A Simple Guide to Guns: The Basics

Shotgun vs AR-15 for home defense

Do you want to rant on Social Media about the gun debate, but you don’t know the difference between an AR-15 and a Glock 26? We are here to help…

From the simplest handguns through the powerful precision of sniper rifles, and the unmistakable force of shotguns, we’ll explore the intricacies and innovations that define these weapons.

Whether you’re a collector, a new shooter, or simply a Facebook Karen, this guide promises insights and discussions that resonate with your passion for guns. So, let’s embark on this journey through the world of firearms!


1. Handguns

Handguns are a cornerstone in the firearm enthusiast’s arsenal, revered for their portability and versatility. Primarily, they are categorized into two types: revolvers and semi-automatic pistols.

Taurus Raging Hunter .44 Magnum Revolver. An awesome gun for hunting, or home defense

Revolvers

Wheelguns stand as a testament to classic firearm engineering. Renowned for their reliability and simple mechanics, revolvers like the Colt Python and the Smith & Wesson Model 29 have etched their names in gun lore.

Their rotating cylinder typically holds 5-6 rounds, although a few can hold up to 8. The most popular calibers, by far, are 357 Magnum, 44 Smith & Wesson and 38 Sp, as well as 22LR revolvers for practise and plinking fun.

You can hunt big game with S&W 500, 454 Casull and other big calibers though.

Revolvers are basically point and squirt and almost infallible. They are mindblowingly simple and a long double action means you don’t need to worry about a safety.

So they’re popular with new shooters, hunters and as failsafe last line of defense against urban thieves or Alaskan wildlife.

Capacity, reload speed and weight generally go against revolvers, though.


Glock 19M, one of the grea

Semi Automatic Pistol

Semi Auto Pistols are modern firearms technology. These pistols use the energy from the fired cartridge to cycle the action, eject the spent casing, and chamber a new round, making them faster to shoot than revolvers.

The Glock 19 and the 1911 are prime examples, celebrated for their high capacity magazines and ease of customization. But they do come with added complexity and very occasional jams, especially with poor shooting technique or poorly maintained weapons.

The Glock 19 is famed for its lightweight, polymer frame and its remarkable reliability under various conditions.

In contrast, the 1911, a classic American icon, is revered for its crisp trigger and ergonomic grip, making it a favorite in competitive shooting circles.

9mm and 45 ACP are the dominant calibers, while 380 ACP Auto, 10mm Auto and 30 Super Carry are on sale, with varying degrees of success.


Primary Weapons Systems Mk111 Pro - One of the best AR-15 pistols for sale in 2024.

AR Pistols

These Close Quarters Combat weapons are favorites with Military and Law Enforcement in full auto form, and civilians that like to have the best firepower for home defense and recreational shooting.

Essentially AR pistols are chopped down Modern Sporting Rifles, with barrels ranging from 5-11.5 inches. Both 5.56 NATO and AAC 300 Blackout are popular rounds, and Pistol Caliber Carbines chambered in 9mm, 45ACP, 10mm and other handgun calibers often come under the AR pistol umbrella too.

They take standard AR-15 mags for the caliber, some of the PCCs take Glock mags and your red dots, AR-15 accessories will fit your pistol, too.

Of course there’s a battle in the courts right now after the ATF tried to reclassify any pistol with a brace as a Short Barrel Rifle. As it stands, that legislation shalt not pass, and you’re free to run an AR pistol with a brace.

Alternatively check out the best monolithic pistols, which can run without a brace if you so choose.

An AR pistol is effectively a weapon of war and they tend to be fast cycling, accurate and packing massive capacity. They’re the most capable pistols here, especially with the added precision of a stabilizing brace,

300BLK ammo was designed with a suppressor in mind. So you can run a can on your AR-style pistol, and save your ears.


Daniel Defense Delta 5 Pro

2. Rifles

Rifles, with their long barrels and precise aiming capabilities, are the epitome of accuracy and range in the world of firearms. For the seasoned enthusiast, there are four main types to consider: bolt-action, lever-action, semi-automatic rifles and single shot rifles.

Remington 700 SPS 6.5 Creedmoor rifle

Bolt Action Rifles

They are evered for their accuracy and reliability. But these rifles require the shooter to manually open and close the bolt to eject the spent cartridge and chamber a new round.

Bolt actions are the go-to rifle for the hunting community and they come in calibers ranging from rimfire to 50 BMG and everything in between.

223 Remington, 308 Win Mag, 6.5 Creedmoor, 243 Win and 30-06 Springfield remain the most popular calibers. 9mm rifles are increasingly popular for home defense and range use.

The Remington 700, a staple among hunters and marksmen for its precision and customizability. So much so that the Remington M24, based on the same action, has been the US military sniper rifle since 1988.

Other standout bolt action rifles include the Daniel Defense Delta 5 Pro, Tikka T3x, Browning X-Bolt and Mossberg Patriot.


Henry Repeating Arms 22LR

Lever Action Rifles

Lever action rifles offer a blend of historical charm, reliability through simple engineering and genuine performance.

The basic concept hasn’t changed much since the first 16 shot Henry Repeating Rifle had such an impact on the American Civil War. It was a revelation at the time. Troops said it was a rifle you loaded on Sunday and shot all week.

Henry Repeating Arms will sell you a faithful repilca or a gaudy tribute to that icon to this day. Marlin and Rossi are other brands to look out for.

They’ll sell you a big bore dangerous game hunting rifle or something a little more recreational.


Ruger AR-556 - the kind of cheap AR-15 Joe Exotic loves.
Ruger AR-556 for sale, a great budget AR-15

Semi-Automatic Rifles

Semi Auto Rifles essentially fire one round with each pull of the trigger and handle the ejection and reload process for you through the magic of gas power.

The controversial AR-15 is the poster child for semi-automatic rifles, but the gun control lobby has the black military style rifles in their sites.

Just to clarify, these are not assault rifles. Not even close. Assault rifles are fully automatic, and while it is legal to own them, the legal paperwork, the price of entry and the cost of ammo means that a relative handful of civilian rifles are full autos.

In many ways that’s unfair, as a Ruger Mini 14 is just as capable as an AR-15, but the wooden stock means it doesn’t look as threatening.

Semi-automatic rifles range from rotary mag fed rimfire rifles through to 50 Cal monsters.

The most popular options are the AR-15 cambered in 5.56x45mm NATO or AAC 300 Blackout, an AR-10 in 308 Win Mag or 6.5 Creedmoor. Of course there is also the Russian AK-47 rifle, which is the best selling rifle of all time outside the United States.

FN SCAR - The world's best machine gun

Assault Rifles

Full auto machine guns are an absolute rarity in the modern age and relatively few folks are prepared to jump through the banckground check hoops and pay upwards of $15,000 for a genuine assault rifle.

The military & police run full auto machine guns. With the class III license or the right FFL license, in the right State, you can buy one. But most people just don’t.

Anti gun folks will label any AR-15 as an assault rifle, but it simply isn’t true. Most owners are serious hobby shooters, dealers and collectors who wouldn’t endanger their license by taking it out in public and they are not the people the Left needs to worry about.

Assault rifles are generally chambered in 5.56x45mm NATo, 308 Winchester Magnum or 7.62x39mm. There are much bigger machine guns, including the Browning M2 military icon that has sprayed 50 BMG all over the world.


Thompson Center Single Shot Rifle

Single Shot Rifle

A break action rifle is one of the simplest and cheapest ways to go shooting. The simplicity means you can switch calibers in a moment and there’s almost nothing to go wrong.

The Thompson Center Encore range is arguably the most famous single shot rifle set and you can even buy a grip and change it into a hunting pistol. It’s the Swiss Army Knife of the hunting and shooting world.

Black Powder rifles have come a long way.

Black Powder Rifles

These have more in common with old school muskets than today’s high-tech firearms. Muzzle loaders are stronger, better engineered and lighter today, but these black powder rifles are still a fringe hobby.


Benelli M4 Tactical M1014 For sale. A great shotgun, in stock

Shotguns

Shotguns are renowned for their versatility and power, making them a favorite among gun enthusiasts for various applications, from hunting to sports shooting.

12 Gauge shotguns are the most popular, with the gauge referring to the width of the bore and, indirectly, power.

20 Gauge, 28 Gauge and 410 bore are all popular types of shotgun, and use significantly smaller shells. That’s just the start, as you can get shells loaded with buckshot, birdshot and vicious slugs for hunting and home defense.

The shells range from 2.5-3 inches in length, too, so there is a massive choice when it comes to shotgun ammo.

There are several main types of shotguns: semi-automatic, pump-action, side-by-side, and over-and-under.

Benelli M4 tactical shotgun, perfect engineering and a classic pistol grip

Semi-Automatic Shotguns

Semi-Automatic Shotguns automatically reload after each shot, using either gas or recoil operation. This feature allows for rapid follow-up shots, making them ideal for bird hunting and sporting clays.

Models like the Benelli M4 have gained immense popularity for their reliability and ease of use, especially in high-stress scenarios like law enforcement or home defense.


Mossberg 500 Persuader shotgun chambered in 20 gauge.

Pump-Action Shotguns

Pump-Action Shotguns are loved for their simplicity and reliability. The manual action of sliding the fore-end back and forth to eject a spent shell and chamber a new one offers a robust mechanism that rarely jams. The Mossberg 500 series stands out in this category for its versatility and affordability, making it a go-to choice for both hunting and home defense.


CZ side by side shotgun

Side by Side Shotguns

Side-by-Side Shotguns have a traditional design, with two barrels aligned next to each other. This classic configuration is often associated with hunting and sport shooting. Enthusiasts admire them for their balance and aesthetic appeal. The timeless elegance of a well-crafted side-by-side, like those made by Beretta, can make it a cherished item in any gun collection.

Author

  • Nick Hall

    Nick is a lifelong gun enthusiast who has a simple mission. He wants to find the best deals for guns online and help you make the best choices with weapons your life may depend on one day.Nick won a minor league shooting competition at the age of 11 and it all went from there. Now he runs one of the biggest firearms websites on the net and his work has featured in Playboy US, Tatler Asia, Forbes and a whole host of national magazines and websites.

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