Have you ever wondered if you should use an AR-15 for home defense? I bet you’ve heard someone say it’s overkill or will go through all your walls and kill the neighbors.
The AR-15 is great for home defense. It can carry enough ammo to engage multiple intruders, is easy to use, and is inexpensive enough that almost anyone can afford one.
Keep reading to see why the AR-15 makes a great home defense weapon.
The AR-15 for Home Defense
You can use an AR-15 for home defense. Some people complain about the length of the AR-15 when you’re moving through a home; they also say that it can’t be used with just one hand, which is true.
You shouldn’t be trying to clear your house if you think there’s an intruder. This makes the length a non-issue, not that it is one, since you can collapse the buttstock down, making it relatively short.
Let’s look at some of the reasons that an AR-15 makes sense for home defense.
Why it Makes Sense to Use an AR-15 for Home Defense
- The 5.56 mm or .223 round penetrates about as much or less than common pistol calibers.
- The AR-15 is easier to shoot under stress than a pistol. With a pistol, the shooter has less control over the weapon. With a rifle, the shooter has more control over the weapon.
- Similar to number 2, an AR-15 is easier to be accurate with.
- The big one for me is the fact that an AR-15 is easier to shoot faster than a pistol. This is especially true up close!
- Another big reason to go for an AR-15 over a pistol is the higher magazine capacity.
- An AR-15 will defeat soft body armor, while more pistol rounds will not. Plenty of “novelty” rounds out there move fast enough to defeat soft armor, but they don’t do as much damage to the person under the armor as a 5.56 or .223 round does.
Overall the AR-15 will penetrate walls the same or less than a pistol, defeat body armor when a pistol will not, is easier to shoot, faster to shoot, and has more ammo.
It’s honestly hard to beat an AR-15 for home defense.
If you prefer the AK platform, then an AK-74 is another good choice. The ballistics are very close to the AR-15 (by design), so everything above still applies.
Just make sure you don’t use any of the .30 caliber rifles. Any .308 or 7.62mm (AK-47) is going to over-penetrate! Only use these if they’re your only option or you live out in the middle of nowhere.
Even then, you’ll need to be especially sure that there is nothing behind your target that you may accidentally hit.
The Downsides of Using a Home Defense AR 15
They are VERY loud indoors. In the few situations when I’ve had to fire an M-4 indoors, they left my head ringing afterward.
That’s really about it…I’ll take an AR-15 over a shotgun or pistol for home defense any day.
What Accessories do You Need?
Accessories on AR-15s can be a debate that goes on and on, which isn’t the focus of this article. I’m going to cover what I consider to be the minimum you need for a home defense rifle.
First, good light is a must. I like the Surefire M300C. It has a simple on/off switch that you can actuate with your thumb and is bright.
It’s also a Surefire, and I’ve had nothing but good luck with them over the past 17 years or so.
The next thing is iron sights. I normally have a fixed front sight and a pop-up rear sight. The rear sight can be anything that attaches firmly and holds zero.
I like built-to-last gear, so I normally choose a Troy Industries Folding Battle Sight.
That’s it. All you NEED to have is iron sights and a light. Anything else is extra.
I like to put a red dot on all my rifles that will be used for up-close work. I’ve always used Aimpoints, but now I usually put Trijicon MROs on most of my rifles.
The Trijicon MRO is now one of my favorite optics. It’s inexpensive compared to other quality optics, and the glass is so clear it puts the Aimpoint to shame.
You can get a decent red dot for around $200, but my experience with them has been hit or miss. I’ve used some that were great, and I’ve had some that would turn off after two rounds. Make sure that whatever you choose functions well before you trust it with your life.
You could also add a sling on your rifle, but I don’t for home defense rifles.
The last part of the equation is ammo. Honestly, you can use anything, and you’ll be effective. It doesn’t have to be expensive to do what it needs to do, especially at close range.
I like 77-grain bullets because they’re more effective against soft targets than other types of 5.56 rounds. If you’re interested in finding similar rounds, you can google 77-grain open tip match or 77-gr OTM. At close range, you don’t need the accuracy they’re known for; you’re looking for their ballistics against soft targets.
Does an AR-15 Have Recoil?
AR-15s have recoil, but it’s minor. Most people will feel less recoil when using an AR-15 than with a pistol and definitely less recoil when you’re firing a shotgun.
The rifle’s weight helps to counter the recoil of the 5.56/.223 round that the AR-15 fires, and holding it with two hands and having your should there to help brace it reduces the recoil you feel even more. Once you’re used to the recoil of the AR-15, it’s really easy to get quick follow-up shots that could be needed if multiple people broke into your home.
There are a lot of people out there that don’t believe an AR-15 should be used as a home defense weapon. They’re worried about overpenetration and who knows what else. If you’re still worried about these things, I urge you to seek out the FBI tests that prove that an AR-15 is perfectly suited as a home defense rifle.