Some folks collect guns and never shoot them. Some people acquire guns for the sake of owning them, showing them off to others, and generally babying them. It was due to these people that the term "safe queen" was coined. There is nothing wrong with collecting things. And with guns in particular, all you have to do is buy one to find out that it is hard to be satisfied with just one gun. But some of us don’t have the money, time, or interest to indiscriminately accumulate a collection of firearms as an end unto itself. We want to assemble an array of firearms qua tools, suitable for the variety of applications for which we anticipate needing that sort of tool. Each person’s lot in life is different, so no single list of "must have" guns can be truly authoritative.
Possible uses for firearms
Guns are useful for lots of different things: hunting, home defense, personal protection outside the home, paramilitary operations, and target shooting. These different applications present their own unique demands, and the firearm that is best suited for one is often ill-suited for the others.
A hunter in the swamps of lower Alabama will never have the opportunity to take a thousand yard shot in that area because the ground cover is too dense and elevations don’t provide a vantage point from which to make such a long shot on game in that region. A rifle that is capable of accurately throwing a bullet that far can be a fun hobby gun for such an individual, provided he has access to a long-distance shooting range, but the extra weight of a bull barrel, adjustable stock, large optics, and other accouterments reduce mobility. Likewise, a varminter in "big sky country" might find a .22 pistol utterly useless for shooting critters to which he never gets closer than seventy-five yards. We can look at the different classes of firearms and determine which of these fits into our lives and what qualities we should look for in a specimen from each relevant class.
Some guns are designed to perform very well in a limited, specific role. For example, the rifle carried by a modern biathelete is a creature of the competition context and the sport’s rules: .22 caliber, at least 7.5 pounds in weight, highly adjustable stock, short lock time, and capability to operate reliably in cold, snowy conditions. While these specifications may make such a rifle a good rabbit gun and an excellent target gun, a shorter, lighter gun with fewer frills can be had for far less money and still serve well in those roles. (more)