Why semi-automatic rifles are a good choice for home defense

I’ve pulled this information from my recent post. I made the information shorter and easier for everyone to digest. Please read and share via Facebook or the social media method of your choice.

A firearm can be an appropriate part of a complete home-defense plan, but it should not be the only plan. One must have 24 hour watch guard services on their speed-dial in case the fire alarm systems fail. Motion activated exterior lights, locking your doors and windows, an alarm system, and a barking dog (if appropriate) are important. Your plan should include where you will go and where your family members will go if someone 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 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.
  7. Ammunition is (normally) readily available and (normally) priced within reason. Present time excluded.
  8. You can buy high-capacity magazines for many semi-automatic rifles. 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.

Posted in ,

Steve McGough

Steve's a part-time conservative blogger. Steve grew up in Connecticut and has lived in Washington, D.C. and the Bahamas. He resides in Connecticut, where he’s comfortable six months of the year.


  1. JBS on January 11, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    Absolutely sage advice.
    It is a dereliction of duty and a serious breech of responsibility not to defend one’s family. In a burglary, home invasion, or similar situation, criminals have targeted you and your family, your home and your possessions, for theft and violence.
    Very often, intruders work in pairs or teams. Threat management and prudent security plans require a defender to be versatile. A semi-automatic rifle or carbine, such as an AR-15,? is the best tool to counter multiple assailants. Effective management of the intrusion is essential; the homeowner has to control the situation.
    Countering criminals, especially home intruders, with good intentions is stupid.
    I cannot emphasize enough how important hearing protection is. If you have to fire a gun in a closed space, you simply have to. However, planning ahead for hearing protection along with electronic amplification and suppression of sound is prudent. A pair of electronic shooting ear muffs is inexpensive. A firearm discharged in the average house or apartment will damage your hearing forever.

    • Steve McGough on January 11, 2013 at 1:34 pm

      I “hear” you about the hearing protection but if – God forbid – I need to shoot, losing my hearing would not be a top concern. That said, I’d prefer easy access to a supressor for use within the confines of a building … but that means $200 in federal fees, long waits, local restrictions and other expenses.


      A?suppressor/silencer in no way is a substitute for good hearing protection and they don’t even come close to making the discharge “silent.” That said, is it interesting the government restricts access to something that can help you keep your hearing.

  2. Dimsdale on January 12, 2013 at 9:43 am

    As partial as I am to my Mossberg shotgun, you make an excellent case for the purchase of a rifle, after the current surge in sales by ignorant utterances by liberals dies down, of course.
    As a side note, breakins in my heavily armed town are unheard of.

  3. sammyspade on January 13, 2013 at 12:10 am

    You know what makes good home defense?
    Motion activated exterior lights +
    Interior alarm system +
    Cell phone +
    My dog +
    Exterior door in the interior of the house to make a safe room +
    (3) 3 shot Taser X3’s paired with combat machetes (kukri’s) hidden in locations around the house
    Make my day. ?Very effective weaponry within a few seconds reach from anywhere in the house, with no risk of accidental shooting, suicide, or other risks of having a gun. ?No registration, background checks, government database either. ?
    With your shotgun or AR-15 approach, where do you keep it? ?Where’s the ammo? ?How longs it take you to get to your gun, get it out, load it, and be ready to shoot? ?Have you tried? ?And does that mean it’s equally accessible to your 15 year old boy that just got dumped by his GF?

    • Lynn on January 13, 2013 at 8:15 am

      I agree with most, but combat machetes? Are you kidding?

    • JBS on January 13, 2013 at 8:49 am

      Is this what video games teach? Ninja, “Hi-yo, wanna chop, (grunt)?”
      With that 15-year-old boy’s raging libido, you really should consider not having a gun.
      Guns are not the universal solution; Though, never bring only a knife to a gunfight.
      “Ill take the AR with 30-rounds, Alex.”

    • Steve McGough on January 13, 2013 at 9:47 am

      I’m sorry, did I suggest you had to do what I said? As I clearly noted in my post, every house and every situation is different. Do what works for you, I’ll do what works for me. I’m fine with your plan and would not criticize it. You bring up a valid point about storage and availability of firearms, but there are plenty of ways to have a loaded shotgun, rifle or pistol easily accessible by those who need quick access to it, and restrict access to others.


      I know law enforcement who use the AR platform for home defense, and yes, their sons and daughters have access to the weapons. This young man protected himself and his sister using an AR.


      Your set up may work well for you, but if one or more intruders come into my home with a?lethal?weapon, a one-shot, less-than-lethal self defense approach does not work for me.


      Sidenote: To carry a taser – or similar – outside the home is a felony in Connecticut unless you go through a background check and get permission to do so from local authorities.

    • Dimsdale on January 13, 2013 at 12:49 pm

      It really comes down to choice (and effectiveness), which the government is continually trying to confiscate from us.

    • gillie28 on January 14, 2013 at 9:22 am

      combat machetes….lol, watch your thumbs and toesies!

    • twrexx on January 16, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      about ten seconds from hearing the sound. And no, no one else can get to them.

  4. JBS on January 13, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    One of the things passed over is that having a firearm does not make you omnipotent. The person behind the firearm has to know the weapon, field(s) of fire and have practiced with it.
    I don’t know anyone who wants to shoot anyone. I sure don’t. But, I do practice with my firearms on a regular basis and enjoy the sport of target shooting. (It’s very Zen-like.)
    Can you even practice with a Taser? How does that work?
    There are thousands of people who have protected life and property with a firearm. When confronted with a criminal intent on inflicting harm, good intentions aren’t going to do much.

  5. sammyspade on January 13, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    This young man protected himself and his sister?using an AR.

    I really hate it when people use an anecdote to justify a policy, as you can find an anecdote for any position. ?There are people who have fared *worse* because they had a seatbelt on, but to advocate against?seat belts?and use that as an example would be lunacy.

    I agree with most, but combat machetes? Are you kidding?

    I’m as willing to hack and stab as shoot. ?If you doubt the effectiveness of a machete, you should look into why the 1911 was developed.
    I simply find that most people who say, “I bought a gun so I can defend my family” have bought nothing but a very dangerous false sense of security. ?They haven’t even begun to put any kind of comprehensive security in place, they haven’t drilled getting to their gun, they haven’t addressed the risk of accidental shooting or suicide or theft while maintaining quick…

    • Lynn on January 14, 2013 at 3:25 pm

      Sammyspade, freedom of choice for me. I will admit I am ignorant of machetes, it seemed to me, that to use them you would need to be close to the assailant. however, if you are comfortable with it, than that is the important thing. I agree with you that you must know how to use your weapon of choice, or ?you will not be able to protect yourself or your family.

    • Dimsdale on January 15, 2013 at 10:50 am

      I think the gun vs. sword question has been addressed, oddly enough, by Hollyweird: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DzcOCyHDqc

  6. Aaron0084 on January 14, 2013 at 11:35 am

    I would argue that the BEST firearm for home defense would be the shortest legal pump action shotgun you can get your hands on.? The sound of the Mossburg chambering a round is known to everyone and will stop most intruders in their tracks.? But the most important home defense weapon is a proper mindset and a prepared plan of action.? With out those two things, your home defense weapon of choise is more likely to get you and your family killed then to be used effectivly against an intruder.? A firearm?can be?PART of a home defense plan, but it is not a plan with-in itself.? My question to you is this: is your big screen tv worth killing somebody over?? I myself? don’t own any property that I would kill to protect.? My family is a different matter all together.? Take what you want from the house, we will be in this room while you do it.? If you try to enter this room, then it’s game on.

    • Steve McGough on January 14, 2013 at 7:01 pm

      Ahh… the infamous “chak-chak” speech.

  7. sammyspade on January 14, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Aaron – totally agree. ?Get the family into one room (preferably the master bedroom). ?Be ready to fire on the door should it be breached. ?Call the cops and wait until you know they’ve arrived. ?I’m not going to have my kids grow up without a father because I had to go Rambo and try to defend the TV.

  8. PatRiot on January 14, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Excellent advise Steve.? A very well rounded first line of defense plan.??With every right comes a responsiblility and this is ver y responsible.??
    Mmost people depend on what should be their back up – their police department.? While I like my P.D.? I still have a responsibility:??A prudent person asks “If I am lucky enough to call 911, ? what do I need to do while I wait?”

  9. Aaron0084 on January 14, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    Just a note on the infamous and misunderstood Taser Electronic Defense weapons mentioned above and in other posts.? As a cop, I carry an issued Taser on my thigh while on duty.? On my departments use of force continuum as with many others it’s use is very low, actually below “hands on” tactics.? The truth is that a suspect is less likely to be injured? from the Taser than from physical hands on tactics.? BUT… even though it looks like? gun it is NOT appropriate for use in a deadly force situation.? Police will use a Taser? in such situations ONLY if there is deadly force cover from a second officer AND there is time.? In the 8 or so years my department has had the Taser as a force option, I have actually fired the weapon at a suspect three times and had good probe placement all three times. ? The device failed to control the suspect all three times and I had to transition to another force option.? Having seen how effective Tasers can be when used appropriately, I still see the value in carrying one.? But, I’m not going to bet my life on the thing.? If it’s a deadly force situation, then the only option is the Sig 229 in the holster opposite the Taser or better still if I have the time to retrieve it, the Stag 15 (an…

  10. Aaron0084 on January 14, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    And the room you choose as a last defense? should be the one that keeps the family out of line with any hallway or outside room where an intruder might be able to fire through a door or wall. A master bedroom might not be best.? If you have small children, it is easier and faster for you to move to their room then for you to move them to yours.? Just make sure you have a phone and an open line to 911.

  11. Aaron0084 on January 14, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    The only situation I can think of where I would leave my position of cover and seek out an intruder is if I though they were setting the house on fire with us in it.

  12. Aaron0084 on January 14, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    One more thing about the Tasers available for personal defense; they are only effective against a single assailant IF AND ONLY IF you have a viable retreat option.? My issued Taser incapacitates for 5 seconds which is enough time for me and my back up to gain control and effect an arrest.? If it’s not, I just hit you with it again if you are non-compliant.? The home defense version incapacitates for 30 seconds, the idea being that you drop he thing and get out of dodge while he is down.? What happens if he doesn’t go down, there is more than one assailant, or you have no place to go.? As I said above, a Taser is NOT appropriate in a deadly force situation.

    • Steve McGough on January 17, 2013 at 7:36 am

      Thanks for your comments Aaron0084

  13. Anne-EH on January 15, 2013 at 9:03 am

    Sadly, we have become a “house divided” again.

  14. Anne-EH on January 15, 2013 at 9:06 am

    As I had said in another thread, it is the “blue states” which are pushing for “gun control” bigtime. You do not hear any of it from the “red states.” This I predict WILL only serve to divide this country all the more.

    • Dimsdale on January 16, 2013 at 10:52 am

      Oddly enough, it is the liberal infested blue states that seem to need gun control.
      I bet gun crimes would drop precipitously if ?bama supporters were prohibited from owning guns…? 😉

    • JBS on January 21, 2013 at 3:11 pm

      Enacting gun restriction schemes results in safer working conditions for criminals.


The website's content and articles were migrated to a new framework in October 2023. You may see [shortcodes in brackets] that do not make any sense. Please ignore that stuff. We may fix it at some point, but we do not have the time now.

You'll also note comments migrated over may have misplaced question marks and missing spaces. All comments were migrated, but trackbacks may not show.

The site is not broken.