Why Does A Rifle Shoot Farther Than A Pistol?

by Steve Coffman, last updated on

We have faced this question a million times over. Why can a rifle shoot farther than a pistol even with the same caliber? 

And we can justify!

Two very basic reasons why rifles are more powerful than pistols and can shoot farther are because rifles have a longer cartridge that holds more propellant. The longer barrel allows more time to accelerate the bullet. The longer barrel is also the reason why rifles have better accuracy and more penetrating power.

But many other factors make a rifle a more powerful gun than a pistol. Let’s go over them one at a time.

Pistol Vs. Rifle

Both being firearms, pistols and rifles have some significant differences such as their category, size, stability, accuracy, range, etc.

Why Does A Rifle Shoot Farther Than A Pistol?

Rifles have rifling inside their barrels that are small spiral grooves. Due to the rifling arrangement, rifles can spin the bullet at a very high-speed, which ejects the barrel with better accuracy and precision.

Rifles have a capacity to shoot up to 300 feet per second. This is also the reason why a rifle bullet shot is far more damaging than that of a pistol because of the high velocity.

Also, as pistols are pretty lightweight, it needs rigorous practice. Otherwise, it could be pretty tricky to have the right aim, given that recoil in a pistol changes the direction of the bullet.

Are Rifles More Accurate Than Pistols?

One simple reason why a rifle is more accurate and precise is that they are heavy. More specifically, rifles are much heavier than the force required to press the trigger, and this is what causes a massive difference between the accuracy of the two.

A normal pistol will weigh about two to three pounds, whereas the force required to press the trigger is 5 to 12 pounds. So, the shooter needs to ensure that the pistol is stable while resisting the trigger pressure. 

The other reason why rifles are more accurate is, they have a long radius. Given this, even if you have some alignment issue, the rifle will still miss the target by a shorter distance than a pistol.

The third reason is rifles have more anchor points than pistols. This means that as a rifle is heavy you need to provide it the required support on at least three points on your body, before you fire a round. 

Whereas, for a pistol, most shooters only use one hand or may be sometimes two. So, you are only anchoring the gun in one place, that is the trigger.

Final Thoughts

Having said all of the above, we cannot still discount the benefits of a pistol in an applicable situation. 

While pistols remain to be one of the best for self-defense, or even at close ranges, rifles are the right tool if you are looking for accuracy at a distance, and do not have any concerns of concealing or hiding your weapon.