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Do more people own longguns vs. handguns? Personal Observation.

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Checkman, Jan 8, 2013.

  1. Checkman

    Checkman member

    First a quick outline of my background so you'll understand where I am coming from.

    I've been shooting for almost thirty-three years. I honestly don't know how many firearms I've owned over the years. A bunch. Bought, sold and traded many of them. Of that I am certain. I should make a list one of these days. The point is I've spent many hours in gun-shops and visiting with other gun-owners.

    I am also a police officer in Idaho - where there are many personally owned firearms. Over the past twelve years I've met more than a few folks (on and off duty) who own firearms. I also have many relatives who live in the southeastern U.S. (Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina) who are serious about firearms.

    Over the past several years I've noticed that it seems many private collections usually seem to consist of between 3 - 7 firearms. On average. I know that there are those who own less and those who own many many many more. Just bear with me please.

    The other thing that I have noticed is that typically the number of rifles and shotguns (on average) outnumber the handguns in many of these privately owned collections.

    For what it's worth I've also noticed that long-guns often outnumber handguns at your typical gun-shop. Once again let me stress the words typical and average.

    The other thing I've noticed is that many of the private collections might have some pretty nice rifles and shotguns, but often the handgun (and sometimes it might be just one or two handguns vs many long-guns) are utilitarian. A Ruger 22 pistol and/or a mid-size .357 magnum revolver with a 4" or 6" barrel. In the past few years younger gun-owners will typically have a Ruger, Glock, or Taurus 9/40/45 pistol instead of the revolver. And that's it.

    More than once I've gotten raised eyebrows and expressions of amazement when I tell other gun-owners that I own five long-guns and twenty-two handguns. I've had a couple folks use words like specialist , connoisseur, snob and interesting.

    I've done some research lately on well known gun-owners in the past. It seems that for every Elmer Keith, Jeff Cooper and G. Gordon Liddy (read his book Will) you find guys like Ernest Hemingway, John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Robert Montgomery and Steve McQueen who evidently owned 3 or 4 rifles and shotguns for every handgun that was in their collections. I understand that not every piece in their collections have been sold off, but what has been sold off tends to be more rifles and shotguns.

    So fellow High Roaders my question is this.

    Are long-guns owned in greater numbers than handguns? Are there less (hardcore) handgun owners than long-gun owners? Are there more long-guns spread among a larger number of private citizens than hundguns? In other words are more handguns owned by a smaller percentage of the population than long-guns?

    I'm inclined to say yes, but I'm basing this on personal observations and my gut.

    Please weigh in. I'm honestly curious as to what others think.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2013
  2. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    I think you are right in that many of those who aren't seriously into guns, but own a few for hunting plus one or two handguns are the most representative of gun owners overall. But on the other hand they are outnumbered by those who own a single handgun and nothing more - and seldom or ever shoot it. In states where handguns a seriously controled the same may be true, but the "single gun" is a rifle or shotgun.
  3. CraigC

    CraigC Well-Known Member

    My ratio of handguns to long guns is 47:30. I love rifles and have a bunch of `em but I am a revolver nut and do more shooting with them than anything else.
  4. Checkman

    Checkman member

    True. I lived in New York state for several years (1996-2000) and it was not as much of a chore to own rifles and shotguns. It took jumping through some hoops to be able to (legally) own a handgun. I forgot about that. Those types of states would definitely effect the ratio.
  5. taliv

    taliv Moderator

    people in cities will overwhelmingly own handguns and almost no rifles.
    people in less populated areas or areas with access to hunting land will own somewhat more rifles than handguns.
  6. EmbarkChief

    EmbarkChief Well-Known Member

    I own considerably more rifles/shotguns than I do handguns. This also holds true with my friends and associates. I didn't even own a centerfire handgun until I was 27 years old, that's a 17 year spread from the time I had my own shotgun. Personally, I just never really had a "need" for pistols growing up. In my family firearms are used for hunting 1st and besides practice punching paper was a distant 2nd. We didn't have concealed carry back then and with no real interest in handgun hunting pistols just were not a priority.
  7. sidheshooter

    sidheshooter Well-Known Member

    I think that serious handgunners do tend to be connoisseurs. Like Craig, I'm really a revolver guy; more of them in my safe than all long guns combined. I make no bones about being called a 'specialist' though, I confess as much readily.

    Somewhere in one of our many AWB threads there was a table on gun ownership by type since the 60s. Handguns used to be a rarity, and they've slowly caught up (in terms of gun owners having at least one, that is) over the last 50 years. There is definitely a traditional cultural bias towards long guns in the US. I think your observations about gun ownership are pretty spot on, based on the same type of conversations that you have had. I'd also add that the majority of my shooting (over roughly the same time period as you) has been in Idaho; a trend that continues to this day.

    In short, my experience seems to agree with yours, FWIW.

    <edited to add:>

    This is a good point. Like to OP, I've spent my gun counter BSing time in relatively rural shops with the stereotypical 3-4 glass handgun display cases, along with aisles of racked long guns. The few times that I have been in seriously Urban shops/ranges, the proportions even out with huge displays of handguns in cases typically along a long wall, with a smaller selection of rifles racked behind the counter. Might indeed be an urban vs rural thing.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2013
  8. leadaddict

    leadaddict Well-Known Member

    My experience with the people I know and hang out with is that most own more long guns than handguns. I am in a rural part of the country. Although I also lived in down-state Illinois for a long time and when it's illegal to carry, the usefulness of a handgun is somewhat diminished. So those who had more than one handgun tended to be "enthusiasts", but everyone has a shotgun and .22 rifle.

    Since moving to Iowa I've definitely noticed more handguns than before, but still not normally more than long guns.
  9. martymcfly

    martymcfly Active Member

    I'm basing my response on my personal experiences.

    I think things are changing, but historically I think folks had more long guns than handguns. The long gun was used for putting food on the table, protection and recreation much more so than the handgun.

    You also had so much specialization with the long guns - different calibers for different game, different shotguns for different purposes (duck hunting, skeet and trap, etc). Sure you have different calibers and styles for the handgun, but for me the primary purpose was always defensive in nature.

    My friends and family also used the long guns more for recreation than handguns. Sure we used them both, but the long gun was used more, generally speaking. The handgun was carried as sidearm out in the field and for protection in the house (along with the trusty shotgun).

    I think a lot of that is changing these days. Less people are into hunting (although I see signs of revival) and with higher density it's harder to find long ranges, but indoor short ranges are popping up. And I know plenty of folks who have a handgun or two strictly for taking to the range for recreation. And more and more folks are keeping one around the house for protection purposes.

    All that said, I have more handguns at this time than long guns. But I also have more long guns currently on the "to acquire" list than handguns. Why do I have more handguns? I carry a couple different ones, I make it to short ranges more often for shooting and when friends and I go shooting we tend to take the hand guns more. Oh yeah, and it's easier for me to take the handguns when I travel - where I go they one or two of them often go.

    Keep in mind, neither myself or my friends and family are what I would consider to be "hard core" firearms enthusiast. But we do like to hunt, plink and protect ourselves and families.
  10. Skribs

    Skribs Well-Known Member

    Most people I know who have/want only one or a couple guns will opt for a handgun, because you can carry it easier than a long gun. I think it largely depends on whether the person with only one or a couple is interested in personal protection or hunting.
  11. hardluk1

    hardluk1 member

    I was a hunter first then when CC was legal a few more handguns were added so its a close mix.
  12. heeler

    heeler Well-Known Member

    Same situation hardluk just mentioned.
    Personally I own far more long guns than handguns as I have been hunting for over 50 years now.
    So in my opinion there are far more long guns owned than handguns.
    How many Remington 870's have been made as well as Remington 700's??
    That right there on just two long guns should give everyone a clue.
  13. 2zulu1

    2zulu1 Well-Known Member

    I live in a very rural environment and I don't have an answer. There will always be a hunting rifle(s) in the home, then there's the AR/AK aspect. Sidearms have always been popular in this area and I would guesstimate that women own more handguns than rifles given the ever increasing CCW demand.

    I find it easier to carry a pistol or revolver when out walking on the property than slinging a rifle over my shoulder, however, an AR usually accompanies in the pickup.
  14. SilentStalker

    SilentStalker Well-Known Member

    I own many more rifles and long guns than I do pistols. I suspect your theory about people owning more long guns than pistols would be correct. Quite frankly, I think long guns are serve more of a use than a pistol. IMO, a pistol is primarily used as a back up weapon or simply for protection. obviously, if one was ever inclined to have to live off of the land a long rifle will prove to be much more handy for many reasons.
  15. 2nd 41

    2nd 41 Well-Known Member

    I'm a HG person mainly because of living in the city and having local indoor ranges. Most of my friends own HG and maybe a rifle. Now that I'm in Florida with 50-300 yard outdoor ranges my interest is changing toward rifles. I doubt I will ever own a lot of rifles. I have 2...would consider a 3rd. My shooting buddy has more rifles than HG. I would say more Hand Guns than rifles in most collections. Just basing that on the people I personally know.
  16. CharlieDeltaJuliet

    CharlieDeltaJuliet Well-Known Member

    I own more long guns, but not by many. I prefer semi-autos. My gun ratio is 61% rifles. My wife's collection is 70% handguns.
  17. tarosean

    tarosean Well-Known Member

    I sold off most of my rifles when I took up handgun hunting then moved to bows.. Leaving only a couple sentimental ones and an AR. I've yet to master hitting flying foul with a bow so I still have 5 shotguns.
    So that leaves me with a rather large collection of handguns. I live rural
  18. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Well-Known Member

    I live in a huge metropolitan area and own more long guns than handguns, a ratio of about 1.3 to 1. I am lucky to have access to ranges where I can shoot them.
  19. metalart

    metalart Well-Known Member

    I currently have 2 long guns and 4 Handguns... but. still building the collection. the scales should tip the other way with my planned next few purchases.
  20. Texan Scott

    Texan Scott Well-Known Member

    Welcome to Texas, where the State has no idea and doesn't need to!

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