Safety and Training

The Rifle for Home Defense

Bob Campbell with AR-15 Shooting out of a doorway

When considering a firearm for home defense there are three choices, the handgun, rifle, and shotgun. There are many arguments for either, and the choice must fit your lifestyle. The handgun is the most common firearm kept at home and at the ready. Part of the reason is that many of us carry a handgun during the day, and then unholster the handgun and place it at the ready in the evening.

CORE 15 rifle on khaki vest
This CORE 15 rifle is the ideal all around carbine for personal defense.

However, many do not carry on a regular basis by choice or by law, but like to keep a firearm at the ready in the home. Even though I normally carry a good service grade handgun—a 1911 .45, Browning High Power 9mm, or Colt .357 Magnum—I prefer a long gun at the ready for home defense. Let’s face it, when compared to a rifle, the ‘weak .38’ and ‘strong .45’ are more alike than they differ. The long gun is also a great truck gun. A reliable, powerful, relatively short and maneuverable rifle is an ideal choice.

The limiting factor with the handgun is hit probability. It is the most difficult of the three—shotgun, rifle and handgun—to use well. The more powerful cartridges such as the .357 Magnum, .357 SIG, .40, and .45 are difficult to control well for the occasional shooter. Fast follow-up shots are more difficult. Accuracy is particularly difficult to achieve when combined with speed and dim light shooting. The portable handguns’ main advantage is that it may always be with us to answer a threat. But in the home we should have planned ahead and have a long gun ready.

The handgun is best for personal defense against the unexpected as a reactive weapon. The long gun represents aforethought. With a degree of preparation we may choose a shotgun for home defense. The shotgun has plenty of power when loaded with buckshot and features a good natural point. The real problem is recoil. All of my defensive shotguns wear a thick and effective recoil pad. Recently, I had the pleasure of overloading my senses with a 12 gauge shotgun that was light and handy and did not have a recoil pad. The old pump really got my attention, and frankly, I do not care to fire it again.

Bob Campbell holding an AR-15 with green laser
With a scope mounted rifle pressed in CQB service you may simply sight over the top of the scope- better yet, LaserMax!

Lighter loads such as birdshot lack the penetration needed for personal defense so best to choose a reduced recoil load such as Fiocchi’s reduced recoil buckshot loading. Just the same, the shotgun kicks hard. The occasional shooter will not fire the shotgun enough to master the type, and all of us have busy lives. If you are willing to train hard and learn how to properly use the shotgun, it is a great defensive firearm. Just the same, the shotgun must be mastered and must be aimed as carefully as a rifle in the home. I have mastered the shotgun but feel the rifle is a better choice.


I have added a Lasermax laser sight to my personal Colt SOCOM. This is a viable unit, so light the weight is inconsequential, and it offers close range sighting options for my optics mounted rifle.

A modern black rifle is the ideal home defense firearm on most counts. The 5.56mm rifle is the easiest firearm to use well and to get quick hits with a close range. The rifle is far more accurate than the handgun or a slug loaded shotgun. All of the ammunition you will need in a defensive situation is in a single 20- or 30-round magazine. In the unlikely event you need more ammunition a speed load is easily executed by those that practice.

The same rifle may be used in 3Gun Competition, hunting, and personal defense. The rifle is challenging to master but not as difficult as the handgun or shotgun. Recoil simply isn’t an issue. With the proper hold and trigger press, good results will be had. The rifle handles quickly with a good natural point. Red Dot sights such as the Burris AFF3 offer brilliantly rapid hits. The LaserMax handguard mounted laser is another option for close range battle.

.223 Remington cartridge and spent bullet
.223 ammunition is both frangible and effective.

Once you have learned basic safety and manipulation you may develop good close-quarters battle skills. The real problem with the rifle is blast and concussion. It is advisable to keep a good pair of ear muffs with the rifle in case of home deployment. Most rifles have a flash suppressor but the blast is still quite an experience in close quarters.

The key to the rifle for personal defense is to practice quickly deploying the rifle, keeping the rifle in a rock-solid firing position, using cover efficiently, and firing accurately. When all is said and done, the rifle gives the homeowner in danger a means of surviving a violent encounter.

Home Defense Ammunition

Another advantage of the .223 Remington rifle is that the ammunition is less likely to penetrate interior walls than the common 9mm, .40, and .45 caliber pistol calibers. This has been proven in a number of empirical test programs. The .223 offers excellent wound ballistics and a high probability of stopping an attack with a minimum of shots, which is always the better outcome. The .223 bullet also breaks up on hard objects. The Colt illustrated will place 10 rounds of Fiocchi 55-grain JSP into one ragged hole at 25 yards—more than enough accuracy for personal defense. Fiocchi FMJ loads are available in 50-round boxes at a very attractive price.

What’s you go-to home defense gun and why? Share your two cents about the best home defense gun in the comment section.


About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (49)

  1. “… are difficult to control well for the occasional shooter…”

    You are assuming that rifle owners will be better shots due to more practice. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. Perhaps that person with only a handgun not only gets regular practice, but get serious practice and training.

    Another assumption being “…the CORE rifle is the best all-around defense weapon…” Only if one owns said rifle, or a similar product.

    You dance with the one you brought to the dance.

  2. Bob,
    You, Sir, are a gentleman and a scholar!
    I enjoy your stuff and that of Dave Dolbee.
    Obviously (I hope) some of my stuff was tongue in cheek. But, yes, I do like the 10mm and do not find the recoil to be that much of a problem. The last studies (I can’t say recent because they are not all that recent) from the FBI indicated that there was no “one shot stop” pistol, even including my beloved .45 ACP. At that point, I began to seriously consider the 10mm and since it is offered in several hi-cap configurations, I have switched to that from .45/40 S&W. I do not know if it is a one shot stop pistol, but at muzzle energies twice that of its little brother, the 9mm, it has to be more effective with a good solid hit. Yes, the 10mm bucks, but so what? It is not going to cripple me or do anything other than make certain I know I have shot the gun. So, it works for me and my family.
    My oldest son, who is now well north of 50, got me started on it. Who says you can’t learn from your kids! Of course, they have to grow up first and (to me) adulthood comes sometime after 35.

  3. Firing a soft point 22 caliber in my 22-25o I put a hole n a 3/8″ steel plate. That same gun would shoot thru a 1/2″ sheet of polycarbonate, often known as lexan or bullet-proof glass. I realize a 22-250 is significantly more powerful than a .223, but a friend of mine could easily penetrate a 1/4″ steel plate with his 222 Remington Magnum.
    I also have a 22 air rifle that will shoot a pellet thru a wall with 1/2″ drywall on each side of the wall.

  4. I love the AR, and having used an M4 as a scout in Iraq and Afghanistan for 22 months, I feel very comfortable with it.

    All things being equal however, I have to say the SIG MPX gives me that AR feel with the setup simplicity, good sized magazine to see any problem through, and ease of shooting a 9mm cartridge. 556 is great, but a 9mm carbine feels like a practice session as far as ease of use goes and a HP will do the job just fine. That’s my go to if I get to pick.

  5. Bob,
    Thank you for the information on the .223.
    I, for one, did not know much of what you said in the article or in the brief reply on its limited penetration in comparison to pistol calibers. Personally, I never considered the .223 to be much other than some high level Dept of Defense, ala McNamara, major screw up and rather a bad joke. Mighty Mouse pretending to be a major battle rifle caliber. Designed by Kennedy Admin bean counters to save money at the cost of U.S. lives in battle in a nasty jungle, when the enemy was armed with a legitimate battle rifle.
    I remember the Marines fighting to keep their M-14’s and when that was not possible, fighting to get a Thompson, or an M-1 carbine or just about anything else that might go bang when the trigger was pulled. Of course, in those days, the damn thing did not work and “Made by Mattel” was all too true. So, I wrote it off as hardly worth any consideration at all.
    Consequently, in my benign ignorance, I have largely ignored the .556 or .223 until about 4 months ago when I stumbled on a very cheap AR and thought “why the heck not?” But, it was still, to me, a .22 and fine for shooting rabbits or sage rats but hardly useful for anything else.
    Now I learn from someone with creds that it actually won’t penetrate as much as some lesser pistol cartridges. Not terribly surprised there but it maybe does add to its relevance for home defense — as long as the perp is right in front of you and not wearing heavy clothing that might turn or prevent penetration of a pistol round.
    If I ever decide to become a home invader — only on handicapped accessible residences — I may duck tape sheet rock to my chest and back to armor up in case I encounter a 223.
    But, your article sparked another thought. Maybe it does have some other use, possibly besides sending rats and rabbits to their just reward. Should I think about it? Maybe consider it seriously? Prior to your article, I saw no reason to even consider my relatively new AR as anything but a toy. After all, I still have my 10mm and my 12 gauge. Now, I might have to consider and maybe even learn something. I know a lot of people own one and seem to like it. But, a whole lot of people voted for Obama, too. I know I have no regard whatsoever for them or what they may think. Just because a lot of people think something, or like something, means little to me. But, when you cite credible evidence that substantiates your point, I have to consider it.
    Should I place more value on the .223 now? Perhaps. Actually, I am glad you wrote the article because it makes me seriously consider it has some possible use.

    1. Sir,
      Thanks for reading.
      the .223 Remington was developed from the .222 Rem, a varmint cartridge. Designed to vaporize pests and to break up rather than ricochet . The .223 is one better, so go figure. shoot those varmints!

  6. I like the article and would totally agree with it except for to things.
    1- Some people are simply more proficient with a shotgun.
    2- I’m a sentimental old fart and prefer the M-1 carbine over the AR
    platform…just me.
    Once again, Mr Campbell has provided u with some good info…thanks for that.

    1. Dan

      some folks are better with the shotgun and 12 gauge does not bother them. For others—- the AR will work

      The .30 carbine is a great gun if you own one. Better than any handgun of any caliber for personal defense.

  7. Bob Campbell LOVE the article as usual and in agreement as I to have limited love for a shotgun short of hunting or crowd control. Neither are part of my life any more thank goodness. Our taskforce used semi-auto rifles as the weapon of choice all the way back to when I was tasked to start it in 1979. Sure we all carry our side arms but would never breach a house without having a long gun slung around our necks. The issue of over-penetration commonly comes up and I can’t help but laugh because so many think that for some reason hand guns just miraculously go in do the damage and stop and never exit. Ask NYPD about that and see why they settled their multimillion dollar law suits decades ago and now only use hollow point ammo as a requirement and still pay suits every year for civilian casualties of LEO shooting incidents. The AR platform is by far less capable of withstanding excessive penetration then any hand gun but for one case that is illustrated above. That is possibly the issue of a travel trailer or RV. In that situation it is possible that the hand gun might win out since the rifle might not be able to be manipulated properly since space is SO limited that if in fact a shot were to accidently break lose from the rifle being whacked on manipulation surely it is leaving the confines of the vehicle. A handgun might be better to prevent such a wrongful discharge.
    I have a question along the line of shotguns though do you or anyone else have anything to explain to me about the new or relatively new “12 Ga min shell” I understand it is half the normal 3″ of a 12 Ga shell allows shotguns to have twice the number of actual shots has all but no recoil and or barrel lift and is easy to use at only 1.5″. Any input would be really well appreciated. I am sure that firing in a closed space like a house is absolutely assured of permanent hearing loss as is any shot gun shell release but better to be impaired then dead. I heard they are made by Aquinas or similar from Mexico.
    Thanks in advance Dr D

    1. Dr Dave
      Thanks for reading.
      As for the short shells they may be a neat trick, however, I would be wary of quality control. If recoil is light, well, so may be the effect on target. I think that Fiocchi, Federal or Winchester light recoil 12 gauge answers the need for a reduced recoil 12 gauge load. Patterns are excellent at moderate range.

    2. Bob
      Thank you always that is what I needed to know. I have never been a fan of shotguns personally I tore a right rotator cuff about 20 years ago and simply have never been willing to take the time off to get it surgically repaired so I need to be a bit cautious on what I fire. It is fine with the AR even in AR10 caliber but a shotgun “bit me” once about 15 years ago and I am scared to death to try one again. I read in NRA Rifleman last month about the mini’s and thought maybe I will pull one out of the safe and “try” it but your comments make more sense. How much less recoil is there with a “reduced recoil” round then a regular round? Also 3″ or 2.5″ or no difference? Then what size shot? Buck, Bird, 00, 000, slug? You direct me I will ferret them out and give it a whirl
      Dr D

  8. Some comments on here are completely incorrect. First, pistol ammo i.e. 9mm will penetrate through more walls then .223/5.56. Second don’t use ball ammo, fmj unless you live in NJ. Police use hollow points and so should you. If your concerned about how a possible judge or jury will look at the ammo used call your local police and find out what they use. And use the same.

    1. I have argued in the past and will continue to argue in the future but anyone who is not currently in prison in New Jersey really needs to leave New Jersey!

      Same thing for New York and California, what’s Illinois bringing up 3rd place 4 places never to live!

      Condemned souls in hell will receive flagons of ice water from the hands of demons before I will live in any of the states mentioned.

  9. I don’t get this logic at all. Out on our range, we use an old cored steel door as a target backer. AR rounds at close and moderate range fly through it as if it wasn’t even there. Two sheets of 1/2″ in. drywall will do no better I am sure unless a stud is encountered in an interior wall. I am more than a little hesitant to rely on that or this advice without really good documentation to back it up and I have seen none so far that corroborates my experience. In addition, waking up in a stupor from a sound sleep in a deployment situation is not the same as plinking on a range, at least for me. I keep a .45 Sig with two high cap mags on the night stand for convenient access but my first choice will always be the Mossy semi auto loaded with 00 buck nearby for several reasons. One is ease of deployment while stupid while another is the forgiving close quarters and short distance target acquisition it affords with good wound penetration and poor structural penetration beyond. The 45, while it also has these characteristics except forgiving acquisition and the really devastating terminal effectiveness of a shotgun at close range, is no match for the fear factor associated with facing a second round from a shotgun once a first has been deployed. Having been on the downrange end of one of these as a kid was an ample demonstration to me of this effect. For this reason alone I will go for the scatter gun every time if the situation and time allow.
    The only really safe deployment of an AR I can think of might be where the defender lives alone and no compressed gas is within a block. Even then, neighbors nearby may still be in danger and I would not wish to test that theory either. Just too risky.

  10. I still say a semi auto 12 gauge is the weapon of choice loaded with Buckshot. You can aim down the stairs or hallway. Just pull the trigger and anything in front of you is in the kill zone. Vepr-12 for the win.

  11. I suppose every person has a story to tell and you can make a case for using a slingshot as a home defense weapon I guess. They can be pretty mean and deadly and you won’t wake your neighbors either! Worked for that little shepard boy during a story in my favorite book. Certainly talking up a slingshot is not too far away from talking up an AR fro home defense…..In Afganistan maybe?

    1. mrpski
      Excellent comments. That sling was pretty effective.

      I also take this book at face value, lots of good information.

      For a less heralded report an arrow to the heel works pretty well for Demi Gods. d

  12. As the old saying goes “Dance with the one ya brung”! IMHO all this hype about “THE BEST HD WEAPON” is just filler for gun writers, use what you’re best with, be it a 22 single shot or a sawed off Barrett, What I do and it works for me is I keep several weapons around the house ( I live alone) I have a Glock 23 right by the Key board as I type, there’s a nice 40 next to the bed, it’s a Diawoo, nice gun and heavy enough to beat somebody to death, And a 12 ga and an AR in the closet and my newest fun gun a 9MM PSA AR, it runs great and is a lot of fun, no matter where I go I have something right to hand, so for me it’s not what I have it’s where it is. If I’m ever asked what I’m afraid of I’ll be able to say “Not a damn thing”

  13. Just an endless array of non-sensical articles by individuals who should know better. An AR15 rifle for home defense – really? Not even a carbine or a mid-length, but a rifle. Several reasons why any AR platform is a bad choice. Home defense means the bad guy is INSIDE your home, not in your 1/2 mile long driveway, or 35 acre backyard. Most hallways are 36 inch wide. Unless you got a SBR, another no-no for home defense, you will have tight quarters maneuvering in the hallway and thru doorways. Hey Mr AR15 rifle you do a lot of shooting from the hip at the range ? Didn’t think so. Typical AR ammo is FMJ or HP, former is a hard bullet and might go thru your target or you might miss and go thru a few walls into your neighbor kids bedroom. HP also a no-no for home defense. Here is a scenario. 2am, dogs barking, glass breaking etc etc. Lets say you see a large tall dark mass in your hallway, old lady on the phone with 911, kids under their beds. You fire 5 rds center mass, bad guy goes down. After the flash blindness passes and your ears stop ringing you are standing over this garbage and realize you shot him in the back. District attorney sees that AR – an ASSAULT WEAPON – being used for home defense. He see’s a 30 rd mag. Maybe Rambo junior got two mags clamped together. Like most newbies you got a cheap AR, and all kinds of Chinese crap hung off it – laser, light, illuminated optic, extended mag release, a B.A.D. bolt release. Or worse yet you got a SBR – a sawed off rifle – that is an ugly picture. His expert see you got a drop in trigger, maybe 3.5 pounds. All are things that go against you in a court room. Next he reads hollow point ammo in the coroners report – 5 rds in the back. Fleeing maybe? Was he a legit threat? This all makes you look like a cold blooded killing machine, instead of a dad trying to protect family and home. Maybe you get prosecuted, maybe not. But bad guy’s next of kin is looking at a pay day. Im telling you the jury in this potential” wrongful death” will not see your side. AR for home defense? Think again.

    12 ga shotgun too much kick? How about a 20 gauge? Maybe a slug gun? Semi or pump, don’t matter. Just keep it factory original. Home defense ammo even better.

    Best bet is a handgun, just like it came out of the factory. No chinese crap enhancements, lights, lasers, optics, and plain old ball ammo. No fancy 3 pound trigger jobs. If you got the budget, get home defense ammo.

    What ticks me off are all the so-called “experts” making money off the good folks just wanting to protect home and family. They take this “AR15 for home defense rifle” crap to heart because they don’t know any better. It is not their fault.

    Remember one thing – in court the sympathy goes to the dead perp, not his intended victim.

    1. Thank you for your superb Counterpoint!

      I prefer a pump shotgun because of its simplicity and longtime proven track record. I also happen to like number 6 and number 7 and even number 8 birdshot for Home Defense loads, because with virtually any choke that comes with the shotgun, be it improved, modified, full, or even extra full, at the roughly 10 to 20 feet between assailant and shooter, that bird shot is going to be the size of an adult human fist.

      The bird shot will not kill the neighbor’s kid in the next apartment, and no prosecutor in his right mind would attempt to convey to a jury, the bird shot was some sort of military purpose ammunition.

      Bird shot at a 20 foot or under range, in either a 12 gauge or 20 gauge shotgun, will not just get the initial job done, but if there are multiple assailants follow-up shots will be far superior because of the considerably less recoil; using 2.75″ shells instead of 3 inch shells, will provide Superior follow-up shots and will be further legal defense ammunition against prosecution.

      Thanks again for some great counterpoints in real-world terms.

  14. HOGWASH ! This article is an attempt to start controversy again!
    I’ll take my Taurus Judge or S&W Governor with any loads for inside DEFENSE use — not trying to kill the neighbors !
    Don’t know what a CAPTCHA value is !

    1. I agree with Bob M. If its 3:00am you are sleepy and think there is a burglar in the house an AR is a poor choice. Its dark and If you miss with this powerful round, you could shoot through the sheet rock wall, the outside wall and kill a neighbor in their own home down the street or even a mile away. A .38 or 9mm is much more suited for the home defense role. It is a lot less likely to exit your house and kill someone unintended.

    2. With all respect you are wrong.
      That is the advantage. Federal and large agency testing have proven conclusively that the 55 grain .223 loads penetrate less than the typical handgun caliber in building material. This isnt a .308 or .30-30 this is a .223! The .223 is less offensive in penetration in sheet rock and wall board and especially in perps than the .38, 9, and .45. The .40 penetrates way more than the other handguns and the .223 rifle. That is science and testing

  15. Encounters requiring self defense usually take place in a matter of a few feet. The AR15 with all of these attachments would be considered more of an offensive weapon. Most rational jurists and law enforcement personnel would have trouble seeing this weapon as configured solely for defense. These articles are part of the reason the public sees “assault weapon” when they look at the AR15.

  16. I suspect you’ve never shot game w/a 30 game with a 30 carbine using the Speer Plinker. The Speer Plinker may not have been designed for expansion, but simply because the front half of the bullet is pure lead, it will expand & expand well. There are some of us who’ve used it on game & were quite please with how well it expands.
    The LR 22 rimfire has a velocity only 60% of the 30 Carbine & it expands well on game. At 2000-2100 fps it’ll expand much better than a 22 LR simply because higher velocity contributes greatly to expansion.

  17. Bob,
    Good article.
    But, would your advice remain the same in confined spaces of a small house or apartment? We sold our big house and moved to a motor home where we spend most of our time. Our “new home” is small and cramped by most standards and maneuverability of a longer gun could be problematic.
    In the motor home, a 12 gauge with #1 buck is kept in the bedroom and there is one main aisle that could be swept from the bedroom.
    Around the house (our new home base), primary is a Glock 29 in 10mm with 180 grain half jacket hollow points (JHP). The Glock wears TruGlo night sights and has a green laxer on the rail.
    I put a Glock 20 barrel in the 29 from Lone Wolf and it is literally a drop in. Well over 1,000 rds and no malfunctions of any kind. Oh, I added a stainless steel full length guide rod and a 20 # recoil spring. I use both 29 ten round mags and 20 fifteen round mags. Again, several hundred rounds through the 20 mags and no malfunctions.
    It is no AR but is very handy and is approaching or exceeding 600 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle, roughly twice normal 9mm. Some muzzle flash but, I am old, slow and a deliberate shooter. I am counting on one hit ending the fight and not terribly worried about the need for a fast followup shot being needed — like the AR. I was never taught the “double tap” 55 years ago when first being trained in the military and still am not convinced that an adequate caliber needs more than one round.
    Speaking of Double Tap, that is my first choice for ammo. It is their recommended hunting load and if it will stop black bear, I think it would likely stop the local meth head.
    A number of people have spoken about speed versus accuracy, ranging from Wild Bill Hickok to Charles Askins. I subscribe to the philosophy “Fast is fine, but accuracy is final.” school of thought. I am too old to be fast but you really do not want me to get a shot off because it will go with intended. Besides, my Glock is never beyond arms reach — not ever.
    However, while rather old, I do not believe I am too old to learn. If someone disagrees and has the experience and creds to back it up, I am certainly willing to listen.

    1. Thanks for reading.

      Excellent points. You can handle your firearms well. For those needing less recoil the AR is a pretty neat trick.
      I hope I am not too old to learn, but some things I need to forget!
      As for black bears and meth heads an honest black bear is far better than a meth head. I think that they are the real life equivalent of a Zombie. Remember when they attack they are not high but strung out and willing to do anything to get the next fix– excellent points you have made
      Bob Campbell

  18. While I love my ARX, I’m frankly not keen using it (even with the 12″ barrel inserted) as an indoor home defense weapon

    Firing Mach 3 rounds inside my home seems unnecessarily high risk – my M9 has an integral laser sight, 20 round mags, and anti-personnel rounds and is a lot easier to maneuver in close quarters

    But to each their own

  19. 100 grain Speer Plinkers loaded for 30 carbine can easily attain over 2000 fps. Half jacketed bullet with a soft lead core & round nosed. Would expand very well for home defense & be less apt to penetrate as far as the .223. Easily as much power as the +P 357 revolver round. 30 round magazines. I can’t imagine it’d be much behind the AR-15 if at all. About the same length as the AR-15 & about 2-3 lbs lighter. Likely less muzzle flash at night also since it uses less powder. I’m completely comfortable relying on mine for home defense.

    1. Sir,

      With all respect, you would be better to use one of the factory 110 grain JHP or JSP bullets for the .30 carbine. Handloads are never a good idea for personal defense so matter how good a loader you are. The .30 Speer plinker isnt designed to expand but simply for plinking. Penetration would be as much as a FMJ in the home environment. The 55 grain JSP is much more frangible at 3200 fps. I do respect the .30 carbine. The generation of cops just before myself often kept a carbine handy and with the 110 grain Wincheter factory load it performed well. But this isnt a rifle in AR terriotory. It does handle brilliantly fast, however, and that is an advantage.

    2. Sir, I mean no disrespect, but if hand loads make better rounds and better accuracy, why do you say “Handloads are never a good idea for personal defense no matter how good a loader you are”. I have only been reloading for a couple years, so compared to your expertise, I would like to be educated as to why you feel this to be true. My 7mm Remington Mag rounds are better than any factory I have used( not used for self defense YET) But the .357 Sig loads I have done so far are awesome, especially the 115 grain Hornady hollow points with a mild powder load. Still velocity around 1350 ft/sec and mild recoil. Never once a misfire or any other problem since I got the bullet seated at the proper depth and the overall
      Cartridge length correct. As a newbie to loading, I had trouble getting my Glock to chamber the round and what is the term? Full battery?( locked to be fired) Thank you for a reply if you have the time. Knowledge is power, and I try to learn anything that I don’t understand fully.

    3. Sir,

      No handload may have the primer seal, case mouth seal and consistency lot to lot over thousands of rounds that a factory load will. Handloads may be controversial if used in a defense shooting. A clean shooting is difficult enough without muddy legal waters. Plus- the factory keeps on hand ‘examplar’ loads of each lot. The lot may contain many thousands of rounds in some calibers millions. This load may be fired in your gun to substantiate the distance at which the shot was fired by use of powder burns, etc. Handloads should not be used for personal defense.

    4. “When a hand load is used in an incident which becomes the subject of a civil or criminal trial, the duplication of that hand load poses a significant problem for both the plaintiff” or the prosecutor and the defendant. Once used, there is no way, with certainty, to determine the amount of powder or propellant used for that load. This becomes significant when forensic testing is used in an effort to duplicate the shot and the resulting evidence on the victim or target. Stippling or powder residue, and its amount, would relate to the distance between the barrel of the firearm and the victim or target. Lack of powder residue would reflect a distant shot as opposed to the presence of powder residue which would reflect or prove a close shot,” explains Attorney Lanza, who adds, “With the commercial load, one would be in a better position to argue the uniformity between the loads used for testing and the subject load.”

      When I asked Elizabeth Smith about the handload crippling Danny’s defense, she replied, “You’re certainly right about that. Gunshot residue was absolutely the focus of the first trial. The prosecution kept going back to the statement, ‘It couldn’t have happened the way he said it did.'”

      For several years, certain “Net Ninjas” have been spreading the false belief that no one has ever gotten in trouble in court from using handloads. Now you know better. The records of the N.J. v. Daniel N. Bias trials are archived at the Superior Court of New Jersey, Warren County, 313 Second Street, P.O. Box 900, Belvedere, NJ 97823. Those wishing to follow his appellate process can begin with the Atlantic Reporter at 142 NJ 572, 667 A.2d 190 (Table). The only reason handloads have not been a factor in more cases is that most people who go in harm’s way are already smart enough not to use them for defense.

      borrowed from my friend Capt M. Ayoob

    5. I agree, never use handloads for self defense. As far as criminal proceedings go Clarence Darrow said: “You can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich.”

    6. Thank you your reply. It really helps to understand the legalities of such things. In my opinion, the use of factory defensive rounds would be well worth it if it would save someone from a conviction of murder. So, that being said, I will gladly take your advice. Thanks again for the educational advice.

  20. In any case a defense and escape plan is needed and in a situation training and ANY firearm helps reduce the threat.

  21. I sometimes use an AR pistol, 10.5″ barrel, Sig arm brace (that I promise will never touch my shoulder) , a green laser, weapon light and most importantly , a suppressor.

    You do mention the use of hearing protection due to the extremely loud muzzle blast of the AR when shot indoors. My hearing is already damaged through years of shooting with no protection as a kid, so I’m acutely aware of the issue. If you use an AR for home protection, you almost have to use hearing protection – – and if you don’t have time to put it on? Getting a suppressor is the answer. The government doesn’t make it easy, and it’s not legally possible to do in some states like CA, though in most it is.

    The AR, with most ammo, will also have a good size muzzle flash. The suppressor takes care of that too, way better than a “flash hider”.

    Why the AR pistol? Because in the sometimes close confines of inside a building, the pistol makes much more sense when used with a suppressor. Most efficient suppressors take the AR pistol right back to the size of an AR carbine.

  22. I would think a shotgun, preferably a 20 gauge,for home use as it is manageable for almost all women and can be shot one handed easily for almost all men. My Ithica 2.75 inch chamber pump from my teenage years with a deer slayer slug barrel, makes it very short and feels like a “sawed off” compared to my Mossberg 835 Ulti Mag 3.5 inch chambered turkey gun that shoots # 4 lead shot.Both are at the ready, but would be fall back for defense. And the 7mm Remington Mag loaded with 175 grain ballistic tip hot handloads in my deer rifle would be last.
    So, for me, the .357 Sig in EDC Glock is my go to as I always have it( loaded with 147 grain Hornady hollow points- hot hand loads of course!) The AR15 stays in the truck for other needs until I acquire another for home use.

  23. My choice is one of my M3 Benelli with 8 light load 8’s. At close (house size) range it will make a big hole and not kill the kids in the other room. The other M3 is full of slugs if things are really bad. My first choices, 2nd is converted Glock 23 in 9mm with a can so I can keep hearing. We have tested many things but in a house I like bird shot..

  24. Great article, Bob.

    I love ARs. I have to say that my primary home defense gun is my Saiga 12 with a 12 round mag of 00 and a mounted light. It rests in a horizontal rack on the side of my bed (No children and no near neighbors).

    But I also keep my M&P with a good red dot and mounted light handy. I carried both AKs and M4s during my years doing contract security in Iraq, and the AR is my chosen rifle. The AR is fast to present with solid sustained firepower and accuracy.

    Sorry if this sounds like an advertisement for ARs, but having depended on one for a couple of years in Iraq (it was even a Colt my employer issued to us) and having had it never let me down . . . I am a believer.

  25. @ Bob,

    As I read through your article, every time I thought I had something to add I found you eventually brought it up in a subsequent paragraph – so I’d say you covered this topic well. I commend you for even attempting to dip your toe in a pool filled with such subjectivity, skill levels, personal preference and ever evolving technologies.

  26. I agree with the author of this article for all the reasons that he details and one more of my own. Home invasions by groups or “crews” of bad guys are all too common and are on the rise. If you hear your door getting kicked in during the middle of the night odds are good that you will be facing multiple assailants, all of whom may be armed. In such a scenario I would feel disadvantaged with anything other than an AR.

  27. Well I am well covered because I actually have all three handy in my home 24/7. Problem with ar15 and ak47 that I have at home is that with any fmj bullet at close range you have to be concerned where the bullet is going to go and I am sure that would also be the case with a hollow point.
    A lot of power for short distance shooting. I use magnum 2 buck and regular 3 buck for my shotguns and hollow points for my handguns. At close range they probably all will go right through someone but what the heck if its them or me and my family its a chance I have to take.

  28. This argument will never be settled. I agree with your arguments, but for myself I prefer a 12 Ga. or my Marlin .30-30 with light handloads. In my situation I don’t have to worry too much about over penetration.

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