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Most Common Rifle Types in the USA

Common Rifle in the USA

The rifle has been one of the most popular lines of weaponry and is trusted by many Americans since its invention in the early 1700s. Setting this firearm apart from the muskets and canons is a series of spiral grooves around the inside of the barrel called “rifling”. 

Most Common Rifle

These grooves work to spin the projectile as it moves through the barrel instead of having the cartridge explode out like a canon. This spinning action ensures the bullet fires out in a much more stable path for increased accuracy, making this the very first firearm that lets a person aim their weapon and be confident of where the projectile would go. 

With close to three centuries since its creation, gun manufacturers have come up with plenty of technology and innovation to further improve the ever-reliable rifle. Here are the most common rifle types you’ll see in the USA:

1. Lever-Action Rifles

The lever action was one of the first rifle design and it utilizes a handle located behind the trigger with a cartridge running along the barrel and loaded into the chamber to be fired. Although lever-action rifles are not the best choice for accuracy and are often a bit heavier than other models, they do offer high cartridge capacity to come in handy in many situations. 

One certain model that has topped the charts of lever-action rifles sold is the Marlin 1895. This model comes with 10 different configurations, ranging from wood-stocked, long barrels to short, stainless-steel Trapper outfitted with rugger polymer furniture to suit all kinds of preferences.

2. Bolt-Action Rifles

Instead of having the handle located behind the trigger, bolt-action rifles have theirs stick out the right side of the weapon that lets shooters eject, load, and close the chamber with a simple upward, backward, and forward movement. Thanks to its obvious easy-to-use, durability, and accuracy, it is no wonder that bolt-action rifles are among the most widely produced gun in the USA.

Bolt-action rifles can be used with a broader range of cartridge sizes, but one drawback is that the trigger hand must leave the gun and regrip is after every shot. However, if this isn’t too much for you, you may find ultimate enjoyment with the Ruger Precision Rifle. Ruger’s Precision Rifle lineup has spurred many manufacturers to begin developing more affordable, purpose-built precision weapons that allow gun owners to bring along for long-range shooting.

3. Semi-Automatic Rifles

This option is a much newer innovation and has quickly climbed the ranks to be a common favorite by many American sport shooters and marksmen. The semi-automatic rifles can be fired off many more rounds per minute without needing to constantly move the action. However, semi-automatics do tend to suffer from mechanism failure that may be difficult to fix manually. 

If you’re looking for the best semi-auto option in a market that is saturated with AR-15s, then the Ruger certainly hits it out of the park with its bare-bones AR-556.  Ruger’s AR-15 platform easily beats out serious competition to be one of the most popular rifles in the United States thanks to its no-frills, quality gun that comes complete with a standard A2 front sight, nylon A2 handguard, and an optic-ready flattop upper receiver.

The well-made and reliable semi-automatic rifle can also be adjusted to suit your needs using add-ons. For example, you can attach a carry handle rear sight for AR-15 to it. With this, you can enjoy your semi-automatic sporting rifle with dual aperture, for both long- and short-range shooting. It is also adjustable for windage and elevation so you can shoot with ease.

4. Pump-Action Rifles

Although pump-action mechanisms are more often found in shotguns, you can also find them in a variety of rifle designs. The slide mechanism built around the barrel of a pump-action ejects and loads a new round simultaneously. This means you get to operate the firearm with your supporting hand instead of the trigger hand for higher fire rates and improved accuracy. 

For those looking for the slide-racking action of a pump-action rifle will love the Remington 7600 that let gun owners keep their muscle memory intact. This popular rifle also comes in classic hunting calibers like the .270 Win., 30-06 Springfield, and .308 Win. to meet most shooting needs.

5. Break-Action Rifles

Also known as the hinge-action, this action style has a hinged barrel that opens up like a door to allow loading and unloading of cartridges. This design is also very common in single-shot rifles.

After more than 50 years since its introduction, the Ruger No. 1 continues to beat heavy-hitters like Henry Repeating Arms Single, Chiappa Little Badger, and even the popular Davy Crickett rifle to top the charts of single-shot rifles. The Ruger No. 1 is well-loved among Americans thanks to its vast array of chamberings available as well as its legendary falling-block action strength.


With so many rifle models available out there, one way to distinguish them is by looking at their action type. Though all the top common rifle actions discussed above remain in production today, they each come with their own unique advantages and disadvantages to suit a variety of firing situations. Regardless of which rifle type you’re looking for, you should make sure to get a rifle that fits your needs while also allowing you to fire comfortably and accurately. 

Written by Mark Greene

Mark Greene is writer and life coach dedicated to helping men to perform at peak level. He shares dating advice, style tips and strategies for building wealth and success.