Shotguns, handguns and carbines … oh, my!

Many firearms owners will probably admit they don’t own just one type of gun; they own many! And I suppose that I am one of those “gun people” who really enjoy having — and training with — the different platforms. In fact, my husband and I got involved with 3-gun competition shooting a few years ago, and I truly enjoy the challenge of moving from carbine to shotgun to pistol in a variety of interesting stages! But more than just having fun, learning about handguns and long guns alike can check off the boxes in a lot of different categories, from shooting matches to everyday carry and from home defense to personal protection.

The Carbine

Learning how to shoot the AR-15 rifle is so much fun. This platform is very customizable and easy to shoot for newbies, for women and for just about anyone with a strength issue or a disability. I especially love shooting carbines in competitions. But this accurate, lightweight, highly versatile long gun is also a very valid platform for home defense. With low recoil, easy maneuverability and a magazine capacity that’s typically around 30 rounds, many gun owners are purchasing AR-15s for the home. And many instructors are offering specialized defensive carbine classes.

The Shotgun

Shotguns offer a variety of gauges, loads, sizes and price points. They include pump-action, lever-action, bolt-action and semi-automatic, as well as single and double barrels. You can also find a host of gear and accessories that can streamline your shotgun for a specific purpose, whether hunting, competition shooting or, of course, defending your home. In fact, a lot of people consider the shotgun to be one of the ultimate home-defense weapons because of the relatively simple way it fires and the terminally devastating payload it delivers. Of course, just as much training is needed for effective shotgun use. You don’t simply press the trigger and hope for the best!

The Handgun

And then there is the handgun. This is also a great firearm for competition, it can be used for hunting, and it is a great home defense weapon as well. But this option can also be used for everyday use — on body or off body — to carry for personal defense. With this much versatility, a handgun checks all the boxes! And even though it looks and feels much different than its long gun counterparts, handguns are just as fun and challenging to train with and to use.

The Crossover

The good thing is, once you learn the basics about firearms, there is a lot of crossover from one to the other. As I share in the USCCA women’s curriculum, it’s very similar to learning the ins and outs of your very own automobile … and then hopping into a rental! While the vehicles are mostly the same, there are definitely some nuances you will have to learn, such as how sensitive the breaks are, where the hazard lights are located and how to adjust the air or the radio! The same goes for firearms. You may get very used to your own guns, but once you put a new firearm in your hand, you will notice it shoots differently, and perhaps some of the features of the gun are different, such as whether or not it has an external safety and if it has iron sights or red dot optics.

Shotguns, handguns and carbines have their benefits, their limitations and their uses. But learning about all three types of firearms can definitely be a benefit to gun owners. And being able to safely, proficiently and efficiently use any one of these platforms is kind of like the trifecta of firearms training!

Find Training