Why a semi-automatic rifle a good choice for home defense

Originally posted in January of 2013, Jim Vicevich asked me to repost this today. Minor edits have been made. Please read and share this post via social media.

A firearm can be an appropriate part of a complete home-defense plan, but it should not be the only plan. Motion activated exterior lights, properly trimmed bushes near windows and doors, locking doors and windows, an alarm system, and a barking dog (if appropriate) are important. All of those passive defensive measures are designed to deter criminals, and give you time to react and prepare.

Your plan should include where you will go and where your family members will go if someone attempts to or successfully breaks in. Call for help and take a defensive approach where you – and your firearm if you have one – are between the intruder or intruders and your family. This may be difficult in some home designs, but you need to figure it out. I personally do not think you should “clear” your house if you have, or strongly suspect, an intruder. Many law enforcement officers I know will not clear their home by themselves.

Why a semi-automatic rifle a good choice for home defense.

Here is a list of valid reasons, in no particular order.

  1. You can buy an AR-15 rifle and mount a light, red dot sight and/or a laser to the rifle to make it easier to used and aim during the day or night.
  2. They have a reasonable recoil, making the gun – for many users – easier to shoot as compared to a defense-caliber shotgun or pistol.
  3. They can be customized to “fit” a variety of body types and shooting styles. They can be configured and adjusted for different shooting distances (less than 5 yards to more than 200 yards).
  4. The .223/5.56 self-defense round is appropriate for use within a home, even in an urban environment. Ballistic experts have found rounds from these calibers “dump energy” quickly and break apart or begin to tumble after penetrating the first barrier. Will rifle rounds go through walls? You bet. Will pistol calibers like 9mm, .40 and .45 go through walls? You bet. Will shotgun rounds go through walls? You bet. That said, there is significant evidence the .223/5.56 self-defense rounds penetrate no more than, and often less than traditional handgun calibers and many shotgun rounds.
  5. A rifle is much more capable of stopping a threat as compared to a pistol.
  6. Semi-automatic rifles are more accurate than a pistol or shotgun. (Edited to add: It is much easier for less experienced shooters to be more accurate with an AR platform rifle as compared to a pistol or shotgun. Even more so if multiple rounds need to be fired.)
  7. Ammunition is (normally) readily available and (normally) priced within reason.
  8. In a self-defense situation, you want to avoid manipulating the firearm at all except for pulling the trigger straight back. Law enforcement and civilians do not favor high-capacity magazines so they can shoot more rounds, they favor them so they can manipulate their gun less. If reloading is needed, it is possible but let’s be completely honest, in many self defense situations, ten rounds may not be enough.

For a more detailed review, check out this post.