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Rifles are a type of firearm that derived its name from the rifling of the inner walls of the barrel which allows the projectile to spin, improving range and accuracy. As such, rifles are effective for military and hunting which require meticulous accuracy over a long distance. They are larger than handguns, and thus, require two hands and the support of a shoulder to shoot, unlike a handgun which can be used with one hand. Like a shotgun, they are characterized by a long barrel (at least 16 inches) and a stock which rests upon the shooter’s shoulder.

Recognizing that rifling would add more accuracy to a bullet, rifles were developed as a way to attain greater accuracy. However, since the powder used to propel the projectile would get caught in rifled muskets and create a large amount of soot and smoke, the earliest versions of rifles were only used for sharpshooting and non-military usages such as hunting. Thanks to the development of breech-loading and cartridges which had a faster rate of fire and addressed the soot and smoke issue, rifles became the standard firearm for the military.

Rifles have undergone a number of enhancements which have made it a primary firearm for military usages and hunting. The introduction of specialized rifles, such as assault rifles and sniper rifles, have changed the way that firearms are used in war as they can create heavy damage over a long distance.

There are several different types of rifles which are determined by whether the rifle is muzzleloading (flint ignition, rim-fire or center-fire) or breechloading (air, center-fire, or rim-fire), single-shot or repeating (manual, semi-automatic or fully automatic) and by its action type (bolt action, pump action, lever action, automatic action, semi-automatic action, break action, sidelock action and slide action).

Due to its power and accuracy, rifles are utilized for military, hunting and sport shooting. Seeing as the barrel of a rifle is at least 16 inches, rifles are impractical for home-defense and concealment which necessitate a smaller weapon for close-range combat. There are six International Shooting Sport Federation events which involve rifles, three of which are Olympic events. With the exception of shotguns for bird hunting, rifles are the firearm of choice for hunting due to their ability to take down all types of land game at a far distance. Rifles are very popular in the military; the combat rifle is the standard firearm of every military and specialized rifles, such as sniper rifles, are the most accurate long-range firearms utilized in the military.

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