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The decision to purchase a gun for home defense isn’t always an easy one. In many cases it’s triggered by a need to feel safe after an incident has already occurred.

But it isn’t a decision you have to face alone. Current statistics suggest that 42% of US households own at least one gun.

The Type Of Gun

The exact type you get will depend upon your preference and the rules in your state. Obviously the handgun is an exceptionally popular choice. But, there are many homes which also have a carbine. This is a light semi-automatic rifle often simply referred to as an AR.

At first this might seem like a drastic choice. After all they appear to be far more powerful than your traditional hand gun. In fact there are approximately 5 million US citizens with an AR-15 rifle.

You will also need to read more about the accessories that go with an AR.

Why Use A Carbine

There are several good reasons why a carbine might be the solution you need for home defense:

  • Stopping Power

Even if you’re an experienced shooter, you’re likely to feel extremely stressed when faced with a life-and-death situation.

An AR will give you the ability to respond with superior stopping power and capacity. AR’s have sufficient power to stop any person and most animals you’re likely to run across in North America. The AR’s capacity let you fire until the threat is stopped.

  • Ease Of Use

An AR is relatively light, well-balanced and the controls are intuitively in the right places. That means that just about any member of your family should be able to use it if they have to.

And given the dynamics of the .223 or 5.56 most AR’s fire, recoil will be generally light and manageable.

And with their ergonomics, AR’s are easy to use for both right-and left handed shooters.

  • Compact

While an AR is certainly more of a challenge to maneuver than a handgun, a carbine’s 16-inch barrel makes them relatively easy to handle in the confines of most homes.

If you hold a carbine against your shoulder in the firing position and then hold a handgun in front of you, you’ll find there is very little difference in effective length.

  • Sight Options

Your chosen red dot sight system will allow you to quickly get on target, rapidly increasing the chance that you’ll be able to engage the threat quickly and accurately.

This makes the AR a highly effective weapon for home defense. Looks aren’t important, The carbine’s ability to do the job and to do it well are what counts. The carbine does this exceptionally well, even with minimal training.

It’s worth noting that having a carbine at home will make you feel much safer than just a handgun. But, as with all weapons, they can be dangerous in the wrong hands. As with all your firearms, be sure to story your carbine and ammunition safely.

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  1. I would not feel safer with a sightless carbine over a handgun. 🙂

    Seriously, the best gun for home defense is the one you practice with and is within reach. Not the best or most powerful weapon.

    • I recently purchased a Ruger PC Carbine in 9mm. It’s very handy & with 20 round Glock mags assures adequate capacity when trouble comes knocking. There is a short section of rail at the lower end of the hand guard I mounted a mini laser on. Turn that on and no other sights are necessary.
      My shooting experience with the rifle was amazing with very tight groups at 15 yds & 25 yds. Trigger is in the 4# range and crisp single action. The standard sights are well done and easy to use. The rifle is a take down like the 10-22 although the carry bag is not included.
      The main advantage of the pistol caliber is the lack of muzzle blast and flash of the typical AR 15. Shooting an AR in a close area is like setting a flash/bang grenade off which ruins night vision & hearing. I do have an AR for outdoor social work and additional range.

      • I took delivery of my Ruger PCC about a month ago, but haven’t had a chance to get to the range with it yet. What make/model of laser sight did you attach to it? What are you leaning toward for a carry bag?

        I’m looking for something in a two compartment backpack style bag, to take advantage of the takedown functionality. I’ve read that it fits the 10/22 bag, but I’m not sure. Copper Basin has what appears to be a nice takedown backpack bag, but I didn’t really want to spend a hundred+ on a bag.

  2. When I was a young tyke, there was still a thing known to a lot of folks as the “family gun”. It wasn’t a particular type or chambering of gun – usually a light chambered rifle or single shot shotgun that didn’t really belong to any single member of the family but was kept at the ready near the door for quick use against any varmints getting into the chicken coop or Mommas garden. Everyone in the house knew how to use it and it was meant for everyone, hence: the family gun.
    I’ve brought this up because the AR15 in all its various cloned forms is now America’s Family Gun – easy to use by anyone old enough to learn how, plenty of power and capacity (when using STANDARD SIZED magazines) and cheap enough to be affordable to most families. Not sure if I like the idea of keeping one loaded by the backdoor anymore, but you get my point.

      • I agree. The semi-auto military M1 Carbine and its civilian analogs are the ideal home defense guns. 36″ long and about 5 lbs, they are easy to employ even for kids. The 30 cal bullets hit about like .357 magnums. Different types of ammo are available, including hollowpoints. 30 rd mags are available everywhere. Tape two together, and you have a lot of firepower. Very good to about 100 yds, and scope mounts are available, but the iron sights are adequate for home defense. With a little practice, you can even shoot from the hip and still be effective.

  3. “Sponsored Content?” Who? The links are all news and one gear review site.

    And aside from the critiques in the above comments, this is kind of a nuthinburger piece.

    What’s up? Slow news day?

    • This reeks of patronizing and pandering. I can see it now: some out of touch corporate drone thinking “hey, the fire arm people would like this. Judy, post this on that new web site we just acquired.”

      OMFG did you guys know you have the option to put a RED DOT SIGHT on a carbine?

      • This looks like it was not written for us, the choir. It reads like something meant for the unitiated who googles “home defense”. Think public service announcement.

        Also bit of defense of the evil black fully-semi-auto-assault-military-style rifle. It says that it isn’t for killing as many people as possible in shortest possible time. Can’t hurt in these dark times.

  4. My primary home defense firearm is a 12ga pump shotgun, but I also have a 9mm CMMG AR carbine. My wife is not a gun person, but she can handle either of the above. She cannot fire a center-fire pistol or revolver. I have a Smith Model 60 as well. What I have near me depends on the situation. The Mod 60 is close, the other items are near. A .223/5.56 carbine has too much horsepower for a frame house, but 9mm is less so and a close range should be sufficient. There is also the good ole M-1 Carbine, but it needs FMJ ammo to function.

    • Hey Rick, that cmmg is a blast huh ? I have ar’s in 5.56. 308 and 9mm . That cmmg 9 is my go to gun , it is so fun to shoot , so accurate and can stay on target and just drive tacks ! Just read your post and had to reply ….

  5. I can’t determine who the sponsor is here. Isn’t “Sponsored Content” typically an advertisement / infomercial, and the sponsor is the company selling the product? Obviously the sponsor here is suggesting to us that we should buy a carbine, but I have no idea whose carbine they want us to buy. Who would pay money to urge TTAG viewers to purchase a carbine, but not specify which one? Weird.

    • One of the links looks like it goes to some outfit selling red dots.

      But this is a good point: I think the sponsor of the content should be identified explicitly. Who paid for this anti-gun dreck? I want to know, so I can avoid doing business with them.

  6. I think a carbine is a viable alternative rather than a handgun but I think an AR15 is not the best choice. I would choose my lowly PCC Hi-Point 9mm carbine over my S&W AR15 because it is dead reliable, accurate and more affordable to shoot to gain confidence and become more familiar with it. Also, 9mm out of a rifle is not nearly as loud as a 5.56 or 223 round from an AR15.

    • I have the Hi Point .45 carbine. Very reliable and now redball came out with 20 round mags! Fun at the range and a good truck gun.

  7. To each her own. Each choice has its plusses and minuses. It seems to me that:

    1. – the length of a long-gun shouldn’t be a disadvantage relative to a handgun. A home defender should avoid at all cost searching for an intruder. Lock everyone down and try to confirm that there really is an intruder, not just something falling downstairs. Hunker-down.

    2. – over-penetration is usually (not always) a concern. If you miss the bullet’s going somewhere you don’t want. Possibly into another room occupied by other friendlies; possibly to a neighbor’s. A shotgun with the first round being birdshot seems to be the only option that avoids/minimizes the consequence of missing the bad-guy. If an intruder doesn’t get the message the first time then the second shell should escalate the message and risk of a miss.

    3. – everybody’s got to be able to handle the gun. Simplicity, reliability and recoil.

    • Just a note on using a shotgun for HD. While the spread of the shot will make hitting the target a little easier, it also increases the odds of some projectiles missing the target. The amount of spread is highly dependent on distance. IMO the main reason to use a shotgun is if the user shoots / hunts with one often, they get used to shooting at moving targets with good muscle memory. That trumps nearly everything else.

    • Everything you could possibly want to shoot a human with, will go through a wall. Over penetration through drywall is a ridiculous notion. 5.56 M193 ball at a good velocity will penetrate less than a standard 9mm.

      Point is, hit what you’re shooting at.

    • Everyone needs to pattern their shotguns at various distances before they put them into use. A lot of people will be surprised at SD distances.

      • True story! My mind was blown when I did that with my 870. Heavy dove shot is still intact with the wad/cup at HD distances with the full choke. So…it’s like a slug that disintigrates in a bad guy’s torso. What’s not to like?

    • “Lock everyone down and try to confirm that there really is an intruder, not just something falling downstairs. Hunker-down.”

      How am I supposed to confirm the source of the noise while hunkered down? Whenever I go wandering through the house with a gun, it’s because I’m investigating a strange sound which might be an intruder, not because I’m looking for an intruder that might turn out to be an innocuous thump.

  8. Although a not so bad choice for home defense. The AR would not be a top pick either. You forget the AR is built to meet several demands. This also means its more of a weapon that can get the job done in all environments and excels in a few. That being said it is the best platform currently in military use for its intended roll. But there are far better options out there for a civilian just concerned with home defense. Most rifles borrowed from a military style weapon do make excellent hunting rifles with the right loads.

  9. There are only two people in my house, and only one of them shoots. My anti-gun spouse would have a cow if I brought an AR into the bed room. On top of that, I only get ten shots, so it has no great advantage over a handgun except against an intruder wearing body armor (which I consider to be extraordinarily unlikely where I live). That said, I am quite comfortable with either a 9 mm handgun or my single action SAA in .45 Colt with 230 grain cast lead bullets.

    • Can commiserate on the wife thing.

      If she throws a cow over the ar I’m building I’ll do a shotgun instead. Favoring the Mossburg 930 currently. Can get them in all kinds of interesting flavors.

      • for me in australia it is one of the early topics that comes up. if they are anti-gun no matter their other redeeming qualities i would not even continue to date them. i had one ex that in the breakup said “i was a good girlfriend as i allowed you to have your guns”. my reply was “maybe you should have tried to deny me having them then the BS i have been through with you would not have gone as far as it has”.

        one of my favourite aunts has recently shown herself to be quite anti gun and i told her a few quite severe home truths about gun control and those who seek to impose it include telling her she was disrespecting the sacrifice of uncles and brothers along with many other ancestors who have fought for the freedom we enjoy today. last night she turned around and said about how some schools over in the US are now arming or at least allowing teachers to arm themselves to defend the kids in the schools and said she thinks it could be a good thing. seems while what i said to her scared the shit out of her it got through at least somewhat.

        BTW she is about the only member of my family i am close to and i was willing to alienate her over a liberty issue

    • Why do you have an anti-gun spouse in the first place? My wife couldn’t care less if I had a SCAR17 lying between us which is probably why I married her.

  10. My recommendation for carbine rifle is a Henry Big Boy lever action(mine is .45 Colt but you can choose from several pistol calibers). Screw this sponsored content and use a gun made with wood and steel.

  11. I’ve had a Win Model 97 with 6 rounds of 4 shot at the back door for around 38 years. I’m in the country and it looks like it belongs. I also have my everyday carry at hand in the bedroom, ARs and an M-1 carbine in the basement and reloading area and a S&W .40 Shield in the dining room for good measure. Still, I’d rather grab the 97 first.

  12. The only major issue using a carbine (AR specifically) inside your home is the noise. You’re going to hurt something inside your ears. A bullet moving out of a muzzle at 3x the speed of sound is going to be loud. Subsonic handgun rounds are perfectly suitable. 45acp in any variety for the most part, or 147gr 9mm. Get something that holds more ammo, 9mm Glocks in every size will go up to 33+1. That’s plenty of firepower without the weight and excess size of a carbine if you have to move around (going to get kids, opening doors, etc)

  13. the number one consideration in a home defense firearm moving forward:

    do i live in a city/county/state that is more or less likely to ban what im considering buying

    the number two consideration:

    what will the tax on that type ammo be if the government allows me to keep the firearm i just purchased

    the number three consideration:

    the more my options are curtailed in those two topics the more i should consider relocating

  14. Here’s a home defe nse carb ine to consider – how about one with a lever on the bottom. A .30-30 with 125gr hollow points or a .44mag with 180gr hp produce 2/3 more muzzle energy than a 5. 56.

  15. This is a valid article. Many people should consider what their needs are…but don’t until it’s too ate.

    Myself? I have a number of solutions available. My preferred is my SBR’d/suppressed PS90 (bullpup). It all depends upon the situation. Am I home? In my RV?

    Heck, it could just be me and my .380. I’ll just do the best I can and hope for the best.

  16. I keep my Ruger PCC by the bedside since it’s only me and the missus here. I have the Glock 33-round mag in it. If I can’t handle any threat with that, I’m pretty sure the walking dead are real or the Apocalypse is upon us. Guess that’s the department of redundancy department, but you get my drift.

  17. AK. I think it is more intuitive than an AR, but others may differ. Like the AR it would be insanely loud inside. I have to think at HD distances, a long pistol version (I think it is a 10″ barrel, but whatever is the longest length and still not an SBR) would be the perfect combination of maneuverable, reliable, plenty accurate, plenty powerful, and plenty ammo capacity. For less money and less sound shock a HiPoint 995TS with a laser. Not quite the AK or AR but the laser is sighted at 25 yards, and you don’t even have to aim it in order to get in the center of the target. Just place the laser dot and press the trigger, if being painted with the laser is not enough in itself to get the message across.

    • Barrel length has to be 16″ to not be a SBR. One exception is if the flash hider is welded then you can use a shorter barrel, as long as the total of the barrel+flash hider is 16″ long. If you go with 10″ barrel, just get a pistol brace to avoid the tax stamp and federal registration that a rifle butt stock would require.

      For me, there’s really no need for a short barrel because I practice with the AR with the butt stock full collapsed, so the overall length is shorter and more maneuverable than when fully extended.

      • I chose 300 blk pistol with 10″ barrel and shockwave brace. Easy to manipulate single handed. Subsonic soft point ammo. I leave the 5.56 for the range duty.

  18. I have an AR-15 that I intended to be a home defense firearm, but it’s locked up in the safe away from my bed so it’s not the firearm that I have quickest access to. Therefore, my primary home defense firearm is my bi-tone Springfield XD Mod 2 Tactical (5″ barrel) 9mm locked in the bedside quick access safe. 16+1 of 9mm+p and an extra magazine in the pistol safe. 115 gr at 1,300 fps (432 ft lbs energy) with the 5″ barrel. Great sight radius for a pistol. I really love that gun (and my XD Mod 2 4″ model as well). I also keep a set of active ear muffs and a flashlight by the bedside.

    If there’s time, yes, I’ll grab the AR, but I would need an extra 20 seconds or so to do so.

  19. There are bad guys and bad shots, but there really aren’t many bad choices. Have a gun, know how to use it, have the will to defend yourself and your home and it’s hard to go wrong.

  20. IMHO one of the major considerations that is oft overlooked is what you’re launching and what’s around you. Out in the country is a very different consideration than a suburb or an apartment complex.

    Yes, in certain situations almost all useful rounds will over-penetrate if you miss. However, with some of them you’ll have a valid defense for having used it, including a decent defense in a civil case, and with others you will not.

    Something to keep in mind.

  21. The author writes as if ARs are the only carbines out there. There were a lot of M-1 Carbines in circulation before the AR was even a gleam in Eugene Stoner’s eye. Although the Ruger Mini 14 was designed after the AR it was popular before the AR15 was. And of course the AK is hands down the most popular carbine on the planet. Any of these guns (as well as some less popular guns like the Tavor, the vz58 and the H&K 93 type rifles) could serve admirably in the same home defense role as the AR. The dealer I bought my first AK from said he likes his ARs for target shooting and his AKs for home defense!

  22. I think an AR pistol in a pistol caliber is just about ideal for home defense. Short, light, accurate, zero recoil. The noise would be much less than 5.56, as would the muzzle blast.

    If you fire a 5.56 in a darkened hallway, you are going to be both blind and deaf.

  23. “…be sure to story your carbine and ammunition safely.”

    Either the unnamed sponsor doesn’t care about proofreading, or the sponsor asked not to be identified with such hastily done work.

    My point here isn’t to nitpick, it’s to suggest that sloppy work like that gets noticed. Have some pride in what you do. Take ten minutes to have an editor or another colleague read your article before posting. You’re the content producer, not the community commentator. Act like it.

    • It is irrelevant what caliber is fired indoors. Hearing damage will occur if you are not protected. 9 mm is not much better. Clinically, there will be no difference.

      • Mark,

        If you are talking about firing 9mm Luger out of a 3 inch barrel indoors, you are correct that you will almost certainly sustain significant hearing damage. If you are talking about firing 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP out of a 16+ inch carbine barrel, you are incorrect because that long barrel significantly reduces barrel pressure and muzzle blast.

        Of course the optimum solution would be firing 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP out of a 10 inch barrel with a suppressor. If you are unwilling or unable to use a suppressor, the longest possible barrel makes a huge difference reducing muzzle blast.

  24. I was pretty sure AR stood for armalight rifle. NOT ASSAULT RIFLE. this is why our lawmakers are confused and start messing with our rights.

  25. One should be careful when considering a caliber for home defense. Unless your residence is constructed of half inch hardened steel, most bullets have no problem penetrating a piece of half inch sheet rock along with a few inches of insulation and a thin layer of outside paneling.
    A child may be walking along right in the bullets path. Of course the bullet you fire, that misses your opponent may strike a 2X4, and this may stop it, or at least slow it down. Do you want to take that chance?
    Nothing wrong with a carbine, but my personal choice would be to have it in a much slower pistol caliber.
    A shotgun with a lighter size pellet would also be a good choice.

    • Well, .17 pellet from air gun will penetrate the drywall, insulation, 1/2″ plywood and vinyl siding. I shoot inside in winter and on time my friend came by and wanted to try it…
      Hit what you are aiming for.

  26. I want to see a law, strictly enforced that says that thieves, burglars, thugs and home invaders must give three weeks notice including the number of participants, how they will be armed and what they intend to steal or perversion they intend to inflict on spouse, children and property.
    Lacking this “common sense crime control” I keep a 1911 45 ACP 230JHP , a Remington 870 21″ with 8 rounds and a Ruger AR556 with 55 grain JSP since I have to be prepared to deal with an unknown threat.
    It is just common sense.

  27. What are your home defense thoughts on:

    9mm PCC with brace?
    AR15 5.56 with brace?
    Bullpup 5.56?
    12g Shotgun like the Remington 870 Tac 14?

    Thoughts on suppression?

    What to expect from a shotgun blast inside a house from a bathroom?
    Am I going to give myself a concussion from the blast?
    Am I going to hear multiple bad people after the blast?

    Presumably the 12 gauge buckshot doesn’t need to be aimed like a single 9mm shot, but is the blast of a 12g worth it?
    Or perhaps I presume wrong about the value of buckshot from a single trigger pull?

  28. “Am I going to hear multiple bad people after the blast?”
    You are probably not going to hear much of anything after the blast, if you fire a 12 GA in the can.
    Also, I’m guessing a 12 GA load of shot doesn’t expand much at 10 or 15 feet.

  29. I use a Winchester M-94 in 30 WCF or 30/30 carbine.
    If I wanted one to match my handguns of choice I would go with a lever action .357 Magnum.


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