If you watch the news and listen to politicians, they’ll gleefully tell you that you need “less” gun for defensive purposes; in fact, as we all know, the opposite is true. As the saying goes, if you’re in a fair fight with an attacker, then you need to reconsider your tactics.
If the AR-15 is “too much gun” for a home defense rifle, be sure not to tell this particular 61-year-old Summerfield, Florida man. One night in July 2019, four men, two of whom were armed with a pistol and shotgun, burst through the front and back doors of his home simultaneously to commit armed robbery. Using an AR-15 by his bedside, the homeowner fired back, hitting two of the home invaders. One criminal died at the scene and the other later at the hospital. Police quickly captured the remaining two. The homeowner was hospitalized for a gunshot wound he sustained in the attack.
So, yes, in the real world, there are some compelling reasons to consider America’s Rifle for home defense. Here are three.
Did I say “less penetration?” Why yes, I did. Compared to standard hollow point (or FMJ) pistol rounds or buckshot, the standard and inexpensive .223 caliber, 55-grain full-metal jacket AR-15 projectile will penetrate fewer barriers. The high speed combined with these relatively lightweight projectiles will cause yawing and fragmentation. While such a bullet will still penetrate several layers of drywall, it won’t go through as many as a 9 mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP or buckshot load typically will. To cut penetration even more, use a fragmenting varmint load like Hornady’s V-Max.
That adjustable stock on the back end isn’t to shorten and lengthen scariness. It’s to fit different-sized people or those who change clothing. While a police officer may shorten the stock when wearing a bullet-resistant vest, we civilians of varying size may change it if we need a shorter length of pull owing to our physical size. We might also shorten the stock when wearing heavy clothing in the colder months. Whatever the reason, you’ll shoot better when using a gun that fits.
Perhaps the most interesting consideration is that there’s no “standard” AR-15. As a platform with a variety of configurations and accessories, you can decide what you need for home defense and configure yours accordingly. Choose your barrel length, handguard types, grip styles, stock, trigger, bolt and virtually anything else. And we’re not even considering the vast array of compatible accessories like slings, lights, lasers, sights and optics.
There are a number of compelling reasons to consider an AR-15 for home defense. In fairness, there are some drawbacks to consider, especially when comparing the rifle to a handgun. Maneuverability is a factor as the AR-15 is longer and bulkier. You’ll also want to consider that rifles require two hands to operate. While most of us shoot handguns better two-handed, one will do in a pinch, thereby freeing up the other for a cell phone or light.