Scenario A: you’re in your own home, a single family dwelling in a high density neighborhood. 10pm. Roving gangs are cruising the streets looking for “targets of opportunity.” Your family is inside your redoubt. You’ve had an hour’s warning. There are no police to be seen. What gun or guns and ammo would you deploy? What strategy? (Remember: you have multiple potential entry points.) Scenario B: you own a retail business. Looters roam the streets. Your store has a plate glass windows and three points of entry: front, rear and a fire escape. You had a 30-minute warning. Two employees have decided to stay with you. What guns and ammo, what strategy?

77 Responses to Question of the Day: What Gun(s) Would You Use to Fend Off Rioters?

  1. Scenario A: My house was (in area a lot like described) fortified. Second landing in home. There is no entry from anywhere but the bottom. Let ’em come. I shoot 90 mm fast moving clays from mountain sides with my Mossberg 930 SPX. 8 shells of 00 buck. The hit factor (for me I know now) is near 100%. Person turns corner and hopefully when the head and shoulders come off him the second person will decide another home is more suitable to their needs and pass it on to the rest. If not I keep shooting out the 8 shells. I have my 9 mm at my side and I am reloading when their is a lull. After 8 shells I am sure if people are still coming they are actually zombies and I am on my way to the attic.

    This is just a fake out though. Things like this don’t happen to anyone and the chances of it happening are so not going to happen to me. It will just happen to friends and family I have in the U.K. Antis… pfffttt… I hope they are watching a country tear itself up right now.

  2. Foolish question. Protecting a single house from a rioting mob? If you don’t shoot them, they’ll storm in. If you shoot them, they’ll burn it to the ground. The choice of weapon is unimportant. Better answer is to get enough neighbors together to hold the entire street (sub-division, whatever). With allies involved, your choice of weapon becomes less critical. One rifle, one pistol, and you’re good to go. Tactics, not weapons.

    But since you asked … I’d give my Smith&Wesson MP15 to my son to hold the second line (he’s 15, no front line duty yet). It’s scoped and he’s good, so I can trust him to snipe as needed. I’d hold the front line with my Winchester 30/30. I’d have a Browning Hi-Power as my pistol, or possibly a Colt Python.

    That may not sound like the best choices, but that’s all I got available that I’d take into combat. Everything else in the gun cabinet would be a liability in that situation. In fantasy land, my wife would let me buy a second MP15.

    • I’ve seen pictures of neighborhoods that have done this during times of widespread rioting, especially race riots. I remember hearing about race rioting in a western Chinese city which had a sizable Muslim non-Han Chinese population. I can’t exactly remember the ethnicity.
      That point aside, some of these neighborhoods barricaded the street ends and hung around with bats, tools, molotov cocktails, etc. I believed it worked very well until state police arrived.

    • +1 unless I was a first generation immigrant, living in, say, LA, and everything I owned was tied up in my business and I couldn’t afford insurance. In that case I would “get enough neighbors together to hold the entire street (sub-division Koreatown, whatever).”

      • Admittedly, you are basically relinquishing your business and its assets. Most insurance policies specifically DO NOT cover loss from riot or social/political unrest.

  3. Non-Lethal: 12 gauge pump with hand load Rock salt shells.

    Lethal: 12 gauge pump with 3 in Magnum 00 & 000 buckshot
    Large numbers of Looters: I’d break out my Sig 516

    and always with a backup pistol

    • Nothing about either of these scenarios brings “use non-lethal” to mind. 00 buckshot on the otherhand sounds more reasonable.

  4. With an hour of notice, I’m getting out of town. I have home owners insurance for that type of thing. Same deal with 30 minutes. Hell, give me 10 and I’m gone.

    I think this is also a scenario that it very difficult to understand. LA, while it has a high population, is very spread out. It’s like a giant suburb. Compare that to London, New York, or inner Philadelphia – all very high density in a tight space. You’re never going to get a long range shot or see anything coming until its right on top of you. True urban warfare. Not easy to manage.

  5. Too many variables to formulate specifics. Is it dark? Are the streets lighted or not? How far away in distance, not just time are they? It’s too late to make a plan in 30 minutes. I agree with Don Curton, meet force with force. If there was sufficient cover and one was alone, yet maneuverable, I might move on them with a .22, shoot a couple of knees and quickly scoot to another shoot a couple of knees places, maybe from their rear. I’d better get that Marine Handbook.

    • “Knee shots.” Exactly. Many of the rioters are friends, cousins, even siblings. As others have mentioned, most are cowards and opportunists.

      Killing rioters will cause relatives to freak out and “avenge” them.

      Shooting rioters below the waist will force fellow rioters to run their ‘mates to the hospital. They won’t let their friends/cousins/siblings bleed out. It will take two-to-three rioters to transport one injured comrade. They will be exhausted and likely won’t come back.

      Such injuries also generate a lot of blood and screaming, which will unnerve the remaining rioters… Scenario won’t work if you’re Assad in Syria, but it will work for Dave on Detroit.

  6. All guns come out of the safe. All guns are loaded. Family moves to an upstairs room. We turn the dogs loose downstairs. I have thousands of rounds in 5.56, 12ga, 9mm and .38spl (each).

  7. Scenario A: If they have come into my home, I have to assume they mean to harm me and my family and so I would use an AR15 with hollow point ammo. I would board up one exit and lock the other. I would stay on the ground floor and anyone breaking in would be shot and any misses would strike the ground several yards outside my front door. Backup guns are a 12GA shotgun loaded with buckshot and a 9mm pistol loaded with hollow points. My wife is upstairs, armed with a .38 revolver.

    Scenario B: 12GA shotguns, pump action loaded with bird shot. If they won’t be dissuaded by bird shot we could always transition to pistols in a pinch or load some buck shot in the shotguns, but I would rather not kill anyone to protect a storefront. Of course, the rear entry and fire escape are locked, but I might stand guard at the front door just outside and retreat inside if things get hairy. If my employees are handy with weapons and have their own they could be useful, but one shotgun should be enough.

    • What happens when they lob firebombs at your house? Got an escape plan?

      What do you do when you hear the neighbor’s young daughter screaming as she’s gang-raped next door? Sit tight and wait?

      Maybe they leave your house alone, but start burning the house down the street. Given the proximity and wind, it’s only a matter of time before the whole street goes up in flames. The fire dept. sure as hell ain’t responding.

      Setting up defenses inside your house doesn’t work. Best to stop them at the entrance to the neighborhood.

      • I see your point, but I was limiting the plan to the scenarios outlined in the post. It was a brief mental oversize done while drinking the morning coffee. Of course, there are always variables and unforeseen circumstances, but to plan for all would be impossible.

  8. I’ll have my RRA Coyote rifle and my wife would have the M&P15. Ultramax 55 grain sp ammo would be in the mags.

  9. Sequential barricades to fall back to, my OC dispersal grenades and my RPK LMG. It is illegal to make my own “pyrotechnics”, so I certainly wouldn’t do that! Oh, and some Molotovs for the burnt earth tactic. Oh, and my personal army of zombie homeless, awaiting my commands…

  10. Leave town? Boarding up doors? Consider the enemy. Rioters. Not an armed militia with military training and an arsenal of weapons. I would sit on my front porch with my Saiga 12 loaded with the 20 round drum full of slugs and drink a Bud Light. Should anyone make an attempt to do harm to my house/family, I would simply put a slug or 2 into them. Pumping slugs into a person can be a deterrent for other like minded folks. Let them spread the word to their tweeter friends and my house would surely be off their list.

    • +1
      These are oppurtunistic, pack running, cowards we’re talking about. They’re not motivated, not disciplined, and the only coordination is what neighborhood they’re hitting and even that’s done ahead of time. These guys aren’t looking to take every target or even the best targets, they’re looking for the easiest target. I suspect that at the first sign of significant resistance (multiple people willing to crack some skulls with ball bats and broom handles), let alone gun fire, they would pick another target. Granted, I’d have either my 930 or LAR-8 and be drinking Heineken, but to each his own 🙂

  11. Scenario A:
    I would actually set a op outside my house front and back yards. Using an ar15 and a shotgun, I would shoot any rioters that get withing the capable range of either weapon.

    Scenario B:
    This one seems kind of futile cause I would defend my family’s security till death but not die over a store and its possessions. I would however implement the same concept as scenario a and keep the rioters at bay as long as possible.

    Rioters are not zombies. Once they see a few of their companions fall down with their bodies inside out their common sense will make them hall tail towards their friendly anti gun advocate. Hopefully its mikeb3000 house they’ll visit next.

  12. Number 1 choice is to leave. Just because I have a weapon, does not mean that I am going to win the fight, especially against a mob.

    Defense against a mob is best done with a mob. Going at it alone is not a recipe for success.

    If I can’t leave, an AR in 6.8 SPC with a handgun for back-up. I would choose an AR for two reasons: 1. Intimidation. Hard to look at someone holding that and conclude anything other than “he means business.” 2. If the intimidation factor does not impress, there are 25 rounds of hard hitting 6.8 that can be easily aimed, fired rapidly and reloaded quickly. A tough combination to beat.

    Weather emergencies, unrest. etc. are reasons to have supplies stocked. I have several weapons (ARs and handguns) dedicated for defense that are always ready. I have had some people attempt to ridicule my choice of 6.8 for emergencies stating that it will be hard to find 6.8 when you need it. That would be truthful if you are looking in a gun store, not truthful if you are looking in my basement.

    If things get nasty locally, I will carry a trunk gun for times that I have no choice but to leave the house. My handgun will be used to fight my way to my car and the rifle there will be used to fight my way out.

  13. I have actually thought this scenario through before the London rioting. I am with Don Curton on this one. Rule number 2 is in play (Know your target and what’s beyond it), so it has to be a neighborhood defense effort. Despite your best intentions there will be stray rounds that Mr. Murphy will ensure hits one of the neighbor’s children.

    Mob mentality being what is doesn’t require a stout defense. All that it requires is that you be a tougher target then your neighbor. A few rounds directed at the front of the mob will send them off against your next door neighbor. If enough of your neighbors do the same thing then they go and burn some less prepared neighborhood down.

    Same scenario applies to your business.

    • Looks like I left a thought out RE: stray rounds.

      It has to be a neighborhood effort because you need to establish clean fields of fire. You can’t have stray 223 or 308 rounds flying around in a tight urban area unless you give up some territory or let people get under cover when the mob shows up. It is going to require close cooperation.

  14. I’d use my mossy 590 with 00 buck or buck and ball. I’d also employ a razor sharp machete and petrol bombs. A machete will induce short of sheer horror.

  15. Gun folk sure love these “what if” scenario! A relative who never owned guns went out and bought two (a Kimber 1911 and a S&W .38 Airweight) in 2001. I thought he was nuts until he told me a lot of people in Northern Virginia were arming up after 9/11. He had a plan of fighting his way out of DC metro if there was a gas or bioagent attack to his parents’ outside Richmond. A few months later, my wife and I bought our first gun. Interesting how we’ve forgotten our vulnerability since then.

  16. I had this scenario (kinda) in real life when I was in the navy. Hurricane Hugo had done a real number on Charleston and they sent us out to protect off-base housing from looters. Some guys got shotguns, they gave me an M14.

    I was ok with that 🙂

    • a close relative of mine was there for Hugo. they were without power for weeks. His 20ga single shot shotgun was enough deterrence to keep any trouble from starting. It was all he had , but it was enough.

      • Hey, I was stationed there then too-Naval Station Security (inside). I had a Freedom Arms .454 Casull that rode shotgun with me on and off base in my car.

  17. Shoot the first looter I see. Dismember his corpse and place it artfully on my front lawn. Light scented candles to cover up the smell of his gore. Go back to playing Wii with my kids.

  18. I agree with getting the neighbors together to control more area and thus push back how close rioters/looters can get.

    Since we are talking about a mob or something larger than 3 or 4 people, quantity has to come into play. I would opt out for one of my AR15s and my one of my 1911s. If they get close enough that I need a handgun, we are in deep do do and I want to stop them. I will trade capacity for stopping power.

    since most of the work is going to be done under 100 yds, the AR should do. I have .308 M1As at my reach, but weight vs capacity for the threat tells me I will opt out for the AR since I will be moving around and I can carry a lot more ammo if need be.

    And the first dirtbag that lights a moltov, gets drilled in the chest. No I’m not doing the hollywood thing of shootin ghte bottle, more than likely, it will break when said scumbag falls to the pavement giving him the viking pyre he wished for.

    shotguns are nice for some close in work, but they are the hardest firearm to load under duress. I’ll stick with a rifle.

    since I have a wife and two sons, I will arm each fo the boys with their 10/22s and 22 pistols. both under 12.

    The wife gets a AR15 in 9mm with the Sig 9mm to boot. I won’t go in tot he equiping of the neighbors, but we will have the equivlent of a infantry platoon.

    • And the first dirt-bag that lights a Molotov, gets drilled in the chest. No I’m not doing the Hollywood thing of shooting the bottle, more than likely, it will break when said scumbag falls to the pavement giving him the viking pyre he wished for.

      +1 this

  19. i think my arsenal sgl would suffice while i was preparing to get the hell out of the area, luckily i have more firearms then adults in my house.

  20. Home policies exclude riots and civil unrest too btw. Still probably not worth a last stand if you have kids to protect.

    My neighborhood isn’t the most closely knit I can think of, but I know of at least 3 households that could probably do a decent job of covering each other from a mob. I don’t think of rioting mobs as being particularly determined to get to ‘you’. They’re like a river of debauchery and they’ll avoid serious resistance (except for cops, which may be their target).

    I was really surprised that the london mobs are moving into neighborhoods. I think you’d end up with a lot of dead rioters in this country if they moved out of unoccupied city centers to the suburbs.

    As far as what guns, my shotgun and my .45.

  21. Reading this “I would opt out for one of my AR15s and my one of my 1911s. If they get close enough that I need a handgun, we are in deep do do and I want to stop them. I will trade capacity for stopping power. ” prompts me to ask a question (not rhetorical, I really would like to know).

    Does anyone have any data on the behavior of mobs like the British rioters when they’re confronted by live fire? If someone like Todd was firing live 5.56mm rounds into the crowd would you expect them to press the attack or move on to an easier target? Since we’re not talking about a military force here I’d assume an extremely low level of esprit de corps and non-existent unit discipline. With every single one of them concerned for their own self-interest above all else I wouldn’t expect them to press the attack.

  22. If the riot is comprised of the kind of scum making up the current London riot, I don’t think one need worry about being overwhelmed. While certain protesters might have some courage, rioters on the other hand are cowards by nature. They only find a backbone to do these sorts of things in a large group and to defenseless businesses (rather than, say, city hall). They most certainly will not keep coming at your house like they’re storming the beaches if their people start dropping.

    Just look at riot video from London, or most any riot really. They’re hesitant to even charge a few unarmed police; at the most, they’ll skip a few steps ahead, throw a rock, then run back. What’re the odds these sacks of crap would charge an AR-15?

    Edit: What James said as I was posting, hehe.

  23. My AR-15 carbine with a Beta-C mag full of Hornady FMJs, my stainless Remington 870 with an extended magazine (It’s VERY bad ass), loaded with OO buck, and a DA .44 mag full of 240 gr. hollow points. I’m saving up for a 1911 and an M1A.

  24. The missus and I have always planned to bug-in, not bug-out. I’m not saying that running’s not an option, but it is the final option. So the “defend, in place” option is primary.

    I’m reminded of something from Geek With A 45, “The Rifleman’s Prayer“:

    Oh Lord, I would live my life in freedom, peace and happiness, enjoying the simple pleasures of hearth and home. I would die an old, old man in my own bed, preferably of sexual overexertion.

    But if that is not to be, Lord, if monsters such as this should find their way to my little corner of the world on my watch, then help me to sweep those bastards from the ramparts, because doing that is good, and right, and just.

    And if in this I should fall, let me be found atop a pile of brass, behind the wall I made of their corpses.

    So, to answer your question, M1A.

    TCM

  25. Scenario 1: Dad will keep a shotgun. A pump action should do fine. I shall have another shotgun and the radio to the neighbor across the street. Mom would be in basement with sisters with another shotgun. Sister’s boyfriend shall have an AR due to his status as a National Guardsman. We roam the insides of the building, and floodlights are on. We have a hunting rifle on hand. Etc…

    Buckshot, .223 Rem, and .308 rem

    Scenario 2: All three of us with 9mm pistols. Two with AR-15s, one with Shotgun. Employee up on roof, with the fire escape pulled up. Me and another patrolling inside.

  26. RF says: “Your store has a plate glass windows and three points of entry: front, rear and a fire escape. You had a 30-minute warning. Two employees have decided to stay with you. What guns and ammo, what strategy?”

    Sounds like a one-pager for FX. Get John Cena and we can greenlight it.

  27. Having mined the front lawn, the herd would be thinned out before they reached critical mass in my living room or stock room. Then I’d use three well emplaced German MG42 machine guns with overlapping fields of fire and a few dozen MK3 concussion grenades to knock the rest of bastards down, and a Glock with 33 round assault clips to administer many coups de grace without reloading. A 20 Watt Phased Plasma Rifle would be helpful but not required.

    In the alternative, I’d get the f^ck outta there, secure in the knowledge that my little town has a well-trained SWAT team (courtesy of DHS) that would certainly rescue me within minutes of them exiting the VFW Hall a few blocks away sans beer and sandwiches.

  28. Guns are bad, umkay. I’ll just ask them politely to not hurt me or my family. If they don’t listen they probably have a good reason for rioting and are entitled to my possessions and even my life. I probably owe them for something so it’s fine. Really.

  29. Scenario 1:

    Choice 1 is GTFO. Nothing inside is worth dying for if I can get my family out. BUT, since that’s not an option in the scenario and we HAVE to stick it out… here’s what I’d do..

    Strategy: I’m busting some windows, graffiti on the door / sides of the house; throw in some scorch marks and burned areas of the house for good measure. Burn the garden.. Some furniture and clothes are getting tossed out onto the lawn; some of that probably lit on fire. My car is going to parked down the street, well away from my house, scorched and tire slashed to look crappy (muahah, I have a spare!). Anything valuable that can be seen is pretty much getting concealed, torched, or tossed.

    – The scenario states that these guys are looking for targets of opportunity. I’m going to do everything I can to make myself look like I’ve already been hit, ransacked, looted, and gutted. IE: Make it look like there’s no point to checking my digs out. If they do come after me (though, everyone else’s shit will look a whole lot less tore up [read: inviting] than mine!), they’re going to get the response of overwhelming violence. None of this “adequate response” BS. No, I’m unleashing unrestrained hell on anyone nefarious coming into my digs.

    Weapons: Whatever I’ve got. My first weapon of choice is going to be the gun I’ve got the most ammo for – the GSG5 .22. Say what you will, but I’ve got plenty of mags, and with my little red dot on there blasting away, it’ll get the job done and should be enough of a deterrent to prevent people from trying to get in close enough to figure out it’s a .22. (It will still kill…). There’s a 5.56 AR and a couple of handgun-caliber carbines that will fill the gap next, but I’m saving that ammo as best I can. Handguns and shotguns as a stopgap.. Cabinet man said it best; it’s the Rifleman’s Prayer at that point.

    TL;DR – I’m making myself look looted. If the ruse fails, all hell breaks loose.

    Scenario 2:

    See scenario 1. Lather, rinse, repeat. (One question; why in the hell am I protecting my business when my family is more important??)

    • Please tell me that you are just joking about your entire strategic plan and this is merely mocking someone else…please.

  30. In my specific case, AR-15s for me, my wife, my son. Lots of ammo, all SS109. Backup handguns for me and my wife… my son gets a Winchester 9422. Backup 870s and 11/87s with #4 buck, 18″ buckshot-choked barrels (6″ patterns @ 10 yards), and extended mags, plus loaded speedloaders at hand.

    In a riot situation, when the mob crosses the property line they get ONE warning shot at the leader’s feet. If they don’t stop and disperse IMMEDIATELY, then I take out the leaders, the ones in front, the ones whipping up the crowd. Anyone with a non-contact weapon, e.g., Molotov cocktail, slingshot, etc., rocks and their armed cocked back, gets it next. I have dozens of 30-round mags, and if the crowd decides to go all-in my son will be my loader and I’ll swap between ARs and an 11/87.

    The result: sturm und drang… and a LOT of dismembered rioters.

    In all seriousness, most rioters are weakly motivated. They’re not looking for a fight, they’re looking for an easy win. A show of force deters them, and there was plenty of evidence of this from the ’92 LA riots; the stores with armed guards weren’t bothered. For the few, the proud, the stupid… shoot one or two and the others will run. You see, while your life may be worth less to them than your property, THEIR life is worth much more than your property.

    In all but the most extreme situations here in the US I’d feel perfectly comfortable with an AR and a backup handgun, with a basic load of ammo for each (7 30-round mags for the rifle, 4 8-round mags for my .45). If that won’t solve my problem as an individual homeowner, then conditions are such that I need to get out of town instead of standing and fighting.

  31. AA-12, many drum mags full o rock salt, with a old duck bill choke to lay the pattern flat and wide, fall back to safe room, equipped with lazy boy, Generator, Sat Tv, Several buckets of flashbangs to toss through a port every now and then reminding them to move along, nothing to see here…

    On the serious side, use already developed plan to bug out, when realizing retreat is best option for keeping my family safe. Daniel Defense AR, S&W M&P 9c for backup, LCP for last ditch, Explorer 4×4 with go bag (and Elmo for my little girl) best option..

    • I’d just assumed you were coming over. On hand I’ve got 350 rounds of 00 buckshot, 1000 rounds of .308, ~600 rounds of .40, and 250 rounds of 10mm. Oh, a half gallon of John Jameson, and a gallon of Captain Morgan 🙂 I probably shouldn’t ask, but what are you bringin?

  32. I can’t help but think of mikeb’s assertion on some post a while back that shooting anything living is always wrong.

    • Shooting anything living IS always wrong. But one day you might not have a choice, so you just have to do it.

      How come so many gun owners can’t grasp that simple logic..?

  33. My NEIGHBORS will be the first ones looking to rob and steal our supplies. I know that they would be the bigger danger than the rioters.

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