There’s no question that the expert consensus on rifles for home defense is that they’re good to go. In the AR15 platform, a rifle offers a considerable amount of firepower, easy handling in tight quarters, and good shootability. Most members of the family over age 12 can quite likely handle a carbine and get good hits with it. However, if you do choose a rifle for home defense, here are some things you should remember.
Get a sling
A rifle without a sling is like a carry gun without a holster. In the event that you do need to use your hands for something while running a carbine, a sling means you don’t have to put the rifle on the deck, or somewhere out of your control. Let it hang (with control) and then take care of whatever needs taking care of.
Get a white light
If someone ever tells you that white lights will give away your position in a home defense scenario, you don’t need to listen to anything else they’re going to say after that. One of the drawbacks of a rifle means that you can’t hold a flashlight in your weak hand like you could with a pistol, so you definitely need a white light. But remember, whatever your white light gets pointed at, you’re also now pointing the muzzle of your gun at it. Learn your house and how to bounce the light off surfaces to provide illumination for searching and ID without muzzling things.
Rifles are high pressure and very loud
Cooking off an un-suppressed rifle indoors without hearing protection will absolutely cause hearing damage. The shorter the rifle, the louder it’s going to be. The best option to mitigate this issue is a suppressor, but that’s not necessarily realistic for most shooters. The next best option is to keep a set of electronic earpro next to your rack. However, if you have kids around whom you may need to fire the rifle? That presents a problem, because their ears are even more sensitive. At that point, going with a lower pressure/noise option like a shotgun may make sense.
Know what your ammo does after penetrating sheetrock
There are countless studies, some good and some bad on how rifle bullets behave after passing through common interior wallboard material. Generally speaking, overpenetration isn’t an issue with .223, as many commercially available rounds fragment/destabilize after penetrating wallboard. But, you should know what your round is going to do.
Figure out how you’re going to stage the rifle, and practice from that condition
There are quite a few options for how to stage an HD gun. Probably the most common is the rifle version of the ancient “cruiser ready” status. Fully loaded magazine inserted, no round in the chamber, safety off. You could also stage it in Condition 1, fully loaded and safety on, or even loaded mag, empty chamber, and safety on, so long as you rack the bolt on an empty chamber first. Whatever ready position you set your carbine in, make sure when you’re at the range practicing with it, you practice getting it in action from that condition.
Rifles are great tools for home defense. They might not be the perfect fit for everyone and every circumstance, but they’re an incredibly versatile and easy to employ platform. I’m sure there are plenty of other things to remember about using a rifle for HD, but hopefully this list will get you started.