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SKILLS: Too Much Gun For Home Defense?

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Should you consider an AR-platform firearm for home defense, or are there better choices, and why? READ MORE

ar15 home defense
If you find yourself facing a deadly threat in your home, make sure you have enough gun and that you know how to use it.

SOURCE: Springfield-Armory Armory Life, Tom McHale

According to the media, no one could possibly need something like a “weapon of war” as a home defense firearm. Then again, it was television and movie people who came up with that whole idea of shooting the gun out of the bad guy’s hand.

If you’re reading this, you already know that an AR does not differ from any other type of firearm. It has different pros and cons and is suitable for some jobs more than others. In my view, one area where it shines is in the role of home defense firearm. More specifically, it’s the AR pistol that presents an option worthy of serious consideration.

ar15 home defense

Before we get into specifics, we ought to invest a hot second talking about why an AR makes a good home defense option. Contrary to popular assumption, a standard .223/5.56mm projectile isn’t a penetration beast. In fact, a standard 55-grain FMJ bullet will penetrate fewer walls or pieces of furniture than most any pistol round. The combination of a small and light projectile and high velocity creates a ballistic sweet spot where bullets quickly begin to fragment and tumble. But be prepared; it will be loud.

With that said, let’s consider a few AR pistol attributes that support a home defense role for it.

Ease of Use
The most important factor is ease of use, and I’m not talking about the controls. Of course, any gun requires training to use effectively in a high-stress situation, and an AR-type arguably has more controls to understand and master than a smaller handgun. I’m talking about ease of hitting a target while under stress.

However, longer guns in general are far more forgiving to fire than small handguns thanks to their weight and sight radius. A slight offset from perfect sight alignment just doesn’t matter that much when shooting a longer gun at defensive distances. A slight sight misalignment with a smaller handgun can cause a complete miss and it happens all the time. Note the shockingly low percentage of hits versus shots fired in police shooting statistics. It’s not because they’re all bad shooters. It’s a result of trying to master handgun technique under extreme stress.

A heavier gun, like an AR pistol, is also easier to shoot accurately thanks to its weight to trigger force ratio. A handgun with a 5.5-pound trigger that weighs 2 pounds wants to move during an aggressive, adrenaline-induced trigger press. Thanks to inertia, a 6-pound AR pistol with a 5.5-pound trigger will move a lot less under identical circumstances.

Size and Balance
An AR rifle makes a great home defense weapon. The only real downside is its weight, length and challenge of operating with one hand. The AR pistol, on the other hand, brings the same benefits to a smaller and more maneuverable package. As an example, the Springfield Armory SAINT Edge rifle is 35.75? long fully extended and 32.5? with the stock collapsed. The SAINT Edge Pistol shown here can operate with an overall length of just 24.6? with wrist brace collapsed and 28.5? opened up. Those are just numbers, and they don’t sound like much, but the handling difference in the real world is significant.

Capacity
With standard capacity of 30 rounds, that’s a lot more than even a large handgun like the XD-M OSP. No one who ever survived a self-defense encounter ever complained about having rounds left over in the magazine, right?

ar15 home defense
No one has ever complained about having too much ammo, and a 30-round magazine like this can be very comforting when you need it.

Authority
I hate terms like “stopping” or “knockdown” power. They’re terribly misleading and lead to a false sense of security. However, according to both math and street science, most any rifle round puts the performance of most any pistol round to shame in violent encounters. If your life depends on stopping one or more aggressors quickly, a rifle caliber round improves your odds of success dramatically. Yes, projectiles fired from an AR pistol do leave the muzzle at a lower velocity than those fired from full-length rifles, but if we’re comparing an AR pistol to a handgun-caliber pistol, there’s still a significant energy difference.

ar15 home defense
Short and handy yet powerful, an AR pistol can be a very capable home defender.

Accessories
We have all sorts of reliable options for lights and lasers on traditional handguns, so an AR pistol doesn’t technically bring any additional capability to the table there. What it does offer is more flexibility in terms of how they’re mounted and used. Most, like the SAINT Edge pistol shown here, have rails or attachment mounting points all along the 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions.

Additionally, an AR pistol is perfect for optics use. With an “always on” red dot, you’ve got a great sighting option for any light conditions. Dark, daylight, or anywhere in between.

ar15 home defense
Firearms like the SAINT Edge Pistol make mounting accessories like this Streamlight TLR-1 in a variety of locations quite easy.

The Bottom Line
Don’t write off the AR, especially an AR pistol, as nonviable for home defense simply because of the hearsay that gets passed along at gun store counters. They can be a great choice for this role, and offer you a lot of advantages.

Learn more about the Saint HERE

Tom McHale is a perpetual student of all things gun and shooting related. He’s particularly passionate about self and home defense and the rights of all to protect themselves and their loved ones. As part of his ongoing learning, Tom has completed dozens of training programs and is a certified National Rifle Association instructor for pistol and shotgun. Tom is a professional writer by trade these days and has published seven books on guns, shooting, reloading, concealed carry, and holsters. In between book projects, Tom has published somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,700 articles for about a dozen gun and shooting publications. If he’s not writing, you can probably find him on the range.

Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory.

 

Why You Should Have An AR-15 For Home Defense

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Choosing a home-defense firearm is a very important, and very personal, decision. Here’s a few ideas on another to add to your list. READ MORE

ar15 home defense

Team Springfield

Good news is, a relatively small percentage of people will experience a home invasion during their lifetime.

Bad news is, unless you possess the ability to see into the future, you won’t know if you are one of them until it happens.

If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably already had that realization and have decided to equip yourself for home defense. #BePrepared

Many law abiding gun owners will advocate hard for using a pistol vs. a rifle for home defense. We suggest going to the range yourself and putting the two to the test. Once you’ve put in some trigger time and are familiar with the operations of both weapons, your home defense pistol and an AR-15 rifle, put yourself on a timer and keep score. You might just surprise yourself at how well you perform with the AR.

Having said that, here are a few reasons you should consider selecting an AR-15 to defend your legacy.

EASE OF USE
The primary benefit of the AR-15 platform lies in its intuitiveness and comfortable ergonomics. The position of the fire controls and its overall light weight make the AR easy to operate, and that’s an important factor, especially under pressure.

As with any firearm though, familiarity and continuous training are mandatory. Those who have spent a lot of time with the M16, like so many of our military veterans, will most likely find use of the AR-15 seamless, but first-time rifle owners will obviously need to invest time in training at the range.

EASE OF ACCESS
The biggest challenge to having a firearm for home defense is ease of access. If you need to defend yourself quickly, accessibility is obviously pertinent!

An AR can be just as easily accessible in a home defense situation as another type of firearm. It can be stored in many of the same locations as a shotgun or even a pistol. The sheer size of an AR-15 rifle may also make it easier to grab when things go bump in the middle of the night.

But it’s also mandatory to be diligent with security. It’s common sense and common knowledge, but all firearms must be stored in a secure location, so that non-authorized users cannot gain access.

So, if that means you must unlock your AR-15 at night so you have quick access to it, and then lock it back up in the morning (after you’ve put on your EDC gun), then that is what you must do — every day and every night. #GoodHabits

CAPACITY OPTIONS
Many self-defense shootings involve only a few fired shots, but if you can gain extra capacity with your home defense weapon, you may as well have it. While many double-stack pistol magazines can hold 15 to 18 rounds, a standard AR-15 magazine capacity is 30 (although not legal in some states).

Another, often over-looked, option is the 20-round AR-15 magazine. It makes the rifle just a tad lighter, and you may really like how much more maneuverable it becomes.

SIGHT ACQUISITION
Another great aspect of using an AR-15 for home defense is its ability to be customized with attachments. Putting on a red dot optic will make “finding” your sights far easier in a high-pressure, low-light situation. Again, training is paramount. Those of us who have firearms with optics know that initially, that little red dot may not show up in the center of the scope as quickly as we would like it to.

Mounting a flashlight or laser sight onto the handguard can also be beneficial, though there are pros and cons to these illuminating options. All of the SAINT™ models have either Keymod, or M-Lok rails, so attaching a light or laser can be done quickly and easily.

PENETRATION
A common knock against the AR-15 for home defense is that the 5.56×45 NATO chambering will over-penetrate. This statement is somewhat controversial.

All ammunition, whether for pistols, shotguns, or rifles, is developed for different uses / purposes. With the plethora of 5.56 and .223 ammunition on the market today, you have many options. Most of the lighter weight rounds, and many “varmint” hunting rounds, are designed to break apart when hitting a hard object. There are several other cartridges designed specifically for personal / home defense, such as Hornandy Critical Defense, Black Hills TSX, Federal Vital-Shok, and Winchester PDX-1 Defender.

Take a look around YouTube too. You can search for penetration tests where 9MM, 40S&W, 45ACP pistols and 5.56mm and .223 rifles penetrate a variety of materials such as wood or cinder block.

Do your research, and choose the option that fits your needs within your fortress.

And always make sure your home defense firearm is zeroed with your ammunition of choice.

In the end, regardless of what gun you choose for home defense, if and when the time comes to take a shot, you must always be aware of what’s behind your target and what’s in the line of sight between you and the target.

Check out some great choices HERE