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Can a Left-Handed Person Use a Right-Handed Rifle?

Man shooting right handed rifle

The answer to this question is yes. A left-handed person can use a right-handed rifle. If you’re left-handed beginning shooting, you may find that, as with everything else we lefties do, it won’t be as simple as we’d like. However, with some guidance, we’ll ensure you become a practical shooter.

What is a rifle?

For those new to the world of guns, the word “rifle” comes from the unique feature that sets these firearms apart from previous firearms. These guns have rifling, spiraled grooves around the inside of the barrel. This rifling causes the projectile fired from the weapon to spin as it moves through the barrel. The spinning action allows a more stable flight for the bullet, dramatically increasing accuracy.

Terms To Know

Cartridge – a rifle cartridge comprises of a casing, a chamber filled with powder, a bullet, and a primer. When a rifle fires, a mechanism controlled by the trigger hits the primer causing the bullet to travel down the gun’s barrel.

Magazine – Cartridges are either stored inside the gun magazine or put into the gun.

Action – Action is how a cartridge is loaded, fired, and ejected from the magazine. This is the most significant difference between different rifles.

Types of Rifles

Lever-action rifles

Lever action rifles were one of the first rifle designs. The rifles have a handle located behind the trigger, pulling a cartridge out of the magazine and into the firing tube so the bullet may be fired out the barrel.

Bolt-action rifles

Bolt-action rifles have a small metal handle on the right side just behind the chamber. The user can eject a used cartridge with a simple upward, backward, and forward movement, load a new round, and close the chamber. This type of action is the most widely produced worldwide because it’s easy to use, durable, and accurate.

Semi-automatic rifles

With a semi-automatic rifle, the user moves the action into a firing position once. After that, the action will automatically eject the old round and replace a new one with every pull of the trigger.

Pump-action rifles

The pump action is more well-known in shotguns than rifles. This action design uses a slide mechanism built around the barrel to eject an old cartridge and load a new one simultaneously. The main benefit is that the user operates it with their supporting hand, not their trigger hand.

Break-action rifles

The break-action or hinge-action style is standard in single-shot rifles and shotguns. In this action style, the barrel or barrels are hinged. They open like a door to allow the loading and unloading of the cartridges.

Using right-handed Firearms as a left hander

women shooting left handed

Most firearms are right-handed, but as long as their butts and hand grips aren’t molded to the right, any lefty can use them. However, there are several drawbacks that you must be aware of.

While a left-handed shooter can use a right-handed firearm, a few aspects of the experience make it less than optimal.

Weapon Controls

Weapon controls are probably the most annoying part of using a right-handed firearm. This is because the weapon controls are on the right-hand side. Unfortunately, this makes using the weapon controls quite tricky. From changing the fire mode, removing the magazine, or releasing the bolt, a left-handed shooter must drop their shooting stance to do these things. As a result, most lefties learn to use the controls right-handed.

Hot Casings

If you are left-handed and shooting any of these right-handed rifles, you should know where the shell goes when you eject them from the gun. Some will discharge across your body, and you don’t want a hot bullet smacking you in the face or dropping down your jacket. So, here is the list of rifle types and the direction they eject empty shells.

Lever Action Rifle – The empty shells eject toward your body. This is for left and right-handed users.

Bolt Action Rifle – The empty shells eject to the right. If you are left-handed, the empty shell will fly across your body instead of flying away from your body. Lefties should be aware of the hot cartridge.

Semi-automatic Rifle – This is another rifle where the empty shell ejects to the right and across a lefty’s body.

Pump Action Rifle – Another where the shell ejects across a lefty’s body.

Break–Action Rifles – The Empty shells for this rifle pop out the back as the gun opens.

Weapon Shape

The weapon may be molded for a right-handed user. The stock may curve to fit their shoulder, or the grip may be shaped for a right hand to hold. This setup can make it harder for a lefty to line up their shot. In this video, David Florent explains how it doesn’t matter whether you are left-handed or right-handed. He points out that it’s your eye dominance, not your hand dominance, that matters. That makes using a right-handed rifle seem better in a way. Some rifles don’t have this, but you can understand its meaning. It’s your handedness. According to him, it’s your eye dominance. If the rifle is designed for the comfort of a right-handed shooter, it will not be comfortable for a left-handed shooter.


Well, I hope this article gives you some information on being a lefty and shooting a right-handed rifle. The biggest issue with a lefty using a right-handed weapon is to watch where those empty shells go. You don’t want to get burned or another injury by not being aware. When it comes to a lefty shooting a right-handed weapon, you are better off learning to use the right-handed gun. The most important thing is that whether you are righty or lefty, your eye dominance matters more. What do you think of our article? Do you have anything you’d like to add? Have you had experience as a left-handed shooter using a right-handed rifle? Tell us your story or leave your comment below.

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