Rifle vs Shotgun: Difference and Comparison

For many people, guns are something to be scared of, but one can not deny their fascinating details. The science used in guns, their making, and their objectives can help differentiate between different types of guns.

Rifles and shotguns have a similar outlook, but their structure and usage are different.

Key Takeaways

  1. A rifle is a long gun with a rifled barrel designed for long-range accuracy, while a shotgun is a smoothbore gun with a shorter range and a wider spread of projectiles.
  2. Rifles are better for hunting and target shooting than shotguns.
  3. Shotguns are more versatile and suitable for various activities, including hunting, self-defense, and sport shooting than rifles.

Rifle vs Shotgun

Rifles are long-barreled firearms designed for accurate shooting, with a barrel that has a helical pattern of grooves (rifling) cut into the bore walls. Shotguns are a type of firearm designed for firing small projectiles from a smoothbore barrel, used for hunting small game.

Rifle vs Shotgun

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Rifles are firearms that are used in stationary targets. This type of gun is not fitted for self-protection.

However, targets that dwell far can easily be hit. The bullets of rifles are small and thus can travel rapidly towards their target.

Shotguns are firearms that are long and best fit for self-defence. This smooth-textured bore gun can easily target things moving in the air.

For short-distance shots, a shotgun is an ideal pick. It can hit a target that is up to 50 yards away. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonRifleShotgun
Weight Rifles mainly get used in firing at stationary targets.Comparatively, a shotgun is less heavy than a rifle.
Type of boreRifles have spiral bores.The bore of the shotgun is smooth.
Number of firesA rifle is capable of firing only one lead.A shotgun can fire small leads in dozens.
Range Rifles help in a long range.Shotguns come to be helpful in short-range.
UsageShotguns can hit targets up to 50 yards away.To shoot at moving prey in the air, shotguns are very useful. 
Target distance A rifle is capable of hitting a target 75 to 100 yards away.Shotguns have the capacity to hit targets up to 50 yards away.

What is Rifle?

A rifle is a long weapon that requires shoulder support. The name of it comes from its rifling feature.

It means the rifles’ grooves are designed to be cut into the shape of a barrel. These grooves help the bullets to come out with more force and precision.

Rifles are best suited when one needs to take a long-distance shot. A gun is capable of hitting a target 75 to 100 yards away.

The distance a rifle bullet can reach depends on the rifle’s power. Rifles mainly get used in firing at stationary targets.

Another critical aspect of the rifle is that it can fire only one lead, so one can not use it for self-defence. The bullets of the rifles are designed to be minor so they can travel faster.

The older version of the rifle was the musket, a musket used to hit imprecise fire. Later the gun was modified to be operated in precise shooting and attempting to fire at individual targets.

Despite using hearing protection, the constant exposure to intense shooting noise of the rifle can lead to hearing loss.


What is a Shotgun?

A shotgun is a weapon and needs shoulder support as it is long. The bore of the gun is not spiral but smooth.

The size of its bore ranges from 0.22 inches to 2 inches. The fire of a shotgun depends on the power of a fixed shell. 

A wide range of shotguns is available in the market. Some of them are – semi-automatic, fully automatic, pump-action and lever-action.

If you shoot one shot, the fire will contain dozens of small pellets. This gun is trendy among people who carry weapons for self-protection.

However, it can only shoot targets that are 50 yards away. One can easily aim short-distance targets using this firearm.

One can also use this gun to shoot at the moving prey in the air. This is the reason the shotgun is popular among hunters.

Being a gun for self-defence, many assume that not much mastery is needed to use this weapon. But the reality is that the ability to aim at the target is a primary requirement to use it effectively.

Not only in personal defence, the shotgun is widely used in sports like trap shooting and sporting clays discs. 


Main Differences Between Rifle and Shotgun

  1. A rifle will always be heavier than a shotgun, and a gun is light in weight.
  2. Rifles can hit their target 75 to 100 yards away, while shotguns can only reach up to 50 yards.
  3. The bore of a rifle is spiral, but the shotgun always possesses a smoothbore. 
  4. A rifle can be used to fire only one lead, but on the contrary, a shotgun can fire small leads in dozens.
  5. When it comes to long-range targets, rifles are very useful, and in short-range, shotguns appear to be more helpful.
  6. When it comes to shooting at stationary targets, rifles should be chosen, but shotguns will work more effectively to shoot at moving prey in the air. 
  7. The rifle’s shot relies on a regulated declaration, while the shot of the shotgun counts on the energy provided by the fixed shell.
Difference Between Rifle and Shotgun
  1. https://europepmc.org/article/med/11400826
  2. https://journals.lww.com/jcraniofacialsurgery/fulltext/2005/09000/management_of_close_range,_high_energy_shotgun_and.11.aspx

Last Updated : 14 October, 2023

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