6 months ago
Paul Markel writes a fawning piece at AmmoLand on the AR-15 being the king of home defense.
What is the most effective tool to engage and defeat these vermin as rapidly as possible? Handguns are carried for convenience, not power. No handgun, regardless of caliber or configuration, can produce the same effect as a centerfire rifle.
This is not opinion, this is physics. Crunch the numbers and even the mighty .44 Magnum pales in comparison to the 5.56x45mm or 7.62x39mm. Many years ago an instructor friend of mine offered that “a handgun is simply a rifle waiting to grow up”.
Also, it cannot be denied that a long gun (rifle or shotgun) as a tool is much easier to aim and index on a target than a handgun. Again, this is simply physics. A rifle has four points of contact with the body and a long sight radius. By comparison, a handgun has only two points of contact, the left and right hand, and a short sight radius. Rifles are infinitely more forgiving of slight errors in sight alignment and body movement than are handguns.
As a practical matter, during the panic and adrenaline dump of a life threatening attack, the rifle will be inherently easier to index on target and as an added benefit transition to additional targets more quickly than will any pistol, regardless of make, model, or caliber. While you might desire to argue this point, your energy might be better served elsewhere.
Here is a quick number crunch for the doubting Thomases in the audience. The following numbers come directly from Hornady. The Hornady .44 Magnum 180grain FTX load generates 610 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle. By comparison, the 5.56mm 75g. BTHP generates 1410 FPE and the 6.8mmSPCII cartridge with a 110g. BTHP bullet produced 1588 FPE.
To be sure, I like the AR-15 for home defense, and I’ve written so before. But it’s more complicated than Paul makes it out to be. I recommend (as I have before) that you send your wife and children to the movies one night, turn the lights out, and practice turning corners and developing your sight picture in rooms with a rifle and tactical light. I have.
I also carry my weapon from room to room with me at night. One of my handguns isn’t sitting too far from me as I write. So I recommend that in order to get the full effect of using a rifle exclusively for home defense, you tote your AR-15 from room to room with you at night.
You see, there are legitimate reasons for handguns, portability being one, maneuverability being another. No one argues that a rifle will deliver more punch due entirely to muzzle velocity. But don’t tell me that a .45 caliber 230 grain fat boy won’t deliver enough punch to handle most situations. And don’t tell that to John Basilone. Toward the dawn of the battle, Basilone fought Japanese soldiers using only a .45 pistol.