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A while back I wrote an article stating that handguns are best for home defense. I stand by that conclusion. But there are some damned good reasons why having an AR-15 propped up against the nightstand can be a better bet than a bedside pistol . . .

1. Accuracy

No matter what the size of the bullet, every round fired that doesn’t hit its intended target is a big problem. “Stray rounds” fail to stop the immediate, potentially lethal threat. Equally, they’re dangerous to the health and safety of innocent people unfortunate enough to get in the rounds’ path.

Rifle have more points of contact with the shooter’s body than a handgun: both hands, shoulder and cheek. This makes a rifle a substantially more stable shooting platform than a handgun [note “handgun” singular]. This is one of the main reasons why an average shooter is far more accurate with a rifle than a handgun.

In addition to the body mechanics rifles are easier to sight (a.k.a., aim). It takes time, practice and coordination to align a handgun’s sights. A rifle “points” naturally; you can see where the barrel is aiming. If a home defender’s running a red dot on their rifle (a device that places a red dot on the target), its even easier to just “point and shoot.”

Under pressure, suffering the effects of a full adrenal dump, the rifle’s ease-of-use/accuracy can be the difference between life and death.

Illustrative Example:

It’s the middle of the night. You hear someone breaking down your front door. You grab your AR-15. You gather your family, call 911, put your family behind you and crouch next to your bed. You train your AR-15’s sights on the door to your bedroom.

If you were holding a handgun, your shaking hands would make it entirely possible— maybe even probable—that you would miss. The AR may not be steady but it’s steady enough. You’re as ready as you’ll ever be.

2. Capacity

I’ve never been in a real gun battle, but I have some simulated experience.

At an event in Arizona, trainers gave each participant a Glock 19 with 10 rounds of simunition ammo. They held a “two men enter one man leaves” kind of final exam. Although my opponent had recently finished his tour of duty in the armed forces I came out ahead. But not before emptying the magazine on my handgun.

Think about that. One opponent, and I’d run out of ammunition.

While some states restrict handgun magazines to ten rounds a handgun typically holds 15 rounds. FBI crime stats show that an increasing numbers of violent assaults involve more than one attacker. If you have three attackers and 10 rounds . . . that might not work out as well as it could. Even 15 rounds might not be enough.

The AR-15’s standard magazine capacity is 30 rounds. [Note: that’s standard capacity not “high” capacity.] Again, you may not need all thirty rounds to defend yourself. You might not need any. But you might. And if you do, well, there they are.

Illustrative Example:

Imagine you’re a shopkeeper living atop a small store. A rioting mob starts smashing windows and loot surrounding stores. Some of the hoodlums outside are throwing Molotov cocktails into cars. Your entire livelihood is on the shelves of your store downstairs. Your wife and two kids are cowering in fear, afraid that they’re about to be burned alive.

You don’t know how many people are in the crowd about to light the wick on a vodka bottle or run at you with a baseball bat covered in barbed wire. Until and unless the police or National Guard arrives to restore order, you need to be prepared to accurately engage each and every person that attempts to kill you and your family.

Ten rounds doesn’t cut it. The New York Times understood this when they wheeled Gatling guns out into their lobby on August 1, 1863 to protect the newspaper from an angry mob. The New York Times successfully defended itself using the Gatling gun’s “high capacity” capabilities. There’s no reason the average American shouldn’t have the same protection.

3. Worst Case: It’s a Club

When you run out of ammo with a handgun, or it jams, or just plain stops working, you’re left with something only slightly better than a rock. And the only reason I say it’s better than a rock is that it typically has a pointy end of some sort.

When you run out of ammo with a rifle, you still have a bigass metal pipe at the end of a rather long firearm that will hurt like hell when it hits someone.

Admittedly certain “assault rifles” are better for whacking people over the head than other. The AR-15 is a wiffle bat compared to the sheer mass of the AK-47’s hardwood buttstock. But either rifle is better than nothing.

There are other reasons why an AR-15 makes a superb self-defense weapon: accuracy over long distances, reliability, recoil minimization and more. Suffice it to say, what makes an excellent rifle for offense makes the AR-15 an awesome firearm for defense.

It’s an inconvenient truth—unless you need a rifle for self-defense. At that point an AR-15 is nothing less than a godsend.


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  1. Personally, I still go with my 930SPX Blackwater since I get a ring sight and an optics mount. I don’t feel entirely comfortable with the AR-15 for Home Defense however, I certainly could make do with it as well. It having the light and laser grip probably would help but…Devil’s Advocate here.

    • I just shot my 930 for the first time a few days ago. The semi – auto 12 gauge is the most intimidating weapon I can think of for home defense, and I’m “an AR guy.”

      However, the usefulness and versatility of an AR cannot be denied. I see no reason that the rest of the nation should suffer under CA’s crappy AR and AWB laws.

      • You are so right! Some of us are trapped( financially and socially ) behind enemy lines with our CA gun law stupidity .

        Gun grabbers couldn’t wait for the horror of the San Bernardino shootings to go after so called assault weapons( Jan.1,2017 was ARmeggedon in this state as no more AR-15s,AK variants or similar semi auto weapons can be sold in the state) what’s sadder and ironic ? Same ” guns are bad liberal types” voted en masse for such hug a thug laws like Prop 47 ( which made many felony crimes now low grade misdemeanor offenses), AB109 ( which lets hardened CONVICTS go free from prison if their last or most recent crime was ” non violent”), and prop 57, which again lowered the punishments on certain crimes( you can beat and abuse senior citizens as well as drug and rape a woman in this state now, shoot at cops or others, commit arson, and it is NOT considered a “violent crime”)

        Crime in the Golden state is now booming- nightly ex cons and thugs are on tv, shooting at police( 6 killed in the last 6 months of 2016 by- surprise, gun and so called “assault weapon” wielding parolees!) vehicle pursuits are a nightly form of entertainment via local news, and since property crimes have been made insignificant by current legislation, thugs burglarize homes and commercial businesses brazenly( they don’t even wear masks when cctv security cameras are present cause they know cops can do little to them even if caught); meanwhile gang related homicides and violent assaults and killings of citizens are rising .(” gotta give those parolees a second chance ya’ know “..)

        Be happy you don’t live in a state where they think limiting legal firearms and 2nd amendment rights equals public safety….

        VOTE against any politician in your community who thinks like CA Senator Kamala Harris or Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsome

    • you wont need a longarm, the perps flee when they see your pistol. You wont HAVE the longarm when you need it, so what does it matter how effective it would be? Who says that you’ll HAVE 10 seconds to run and get any gun, eh? you’ll probably do well if you can react to the surprise, make your ccw draw and get your pistol “into play” fast enough, actually. If you dont have to hit anyone with a bullet, you wont be wasting 50k-1/2 million $ trying to stay out of prison and “un-sued”.

      • Show me a person who walks around the house carrying an AR-15 rifle, and sleeps with one at night, and I’ll show you a paranoid NUT. I believe in securing my firearms, yet having one handy, if needed. To that end, I have a touch combination lock box on my night stand, containing a loaded Baretta 92A1. The box can be opened in a second or 2, by me, but no one else. As opposed to finding the key to my gun safe and opening that to grab a rifle or shotgun, which could take a minute or more.

        • Although I keep a 9mm CZ 75 by the bed (only when I’m in the rack for the night), and that’s for the situation where I don’t have time to access my AR-15 (and here’s the reason I am posting a reply to your comment). My AR-15 is located in an under the bed safe and when my bracelet is placed next to the sensor panel on the front, the door pops open for fast access to my AR-15 carbine. All my guns are secure or on my person, but technology has made it possible to maintain substantial readiness with a great degree of security. My safe is made by Hornady and cost me less than $300.

          I also consider the AR my principal home defense weapon. Something the article didn’t mention is that the small, fast moving projectile of the AR over-penetrates fewer drywall encounters than even hollow point pistol rounds (slow moving, heavier bullets just collect dry wall and cruise through your house). If you get frangible 5.56s you’ll overpenetrate even less.

          Finally I believe the AR-15, especially the 16” carbine or 10” or less AR pistol with supporting brace, is superior to the shotgun as well. First, it is shorter and less likely to be grabbed, and so also better for room clearing, negotiating your house, and General CQB than the shotgun. Second, capacity. Third, slugs and buckshot cruise through dry wall as well—you’d need to opt for lighter shot which diminishes the advantage of using a shotgun, imho.

          But whatever we use, attach a white light to ensure you’re aiming at a foe.

          By the way. Although I don’t carry an AR-15 around my house, I do always have a pistol on me—even in my own home. Is that paranoid?

  2. It’s actually the only time I see the utility of a stockless pistol grip shotgun, a home invasion scenario. Manuevering in tight quarters and needing real stopping power in said quarters. Somebody assualts your house there’s a very good chance they’re under the influence of something other than just greed.

  3. Very logical But I say less for Home Defense from a robber than other situations 3. 1 Like National Disaster if you have a Hurricane for you Nick in Texas you will no t have any Police and large number of looters so a AR is best way to defend yourself from large number of bad guys. 2 A Terrorist attack if theirs large group of Islamic extremist attacking neighborhoods just to kill none believers a AR is your best friend. 3 Were invaded need I say more Look at it this way in Sept 1 2001 you think it was possible for 4 planes to kill as much as they did 10 days to come? So who know when a war could come by a major power (Russia or China) and they have ways to attack us here.

    • So terrorist is synonymous with muslim? This is one of the reasons people dont take you seriously. And if China attacks you are screwed, end of discussion. You know they have 28 MILLION people in active millitary service(US and Russia have about 500k each) and that is not even counting the 50-70 million reserve.

      • Islamism (Islamo-nazi terrorism) has been responsible for nearly ALL the countless acts of terrorism these last several decades. So, yes, terrorist is synonymous with muslim.
        Dont be a contrarian moron.

        • I don’t like Mudslimes and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’ve lived in several countries and never met a Muslim I liked. They don’t like me either and I probably felt that most during a holiday in Bali, Indonesia.

          I thought it would be interesting to buy a traditional Muslim style shirt and wondered into a traditional clothing store off a side street. There were a bunch of Muslims guys sitting around a table staring at me like they wanted to behead me and put the video on Youtube.

          I prefer handguns for HD for their ease of weapon retention and ability to use one-handed. Weak hand can hold a tactical light and fend off attempts to grab the weapon.

        • Clearly these idiots are either close-minded or uneducated. You all need to do your own homework. Ever hear of the IRA, Timothy McVeigh, or even the DC Sniper? What would you consider their acts, if not terrorism.

          I’m not saying that Islamic Extremism has not been a significant source of worldwide terrorism, however, to say that the two are synonymous is very simplistic and actually makes you blind to the full breadth of the threat of terrorism.

          They looked like they want to behead you and videotape it? You sound like a paranoid schizophrenic. Ever think they were simply surprised to see you walk in. Yet, I’m guessing you were able to safely make your purchase despite their deadly intent….

        • Well, it’s obvious to me that there are a lot of crazy people here in there. I was in the US AF for eight years. Fact, I was a a CM, therefore I am not stupid. I doubt if they still have that program I was quad-qualified APG, JETS, ELEN, and HYD both fighter and heavy aircraft qualified. I graduated from the University of Illinois double major Applied Mathematics and Physic before going to the AF. Everything is situational for home defense, not murder, shotgun with bird shot is more than enough. When intruders hear you chamber a round they will either run or crap on themselves. I have a two dogs that are well trained a 410, and a classic Frenchi SPA 15 that I bought off a friend who own three when I was in the AF. I’ve haven’t fired the Frenchi that much because I have a bad shoulder but it’s devastating when firing slugs. Honestly you only need a 410. I have a weapons collection I all of them bought when I was on active duty with nothing to do with my money. This gun stuff is stupid I should have bought stock not weapons. I have a gun safe full of weapons that I can get rid off and I will never sell them for obvious reasons. You never know who’s crazy!

      • Military Statistics > Military Capabilities > Active Troops (most recent) by country

        Rank Countries Amount
        # 1 China: 2,255,000
        # 2 United States: 1,415,289
        # 3 India: 1,325,000
        # 4 Korea, North: 1,106,000
        # 5 Russia: 1,037,000
        # 6 Korea, South: 687,700
        # 7 Pakistan: 619,000
        # 8 Iran: 540,000
        # 9 Turkey: 514,850
        # 10 Vietnam: 484,000
        Weighted average: 998,383.9

        Twenty-eight million? Five hundred-thousand? Please do your homework before coming in and making wild claims such as the ones that you just made.

        • HAHAHA. You’re ignorance about military strength is freaking hilarious. So you can google “military ground troops by nation”. Congratulations, you’re now a google user like the rest of us.

          Do you realize that China’s millions of ground troops would get absolutely annihilated by our airforce? China has old tech as far as air superiority is concerned and everyone who knows anything about the military or the nature of war knows that air superiority is step 1 towards winning a war.

          Secondly, China would never attack mainland America because of my last point. And when you add in all of the US citizens owning firepower that would be in the streets killing Chinese as they landed our land power would quickly outnumber them.

          In WWII Isoroku Yamamoto said, “You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.”

          Irregardless if that statement is a hoax or not, it is true and much more applicable this day and age than in that one.

        • There’s another slight problem with the Chinese (or anyone’s) invasion of America.

          How are you going to get five million troops and all their equipment, tanks, airplanes, ships and so forth over here without anyone noticing? They can’t walk across the ocean. They can’t come by ship, it would be like shooting fish in a barrel. They can’t come air freight. How will they get here? How will they be re-supplied?

          We did learn something from Pearl Harbor and from 9/11, and a surprise invasion of the US by enough troops to have even a ghost of a chance of success just isn’t in the cards. Random terrorist attacks, maybe, full scale D-day style invasion, it just ain’t gonna happen. Peace through VASTLY superior firepower. Ours. There are plenty of things to worry about, but this isn’t one of them.

      • 28 million people in their military vs 500k in ours (PS, we have way more than 500k in our military, the Marines alone have 200k and they’re the smallest branch. We have millions)?

        Hmph… if only we civilian gun ownership… oh wait, we do…. 100 million gun owners, 300 million gun.

        • They may have man power but Chinas current military is so technologically inferior to ours it would literally be like shooting fish in a barrel. As has been stated before there is no way for them to invade the US without us being fully aware they’re coming and if you think the US could not defend its borders when it has the will to do so, mexico being an example of when it does not have the will, you are s fool.

      • 28 million is a pretty big army! So how many Americans have guns? (here is a hint, its more than 28 million). And right there, is the true reason of the 2nd amendment.

      • Wow, nope China has about 1.5 million in active military. The US has about 1.1 million. And there happens to be a big fucking ocean in between which (you’ll probably be shocked to learn) is patrolled by the US Navy which is larger and more powerful than the following 14 navies of the World put together. And finally, the US has a more capable strategic nuclear weapons stock than any other nation which would absolutely be used for the defence of the homeland. What drugs are you taking?!?!?! The results are really quite funny.

      • So the armed US citizens would be outnumbered 3 to 1 and be defending known ground. Plus, how does China get 28million soldiers to US soil against our Navy?

      • No one is going to invade the US, except through illegal immigration. That’s why we don’t need a standing army, it is only used to wage aggressive war on Israel’s perceived enemies.

        100 million Americans are under arms. We have 300 million + guns in this country. Untold millions of rounds.

  4. i cant have ar-15 or shotguns for thar matter. i have 3 newborns and im afraid over penetatrion can occur and it will be a disaster. im sticking with handguns, unless anyone has a better idea?

      • dont get me wrong i have enough armory in my house to supply a small army but i just dont think ar for home defense aint right. even if it was a pistol ar frame some unscroupulos lawyer would think that im a terrorist for using it

    • The 5.56/.223 projectile out of an ar-15 tends to actually have less penetration than most handgun rounds through most interior walls, depending on their construction. The high velocity of the round makes it tumble once it passes through an obstacle, causing it to become quite unstable and shredding itself upon passing through a secondary obstacle..I.e. The second piece of drywall in your average american interior wall… Its somewhat close, but handgun rounds have superior penetration through drywall/wood interior walls. The’re are several videos up on youtubE which will confirm that for you.


          See the 4th graphic on that page. It’s just one source, but it shows those particular 5.56mm and .223 rounds penetrating less than buckshot, 9mm, and .45 after penetrating an interior wall intermediate barrier first.

          (Remember too that not all types of the same caliber will necessarily perform exactly the same; some weights and designs might penetrate more, others less, etc.)

        • A 45 grain varmint hollowpoint round wont overpenetrate and will explode inside a dudes chest. Yer talkin twice the energy of a 357 maggie.

      • i think frangible ammo is illegal to have loaded on an ar outside of a shooting range. at least thats whats down in florida

        • The primary incapacitating mechanism for all AR ammo is the separation of the casing and the core, leading to a huge wound cavity.

          When AR ammo does not stop, it is usually because the round did not tumble/casing and core did not separate,

          I’m unaware of any AR ammunition that doesn’t rely on this mechanic. So “frangible” is irrelevant when it comes to 5.56…

    • I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure 5.56 ball ammo or buckshot will be a lower wall penetration liability than your average handgun ammo

      • Penetration is a variable thing, obviously. Assuming basic house construction of drywall supported by 2 x 4’s, ANY effective self defense round will also be dangerous through a wall. Each individual shooter must evaluate the construction of their home, and the probable location of other occupants. As always, know your target and what is beyond.

        A typical 9 mm / .40 / .45 ACP full power JHP will penetrate 12-15 inches of ballistic gelatin. This also means that such rounds will penetrate multiple interior walls, and still be dangerous. However, they offer good (for a defensive handgun) barrier penetration capability.

        A 12 gauge birdshot # 9 birdshot round will penetrate an interior wall, but will be much less dangerous to the occupants of an adjacent room at home defense distances. However, birdshot is borderline useless at barrier penetration. Birdshot is highly variable at gelatin penetration, and loses energy and lethality very quickly as distance increases. Birdshot in the #7 1/2 – # 9 range may not have sufficient energy to break a clay pidgeon beyond 65-75 yards.

        00 buckshot from a typical 12 gauge load will penetrate gelatin to a depth of about 10-12 inches. It has moderate barrier penetration capability, and excellent stopping power.

        5.56 and .223 ammo such as a MK 318 Mod 0 / M855 / 70 grain Barnes TSX tends to penetrate roughly 16-20 inches in ballistic gelatin when fired from a 16″ carbine barrel. These rounds have good – for a 5.56 – barrier penetration capability, but a miss would be extremely dangerous to an adjacent room. These rounds could completely penetrate and fly through the end of a home and into an adjacent residence. M193 rounds penetrate about 10-11 inches in gel through the same length barrel.

        .223 JHP loads in the 40-50 grain range will penetrate roughly 6-10 inches of ballistic gelatin, and would be moderately dangerous to the occupant of an adjacent room, and are very roughly equivalent to the penetration of #4 buckshot. These are good choices when over penetration is a primary concern, but would not offer as much in the way of intermediate barrier penetration.

        Any home defense load balances penetration, barrier penetration, and terminal effect. Personally, I’m not comfortable with a load that would produce less penetration than less than 10 – 12 inches in gel. “Police” ammunition is typically designed to perform well in the FBI test protocol. My go-to rounds are .357 JHP CorBon 140 grain short barrel tactical, .40 Smith Winchester PDX 180 grain JHP, 00 tactical buck (Remington, Winchester, or Federal), and M193 in 5.56 from a 16″ barrel AR-15.

    • Depending where your newborns are in relation to your bedroom a shotgun with 2 3/4 low brass buckshot or an AR15 with 45 or 50 grain rds(hollow points) can work with a little dry fire scenario practice.
      Our little girls bedroom is right next to ours and besides the pistols I also have a 12ga and 2 rifles for home defense. I can literally stand in the door to our bedroom, fire my 12ga with 7 1/2’s in it and completely miss her bed and cover over 1/2 of the living room. 2 steps forward and in the door to her room and covering the whole living room.
      Knowing from prior experience with shotguns I walked through my house with a mop handle aiming and imagining shot patterns to redo the layout of the furniture etc to our advantage.
      Just a thought.
      Congrats on the newborns and a wonderful and joyous day and life with them.

    • You probably don’t want a handgun with three little ones as over penetration can happen with handguns unless you use safety slugs which I don’t like. use whatever is the most accurate since you can’t afford to miss.

        • 40gr hollowpoints are “frangible” ammo, and are sold for hunting almost everywhere. Frangible just means it comes apart easily and dumps energy into the target rather than overpenetrating. The 55gr FMJ load that is common for white-box .223 also does this in tissue if it hits a target at 2400fps or above, it will yaw and break at the cannelure, producing a spray of fragments that makes the .223 punch some above its weight in terms of wound ballistics…if you have the velocity to see that effect. Below 2400fps 55gr FMJ acts more or less like a FMJ .22 Winchester Magnum and has a very different wound profile — that of a nice, neat hole a fifth of an inch in diameter or so through and through if you don’t hit bone.

        • Just use target grade rounds like Sierra Matchkings or Berger VLDs. When they hit people they work like frangible ammo. That’s why there was a period where the Army stopped using the Matchkings.

        • In Alabama it is not illegal to own and use frangible ammunition outside of a shooting range. Frankly, I don’t think it is anywhere as there is less penetration with it. What is a shooting range anyway? The place I teach is one but how about the one I built on 1000 acres of family timberland?

          I am a sitting trial judge here in Alabama with not enough security (also an NRA Firearms Instructor) and I carry my Beretta M-9 in Court. I have it loaded with frangibles because even though I practice in a mock courtroom with a robe on, I can’t account for 100 screaming people. So want less penetration.

          By the way, regarding penetration of AR-15 ammo, when the wife was away I got my son to help me move a large dresser. Then from 15 feet (where the dresser was) I fired my Colt AR-15 A2 with a Hornady V-Max, 55 grains. I had two large trash cans next to the wall behind it filled with sand, and of course nobody was “down range”. The V-Max penetrated one wall lodging between the two walls (mine are plaster).. There was no exit hole. and I could see it with a strong flashlight. I also carried out the same test with my M-9 and Hornady Critical Defense Ammunition in 9mm, 115 grain with the same result. The biggest problem was matching the paint once I had it patched the holes.

          But I am constantly amazed how people make life of death decisions based of some un-cited statement they read on the internet. “A 9mm round will go through several walls” well not at my house.

          You don’t have to go as far as I did but don’t take people’s word for it when your life is concerned–do your own testing. If you have wallboard take some to a rural area, put insulation between it and fire different rounds though it, otherwise you are just repeating bad information.

          By the way, my probation officer was shot in the neck at a range of one foot with a .40 caliber Speer Gold Dot hollow point. It did not expand or do any of the nasty things advertised–thank God. He was treated and released and as it hit nothing vital. His gun had been snatched in a fight because our probation department did not require Level 2 or 3 retention holsters. His partner emptied his magazine into the deceased probationer.

    • If you have 3 newborns in the house I’d say your wife needs to be concerned with over penetration. I realize this post is old but I’ve never been able to pass up a good joke!

    • If I had baby’s or children in the house and I could afford it, I would consider Ballistic Wall Panels. Level 3 will stop a 44 magnum handgun and a 4 foot by 8 foot panel is I believe around $620.00 US.
      Not cheap and does not negate the need for a firearm, but if bullets start flying from the bad guys or the good guys, this may help stop um. Of course some would argue you might be better off saving the money for other things for your kids!
      It is hard to argue since the odds are the panels will never have to stop a bullet.
      It of course will not stop an ar-15. They do sell much heavier panels that will stop 5.56 but they are about 3x the price and 5 times the weight. Not sure if its worth it since bad buys generally don’t come in your home with AR 15’s or AK-47’s. But that sort of protection is available if you can pay for it. I believe the level 3’s will also stop 00 buck. You have to make sure there is at least ¼ inch open space so that the bullet can get caught on the panel (like a net)
      You probably could install them yourself if you read all the instructions carefully. I think you just fasten them on the wall and paint them.
      So two walls of 4X8 coverage would be under $1,400
      If $630 to $1,400 is affordable to you, this is probably the way to go! You can have 40 guns but stopping a bullet aimed at friendly’s is always a good idea.
      The Police and Military will tell you that!
      Even the Romans used sword and shield!

    • Actually, if you’re super concerned about “overpenetration”, then a firearm chambered in .223/5.56 is a far better selection than a shotgun or something like 9mm. It is a matter of physics. There is a reason many SWAT teams and other CQB units are switching from handgun rounds…like from a MP5 to a AR pistol, etc.

  5. I don’t have to justify wanting an AR-15. I want one for my own purposes, and I am not nor will I ever be a murderer or criminal. This isn’t a nuclear bomb we’re talking about, it’s an inanimate and inert collection of steel and plastic parts that shoots bullets when loaded and proper force is applied to the appropriate mechanism.

    As I do not have the intention of using it to kill people, and I do not view it as having that purpose in its normal use, it cannot be said that my AR-15s intent or purpose is for killing any more than one could say that a candle stick or a piece of rope have the intent or purpose of killing people.

  6. Regarding #3, my wife picked out her .357 based, in part, by the one that would make the best club if she ran out of ammo.

    • I agree, if want other people to quit talking about “assault rifles”, we should quit referring to them with that term as well. We were issued M-16s prior to deployment to VN in 1965, we called them about everything but a “rifle”, “assault rifle” never occurred to us.

  7. It’s funny that the “handguns are only for killing people and should be banned” wingnuts are now telling us that, because we have handguns, we can’t have ARs because ARs are only for killing people.

    I’m not really a fan of the AR platform. Maybe it’s a prejudice that goes back to 1967, but I don’t think that they’re really great for anything.

    So what does it have going for it? It’s a competent all-around platform and easily modified, and they tend to work when you need them to work. I have an AR-15 because, well, everybody should have at least one.

    Are they useful for self-defense? Absolutely. A rifle of that compact size that can spit lead at 3000 fps is a good SD gun.

  8. If you are surrounded, but have enough ammo, they can’t get away. Pistol, shotgun, rifle, in that order for home defense. That’s just me. I am only at step one, a .380 pistol, I know that is not optimum, but am honest about my phallic symbolism.

  9. If a person is going to use a long gun for a home defense vs. a handgun then a semi-auto shotgun (or pump) seems to me a better option than an AR. Missing the target with an AR is (all things being equal) possibly worse than missing with a shotgun or a revolver regarding potential for the bullet/shot to travel further and hit an innocent person. If a person insists upon high capacity then they can easily find it in a handgun with 15-30 round mags. The drawback or negatives to a long gun AR are a higher potential to jam than a revolver or pump shotgun, the increased potential for a long gun to be grabbed by an attacker while taking a corner in the house, and the need for two hands on it vs. one to hold onto a handgun while manipulating doors, cell phones, children, and pets.

  10. I use an RRA suppressed 10.5 SBR w/ a mag of frangible ammunition for home defense. I honestly believe that’s the best solution.

    • It probably is the best all around solution for an urban self defense gun. But in California where I live we have to settle for less than perfect.

      • Frangible rounds are supposed to shatter on impact with a solid object. They cut down on rounds overpenetrating things like walls. Less danger to bystanders.

        • Interesting and thanks. I wonder if those are legal in Oregon. Are HP still generally more effective in stopping a threat than frangible ammo?

        • I live in a very urban environment. Broad Ripple, Indianapolis. My neighbors’ houses are literally 7 ft on the other side of that outside wall.

        • i disagree with using frangible ammunition simply because it is deficient in penetration (which is essential for stopping a assailant). Leave such ammunition on the range shooting metal targets.

          hollowpoint and FMJ work just fine (not M855).

  11. I like how at this website the pros & cons of rifle vs. pistol are weighed. I am sure somewhere there is a range troll sneering at the idea of a rifle for home defense. It has its advantages and take aways.

    Personally, I feel the over-penetration concern is over-hyped. Guns have lots of kenetic energy, more than anything else out there and that is why they work so well. Over penetration is a concern but any weapon capable of killing at range presents the real possibility of over penetration and friendly fire.

    • Shooting instructor at the CCW class in MO had a story about his ex-wife’s negligent discharge.

      S&W .38 snubby loaded with .38 hollow points fired through the floor in an upstairs bathroom. Penetrates the floor, penetrates the sub floor, penetrates the sheet rock on the first floor, penetrates the front of a stainless steel dishwasher. Embeds in the floor behind the dishwasher.

      He had pictures.

      Frankly, I was amazed that a .38 packed that kind of energy. Overpenetration is no joke.

      • DJ. It’s been my experience, and I have a lot with .38’s, the the humble .38 penetrates way out of proportion to what any paper specs indicate it’s capable of.

        Those round nose lead bullets at a modest velocity seem to just push on through and it takes quite a bit to stop them. Go figure.

  12. All so in low light or no light , you still can sight down the top of the rifle and get hits, and with the 30 round magazine you can place a few shoots to each side to deal with a gang attack, and you may be forced to defend front and back and a side all at same time and the AR allows fast magazine change for multi attacks and will not heat up as fast, same for the AK …..In today’s world the AK and AR is a must have…. and we may have some type EMP event in 2013 caused by our SUN , so the AR and AK are better that having gold for security……

  13. “I’ve never been in a real gun battle…”

    Yeah, you have never been in a real gun battle and you have never been a real hunt but you’re an expert on guns. Some things never change. Now go shoot some more of those penned animals on a Texas game farm and tell us about what a great hunting rifle an AR is.

        • Why not? On the opposite site of the coin, would you take advice on how to hunt an elk from someone that has seen (and maybe even hunted) them but what they say is utterly insane? An intelligent man who has never hunted can quite possibly be a better hunter than a blithering idiot whose been on a few hunts. Of course, I see the odvious point that a reputable, experienced, and intelligent hunter would be the best of all worlds.

    • Actually, Nick’s taken a few deer and some hogs, if I recall correctly.

      Would you like to share your experience and insights, perhaps adding to the discussion? Or did you just come by to whine?

  14. In regards to using the rifle as a club, I think people here would be smart to look up how to perform a butt stroke with an AR. It’s about the best thing to use in hand to hand combat. In the Marine Corps pugel training, bayonet thrusts were not considered lethal but butt strokes were.

  15. Can anyone tell me the name of the red dot (?) in the top photo? I see this optic everywhere but can never find the name nor anyone who knows it.

  16. Good article as usual Nick but if my SR9 and 18 Gold Dots aren’t enough it’s time to move. Besides, how do I fit my AK in the bedside gun safe?

  17. There are definitely several scenarios where having an AR-15 for home defense is preferable to other firearm categories. I personally love my .40 S&W carbine with 16 inch barrel. It pushes out bullets at the same velocities as a typical .357 Magnum revolver (with 4 inch barrel). I can use 15, 22, or even 30 round magazines. It is just over 26 inches overall length so it is extremely maneuverable. And it weighs 4 pounds which reduces recoil significantly — yet you can actually operate it with one hand if necessary. And a final huge benefit is it produces much less report (bang) than any handgun, rifle, or shotgun. (I dare say it would probably not cause permanent hearing loss when fired indoors.)

    Of course my pistol caliber carbine still generates handgun velocities/energies and even the “lowly” 5.56mm / .223 is vastly superior in that respect. Isn’t it wonderful that each person can choose what’s best for their situation — at least for the time being?

  18. I’ll be honest. i’m not a gun person so i may be wrong, and i don’t disagree with you. i do though, have a few points, but in general, unless if your target is about 15 to 20 feet away, i don’t know to many houses that would be that long, but i’m sure that a pistol would work if you were about 10 or less ft. away from you intruder. but then, that’s just me and i’m not a big gun nerd…

  19. I think this article overlooks a key fact. To be effective in an emergency situation, you must be familiar with what you are shooting. In an emergency situation, such as an intruder in your home, your ability to think clearly and solve problems is reduced. If the situation reaches a point in which you need to fire, you do not want to realize that you flipped the safety switch the wrong way (turning it on, instead of off) because you are not familiar with it.

    I have been shooting handguns for years, but only recently started shooting AR’s and other rifles. Getting a good grip and aiming with a handgun is in my ‘muscle memory’ now. Aiming with a pistol is easy and I have done drills and know how different postures affect my aim. However aquiring a target with a rifle and ensuring I have good contact with that rifle still takes much more focus for me. I am much more likely to forget to do something, such as turn off the safety or put a round in the chamber with one of my rifles.

    When it comes to self/home/family defense, you have to be familiar with what you are shooting.

  20. I used to be all about the handguns, and then I was all about the AK, but these days what I reach for first is a ’92 Winchester carbine in .357 magnum. True, it lacks capacity and speed of reloading compared to an AK or AR, but it’s lighter, better balanced, and makes a much more effective club if things get that desperate. I find it to be the perfect compromise between pistol and rifle, and I can’t believe I went as many years as I did without owning one of these excellent weapons.

    Sure, there’s a place for everything in my arsenal, and I’m not giving up my assault rifles anytime soon. No sir. However, they’re no longer my first line of defense after I discovered how useful these old west style lever action pistol caliber carbines are.

  21. I love the Armalite Rifle (but not necessarily for primary HD), and am building my fourth as a lightweight .223 14.5″ and may also build different cal uppers for it. One of mine is also a 9mm AR pistol. I tend to lean on my 9mm Glock with high velocity frang for HD (I like the reliability, size, laser). I had put aside the idea of the .223 rifle because my neighbors are close and the rifle is very powerful, longer length and very loud.

    Please see these two web sites for info on penetration. I am new here and will be doing more reading on this site and review this first post. The second post has some interinting data and thoughts to also consider.

  22. I feel safer with a mid/high caliber handgun such as .38/9mm/357/.40/.45 due to it being more maneuverable and leaving a decent sized hole in a target. I’d much rather be in a smaller, confined space such as a closet when a thief breaks into my house so I can shoot the target before he sees me. When your behind a bed or couch trained at the door that’s the first spot the robber will see and if he has a gun too you both may get a bullet off at the same time if he kicks the door open quickly making it risky even if you have more body leverage with the gun.

    Who knows if the target is alone as well, what if he has a partner behind him or is looking into your window from outside if your blinds aren’t fully closed? You want to be as sneaky as possible.

    Also, if you are hidden and have time to steady your aim while the target is going through your wife’s jewelry cabinet you won’t miss if you are at least moderately proficient with your chosen gun and how to maintain it (which you should be if you own one) there is no reason it would take more than a couple shots if your not taken by surprise, especially when human targets are much larger and closer than a bullseye on the range.

    Really though, any weapon will work as long as it’s a decent caliber, a .22 is just not going to cut it on a consistent basis, a .380 auto will generally do the job but is right at the limit. There is no reason to not have at least a .38 or 9mm handgun, you can buy a mid-grade one used for like $300-$400 which is very reasonable. Hell, even a decent 1911 only costs $600 and they are easy to maintain and durable but preventing the idiot scratch is really annoying and I still can’t master it without using a credit card.

    I’ve shot thousands of .22 rounds from a 10/22 rifle and almost never miss unless I’m really drunk but I don’t like my chances of dropping a target with a round meant for blasting rabbits.

  23. I think the sound of the old pump shot gun loading is still the most effective home defense tool right behind the Rottwielder, Wally, meeting them at the door with a smile on his face. 🙂

  24. Here’s the best reason why an AR is better, if you have a sling it would be extremely difficult for someone to take it away from you. It’s fairly easy to disarm someone who is using a handgun, and that’s the last thing you want in a home invasion. As for the argument about stopping power, I have yet to see someone bounce back from two in the chest and one in the head.

  25. All comment sections when it comes to gun articles end with a bunch of know-it-alls arguing. can’t we all get along ?on the same team guys

  26. A long gun is harder to wield and easier to take away from you in cramped quarters. Easy to fix, don’t go sneaking around in your house with a long gun if you hear something funny.

    That’s about all the downside I can think of, besides over penetration and that’s a problem for every gun.

    On the other hand, the aggressor makes the rules. Unless you are going to bunker, a gunfight can spill outside the house where you have no idea how many aggressors you will face or what the ranges will be. Therefore, I have to believe the AR beats the shotgun, both in capacity and range. Now if you want to really cover all the bases, you get a man’s weapon with a garand action, a boomstick made of steel and wood, and you leave that plastic and aluminum thingy in the box.


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