Handguns are awesome. You can take them places you can’t take a rifle or shotgun. A handgun is that thing you always have, always loaded, ready because you never know when you might need it.
However, a rifle, shotgun or carbine will stop people faster than a handgun will. It packs more punch and is more accurate. There are many good conventional hunting rifles that are great for self-defense. Any pump (or even semi-auto) shotgun is a conventional hunting tool that doubles as
Now that I own a pistol, I’ve been looking at a rifle or carbine to augment what I have. Most ‘hunting’ rifles are bolt-action, which is a hinderance to self-defense. I figure only semi-auto would do. I’m not a fan of .223 black tactical semi-auto rifles. I actually rather like the AK-47, which is carried by countless people in third-world countries who can’t devote much time or money to making their gun work. It just has to work. But as I see it, the problem with choosing an AK as a defense rifle is perception. Perception matters. Being perceived as a nut survivalist with an AK (or thousand-dollar tacticool rifle) is not a good thing. Shooting someone with an AK (or black rifle) and then seeing that weapon held up against you in a court of law is not a good thing. Perceptions do matter.
What’s your take on decent rifles/carbines for self-defense? Would a reliable AK be worth the attached stigma, or are there other ways to go?
Thank ya kindly, and take care,
Hi Tin man, thanks for your email. The first weapon you should own and the one you should be most proficient with from a realistic defensive point of view is your handgun, for the reasons you mentioned. As underpowered and inaccurate as a handgun may be compared to long arms, it can be carried with you at all times, and that outweights all its disadvantages. The 9mm in your hands is worth more than a Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) at home.
In an ideal world we would all have unlimited time and funds, but that’s rarely the case. At least I put most of my effort into being proficient with the handgun, and the CQC that revolves around it. That doesn’t mean you don’t bother knowing how to run a long arm, but since time and funds are limited I don’t train as much as I do with the pistol.
Having said that, you should own a long arm and know how to use it well. Shooting cans in the back yard, or getting “lessons” by Uncle Joe, who’s neighbor was in the Army and gave him a couple pointers doesn’t cut it. Every round you fire without having received prior professional defensive training is wasted money. Think about that when pondering on the cost of the class you’re considering taking.
Few hunting rifles will fill the role intended here. Scoped bolt action rifles are ok for long range shooting, but what you want is fast follow up shots in case you miss or, like it will most likely be the case, you’re attacked by more than one bad guys.
Shotguns have lots of stopping power at short range, but while many firearm experts recommend pump shotguns because of its mechanic ruggedness, its not exactly a simple weapon to operate and requires some skill. Semi auto shotguns fire in semi auto, but then again reloading can be more trouble (expect Saiga style) and shotshells being more flexible, they aren’t as reliable as pump shotguns.
If you go for a long arm, I think the best call is a rifle caliber carbine instead.
Carbines and Rifles for Defensive Purposes
I like the FAL because it fires the very respectable 7.62 NATO round, the design is proven and ergonomically sound. Unlike some modern rifles, the FAL was made to last longer than the person using it. As a very respectable and affordable alternative, the AK47 or AK74 is very hard to beat. You’re talking about AKs selling these days for Usd 500 or Usd 400. Maybe not pretty or incredibly accurate, but the AK works, shoots accurate enough and its simply the most rugged semi auto rifle in the planet. After getting a nice Glock pistol I’d skip the shotgun and get an AK47, a handful of mags and a few boxes of soft point ammo.
These days given ammo prices, pistol caliber semi auto carbines are an interesting alternative. Variants like the MP5 in semi automatic may not have the firepower of a rifle, but it sure can afford cheap training as well as ammo logistic advantages. Still, with today’s AK and 5.45 ammo prices it makes sense to go for that.
The rifle will of course stay at home so that considerably reduces the chances of you having it at hand when needed. An option is having a pack in your car’s trunk, along with a rifle and a satchel with mags. An armored vest with load bearing attachments is also a good idea. It depends on your overall plan and what you can afford.
As for the stigma you mention, I don’t believe in that. A gun is a gun and the authorities wont go any lighter in you because your rounds are fired from a deer gun or a sniper rifle. Instead of worrying about such things its better to a) have the right tool for the job, in this case defense b) Only use it when the situation demands it. Shoot someone uncalled for an even if it’s a single shot 22LR Chipmunk you’ll go to prison none the less. Massad Ayoob can tell of hundreds of shooting incidents where the issue ended up in court. The gun does not matter. What you do with it does. Train so as to not make mistakes and only shoot when lethal force is called for.
Generally speaking and for realistic events in which it may be used, 9 out of 10 times you’ll use a handgun instead of the rifle even if you own it and know how to run it. None the less there’s still that 10% that makes it worth getting and having some basic notions on how to use it properly.