Why I Plan To Switch From A Shotgun To AR-15 For Home Defense

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If you would like to know why I intend to switch our home defense gun from a shotgun to an AR-15 …

And why YOU may want to do the same then this article will explain everything.

First, let me get something out of the way first. I love the shotgun. It’s one of the all-time great “American Guns”. But to see why I don’t think it can serve the home defense role anymore, keep reading …

The Shotgun Is One of America’s Best Home Defense Guns

The shotgun is simply a devastating and effective weapon when used for “social work” aka as a home defense tool.

Why?

Simply put, it has extremely reliable stopping power.

A 12 gauge loaded with 00 buck, in just ONE shot, you get the equivelant of a minimum of EIGHT shots of 9mm. All in a relatively tight pattern, delivered to the bad guy.

If I recall correctly, Tom Givens said that in his 20+ years of police experience he only ever recalls one incident where an officer had to use more than one shot to put down a bad guy (and I believe it was because the first shot was not a center of mass hit).

What’s more: the pump action shotgun has proven itself reliable. In combat as early as WWI these shotguns have been counted on to get the job done.

So What’s Wrong With The Shotgun?

Absolutely nothing is wrong with the gun.

The problem is the person behind it …

Let me explain.

As a gun guy, it’s easy to forget that not everyone loves guns as much as I do. It’s also easy to forget that not everyone loves training as much as I do.

Finally, it’s arrogant and kind of stupid to forget that I’m not the only one that may have to potentially use the designated home defense weapon.

In short, I have a wife. And like most women, her upper body strength is not the same as mine. She also doesn’t have as much training as I do.

Remember I said that the pump action shotgun is super reliable? It is. As long as you can work it reliably …

You see the number problem people have with pump guns is user error. Short stroking it or in some other way messing up the functioning.

Why It’s Important To Train With Your Home Defense Guns

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I recently had the pleasure of accompanying my wife to a Women’s Shotgun Home Defense Class with Steve “Yeti” Fisher of Sentinel Concepts at the MASF Range in Virginia.

Truth be told, I had no idea this was going to be run by Steve Fisher, I just thought it was a shotgun class.

But it was eye opening to say the least.

While my wife and I had spent some range time with the venerable Remington 870 home defense shotgun, she had never taken a day long class. (I have done a 1-day defensive shotgun course with Tom Givens previously)

I won’t get into the class details, except to say it was excellent (and there’s a great AAR here if you care to read), but it showed the shortcomings of the shotgun — at least for my wife and I.

So What Problems Did I See With The Shotgun?

** The shotgun is heavy. Sure, this isn’t THAT big of a deal because after all the concept of use for the home defense shotgun is barricade yourself in the bedroom and wait. BUT, it’s still heavy, especially fully loaded and when you are “running the gun” all day.

While this may not matter in a 1 or (record setting) 2 shot self-defense scenario … it still makes training harder. Maybe less fun? So are you less likely to shoot the shotgun? AKA practice with the gun you’ve chosen for home defense?

It quite simply, without adequate training, is a hard gun to “run”.

** The operation is different. My wife has done some pistol training. She has also shot a handgun more times than any other gun.

The manual of arms with a handgun is: insert magazine, rack slide, pull trigger. The manual of arms with a shotgun was very different for her. She’s a quick learner, but it’s still something to think about under stress. Even remembering to take off a safety or rack a shotgun could add seconds of reaction time in a self-defense situation.

It’s really good to have commonality in between “weapon systems” so that all your training with one gun helps with the other.

** Less ammunition. Barring a total collapse of society where we have to fight an army of zombies, I don’t think that this matters much. Again, two of the most respected experts on the shotgun are Tom Givens and Steve Fisher and they both have never seen a shooting where the person with the shotgun somehow needed to shoot more than once or twice to stop a threat. But still, it’s a thing.

** It kicks rather hard. Recoil. Yes, I know we are all tough guys and the recoil doesn’t bother us. It doesn’t bother my wife either. But it still takes TIME to learn how to “stretch” the shotgun to manage recoil and to get the aggressive body posture to mitigate it, etc. Time and training.

** Accuracy. It’s not that the shotgun is NOT accurate. Not at all. It’s just that 1.) everyone believes the myth that you don’t need to aim with a shotgun (you do) and 2.) my wife was less accurate with the shotgun because she was dealing with all the other shotgun “issues” (manual of arms, racking the pump, controlling the weight and size, managing recoil, etc).

So Why The AR-15 Instead of the Shotgun for Home Defense?

For basically the opposite of all those reasons:

** It has plenty of stopping power (any arguments about the stopping power of 5.56 will immediately be referred to the enemy combatant kill list of every American war since the introduction of the M16 in Vietnam)

** It’s light, ergonomic and is easy to handle in the hands

** It’s VERY easy to shoot. Much easier than a shotgun for the untrained and even easier than a handgun (because of more points of contact it’s like a handgun on “easy mode” for defensive shooting!)

** It’s easy to operate. Like a handgun: insert magazine, rack slide (“charging handle”), press trigger. Like a handgun if it malfunctions, tap, rack, bang. Simple and all the practice with the handgun reinforces the AR-15 manual of operation.

** More ammo. Again, if you used a standard 30 round magazine in a home defense situation, you would most likely make it into the Guinness book of world records but the fact remains that there are more rounds of ammunition in the gun when you pick it up.

** There is hardly any recoil. Many, many, many small little girls shoot them and think it’s fun.

** Accuracy. It’s much, much easier to hit stuff with the AR-15 because it’s so light, easy to operate, ergonomic, and simple in operation.

So Should You Switch To An AR-15 For Home Defense?

I don’t know.

Take an honest assessment of yourself and your situation.

Are you the only one who will use your home defense weapon? Then you have to asses not just yourself but your entire family situation, aka, whomever is going to back you up.

Do you actually train with your shotgun? Can you make multiple accurate hits under pressure? Can you run the gun reliably? Can you mitigate the recoil, weight, and functioning to get ACCURATE hits (yes, you need to aim the shotgun).

Only you can answer those questions. As much as I love the shotgun and continue to train with it, I believe the AR-15 is a better choice for my family.

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Caleb
Caleb Lee is the #1 best-selling author of "Concealed Carry 101" and founder of PreparedGunOwners.com. He is a civilian (no law enforcement or military experience) who shares information about self-defense and becoming more self-reliant. He's a 1st degree black belt in Taekwondo, NRA Certified Basic Pistol & Personal Protection Inside The Home Instructor, Concealed Carry Academy Instructor certified & also a graduate of the Rangermaster firearms instructor course. He's also the author of numerous online courses including the UndergroundAssaultRifle.com course.

51 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting argument. I have a pair of 12-ga double-barrels, and yes, they are heavy if you lug them around all day. No pumping action needed, but only 2 shots as well, and the kick can knock a grown man on his rear. My wife fears to use them, preferring an aluminum baseball bat. Just might switch after all.

    • I always find it interesting when someone says that the kick can knock you down!!! I’m 135 lbs male 67years old and been shooting since I was 6. The only rifles I have ever fired that generated that kind of brutal recoil were either poorly stocked or not properly held. My current collection has a 375 mag that I shoot from the bench and a 378 weatherby. Both of these rifles can cause serious problems for the shooter if not held properly. But if done correctly they both are a pleasure and very accurate as well.

        • I have. The first time my son who was 12 yo fired the 12 ga. Arms, legs and the gun was flying all over the place and he went on the ground. My wife and I were laughing quite hard!

          He wanted to show me he could handle it without me helping him much. So he had it coming 🙂

  2. Caleb brings many good points to his new choice for a house gun and I resonate with that information. My wife is 4’10” and about 120. She has small hands and short reach. Her issue with most hand guns are they are too large for her to get a secure grip on. I am certain that with adequate training she will become proficient with my AR 15 since she will use both arms and hands to control the weapon and the reach for the trigger will not necessitate her to wrap the grip fully with her fingers. At her first sight of my AR she expressed intimidation over its size and black color. Of course the one to be rightfully intimidated would the one aimed at. The other physical point is that she has had surgery on both shoulders for work related repetitive motion injury and they remain a weakness for her. That said, she would not be able to tolerate the recoil of a shotgun so the light recoil of the AR will be less a problem.

    • Exactly! I can’t wait to see her be so surprised with how easy and fun it is to shoot even though it looks scary!

  3. The venerable 12 gauge shotgun is a great home defense tool plus don’t kid yourself, if sensitive to recoil, a 20 gauge or even a .410 remains a very good lethal option. As for an AR rifle a 30 round magazine makes it wicked in itself so I can’t put it down but as a left arm amputee I can shoot a 12 gauge one handed but necessity being the mother of invention I prefer a big can of Wasp spray, it shoots 20 feet and can blind a perp something fierce then I can finish the bum off with a .22 which all might sound crazy but it’s effective.

    • Wasp spray, it shoots 20 feet and can blind a perp something fierce then I can finish the bum off with a .22 which all might sound crazy but it’s effective.

      If you finish him off with a 22 you will most likely be charged with murder. Think about it.

        • It will still be murder if you shoot him after he has been subdued. Count on it. If he continues to be a threat, that is a different story. Don’t count on prosecutors to treat you kindly!

          • Wash his face with water to remove all traces of wasp spray and put a pitcher of water with a glass next to your bed. In todays politically correct climate, I am glad that there are thousands of acres of woods around me. I figure it would take an archeological team 200 years to find the pieces after the critters get finished. Unfortunately today you can’t rely on the law to treat you fairly.

    • Screw the wasp spray. Too many variables. If you’re an amputee, learn to use a solid handgun that doesn’t require a lot of manipulation like a Glock. No external safety, very reliable so fewer issues with malfunctions, and very easy to learn to rack one handed catching the sight against a stiff belt or any rigid surface.

  4. In my opinion, the AR-15 is the best home defense weapon money can buy and for many of the reasons that have already been stated. Even in state where the idiots limit the magazine size to less than the normal, the AR-15 is still the best option. It is light weight and easy to operate while still maintaining the stopping power needed for defense.

    • One point I may have missed here is that the shotgun has a much less chance of putting a round through the wall and accidently killing your neighbor. I don’t know anything about the power of an AR-15 but I suspect that it could go through a person, a wall and strike some unintended person. The shotgun is lethal, accurate and only one or two rounds will do the job. Just my thoughts on it of course!

      • Your thoughts are wrong, Dasgeiss. A standard 12 ga firing a 23/4 shell loaded with buckshot will go through the standard 6 inch framed house wall of sheetrock and insulation like it wasn’t even there. A three inch magnum shell loaded with steel buckshot will continue into the next room through and through dispersing just enough to cause even more damage on the other side.

        That’s why a lot of home defense people who have others in their houses opt for a shell loaded with bird/clay shot. No. 8 or 9. at close range all the ammassed kinetic energy at one time will be dissipated with less penetration but will still be like a horse back-kicking you in the chest at close range. And unlike buckshot, a lot of the small pellet energy will be lost going through a wall.

        And an Ar-15 with standard military fmj ammo will go right through a solid six-eight inch pine tree and kill anybody on the other side. A full metal jacket 9mm penetrates pretty well on wood, also.

        AR-15’s in .223 are MORE lethal than shotguns, more accurate, and one will usually do the job much better in any circumstances.

      • To Quote from the Ammo Oracle: https://www.ar15.com/ammo/

        Q. Isn’t 5.56 too dangerous to use indoors? Shouldn’t I use a pistol or shotgun instead?

        Virtually any kind of ammo, with the exception of light bird shot, will easily penetrate typical wall construction (two layers of wall-board separated by 3 to 4 inches of space). Testing has shown, however, that after penetrating a typical interior wall, a 5.56mm projectile will have less wounding potential than most common handgun or buckshot loads. This is true because the low mass of the bullet sheds velocity quickly, and velocity is its key wounding component. This doesn’t mean that 5.56mm ammo isn’t still potentially deadly, but that the severity of an injury is likely to be less from a 5.56mm bullet than from a 9mm, .40, .45, or #00 buckshot round. What is important is not the degree to which these rounds penetrate, but their “ex post lethality” or their lethality AFTER encountering wallboard or other cover/concealment.

        The difference is so significant that the FBI and other ballistic experts recommend that law enforcement transition to handguns to “dig suspects out” of cover because of the superior penetration and wounding ability of handgun rounds over 5.56 or .223.

        This, along with the increasing number of lawsuits from “friendly fire” submachine gun victims and 5.56mm’s ability to penetrate ballistic vests, are some of the reasons that many SWAT teams are transitioning away from the 9mm MP5 and selecting 5.56mm carbines instead.

        This is understandable given the longer barrel length and therefore higher velocity and consequently higher penetration of handgun rounds in submachine guns.

        If our experience on the forums are accurate, most shot gunners and submachine gun fans receive this news poorly. It does seem counterintuitive since 5.56mm is a “high powered round.” All we can say to this is that the FBI FTU fired hundreds of rounds through carefully constructed wall sections and then into gel. Ignore these results at your own peril.

        • Caleb, you’re a true gun rights hero and legend among us bloggers with spreading the ‘Ghost guns’ word, and promoting the revered Black Rifle that we pro operators always knew was better than anything out there, all things considered, (we should start an organization ‘Black Guns Matter’, lol! …but you gotta keep the reality check in perspective with your enthusiasm.

          Your FBI testing (Flawed testing notwithstanding) results DID NOT PROVE THAT A 5.56 AR ROUND IS SAFE IN TERMS OF HOME PENETRATION PROBLEMS.

          The Eye’s testing only concluded that .223/5.56 bullets were Less LIKELY to penetrate than pistol ammo. NOT that they didn’t penetrate similarly most of the time, which, in the real world, THEY DO!

          The big caveat here what kind of ammo were they using? A standard 55 grain fmj 5.56 bullet leaving the barrel at around 3000 fps will not only go through and through two standard house walls, evrery shot, all day long, before it might start to tumble and still kill someone in the second room, but will still penetrate your average level 3a vest. standing behind the first interior house wall! (this is what happened in Waco, if you’re not too young to remember. The occupants shot multiple rounds from the inside without seeing the officers through the heavier outside framed and sided house walls with standard AR’s and AK’s and hit several officers trying to get in by climbing onto partof the roof. some rounds even penetrated vests killing some officers. the officers didn’t even see them shooting at them)

          The other flaw in this test is the lower mass theory. it’s too complicated to explain succinctly in few paragraphs, but the ‘theory’ really doesn’t apply to high powered rifles that much at close range. Heavier mass just travels farther without losing as much kinetic due mainly to drag v. thrust over flight duration.

          Speed/projectile velocity is always the most important power factor in damage/penetration. That’s why high powered rifle rounds are almost always one shot man stoppers to CM at less than 100 meters. If the hysdrostatic shock doesn’t kill them, if the round hits the sternum or ribs and explodes these bones into a mini-grenade inside the body as it exits and causes a pretty fast bleed out to death exit wound, this surely will.

          But for all practical purposes in the venue of situational home defense tactics we are focused on here, the truth is, An AR-15 firing almost any bullet even a standard hollow point…

          ( with the exception MAYBE of a special purpose highly frangible tactical round, or maybe one of those 40 grain super high velocity varmint rounds that has so much velocity that it literally explodes into disintigration at the first thing it hits. (just for fun, handloaders use to load these 17 caliber lightweight rounds in cases the size of a .223–i forgot what the factory round was called to speeds around 4,500fps which caused the rounds to explode a few meters outside the barrel, just from the air density!)

          … IS TOO DANGEROUS TO USE IN YOUR HOME DEFENSE, if you have to worry about kids in other bedrooms in the house.

          Put another way, I think these FBI tests involved more barricade cover, NOT really being a test for safe firing in an average home. Which is a different animal.

          Besides the FBI was also comparing crocodiles to can openers when shooting a 9mm pistol rounds at the same thing they are shooting high power rifle rounds at,

          Again, at close ranges, very high velocity is not as necessary as it is for reaching out long range. It’s just simple physics. You need heavier weight force on your bow to make the same arrow go farther than on a less powerful bow. But at close range there’s really not that much lethality difference. ‘Ex-post lethality’ is not really a factor with fmj bullets above .22 caliber on interior house walls. Just scour the police reports of any major metropolitan area of how many ‘bullet-shot-through- my- house’ wall while i was eating dinner’ complaints from just .22 long rifle rounds? Especially in war zones like chicago?

          For ‘consitent/effective lethality on humans You just need a certain power factor calculated in foot pounds of energy to provide consistant results. Usually around 300 plus foot pounds of energy these days typical of the average light 9mm pistol round. But there are .380 specialty rounds that include ‘designer’ bullets that outperform a standard .45 fmj acp. all night long.

          Although untold persons throughout history were put down by derringers firing anemic .22 short rounds with less than 50 pounds of energy. These bullets were usually solid round nose and if they didn’t hit a rib could still penetrate enough to poke a hole into your heart, effectively stopping it.

          Overly simplified, if your bullet size/weight is a 4 and your velocity is a 2, you have 8 of foot pounds of energy. If you have a bullet that is a 2 and your velocity is 4, you still have 8 in terms of foot pounds.

          That’s why with specialty tactical loads these days, the old 9mm v. 45 debate is just archaic and stupid.

          So bottom line, If you decide to use an AR-15 in 5.56, or anything else of ‘decent’ firepower capacity, You should seriously consider your habitat circumstances. Mainly other inhabitants in your home, and neighborhood collateral damage proximity.

          That means better ammo choices or change of weapon strategy. Caleb, an AR still might not be the best choice for your circumstances.

          They make new rounds now for these situations for pistols but i’m not sure if the have them for 5.56 yet. They are called DRT and RIP rounds which are high power specialty frangible rounds that supposedly won’t penetrate walls and deliver optimal potential one shot stops.

          So if your wife can handle a 9mm glock that takes a 30 round mag, using this ammo with a 5or 600 lumen tac light mounted on it might be her best bet for her home Personal defense weapon go-to if she can already adequately pop a quick succession of shots keeping them in the silouette?

          • Actually, the AR-15 fmj and most defense rounds (exceptions are the m855 and other special penetrator rounds) penetrate less than handgun bullets or buckshot when going through walls including simple drywall. The reason is the bullets tend to fragment easily and lose velocity rapidly. In a human target the fragmentation is a force multiplier. While they, like any centerfire rifle bullets, will go through kevlar, they do not go through trees or hard body armor.

          • “Overly simplified, if your bullet size/weight is a 4 and your velocity is a 2, you have 8 of foot pounds of energy. If you have a bullet that is a 2 and your velocity is 4, you still have 8 in terms of foot pounds.”

            That’s the problem with over-simplification – you end up being wrong. The formula for kinetic energy is 1/2(mass)×velocity(squared)

            So in your first example, a weight of 4 & a velocity of 2, the formula is 1/2(4) × 2(squared) or 2 × 4. For a kinetic energy of eight. Fine so far.

            However, in your second example, a weight of 2 & a velocity of 4, the formula looks like this: 1/2(2) × 4(squared) or 1 × 16, which is obviously an energy of 16.

            Velocity plays a MUCH bigger role in energy than mass does.

            As for the RIP rounds you recommend, the jury is still out on those. Performance has supposedly improved since their initial release, but there are still plenty of reports of reliability in in some firearms – the jagged (and sometimes fragile) trocals have been reported to hang on some feed ramps and/or bend. There have also been reports of them breaking as the round leaves the barrel, instead of when it hits the target. Aside from the scary (non jury-friendly) name, there are plenty of reasons to choose other far more proven rounds, including cost. At $2 – $3 per round, there’s definitely better option for defensive ammo that’s both reliable and effective, without the baggage of a gimmicky & scary sounding name.

  5. In the communist, unconstitutional, state of California AR type weapons are a big target of the anti-American polititions and so are the owners. I chose a Mossberg 930 for a home defense weapon. Its auto reloading will be interesting to see. Anybody care to comment on using that??

    • Lloyd, I have never honestly used a semi-auto shotgun so I can’t give first hand experience.

      If it works, would be great!

    • Shitguns to me are like camping, I consider camping to be staying at a cheap motel. But if I was forced to use a shitgun due to the unavailability of anything better, I’d hope it would be one of the better semi-autos with a box magazine of 20 rounds.

  6. Caleb, you make good points but you said it best in the point of devastating stopping power. In my opinion and mind you it is only my opinion and I am not attempting to discredit you or your points made. If it was my wife and kids life’s on the line I want that divesting stopping power. Even in the event of a marginal hit with the 00 12 gauge any attacker will be extremely slowed down if not immediately incapacitated by said round. Know mind you I realize a crazy is not on the same mental plain as the rest of us but I have a hard time believing that even if it was a non leathal hit (leg or arm) the damage done at the typical home defense situation is going to cause tremendous damage. Also you have one tiny bullet that is not going to stop anywhere near the target inside your home. Dry wall is thin and a round from a ar is going to go through quite a few walls potentially hitting a family member in the process. Another fact we must face is no matter how prepared we all think we are mentally how many true civilians are going to be able to keep it together enough for multiple follow shots? For my money and price of mind I want to know the one shot extreme damage dealt weapon is being used.

    • I know I know … BUT … it may only take one shot but if my wife can’t hit whatever bad guy she’s aiming at then “stopping power” means nothing. KnowwhatImean?

      Trust me, this is a tough decision … lol thanks for the comment!

      • Understood. Thanks for getting all of us thinking about multiple situations and most applicable tools for the job. Keep up the good work and again thanks buddy!!!!

    • Chris, you ‘attempt’ to make some good points but you then start to sound like the Totalitarians trying to argue the validity of gun control with someone who knows better.

      That you ‘have a pretty hard time ‘believing’ a marginal leg or arm hit is not going to cause tremendous damage….’

      So what if it does? That ‘tremendous’ damage is a subjective analysis which depends upon far too many circumstances which affect outcome to deliniate here.

      For instance when i was hit with double ought buckshot from another cop shooting his shotgun at the perp i was flanking but I barely felt it. I kept running until i got the drop on him, kicked the gun out of his hand and kept beating his fighting rage until he went down and another cop pinned and cuffed him. The cop shooting the shotgun said, I hope i didn,t hit you…and then we noticed the bleeding through my pants. 3 pellets hit my thigh from the knee to my hip, and one in my side just above the hip through my leather jacket. All penetrated and went below the skin, but nothing ‘devastating’. the one above the knee was bleeding steadily for some reason. It was winter and i had long underware and heavy pants. And of course, the shot was from about 60 yards away.

      The Shitgun’s max power curve is very limited by range, especially the open choke barrels. Which limits its max effective use for self defense, as well. Which is actually the initial rationale for adaption for police depts. especially back in the predominately .38 special days. They were hard to beat for CQB and minimalized urban collateral damage.

      For room to room ranges buckshot is, indeed, a one shot center mass fight ender. But so is any high powered firearm, especially a rifle cartridge!

      But the Disadvantages far outweigh the perceived advantages in a home defense situation, which was the whole purpose of Calebs article here. Which nobody seems to get.

      Even the average Cop-or soldier- is not well trained enough with a shot gun to use it with optimal skills. Especially just awakened by a deadly intruder in the middle of the night with the lights out. You can easily
      miss an attacker at the bottom of the stairs with your shotgun if you just point and blast. There’s only about a golf ball size of mass coming out of the barrel of the average shotgun up to 10 feet or so before it starts to open up a bit more and then rapidly disperses to where at about 30 -40 yards depending upon your choke, you’d be lucky if all 9 pellets hit a standard size silhouette target, also with a lot of reduced foot pounds energy per .32 caliber pellet. And that’s one of the reasons police depts are going away from them other than specialized applications within their venue, like door hinge breaching.

      So if you miss with your first buckshot loaded 870 shot and the attacker has a gun, he has ample time to open fire back on you as you try to rack in another round. And if you are also now falling back in the gun fight you have a 4 foot unwieldy 10 pound piece of metal helping to restrict and slow you down. And if it’s only five shots, or worse, two in a doube barrell, and you kept blasting and missing and now youre empty and have to find more ammo and reload single rounds in the dark, guess what?

      AAH, you probably think you won’t ever miss that first shot, LOL!

      But guess what? It won’t matter if i miss the first shot. Because almost instantly. INSTANTLY! the second shot, and the third, and the fourth, fifth and so on as fast as i can pull the trigger, until all 50 rounds from the nice drum i have in my compact lightweight (one handed ability) AR-11.5 inch barrel pistol/PDW with almost indistinguishable flash hiding will put super fast firepower center of mass on the attacker that a shitgun simply can’t compare with. Period.

      The comparable ‘Devastation’ panacea that you think is so ‘all-problem’ solving and guaranteeing of survival with your 12 ga, just doesn’t hold up in comparison to the ‘devastation’ brought to the subject by rapid multiple hits from 5.56 3000 fps hollow points. Statistically Speaking. Not many survive or even keep moving after a direct cm torso FROM ONE hit by an AR-15. But there are numerous cases of survival from just one buckshot hit. Especially on well muscled perpetrators.

      I don’t mean to to pick on you Chris. I don’t feel i’m wasting my valuable time and experience trying to make it easier for as many people as i can reach out to optimally defend themselves. But you can’t just ‘imagine’ things that just aren’t true, especially if you are not a highly trained practitioner and most of your ‘experience’ comes from watching movies and the occasional fun at the range. Always remembeer:

      “…It’s not that people don’t know so much. It’s just that so much of what people know, just ain’t so!”–Mark Twain.

      As for the other factor of ‘Penetration’ danger covered in this article, The FBI report, which is flawed, still admits that it’s “…a LIKELY event ON AVERAGE that a 5.56 AR round over penetrates less than a pistol round.

      Which means, That an AR .223 is STILL JUST AS LIKELY TO OVER PENETRATE DANGEROUSLY IN AN URBAN ENVIRONMENT than it is NOT. Because they ALL still OVERpenetrate walls in a fucking house!

      So if that’s an important consideration, because it’s more than just your bedroom partner who can stay behind you to hand you spare mags or flank them with her own firepower, like multiple kids in other rooms, or neighboring next door houses, then you must consider this carefully. Because the reality of ‘collateral damage’ is the world’s dirtiest best kept secret.

      If that’s the case, the best option might be a compact Glock 9mm that accepts a 30 round mag. Use highly frangible hollow point rounds or the new ‘exploders’ like RIP(see the video on youtube)and that other brand. These are ONE SHOT stoppers. Very expensive, but then…what price to you put on ultimate “Devastation”? And these rounds should not be that continuous in penetartation after the first impact! (Maybe I’ll test some shortly and get back to everyone on that)

      Mount a 5 or six hundred lumen tac lite on it-which will blind someone even in daylight, and if that doesn’t do the job, easily and handily, then i don’t know what else to tell you? Well, I do, but I’m feeling ‘humanitarian’ today. So just remember this when it comes to guns for protection:

      “…so much bullshit told to so many by so few and unfortunately…believed!”

    • If I’m going to go through the trouble of using a “rifle” size platform, I’ll stick to “rifle sized” ammunition (5.56) but that’s just me. Glad that woman protected herself! Very good on her!

  7. My wife is a small woman of 5′ tall. I have tried to teach her to shoot, but she couldn’t hit the side of a barn if she was standing 3 feet from it. I keep a .410 gauge double-barrel shotgun loaded for her to use. Low recoil and will stop most anyone she hits with it.

  8. Caleb, I don’t know why you keep saying this still, even though by now, with all your new training and skills, as opposed to back in your news later days when i first read this and other ‘curious’ statements, that you still say that a double 0 buckshot pellet is the equivilent of a 9mm round? Can you please explain that in ballistic detail, please? Or is it just a misprint?

    By the way, if you pull the trigger once with a full auto M-16 burst, or high RPM 9mm subgun, you get around 9 or 10 rounds per split second with a quick trigger pull and let off burst. Virtually no difference in multiple projectile impact shock than a single 12 ga. hit on the body, for all pragmatic tissue disruption purposes. And if you hold down, I guarantee a burst that stuffs 20 rounds in your chest in one second, will out ‘blast’ any shotgun.

  9. How about an AK instead of an AR? AKs are more reliable, more durable and the 7.62×39 round packs a harder punch than the 5.56 NATO round. In addition, since the recoil spring is in the receiver rather than the butt stock they can be equipped with any one of a number of good side-folding stocks that allow them to be instantly reduced nine inches in length for transport, concealment or use in tight confines.

  10. I have always considered the 223 to be simply nothing more than a 222 magnum. 3200 fps 50-75 grain bullet truly a varmint rifle. I know I will get called every name in the book for this but if you have been shooting as long as I have the 223 is just not that impressive. If your going for home defense and your 223 will pass out of your home safely than why not step up to something in 30 caliber? My personal home defense tool is an fn scar. 20 rounds per magazine great iron or red dot and unsurpassed knockdown power. Great selection of bullet. Almost no recoil. Very easy to use. And very wife friendly. One thing that no one here has mentioned that is just as important as the weapons you choose is to have a great pair of electronic ear protection sitting right next to your bed. They amplify every sound in your area while blocking out the blast from shots. With this setup you hear everything that the intruder is doing. When we tested these my son and I were able to hear footsteps moving across the carpets one floor down from my master bedroom. What a great advantage plus you can have two way communication. Advantage homeowner…

  11. Have you considered using low recoil shells? Fiocchi makes excellent low recoil 00buck and slugs. This is what I use in my home defense 870 express. I also practice with it at the range and it is really easy on the shoulders.

    • Yup, that’s an option. I think I wrote in the article it’s not so much the recoil that gets her (or me obviously) it’s all the other stuff. Weight, running it, manual of arms, aiming, simply putting it all together. It’s just easier to run a carbine effectively.

  12. I fall in the shotgun column. I would actually like a shotgun pistol but those haven’t been legal for years. I hunted for years with a shotgun and am thoroughly familiar with operation and recoil My home situation is such that I can’t imagine my wife using any type of firearm in self defense and since there are other occupants of the house I prefer a weapon that won’t shoot through walls.

    • Douglas, didn’t you read anything or learn anything from this forum? About 12ga buckshot or just about any other load except maybe light skeet WILL GO RIGHT THROUGH THE STANDARD HOUSE CONSTRUCTION INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR SIDING LIKE IT WASN’T EVEN THERE?!

  13. This why I have a Taurus Judge 5 shot pistol That uses 410 shot gun shells as well as a 45 long. My 1st shot I would assume to be a rushed one while someone breaks in and I run to get it. So the 1st shot has 65 pellets of #4 shot and the next shots gradually increase pellet size and and decrease pattern size to 4 triple O copper buck and lastly the 45 long. The trigger pull is hard to avoid accidents but when cocked is very easy. Old little guys like me and women would have no trouble with it and lots of lead could be flying fast toward multiple invaders. And ammo is available!

  14. Wow……… things sure get heated up on here… some of the comments have validity IMHO but many are basically toilet paper. If your wife cant carry use a shotgun, get her the AR assuming that she can and will use that as an alternative. However it would be great to have both. I dont necessarily want to call anyone out but frankly have zero belief that ANYONE took 3 double 00 12 guage rounds and kept going and didnt even feel it. Doubtful at best, if true, I suggest a career in Marvels upcoming Superman comic movie.

    If you have a shotgun…. and overpenetration is an issue…. go to birdshot. Just as deadly at close range and no real issues with over penetration. 5.56 is a horrible defense and military round. Sure lots of people die because someone shot them with one…… errr 50 rounds…. but flat out, inside normal house range… a shotgun is it, hands down. Ever think of a HB210 12 guage? or similar? bull pup design, one arm handle and with practice devastating…. and you dont need 30 rounds to drop a wanna be attacker…. one works just fine
    your wife would handle it just fine i would think……. also, while I am commenting, the guy expounding on shotguns losing power in some mythical oversized living room is rediculous…. name one person that actually has a living room that is more than 50/60 feet? Almost ALL home invasin distances are under 20 feet. Pouring lead downrange in massive volumes is due to poor stopping power of the 5.56….. how many thousand rounds were sent out in Vietnam…. how many vets through their 5.56 in the dirt so that they could shoot the 7.62? significant numbers……. btw…. usually I just read these posts… and for the most part just shake my head at some of these comments….. but here I sit, getting IV therapy for the nest 4 weeks….. 🙂 bored and commenting………..

    Shotguns rule in close quarter combat….. less rounds…… devastating…… and less penetration….

    Have a great day……… 🙂 Or you could just get a really large attack dog….. that works too

    Everybody have a great day and pleaseeeeeee dont get all butt hurt about whatever I said….. lifes too short and
    everybody is entitled to their opinion on here……… whether you are right like me…. or not….lmao ! 🙂

    • Okay, Arlen, I was going to beat the shit out of you with a big foot in the ass reality fact check, but if you’re in a hospital then you are probably on meds and not up to par with cognitive perspicacity so I’ll give you a break. (figurateively speaking)

      But I am obligaged by the pursuit of higher enlightenment in truth disclosure, especially when it comes to urban mythology with dangerous weapons, to edif-fuckin’-cate those whose ignorance match their obstinate reluctance to know the facts. I consider it my way of ‘giving back’ in life to help prevent people from hurting themselves from their own ignorance and stupidity.

      First and foremost, The Vietnam myth that all these combat grunts threw down their AR’s and picked up 14’s or even AK’s. I don’t know which Viet Nam you were in, or if you were even there. But I certainly was. And I did 3 very-unboring combat tours in the Cetral Highlands as an 18B with a MacV SOG unit. Until I wounded out.

      I never saw anybody ‘throw away’ their AR’s for 7.62 guns?. I always saw just the opposite. The Vietnamese special forces we were training couldn’t wait to get their hands on one? Especially those who had to hump around all day in the steaming climate? There were some instances of jaming due mostly to maintenance or ammo/powder problems at the onset of the AR introduction into combat, but those were quickly remedied and they then even came out with something called the ‘Shorty’ carbine which was the best Combat weapon i ever carried. Its evolutionary progeny is what you have today, on everybody’s wish list in the form of an AR PDW.

      And 5.56 bullets killed more enemy, (and caused more friendly fire ‘accidents’) in Nam than anybody would ever imagine. An it wasn’t ‘thousands’ of 5.56 rounds as you said in Your ‘imaginary’ perception, Arden, it was Millions of rounds.

      The other idiot myth about the killing power was inflated during the Iraq conflict when average infantry was trying to pick off the enemy at hundreds of meters in desert land that throws up a heat distorted image, not to mention pretty stiff crosswinds. The other part of this was that the baggy clothing created a more obscure CM profile for aiming directly at the skinny bodies underneath.

      That’s why eventually most Sand Box Infantry Squads in Iraq and Afghanistan started to have a designated marksman carrying a Barret .50 BMG. It had nothing to do with the terminal efficacy of the 5.56 bullet, otherwise the SAW belt feds wouldn’t be 5.56? It simply had to do with abusing their design capabilities.

      But once a myth gets ‘viral’, especially with guns, religion, or politics, it’s just like an SDT. it keeps on going and is very hard to eliminate.

      As far as you finding it ‘hard to believe’ someone took “…three rounds of double 00, kept going, and didn’t even feel it”, I too would be curious as to how that would be possible?

      But the answer is that your statment is irrevelant to what i actually said. If you are between med dosages and can determine some level of reading comprehension, please go back and re-read that paragraph. I didn’t say I got hit by three full blast rounds of 00 from the shotgun, I said Three single PELLETS from ONE 12 ga. round fired at a significant distance! AND, I never said i Never felt it at all, I said “I BARELY felt it’.

      There are reasons for that if you knew anything about human physiology, and made it a point in life to quit just ‘beLIEving things instead of Knowing the reality. The front thigh area is less pain sensitive than other areas of your body with more tactle nervereception like your hands, for instance, And there are parts of your body, like about an inch from your elbow going toward your hand that is almost painless. Pinch it and see how it feels compared to pinching your palms? Martial arts utilize this phenomenon.

      Combine that with the rush of adrenalin and those three hits from three anemic pellets fired from at least 60 meters away through clothing only penetrated about a quarter inch in my skin, the doctor actually sqeezed one of them out.

      This is a pretty common occurance, relatively speaking, with distance shotgun wounds. Ask any homicide detective how many people ‘survive’ shotgun blast hits.

      So you ‘believe’ what you want, dude. Or don’t. I guess then you’d never believe then that i got hit by two AK rounds, one in the side of the back, and one in the calf, while I was dragging another wounded soldier to the chopper and made it with enough strenth to throw both of us aboard.

      As far as a “…career with Marvel Comics as Superman…” Well why the fuck would i want to do that when I actually was a REAL Life’ Superman? You insult me, LOL! That’s why our motto was “Mess with the best, DIE like the Rest’!

      There ARE always some Real Supermen around, you know…? Or does your abject ignorance keep your belief system in a state of intransigent deinal on that too?

      But You’re right Arden, Life’s too short to get too ‘anal’ about anthing. No hard feelings. In my misspent youth i was a killer. Now I’m a Healer. Mind AND Body. Why are you in the ‘check in-never-check out hotel’ getting an IV? If it’s an illness maybe i can give you some info that can help before the doctors kill you?

    • First time on this blog and finding lots of pros and cons. For house pistols, a 45 and a 9mm does fine. My go to rifles are both ARs , one in 556 and one in 7.62×39 and the shotgun is a 12ga pump. I live in a tight neighborhood where our houses are maybe 50ft apart. I prefer the #4 shot for the shotgun, the 55gr frag bullets, the ones that turn to powder when it strikes hard surfaces, in both 7.62 and 556. Both pistols eat a steady carry diet of Black Talon ammo and at the range reg ball ammo. Since here in Ga if you cap someone farther than 20ft and they are running away, you have a problem. If in your home, make sure he goes for a weapon.Take them out while they are inside, remember, when they are outside your home and posing no threat to you, unless they are firing a weapon at you, it would be a wise idea to let him run. If yo shoot him, be prepared to spend lots of money on attys and possibly time in jail waiting for a trial. SO, it doesn’t matter what you use as a weapon, get to know it, how to clean and take care of the weapon, become good at running the gun. The gun is like your car. The car you start it with a switch, with the weapon the trigger is the switch.

  15. If the bad guy gets the drop on you any gun will do. If you get wounded can you stop the bleeding and still defend yourself? If they throw a flash bomb in your room can you still function? Maybe we should have white flags by our bedside on a pole? I think a good drill would be to have a friend test your readiness at 2 am when you are sound asleep and precautions taken to neuter the weapons. Last but not least an escape route. You could be facing unstoppable odds like the pour X Seals in Benghazi. They did take out 60 bad guys but it cost them their lives. A gun fight is usually a short affair from what I have read. I care not to be in one. And if I was in one I would expect to take a hit cause I’m old and slow and try to fight fair. Suppose the bad guys pretend to be law enforcement and you surrender only to find out they lied. There must be a million parameters that could trip you up. Scenario based training is the best I think.

  16. Why does everybody recommend 12 gauge loaded with OO buck? For Home defense I prefer a 20 gauge loaded with standard velocity bird shot. The 20 gauge gun is usually lighter, and with low brass shells it doesn’t kick nearly as hard as a 12 gauge loaded with buck. Inside of the average house over penetration is kept to a minimum. Now as far as stopping ability, take both a 12 gauge and a 20 gauge outside. Load them with the recommended above loads. Pick out a sapling at about 21 feet, shoot it with both guns, at different levels. Can you tell the difference? They will both probably cut the tree in half. Why would I buy a Peterbilt truck, when all I could ever have use for was a Ford F150?

  17. I just got a new AR-15. After I got it I was going to go and shoot it. It came with nothing so I had to go and get a sight, oil as well as other things as well. Once we got it going and ready to start shooting and making sure it was shooting properly. Finally we got it sighted in there was a problem with the trigger group in it. Now that it has been gone back to the MFG’s and now they have had it for two weeks and then told it could take maybe another two to three weeks before it was ready just made me mad. I didn’t spend over $700 for a gun that was not right. They have less than another week before I ask for a different gun or money back. This is rediculous. I don’t even remember the name on it. Once it did shoot and sighted in it was fun to shoot. I got it within less than an inch of the bulls eye. Then it started to mess up and maybe shot two or three and then the trigger wouldn’t pull. I just hope i never have to use it against a person. But this is why I keep practicing with it when it comes back to me. If you want one just buy a good one.

  18. I have a couple thoughts. First of all Mr. Muhjesbude claims an mos (18B) that didn’t exist during Vietnam. Back then Special Forces was a special skills identifier added to the mos. If you were 11B (infantryman) and had SF training you’re mos would have been 11BS. So I call BS no pun intended on Mr. Muhjesbude. When comparing the close range stopping power of a 12 gauge shotgun and a 5.56 carbine it is no contest: 9- 53 grain .33 caliber projectiles versus one 55 or 62 grain .223 caliber projectile. So if you hit a human target with both at home defense distance which will cause the most wounds and blood loss? A small statured woman can shoot a 12 gauge; see Melody Lauer’s article at Lucky Gunner, “I used to hate shotguns”. But it takes training. So if your wife isn’t going to train much then a carbine in a rifle or pistol cartridge may be her best choice.

    • … which is basically what I said. If anyone is not going to train much (man or woman) then a carbine is a better choice over the shotgun.

  19. Can any of you get your wife to seriously practice? The only rifle my wife is totally proficient with is her Marin .22 semi-auto that she uses to massacre the ground squirrels here.(She is actually very proficient with her lever and bolt action deer rifles but they are not choice bedside weapons) I bought her a 20ga semi-auto that the controls are exactly like her .22 . It is light and handy and when I am gone it is by her bed loaded with 5rounds of #3 buck (20 pellets).

  20. I bought a Ruger 10/22 charger for my wife, and rebuilt it with the ATI Ruger Charger AR-22 Pistol Stock System. Look on you tube for that and you’ll see the conversion. And I suggest this for your wife as well. First, some background…..my wife is 4’11, 100 pounds, and is a delicate little mouse. Very little interest in firearms, and reluctantly listens to my occasional yet consistent lessons on what to do if she is alone and there is a threat. I made the mistake of taking her to the range her first time and had her fire my .38 special, and my .380 lcp. Both are a bit of a handful because of their recoil and little grip to hold. It scared her. She said it felt like it was going to fly out of her hand. She’s very week and not very athletic. So, that was on me. Bad call. So after trying different firearms myself, I got her to try the Ruger 10/22 Charger, and it calmed her down, and she was able to be accurate and enjoy target shooting. So, what she has at home now for home defense is the Charger with the ATI Ruger Charger AR-22 Pistol Stock System. The conversion stock is pointless in terms of usage. However, it looks cool, and has a military assault weapon look. That actually excited her a bit, which surprised me. It allowed her to step in to that man’s world, but with an easy to use firearm. The new stock system gives her something to hold on to with 2 hands. She had me take a picture to show her sisters back in Peru. So if you knew my wife, you’d understand that I must have done something right. So why the 10/22 Charger, with the conversion? Yes, it is a .22, but as we are all starting to come back full circle and realize that they are not just a beginner gun, I can accept the benefits regardless of the loss in caliber. There are plenty of videos and examples of men being taken down with a .22. The Ruger Charger is very, very reliable. And not ammo picky. I have fed it with all kinds of rounds, and it simpy does not fail. With the 15 round magazine, she’d have plenty of shots to defend herself. She can hold it with 2 hands, which was really important to my wife, yet its stubby. So no swinging around a long gun. Low recoil, so it didn’t freak her out, and she is able to stay on target better. It hardly moves, so she can aim, and rapid fire without the time in between to try to re-aim. I mounted a nice lighted scope with side mount laser, and put a small tactical light. She can arm herself, put the laser light on, and be a great shot immediately. If its dark, she has her light source as well. I put a sling so she can strap it on if need be. I loaded it with CCI Velocitor. The scope wasn’t really for home defense, but if need be, she can use it for hunting or at the range for fun. But also, it is just a cool gun now. I love it. Its fun for me to use. So it makes for a versatile weapon. These are just my thoughts. If you have a wife that sounds like mine, you might consider it.

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