I’ve been thinking about rifles again; in part prompted by the utter lack of centerfire rifles in my gun locker. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about this concept of a “Homeland Defense Rifle”, i.e. the first rifle you would grab to defend your country in the event of a total “Shit Hits the Fan” (SHTF) situation. Since I’m in the market for a rifle, and I don’t hunt; I figured it might as well be a Homeland Defense Rifle (HDR). Below, I’ll list out the capabilities I think this rifle should have, then I’ll go through various action types and list rifles that I think would fit the bill. Again, please bear in mind that this is entirely the subjective opinion of me. Your actual mileage may vary.
Caliber – You’d probably want your rifle to be chambered in a relatively common caliber, in the event that you’re reduced to scrounging for ammo. This doesn’t mean just military calibers either, as .270 Winchester (for example) can be found in practically every sporting goods store in the nation.
Capacity – My perfect HDR would have an ammo capacity of at least 10 rounds, and should be able to be reloaded via detachable magazines. I would make the exception that a rifle with a fixed magazine that can be rapidly recharged with stripper clips is just as acceptable in this regard.
Accuracy – Sub-MOA groups not required. Honestly, you need to be able to hit a man sized target in the upper body at 150 yards with the standard sights on the weapon every time. Most rifle engagements during WWII took place at 30 yards or less, so I might even be willing to shrink that 150 to 100 yards if pressed.
Sights – Rugged, fixed sights are preferable (for me at least). In the event of a very naughty situation, I distrust anything with batteries, glass, or moving parts, because these things can break; and if they do Murphy Hizzown-Bad-Self will ensure that your neato-torpedo EOHolotech-CQB-Ultimate-Xray scope breaks at the most inconvenient time possible. Like when you’re taking fire. Iron sights are really, really hard to break.
Size/Weight – Not too heavy? This depends on the strength and endurance of the poor bugger who is going to be lugging this thing around. If you’re strong enough to tote a Barrett .50 around, go right ahead. I’d go for something lighter, as I am of small stature.
Action type – I’m accepting all applications in this category. For the HDR, you may have a semi-automatic, a lever action (I went there), or a bolt action. I would probably rule out single shot rifles since they don’t allow for serious sustained fire. I would add the caveat that if you’ve got a single shot .223 and that’s it, than learn to use it well and to reload it in a hurry.
I’m flying by the seat of my pants here, so if you think of anything else, let me know. From here, I’ll break out the three main action types, and list a few rifles that I feel would be good contenders.
Ishapore 2A1 – Essentially, this is a Lee-Enfield rifle re-engineered for the higher pressure 7.62 NATO round, instead of the standard .303 British. These were new manufacture rifles made in India at the Ishapore Armory, hence the name. This would probably be my first choice for a HDR if I was going with a bolt action. Chambered for a powerful and common caliber, the magazine is detachable, the sights are excellent, and the Lee-Enfield models have a bolt that allows for very fast operation.
Spanish FR8 – This was a stopgap rifle issued to the Spanish military and police. The linked website gives a pretty good picture of the rifle, but essentially it’s a 7.62 NATO rifle on a Mauser action. I like that.
Ahab’s Dream rifle – A Bolt action .223 built on a Mauser action with an 18 inch barrel. Fixed magazine that can be charged with stripper clips or loaded with single rounds. Boy…that would sure be cool.
Honestly, I should just skip this section. Everyone knows that what I’m going to type. Volumes have been written on why the AK or the AR are The Best Rifles Ever, so I’m not going to enumerate the reasons below.
AK/Clones – Do I actually need to explain this one?
AR/Clones – See above.
SKS – …come on. It’s cheap, ugly, but it takes a licking and keeps on ticking. Plus, it can be had with detachable magazines or a fixed magazine if that strikes your fancy.
I probably left some onenulls pet rifle off this list, but for the sake of brevity, I’m listing the rifles I would take in the order I would take them.
I can hear you all now. “Lever actions? Are you crazy?” The answer is probably.
30-30 Rifles – I’d say you’re well armed with a .30-30 lever gun. Again, the round is very common, although not a military round it can be found at almost every sporting goods store in the universe.
I guess I revealed my bias towards fixed magazine rifles for guerrilla/survival type situations. Oh well, such is the life. I’m probably going to go buy a new rifle here in the next month or so. I really do need a good reason to stockpile centerfire rifle ammo. I’ve already got 2700 reasons for Nancy Pelosi to hate my house, I reckon I should probably give her at least 500 more.