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Pistol, Rifle, or Shotgun: What’s Superior for Emergency Situations?

Posted by Justin on

American gun owners typically buy and use three types of firearms: pistols, rifles, and shotguns.

While each of these gun types serve their purpose, they also have distinct advantages and disadvantages relative to one another.

Furthermore, some guns are better in emergency situations than others.

Let's compare these 3 types of firearms and explore how they might perform in an emergency so you know which to keep at your side or which to purchase in the future:

Firstly, it Depends on the Situation!

How do you know what's the best kind of firearm to serve you if you're in an emergency? First up, you'll need to put some thought into the potential scenarios in your life you may need protection for. 

“Emergency situation” is a broad term and can apply to any number of things, such as:

  • A home invasion 
  • A hunting emergency 
  • Property defense 
  • Survival situations / hunting for food 

Therefore, it only makes sense that certain guns are better for different situations. What’s right for one emergency might be a bad choice for another, and vice versa.

Let's go over each type to see which will be most suited to your situation...

Pistols – When to Use

Pistols are the favorite firearm of Americans, and for good reason. These guns come in a wide variety of sizes, weights, and chamberings.

You can usually find a pistol for anything, whether it's for hunting small game, self-defense, or even target shooting for fun.

The downside of pistols is that they don’t typically have the stopping power of rifles and shotguns. Furthermore, they can’t shoot as far or as accurately at long range.

But their advantages include being able to conceal carry them and to keep them in your home almost anywhere as a safety precaution.


  • Easy to carry
  • Easy to shoot
  • Good for concealed carry
  • Ideal for backup or primary defense


  • Not good at longer ranges
  • Accuracy decreases sharply with range

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Rifles – Are They Ideal?

Rifles are long-barreled guns that are mostly used by hunters these days.

They benefit from lots of variety within the models – you can find rifles that are great for hunting small game like turkeys or squirrels, larger game like deer, and even sniper rifles for hitting extremely distant targets.

Rifles are also a little more accurate than handguns, even for beginners, due to their longer barrels.

However, they can be unwieldy to use indoors (as in the case of a home invasion), and are generally heavier. This makes them more ideally suited to outdoor use for longer-range targets.

Many rifles chambered for high-power ammunition also produce quite a lot of recoil, which can make them difficult to handle if you're not super experienced. 


  • Excellent accuracy
  • Ideal for hunting and property defense
  • Great for teaching shooting techniques
  • Ideal for long-range shooting
  • Good stopping power


  • Hard to use indoors
  • Produce more recoil than pistols

Shotguns – Good Choices or Overboard?

Shotguns are popular home defense and hunting choices. But since they fire spreads of pellets, they’re much better picks for self-defense compared to typical rifles.

It’s hard to miss with a shotgun in close quarters! The pellet spread style of firing also makes them good choices for hunting certain animals, like birds.

However, some shotguns produce a lot of recoil, which can make them difficult to handle for lighter folks and some women. 

Additionally, shotguns are not very accurate when you start aiming at rifle ranges, though they can often shoot farther than pistols and still maintain accuracy.


  • Intimidating in a home defense situation
  • Great stopping power
  • Good for self-defense and hunting alike
  • Easy to use
  • Ideal for close to mid-range shooting


  • High recoil on average
  • Shorter range than a rifle

Ultimately, the right weapon for an emergency situation depends on what you need it for. For example, a home defense scenario will call for either a pistol or shotgun. Both can help you deal with an attacker in close quarters. 

A rifle, meanwhile, is a better pick if there's someone on your farm or property at a distance. Rifles are also better choices if you ever need to defend yourself with others, as in the case of a national emergency or armed rioting. 

Be sure to consider what the situation calls for when choosing your weapon. You’ll have better chances of surviving an emergency if you’re armed correctly.

Thank you for reading, stay strong patriots. 

Justin | FamTeeWorld
Maine, USA

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