Although these long-barreled firearms differ in terms of bore and projectile type, both shotguns and rifles share many of the same components, detailed below. When firing, hunters usually brace rifles and shotguns against their shoulders. Here’s a closer look at the parts of these firearms:
The stock supports the barrel of a firearm and the action. Made out of either wood or synthetic material, it may be a single piece or two pieces, depending on the manufacturer.
The action consists of the series of parts that load, fire and eject a cartridge or shotshell from a firearm. There are two kinds of action: a single-shot action (the firearm must be manually reloaded after each shot) and a repeating action (once a shot is fired, another shot is automatically loaded into the chamber from the magazine).
An alignment device to help aim a firearm. Sight styles include metallic, fiber optic, peep, open, telescopic, dot and laser.
Barrel and muzzle
The barrel is the tube-shaped part of a firearm through which ammunition is fired. The muzzle is the front end of the barrel.
Trigger and trigger guard
When squeezed, the trigger releases the firing pin to hit the primer on a firearm's cartridge, igniting the powder and sending the bullet down the barrel. The trigger guard protects the trigger from accidental fire.
The magazine stores cartridges or shotshells. Without a magazine, a rifle or shotgun is limited to a single shot. There are three types of magazines: tubular, box-type and hinged-floorplate. Magazines are available as either a detachable or a fixed part. As the name suggests, a detachable magazine can be removed from a firearm, whereas a fixed magazine cannot.