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IMG_3725There has been a LOT of chatter here on TTAG and on the Internet in general about what makes the perfect home defense boomstick. Some say a pistol affords you the ability to run a flashlight, open doors and hoist children to safety if need be. Rifle proponents say there’s no replacement for 30 rounds of persuasion with some real knockdown power. Not to mention the ability to put accurate shots on target at spacious living room distances. And yet, Tailgunner Joe thinks a shotgun is the way to go. As do some other, wiser, more grounded people that actually know something about the subject. They feel that there is no replacement for a dose of 00 buck or a slug . . .

The Defensive Long Gun class from KR Training aims to help you understand the limitations of your shotgun (if that is what you use) or your capabilities with a rifle. This isn’t my first rodeo with KR. I took my first class with Karl a year ago and learned the basic mechanics of running my defensive pistol. Then I took the more advanced defensive pistol class as well as a skills and tactics session in June, so I’m not exactly neutral when it comes to my feelings on KR. I love what they teach as well as how they teach it. And the price rocks too. Most classes are ~$20/hour.

Defensive Long Gun is an all-day session capped at 16 students taught by 4 instructors. The “big” group sessions come during the morning and are run in two heats which gives a student to instructor ratio of 2:1.

The morning session starts with initial checking of zero at ranges from 7 yards to 50 yards. Those with issues were able to go to a secondary range to straighten things out. At this point, those students with optics mounted high above the bore axis got to see what a difference that made in point of impact at various distances. The one guy running a shotgun also got to see what kind of practical accuracy he could achieve with his shotgun running 00. In this case, 15 yards. Past that, said student needed to switch to slugs. Most of the other students in class were running an AR 15/AR 10 platforms with two guys running 9 mm carbines.

Next up was shooting at various distances from behind and around barriers. This was probably the most physically demanding part of class, and it showed with some of the students. For the purposes of this class, I would HIGHLY recommend knee pads. Only one student had taken the class before, and sure enough, he was wearing knee pads. If you are considering this class, I would highly recommend working on some basic calisthenics a few weeks prior. You are going to be up and down more than a nun at Sunday mass.


Thats when we we broke for lunch, and a discussion about the gear you can outfit your home defense long gun with. Simplicity is best. I would also like to mention that my friend Jacob absolutely nailed our lunch menu. We were the envy of all our fellow students with our roasted chicken and fresh garden salads with lemon vinaigrette.

After lunch, we broke into three groups. The first focused on strategy and tactics for the home. Specifically, how to navigate around left handed and right handed corners, and planning out a strategy to get to kids, grandma, grandpa, or other important sentient beings. We used dummy guns for this portion and every student got to run through the house and every student got popped by our home invader instructor. Food for thought.

The second stage was to run a fairly standard rifle course with sections dedicated to weakside shooting, shoot/no shoot, and shots taken from behind or over cover. The first round through was body shots. The second round through was head shots only. Your humble scribe missed a gangbanger, popped an innocent child and forgot to shoot a bad guy. More practice obviously needed.

The last stage was to run a drill very similar to the 3, 3, 3 drill that Karl runs for the defensive pistol classes. I dropped 2 points in the first round, and 4 points during the second. More practice needed. Again. Still.

Why you might take this class

Like all KR classes, you’ll notice an immediate improvement and be able to identify ways to improve moving forward. You aren’t going to become an expert with the rifle in 7 hours. However, you’ll build a solid foundation and know what to look for to improve your performance. If you’ve never drawn the blinds and walked your house to get a good grasp on the weaknesses of your castle, I can’t recommend this class enough.

The strategy portion of the class was absolutely the most valuable part for me. And finally, if you’ve never really “run” your gun, and by that I mean shooting from the weak side, shooting from kneeling, around cover, and in various awkward positions, you need to take this class first to understand how to do it right.

Why you might pause before taking this class

My friend Jacob is a pretty active competition shooter and goes out probably 15 – 20 times a year for competition. While I was having difficulty shooting from behind cover and in awkward positions, Jacob was right at home. And when it came time to run our shoot/no shoot stage, Jacob mentioned that it was very similar to a rifle stage he had run at the local range a few months ago.

So if you regularly shoot competitively with your rifle, the skills portion is going to see pretty routine. However, you are probably not going to suffer by working through a home clearing scenario with an instructor. Again, I can’t stress this enough. This class is not for teaching “competition” shooting. It is about using a rifle or shotgun defensively and safely.

Specifications: KR Training Defensive Long Gun

  • Length: 7 hours
  • Prerequisites: Some rifle shooting experience and understanding preferred
  • Required Equipment
    • Rifle in a moderate defensive caliber or shotgun in 20 or 12 gauge
    • Shotgunners need 150 rounds of target load birdshot, 40 rounds of buck shot (#4 or OO) and 10 slugs
    • Rifle guys and gals need 200 rounds of ammunition. Bring some high quality defensive ammo to check your POI/POA against your “plinking” ammo
    • Water & Lunch (roasted chicken optional)
  • Optional Equipment
    • Knee pads
    • Low profile headphones that allow you to get a good cheek weld with your rifle
  • Cost – $140

Overall Rating * * * * *

I can’t say enough good things about KR, and I’m blessed to have such high quality training within a one hour drive. This class helped me build some good fundamentals for my defensive rifle shooting, and opened my eyes a bit to my home defense situation. Defensive Long Gun also helped me learn some basic drills I can do to further polish my skills. This class is only offered one or two times a year and fills up very quickly. If you live in the area, stalk the KR front page and book it as soon as it shows up.

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  1. I took this same class about a year ago and really enjoyed it. I would highly recommend the class to anyone.

  2. A silenced mp5 (or Uzi, or one of its imitators) would be ideal – JHP pistol ammo to reduce/eliminate overpenetration concerns, and you don’t blow your eardrums out shooting in a 10×12 bedroom. Of course that’s among the most illegal firearms around for civilian use.

    • I assume you are speaking of an mp5 with giggle-switch? AND Silenced/suppressed (whatever it’s called)? You’re onto something! Even a semi-auto would be excellent though, in my opinion. I would like to have a pistol caliber carbine for HD, all the benefits of a stable firing platform and increased velocity from a longer barrel, without the certain deafness of firing an AR/shotgun indoors. Now if only I could find a sub2000 anywhere…

    • I haven’t found #1 Buck to be widely available. Not nearly so. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it. I don’t hang around gun stores much, because I start drooling on the floor, and that’s hazardous.

    • If you’re using a 20 gauge, #4 buck is “typical”.

      If you’re using 12 gauge, 00 buck is “typical”.

      You’re welcome to use what you wish, but the track record of 00 buck is fairly established. Loads such as Federal Premium’s 00 buck with the FLITECONTROL wad in low recoil config (8 or 9 pellet) is ideal. They market it a few ways (there’s “home defense” and “tactical/LE”), but the main components are: Federal, FLITECONTROL wad, 00 buck, low recoil.

  3. Stacy,

    Not really. The ability to shoot more accurately is ONE of the reasons that long guns are more effective than handguns, but you are missing the other key part – ballistics. Pistol bullets simply don’t inflict the same degree of trauma as a rifle round (or 13 00 buck pellets). Turning a carbine into a short barrelled rifle with a suppressor accomplishes the same goal while still giving you the favorable ballistics of a rifle round. Good defensive ammo for a .223/5.56 carbine does not overpenetrate any more than 9mm JHP, and in fact will go through less walls if you don’t hit your intended target.

    • Should’ve read this post before answering Stacy’s. You make a good point about ballistics, but I’ll repeat a question often asked when debating caliber preference or weapon choice: doesn’t most quality defensive handgun ammo pack enough punch and expansion to get the job done? Compared to a .223/5.56 round a 9mm round is obviously inferior in terms of ballistics, but wouldn’t firing a 9mm round through a longer barrel serve to boost its performance substantially? I don’t mean to question your answer, I am genuinely curious and bow to your superior knowledge. I am fairly new to the learnings of ballistic performance.

      • The longer barrel is not going to be able to completely compensate for the limited case capacity of the 9mm. The 9mm case can’t contain enough gunpowder to come close to the velocity and energy a rifle develops. Generally speaking, with a barrel of equal length, the pistol cartridge is always going to lose out to the rifle cartridge.

        Ballistics are fun to talk about from an academic perspective, but the bottom line is you do not want to be shot, period. And you specifically do not want to be shot by anything that was designed with the military or deer hunting in mind. There are several factors that contribute to lethality, and different bullets may have different wounding mechanisms, but the bottom line is that rifles do much more damage than pistols, and someone who is shot by a pistol is likely to survive, if they receive timely medical attention. Rifles are much more lethal.

        Barrel length boosts velocity (up to a point), which equates to more energy, so the same bullet fired through a longer barrel will generally have more energy. Ballistics are all about energy and friction. The bullet picks up energy from the gunpowder as it travels down the barrel. Once the bullet leaves the barrel it immediately begins losing that energy. You want the bullet to have enough remaining energy when it impacts the target that all (or close to all) of the energy is transmitted into the target.

        Pistol rounds, generally speaking, pack less energy than rifle rounds due to the limited capacity of the pistol case and the need to keep the force exerted by the pistol to something that is controllable in a handgun. Rifle rounds, on the other hand, can be designed to drop anything from a prairie dog to an elephant.

      • LongBeach,

        This forum post by Dr. Gary Roberts (widely recognized ballistics expert) has some very useful information in it:

        It is nearly universally accepted that pistols are very poor fight-stoppers compared to long guns – however, they are better than nothing, and it is pretty hard to conceal a carbine everywhere you go.

        It is also widely accepted that in order for you to get any tangible wounding benefits from temporary cavity expansion, you need a velocity around 2000 FPS or better. While a longer barrel from a pistol caliber carbine does give you greater velocity by a few hundred FPS, you are generally putting it up into the 1500 FPS range, which isn’t enough to benefit from the temporary cavity wounding properties. There are good reasons why SWAT and other CQB (close quarter battle) squads went away from pistol caliber submachine guns in favor of rifle caliber carbines, and the reasons that make it better for them to use make it better for you to use.

        If you aren’t running suppressed, a shot from a pistol or pistol caliber carbine is going to be SUPER loud in an enclosed room. A carbine or shotgun is going to be SUPER SUPER loud. Either way, you are going to have to make a super loud noise to stop one or more bad guys unless you are using a suppressor. I’d rather put the bad guy down as fast as possible to protect myself and my family, and worry about the degree of hearing damage I’m going to sustain (possible auditory exclusion effects aside) later.

        I hope this information helps.

        As a side note, I’ve taken the KR Training long gun class along with many other classes there, and they are top notch.

        • DJ and Dave, thank you for your responses. I will definitely check out that link. I knew there were many differences between handgun and rifle rounds, thank you for explaining some of them! Hopefully one day I will be as knowledgeable as most of the posters on this site.

  4. Anyone have much experience with some of the big bore AR chamberings like .50 Beowulf or .458 SOCOM? I think they’d make for a pretty fun pig or short-yardage deer stopper, but don’t hear much about them when it comes to defensive use. Seems like they would pack the 1 shot stopping power that 5.56 lacks, but I’m guessing over-penetration prevents them from being practical HDR’s.

    • The lightest factory load I’ve seen for the .50 Beowulf is a 240 grain JHP. That load would have quite a bit of penetration – surely more than most .223 loads – but I have not seen gel penetration photos. I don’t see much advantage that the .50 offers in a home defense scenario over 12 gauges slugs other than quick detachable box mags.

      • +1.

        I’d actually take a 12 or 20 gauge with slugs over one of the large bore ARs. The cost of ammo probably means the shooter isn’t going to be able to afford to fire enough .50 Beowulf, etc to really become proficient (and to ensure the rifle doesn’t have any malfunctions with a particular round).

  5. Glad you enjoyed the class. Especially happy to hear some feedback on the tactics portion of the class. You do know there were two cans at the class? One running 300Black and one running 223. The guy running 223 with a can works for “The Suppressor Store” there in Austin.

  6. Oooh, I’ll have to try these. They’re about 5 hours from me but it might still be fun and worth it next year (can’t this year, too much medical debt to pay off..fah).


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