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Gun Considerations For Home Defense, And Why I Choose My AR-15

Okay, so I don't just choose my AR-15, I have multiple things that I've incorporated into my home defense strategy that I've put into play beforehand. My AR-15 is my preferred gun for home defense if it's within reach. I'll explain why in a bit. But first:

The guns people use for home defense is a hotly debated topic that is filled with opinions on what the best gun for home defense actually is. To be honest, I usually have the opinion that the gun you've got access to is the best gun for the job. That being said, there is a hierarchy in my home, and yes I have more guns than the average person does.

At least, I think I do. I actually lost count a while back. Still, let's take a look at a few of these considerations, and ultimately, land on my go-to home defense weapon at the end of this article and why I chose it, starting with my least favorite home defense gun:

Home Defense Handgun:

This is ConcealedCarry.com, not Shotgun World. So, it should come as no surprise that, as the editor of this fine publication, I own a handgun. Or two …

… or three. Or …

Anyway, handguns are a way of life for all of us here at Concealed Carry, and I may or may not have handguns in various places throughout my house that are easy for an adult to get to if needed. And, a handgun sits in my bedside safe with a few spares, loaded.

Handguns do have some limitations, however. For example, capacity can be limited (when compared to other guns on this list). Even a Glock 17 with standard capacity mags can be less than you might need if there is more than one bad guy in your house and you find yourself in a shootout.

Of course, you can get extended capacity magazines for your home defense handgun, but when you do that it can cause a different set of setbacks that people don't think about. It may seem small, but the gun is quite a bit heavier when loaded up with almost twice as much ammo.

While great for recoil, it can cause you to tire quicker because you're holding more weight, potentially extended out away from your body as your flight or fight response begins to pull the oxygen rich blood away from your extremities. Not a deal breaker, but something to think about before the heat of the moment.

Another thing people don't think about as much, is that it is technically easier to shoot a long gun well, than it is to shoot a handgun well. I'm not going to get into the mechanics of this here, because it's outside the scope of this article, but it is true for most people (though certainly not everyone).

For me, handguns still play a role in my home defense strategy but if I could choose between my handgun or a rifle, I'd choose a rifle. And if I didn't have a choice I'd take the handgun over nothing.

Home Defense Shotgun:

The shotgun is the go-to gun for many, many gun owners who take their home defense seriously. Heck, I've even written an article for a different publication on why I thought it was the best home defense gun. I've since changed my mind, and, sadly, cannot change that article.

Moving on …

There are some myths concerning this style gun for home defense that many people may not have thought about. We've covered these myths more in depth in a different article, so I won't go back into it too far here.

The myths, just in case you need to know them, are this:

  • You don't need to aim
  • You don't need to keep it loaded because ku-chuck is all a baddie needs to hear

Again, those are myths not truths. If you disagree with either of those, please go read the above linked article.

If you're good to go, the next thing we need to discuss is the type of shot you're going to use. We read a lot of different comments and posts about what type of shot is best for home defense and while I won't tell you what is right or wrong, I'll tell you what I use.

Suffice it to say that there are pluses and minuses to either buck or bird shot and that debate goes outside the scope of this increasingly long article. Personally, my Mossberg 500 is loaded with 00 Buck and the reason why is because it's a last ditch attempt at bad guy stopping.

What this means, at least for me in my isolate and defend strategy, is that our scatter gun is occupying my wife's hands and is ready to take over should I be taken out (I'm likely not going and looking for trouble. It'll have to come find me, and I'll have a defensive position setup that is utterly devastating the way my house is laid out).

The 12 gauge filled with buck shot will likely dislocate her arthritic shoulder, but if she had to choose between that or protecting our children she's willing to do what she has to.

Why buck shot? Because bird shot loses momentum much faster and the hallway we use as a choke point is very long. Can bird shot be devastating? Of course it can, especially depending on the distance you find yourself away from a bad guy. But for us, we've made the decision that it's not enough given the length of our hallway.

Ultimately, regardless of what happens to me, I want my wife and kids to stay alive.

Many shotguns, like my old, trusty Mossy 500 also have capacity problems and don't even hold as much ammo as a modern day pistol. Still, it plays a role in my strategy.

Pistol Caliber Carbine:

Yeah, I love my PCCs.

Pistol caliber carbines catch a lot of hate from some gun folks, and I'm not entirely sure why. In the right hands, a PCC can be devastating. I've got one that takes 32 round Colt Sticks in AK platform that I've got thousands of rounds through without a single malfunction.

When I'm working, and I tend to work my day job at Concealed Carry, and then do a lot of my own stuff (so I work between 12-16 hours each day), it's within reach with 4 loaded mags also within reach.

Why is this the one right within reach? Let's think about this for a moment:

  • Low recoil means faster follow up shots
  • Low-cost, readily available ammo (when not in a crisis like COVID-19)
  • Longer barrel means slightly increased performance over handgun
  • Longer sight radius means better accuracy

There are other things unique to this particular gun that make it fantastic for use in home defense situations, but that should suffice.

AR-15:

I love my AR-15 pattern boom sticks. To me, this is the best home-defense gun out there. They're the most accurate, offer the best performance, allow quick follow up shots, and the list goes on.

I consider any AR pistol with at least a 10.5 inch barrel up to a rifle with an 18″ barrel as a solid option for home defense with the .223 round. Are they loud? Yes. But, to me, the ability to stop bad guys in their tracks with the capacity they have is outstanding.

And, oddly enough, most of the guys saying they're too loud will then go on to recommend a 12 gauge shotgun instead, as if they're somehow quieter. In reality, both fall within the 155 – 160 db range (getting louder, to a degree, with each inch shaved off the barrel for either gun).

So, whoever is in the house at that point is going to get damaged hearing, regardless.

What about over penetration of this particular round? Honestly, I'm not any more concerned about the .223 than I am the 9mm or buck shot.

There is a lot going on here, but gun safety rules always play into real life situations. Knowing your target and what's beyond/around it is key no matter what kind of gun you're shooting at a bad guy. Why? Because they ALL have the capability of penetrating through people, walls, and then more people.

Yes, even a .22lr has been shown to penetrate through a few walls.

I actually worry less about over penetration of round when shooting .223 than other calibers.

While contrary to what you may think or have been taught, it's been shown over and again that .223 and 9mm will penetrate walls about the same, even though the .223 is moving a lot faster. But, because the .223 has a higher probability of stopping the attack sooner, less rounds need to be fired limiting the number of misses you may have.

Conclusion:

You can probably tell that I've given my home defense strategy a lot of thought. I urge you to do the same if you haven't already. And, if you need help in this regard, we offer a home defense course that is fantastic and goes even further into the weapons and strategies spoken about in this article.

You can find the course here.

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11 Responses to Gun Considerations For Home Defense, And Why I Choose My AR-15

  1. frankjbonazza3 April 6, 2020 at 7:24 pm #

    Well spoken Joshua. I come from the same school of thought as you. My AR is my preferred home defense gun, followed by any one of my various pistols. I always have 5+ fully loaded magazines for the AR, and my nightstand pistol also has at least 2 full magazines at the ready… Stay safe friends….

  2. Archangel April 8, 2020 at 12:58 pm #

    300 BLK AR-based PDW, subsonic hollow point ammo, suppressor, holo and laser sights – it’s much quieter and easier to maneuver in the house than a shotgun 🙂

    • yogi April 8, 2020 at 1:26 pm #

      Archangel, similar to my set up except no suppressor (I live in the DPRK of California, thanks Democrats.)

    • BobbyB April 8, 2020 at 2:27 pm #

      Agreed. Mine is a carbine using 220 grain. Bedside I have a CZ 75D 14+1 loaded with a frangible 9mm.

  3. Tom Courville April 8, 2020 at 1:40 pm #

    I carried a Remington 12 Ga, and a Colt 1911 in .45 ACP in Viet Nam, and I am most comfortable with the shotguns ability. The .45 is great for the first shot, but too slow for follow-up shots. I believe the 9mm gives more accurate shots on target.

  4. Robert Jean April 8, 2020 at 2:00 pm #

    While I don’t disagree that an AR15 could be a stellar home defense gun I would have to caution that it will depend a lot on what set up you have. My AR, a Wilson Combat Super Sniper has a 21” fluted barrel as a long range gun should have and an AR specific Leupold scope. First, 21” might be just outside of ideal home defense length. Second, my scope has a darn narrow eye relief band. I would be afraid I would grab the AR and then stall for a couple of critical moments to get into the eye relief zone. And should I miss the zone I’d begin waving a 21” barrel at the perp hoping I can zone in unaided. Having said that, my go to weapons are my 1911 45’s. Especially the double stacks. A good reliable gun firing a decent load and giving me 14 opportunities to neutralize the threat.

  5. MULEY48 April 8, 2020 at 2:43 pm #

    VERY GOOD RJ!!
    I am also a VIETNAM COMBAT VETERAN!!
    ARMY. 101ST ABN SGT GRUNT!!
    I will go with my mossy maverick 12guage!!
    And I also favor my 1911 .45!!!
    Then my 9MM!!!
    Then my great bushmaster AR15. 5.56!!
    Lots of extra mags!!!
    ????????????????????

  6. Harley April 8, 2020 at 3:37 pm #

    Well said, I keep a Beretta P X 4 compact in a 40cal with a light and laser next to the bed and a Benelli M1 12gauge with the first two rounds being slugs and the rest 00 buck and if I have to go outside to reach out and touch someone my AR with a 3X magnifier and Red dot a da light are always at the ready.

  7. John April 8, 2020 at 5:16 pm #

    I repect the opinion of my fellow commentators, I fell you don’t need to much
    Firepower unless you going to have abreaking or home invasion by more than
    Three person or more, if feel with a good pistol like 92A1 berretta or a 500 flex
    Moss shotgun would do the job, remember with talking about a powerful AR
    That have a powerful bullet .223 or 5.56 can go thru wall or person. I believe
    In the 2A.

  8. william hopkins April 8, 2020 at 5:34 pm #

    . . . the very best defensive weapon you can have, IS ONE YOU CAN GET TO, ARE VERY FAMILIAR WITH, AND ONE YOU CAN HIT WITH, other than that it’s a virtual pissing match. . .I prefer my 10MM handgun along with my SBR .308 (AR10) but my shorty mag fed 12 Gauge will work too.

  9. Bob Kalda April 10, 2020 at 1:09 am #

    I agree with the writer’s analogy. If I unfortunately ever have a break in I will be in a defensive posture I will have no need to go looking for trouble but those uninvited will best advised to not enter my defensive funel. Our primary or secondary alarm will awaken us well in advance. My primary defensive weapon is also an AR. A 300 Blk, 10.5″ with dot & laser/light. Loaded with Lehigh Defense 78gr CQB rounds (2 30 round mags) with 2 more ready mags of 110 gr Hornadys. Then a 10mm & 20 gauge 870 with #1 Buck that is the wife’s primary and her 9mm. This with 2 cell phones and a panic button to the wireless alarm company.

    The 78 CQB rounds group 1 inch at 50 yards and will not exit a 160 pound Whitetail at 20 feet. The deer dropped in it’s tracks and I would expect an intruder would fair near the same but would have to endure at least one if not two hits. For the 300 Blk I wouldn’t use anything else.

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