caliber should you purchase? Each one of these guns differs in size, type of barrel, and ammunition that is used.

The main similarity between these three weapons is that they all fire bullets. However, each weapon has its own exclusive features that separate it apart from the other.


There are many different handgun manufacturers on the market; however, there are only two basic types of handguns available. The first type, and the oldest, is known as a revolver. This weapon has a rotating cylinder that holds the ammunition.

When you pull the trigger, the cylinder rotates and the bullet fires through the chamber of the gun. Revolvers usually hold five or six rounds.

The other type of handgun is referred to as the pistol. This weapon is semi-automatic and holds the ammunition inside an eternal magazine.

When you pull the trigger, the bullet automatically fires through the chamber. After the cartridge is released, another round is immediately loaded in the chamber.


Shotguns are versatile long guns because they can fire different types of shells. The bird shot shell is made up of small BB-like metal spheres, which are packed with padding and powder inside the shell. As the name implies, this size shell is often used to hunt for birds. There are different size birdshot shells available on the market. Its size is designated by a number, normally eight to one, and the smaller the number, the larger the shot.

The larger size shotgun shell is known as buckshot. This shell has larger sized pellets than birdshot. Buckshot is usually intended for bigger game, such as deer.  It’s size is designated in the same manner as a birdshot round, except that when shot sizes get larger than number one, it switches to single ought, double ought, and triple ought.

Shotguns can also fire slugs, which are basically just a large lead bullet. Slugs are single projectiles that are generally used for big game that is beyond the range of buckshot. Slugs essentially turn your shotgun into a rifle. While buckshot has an effective range of approximately 25-30 yards, slugs can be accurate at a range of about 100 to 200 yards.

The gauge of a shotgun is the measurement of the barrel and refers to the size of the shell that will fit through the barrel. Shotguns usually come in the following gauges: 10, 12,16,20,28, and 410. One of the most often used gauges is the 12 gauge shotgun. However, the 20 gauge shotgun is frequently used for home defense because it’s smaller, but still has plenty of stopping power.  Compared to handguns, shotguns are generally much more powerful.


The rifle is primarily known for its long range capabilities and is designed to be fired from the shoulder. Rifles can be bolt action, where the gun’s bolt is operated manually by opening and closing a lever on the barrel.

Rifles can also be manufactured as semi or fully automatic weapons. A semi automatic rifle is similar to a semi automatic pistol in that each time the trigger is pulled, it will fire a round.  A fully automatic rifle will fire multiple rounds with a single trigger pull.

Rifles also come in a variety of calibers. The most inexpensive and basic model is the 22 caliber rifle. This firearm has very little recoil and is easy to shoot. One of the largest calibers available is the 50 caliber rifle. This rifle is accurate at long distances and has very effective stopping power. For these reasons, it is regularly favored by military snipers.

Bottom Line

Whether you buy a handgun, shotgun, or a rifle is a matter of personal choice. It also depends on what you will be using the firearm for. You don’t want to buy a handgun if you intend on hunting big game. Alternately, if you plan on just using a gun for target practice, you probably don’t want to purchase a large caliber rifle.




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