When I was growing up I had the mindset that an AR-15 would be a horrible choice as a home defense weapon. I thought that the .223/5.56 rounds would shoot through the bad guy, through the wall, through the next wall and even leave the home to possibly injure or kill someone outside.
Now that I have gotten older, more tactically trained and slightly wiser, I realize that this is not the case at all.
The home defense weapon for my father in the home I grew up in was a trusty 870 Remington loaded with #4 Buckshot. The weapon was bone stock, but always loaded and ready to go. But, is a shotgun the overall choice for home defense?
In my opinion an AR-15 style weapon is by far the most desirable for home defense. Here’s why.
Ammunition Capacity- YES, you are going to miss. A LOT. Your adrenaline dump will be massive and your heart will be beating so loud it will wake the neighbors. Law enforcement miss over 70% of the time they pull the trigger. Most of these officers shoot 10x the rounds that your typical home owner does. The fact that you can have 30 rounds in your magazine ready to go, means a great deal to me. When you are awoke from a deep sleep is not the time to fumble around to put a handful of shotgun shells in your pocket or underwear. Most shotguns will only hold 5 or 6 shells.
Light & Compact- Your typical AR platform stock weapon loaded with a 30 round magazine weighs approx. 8-9lbs or so. This not a lot of weight for a home defense weapon. It is also very compact and usually comes with a collapsible stock. I always keep mine fully collapsed. If you have had any building clearing training, the shorter, the better. When you are clearing corners in your home a shorter weapon is a must have. A shotgun is typically going to be much longer than just about any AR-15 fully collapsed.
Light Recoil- Let’s face it, you are not going to pick up your shotgun and go run through 6 rounds of 3” magnum #4 buckshot just to go plinking. While we all love to run through hundreds of rounds of .223/5.56 rounds because it doesn’t kick us like a mule. When you are shooting at a threat in your home, less recoil equals faster target acquisition and that results in more follow up rounds on target.
Accurate- Just about every AR platform rifle ever assembled will be more than accurate enough as a home defense weapon. Keep in mind you won’t be taking 100 yard shots. Your mindset should be in the 0-15 yard range. Very few homes I can think of have a clear shot of more than 45 feet. Don’t worry about driving tacks and striking matches. This is when you want to put rounds into the threat until it is no longer a threat.
AR Setup- As a primary home defense weapon, my AR set up is drastically different than any other AR I own. I utilize the following- SigSauer 516 patrol, 30 round magpul magazine, 30 rounds of Hornady GMX, T handle and a Streamlight Flashlight/Laser combo. I do not use any type of sights or scope on this weapon. Now, before you tune me out. Listen to the method of my madness. When things go bump in the night, I don’t want to have to turn on a sight or scope, take off lens caps or anything like that. Plus remember murphy- now is when those batteries will go out, or scope mounts are loose. I like that I have a light/laser combo that will illuminate a target as well as give me a point of aim while I am still halfway asleep. If you talk to a SWAT operator or policeman that have been involved in a close quarters firefight, they will tell you they never even looked at their sights. It is more read and react style shooting.
Now, I am certainly not saying that you can’t defend your home with a shotgun or a pistol. I know lots of people that do. An AR-15 is my weapon system of choice for home defense, and may not be yours. There are many other moving parts to this equation such as where to stage your weapon, how you need to practice and the list goes on.
Please read a previous blog I wrote regarding the law and self-defense in your home.