AR as my HD weapon????


June 19, 2007, 08:47 PM
For years, I've had a shotgun and pistols as the primary HD weapons. But now I own a Colt AR-15 A3 (Had an AR years ago but..). Somehow I can't imagine relying on an AR inside the home (modest home, we're talking about distances of 15-30 feet in most cases). Seems to me that no matter what ammo I'd have, there is a great risk of shooting up the neighborhood even if I do hit the invaders.

I'm correct about this, right? Or do some of you experienced AR shooters know of appropriate .223 ammo for inside-the-home defense. I'm expecting answers to confirm that I should just stick with my current setup, but who knows, I just might be surprised! :D


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Evil Monkey
June 19, 2007, 08:56 PM
It can be used as a HD weapon. Even better with frangible ammo.

June 19, 2007, 08:57 PM
There is plenty of frangible ammo available for the .223. And you'll find in some cases 9mm will penetrate more in drywall. 9mm moves pretty slow, the HP cavity gets plugged making it act just like FMJ.

Having said that a pistol is muvh easier to move with inside a house.

Gary G23
June 19, 2007, 08:58 PM
My LMT 14.5" M4 is my primary home defense weapon. More stopping power than a pistol, easier to handle than a shotgun, and holds more rounds. What's not to like?

I live in the country so overpenetration is not an issue.

June 19, 2007, 09:55 PM
it's an excellent HD weapon.

June 19, 2007, 10:52 PM
Thanks for replies. Please keep 'em coming.

June 19, 2007, 11:51 PM
"easier to handle than a shotgun"

Hmm. I won't argue ergonomics, since they are extremely subjective, but I, personally, cannot imagine a weapon that is more of a natural and rapid pointer than a properly equipped shotgun. The problem is that everyone tacticools them up to the point that they swing like railroad ties.


June 19, 2007, 11:51 PM
Oh, and yes, the AR will work fine for HD.

Don't Tread On Me
June 20, 2007, 01:53 AM
I'll offer an opposing (different) viewpoint.

AR is fine. However, I do not buy into the whole frangible ammo nonsense. There are some basic truths. One truth is that anything which doesn't penetrate walls easily, is a poor performer for self defense. Anything that's a good performer for self-defense, also penetrates walls easily. So far, there's no magic bullet that stops in dry wall, but will mangle the innards of some violent homicidal manic in your home. Make your choice.

Your #1 priority in home defense is defending your life. It isn't your priority to protect the neighbors from the 1:1,000,000 chance that a bullet might penetrate all of your walls, their walls, and hit them. Your priority is to neutralize the deadly threat you are facing right there and then. The threat that if you don't stop, is a 1:1 chance you are going to die. We've debated (on THR) dozens of news stories where a home defender shot through a door or wall to incapacitate an armed threat that was shooting at them first through a wall or a door. That's my view. If you feel strongly about keeping the neighbors safe, then ignore what I've said.

There's a lot of mythology on the net. A lot of the ".223 is safer in the house than a 9mm" is a steaming pile perpetuated by positions held by law enforcement that were later exaggerated on the web. There have been plenty of tests, military included - that show the .223 is a serious penetration threat. There's no getting around that. Both .223 and 9mm are dangerous. Reality is, ANY centerfire is dangerous in a home. Period. The .223's growing popularity in LE is a direct result of it's superior performance over 9mm, not because it is safer for Mr. John Q. Public. AR's are cheaper than MP5's. .223 is more effective than 9mm. It's a logical choice for police. God bless them. Police face many problems. They face criticism for becoming "militarized" and often do not adopt rifles like the AR-15, or choose a pump action instead. They have to create excuses or feel-good justifications to get certain segments of the public to shut up. One of those is that the switch to .223 will lessen collateral damage. Meanwhile, all the LE ammo out there is designed to maximize penetration! Go figure.

Yes, I really feel so much safer that an entry team is using .223 vs. 9mm. Oh yeah! Their bullets will only go through 5 interior walls instead of 6! Anyway, police face serious threats, many of whom are heavily armed and highly dangerous. Like those N. Hollywood bankrobbers. Had those cops had a single AR-15, it would have been over much faster. Everyday cops are busting down doors of crackhouses where thugs are armed with centerfire semi-autos. They need firepower like the AR-15. So do you. Don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming police, but instead those who take something that the police establishment says for special reasons, and then transform that into a universal home-defense doctrine for civilians. Bad idea.

By all means, go get those frangibles. The gun weilding thug in your home will thank you for it.

My personal HD gun is a Saiga (AK) in 7.62x39mm. I want simple. No lights, lasers or other crap on it. Just one control on it - the trigger. Reliable. Tough. And fires a cartridge that will penetrate walls, cabinets, furniture or anything else in my bullet's path toward stopping the threat. AR is fine too. Choose either the 62gr NATO for a mil load, or a 69gr load. If you have a fast twist, go heavier if you can. Keep it simple with the AR. Home defense distances are usually never greater than 12 yards. A set of night sights might be better than optics and gizmos - you're at point and shoot range. Spend the money on a reliable rifle. Some people buy el-junko AR's then accessorize them with $1,500 in rails, optics, BUIS and other useless stuff that serves no purpose in saving your hide. They don't have their priorities straight, much like those worried more about their neighbors. Spend as much as possible in getting an AR that doesn't jam, won't break a bolt on you or anything like that. Take care of the basics and essentials, then add stuff if it can help.

Evil Monkey
June 20, 2007, 09:26 AM
DTOM, in keeping with internet tradition, I'm not going to believe anything you said and still advocate the use of frangible ammo. :D :D :D

But seriously, how about soft points?

June 20, 2007, 11:22 AM
Ask yourself what your likely scenario will be. Offense (clearing rooms) against multiple targets or defense against a most likely single or few targets.

Lots of test on various calibers against several sheets of drywall.

Surprising results -- If I remember right the AR .223 did very well, meaning it penetrated least of the groups of shotgun and handgun b/c the bullet begins to break into non-lethal small parts after a few sheets.

My biggest concern is reliability. My shotgun has NEVER failed and I've got 5 rounds of guaranteed 1 shot kill (don't bother arguing that someone is going to keep fighting after being shot with a 12 gauge), plus relatively fast reloads. Conversely, with the AR I've got 30 rounds of excellent firepower that *might* work sometimes. It's just not reliable enough right now.

If I had a collapsable stock on my PTR 91 I would consider that. Alternately my lever action 30-30 would work well to. And then there's my SKS... But then there are large overpenetration problems with the 30 calibers....

Bottom line, the AR is excellent for HD (afterall, that's what our Soldiers and Marines are using to clear buildings). If I felt that I would need to fight an unknown number of people in buildings, the AR would be one of my top choices for weight and an magazine capacity (provided I could get it reliable). However, in a home defense situation, realistically I'd have to shoot one or two times against one or two people. I would be barricaded in my room with the door closed and only shooting as people came into the room. I'm confident that after the first guy drops from a 12 gauge to the chest, the 2nd guy is going to reconsider how valuable my stereo is....

It isn't war, it's home DEFENSE. I don't clear rooms, I defend.

June 20, 2007, 11:48 AM
leadcounsel, how unreliable is your ar? it sounds like maybe something is wrong with your weapon... like you used cement instead of lube...

i have a homebuilt ar-15 mix n match $600 rifle that i put over 2000 rounds through with NOT ONE failure to fire.

i believe that in a hd situation i would grab my ar before my 12 ga. because i have much more experience with ars and am very familiar with my current set up (eotech, tangodown and surefire) my aim is at protecting my family, not worrying if i have magic nieghbor killing bullets

Bartholomew Roberts
June 20, 2007, 12:12 PM
First, let's make sure that people understand the difference between "frangible" ammo and some of the self-defense ammo marketed as "frangible". True frangible ammo is made of compressed metal powder and is used in shoothouses and training situations where normal ammo cannot be used safely. Most of this type of frangible ammo has serious reliability issues and doesn't penetrate deeply enough to be effective as a self-defense round. IIRC, penetration is around 5-6" in ballistics gel. Do you want to defend your life with something that can't penetrate 6" of bare jello?

Second, you have self-defense rounds marketed as "frangible" like the Glaser shot-filled rounds or high-speed, light-weight varmint hollowpoints. These also have penetration problems; but at least they don't come apart in the barrel and sandblast your rifling or create the horrid feed issues that some frangibles do.

At the end of the day, it is pretty much how Don't Tread on Me laid it out. Anything that is effective at stopping people will zip right through multiple interior walls. Anything that won't penetrate multiple interior walls generally won't be effective at stopping people. Your best bet to minimize overpenetration concerns is to hit your target - so go with the weapon that you train with the most and feel the most confident with.

Training will have a more significant effect on the outcome than the type of rifle or the ammunition used, yet people will debate caliber or ammo type for days and spend $3 per round on "magic bullets" before they will spend a $1 on realistic training.

Evil Monkey
June 20, 2007, 12:45 PM
Then soft points are a better choice, since they flatten out and still retain weight necessary for penetration.

I seem to have misunderstood frangible ammo.

June 20, 2007, 12:49 PM
I am as curious as Evil Monkey about Soft-points in .223. I usually use my M855 handloads and I'm curious about other alternatives. Does SP perform any better than standard "ball" in the .223?

another okie
June 20, 2007, 01:01 PM
I still keep the shotgun loaded, but recently I've put a magazine of federal hollowpoint 55 grainers on top of the safe. The AR was designed as a lightweight weapon that would be ideal for close quarters. I also keep my electronic hearing protection nearby.

June 20, 2007, 01:15 PM
Anyone that thinks that frangible are not deadly hasn't kept up with FBI statistics on such things.Magsafe and Glaser both only penetrate human bodies several inches but literally explode on impact leaving wound channels 3-5" depending on caliber.Kill rate is above 90%,which is higher than most Jhp and they won't kill your neighbor whether you like him or not.One of the fun things I used to do in the desert was to use a water filled 10 gal.pickle bucket as a target. My 44mag Glaser would not only penetrate that heavy plastic but the pressure inside that bucket would blow it into a dozen pieces.7.62x39 Glaser was even more impressive, as the water shower would be twenty feet high.

Bartholomew Roberts
June 20, 2007, 01:26 PM
Then soft points are a better choice, since they flatten out and still retain weight necessary for penetration.

Actually at .223 velocities, many lighter softpoints seem to break up unless they are bonded or have some other special construction. Those bonded softpoints penetrate quite well and are even issued by some law enforcement agencies; but we are back to overpenetration concerns.

See this thread:

It shows that a 55gr SP penetrates 7.75" of bare gel. The same round penetrates 7.25" of gel after passing through wallboard. For those who are curious, the Reading Library ( thread has a ton of data on 5.56mm penetration.

Koos Custodiet
June 20, 2007, 01:37 PM
It depends on your circumstances. OK, you asked about penetration and the thread has drifted that way. BUT...

I saw this topic, clicked on it, then walked out of my outside room into the house, stirred the pot of soup [1] on the stove, filled my glass, and came back out to read the thread.

Even if I had an AR [2] I would not have carried it back and forth with me. Meanwhile someone could have jumped the wall and waited behind a corner [3]. Even had I carried it with me, in close quarters a long gun is useless.

So, IMO, you would use a long gun in a SHTF scenario, maybe in a home invasion scenario *if* things go your way, but it sure as liberals ain't the best choice. IMO, of course :-)

Me? I carry a 357 revolver...


[1] Potato & Leek.

[2] Somewhere between "difficult" and "impossible" to obtain & licence in this country.

[3] OK, the Airedaile would have told me, unless they took him out silently [4] but that's not my point :-)

[4] Which they do with alarming regularity around here...

June 20, 2007, 01:48 PM
My primary home defense gun:

That is my AR-SD. 10.5 barrel, Tac-16 suppresor, YHM free float over the can, YHM front flip, ARMS 40L rear flip, PRI gas buster, and an EoTech 553. When at home it has a Surefire flashlight on the left side of the rail.

I use Hornady TAP.

And those of you who know me know that I'm a bonafide shotgun fanatic, but I just think this gun gives me more capability.

June 20, 2007, 02:29 PM
I have trained the most with my AR15's and feel the most comfortable with them. Not to mention, they are one of the more powerful guns in my arsenal...

I've trained with my pistols but they are weak...

The AR15 works great in this home defense role.

Besides, there's a reason why LE agencies are going with the .223 these days. It's a great choice for CQB.

June 20, 2007, 02:29 PM
correia, very nice.

Don't Tread On Me
June 20, 2007, 02:40 PM
Barth has some great words on the subject. I left out the training part. I was kind of making the priority lecture about rifle quality, but left out the training. Again, a little training is better than a lot of gizmos or wonder bullets. If you are worried about the neighbors, get training so the chances of missing them are significantly less. You are less likely to panic as much and spray. That's the best medicine for that concern.

EvilMonkey: By all means, my opinion is as worthless or as valueable as anyone else's. This is the internets. I'll be the first to admit that. :D

As for the frangible ammo thing: I want to know how many entry teams are loading up with their frangible ammo right before kicking in that door of a known gang-crackhouse? I bet zero. Why would anyone use ammo that is designed to be a training tool to preserve training facilities (shoothouses) as a self-defense round? I dunno about you, but I see LE always interested in the latest flavor of TAP or Federal's Bonded Bear Claw (which is all about penetration)....

Like I said, there are articles posted here about home invasions where the perp had a firearm and the defender ultimately survived by hitting the homicidal maniac THROUGH A DOOR. Try that with your frangibles. Remember, your bullets aren't going through the door, but that thug's bullets are coming through right at you.

June 21, 2007, 08:27 AM
Thanks everyone. Looks like another thread addresses my same issue...

Fred Fuller
June 21, 2007, 09:11 AM
Use whatever you have the most training with/trigger time on/confidence in. It isn't the arrow, it's the Indian, it's the singer not the song. Whatever you are best at using is what you should use when the chips are down.

And if you aren't really that good with any of them, then GET GOOD WITH SOMETHING, SOON. Pick one platform and master it, don't try to be a jack of all trades.

Stay safe,


June 21, 2007, 09:43 AM
I faced a similar dilemma and ended up choosing a 3rd option, the FN PS90:
Light, short (26" OAL), scary fast, no muzzle flash, mild muzzle blast, easy to use from prone, can be effectively aimed/fired w/one hand, 50rd mag & the rd is specifically designed not to overpenetrate.

June 21, 2007, 12:24 PM
I am as curious as Evil Monkey about Soft-points in .223. I usually use my M855 handloads and I'm curious about other alternatives. Does SP perform any better than standard "ball" in the .223?
Yes, and some JHP is better still, IMO.

Good introduction to the topic, if you can find it:

Roberts, GK: "Law Enforcement General Purpose Shoulder Fired Weapons -- The Wounding Effects of 5.56mm/.223 Carbines Compared With 12 Ga. Shotguns and Pistol Caliber Weapons using 10% Ordnance Gelatin as a Tissue Simulant." Police Marksman, July/August 1998.

June 21, 2007, 12:37 PM
Don't know if it's still available, but I tested penetration of a few different bullets
in water-filled jugs. The .223 Federal American Eagle 50-grain HP had the least penetration of anything tested. I would choose any varmint .223 round and test
in water-filled jugs. The formula is something like 10" of water penetration equals 4" in gel, but Google it. (For me, it worked down to penetration of 2-4 milk jugs being ideal HD loading.)

Load appropriately, and as 'nuther guy said, hit your target.

And have a nice day.


June 21, 2007, 12:43 PM
tomac, which round are you talking about? you should clarify because some of the 5.7x28 rounds have AMAZING penetration.

June 23, 2007, 12:59 PM
Choice is a wonderful option - why make it until you know what you need.

On the floor near my bed lie a Surefire and my main carry guns - Kahr 9mm and XD 45. These are the guns I will use to get to the closet (if I have time). In the closet is an 870 Defense shotgun with collapsible stock and pistol grip loaded with #6 game loads. Also in the closet is an AR15 with collapsible stock loaded with factory SP bullets.

When at home, I carry 90% of the time.

I take SD training and practice with a variety of weapons. But for me, living in the suburbs, the 870 is my weapon of choice. It is utterly reliable and, at close quarters, utterly devastating. If anyone wishes to "keep on coming" after the 870 is dry the AR15 will have 30 surprises awaiting them.

I will not attempt to "clear the house" unless a family member is in danger -they can steal all the "trinkets" they want. If everyone makes it into my bedroom - we are relatively safe - and more than one of us knows how to shoot.

Lastly do not forget a cell phone - get help ASAP. A dog is also very useful to awaken you before the invasion commences.

It is all about being prepared. There is no logical reason to limit your defensive choices to one gun. Each has a place - depending on the situation that is presented. Such things cannot be predicted.

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