What Are the Different Types of Tactical Firearms? An Overview

Video what is a tactical rifle

What is a tactical firearm?

A tactical firearm is a rifle or handgun that has been modified in order to increase its utility. Whereas a normal gun may be made for either self-defense or hunting, a tactical firearm can do both of those things and more.

That’s why many people who work outdoors or in law enforcement prefer tactical firearms. There’s a reason that they’re one of the fastest-growing segments within the firearms market.

So what are some tactical firearms, and how are they different? This article goes into a little more detail on that. Read on!

Tactical Firearms and Training

Tactical Firearms and Training focuses on teaching individuals the use of firearms for self-defense and combat purposes. This training teaches practical knowledge and skills in order to increase the following:

  • situational awareness
  • accuracy
  • techniques
  • mental conditioning

This is designed to provide individuals with the skills needed to properly and efficiently use and handle firearms in varying situations. This requires instruction in safe gun handling as well as in accuracy and speed drills.

This type of training also covers legal, ethical, and moral considerations that always need to be taken into account when using firearms.

Tactical Firearms and Training is beneficial to both experienced and new shooters alike. It allows experienced shooters to hone their skills and become more proficient. This is while it gives new shooters the tools they need to operate firearms safely and accurately.

Types of Rifles

There are many different types of rifles available for tactical firearm use today. Each type also comes in a variety of calibers, so determining which one is best suited to your needs is key. Here are different rifles with their differences:

Rifles Used by Military & Law Enforcement

Designed for modern warfare, military-grade rifles will generally feature longer-range accuracy, reduced recoil, and increased power. Common military rifles include the AR-15, the M-16, and the more powerful M249 SAW, which fires a 5.56mm round.

While the individual requirements of each military and police force will vary, one thing is for sure: robust rifles designed for their specific uses are essential for the modern soldier and law enforcement officer.

Popular Semi-Automatic Rifles

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The most popular models are the AR-15 and AK-47. These are designed to fire in semi-automatic or automatic mode and are highly accurate. The AR-15 is lightweight and portable, perfect for close-quarters battle, while the AK-47 is more durable and better suited for long-range warfare.

Other popular semi-automatic rifles for civilian use are the Ruger Mini-14 and the Remington 700. These are ideal for hunting, target shooting, and home defense purposes.

Lever-Action Rifles

Lever Action Rifles are a type of rifle that typically have a tubular magazine mounted beneath the barrel, allowing for fast reloading.

Lever Action Rifles are often used for hunting, recreational shooting, and target practice. They are popular choices for self-defense as well as cowboy-style shooting competitions.

Bolt-Action Rifles

Bolt-action rifles, also known as bolt guns, are manually operated weapons typically used for hunting big game and shooting sports. They require the user to load the cartridges with the help of a manually operated bolt attached to the receiver.

Bolt-action rifles are generally more expensive than other types of rifles and are typically heavier and more suited for one type of target, such as deer or varmint hunting.

Adaptable Modern Sporting Rifles

Modern Sporting Rifles (MSR) are excellent for recreation and competition. MSRs come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and calibers and include the AR-15, AK-47, and M1A, among others.

Some MSRs are designed for hunting large games, while others are fit for precision shooting. MSRs can also be modified with accessories like telescopic sights, extended magazines, and custom stocks.

Types of Shotguns

There are several different tactical firearms types of shotguns available for use. Each of these types of shotguns may be outfitted with various tactical firearm accessories that can be used to enhance the performance of the weapon system.

Pump-Action Shotguns

Pump-action shotguns operate by manually cycling a round through the barrel, ejecting the spent round, and chambering another round in the process.

The pump-action mechanism gives a shooter better control over their rate of fire, allowing them to fire a single round at a time or multiple rounds quickly.

Lever-Action Shotguns

Lever-action shotguns are known for their accuracy, reliability, and ease of use and are capable of firing rounds of high power loads with an average cycle rate of 30 rounds per minute.

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Lever-action shotguns can be used for skeet shooting, sporting clay shooting, waterfowl hunting, or hunting small game and are popular with both wing shooters and rifle hunters.

Single-Shot Shotguns

Single-Shot Shotguns are a type of shotgun with a single barrel and no magazine. This makes them incredibly easy to use and maintain, as there is no need for reloading or buying extra ammo.

They’re also lightweight and very user-friendly, making them an ideal option for hunting, target practice, and home defense. Single-shot shotguns come in various gauges – 12, 20, 28, and .410 – with each gauge offering its own set of features and benefits.

Semi-Automatic Shotguns

These guns are capable of firing multiple rounds with a single trigger pull, making them extremely reliable and precise. They are great for home protection, hunting, skeet and trap shooting, and even just recreational use.

The semi-automatic shotguns are designed with a gas-operated system that cycles the gun quickly, meaning they also have shorter barrels that allow them to be easily maneuvered and pointed quickly.

Types of Handguns

Handguns are an important type of firearm that is used in tactical operations or in everyday life for self-defense. Learn more about the different types of handguns and how they differ from each other.

Compact Semi-Automatic Handguns

They are contemporary weapons that offer the highest degree of accuracy and durability. This type of handgun typically has a shorter barrel, which makes it easier to maneuver in tight spaces.

They are generally lightweight and, therefore, easier to handle, making them very popular as concealed carry weapons. They tend to recoil less so the shooter can keep on target in the face of rapid firing.


Revolvers are usually chambered for larger calibers, but many models are available in lesser calibers for concealed carry as well. The revolver is a timeless classic because of its reliability and accuracy.

These handguns utilize a rotating cylinder or wheel to contain the bullets, which is why they are referred to as revolvers. Revolvers can hold between five and nine rounds in the most common sizes, though larger revolvers can hold up to twelve rounds.

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Single-Action Pistols

These pistols typically have longer barrel lengths and extended grips for improved accuracy and ease of use. It is commonly equipped with Align Tactical pistol upgrades. Single Action Pistols are single action in mechanism, meaning the hammer must be cocked by hand before the gun can be fired.

They are called “single action” because of the single sequence of events that occurs after the trigger is pulled; the hammer is cocked and then released to strike a firing pin that releases a bullet. The most popular Single Action Pistols are:

  • Colt Single Action Army
  • Smith & Wesson Schofield
  • Ruger Old Army
  • Derringer

Single Action Pistols have been used for centuries for hunting, recreation, and self-defense.

Long-Barrel Revolvers

These handguns feature a barrel that is longer than the standard barrel of a revolver, which makes them perfect for shooting at longer distances.

Originally designed at the turn of the 20th century, long barrel revolvers are attractive to many shooters due to features such as increased accuracy, increased potential for target distances, and increased controllability.

Long barrel revolvers are renowned for their aesthetics and accuracy, with most models including adjustable sights for accuracy at longer distances.

Subcompact Handguns

They have a shorter barrel, width and height than other handguns but still have a sufficient capacity for everyday use. Subcompact handguns come in several different varieties, each with its own set of features and benefits.

Examples of subcompact handguns are the following:

  • traditional revolvers
  • derringers
  • polymer pistols
  • metal semi-automatic pistols
  • pocket pistols
  • double-barrel pistols

Explore These Types of Tactical Firearms

Tactical firearms provide users with the necessary protection and capability to take control any environment. From handguns and SMGs to shoulder firearms, the ability to explore and learn about them is essential to understanding their importance and use.

If you are interested in learning about different types of tactical firearms, it is important to research and find educational resources to help you.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>