Newbie coming onto the rifle/shotgun forum...

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Thread: Newbie coming onto the rifle/shotgun forum...

  1. #1
    Member Array LaraCroft10's Avatar
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    Newbie coming onto the rifle/shotgun forum...

    Question: how can you tell the difference between a rifle and a shotgun by looking at them? I think I know the primary differences between the two (rifle bullets spin and go farther and are more accurate, shotgun bullets kinda...lob into something and then burst into pellets or something? And are good for shooting game), but I wondered if there was a way to tell the difference just by looking at them.

    I feel like I'm getting to know handguns really well, but I'm ready to expand my fund of knowledge. Teach me!
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    Member Array mpbond's Avatar
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    A shotgun will usually have a larger ejector port on the side and a larger diameter barrel. Those are the most obvious differences just at a glance. Most sporting shotguns don't have sights like a rifle, but will have a bead at the end of the barrel where the front sight would be and maybe a bead half way down the barrel. Slug guns or tactical shotguns may have rifle style sights.



    edited for clarity.
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    VIP Member Array 10thmtn's Avatar
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    The business end of a shotgun barrel is much, much, MUCH larger than any rifle.

    Rifles fire high-pressure cartridges, so the barrel walls need to be thicker. Shotguns fire at a lower pressure, so the barrel walls are thinner. Thus, the bore is much larger on a shotgun.

    Most shotguns (other than dedicated slug guns) are smooth bore. They can fire many different kinds of shells. The primary ones are birdshot (small pellets); buckshot (much larger pellets); and slugs (one large projectile).

    Hope this helps - tons of info out there!
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    Anything with a full length Rib on top of the barrel is most likely a Shotgun. Dual barrels is most likely a Shotgun. Fancy Fowl engraving on the reciever is most likely a Shotgun.
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    VIP Member Array Crowman's Avatar
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    I guess the easiest tell is look at the open end of the barrel.

    Shotgun: approx. size of a nickel

    Rifle: depending on caliber approx. size of pencil (some a bit larger or smaller)
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    Well, it can seem a bit confusing, particularly if viewed at a glance from some distance.

    What I look for is: fatter barrel (generally, if 20ga or 12ga), fatter spare cartridge storage (generally, whether a magazine or a mag tube underneath the barrel), a fatter forestock assembly (generally), and a larger ejection port area. Though, on the smaller-caliber shotguns, even these distinctions can be minor.

    Reality is, at a glance both a rifle and shotgun can essentially look quite similar. Both can have the same "wood" or "black rifle" look to it, have a telescoping butt-stock assembly, have similar sights, even have a similar detachable AK or AR style "banana" magazine out the bottom. Both can be lever-action, or pump action, or semi-auto. Even the ejection port areas can resemble one another, and both can have similar "cocking" bolt handles. It can be confusing.

    If you want to really go nuts, compare something like the Marlin 336 .30-30 lever-action rifle to the Marlin 410 .410cal lever-action shotgun, which appear nearly identical to one another except for the caliber of cartridge (shell) used. Or, possibly the FN P90 semi-auto bullpup-style rifle to the Halo P12 semi-auto bullpup style shotgun. Or just look at any one of the Kriss designs, to see if you can even figure out whether it's animal, vegatable or mineral (rifle, shotgun, machine gun, toaster). To get really confused, check the Izhmash Saiga AK-style shotguns as compared to the Saiga AK-style rifle counterparts.

    Invariably, though, a shotgun's sound and ejected shell will be obviously different; no rifle makes that sound, or ejects anything like the fatter spent shell casing that the shotgun does.

    One of the better ways to get into the swing of more quickly identifying the typical differences is to leverage Google or Dogpile (or some other decent search) and look for images of "12ga shotgun" and "bolt action rifle" and "lever-action rifle."
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