By: Trevor Thrasher, Senior Instructor & COO
The AR-15 is a versatile, reliable, and highly effective firearm that is well suited for home defense. There are tradeoffs to any choice in weapon, but the AR-15 has many features that are ideal for actions inside the home.
5 Reasons Why AR-15 Rifles are Ideal for Home Defense
Regardless of what you may have heard or think, typical 5.56 rounds typically penetrate less than pistols. The light weight of the bullets causes them to fragment or disintegrate in hard materials. Keep in mind that this still means multiple walls before the rounds are stopped. When dealing with intruders in your home, try to make contact with them in “engagement areas” that provide a good backstop.
Many home invasions involve three or more individuals who are often armed. Thirty rounds in a typical AR-15 style magazine may sound like a lot, but if you actually have to fight three different people, you will be glad you have the extra ammunition. A 10-round or even 15+ round pistol magazine could have you coming up short and needing to reload. As with any firearm, for a lot of reasons we always suggest carrying at least one extra magazine regardless of how many rounds the magazine holds.
This is a fancy way to say “knockdown power.” A 5.56 cartridge will have significantly more energy than a typical pistol round. Less rounds needed to stop an attacker = less time the attacker can continue to try to harm you and less rounds that could go astray and hit something else.
We all know that a rifle is going to be more accurate than a pistol, but in this case consider “point-ability.” Any carbine or rifle will give you more points of contact with your body (stock weld, cheek weld) and the leverage of having a longer firearm will dramatically reduce the effects of the almost universally seen poor trigger press on a pistol in a real life or death situation. Almost anyone will hit better with a little training and a long gun.
Compact and Versatile
The AR-15 rifle is favored by some for home defense due to its lightweight, compact design, making it manageable in the confined spaces of a home. Its ergonomic features, such as pistol grips and adjustable stocks, enhance comfort and control. The rifle’s modularity allows for extensive customization to suit individual needs, including options for different barrels, grips, and sighting systems. It is compatible with various accessories like tactical lights and optical sights, further enhancing its utility in home defense scenarios.
A shorter barrel length, typically around 16 inches, is often preferred as it strikes a balance between accuracy and ease of handling within the limited space of a home. This size makes the rifle more agile in close quarters, allowing for swift movement and easier cornering.
The downsides of an AR-15 for home defense mostly consist of a reduction in maneuverability and the need for some enhanced storage method. As far as maneuverability is concerned, our typical recommendation is not to wander around your home looking for an intruder. Ideally, you will either defend your “safe room,” or position yourself overlooking an engagement area without the need to start clearing rooms.
For storage, there really are nearly an unlimited number of options. Storing a rifle-size firearm will cost a little more, and you may have to get a little more creative, but if trouble comes to your door, you will be thankful you have it. Additionally, always consider a rapidly available handgun safe, get it first, and work your way to your rifle.
One last note, with any long gun, a good weapon-mounted light with easy activation is a must have. I will cover the “need to haves” and “neat to haves” in a follow-up post.