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The Three Main Parts of a Rifle and How They Work Together

The Three Main Parts of a Rifle and How They Work Together

More than 30% of American adults are gun owners. And almost 50% of American adults live in a gun-owning household.

Americans own guns for many different reasons. One of the most popular reasons for owning a gun is self-defense, which is why handguns are the most common type of firearm in the US.

But rifles aren’t too far behind. And with many different types of rifles, they can be used for sport and target shooting, hunting, and home defense. 

Although rifles are large and powerful, they are quite simple in terms of mechanics. The three main parts of a rile ensure they are simple to use, simple to clean, and simple to maintain.

As a gun owner, it’s extremely helpful to learn about these three main parts of a rifle. Keep reading below to learn all about these three parts and how they work together. 

The Importance of Understanding Rifle Mechanisms

Rifles are fun to shoot. They are also very easy to learn how to shoot.

Bolt action rifles are very common among hunters. These are long-range rifles that pack a ton of power. All you need to do is insert a round into the chamber, push the bolt forward to load the round, aim, and fire.

Whether you are visiting an outdoor shooting range, shooting targets in your backyard, or hunting in the field, it’s helpful to not just know how to shoot your rifle, but how it actually operates.

By learning the three main sections of a rifle, you can develop a better sense of the mechanics of the gun. This make gives you a better idea of the physics involved with shooting a bullet, ultimately making you a better shooter.

This information is also vital for disassembling and putting together a rifle. These steps are important when cleaning your rifle, which you need to do on a regular basis.

All firearm owners should know how to take their gun apart, clean it, and put them back together in a matter of minutes. Shooting with a clean gun is safer and provides more accuracy and consistency.

And it’s especially important as a hunter when you’re out in the field. If you were to get dirt, mud, or snow in your barrel or action, you need to know how to clean it quickly in hopes of getting a shot on an animal. 

Three Main Parts of a Rifle

So what are the three main components of a rifle? It includes the action, the stock, and the barrel. Here’s why each component is important. 


The action is the heart of the rifle. It’s the center. It’s what makes the entire thing work.

You can compare the action of a rifle to the engine of a car. Without it, the gun won’t function.

When looking at a rifle, the action itself is rather small. It’s comprised of the bolt (on a bolt-action rifle), hammer, and trigger. 

The action is where you insert your cartridge or magazine full of rounds. You then grab the bolt handle and pull the bolt backward. This opens up the action and brings a cartridge into it.

You then slide the bolt forward, which loads the cartridge into the chamber. Next, you’ll press the trigger. When you do, the hammer hits the back of the cartridge, firing the bullet.

You’ll then pull the bolt handle back once again, which opens up the action and dispels the empty cartridge, grabbing a new round and bringing it into the action. 

The action also has a “safety” which is a very important feature of the action. This little switch, located near the trigger, prevents you from accidentally firing the rifle before you are ready to shoot. 

Along with bolt action rifles, there is a lever action, pump action, break action, and self-loading action firearms to be aware of. 


The barrel of a rifle is the long tube on the front of the firearm. It’s where bullets emerge from as they explode out of the action and move towards their target.

Rifles have long barrels to ensure accuracy over long distances. They also have grooves inside them known as “rifling.” These spiraling grooves help the bullet to spin, which in turn keeps the bullet accurate as it flies over long distances.

Rifling is what differentiates rifle barrels from shotgun barrels, which don’t have any grooves. 

When you pull the trigger (on the action), the hammer strikes the cartridge, igniting the gunpowder, and causing a small explosion. This ejects the bullet, which then travels down the barrel at high speeds.

The longer the barrel, the longer the bullet can travel without losing accuracy. Some rifles can shoot accurately upwards of 1,000 yards, though most recreational hunters and target shooters don’t shoot past 500 yards.

The end of the barrel is the muzzle. If you’ve taken a firearm or hunter safety course, you know that the most important thing you can do is not point your muzzle in an unsafe direction.

Never point it at something you don’t intend to shoot, and never look down the barrel from this end of the rifle. 


The action is the center of the rifle while the barrel is the front of the gun. The last major component is the stock, which is the rear portion of the rifle.

The primary purpose of the stock is to help shooters hold the rifle comfortably and stabilize the rifle in order to shoot accurately. 

Rifles are designed to sit up against the front of your shoulder while you shoot. The very end of the stock is typically soft and made of rubber. This is the butt plate (or recoil pad).

It’s meant to help absorb some of the recoils, and ensure you don’t get bruised as you fire rounds from your rifle.

The side of the stock usually contains indentations or carvings, which allow you to rest your cheek against it. These are cheek pads.

Cheek pads help you ensure your face is in the same spot every time you shoot to ensure consistency and accuracy. Some shooters will add a cheek riser to their stock so that their face sits a bit higher when aiming their rifle. 

In the past, rifle stocks were made out of natural wood. Today, you can still buy many rifle models with wooden stock, but they tend to be the more expensive version. 

More commonly, you can buy rifles with a synthetic stock, typically black or finished with a camo pattern. These tend to be lighter and are very resistant to damage or weather elements. 

Additional Rifle Components

By understanding the three main components of a rifle, you can pick up nearly any type of rifle and know how it works. But there are a few other parts and accessories you need to be aware of as well.

Sighting System

You won’t be able to hit your target if you don’t have a reliable sighting system. Some guns can be fired without an additional scope or sight installed, but these are typically handguns or shotguns, as they are designed for close-range shots under 30 yards. 

Some rifles, like the .22 LR, can be fired without a scope, thanks to the iron sights on the rifle.

Iron sights are built-in sighting features that work by lining up a small ball on the rear of the barrel with a notch on the end of the barrel. 

For the most part, however, rifles should be fired using a scope. These are secondary accessories you can add to your rifle. 

Depending on the scope you buy, you can shoot anywhere from 30 yards to 1,000 yards. But quality scopes aren’t cheap, often costing more than the rifle itself. 

Rifles will sometimes come with a mounting system already installed. Other times, you need to buy and install a mounting system, then you can install the scope on your rifle. 

The AR-15

AR-15s are semi-automatic rifles that can be used in many different ways. They deserve their own category thanks to their unique, modular design. 

This modular machine can be customized in many different ways, with different parts and accessories. This lets you use them for things like hunting as well as home defense. 

When building or modifying an AR15 for yourself, you’ll need to learn about the major components, such as the upper and lower receivers, the handguard, the charging handle, and the bolt carrier group.

You can mix and match AR15 parts from many different brands, like Juggernaut Tactical, since they are all made to work on the basic AR15 platform. 

This makes it very easy for firearm enthusiasts to truly customize their rifles for their shooting style and comfort, as well as their esthetic preferences.

The More You Know

Now that you know about the three main parts of a rifle and some of the additional components, you can develop a deeper understanding of your firearm. You can learn how the gun shoots and how to disassemble your gun in a matter of minutes.

That way, you can clean and maintain your gun by yourself rather than having to pay someone else to do it.

Looking for more tips and tricks like this? Visit our blog now to keep reading. 

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Written By

Salman Ahmad, the CEO and Founder of, is a prolific writer in the realms of tech, fintech, how-tos, and all things mobile, apps, and gadgets. With a passion for simplifying complex concepts, his informative articles serve as an invaluable resource for users seeking to enhance their digital proficiency and stay updated in the ever-evolving tech world. With an unwavering dedication to innovation and a relentless pursuit of excellence, he persistently propels GeeksAroundWorld to unprecedented milestones, empowering users and fostering a meaningful influence on their experiences.

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