The AR-15 for Home Defense

Sightmark 's Social Media Manager's ARs with a Photon XT digital night vision scope and Wolverine red dot.
Sightmark ‘s Social Media Manager’s ARs with a Photon XT and Wolverine red dot.

On June 14, 2019, Time Magazine published an op-ed piece written by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chris Murphy (D.-Conn.) encouraging Congress to “act” on “gun violence,” stating, “Guns like the AR-15 aren’t used for hunting and they’re not viable for home protection. They have only one purpose, and that’s to fire as many rounds as possible, as quickly as possible. Outlawing these weapons, an action supported by 60 percent of Americans, will bring down the number of mass shootings and reduce the number of casualties, just as it did when the ban first passed in 1994.”

Both Senators, along with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced a bill to ban MSRs on January 9, 2019.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is one of the largest supporters of gun bans and was a major player in orchestrating the 1994 “assault weapons" ban has said, "If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them, ‘Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ‘em all in,’ I would have done it.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein is one of the largest supporters of gun bans and was a major player in orchestrating the 1994 “assault weapons” ban.

Sen. Feinstein has never been secretive about her wish to ban what she calls “assault weapons.” In fact, she has introduced an assault weapons ban (AWB) legislation numerous times. In 2013, her reasoning was because, “Military-style assault weapons have but one purpose, and in my view that’s a military purpose, to hold at the hip, possibly, to spray fire to be able to kill large numbers.” When she introduced the Assault Weapons Ban of 2017, she said, “This bill won’t stop every mass shooting, but it will begin removing these weapons of war from our streets. The first Assault Weapons Ban was just starting to show an effect when the NRA stymied its reauthorization in 2004. Yes, it will be a long process to reduce the massive supply of these assault weapons in our country, but we’ve got to start somewhere.”

When introducing the newest AWB, Sen. Feinstein said, “If we’re going to put a stop to mass shootings and protect our children, we need to get these weapons of war off our streets.” Sen. Murphy said, “Military-style assault rifles are the weapons of choice for mass murderers. There’s just no reason why these guns, which were designed to kill as many people as quickly as possible, are sold to the public” and Sen. Blumenthal said, “Assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are deadly and dangerous weapons of war that belong on battlefields—not our streets. They have no purpose for self-defense or hunting…”

Sightmark Marketing Manager's AR-15 finished in flat dark earth
Sightmark Marketing Manager’s AR-15

“…the weapons of choice for mass murders…”

“…no purpose for self-defense or hunting…”

“…weapons of war…”

This language is particularly harmful to the population of Americans that sit on the fence about gun control—those who support the Second Amendment but also strongly believe in restricting it. These Americans aren’t hunters, shooters or gun owners, yet aren’t necessarily anti-gun either. Unfortunately, when a politician says something with authority, those uneducated about the topic tend to believe what they are being told sold. Without citing sources, Feinstein and Murphy claim over half of the citizens in the United States support a ban on AR-15s, hunters don’t use the AR-15 and they aren’t “viable” for home defense. Despite what anti-gun politicians and media tell the public, there is irrefutable evidence that the AR-15 is not the weapon of choice of most mass shooters and that banning it will virtually have no impact on the number of Americans who die from gunshots.

In fact, research shows that the AR-15 is one of the most widely owned firearms, used not only for target shooting and recreation but for hunting and self-defense, as well.

According to Fee.org, with data complied from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the FBI, “it would take almost one-hundred years of mass shootings with AR-15s to produce the same number of homicide victims that knives and sharp objects produce in one year.”

America’s Rifle

Since the Assault Weapons Ban lifted in 2004, there have been 16 million AR-15s circulating in our country. It is overwhelmingly the most popular centerfire rifle in the U.S. Its traditional 5.56mm chambering has been our military’s primary caliber since the early 1960s because its lighter weight means soldiers can carry more rounds, it has relatively low recoil, it flies fast with a flat trajectory and is just effective as stopping the bad guy as 7.62.

Merriam -Webster defines “viable” as “capable of working, functioning, or developing adequately.” If the 5.56 isn’t capable of working or functioning, then how has it been our military’s primary caliber for over 50 years?

A Triarc Systems AR-15 with Pulsar Thermion thermal riflescope
A Triarc Systems AR-15 with Pulsar Thermion thermal riflescope

Why is the AR-15 Good for Home Defense?

Let’s Talk Ballistics

When discussing the “right” gun to defend the home, the two biggest concerns have always been what is commonly referred to as “stopping power” and over-penetration. Over penetration is a serious safety issue and the ammo you choose for your home defense gun needs to be designed specifically for this purpose—penetrate deep enough to stop an attack yet won’t travel any further through than its intended target. This is why many believe the shotgun is the best home defense gun…but all rounds have the potential to over-penetrate. Fortunately, ammo technology is so far advanced now that we have a wide variety of self-defense bullets to choose from in many different calibers. Many .223 bullets will fragment when they meet soft targets, while still transferring energy into the target—this is exactly what you want in a home-defense round. (Guns and Ammo)

The AR-15 is commonly issued to many SWAT teams that must engage in close quarters. Expanding .223 bullets have proven safe and highly effective in the field.

It’s Physics, Man

Quality Assurance Specialist's AR with Pulsar Thermion thermal riflescope.
Quality Assurance Specialist’s AR with Pulsar Thermion thermal riflescope.

Though to be a great marksman/woman, you must practice no matter the type of firearm, many shooters find certain guns to be easier to operate than others. This is especially true when comparing semiautomatic pistols with semiautomatic rifles. The AR-15’s overall heavier weight helps users recover from recoil quicker. Further, the longer barrel makes aiming easier because of the longer sight radius. (The sight radius is the distance between the front and rear sights.) These two fundamentals of shooting often cause people to be inaccurate.

Expert firearms writer Tom McHale explains the AR’s sight radius superiority: “On a pistol with just a 2-inch sight radius, if the front and rear sights are out of alignment by just 1 millimeter, you can miss a target 25 yards downrange by up to 17.7 inches. Using a rifle with a 16-inch sight radius, that same miss will be limited to just 2.2 inches.”

One of the main reasons why the AR-15 is so popular is due to its versatility and adaptability. There are seemingly endless ways to customize it. Longer barrels, shorter barrels, caliber variations, furniture and optics—every AR owner will find the exact right set-up for them. By building and customizing an AR with accessories and different optics, many beginners, women, youth and those with disabilities find the AR-15 to be the best firearm for them. A confident and empowered shooter will shoot more accurately and determinately.

Sightmark's Creative Director's AR-15 with special edition Ultra Shot red dot sight carbon fiber finish
Sightmark’s Creative Director’s AR-15 with special edition Ultra Shot red dot sight.

Smooth Operator

The semiautomatic AR-15 is based on the select-fire AR-10 designed by Eugene Stoner. It is traditionally a gas-operated (there are now piston-operated ARs) firearm which uses the gases expelled from gunpowder when the gun is fired to cycle the rifle.

Operating the AR is simple, you insert a loaded mag into the magwell and make sure it is securely seated. If the bolt is open, push the bolt catch to chamber a round. If the bolt is closed, pull back on and release the charging handle to chamber a round. Switch the safety from safe to fire and boom—you’re ready to rock and roll. All these controls are ergonomically placed and easily manipulated for all hand sizes. This is a huge part of the AR’s appeal.

Malfunctions are just as easy to clear, and maintenance is minimal with regular cleaning and application of gun lube. If an 11-year old girl can field strip her AR in 53 seconds, then you will be able to disassemble and assemble your AR in no time as well.

Don’t let Sen. Feinstein’s misguided information dissuade you. The AR-15 is one of the most…if not the most…versatile firearms on the market.

Oh, and as far as her other claims? Here are a few facts you can share whenever someone tries to argue that the AR should be banned:

  • You are four times more likely to be murdered with a knife or other sharp object than a rifle
  • An AR-15 is involved in only 2 to 8% of all gun crimes
  • Only 3.4% of gunshot deaths are from a rifle
  • Mass shooting rose during AWB
  • Production of AR-15s and AR-15-style rifles increased 120% during AWB
  • Gun murders of any kind increased 20% during AWB

In a National Shooting Sports Foundation survey conducted in 2010, the number two reason people chose to purchase an AR-15 was for home protection. With an estimated 8 to 10 million ARs owned in America, there is no doubt that is it a “common use” firearm.

What do you think about the AR-15 for home defense? Tell us if you think it is a “viable” gun for home protection and why or why not in the comment section.

Click here to read about who wants to take your AR-15.

Top 10 Reasons to Own a Gun

There are countless reasons why people choose to own guns. In my book, as long as it’s legal, any reason is a valid reason. Protection, competition and hunting are the top reasons gun owners cite for why they own a firearm, but there are also collectors, people who have them simply because they were inherited or just because they can.

I own my firearms for various reasons, not just one and I can say that all the above reasons are included.

As a woman, knowing how to safely and confidently use my firearms empowers me. In a world where women are often victimized by criminals, because we are seen as weak, knowing my firearm is by my side assures me that anyone who tries to do me harm isn’t getting away without a fight. Guns really are the one true equalizer.

Besides self-defense, I thoroughly enjoy the shooting sports and am proud that I can put fresh, 100% organic meat on the table—now that’s true field-to-fork.

Gun ownership isn’t just about hunting or the right to defend yourself. Gun ownership is a symbol of freedom. And fortunately, we have the Second Amendment to back up that inherent right.

My reasons might be different than yours for owning firearms, but I believe the following ten reasons should be at the top of your list:

  1. Preserve your liberty.

 Patrick Henry quote: “To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms”

The Pew Research Center did a survey in the Spring of 2017 and found that 74% of gun owners associate gun ownership with their personal sense of freedom, stating, “Whether for hunting, sport shooting or personal protection, most gun owners count the right to bear arms as central to their freedom.” America’s founding fathers felt that firearms were so central to our freedom, they made the right to bear arms the second most important thing on the country’s Constitution. If it weren’t for firearms, Americans wouldn’t have won their independence from England. Thomas Jefferson, principal author of the Declaration of Independence and third President of the United States wrote, “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.”

  1. Protect your life and the life of your family.

    One of the main reasons why I own firearms is for self-protection.
    One of the main reasons why I own firearms is for self-protection.

Seconds matter and the police take minutes. Feeling safe is a basic human need. Polls from Rasmussen, Gallup, the Pew Research Center, ABC News and the Washington Post find that 68% of Americans report feeling “safer in a neighborhood where guns are allowed.”

  1. It’s your right.

The right to self-defense is an inherent right and the Second Amendment guarantees that right.

  1. Guns keep America safer.

The Crime Prevention Research Center reports that states with the highest number of concealed-carry permits have the biggest reductions in homicide rates, consistently concluding that “allowing concealed carry leads to a reduction in violent crime.”

  1. More guns equal less crime.

Two million people a year stop crimes with a gun. Guns are used 80 times more to prevent crimes than they are used to commit murder.

  1. Criminals will never give up their guns.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 80% of criminals obtain their firearms from private, illegal sources.

  1. Be a responsible, law-abiding citizen.

Concealed carry permit holders are safer than citizens who don’t have a license to carry. The Crime Prevention Research Center finds that concealed-carry permit holders are the most law-abiding demographic in our country.

  1. Feed your family.

There is no truer organic, "field to fork" meat than wild game.
There is no truer organic, “field to fork” meat than wild game.

Wild game is the only truly organic, grass-fed, and sustainable meat. It is lower in fat, cholesterol, calories and saturated fat, as well as high in protein, iron and vitamin B and contains no antibiotics or growth hormones.

  1. Teach firearm safety and pass on the tradition of firearm ownership to the next generation.

Currently, only five percent of Americans hunt. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service predicts that number will decline in the next ten years. This is extremely problematic because the money made from hunting licenses and the excise tax on guns, ammunition and fishing equipment provides 60% of the funding for state wildlife agencies and conservation systems.

  1. Guns help increase your sense of responsibility, discipline, concentration, and confidence.

Samir Becic of the Health Fitness Revolution says the shooting sports increases your strength, stamina, focus, hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills and relieves eye stress.

As you can see, not only are there good reasons to own a firearm, but there are also positive consequences to responsible firearm ownership that benefit our entire country!

Why do you own a gun? List your reasons in the comment section.

Truck Guns

Recently, I’ve been considering getting myself a truck gun. Not too long ago, I had an important birthday and bought myself a new expensive carry gun. It’s not one I’m willing to leave unattended in my car, so I feel like I need a beater gun for when I’m on road trips or toolin’ around town going in and out of places where I can’t legally carry. Having a truck gun also allows me the opportunity to have something close at hand that holds more rounds in a bigger caliber than my .380. Plus, what if I have to get out of Dodge ASAP with no time to run home and get the big guns?

There are certain guns you want to leave in your car, even in a secured safe, like this special edition Kimber micro Bel Air .380 pistol with faux ivory grips, Tiffany blue finish and shiny stainless steel slide
Some guns you don’t want to leave in your car.

Some of you are probably already shaking their heads saying, “why doesn’t she just carry a bigger gun?” Well, it gets hot—and I mean really hot—in North Texas. Work- and weather-appropriate clothing prevents me from comfortably carrying a full-sized 9mm, .40 or .45 that holds 9 rounds or more. Also, what’s the actual probability I will EVER need more than 14 rounds in a self-defense situation? So, no, I’m not thinking about getting a car gun in anticipation of a firefight. I want it because…reasons. And sometimes you need a “valid” excuse to give your significant other when you buy a new gun. Amiright?

I don’t know, maybe it’s my upbringing, but truck guns just make sense to me. My desire for one is threefold—for self-defense when I don’t have my EDC, as backup to my EDC and as my SHTF gun.

What is a Truck Gun?

A truck gun is a gun you designate as the one you keep in your vehicle.

Typically, truck guns are:

  1. A rifle or shotgun
  2. Affordable to cheap in price
  3. Chambered for a caliber that takes down game
  4. Incredibly rugged
  5. Simple
  6. Easy to store
  7. Reliable
Carrying your gun on a rack in your truck used to be common.
How many of you were used to seeing this growing up?

I grew up in small-town Arkansas. Back then, truck guns were literally just that—a shotgun or hunting rifle hung on a rack in plain view in your truck. Truck guns weren’t just commonplace, they were almost religion. It was never a threatening gesture and it never scared anyone. I mean, you never know when you’ll happen upon a trophy buck or gobbler.

You don’t have to have a truck to have a truck gun. You can keep a gun in your SUV, minivan, Tesla, Smart Car or whatever it is you drive on the reg. It just means a gun you specifically designate as the one you keep in your vehicle. Typically, a truck gun, or beater gun, is an affordable to down-right cheap rifle or shotgun. It needs to be tough, reliable and easy to shoot. Unless you take it to the range often, a get-home gun won’t see a lot of action, so you want to pick something that doesn’t need a lot of maintenance and if the off chance it was stolen, you aren’t losing too much if you never get it back.

A truck gun needs to be easy to store, as well—under the seat or tucked away in the trunk—so bad guys who peep in windows won’t know it’s there.

Another requirement is that its handy and easy to use in a caliber that stops varmints and predators—four-legged, two-legged and ones that slither—and can also bring meat to the campfire in a survival situation. It’s gotta be fairly lightweight, so if I had to ditch the car and hike it on foot, I can sling it over my shoulder without it being a burden. It needs to be simple to clean, field strip and operate. And it especially needs to shoot straight enough to hit what I’m pointing at. I’m also going to need to like this gun. With any gun, you need to remain proficient with it—which means practice and training. Trust me, there’s no point in holding onto a firearm you dread shooting.

It’s a lot to ask of one gun. Fortunately, there are plenty of guns that meet my criteria to choose from.

These are my top choices:

Before you start to argue, remember that what is best for me is not necessarily best for you. You might want to consider a lever-action or a bolt-action rifle. I know plenty of shooters who prefer an old military surplus truck gun like the SKS, others pick a big-bore revolver.

I can’t tell you which one would be “best,” because “best” is all relative. If you drive around in the desert all day, you probably want something geared more toward rattlers. If you are in the mountains, you’ll probably want to consider a bigger caliber than I need for bears and such. It all just depends on your situation, where you live and what’s comfortable for you. I narrowed my list down to these six.

Kel-Tec SU-16C

The Kel-Tech SU-16C is the perfect truck gun with its integral bipod and folding stock.
The Kel-Tech SU-16C is the perfect truck gun with its integral bipod and folding stock.

The Kel-Tec SU-16C is chambered in 5.56/.223, folds up to 25.5 inches and weighs 4.7 pounds.

Pros:

  • I already have plenty of .223 ammo.
  • It accepts standard AR-15 magazines, which again, I have plenty of.
  • Simple design with few parts.
  • It’s accurate.
  • I thoroughly enjoy shooting it.

Cons:

The average price of $650 is more than I want to pay.

Chiappa PAK-9

The new Chiappa is based on the AK-47 and chambered for 9mm.
The new Chiappa is based on the AK-47 and chambered for 9mm.

You might want to consider a pistol-caliber carbine that shares ammo and mag compatibility with your regular handgun.  The Chiappa PAK-9 is based on the AK-platform, chambered for 9mm and accepts Glock and Beretta mags. It is 14.47 inches long and weighs 6 pounds.

Pros:

  • It chews up and spits out cheap ammo fed outta cheap mags.
  • It accepts standard AK furniture.
  • All I have to do is add a cheap red dot and I’m good to go.
  • At the time of publication, there was one listed on Gun Broker for less than $400. Other online gun shops had them priced at $430.

Cons:

Reliability. It was introduced just a year ago, so I’m not sure how well the Chiappa PAK-9 is made.

Mossberg 590 Shockwave

The Mossberg 590 Shockwave with 14" barrel is a Non-NFA firearm.
The Mossberg 590 Shockwave with 14″ barrel is a Non-NFA firearm.

The Shockwave rocked the shooting world at SHOT Show 2017 due to its 14-inch barrel. It’s a Non-NFA firearm according to the BATFE. It has a bird’s head pistol grip, available in 12 or 20 gauge, holds 6 rounds, is 26.37 inches long, and weighs only 5.3 pounds.

Pros:

  • It is based on the trustworthy and reliable Mossberg 590 action.
  • A shotgun has a lot of versatility.
  • I found the Shockwave currently going for $360.

Cons:

It takes practice getting comfortable shooting it reliably and accurately.

Hi-Point Carbine

The Hi-Point works and is super affordable.
The Hi-Point works and is super affordable.

The Hi-Point is 31 inches long, weighs 6.25 pounds and is 100% made in America.

Pros:

  • I found a .380 ACP Hi-Point Carbine listed as low as $264—the cheapest on my list.
  • It shares ammo with my EDC.
  • It works.
  • I don’t mind if it gets dinged up and scratched.

Cons:

It’s big, so finding a place to store it would be challenging.

Ruger 10/22 Takedown

An old stand-by—the Ruger 10/22.
An old stand-by—the Ruger 10/22.

Offered in quite a variety of models, the Ruger 10/22 Takedown is chambered for .22 Long Rifle and breaks down into two pieces.

Pros:

  • It is simple to operate and virtually has no recoil.
  • The Ruger 10/22 is undoubtedly accurate and reliable.
  • Its shares caliber capability with another one of my rifles.

Cons:

You must put the thing together for it to work, so this isn’t a grab- and go-ready rifle. Even though you can get mags that hold 25 rounds, you still have a gun chambered for only .22 LR and ammo isn’t as cheap or as readily available as it used to be.

AK-47

Ahhhh...the AK-47. Is any gun collection complete without one?
Ahhhh…the AK-47. Is any gun collection complete without one?

I’ve had an AK-47 on my list of guns to own for a very long time now and this provides the perfect opportunity to finally pull the trigger on getting one.

Pros:

  • The AKs a beast.
  • Ammo is cheap.

Cons:

AK-47. Cool. Okay, but what model? Which one do I pick? I don’t know because AKs aren’t so cheap anymore.

Safety First

You don’t ever want to ‘set it and forget’ your truck gun. Not only for safety reasons but because of temperature extremes, coastal environments and maintenance. There are some environments where guns are more susceptible to corrosion than others. A well-taken care of firearm is a functioning firearm.

As part of the Project Child Safe initiative, the National Shooting Sports Foundation reminds us that responsible gun ownership includes making sure our firearms don’t fall into the wrong hands. If you are going to keep a gun in the car, lock it up and keep it out of sight. There are plenty of reputable companies that make gun safes specifically for your car—GunVault, Bulldog Cases, Titan Security Products and TruckVault. God forbid your gun ever gets stolen and is used in a crime.

You should always remove your gun from your car overnight and keep it secure inside the house.

Truck guns are about function and utility. It is all about the work they can do. It doesn’t have to be pretty—in fact, it will probably get dinged and scratched riding around in the car. It doesn’t have to have the latest and greatest handguards or accessory. Old-school Weaver and Picatinny rails will do just fine to attach affordable optics. It doesn’t even have to be brand new. A used gun in good condition will more than suffice for this purpose. Now, it just about which one I can find for the best price.

Do you have a truck gun? What is it and why did you choose it? If not, which truck guns would you consider? Tell us in the comment section.