“Should I buy a handgun or a shotgun for home defense?” is a question I often get from friends. These people often overlook AR-type rifles. Regardless, I often recommend an AR. Here’s why.
AR-type rifles simply shoot more accurately than handguns. If you have any doubts, simply run a quick experiment at your local outdoor range. Talk to gun owners of varying skill levels—from complete novices to experts—and ask them to volunteer for a fun course of fire. Set three IDPA silhouette targets, or something similar, at 10 yards from the shooter and about 2 yards apart. Tell them to shoot each target with two rounds, center mass, as accurately and fast as they are able. Use a shot timer and have them run the course with an AR-15, a handgun and a shotgun. No matter your sample size, almost all people will shoot the course more effectively (combination of time and accuracy) with the AR-type rifle.
AR-type rifles can have a greater magazine capacity. Joe Biden and his gun-ban-supporting friends think they know exactly how many rounds of ammunition you will “need” if you are ever in a fight for your life. The truth is that no one knows this anymore confidently than they know how many gallons of water will be needed to douse the next house fire in the neighborhood. No survivor of a life-or-death fight has ever said, “I wish I had had less firepower!”
These rifles give superior terminal performance. Rifles of appropriate caliber are much better fight-stoppers than handguns, and rival the effectiveness of shotguns in this department. Lawful lethal force is deployed by citizens when a violent threat must be immediately stopped before the bad guy takes a life. Long guns are simply better than handguns at quickly incapacitating violent threats.
These rifles readily accept accoutrements. Almost all modern ARs come from the manufacturer equipped with handguards that allow the convenient attachment of accessories, like lights and lasers, that can be helpful—often essential—in self-defense scenarios. Lights, whether attached to a gun or not, are a must to positively identify a threat in low-light scenarios. Lasers can help with quick and easy target acquisition, and they can also be the reason an attacker turns and runs. Suppressors are also easy to attach to ARs, and they can make the difference for your hearing if you are ever forced to discharge a rifle inside a home.
Finally, for decades there was an assumption that firing rifles in homes would present unacceptable risks to innocent parties on the other side of internal walls due to “over-penetration” issues. This is the reason many law-enforcement organizations used pistol-caliber submachine guns like the HK MP5 when going into homes in high-risk situations. But this over-penetration argument was based on a flawed assumption. The FBI decided to put this assumption to the test, and study this matter. It found that 5.56 NATO self-defense ammunition posed no greater risk of over-penetration than rounds fired from pistols and shotguns. While the myth remains, good people should not be deterred by it. Be safe and always assume all bullets will pass through all walls.
If you have friends come to you asking about home defense options, make sure you do them the favor of having them consider an AR-style rifle. For many people, it’s a superior home-defense arm that should not be ignored.