If You Can Own Only One Gun, There Are Plenty Of Reasons It Should Be An AR-15

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AR-15 rifle with aimpoint red dot
Igor at work / Public domain

While in many respects, a shotgun is indeed a great (the best?) choice if you can only own one gun…but an AR-15 is also a darn good option.

In fact, an AR pattern rifle is a better choice in certain regards, though not as much in others. Shotguns are a little more ubiquitous, it’s true, but America’s favorite rifle, the AR-15 comes darn close.

For starters, the AR-15 is one of the easiest weapon systems to learn. Since it’s a rifle, it is – like a shotgun – easier to be reliably accurate with for most shooters than a handgun, so long as the sighting system (be it iron sights, a red dot, or magnified optic) is zeroed.

Insert magazine, pull back the charging handle, and place it on safe. In case of bad guy, take safety off, aim and fire. Pretty darned simple.

Also, an AR-15 is far easier for most women to handle, which is one area where a shotgun (particularly the most popular 12 gauge variety) falls short. The length of pull on many smoothbores is frequently too long and a woman who isn’t used to the recoil of a 12-gauge (or even some 20 gauges for that matter) may be hesitant with one.

woman shooting ar-15 rifle
Mitch Barrie / CC BY-SA

An AR-15, on the other hand, depending on configuration, can be easily adjusted (if it has an adjustable stock and most of them do) so length of pull can be accounted for.

As for recoil, an AR-15 produces far less kick than a shotgun unless the rifle is chambered in .458 SOCOM or something along those lines. Even .300 Blackout is tame by rifle standards. Typical loads of that caliber produce less recoil energy than even .243. So they’re generally far, far easier on the shooter than a shotgun blast is.

Side note: have you ever done that thing guys sometimes do, where you put a 3-inch turkey shell in the shotgun after a light target shell, and then handed it to your wife/girlfriend/sister? You’re an ass if you have. Funny to watch, sure, but it’s a jerk move and can be dangerous.

AR pattern parts are incredibly widely available. Customization is ridiculously easy. It’s like owning a GLOCK; the world is your customization oyster when it comes to spec’ing the thing out.

As to efficacy, the AR-15 is nothing to sneer at.

AR-15 rifle suppressed
Airman 1st Class Jelani Gibson, U.S. Air Force / Public domain

While the classic chambering of .223 Remington/5.56mm NATO is rather paltry compared to heavy 00 or 000 buck loads — or for that matter heavy lead slugs (so is .300 BLK, which is just a .30-30 wearing tactical gear) — a .223 round produces similar muzzle energy to full-house loads of .44 Magnum, with the added benefit of actually traveling fast enough to produce hydrostatic shock.

This is the point where someone typically brings up over-penetration, to which there are three easy rebuttals.

First, over-penetration rarely doesn’t also result in a dead attacker, but under penetration can get a good guy killed, which is exactly what the FBI discovered in the 1986 Miami shootout.

Second, if you think handgun and shotgun rounds won’t go through drywall, you have another thing coming.

Third, that’s why – just as with ANY gun – ammunition selection and marksmanship still matter. A lot. I believe Jeff Cooper said something like the best backstop is the body of the bad guy or at least something to that effect.

There have bee a lot of battlefield enemies and domestic bad guys downed with .223/5.56mm. The efficacy is therefore not in doubt. If you want bigger, you can get bigger by getting an upper in a larger chambering. Again, .300 Blackout is very popular for this purpose.

But the area where the AR-15 is outshone by the humble shotgun is in regards to hunting. While an AR-10 is actually darn good choice as a hunting rifle – you can hunt all across the world with a .308 or 6.5mm Creedmoor (though not always with a semi-automatic) – the AR-15 is a little more limited in its applicability. Obviously, bird and small-game hunting is out.

AR-15-specific calibers aren’t great for longer-range hunting applications, as most tend to fall below the 1,000 ft-lb threshold well within 300 yards, and many inside 200 yards. However, most of the deer hunters here in the US don’t take shots at 300-plus yards, so how much that matters depends a lot on where you live.

This may change, however, with the advent of SIG SAUER’s new .277 SIG Fury cartridge, which promises full-bore rifle ballistics from a cartridge that fits in a mini (.223) rifle action…but I wouldn’t hold my breath. The .277 SIG Fury produces 80,000 psi of chamber pressure, which likely means it will be some time before any uppers or AR-pattern rifles offered in that chambering.

In short, given the availability, the ubiquity, the efficacy and practicality of an AR-15 rifle platform…it’s a darn good choice if you can only own one gun.

But what do you think? Sound off in the comments.

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      • Oh, how CUTE!! Our nameless, brainless troll thinks anyone cares what his idiot @$$ thinks (and for the troll, his @$$ comes closer to thinking than any other part of him).

        Go micturate up the cable, then go pound salt in your @$$ – probably raise your IQ at least 30 points (which would still leave it noticeably below room temperature, in a Minnesota winter).

        • Oh hey Lamp. Wow, you really should take that remedial writing course immediately. Otherwise, people will continue to mistake you for a drunk high school girlโ€ฆ

        • ๐™„โœ๐™ข ๐™ข๐™–๐™ ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ 110 ๐˜ฟ0๐™„๐™„๐™–๐™ง๐™จ ๐™–๐™ฃ ๐™๐™ค๐™ช๐™ง ๐™ฌ0๐™ง๐™ ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™›๐™ง๐™ค๐™ข ๐™0๐™ข๐™š. ๐™„ ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™จ ๐™จ๐™0๐™˜๐™ ๐™š๐™™ ๐™ฌ๐™๐™š๐™ฃ ๐™ข๐™ฎ ๐™›๐™ง๐™ž๐™š๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™ค๐™ก๐™™ ๐™ข๐™š ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™จ๐™๐™š ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™จ ๐™ข๐™–๐™ ๐™ก๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐˜ฟ0๐™„๐™„๐™–๐™ง๐™จ 17350/๐™ข ๐™Ÿ๐™ช๐™จ๐™ฉ ๐™›๐™ง๐™ค๐™ข ๐™๐™š๐™ง ๐™0๐™ข๐™š ๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™„๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™š. ๐™๐™๐™š๐™ฃ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™ž๐™จ ๐™˜๐™ค๐™ข๐™ฅ๐™ก๐™š๐™ฉ๐™š๐™ก๐™ฎ ๐™˜๐™๐™–๐™ฃ๐™œ๐™š๐™™ ๐™ข๐™ฎ ๐™‡๐™ก๐™›๐™š.

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        • “You live in an apartment!!!!!”

          So, it seems it lives in an apartment in New Jersey, like every other loser does.

          Anyone actually ‘highly educated’ usually owns a home, but not little gutless troll-boy.

          It would be a real shame if the address were ever posted somewhere, like on pastebin.

          Then its worthless life could get very exciting… ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Oh man my bad I apologize my son and his boyfriend got a little tipsy and started messing on my computer. I beg you to be merciful.

        • All of our ARs begin with stripped receivers. Some have heavy barrels with bipods and some have scopes and some have carry handle night sight conversions. All have A1 length fixed stocks and all have clamp style rail height gas blocks. All have hours of tweaking and all are expertly maintained. With that said the 95% of the time the go to will be the night sight Carbines. The Carbine is least costly to select parts and assemble and deliver all around good performance. They are a grab and go defense weapon. Whatever the case I suggest owning two or more identical weapons to rotate for saving wear, etc.

      • “Nobody asked you…”

        Yeah, someone did, dumbass.

        The author of the article did :

        “But what do you think? Sound off in the comments.”

        Durrrrrrr…. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        (Free clue – Anyone who volunteers, without asking, their level of education is lying, mister “highly educated”)

        It wouldn’t surprise me if the only reason your ‘wife’ spreads for you is the hope that you won’t touch your daughter… ๐Ÿ™‚

    • One gun. The “scout” rifle Jim Brockman built for me years ago. Winchester stainless classic action. .308 Winchester. A scout rifle should be carried and shot (in the field) as often as possible for a year to be appreciated. Of course, it’s an academic question. Me with one gun! ๐Ÿ˜†

      • I went with the POF Revolution in 308. DI, 20 round mags, AR15 form factor, under 7 pounds. My dream gun which I waited for, for years. Totally worth it!

        • Same here RM. Great choice.
          POF P308 SPR Gen4 EDGE. Went with the RoBar NP3+ nickel and Teflon coating that runs with without lubrication. Topped it with a 1-8×28 Trijicon LPVO. Broke in to be .6MOA with 168gr GMM.

        • 1-8 LPVOs on 7.62×51/308W rifles are a great match.๐Ÿ‘

          I originally put a 3.6-18×44 Mk5 Leupold on it, quickly realized it was too much optic.

      • And why would that be? Are .308 or .300 Blackout not up to your illustrious standards… Beverly? Is a good, reliable bolt gun too pedestrian for your superior tastes? Maybe it was his call for a threaded barrel that elicited your scorn? Please, do expand on your condescending remark for the benefit of us all. And oh… God bless… Beverly.

        • Riderless/Shootoff I do like the .308. It is good out to about 800 yards however shooting that distance in the wooded area around here is rare at best. My standards are surely much higher than yours as well as my education.

          If your knowledge of the .308 or the .300 Blackout is anything like your knowledge of GLOCK, you might want to go back to school.
          God save us from Riderless/Shootoff.

      • Answer the question, beverly. Why the eye roll? Explain yourself. Or are you just the same as your bouncy house playmate miner49er?

        • Riderless/Shootoff If you can’t figure out the ‘eye roll” then you’re a lot denser than I first thought. I guess you have with cognitive reasoning?

      • And bye the bye there, Bev, why is it your posts so very much mimic those of the nameless troll/s whose eminations we all so enjoy? Your purile attempts at insults, name calling and other general dumbfuckery you constantly engage in are as if written by the same adolescent author residing in a similar mommy’s basement. Tell us again, Bev, of my technical ignorance and how the glock is actually a superior piece of engineering and workmanship to the HK USP, and be specific. Tell us again how your education and your knowledge on everything as well as your literary skills and acumen greatly exceed mine in every way. Pick a few examples, guardsman, and let’s test that presumption. Start with something no adolescent would know, just to establish your claim of maturity. I’ll wait.

        • Riderless/Shootoff, YAWN. is this really the best that you can do?
          Clearly you have no idea of how the GLOCK works. There are 27 moving parts to a GLCOK where the HK’s have how many? Anyone worth his salt know that a gun with fewer moving parts will be more reliable and less prone to failure than one with more? Speaking of “ignorance”, you must run around in a perpetual ecstatic state. “Guardsman”? What is a “Guardsman? ” Is this some kind of new fandangle term you came up with? When God passed out brains, you must have thought he said trains and took the express right out of town. Hey, I heard the conductor is still looking for you as you didn’t even pay for the ticket. Better go back and find him and make good on your debt?

        • Riderless/ShootOff I guess you think that a GLOCK operates on “wow”? ROFLMAOBT! I see that I am dealing with a man/child.

    • I really can’t see just owning one gun. I think three is about the bear minimum, though I actually own a ton of guns.

      1. Concealable defensive pistol with decent capacity 10+1 or more. Something like a P365, Shield Plus, Glock 26/19 whatever. That gives you a gun you can take anywhere.

      2. Defensive carbine. AR15, AK, Tavor, Mini, whatever. Homeland security.

      3. Little 22lr rifle for fun, like a 10/22, Marlin 60, etc.

      Of course you also want (4) a real rifle (5) a shotgun (6) 22lr handgun, (7) a full sized handgun (8) a revolver, (9) another defensive carbine, (10) another concealed carry handgun. Then repeat.

      • Art, I don’t have a firearms collection. I have a firearms battery. I chose what I need at the time to do the job at hand.

      • Art,

        You forgot (i) carbine lever-gun in matching caliber to your revolver (I personally like the .357), (ii) bolt-action long-range rifle (I’m partial to the .300WinMag, but I’d LOVE a .338 Lapua), (iii) a tactical shotgun, (iv) another full-size duty pistol (if your standard is a 9mm, how about supplementing it with a .45, a .40, or a 10mm?), (v) a semi-auto PCC.

        Guns are tools; use the right tool for the job. I like to have LOTS of tools available, ’cause you never know what situation is going to present itself.

        Besides, if you appreciate excellent design, materials science, engineering, precision manufacturing (well, for everyone except Hi-Point, Taurus, Kel-Tec and a few others), guns are just freakin’ COOL.

        Sorry, fanboi session over.

  1. The North American Arms pug. I want a gun I can carry nearly everwhere. And if necessary I can kill a bad guy and take his gun.

  2. I don’t believe there is anything better than a proper Ak-47 with M4 furniture. I have trained many new shooters on the platform. A little more kick but also no complaints out of my students. There are only three things to do on an Ak, load mag flock safety, charge handle, the end. All these actions are also all on the same side of the gun making it even more simplistic.
    People may dog accuracy but a PSA-AK achieves 2.5moa which is not the best but very usable. It’s about the same as budget AR rifles anyway.

    • I agree and would add that there are soo many nations whose people know how to work an AK. I think the 7.62×39 is a great combat round. I built an ARAK because of this. AR platform shooting 7.62. Love that rifle! If only one? Depends on where in the world I’m at really. In the US? 5.56/.223 can be had quick, other places such as Egypt I’m going 7.62.

      When in Rome….

      • And that’s an obvious selection criterion for ANY firearm – what is the LOCAL availability/ubiquity of ammunition?? I’m not a giant fan of the 5.56 poodleshooter, but the author was NOT incorrect that your options for customizing are almost limitless, and the ammunition is as ubiquitous as it’s possible to be in the US. There are caliber options for the AR platform that are “better” than the poodleshooter, but they tend to suffer from availability of ammunition issues. Love the power of .458SOCOM and .300 Blackout (compared to the 5.56), but the ammunition can be hard to find and EXPENSIVE.

        I think of the 5.56 AR as being kind of like a cheap, compact sedan – doesn’t do ANYTHING “well”, but does everything you need at least adequately. But, then, I don’t much like compact sedans, either.

  3. Hey I’m convinced. Didja see what young Kyle R. did in Wisconsin? Took out the trash. I’m not crazy about shotgun recoil or lower capacity either(but I still have one). My AR is essentially nothing recoilwise. Just loud…

    • Walker,

      When (he wishcasts, longingly) Congress makes a can a “non-NFA” item, like they SHOULD HAVE years ago, that won’t be a problem. I spent some bucks on a high-end flash-hider/muzzle brake, and it dropped the “sonic signature” of my AR by about 10 – 15 db. Better than nothin’, I guess.

    • Well if your benchmark is being able to kill two people armed with a plastic bag and a skateboard, respectively, that’s not exactly a glowing endorsement of the AR-15.

        • And they had a couple hundred of the BurnLootMurder/Antifa “friends” around to pile on, if they’d been able to pin Kyle down. The jury made the right call returning a “not guilty” verdict on all counts; that was as clear a case of self-defense as you could have unless it was a home invader in your own home.

  4. A few years ago, I worked down my โ€œneedsโ€ to just one, and I came to my G20SF – sufficient power, good capacity and concealable.

    A simple AR setup is absolutely a great addition for any household.

  5. In theory this is true. Swapping uppers+ covers everything from plinking to PCC to big game hunting and the platform can adjust to all shapes and sizes of shooter unless you’re in a state that makes you pin your stock for some arbitrary and pointless reason.

    Trouble is there isn’t much price difference between a quality upper and some mags vs getting another rifle. Going 9mm for example I can cheap out and get a garbage upper and some endos for $400 or for $500 I can get a Striborg. If I’m being fancy and get a quality upper a Hahn block and some mags I’m closing on on Scorpion pricing.

    Sort of how P320 kits priced themselves out of utility when for $100 more you can get another complete pistol.

    But yeah, if you could only have ONE then an AR is the way to go.

  6. One gun? Yeah, it’s going to be rifle. A real rifle. It ain’t going to be an AR of any description. But, I do own one.

  7. More ridiculous and totally asinine sales pitch for an AR 15.

    The rifle has over penetration which often kills innocent bystanders as witnessed (once again) only recently when a gang of Moron cops gunned down an “unarmed man” in a shopping mall and killed a young innocent girl hiding in a changing room.

    The AR is now obscenely overly priced as compared to the much cheaper shotgun that can be purchased often for as little as $300 new and less than that used.

    The AR is a single use weapon of mass destruction designed to kill large numbers of people quickly. While on the other hand the shotgun is a multipurpose weapon. It can be used for skeet or trap shooting, hunting, or self defense because of its quick change barrel ability and barrels for some guns are often very cheap in price especially used ones.

    Many states have restrictions on the ownership and magazine capacity of the AR rifle. It is also far more likely the AR will be banned or put on the NFA list as compared to the farmers ubiquitous shotgun.

    The shotgun is easier to learn how to use and hit with for the first time gun owner or the gun owner who seldom fires his weapon.

    The price of ammo is generally cheaper for the shotgun than the rifle and more readily available, especially in times of mass panic buying as we are now witnessing.

    • Once again, dacian the stupid vomits up a stupid lie that I ALREADY spanked him on, in prior threads. dacian, do you ENJOY getting your @$$ handed to you???? The headshrinkers have a name for that . . . seek help.



      You remain too stupid to insult, and prove your abject ignorance about firearms every time you post. Either get SOME clue WTF you are talking about, or Eff off and shut up.

    • “The AR is a single use weapon of mass destruction designed to kill large numbers of people quickly….”

      The 3 hogs and the deer I killed with one last year would disagree.

      You’re an idiot. Again. Still. You put a lot of your energy into writing things here that has never changed a single mind about anything or provided a political viewpoint that anyone considered no matter how briefly. What a fool.

      • The main premise of my post holds true and that is that the AR is not necessary for home defense nor for hunting either. And I might add way overpriced compared to the shotgun and its ammunition.

        • You may “add” anything you like, dacian the stupid – your absence would be a welcome addition; try it for a few months. Whether or not an idiot like YOU thinks an AR is “necessary” for home defense matters not a wet fart to ANYONE on this forum. Go join your daily idiot circle jerk with the nameless, brainless troll and MinorIQ.

          “Necessary” my @$$, dacian the stupid – it’s the “Bill of RIGHTS”, buttnugget, not the “Bill of Needs”. Go micturate up a cable, then go pound salt in your @$$.

        • While most shotguns are cheaper than most ARs . . . the ammo is not unless you are shooting bird shot then the cost is close to the same depending on brad, quantity purchased, etc.

          Buckshot and slugs are quite a bit more expensive than 5.56 and still significantly more expensive than most of the other calibers. I wish shotgun ammo was as cheap as you think it is.

    • You really are a stupid little man. .223 sp has less penetration. 9mm HP defense ammunition. In 10% ballistic gellitan. I know. I’ve done it
      In some of those “studies” your so proud of. Nothing like actually being there. All those homicides and autopsies were a real eye opener too. Really, Dacian, you should be quite. You embarrass yourself.

      • No, Gadsden, dacian is too stupid to be capable of embarrassment. He is really too stupid to effectively parody, because no matter HOW stupid your parody, dacian has already posted something even stupider. I’m not a fan of MinorIQ, but at least he usually posts his comments in complete sentences, and is at least literate. dacian, and our nameless, brainless troll, are simply to stupid to breathe.

    • Dacian,

      Please show us ANY firearm cartridge that can not accidentally penetrate the walls of a changing room.

      I have a .177 air rifle that can penetrate changing room walls.

      By your standard NO firearm that exists would be permissible for indoor use.

    • “The shotgun is easier to learn how to use and hit with for the first time gun owner or the gun owner who seldom fires his weapon.”

      If you don’t know anything about guns, I would stop posting pretending you do.

    • Dacian, the Dunderhead, It seems that insanity runs in your family. The AR-15 platform is a very simple gun to operated. In spite of your wild machinations, the rifle is NOT an “assault rifle”. The term “assault rifle” is a made up term of you Leftist-Anti-Gun Radicals and the Lame Stream Media who have no idea what they are talking about. You most certainly included. You cite a single instance where an AR round “over penetrated”? Over penetrated what? What did the round pass through before hitting a civilian. Let me clue you in, in a gun fight there are sometimes “collateral damage” to bystanders. The police were not “morons” but you certainly are.

    • Oh, wise guru of all things “firearm”, please cast your pearls before us! If you had the brains to pour p*** out of a boot, with the instructions on the heel, you would probably be aware that choice of the “right” firearm is about as “personal” a decision as there is. But, then, you are WHOLLY ignorant about all things firearm. You are a pathetic troll, with NO knowledge, but a large mouth. Fortunately, your abject ignorance reassures me . . . I find it highly unlikely that an ignoramus like you ever even shot a gun (a person with ANY real-world experience could not possibly be as dumb as you are). Just go micturate up the cable, or join your Lefist circle jerk – nobody here gives a wet fart what you think.

    • dacian, the Dunderhead, While an AR-15 is more expensive than a shot gun, if you want to address the issue of over penetration, then you should include the shotgun.

  8. The only real disadvantage of owning multiple firearms is keeping up with so many calibers of ammo. I once tried to reduce my collection to one rifle caliber and one pistol caliber. I’m back up to seven now.

    • TomT,

      Like your concept, but . . . there IS no pistol caliber that has the “legs” for anything but “brush country” hunting (and even those aren’t legal for hunting in a lot of states), and there IS no rifle caliber (I don’t consider .22 a “rifle caliber”) that can be COMFORTABLY shot through a platform that I’d care to carry on the daily. I’m shopping for some property in Montana or Wyoming, and I plan, when I get it, to carry a .357 revolver, and have a .357 lever carbine to supplement it, as my daily “work” carry, but . . . I’d never carry a GP100 or a Python as my everyday carry pistol, and I’d never choose a Henry .357 as my “go to” rifle.

      Starting to frost my nuggets how expensive/hard to find .357 has become, though.

      Still, excellent idea, in the right situation – that’s why the cowboys used to do it.

      • LampofDiogenes,

        I was recently pondering this general topic in light of the outside (although definitely non-zero in my opinion) chance that this Russia-Ukraine thing spills over to the U.S. and leads to all manor of ugliness. (I was considering said “ugliness” at a minimum to entail cyber attacks and strategic sabotage which take down–more or less permanently–our electric grid, natural gas pipelines, chemical plants, petroleum refineries, and then basically everything else.)

        In such a horrific ugliness scenario, I was surprised to find that I was converging on the idea of taking a .357 Magnum revolver and .357 Magnum lever-action carbine as my only two guns. They are incredibly potent at close range. And a lever gun with 16-inch barrel will launch full-power Magnum loads with enough retained velocity to do horrific damage out to something like 150 yards. That provides effective self-defense and hunting over a pretty wide range of scenarios.

        • How about a SAA in .45 Colt with a matching rifle? Mine is a modern “Winchester” 1892 with a 24″ barrel and 13+1 capacity. Very easy to reload for this round as well, and a lead flat nose will put the hammer down on any deer or hog. Plus, if you get a Ruger Blackhawk, you can run up to at least 25,000 CUP without blowing it up.

        • Uncommon,

          Your thinking very much mirrors my own thoughts for why I made that selection, but I’m not sure my “out in the country” choice would be my “survive the Apocalypse in the city” choice. For that, I’d want a mag-fed semiauto for both handgun and long gun. But I like your thinking!!

        • Mark,

          Although I’ve shot them half a dozen times or so, I can’t honestly say I’m that familiar with .45 Long Colt. Not sure whether the heavier bullet the Colt fires makes up for the lower velocity. Also, I have enough trouble finding .357, I can’t imagine what would be involved in finding Long Colt!!

      • Lamp, it’s just 45Colt, no such animal as “Long Colt”. And the usual 250gr slug isnt something most critters survive contact with, especially if you up the ante with more weight, a wide flat meplat, go hard cast and add a dash more velocity. A thumb sized hole or two cored right thru a grizzly disputing ownership of the .5mm thick tent you are in is no guarantee but the thought sure is comforting. You can approach 454Casull performance in a standard case and they still last well for reloading. A 4.25″ Ruger Redhawk (double action is The Way) is my tent gun and I would never be without it in big bear country. Ever. I do lust after a nice, case hardened receiver 1873 with oct barrel and crescent buttplate to go with it though, as well as with my Colt SAA which is way too purdy to scratch up in the bush. 45Colt also won’t rupture both your eardrums if you have to touch it off a few times sans ear pro… maybe.

        • Rider,

          Thanks for the input, but I remain skeptical about ammunition availability in general. As for this comment:
          “Lamp, itโ€™s just 45Colt, no such animal as โ€œLong Coltโ€.” SERIOUSLY, Rider??? Izzat so??? Coulda sworn I’d seen and heard NUMEROUS references to “.45 Long Colt” (particularly in reference to CAS). Hmm.




          And, although I HATE to cite Wikipedia, this:


          Oops, my bad. I was always under the impression that the “Long Colt” label was fairly common, and helped clarify the difference between the “old” Colt .45 and the more modern Colt .45acp.

        • I have no need to buy any right now, but I see it readily available. Most of what you see are “cowboy” loads that run 650 to 750 fps and are quite soft shooting. They are designed for competition. But the brass is good for a bunch of reloads, even if you up the ante with more pressure. The typical hand loads run up to around 13,000 CUP and 1000′ per second, although 1200 FPS is easily achievable with the right powder. Anything stronger is not recommended for a Colt of Colt clone, but the Ruger can definitely take double that, as can modern lever actions. A hot load can run 1600 to 1800 fps with a 250 grain lead projectile or 200 grn HP out of a carbine barrel. That’ll drop a deer at 150 yards. A full 40 grain (by volume) load of BP (Colt’s original spec) will run 1000 fps out of a 5.5″ barrel. Finally, as a straight walled case, reloading is easy, and most dies have a full crimp die that will lock the lip of the case into the cannelures on the bullets.

        • MarkN,

          And .357 reloads just as easily. .357 is NOT a “bear country” gun, except that a .357 is better than any other load short of a .44 magnum or MAYBE a 10mm. I don’t plan to hike with grizzlies in Alaska, but if I have to, I’ll carry a .44magnum. For Montana or Wyoming, a .357 would do everything I needed. And I have to admit, a “full load” .44magnum is a little hard on the wrists for extended shooting (and I won’t shoot a gun that I can’t practice on).

          Love me some .44magnum for its ballistics and its power, but . . . I consider 50 rounds a MINIMUM range day. 50 rounds of full power .44magnum tends to leave my hands and wrists a little tender. I can comfortably do 100 rounds of .357.

      • Lamp, I’m not going to read all your links and maybe I’m wrong but to my recollection “long” was never a part of the original designation. What, until 45acp, would’ve been the ‘short’ Colt? Clips/mags, etc. As for ammo; I can find simple hunting loads and cowboy loads with ease all throughout my province, and only rarely see 357mag and even less so exotic loading in either caliber. 357 rocks but it doesn’t much rock an excited grizzly such as one might find in Montana, Wyoming, British Columbia or hell, even right inside my little shop, just me, my ride and, all of a sudden, my bear! The reason I rarely see 357 up here is because no one would bother with it.

  9. Have a couple AR platform rifles. Use an old Colt Ar15A2 for smaller critters, and a S&W AR10, modified from stock, for hogs and deer. Either could be used for defensive purposes if needs be. Either rifle are comfortable hitting a 3 inch bullseye at 500 meters. If I need heaver power, or longer range, I do have the tools for that as well.
    Sure, I could use my old 30-30 or my30-06 0r even the old 45-70 rifles, or carbines for deer or hogs, but like the semi auto capability for fast follow up, or multiple targets.
    As always it comes down to what a person is comfortable using and is going to train with. Something like my 45-70 Springfield, or 50-120 Sharps, while accurate and fairly powerful, kick like mules and would not be comfortable for smaller shooters or less experienced shooters. Of course, me cutting back to just 1 long arm would be like telling Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi the had to limit themselves to 1 bottle of wine. Or is it Whine?

    • So 0.5moa or less with the A2. That’s pretty good. Not sure I’ve ever seen my HBar do that well. On a good day. Must have good glass on it.

      • Rider,

        Have to agree. I spent a fair amount of time and money on my “good” AR, and it reliably shoots about 1.5 MOA, and most of my knowledgeable AR buddies tell me that’s pretty darn good. I know there are some REALLY high end ARs that boast about accuracy, but I’m not familiar with any that are reliably sub-minute-of-angle. O.5 MOA is damn good accuracy for a bolt-action.

        • Sounds like you found a keep, James. Like I said, I’ve heard stories, but the only people I’ve actually SEEN demonstrate their accuracy were lucky to get 1 to 1.5 MOA out of the AR platform, WHATEVER the load. If you’re getting 0.6, that’s damn near precision shooting “match” accuracy, so good on you!! My Remington 700 “Target Tactical” in .308 shoots at or below 0.5 – but that’s a bolt action, with a 24″ bull barrel, and a nice piece of glass. If you can get right at that with an AR platform, you are DEFINITELY doing something right!!

        • Not sure what oldmanimal was going for posting those numbers. My A2 HBar shoots quite well I think, especially for irons only due to the milled in carry handle (thus my remark about “having good glass”) but neither it nor I, not by a long shot (see what I did there?), are even remotely close to being under 1moa in that configuration. Not a chance. Punching out a 3″ circle at 500 meters with an A2 would be something to see. Even with it bolted to a bench, I suspect, let alone “comfortably” .

  10. This is nonsense for two reasons. 1) If you were for some reason to own only one firearm, everybody knows the correct answer is a .357 magnum revolver (3″-5″ barrel). 2) Why would you choose to only own one firearm?!? That’s just asinine.

    • The grizzly standing just inside my (small… really small) shop with me when I turned around to say hello the spring before last laughs at yer silly little 357magunm. Pretty damn sure he was laughing at my sks I slowly reached for while we talked as well.

        • Gov, yeah, I’m aware of the various loadings (I have all winter off), just as I’m aware of my 1895 in 45-70, which I was very much wishing I had at that moment. 20′ with nothing but a Harley between us is just too close, calm as he was. In truth he seemed more interested in the surroundings than in me. Who knows how long he had been standing there? Impressively powerful animal; strength, build and bone structure from another era, for sure.

  11. A 9mm compact would make sense as a first purchase. I could see an AR making sense as a second purchase. It was my fourth after a .22 rifle and a shotgun.

  12. Like most on this forum, I can “make a case” for just about any gun, but to believe that there is ANY viable “one gun” answer is . . . well, frankly, kind of ignorant. If space, budget, hoplophobic family/neighbors/girlfriend limits you to one gun, OK, go with that (or get new family/neighbors/girlfriend), but seriously??? NOBODY who knows diddly squat about firearms thinks/believes that there is a “magic caliber” that does everything.

    I’m a firm believer in the whole “a gun is just a tool” mantra. When it comes to tools, you use the right tool for the job. If the job changes, it’s a pretty good chance the tool should change, too. “Gee, if I could ONLY have ONE tool in my toolbox, what would it be???” My choices are get a good screwdriver (with swappable bits) and be really good at driving screws (and nothing else), or get a multi-tool and be half-assed at a lot of things, but not very good at any. That’s just dumb – something that dacian might do, or possibly MinorIQ.

  13. Now Geoff, play nice. You know I was just finishing a thought on what Art had said. Besides, redundancy can be a good thing in firearms. And other things. When I was diving I always had an octopus. I only need four tires on my truck, but I carry a fifth, etc.

    • “Now Geoff, play nice.”

      It wasn’t meant to be mean-spirited, GF.

      I save the mean for my obsessed, apparently brain-damaged and mentally-ill demented troll (who deserves to live in New Jersey)… ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Geoff,

        What did the people of New Jersey ever do to you, that you would wish upon them the pestilence of our nameless, brainless troll? Don’t they have ENOUGH problems, already, living in Jersey, and all??

        We should take up a collection and ship him to join his buddies in China. They’d probably find something useful for him to do – perhaps swabbing out toilets with his toothbrush.

  14. The “only one gun” topic depends on the intended application.

    If the intended application is home defense, national defense with engagements limited to 150 yards, and medium game hunting at ranges of 150 yards or less, then an AR-15 chambered in 5.56 x 45mm NATO is probably the “one gun” to own. (Proper bullet weight and construction ensures excellent terminal performance out to 150 yards on both human attackers and medium game.)

    Of course an AR-15 is a very poor choice for subsistence rodent hunting, large game hunting, bird hunting, and “long range” national defense engagements.

    And an AR-15 is a complete non-starter for “every day carry” self-defense against street thugs.

    • If someone is trying to cover all real-life applications, then you will need multiple firearm platforms as follows:

      A reasonably concealable handgun for “every day carry” protection with street thugs in mind.

      A rifle chambered in .22 LR for subsistence rodent and small game hunting.

      A rifle chambered in 6.5mm Creedmoor or larger for long range hunting, long range national defense, and big game hunting.

      A shotgun for subsistence bird hunting.

      An AR-15 carbine chambered in 5.56 x 45mm NATO (with proper bullet weight/construction) for home defense and national defense (engagements inside of 150 yards).

      Note: while a shotgun can cover all of the hunting applications where we would use a rifle chambered in .22LR, shotgun ammunition is incredibly expensive, bulky, and heavy compared to rimfire and many children or women would be loathe to use a shotgun for hunting.

  15. You make an extremely cogent case for the AR-15 rifle as opposed to a shotgun that not even I could rebut. The only caveat which you acknowledged is that the shotgun can be used for bird hunting. (I have shot birds on the fly with a Ruger Mini-14, but I’m a bit of a nutcase. I’ve also shot elk at 950 meters with a .50 BMG). However; given the extreme ease with which women and even single digit aged children can shoot an AR, the shotgun is the inferior choice.

    As always, I take issue with the mythology about hydrostatic shock from “high velocity” bullets. The speed of sound is about 4,500 feet per second in soft tissue verses 15,000 feet per second in a human skull. Higher velocity does yield more momentum and energy for greater penetration and fragmenting bone to create shrapnel.

  16. I have to agree with the many posters saying that just one gun will not allow for the various scenarios one might face. Two or three is more like it. A large caliber rifle for medium to large game or self defense, a 22 for subsistence hunting (rabbits, birds) and a handgun of the caliber of your personal persuasion. Irrespective on one’s choice, it should be a firearm with a large ready supply of ammo if you happen to run out. For example, an AR-10 in .308 would be preferred to a .45-70 (the latter of which I can find nowhere for less than $3-$4 per round, if at all, but the former of which I have more than enough to hunt with for the rest of my life), and a 9mm preferred to a .357 Sig.

  17. Wouldnโ€™t the single best be an AK pistol, like the longest barrel Draco or PAP you could legally buy? Might not have the range of an AR, but short, heavier round, easy to fire, not much recoil, etc. Just need 1,000 rounds before they dry up. Alternate a regular AK with an under folder stock.

  18. The only advantage I can see to the AR platform is it’s modularity… it’s like Legos for adults. Other than that there’s a reason some servicemen call the .556 a “poodle-shooter” cartridge…. and don’t get me started on that lame-ass charging handle design/placement.

    • The original AR10 prototypes (beginning in 1953) from which the AR-15 was eventually derived had charging handles mounted directly to the bolt carriers.

      The first true AR-15 prototype (XAR-15 in 1957) (based off the AR-10B) carried over the AR-10B top mounted nonreciprocating charging handle.

      The second prototype AR15 in 1957 became the first production version. It too had a top mounted charging handle, with the handle right at the end that slipped over the gas tube. But in use the charging handle became uncomfortably hot with sustained firing. So they modified the upper receiver, and moved the handle part to the rear of the upper receiver where it still is today.

        • Much the same could be said up here regarding the idiot manchild in Ottawa. Assuming we actually know his true genealogy, of course… I hear there was a vacation in Cuba some months before he slithered from that much partied upon crevice.

    • john,

      As with any discussion of “what is the right gun”, there IS no “wrong” answer. I have a 12ga. hunting gun (Remington 870 Wingmaster), and I love it, but . . . it ain’t exactly practical for “home defense” (28″ barrel sorta makes it unwieldy in your average home situation). I plan to get a Mossberg 590A “milspec” pump for home defense (it’s on my list . . . right after about four other guns!!), but that shotgun would be fairly useless for many hunting purposes.

      And as much as I like a good 12ga, it ain’t exactly ideal if someone gets frisky at a distance. Ammunition is expensive, heavy, and bulky. Sure, I can ruin your day out to 100 yards with a decent shotgun and a slug, but I can ruin your day out to 800-1000 yards with my Remington 700 .308. There AIN’T no “perfect gun” or “magic caliber”.

      That’s why I have more than a couple, and have about four or five on my “need to buy it” list. Having the RIGHT gun for a particular situation is my goal, whatever that “particular situation” is. I figure it shouldn’t require more than 50 guns to cover everything. Maybe 60.

      • I have always told girl friends and wife that guns are like golf clubs, you need different ones for different shots. You can get a short barrel for that 870 but I don’t know why you would want one. I have a skeet barrel and a slug barrel for my Wingmaster. I had a AR-15 but the wife stole it and it lives on her side of the bed.

      • Lamp, maybe too late for you to see this but I have a 590A in the 20″ heavy barrel with a sidesaddle and a buttsleeve for a total of 20rnds on board. Ghost ring and post sights, mag tube mounted Olight @ 3oclock with laser and a Magpul MS1 sling. Excellent set up and I wouldn’t part with it but my much lighter, shorter and thus infinitely quicker handling Mavericks and Churchill’s, at the expense of decreased capacity but still 5 in the tube plus a sidesaddle, seem much more suited to a true home defense role. The 590A is more like a full on battle rifle compared to an ‘assault’ rifle, if you get my meaning. Food for thought. Does look mean af wearing the bayo-nyet though…

  19. “Second, if you think handgun and shotgun rounds wonโ€™t go through drywall, you have another thing coming.”

    Its “think” – “… you have another think coming”

    “have another thing coming” is used to express disagreement with or unwillingness to do something suggested by someone else. Here its being presented as opposite an incorrect thought so its “… you have another think coming”

    This is like some people people think its ‘walla!’ – its not ‘walla’, its “voilร ’

    ‘walla’ is a misspelling and mispronunciation of the French “voilร ,” which is an exclamation calling attention to or expressing satisfaction with something that has just been presented or accomplished.

    But other than the jarring “thing” speed bump, the article was good.

  20. I agree with most, cannot have just one.
    As for the AR15, meh. Did not care for the M16A2 service rifle while in the USMC. Various ARs I have shot since then, meh. Nothing to get excited over.
    Shot a NM M1A in NRA High Power. Now that rifle put a big ol smile on my face.
    To each their own.

    • Impossible not to smile when touching off an M14, or in my case the M1A. Even the cheapass norinco ones we are mostly limited to up here in the northern colonies are great shooters, just a little rough around the edges. Building a detachable scope mount for mine right now.

  21. The question is stupid. You should own more than one gun.
    But if you only had one, it should be a Glock 19 sized pistol. A gun you don’t carry is a gun you can’t use. If you are a frontline soldier, sure, have a M4. But in everyday life you don’t get attacked when you have your Ar-15 in hand, which would only be at the range or a few minutes while transporting it.
    Stay strapped or get clapped.

  22. If we are talking about what one person is limiting themself to a gun… and not government intrusion… then, yes, an AR is a good base gun. Because it has the ability to reconfigure, ammo is fairly available in many different varieties/performances, and components/accessories are readily available.

    Thompson/Center made a good mark doing this. You really purchased the first gun as a base. Then, you could purchase another upper/barrel for a different purpose. I really believe the reason T/C slowly fell out of prominence is that all the offerings were single shot.

  23. If I could have only one gun it would be a 308. I do like the AR platform but I also have FAL’s and M1A’s. As for the poodle shooters why limit yourself to one? One irons, one red dot, one variable and one for the wife.

    • With a properly zeroed M1A, a few mags full of M80, a bayo-nyet and a steel buttplate one can dispense with all that charm nonsense…

  24. I would chose a glock G21 45 acp, many conversion barrels on the market including 10mm, 460 rowland, 9mm dillon approaching rifle velocities and a huge after market of accessories. Able to be concealed carried if need be and the ability to use an mck conversion kit as well, and very reliable..

    • Shane, that is a good choice. I have just learned that the Utica PD has switched over to the .45apc albeit in Smith&Wesson M&P.


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