Realities of a Defensive Rifle

A common question we get regarding home defense is should the home owner use a rifle or a pistol. For about 90% of the population our advise seems counter intuitive; but hands down it is the pistol.

First off, the advantages of a rifle. There are several, but a few that are brought up for home defense situations center around increased lethality, increased capacity, anytime viewability (with a red dot sight) and increased accuracy. I would agree with all of these hands down. Most defensive rifle cartridges will have an increased lethality over defensive pistol cartridges. If all things are equal as far as shot placement is concerned, the balance definitely tips in the rifle’s favor. Even my 17+1 magazine capacity on my defensive pistol still comes up short compared to the standard 30 round magazine. I could add a +2 extension to my pistol magazine, but I could also jump up to a 40 round rifle magazine. Anytime viewability is achieved with both a modern red dot sight like the excellent Aimpoint Micro T1 red dot sight (RDS) in conjunction with a powerful white light such as the Surefire Mini Scout 300a light. Not all bumps in the night are lethal threats so a good white light is critical in your search mode then the ability to quickly and accurately engage a hostile threat with confidence provided from a well zeroed RDS.

So, why dog the rifle so much? Well, most people don’t put things into proper context. If you had no reason to pursue an unknown threat through your home and could strong-point in your master bedroom to wait for the police to arrive then a rifle will be the best option.

If on the other hand, you get up to investigate a disturbance the rifle adds some complexities most will have a hard time dealing with in the middle of the night. While the rifle has all the advantages listed above, it also has a few disadvantages to consider. It will be heavier, it requires two hands to employ accurately and effectively, it is more cumbersome in tight quarters and if you have to carry or herd small children or family it will be very difficult to do both.

This is where a good home defense pistol will come in handy. My recommendation is to select a model with the highest magazine capacity that comes standard. You can get caught up in the caliber wars, but 9mm is a huge advantage here. Do not rely on the extended capacity add-on’s commonly seen. Not that they are a bad idea, but measure off a standard capacity then consider add-on’s a bonus. Most modern day semi-automatic pistols come equipped with a utility rail that allows a powerful white light to be attached. It is one thing to attach the light to your pistol a whole other thing to employ it so practice is critical beforehand. Then lastly, highly visible night sights are the last piece of the puzzle. One thing that has certainly evened the playing field for the pistols is the employment of mini-red dot sights or MRDS. These sights give the end user the same benefits as their big brothers commonly found on rifles.

If you haven’t already conducted drills where you have to move through your home in order to secure a position to strong-point I highly recommend it. Follow all safety guidelines and practice with both a rifle and a pistol, then imagine having to herd family members or work doors or worse fight injured. Of course, the last thing would be to do it at night. Regardless of your final decision, seek out qualified training and practice.

5 thoughts on “Realities of a Defensive Rifle

  1. Pingback: Realities of a Defensive Rifle | Gun Free Zone

  2. TMOUL1 says:

    Great point on the training requirement needed before employing a weapon-mounted handgun light. It has been my experience that officers who purchase these lights often neglect the need to figure out the necessary techniques for safe employment beforehand. For example, the trigger finger should not be used to manipulate / activate the light’s power switch. Using this technique raises the potential for an unintended weapon discharge significantly. A second training point to remember is that weapon mounted lights are always oriented with the weapon’s muzzle. Wherever the light points the muzzle follows. Even when a sidearm-mounted light is used in, for example, a search, it is not always appropriate to point the firearm directly at the suspect. Using a weapon mounted light as a primary search tool ultimately provides both positive benefits and negative considerations that the user needs to be aware of before his/ her heart rate elevates in a real life encounter. If you’re in your home and the need to arm yourself defensively arises, do so immediately.
    If you’ve called the police, don’t be moving around your home searching for the suspect. Have a pre-planned location where you and your family will barricade until the cavalry arrives, and remain armed and ready until they have cleared to your location. Home invasions and hot prowl burglaries are an exceedingly rare event for regular citizens, but they do occur. Don’t expect the police to take care of you, or even be at the scene, for several minutes from the time you call.

  3. jcrist says:

    After reading this article installed one of my Surefire 300’s on my G17 in the bedside table. Any suggestions for a solid kydex holster for that setup? I’d like to start taking it to IDPA and the like in the new configuration

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