If not a RIFLE, why not?

A separate thread EDC for home defense had some very interesting comments that got me thinking. I think this would be an interesting discussion.

If you are not using a rifle/carbine for home defense:

  • What is stopping you?
  • What would help to get you to use a rifle/carbine for Home Defense?
  • If not a rifle/carbine, what then and why?

I work, mostly, from home. So I carry at home. My outdoors EDC, is my at-home EDC during the day. However, at night I have an AR Pistol (12.5" barrel) setup and ready, and my EDC holstered and ready. Both are easily accessible from my side of the bed.

My EDC handgun is my backup at night. IMO the AR is a far superior platform for home defense. Teaching my wife and kids to use the AR was easier and they were more accurate faster with it. The AR is fast, stable, powerful, and easier to use than a handgun. Having the AR Pistol makes it very easy to maneuver indoors. I have a light on the AR. The light can illuminate an area without directly pointing the gun at a target. Outside the home I carry a light. I don’t particularly like a light on my handgun, though I’m practicing with it to see if it’s something I might do in the future.

So let’s discuss, why are you not using a “rifle/carbine” for home defense?


For me, I practice more with my 1911 than any other firearm. So my question to the community do you know all the distances between your hallway to the bedrooms? Or the front door to the rest of the house? I have measured and mapped out my home. I practice those distances not only at the range but at home with laser cartage in my 1911.Plus low light training- For me i know my 1911 is an extension of me.

I am not good with my A15 with these two drills-
Support hand-only drawing and acquiring a target and mag reload
Clearing a malfunction with only support hand


In chronological order:

  1. Pistol as primary HD, because it was the only firearm I owned
  2. Pistol as primary HD, because it was the only centerfire firearm I had any experience with, ran drills, established a baseline of proficiency
  3. Shotgun as primary HD, because it was affordable, I became familiar with it, and I learned how significant the difference in effectiveness is between a pistol and a rifle/shotgun (with fairly similar danger through interior walls)
  4. AR style .223 as primary HD, because I now have a good one, that I am trained and practiced with, and I have learned that this type firearm is objectively superior for stopping a threat or threats as quickly as possible while presenting a similar danger through walls when compared to a pistol or most buckshot (although I also have multiple quick safe accessible pistols in the home, as well as a shotgun)

(side note, a tidied up two point sling makes it even better than a pistol for when you need to do other things with hands if moving through the home such as to a child’s room, etc, and you need to do a non gun thing, a pistol OR rifle can be held in one hand, while a rifle in a sling can be held in 0 hands, without having to put a belt for a holster on first and without having to put the gun down, I like VCAS with the elastic thingy to keep it short and close to the rifle for storage OR use but just grab and pull the sling and it comes out of the elastic so you can put it ‘on’)


Pistol is primary for me for a variety of reasons. Primary being that in a home invasion situation I need to go grab my son and bring him to a safe area which will be easier if I have one hand free. But I can still fire accurately with the pistol while dragging him if needed. But there are several other reasons.

I live in a very low crime rural town. Once every few years a lone criminal attempts to break into one of the unoccupied second homes and usually gets caught by observant neighbors calling the sheriff. At least under current conditions we are incredibly unlikely to be attacked by mobs or gangs of individuals. Though I do have an extended magazine in my pistol with 25 rounds ready to go and loaded spares of various sizes in our safe area in case the incredibly unlikely happens.

All the bumps in the night are my wife or son. I can almost always tell by the way they move that it is them. But if I do need to check I would rather do it inconspicuously by swinging a flashlight in my off hand with my pistol at my side and easily shifted behind my back. Also having a free hand lets me more easily open doors and switch on lights.

A pistol let’s me operate from a more compressed and also more quickly deployable position when entering rooms or going around corners and is faster to swing around in tight hallways.

My safe area has a funnel that would force criminals to turn and approach me at a fairly short range down a narrow hall. I am confident I and my wife can make effective hits from cover here.

Rifles (especially the most effective for home defense SBR and braced pistols) are even more ear shatteringly loud than a pistol. Though a PCC would be less loud.

I would need to purchase a much larger and more noticeable quick access safe for a rifle. And would also want to purchase a very expensive suppressor if a rifle became my primary HD weapon.

If things were to get more socially unstable and urban issues started to spill out to our rural area I would consider a change in plan and also stage a rifle or PCC in our safe area. There was an incident a decade ago where 3 violent convicts escaped from a transport van on the highway about 10 miles away and my rifle came out of the safe until they were apprehended. But I mostly consider rifles as a tool for either hunting or when I might need to engage threats beyond the walls of our home.


I would like to not so subtly propose that this sentence gives us insight into how you perceive a rifle’s effectiveness vs a pistol, and which one you would rather have in your hands if it really comes down to it. :wink:


I was mostly thinking that I would deploy it from my window if I saw 3 guys in prison garb walking down my long driveway.

If I had the spare funds I would likely stage a rifle or PCC in a quick access safe in our safe area and another in a quick access safe by the front door. Though neither of those would make my wife very happy as she rightly feels that our threat level here is very low. But for the most likely bump in the night scenarios where we live and the practice I have done for them, I feel more affective gathering and bringing my family to the safe area with a pistol in hand. I am confident enough that even with my currently somewhat degraded pistol skills that I can make anyone’s unwelcome visit to our safe area a very unpleasant one.


Familiarity and proficiency with the chosen or available firearm does indeed remain the #1 factor


I definitely could benefit from more rifle training and practice. Though I am pretty certain that regardless of my level of rifle training I would still be more capable maneuvering through our home with its narrow hallways and many tight turns with a pistol. Especially while dragging my half awake son to our safe zone.

I suspect some of my reasoning has at least something in common with why the tunnel rats in Vietnam often left their rifles behind.

Most importantly since 99.99% of the time I will be confirming the bump in the night is a family member and not a home invader. I would rather do that by swinging a flashlight around in my off hand then by bouncing my rifle light off the floor or ceiling.


On that, do you have a home alarm? In my experience, having a home alarm, with sensors on all doors and windows, that is set every night (the apps can remind you at a set time of your choosing daily if it is not armed yet as a safety yet) can pretty well eliminate that 99.99% and all related risks entirely. I make sure the alarm is set and then if one of the dogs, kids, wife, cats, bumps in the night, I don’t have to take a gun to check it out (if I check it out at all) when the alarm is still active and nothing has been tripped.

(I’m sure it’s possible I could find myself in a TV show or movie and somebody uses chewing gum wrapper to fool my alarm after cutting a hole in the glass like a cartoon jewel thief or something, but, really, not a concern for me practically, I consider that when perimeter sensors show clear nobody has entered)

A dog or two also seems to satisfy this requirement of “Bump in the night? But no alarm/dog sounding off, it’s one of the family members or I’d hear something else” kind of deal. That way there’s no walking around the dark house at night loaded gun in hand unnecessarily.

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My wife and son cannot/will not properly deal with setting the alarm and not accidentally triggering it when we are home. I have to rely on the locked security doors and locked windows. Getting them to deal with those was a hard enough argument since the majority of our neighbors don’t even lock their doors at night. Which does have the advantage of providing far easier targets then our home for the incredibly rare criminal who finds there way into our town.

So I have to sleep a little lighter than I’d like. Our neighbors dogs on either side will bark when anything comes in our yard. Which is always an elk or a deer. Unless the criminal is a skilled lock picker willing to go through four sets of locks while we are home and assumes we don’t have our alarm turned on they are going to have to make some noise to get in and I’ll already be on alert thanks to the dogs. But I do have to occasionally check the house for unidentifiable noises. Pretty much always my son sleep walking or my wife who suffers from periods of insomnia.


Nobody else in my house will deal with setting an alarm at night either. I always do it. But between me and the app reminder, it gets done. One time of another person opening a door without disarming first at night and the screeching surprise noise startles them enough they remember not do be opening the doors in the middle of the night. :wink: Might be worth just setting the alarm yourself at night when the doors get locked down…might even make identifying the insomoniac family member as the bump in the night easier because they’ll yell/curse about the *&#@ alarm and you’ll know right away that’s all it is :rofl:


Unfortunately the insomniac is often the last one to bed. One of her cures for insomnia is going into the garden at night to hunt for slugs and other garden pests. My work has me on a much earlier schedule.

Not to mention if our neighbors heard our home alarm go off they would all wonder what sort of valuables I am keeping that I need an alarm for. Most of them have far more stuff to loose than I do but have far less security outside of what they keep in their gun safes. Which is one of the reasons I think crime is low here. The few criminals who might even realize this place exists likely realize that everyone out here is armed and strangers driving around looking for targets stand out like neon signs.

A neighbor who moved in recently who is a former LEO said he asked the local sheriffs deputy about crime in our town and was told he didn’t need to bother locking his doors. I personally think that is irresponsible and riskier than necessary but I suspect most of my neighbors would consider me paranoid for the limited security measures I take. But having my stuff stollen on two occasions and having thwarted at least two definite car jacking/robbery attempts I don’t think my concerns are unfounded even if all but one of those events took place in far sketchier areas than here.

Still I need to find an agreeable balance to keep everyone happy. I also suspect the odds would be pretty close to a draw between the chances of someone hacking into a security camera to determine if and when our house was worth targeting and having the incredibly rare criminal driving through our neighborhood actual decide our house was a worthwhile target given all the other much nicer and less defended choices out here.


Thanks for the input @Buddha-In-The-Sun . Do you think that some more practice with those “weaknesses” with the AR platform would make you consider an AR for home defense? Or do you feel that your “comfort” level with the 1911 is enough and the AR would not ever replace the handgun?


My conclusion, after addressing this question with as much research and personal testing as I could manage, was that the best answer was not either / or, but both. To keep this short, I will first mention that I did not find any option that did not have some drawbacks, but I did find a set of practices that neatly fell in line with several of the axioms that real world experience has made so repeatable.

The end result of the merits I will list further below is as follows:

My EDC gets promoted to All Day Carry and is worn at home as well. like my pants and pocket knife, If I’m dressed it’s there, handheld flashlight as well. Then a quick access locked up AR is staged out of sight, appropriately equipped with suitable light, sight, sling, and spare mag.

If I have sufficient time and warning to get to the long gun, great, but if not, my EDC and light are on me if things happen so fast that it’s all I can hope to get too.

Training and, personally trying out, the purported benefits of the AR platform for home defense, were what caused me to make the change. I will not attempt to outline all the training and research items that I felt supported this conclusion, but I can quickly list the notable axioms it falls in line with.

  • Better the gun you have on you, than the one you left… (wherever it is that you are not)
  • Your handgun is only there to get you to your long gun.
  • Two is one, and one is none.
  • The best gun is the one you can hit your target with.
    and a final one I adopted after some training from the uscca
  • You don’t want to be illuminating unidentified people with a loaded flashlight!

An EDC that’s on me at home with a companion hand held flashlight, and a staged AR properly equipped allow me to cover the most bases in the best way I have found thus far. The AR is staged by the safe room we would naturally retreat too.

If I could only have one, it would be the EDC, because better the gun you have than the one you don’t.


Yes I do and it is monitored. Plus I have hardened all of the entryways to my home. Plus 2 K-9 quality level dogs and one yappy one that alerts at everything that crossed into our yard.

But I would use my AR-15 in 300 Blackout with EDC as back up. As it is the best tool for a nighttime “bump” recon.


My choices were different but I think your choice is excellent because you thought it out, you know what your doing, and why your doing it. The final best answer will never be the same for everyone in every situation. Very often, it really is the case, that the right answer is the answer that’s right for you.


Forgive me, but there is something I feel might be important to add here, something I thought initially was not a concern in my small town hundreds of miles from the nearest metropolis.

When I started a job that began at 4 am on certain days, I found myself awake during a new set of hours, the dark early hours of morning while leaving the house dark so the wife could sleep.

I got to see who was walking by the house at 2 am, what they were looking at, and how often, or how many, people there actually were walking aimlessly by in the dark of night. I then later found out just how much hidden drug activity there was in our small farming community. It was not casually evident.

I might have thought that I lived in a low, to no crime community, but that was far more wrong than I would ever have imagined. So alerted, both the wife and I have spotted behavior on a regular basis that defies innocent explanations. Conversations with local LE confirm that we have our share of crime here.

I leaned early in life that looking like an easy target, most definitely, can MAKE you a target. If your gut tells you that you need to be prepared to protect and defend, then I think you should, even if the need doesn’t seem obvious.


I agree. The best answer will not only be different for everyone but also likely different for all the different situations we might end up facing some day. Hopefully none of us will ever have to test how good our choices are in an actual event!


Amen to that Shamrock, Amen to that.


No, because it will take a long time to use my Ar15 efficiently, and I do not have the level of confidence and training to solve any issues that may arise to stop a threat with my AR15. I ask myself, what firearm platform have I continuously trained in and continue adapting to new techniques? That is my pistol.