General Question

LadyMarissa's avatar

What is a long gun & how does it differ from a rifle?

Asked by LadyMarissa (6877points) October 3rd, 2018

I saw a security footage
of a guy robbing a store with a “long gun”. It looked like a rifle to me; so, I started googling. The results clearly explained the difference between a long gun & a hand gun. I never discovered the appropriate search query to get my answer. Wiki had a piece on “long guns” but the description sounded like they were describing a rifle to me. It drives me crazy to not be able to find the answer to what I want to know. So, can you explain to me the difference between a “long gun” & a rifle???

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14 Answers

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

A rifle is a long gun, as opposed to a handgun. You hold the butt of a long gun against your shoulder.

LadyMarissa's avatar

@Call_Me_Jay Thank you!!! I thought that was what I was seeing; yet nothing ever said that they were one in the same & I don’t like “assuming”!!!

kritiper's avatar

Some old guns were smooth bores, meaning no spiral grooves inside barrel to help bullets rotate and thus fly more accurately to a target. These grooves are called “rifling” which is where the term “rifle” comes from.

Zaku's avatar

Seems like most shotguns would also be long guns, rather than rifles, too.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I believe the term serves only to distinguish the weapon from a pistol (hand gun).

MrGrimm888's avatar

In my state, they are shotguns, and rifles.
As @kritiper pointed out, a “rifle” has grooves inside the barrel, to make the projectile spin, and enhance it’s accuracy.
Most shotguns have a smooth bore. They fire mainly different types of wads of pellets. Only a shotgun specially designed for slugs has a rifled barrel. A slug is basically a massive bullet.

There are lengths to consider as well. Well, barrel lengths.

In my state, an 18 year old person can buy any long gun. That includes everything from a Barret .50 cal sniper rifle, to a .22 cal squirrel gun.

LadyMarissa's avatar

I’d like to thank EVERYONE who responded!!! From the security footage, the weapon in question didn’t appear to be a shotgun. Then again, I’m the first to admit that I don’t know one gun from another; so, maybe it was & just didn’t look like it to me!!!

While doing my own research, I just wasn’t finding a clear classification & I knew that there had to be a jelly who could enlighten me. Again THANK YOU one & ALL!!!

seawulf575's avatar

Any gun you brace against your shoulder is a long gun. Shotguns and rifles both qualify.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Most handguns have rifling and are therefore “rifles” also, just sayin.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Most handguns have rifling and are therefore “rifles”

That’s like insisting that motorcycle must be called bicycles, because they have two wheels. Language does not work that way.

Handguns are not rifles.Nobody uses the word that way..

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Just to further distinguish rifles from long guns.

kritiper's avatar

The Parrot rifles of Civil War era are also rifles, but were not long guns or pistols.
I think rifled long guns (shoulder fired) came along first so the long gun rifles are rifles, to distinguish between smooth bores and rifles. Pistols came along a little later and were rifled because the long guns were and accuracy was important for pistols as well as rifles. A rifled pistol is called a pistol to distinguish between the two. But guns are smooth bores, generally speaking, like the Brown Bess musket, shotguns, and Napoleon cannon. Large artillery and ship born guns are rifles, but aren’t called that specifically.
Generally speaking, in the local lingo, a rifle is a rifled long gun fired from the shoulder.
If one wishes, the whole subject can be endlessly moot, as @ARE_you_kidding_me has illustrated.

josie's avatar

There is a cute little basic rhyme. It starts “This is my rifle, this is my gun…”
Makes me nostalgic.

A rifle is what a soldier carries. A gun is the thing on a destroyer or in an artillary battery.

I bet it’s a new political term. People don’t say let’s ban pistols, they say let’s ban handguns because it has the word gun in it. Plus pistol sounds sort of charming in a Wild West sort of way.

People won’t say let’s ban rifles, they’ll say let’s ban long guns for the same reason.

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