The AR-15 may well be the most vilified rifle in existence at the moment, possibly even more so than the Soviet-designed AK-47. This is especially true following several incidents where bad people did bad things with the rifle in question.
As per usual following such incidents, politicians begin clamoring for the rifle to be banned. They use all kinds of rhetoric to paint the firearm as some kind of evil murder-death-kill machine that serves no other purpose except to end lives. This usually comes from the same people who claim that the most recent gunman, armed with a Glock, didn’t have a semiautomatic weapon.
Anyway, many of these folks–including at least one former vice president of the United States–have said that all you need for self-defense in your home is a shotgun.
Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case. The AR-15 is a great weapon for self-defense, and there are a number of reasons why. What follows is one man’s thinking on why the AR-15 is great for home defense and, in a few cases, why it’s far superior to the shotgun.
1. It’s Lightweight
The AR-15 is lightweight. Typically, a stripped down rifle weighs around six pounds or so unloaded. Ammo adds weight, of course, but it’s still not overly heavy.
With that weight comes some serious advantages. For one, it allows you to hold it up as you check out the entirety of your home to find the source of the sound of breaking glass that woke you up. Keeping a weapon at low ready requires a lot more muscle than many people think, and a lightweight rifle helps keep the muscular strain minimal.
That becomes even more important if, God forbid, you have to fire. Muscle fatigue can make your hands unsteady, which could cause you to miss your target.
Further, because of its weight, it’s light enough for almost any member of the family. In my household, my son and wife can both easily handle my AR-15. The only one who can’t is my almost 7-year-old daughter. And even then the problem isn’t the weight, but the size.
That lightweight design makes it a great choice for home defense because it doesn’t matter who needs to grab it, it’s sized about right.
2. It’s Compact
When you have to work around corners inside the average American home, the last thing you want is a long length on your weapon. A longer gun becomes unwieldy, and the AR-15 is a compact design, particularly when taken with the 16″ barrel. This allows you to move through your home without knocking stuff down and creating more problems for yourself.
Further, it’s length is often adjustable. Most AR-15s come with a collapsible stock. While these are restricted in several states, they’re legal most places and they allow you to set the length even shorter if needed. This means it’s not just compact, but adjustable as well.
3. It Has Low Recoil
The .223/5.56 round isn’t known for a hard kick. The recoil is one of the lightest out there for any weapon that’s considered sufficient for dealing with two-legged predators. This does two things.
For one, it means that you can spend more time at the range. There’s nothing worse than having plenty of ammo to shoot, but your shoulder just can’t cut it anymore. More training time means better accuracy.
Additionally, that low-recoil means it’s suited well to be used by almost any member of the family. From the kid built like an NFL linebacker I have in my house to the petite girl running around other homes, if they can hold the weapon properly, chances are they can fire it.
More than that, though, the AR-15 platform’s light recoil also allows someone to make follow-up shots quickly.
When American Rifleman spoke with former special ops sergeant major Kyle E. Lamb, he had similar things to say.
The AR is very easy to shoot. Head out to the range and test my theory. Ask anyone who wants to join in on the fun to try shooting a scored event, under pressure, with a pistol at home-defense ranges. After you see their performance, try the same with an AR, I will bet money you see much better control of the system. Men and women alike just shoot better with a carbine than with a pistol. As long as the carbine is light enough for the shooter to handle properly, the learning curve will be straight-up.