My personal emphasis is on personal, close combat, and for that, there is nothing like a pistol in the hand of a trained person to wreak havoc with.
I own several rifles. I used to hunt, as I've said, until A) it got so easy as to become unfair and B) I noted so many parasites in the meat I killed, so as to disgust me.
I have four rifles I consider close combat weapons. Two Ruger 10/22's, with all the gear, folding stocks, muzzle brakes and such. Each is scoped, with rings I can also see my 'open' sights through below the scopes. 25 round mags, taped together. Then there's my Winchester AE .44 mag carbine. I can easily manipulate it inside a car, and it will flat knock your dick in the dirt. And then, of course, there's my sexy AK-47 Saiga clone, an actual Kalashnikov, with 30 round mags, and I would fuck that hot black bitch if I could, she is that sexy.
I've been shooting rifles since I was, what, eleven years old? Most of them are too unwieldy and ungainly to use in a fight. And don't try to tell Sgt. York, or Bill Hickok a pistol is not suitable for a fight.
I'm kinda hijacking my own post here, about rifles, but you need to practice until you are deadly with a pistol at 50 yards. And accurate out to 100. Consistently. No scope, or gadgets. If your pistol can't do it, find one that can.
Rifles? Crikey, that's a hard one. People who talk shit about the 5.56 just piss me off. Yeah, the M-16 is a flawed weapon. Deeply. The 6.8 is hopefully the future. But as I've said, go out 300 yards, and let me shoot you with an M-16, and then come back and tell me how it just tickled.
Me, personally, in combat, I would want an M-14. Damn fine weapon. The Garand was ground-breaking, but was burdened by too much wood (heavy as shit) and a small magazine capacity. And the enemy, in close combat, knew you were empty by the noisy 'ka-ching!' the magazine made as it ejected.
Personally, I would have organized my squad with Thompson gunners and men with M-1's up font on the assault, Garand riflemen hanging back to cover, and a BAR man and .30 cal machine gunner on overwatch, from a vantage point. With a bazooka man and his loader just behind the Tommy-gunners, to bust up any entrenched resistance, and/or take out snipers. But that's just me...
Long guns...I've essentially got no use for them. I consider the shotgun a long gun, so I guess I kinda take that last statement back. A little. Perfect close combat weapon. I have a sawed off (at both ends) shotgun that is essentially a large, 12 gauge pistol, and a big Mossberg 'Defender' in 12 gauge.I've got spare 00 buck mounted on the gun, and I keep a bandoleer of 00 draped over the barrel. To keep the dust out. Yeah, that's it.
You hit a deer at a hundred yards with a sabot round, and it will flip in place, leave a puff of dust and blood spray hanging in the air, as it's little hooves wave bye-bye to the world. I'd face any animal, including humans, in the world, with a ten round tube full of 12 gauge sabot rounds.
I know all about adjusting scopes and such, but the military made me be able to hit steel reactive targets at 800 yards with 'iron' sights, so what's the point? Unless you're getting paid for it. And they want a camera attached to the scope so they can enjoy the DVD. Not that I'd know anything about that.
All that being said, there are a few rifles I am just in love with. The Marlin .444. Ditto the 45-70. I love a bullet that makes things fall down and go boom. And maybe bounce a couple of times. At just about any range. .50 Barrett, heck, .50 anything.
That said, I'd rather have a decent submachine gun. I can cook off 3 round bursts close enough to you at any range to shake up your concentration, until I can maneuver in close enough to put my foot on your chest, and blow your brains all over my boots.
Hmmmm, is the M-60 a rifle? Most impressive weapon, next to maybe the Browning .50 I've ever fired. I chopped a house down one time with an M-60. And it terrorizes vehicles. An automatic deer rifle. Nuff said.
Never owned a rifle? Buy a Ruger 10/22, and an AK at the same time. Take them to the range. Shoot the .22 first, until you can hit the paper and not embarrass yourself. Then fire the AK. 25 yards, to start. Ladies might have trouble with the action. The AK has an enormous spring in it. That is why it always, always works. Before you go, make yourself intimately familiar with how they each work. Take them apart. Read the manuals. Dry fire them.
Ideally, you should not spend more than $400. And you'll be prepared for anything. Now, go buy a pistol.