Home Defense: Why You Should Consider a Rifle.
Rifles are an excellent addition to any home defense plan. They are easier than a pistol to use accurately, customizable for the needs of multiple family members, and the availability of accessories that help in situations encountered during home defense all make rifles excellent tools for home defense. Should one ever find themselves in a situation where their life or the lives of their family are endangered, a rifle can present an advantage well beyond those provided by handguns. A future post on shotgun myths will cover why rifles also outshine them.
First, let’s talk accuracy. Most self defense shootings occur at very close ranges. Criminals are not usually in the habit of announcing their intent from across the street. Home defense is a different matter entirely. You may be alerted by noise, and encounter the intruder on the other side of a large room or in a hallway. Add into that the possible factors of darkness, obstructions, their movement, and your physical reaction to stress. This is now a very difficult shot with a pistol.
Rifles are significantly easier to hit with at a distance due to several factors. The proper hold of a rifle makes body contact at three points: one hand under the barrel, one hand by the trigger, and the stock to the shoulder. A pistol on the other hand is only anchored at one point, the grip, even when using both hands. These multiple contact points provide more stability and control. The heavier weight of the rifle allows the user to suffer less from recoil and cause less movement with each trigger pull. The average trigger requires 4 lbs of pressure or more. At only around 2 lbs, the average pistol really wants to move under that much pressure. Rifles on the other hand usually weigh 7-10 lbs, making that trigger pressure much less likely to move it.
Have you ever gone shopping for a pistol with your significant other? A parent? Your adult children? Often each person has different needs in their selection. This goes back to that single contact point mentioned earlier. If the pistol doesn’t feel right in your hands then it isn’t the right pistol for you. Rifles have much more to offer in that area. The greatest example of this is the AR-15 pattern rifles. The ArmaLite Rifle (the AR) is the most popular rifle in America. The amount of customization options available is so vast I am at a loss on how best to describe it. However, almost all rifles have a large amount of variation, and many of those open up the ability to use the same custom pieces built for the AR platform.
Adjustable stocks make it possible for users of different stature to have a comfortable hold within seconds. Various grip styles allow for a comfortable but firm grip with the trigger hand. The fore-grip, where the other hand supports the barrel, also has a wide variety of implements that can be attached to provide the most stable and controllable experience possible. Caliber is an important factor of customization as well. There are many great rifles in calibers that are effective for home defense including rifles chambered for pistol cartridges. Pistol carbines, as they are called, give you all the options available for rifles combined with the huge selection of self defense ammo available for pistols.
Finally, let’s talk accessories. There are many optional accessories available, and it is possible to be overwhelmed by the options. This often leads to either not adding an ones that can help or adding entirely to many that simply make the rifle too cumbersome to use. It is important to note that many of these options are available for pistols, but may require expensive replacement parts or the services of a gunsmith. Most rifle accessories can be easily added by the user.
The most important addition is a light. You may be in the dark and using a light allows you to identify the target. Identifying the target is so important that it’s the 4th rule of gun safety: Be sure of your target and what is beyond it. Remember, you might be responding to an odd noise. There is every chance the “intruder” is the family dog going through the trash, or the teenager sneaking out. Lights can also disorient the intruder and potentially scare him away. A defensive gun use doesn’t always mean firing a shot.
Additional accessories can help with many of the factors that occur in a home defense shooting. A laser or red dot sight can help with quickly aiming. The ability to get a good sight picture can be affected by odd lighting; stress; “tired eyes” and a moving target. Having a single glowing aim point can reduce the effect on your accuracy compared to traditional sights. A silencer can bring the noise level down to a similar level as wearing earplugs. This protects you and your family from the danger of permanent hearing loss, especially in an enclosed space. Additionally any home defense situation should include a 911 call, and will involve police interactions later. Being able to hear is a necessity. There are more options available, depending on your needs and concerns.
Home defense is the situation that you hope never happens. When it does it is unpredictable. The most important tool you will have is your training and practice. The second most important tool will be the firearm you use with that training. A rifle provides the ability to have a firearm that works for multiple family members, allowing them to use their skills as effectively as possible. If you’re going to have a firearm dedicated to home defense, make it a rifle.