The Complete Guide to Long Guns: Types, Uses, and Safety - Ghost 13

The Complete Guide to Long Guns: Types, Uses, and Safety

Quick Guide to Understanding Long Guns: - Type: Firearms with long barrels. - Use: Designed for precision and stability, used in hunting, sports, and defense. - Safety: Must be held with both hands and braced against the shoulder for proper use. - Legal Requirements: Barrel length minimums vary by country; e.g., 16 inches for rifles in the US.

Are you feeling overwhelmed by all the different kinds of firearms available? You're not alone. Many enthusiasts, especially those new to the scene, find it difficult to navigate the vast world of long guns and their specific uses and safety requirements.

Long guns, a category that includes rifles, shotguns, and more, are designed for precision and stability. They are typically used in a variety of settings, from hunting and sports shooting to personal defense and military operations. Unlike handguns, long guns are meant to be fired with both hands and braced against the shoulder, offering more control and accuracy.

However, with the power and potential of these firearms comes a responsibility to understand and adhere to safety measures. This includes knowing the legal requirements, such as minimum barrel lengths in your jurisdiction, and practicing safe handling and storage.

As we dive deeper into long guns, our focus will be on helping you understand the different types, their uses, and most importantly, how to ensure safe handling and storage. Whether you're looking into hunting, home defense, or competitive shooting, this guide will provide you with the knowledge you need to select the right long gun for your needs, maintain it properly, and, above all, handle it safely.

Types of Long Guns

When exploring firearms, particularly long guns, understand the different types available and their specific uses. This knowledge not only enhances your understanding but also aids in making informed decisions based on your needs. Let's dive into the main categories:


A shotgun is a firearm designed to fire a broad range of ammunition, from solid slugs to a spread of shot. Its versatility makes it popular for hunting, sport shooting, and home defense. Shotguns are distinguished by their smooth barrels and the capability to fire shells containing multiple pellets, which spread out after leaving the barrel.


Rifles are firearms designed with rifled barrels, meaning they have spiraling grooves cut into the barrel walls. This design imparts a spin to the bullet, greatly increasing accuracy over long distances. Rifles are widely used in hunting, sports, and military applications. They can fire a single bullet per trigger pull and come in various calibers to suit different purposes.

Assault Rifles

Assault rifles are a type of rifle capable of selective fire, meaning they can be adjusted to fire in semi-automatic or fully automatic modes. These firearms are typically used by military forces due to their versatility in close combat and long-range engagements. Civilian ownership of true assault rifles is heavily regulated or prohibited in many countries.

Sniper Rifles

Sniper rifles are high-precision rifles designed for accurate shooting at long distances. They often come equipped with telescopic sights to enhance visibility and accuracy. Used by military and law enforcement snipers, these rifles are engineered for excellent accuracy, range, and reliability.

Submachine Guns

Submachine guns are automatic weapons, designed to fire pistol-caliber rounds. They are compact, easy to maneuver, and typically used in close-quarters combat. Despite being categorized under long guns due to their size and the way they are handled, their operational range is much shorter than that of rifles.

Personal Defense Weapons (PDWs)

PDWs are a class of compact, lightweight, automatic weapons designed primarily for use by rear-echelon military troops and special operation forces as a defense tool against enemy combatants. They bridge the gap between submachine guns and assault rifles, offering better penetration and range than the former but greater maneuverability than the latter.

Light Machine Guns

Light machine guns (LMGs) are automatic weapons designed to provide high rates of fire to support infantry operations. They are capable of sustained fire, usually fed by magazines or belts, and are effective at suppressing enemy positions. LMGs can be operated by a single individual but often are used with a team for optimal deployment and effectiveness.

Choosing the Right Long Gun for You

Your choice in a long gun should be influenced by your intended use—whether for sport, defense, or professional purposes. Each type of long gun offers unique advantages and serves different roles. For enthusiasts who value craftsmanship and uniqueness, we at Ghost 13 understand that even the accessory, like a rifle bag, is part of the experience. Our limited-release rifle bags are designed not just for carrying your long gun but for enhancing your unique style and ensuring your firearm’s protection with unmatched attention to detail.

Responsible ownership and understanding the specific characteristics and applications of your long gun are key to enjoying the shooting sports safely and legally.

Legal Requirements and Safety Measures

When owning and handling a long gun, whether it's a shotgun, rifle, or any other type, knowing and abiding by legal requirements is crucial. Equally important are safety measures that ensure you and those around you remain safe. Let’s break down what you need to know.

Minimum Barrel Length

The length of your long gun's barrel is not just a matter of preference. It's regulated by law. In the United States, the National Firearms Act mandates a minimum barrel length of 16 inches (41 cm) for rifles and 18 inches (46 cm) for shotguns. Canada, on the other hand, sets the minimum at 18.5 inches (47 cm) for both types of firearms.

Additionally, both countries have specifications for the overall length of long guns, especially if they have detachable or folding stocks. For instance, the minimum overall length in the U.S. is 26 inches (66 cm) when the stock is extended.

Age Restrictions

Your age can also determine the type of long gun you're allowed to purchase. In general, you must be 21 years of age to buy a lower receiver, handgun, or shotgun with a pistol grip. However, for rifles or standard shotguns (without a pistol grip), the minimum age drops to 18.

Safe Handling

Safe handling of any firearm, including long guns, is non-negotiable. Always ensure your firearm is unloaded when not in use and never point it at anything you do not intend to shoot. Familiarize yourself with the four cardinal rules of firearm safety:

  1. Treat every gun as if it's loaded.
  2. Never point the gun at something you are not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
  4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

Storage Solutions

Proper storage of your long gun is vital for safety and legal compliance. When not in use, firearms should be stored unloaded in a locked container, inaccessible to unauthorized users, especially children. Investing in a high-quality gun safe or locking cabinet can provide both security and peace of mind.

Moreover, when traveling, have a TSA-compliant locked case for your long gun. This ensures that your firearm is safely and securely transported, preventing unauthorized access. At Ghost 13, we recommend using hard-sided, lockable rifle bags designed to meet these standards, like our Uncle Sam Rifle Bag, ensuring your long gun's safety during transit.

TSA compliant gun case - long gun

Remember, adhering to legal requirements and safety measures not only protects you but also those around you. Owning a long gun comes with significant responsibilities, and by following these guidelines, you contribute to a safer community for all.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Long Guns

When we talk about long guns, we're diving into a world where stability and precision meet challenges in transport and concealment. Let's break this down into simpler terms to understand why these traits matter and how they affect you, the firearms enthusiast.


  • Stability: Thanks to their design, long guns are braced against your shoulder. This unique feature provides a level of stability that's hard to match with handguns. By resting the gun against your shoulder, you can aim with greater steadiness, making your shots more accurate.

  • Precision: Long guns have longer barrels, which translates to a longer distance between the sights. This longer sight radius makes it easier for you to line up your shot accurately. Plus, the option to use accessories like telescopic sights enhances this precision even further.

  • Recoil Management: The design of long guns helps distribute the force of recoil more effectively. When a gun recoils, it's pushing back against the mass of your body, not just your hands. This makes the recoil feel less intense, allowing for better control and follow-up shots.


  • Transport and Concealment Challenges: Due to their size, long guns are not as easy to move around with or conceal as handguns. Whether you're navigating through dense woods or trying to store your gun discreetly, you'll find that these firearms demand more space. And in many places, carrying a long gun openly can draw unwanted attention or even be against the law. That's why a quality rifle bag, like those we craft here at Ghost 13, becomes an essential part of your gear. It helps you transport your firearm discreetly and legally, blending into your environment without causing unnecessary concern.

  • Weight and Fatigue: Long guns are heavier than handguns. Carrying them for extended periods can lead to fatigue, especially if you're on the move. This is something to consider if you're planning a long hunting trip or an extended session at the range.

In conclusion, while long guns offer remarkable advantages in stability, precision, and recoil management, they also present challenges in terms of transport and concealment. Understanding these pros and cons will help you make informed decisions about the right firearm for your needs. And remember, with the right accessories like a Ghost 13 rifle bag, you can mitigate some of these disadvantages, ensuring your long gun is both protected and discreetly transported.

Selecting the Right Long Gun for Your Needs

When it comes to selecting the right long gun for your needs, it's crucial to consider what you'll be using it for. Whether you're into hunting, need a firearm for home defense, participate in competitive shooting, or require something for tactical use, each purpose has a different ideal type of long gun. Let's break it down:


For hunting, your choice depends on what you're hunting. A bolt-action rifle is preferred for its accuracy over long distances, perfect for game like deer. For smaller game or birds, a shotgun might be more suitable because of its spread shot. The key here is precision and making sure you have the right caliber or gauge for the animal you're targeting.

Home Defense

For home defense, ease of use and reliability are key. Many opt for shotguns because of their stopping power and the wide spread of the shot, which requires less precision in high-stress situations. However, an AR-15 style rifle is also a popular choice for its capacity, ease of handling, and low recoil.

Competitive Shooting

Competitive shooting can vary widely, from precision marksmanship to rapid-fire events. For precision, a bolt-action rifle with a high-quality scope might be the best choice. For competitions requiring speed and versatility, such as three-gun competitions, semi-automatic rifles or carbines are often preferred for their rapid reload and firing capabilities.

Tactical Use

Tactical use demands versatility and reliability. Assault rifles, like the AR-15, are favored for their adaptability, allowing for customization with different scopes, sights, and grips. They're effective at a range of distances and in various scenarios, from close quarters to longer-range engagements.

Accessorizing Your Long Gun

Regardless of the long gun you choose, having the right accessories can significantly enhance its functionality. Here at Ghost 13, we understand the importance of not just the firearm but also how you store and transport it. Our rifle bags are designed to protect your long gun, with features like superior shock absorption and robust locking systems to ensure your firearm is secure, whether at home or on the move.

The perfect long gun for your needs doesn't just fit your current skill level and usage scenario; it also grows with you as you explore new aspects of firearm ownership. Whether you're a novice hunter, a home defense strategist, a competitive shooter, or in need of a tactical solution, there's a long gun out there for you. And with the right care, including a quality rifle bag from Ghost 13, you'll ensure your firearm remains a reliable companion for years to come.

Long Gun Maintenance and Accessories

Maintaining your long gun is crucial for ensuring its longevity, accuracy, and safety. Just like any tool, a firearm requires regular care. Alongside maintenance, selecting the right accessories can enhance your shooting experience. Here, we'll delve into the essentials of long gun maintenance and highlight key accessories, including the role of rifle bags from Ghost 13.

Cleaning Kits

Essential Tool: Every long gun owner should have a comprehensive cleaning kit. These kits typically include brushes, a cleaning rod, solvent, and lubricant. Regular cleaning prevents build-up of residues and ensures your firearm functions smoothly.

  • Frequency: Clean your firearm after each use to avoid accumulation of residues and potential malfunctions.

Scopes and Sights

Accuracy Enhancer: Scopes and sights are vital for improving your aim and accuracy, especially for hunting and competitive shooting. They range from simple iron sights to advanced optical scopes.

  • Selection Tip: Choose based on your specific needs—optical scopes for long-range accuracy and red-dot sights for quick target acquisition.

Stocks and Grips

Custom Comfort: Upgrading the stock or grip of your long gun can significantly improve handling and comfort. Stocks and grips are available in various materials, including wood, polymer, and composite materials, catering to personal preference and specific use cases.

  • Consider Ergonomics: Ensure the stock fits your shoulder comfortably and the grip allows for a secure hold, enhancing overall shooting experience.

Rifle Bags (Ghost 13)

Protection and Style: A high-quality rifle bag is not just for transport; it's an investment in the protection of your firearm. Our rifle bags at Ghost 13 are designed with the enthusiast in mind, combining durability, functionality, and unique designs.

  • Features: Our bags offer plush protective interiors and durable exteriors, ensuring your long gun stays safe from the elements and during transport. Multiple compartments allow for organized storage of accessories.

  • Customization: We believe in individuality. That's why we offer a range of unique designs that resonate with you, making your rifle bag a statement of your passion for firearms.

Maintenance Tips:

  1. Regular Inspection: Beyond cleaning, regularly inspect your long gun for signs of wear or damage. Pay attention to the barrel, action, and trigger assembly.

  2. Proper Storage: When not in use, store your long gun in a cool, dry place, ideally in a quality rifle bag to protect it from dust and moisture. This is where a Ghost 13 rifle bag shines, providing optimal conditions for storage.

  3. Lubrication: Proper lubrication is essential for smooth operation. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for lubrication points and recommended products.

In conclusion, maintaining your long gun and selecting the right accessories are key steps toward ensuring its performance and longevity. From cleaning kits that keep your firearm in top condition to scopes that enhance your accuracy, each accessory plays a crucial role. And when it comes to storage and transport, a Ghost 13 rifle bag not only offers protection but also stands as a symbol of your dedication to quality and individuality in the shooting community.

Frequently Asked Questions about Long Guns

In firearms, there are many questions, especially when it comes to understanding the different types and categories. Let's dive into some of the most common questions about long guns to help clarify things.

Is a shotgun considered a long gun?

Yes, a shotgun is considered a long gun. This is because, like rifles, shotguns have a long barrel and are designed to be braced against the shoulder during use. They fit the basic definition of a long gun, which includes being held with both hands and having a stock that is intended to be shouldered.

Is an AR-15 considered a long gun?

Absolutely, an AR-15 is considered a long gun. The AR-15, like other rifles and shotguns, is designed to be fired from the shoulder and features a long barrel. It's a type of rifle commonly used for various purposes, including sport shooting, hunting, and in some cases, defense.

What is the minimum barrel length for a rifle?

The minimum barrel length for a rifle can vary by country, but in the United States, the National Firearms Act sets the minimum barrel length at 16 inches (41 cm). It's important to be aware of the laws in your specific jurisdiction, as they can impact the legality of your firearm. For shotguns, the minimum barrel length is 18 inches (46 cm) in the U.S. These regulations help ensure that firearms are used safely and responsibly.

When it comes to choosing and using a long gun, whether it's a shotgun, an AR-15, or any other type, knowing the legal requirements and ensuring proper safety measures are in place is crucial. At Ghost 13, we understand the importance of both the law and safety in the firearms community. Our goal is to help firearms enthusiasts like you find the perfect rifle bags that not only protect your long guns but also reflect the unique style and craftsmanship you value.

Responsible ownership and continuous learning are essential parts of being a part of the firearms community. Whether you're storing your shotgun in a high-quality Ghost 13 rifle bag or ensuring your AR-15 meets the legal barrel length requirements, every action you take contributes to a safe and responsible shooting experience.


Responsible ownership, Continuous learning, Importance of training

As we wrap up our guide on long guns, it's crucial to circle back to the core principles that should guide every firearm owner: responsible ownership, continuous learning, and the importance of training. These aren't just recommendations; they're fundamental aspects of ensuring safety and respect in the firearms community.

Responsible Ownership

Being a responsible gun owner means more than just knowing how to use your firearm. It's about understanding the laws that govern firearm ownership and use, ensuring secure storage, and being mindful of the impact your actions can have on those around you. For example, storing your long gun in a secure, high-quality case like those offered by Ghost 13 not only protects your firearm but also significantly reduces the risk of accidental access or damage.

Continuous Learning

The world of firearms is vast and changing. Legislation changes, new safety protocols emerge, and advances in firearm technology continuously reshape the landscape. Staying informed and open to learning is key. This could mean keeping up with local and national laws, understanding the nuances of different types of long guns, or even exploring historical contexts to deepen your appreciation for firearm craftsmanship and heritage.

Importance of Training

Training goes beyond basic firearm operation. It encompasses safety practices, situational awareness, and even ethical considerations. Regular training sessions help refine your skills, improve handling and precision, and can also introduce you to different scenarios that enhance your decision-making capabilities under pressure. The goal of training is not just personal improvement but also ensuring the safety and well-being of others.

Final Thoughts

The journey of a firearm enthusiast is one of passion, respect, and responsibility. From selecting the right long gun for your needs to ensuring it's stored in a meticulously crafted Ghost 13 rifle bag, every decision you make reflects your commitment to the highest standards of ownership and community.

Let's commit to fostering a culture of safety, respect, and continuous improvement. Whether you're a seasoned shooter or new to the community, there's always something new to learn and ways to contribute positively. Together, we can ensure a legacy of responsible firearm ownership and enrich the shooting community for generations to come.

The path to mastery and responsible ownership is continuous. Embrace the journey, and never stop learning.

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