Whether you're looking to add a rifle to your collection or are brand new to firearms, there's no denying that buying your first rifle can be intimidating. But with the right information and preparation, you'll be well on your way toward owning the perfect gun for you. In this post, we'll go over what you should know before buying a rifle and some tips for finding a great deal and learning how to use it safely. Let's get started.
Why do you want a rifle?
Before you start shopping around, it's important to have a clear idea of why you want a rifle. There are plenty of reasons why someone might purchase their first gun:
Hunting: If it's your goal to bring home dinner in the form of some venison steaks, then a rifle is probably the best tool for the job.
Home defense: From home invasions to break-ins, there are plenty of good reasons why someone would want a firearm around the house for self-defense purposes—and rifles are by far the most effective at this task, as well as many others.
Target practice/fun/learning how to shoot safely and accurately before moving on to more advanced guns later down the line.
Consider your budget
When you're buying a rifle, the first thing to consider is your budget. How much can you spend? What's your budget for the rifle itself, and what do you want to spend on accessories? Your ammunition needs will also come into play here, so take that into account.
It's important to have an idea of what kind of shooting experience you're looking for before going out and buying a gun based purely on price or popularity alone. Once you know what kind of shooting experience appeals to you most (target practice vs. hunting), then looking at how much money is available for this specific type of activity becomes easier to justify as well.
Choose your caliber
In the world of rifles, different calibers have different uses. A 30-06 is a great choice for medium to large games that you might be hunting at long range, but it's not ideal for most other situations. You'll want to consider the type of shooting you will be doing with your new rifle and make sure that its caliber fits that need. Here are some questions you should ask yourself:
- What animals will I be hunting?
- How far away does this animal usually get from me when I'm trying to shoot them?
- Is my budget unlimited, or do I need to keep costs down?
- What kind of ammunition is easy to find in my area?
Get the right barrel length and twist
The barrel length and twist rate are two important factors that affect the performance of your rifle. Barrel length is measured from the breach to the muzzle, and it affects how much velocity your bullet will have when leaving the barrel. A twist rate is a number that represents the rate of rotation of rifling inside your barrel; it's measured in inches per turn.
The longer your barrel, the slower its bullet velocity will be. However, if you want to hit targets at longer distances than usual, then consider getting a long rifle. Find the right material for you.
When you're looking for a new rifle, one of the first things you'll want to think about is what material it's made of. Different materials have different pros and cons when it comes to guns, so it's important to understand them before making any decisions.
Steel is strong and durable but heavy. Aluminum is lighter and less expensive than steel but not as strong or durable. If you're looking for a rifle that will stand up to heavy use, steel is probably your best bet. If you want something lighter, aluminum or polymer might be better suited. However, you can also find guns made from a combination of materials.
Look into gas systems
Gas systems are the method that a rifle uses to cycle ammunition. Gas systems can be either direct impingement or piston-driven, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Direct impingement gas systems are cheaper than piston-driven ones, but they tend to get dirty faster and will require more frequent cleaning. Piston-driven gas systems are more expensive but are also cleaner and tend to last longer. Some rifles, like the AR 15 rifle, come in both versions.
Do you want a free-floating handguard?
If you're looking at rifles, you'll see the term "free-floating handguard" thrown around a lot. What does that mean? A free-floating handguard is one that doesn't touch the barrel of your rifle at all. This allows for more flex in the barrel of your rifle and reduces stress on it, which can help improve accuracy.
If you want to take advantage of this feature, make sure it's available with your gun. It's not always an option, but many rifles can be bought with free-floating handguards if they have them. Just make sure to check before purchasing!
Pick the right stock
The stock, or the part of the gun that you hold, is an important consideration. Stock materials range from wood to synthetic and can be made with plastic, fiberglass, or metal.
These materials are used for their durability and ability to withstand heavy use.
Stock styles also vary depending on personal preference, but the most common style includes pistol grips and thumbhole stocks.
A quality stock should be comfortable in your hand whether you're shooting prone from the ground or standing up at an angle off a bench rest. Some stocks may require sanding or modifications before they fit perfectly, but it’s worth taking some time to find one that feels right if you spend much time with it.
So, what’s the takeaway? All in all, there are a lot of things to consider when buying a new rifle. But if you can narrow down your options and take time to do your homework, then you will have a much better chance of finding the right one for your needs.