Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Pistol and Rifle

Pistol vs Rifle

Pistols and rifles are two types of firearms that are available to individuals. Although both serve the same function, to fire a bullet at a target, they are used for different purposes. The main difference between a pistol and a rifle is size. A pistol is small and easily concealable while a rifle is typically much longer and almost impossible to conceal. The pistol’s small size is also better in close quarters as you can maneuver a lot quicker than with a rifle.

As most pistols are small and do not have a lot of power, it is meant to be fired from the hand; lending to its great maneuverability. With rifles that are meant to fire rounds at much higher velocities, it is essential to fire the weapon from the shoulder to increase accuracy and to better absorb the recoil produced when firing.

A rifle has a lot more range compared to pistols. While pistols have a range of less than 100 meters, sniper rifles can hit targets more than 2 kilometers away. This is largely due to the length of its barrel. The longer barrel means that the bullet is subjected to the explosive force for a much longer duration, thus giving it more velocity. The greater amount of spin that the rifled barrel provides also increases the accuracy of the weapon, so the shooter can aim at a very far target and still hit it. These are very useful for snipers during combat and for hunters who target game.

There is also another type of rifle that focuses more on firepower than on range and accuracy. These are the automatic rifles like the M16 and AK-47. Their main advantages over pistols are the greater number of bullets that they carry at the much greater rate of fire. Because of this, assault teams like SWAT always carry rifles as their main weapons. A pistol is kept as a secondary weapon in case problems occur to the primary. Its small size and minimal weight doesn’t hinder the user as he moves around.


A rifle is longer than a pistol
A rifle is meant to be fired from the shoulder while a pistol is fired from the hand
A rifle has a greater effective range than a pistol
A rifle can hold more bullets than a pistol
A rifle can fire much quicker than a pistol can

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