What is a shoulder gun?? Shoulder guns are firearms that are fired with the gun held in hands and the butt of the weapon braced against the shoulder. These are heavy guns that require both hands to aim accurately.

Shoulder firearms are grouped into two categories that are shotguns and rifles. The difference between shotguns and rifles lies in the design of the barrel. Shoulder guns with a barrel having lands and grooves are rifles, while that of a shotgun has a smooth barrel.

Shotguns have single and double-barreled configurations. All shoulder guns have three basic parts which are action, stock, and the barrel. The parts of the shoulder guns with their functions are discussed in the article.

Breakdown of Basic Components of Shoulder Guns

Breakdown of various components of shoulder guns which include rifle and shotgun
  1. Butt: It is the rear end of the stock held against the shoulder while shooting or firing a round of pellets and bullets.
  2. Trigger Guard: A D-shaped metal loop surrounds the trigger and protects from the accidental firing of the firearm. It provides both protection and safety.
  3. Trigger: The trigger is a curved metal piece that acts as a lever that is pulled or squeezed to start the firing process. There are multiple types of triggers, such as single-stage, dual-stage, and drop-in triggers.
  4. Safety: Also known as the safety lock, a mechanical device blocks the trigger or hammer to prevent accidental firing. The weapon won’t fire even if the gun is loaded and charged if the safety is on.
  5. Bolt Handle: It is also referred to as the action bar in the shotgun. It functions in attaching the movable forestock to the c0cking/loading mechanism.
  6. Bolt: All basic actions of the firearm are dependent on the firearm. It consists of a firing pin that fires the bullet. The spent cartridge is then pulled by the extractor and ejected out using the force produced due to expanding gases. It also loads a new round into the chamber.
  7. Magazine: It is a container attached to the receiver and holds the ammunition before it is loaded into the chamber. It is usually found in the case of repeating firearms. The capacity of a magazine ranges from five rounds to even a hundred rounds.
  8. Chamber: It is the base of the barrel where the round is held, ready for shooting. It is this part where the bullet separates from the cartridge.
  9. Forestock: In the case of rifles, the wooden base is present right below the barrel which helps the user grip the weapon on the front end. In shotguns, it is movable and is also known as the fore-end. Sliding the fore-end backward ejects the shotshell and c0cks the action in pump-action shotguns. On sliding the forestock forward, a fresh shell is loaded into the chamber.
  10. Barrel: It is the metal tube through which the bullet and shots travel when fired. In rifles, there are lands and grooves cut on the barrel’s inner surface, which is termed as rifling. The rifling in the barrel gives gyratory motion to the projectiles, which helps keep the bullet stable during the flight whereas a shotgun consists of a smooth-bore barrel with no lands and grooves present in the inner surface of the barrel.
  11. Sight: It is a device used for aiming by aligning the front and rear sight. There is no rear sight in a shotgun. There are three types of sights for rifles: telescopic sight or scope, iron sights that include open sight, and peep or aperture sights.
  12. Muzzle: It is the fore-end of the barrel from which the bullet and the shots exit the gun.
  13. Choke: Choke is present on the muzzle end of the barrel. The purpose of this choke is to control shot patterns while shooting for closer or more distant games.


The shoulder gun comprises of three significant parts. Those parts include action, barrel, and stock. The various other components present in the shoulder gun have their specific functions. Knowledge of the various parts and their functions helps in the proper handling and usage of the weapon.

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Categories: Ballistics


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