Should I get a rifle or shotgun for my first firearm?

Posted by Veronica Gene Ariño on Jun 12th 2020

The thought of having your first firearm should be exciting but for a first-timer, it could also be baffling to decide which type of gun you should get.

I think the first thing you need to consider is why are you buying a gun? Will you need it for home defense, hunting, or shooting sports?

Rifle vs Shotgun vs Handgun

The next thing you need is to do your homework and research the different types of guns. Personal defense firearms can range from the smallest pocket pistols to shotguns, and even rifles. It may also be helpful to visit your local gun store. They can give you expert advice and recommendations on the types of guns you should choose.

Why would you buy a rifle?

Rifles are most common for hunting. They provide accurate shots and can be purchased in calibers popular for a certain game. The .17+ caliber is popular for varmints and other small pests, the .222+ calibers are popular for deer, and the .300+ or larger calibers are popular for larger animals such as elk, moose, or bear. Traditionally bolt action guns are desirable for accuracy, lever action guns are great for brush and close-range areas that my require quick follow up shots. Semi-autos are excellent for first-time hunters since they are easy to use, tend to have a lighter recoil, and can be feed by a magazine.

Hunting Rifle

Why would you buy a shotgun?

For home defense, a shotgun may be the best option. Choices include semi-automatic, pump-action, or even single shot. You also have long and shorter-barreled options for the shotguns. Typically you will want a short barrel since this is the easiest to maneuver down tight hallways found in most homes. You can mount lights or laser sights on most shotguns. These additions are reliable, effective, and fairly easy to use. 

Shotguns are also popular for shooting sports and hunting. Trap and skeet are popular games that use shotguns to hit flying disks of clay. When hunting birds, such as waterfowl or pheasant, shotguns are the primary firearm. 12, 20, and .410 gauges are the most popular, and as the numbers get higher, the shell gets smaller. So a .410 is smaller than a 20 gauge shell, and in like a 20 gauge is smaller than a 12 gauge shell. Semi-autos have become popular but pump-action shotguns are still found in most people’s collections. Break actions are more basic than either the pump or semi-auto shotguns and are often seen in the sports of skeet and trap shooting.

man holding shotgun at a shooting competition

What should you consider if you are going to carry a sidearm?

When carrying your firearm, you have several options, the most common are open carry or concealed carry. Depending on how you want to carry your gun, along with the way you dress certain factors may help determine what kind of firearm to get. Generally, a firearm that you will carry as a self-defense weapon is going to be a pistol. Size is important if you are planning to conceal the gun.

Another thing you should never neglect is learning how to shoot the gun you choose. I know several people who have bought a pistol for self-defense but they do not know if it works! This is because they have never bothered to practice and train with it. Carrying a firearm that you assume will work when you need it is more of a liability than a benefit. I suggest you have a regular visit to the shooting range prior to buying a gun and as a firearm owner. At some ranges, You can rent different types of firearms for practice at the shooting range. This is very helpful in determining what handgun fits your hand, shooting, and carrying style.

Alien Gear Shoulder Holster with HandK USP Compact and 2 side spare magazines

Now that you know more, what next?

Once you know why you want to buy, your next stop should be a local gun store. Local gun stores can help you not only find the best firearm for your needs, but they can also help you find local shooting events and groups, training courses, and hunting regulations. When hunting or engaging in shooting sports. It is important to consider the type of guns you want to use. Some guns may not be allowed for hunting in certain areas in the U.S. It is important to research the guns allowed when you’re planning to go on a hunting trip. Limited magazine capacity is a common rule when hunting game animals.

Here is a list of rifles commonly used for hunting:

  1. DPMS G2 SASS .308 Win
  2. Savage 110 Tactical - 6.5 Creedmoor
  3. Savage AXIS II .308 Win Bolt Action Rifle
  4. Remington Model 700 ADL SS .308 Win
  5. Thompson Center Arms Compass .270 Winchester
  6. Marlin 1895SBL Lever-Action Rifle

Here are some common shotguns popular with first-time sportsmen:

  1. Browning Silver Field 12 Gauge Semi Auto Shotgun
  2. Winchester SX4 Hybrid Hunter 26" 12 Gauge Shotgun 3.5
  3. Remington V3 Field Sport 12 GA 28" Shotgun
  4. Benelli M2 20 Gauge 28” Field Shotgun
  5. Charles Daly 214E 12 GA 28" Over Under Shotgun

Who says hunting is just for rifles? There are a lot of great handguns you can use for hunting even for the big game! Here are some of the handguns commonly used for hunting:

  1. Ruger Redhawk & Super Redhawk
  2. Smith & Wesson Model 29
  3. Taurus Raging Bull
  4. Ruger Blackhawk & Super Blackhawk

These are just some pieces of advice to help you choose your first-ever firearm. There is no right or wrong choice when buying a gun as long as you’re comfortable using it and of course, gun safety is of utmost priority and that includes firearm protection. You need heavy-duty, quality cases to keep your firearms safe and secure.