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.223/5.56 carbine for self defense

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by chaim, Aug 19, 2007.

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  1. chaim

    chaim Member

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    A lot has been written about this caliber for home defense. Many experts claim lower overpenetration than even many handgun calibers, along with good short distance stopping power, making it a great home defense choice. I don't want to argue the effectiveness of the round for this purpose, I am sold. I have been in my parents' house so the distance between houses is just enough that I felt OK with a 12ga with 00buck for my home defense long gun choice. However, I'm moving to an apartment- to lower overpenetration issues with a 12ga you have to go to shot weights that are too light for my comfort (maybe #4 buck will work out). So, I think I may start saving for another .223/5.56 carbine or rifle and just use the shotgun until I get the new carbine (late fall/early winter target date but waiting until tax refund time isn't unlikely either).

    Some considerations:

    -It is for home defense so I definately want it in semi-auto or a lever rifle (the Browning BLR has a box mag so spitzer/pointed rounds, like the .223, is safe, but I haven't checked to see if they chamber it in .223). A bolt rifle in a scout rifle configuration may work for this use, but speed may be an issue (I am not very experienced with bolt rifles). Still, you may be able to convince me on that particular configuration so I'm open to hearing any benefits I'm overlooking.

    -I will be living in Baltimore City where even the most clear cut self defense cases in your home will probably result in charges. Baltimore City juries aren't going to be particularly knowledgable about guns. So the more PC it looks the better (i.e. no ARs, wood furniture, a lever rifle is probably a plus if it can fit my price range).

    -I am a teacher, I am moving in Sept and have a lot of furniture that needs replaced (I've been living with my parents too long and storage didn't agree with some of my furniture, especially the upholstered items) so I have a lot of one time expenses coming up. I may not have a lot to spend on the rifle. Definately, it has to be under $1K, and preferably more like the $450-700 range.

    -I am open to other caliber suggestions, within reason, but don't try to talk me out of my belief that .223/5.56 is a great caliber for my needs. If you know of another caliber that will be good for stopping an attack without too much overpenetration (thin apartment walls, I don't want to hit my attacker, have the round exit and then have sufficient energy left to go through the wall and hit a neighbor). I am partial to revolver caliber lever rifles, but I am worried that .357mag and certainly .44mag would have too much overpenetration for my situation out of a revolver, so out of a long gun it certainly is an issue.
     
  2. TOU

    TOU Member

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    Saiga 19"
     
  3. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

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    .223 is very effective; but ammunition selection plays an important role as well. First, I would consider whatever rifles I already owned and whether they could be serve well with good ammo selection.

    If you are still set on .223, take a look at the gel tests in the Rifle Forum Reading library. They will help give you an idea of how your defensive ammo might perform.

    Finally, if you are set on a new .223 rifle, I would consider a Saiga for your criteria. They are affordable, reliable, and tough. You could leave it in its stock "sporter" form to make it appear less threatening; but still have a detachable magazine semi-auto that can take large mags and would be very effective for your purposes.
     
  4. chaim

    chaim Member

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    I've thought a little about the Saiga. With the sporterized stock, and if I go with wood furniture as well, it looks pretty much like a hunting rifle at first glance. However, (maybe because I'm a gun person and know what it is) when I look at the receiver it says "AK" all over it to me. I'm in Baltimore, think "we'd ban guns if the state would let us" mindset of the politicians in charge- I don't want to have headlines of "Tenant kills several youths with assault rifle" while the article extolls the virtues of the "young kids who never got into trouble" between drug dealing arrests, who I brutally killed when they were engaged in a home invasion of my place. I'm probably just being paranoid though. I'll see if I can find a Saiga at a shop in the area and see what they look like in person.
     
  5. rangerruck

    rangerruck Member

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    You have two good choices here, the saiga is fabulous, and cheap, but will frowned upon, if you ever have to go to court, since it is a deff 'evil AK' the most evil of all weapons. Also Keltec has a line of m16 knock offs, with folding stocks, and they take reg aftermarket m16 mags, plus the c and d model has a toprail, to attach all kinds of lights and goodies, plus it is all milspec so you can attach reg stuff that uses military measurements. it is about 150 bucks more than a Saiga, but you should still be able to get for under 500.
     
  6. rangerruck

    rangerruck Member

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    to avoid overpenetration all together, find an old remmy semiauto , shotgun, that holds I think 5 or 8 410 shotgun rounds. Should be about 300 bucks or so, more if in great condition, I personally would love to get a hold of one of those, for fast, light , home defense.
     
  7. chaim

    chaim Member

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    My AR would be ideal, if I lived somewhere else. The one thing I can pretty much be assured of in Baltimore City is if I am in a defensive shoot (no matter how good a shoot) I probably will be charged. Also, racial tensions around town are getting ugly so I probably wouldn't have a very sympathetic jury (Orthodox Jews are particularly hated by certain of our neighbors). I want a gun that looks as PC as possible (for my home defense handgun I'll probably go back to using revolvers exclusively and only use the auto pistols for range fun and CCW when out of state).

    My other long guns:

    SKS. 7.62x39 will have far too much penetration to be safe for my needs and with the bayonnet it is definately not a very PC safe choice.

    Benelli Nova 12ga, 18.5" barrel with rifle sights. With effective ammo overpenetration may be just a little high for apartment use. Also, with my PC looks concern, I'll at least have to replace it with something else as soon as I can even if I do stay with a shot gun (maybe a wood stocked Mossberg 500).

    Winchester 94 in 30-30. Overpenetration would be a huge issue. It is plenty PC enough, and I can get off shots almost as fast as with a semi.

    Winchester 94 in .45LC. Maybe, but probably too much overpenetration. Also, something about the .45LC and the Win 94 action isn't quite a perfect fit- I usually have some kind of minor reliability issue every 2-3 boxes of ammo. I hear .357 and .44mag are much more reliable, but definate overpenetration issues if I trade it for a 94 chambered for the magnum chamberings. Maybe a Win 73, Puma, or Marlin in .45LC would work?

    Marlin Model 60. Don't laugh, .22lr out of a rifle can be fairly effective. However, it would probably take several rounds, and in Baltimore City (again the PC issue) the more stopping power the better since the fewer rounds the better (if it takes 5 rounds of .22lr I can see the prosecutor now talking about how blood thirsty you have to be to put 5 rounds into the sweet innocent kid with a gun who was kicking in your front door).
     
  8. chaim

    chaim Member

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    Hmm, one option I was seriously considering looks like it is off the table.

    I was thinking the Browning BLR would be near perfect (hard to be more PC than a lever rifle and the Browning looks like a deer rifle) but they don't have .223 on the website. The BAR also seemed a good choice for my needs (semi-auto and removable mags are good for HD, yet it looks like grandpa's old deer rifle) but again it isn't listed in .223. Does anyone know if they ever chambered these in .223 or am I not going to find them, new or used, in .223?
     
  9. RockyMtnTactical

    RockyMtnTactical Member

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    I'd stick with a pump shotgun if you are ruling out all the "evil looking" rifles.
     
  10. Monkeybear

    Monkeybear Member

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    A mini 14. Its small, handy, easily resold, and semi-auto.

    Still I would think that despited the penetration issues of 00 buck the energy lost per penetrated wall would be far greater than that of a .223 due to the lack of spin of the projectile and the lower sectional density, am I wrong?
     
  11. Slvr Surfr

    Slvr Surfr Member

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    I don't understand why you believe a .223 will not over penetrate like a 12ga would ? Have you read this :http://www.theboxotruth.com/docs/bot3.htm

    http://www.theboxotruth.com/docs/bot1.htm

    For home/apartment defense the .223 will be more likely to over penetrate and kill a neighbor than your 12ga. will. I know of at least one case where a guy had an AD with an AR .223 and shot the neighbor next door. The neighbor was asleep in bed, and was shot through the wall while in bed.
     
  12. RockyMtnTactical

    RockyMtnTactical Member

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    Slvr Surfr,

    You are correct on one thing specifically, and that is, the .223 very likely will over penetrate.

    That is not exactly why .223 is better in urban areas... although the reason is still that it is "less lethal". This is because although it will pass through barriers (just like shotgun pellets, other rifle rounds, and other pistol rounds), the passing through of barriers will (hopefully) slow the bullet below fragmentation velocities making it a less harmful .22 caliber projectile...
     
  13. Slvr Surfr

    Slvr Surfr Member

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    The only real world tests I have seen are from the Box O truth, so.......I would assume that a shotgun pellet that stops in 6-7 sheets of sheet wall is going to have less lethal force than a .223 that goes through all 12 sheets. We can argue that .223's may frag and fall apart, but the fact is that it penetrates more so, than 12ga depending on the round.

    I wish I had a place to do all my own real world tests, but I don't.

    RMT,
    If you have any other sites that give good info on this please post em up.
     
  14. Monkeybear

    Monkeybear Member

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    Rocky- but a 00 pellet will slow down into an even less dangerous projectile if that is what you are going for.
     
  15. woof

    woof Member

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    It's hard to get more PC looking than the almost "cute" little cz carbine in .223. I just bought a new one for $450 and love it. With practice, the smooth and short Mauser action can be operated pretty quickly.
     
  16. chaim

    chaim Member

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    slvr,

    While those tests are interesting, what makes them useless for judging overpenetration in a self defense situation is that he is shooting directly into building materials. With any gun, even a .22lr, you are pretty much screwed so far as the bullet being a risk to someone else if you miss. .223 will go through hard barriers pretty well. What I'm interested in is OVERpenetration should I hit the target.

    Once it hits the human body, the small and light projectile of the .223 probably won't exit. If it does, there have been other tests (many documented/reported here on THR) that show the .223 to have less overpenetration danger than pretty much any other effective defensive round. Other than trying to evaluate real life shooting events (which isn't very scientific), the best test is shooting into a block of ballistic geletin with buiding materials placed behind it.

    Again, I don't want this discussion here, as I am convinced. I am not seeking to convince anyone else if they don't want to be convinced. It has been rehashed again and again here and other gun boards. If you want to see for yourself do a search here, at TFL or even on Google to find the benefits of .223/5.56 for defensive and law enforcment use.
     
  17. PT-Partners

    PT-Partners Member

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    Just an thought and I have seen it in somes places for use, keep the pump shot gun and change the load to number 4 buck shot. 27 or so pieces of lead at about the size of a 22 round at one time in the space of any size room (15" to 25") should be adequate for any situation with the excpection of body armor.

    Now if some one or several individuals are entering your apartment without your permission with body armor and brandishing firearms there is something else going on and you are in very, very, deep "waste material."

    On the overpenetration part, I think the speed of the load is in the 900 fps range. You stay politically correct if there is such a thing in a large city. :rolleyes:

    Again, just a thought.
     
  18. Dave Markowitz

    Dave Markowitz Member

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    Look for a used Mini-14, e.g., a police trade-in. It should run $400 or less. Use Ruger factory mags or if you can find them, pre-ban PMIs.

    Pro-Mag introduced 20s and 30s after the AWB sunset, which mimic the Ruger factory design to a "T" and have a very good reputation. I have a 20 but haven't tried it yet, but assuming it works it's a cheaper alternative to the Ruger or PMI mags.
     
  19. woof

    woof Member

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    After thinking about this I don't really think it matters. If you ever get charged the fact that you have an SKS in your apartment will be dragged out and you will be branded as an assault rifle owning wacko anyway.
     
  20. stevek

    stevek Member

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    Remington also makes the Model 7615, a .223 pump rifle, with wood furniture and a 10 round magazine...might be a good alternative, but I'm don't how much they're selling for. Good luck in your search.
     
  21. chaim

    chaim Member

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    The Mini-14 is one of my top choices, but I'm looking for other alternatives as well. With how their prices have skyrocketed, I'd probably go used (hard to justify paying about the same for a new Mini as I paid for my AR a few years back).

    Each pellet is .33 caliber in 00buck and about 50-55gr and you are throwing 9 of them. Individually, each may be less likely to overpenetrate the human body (more frontal area for the same weight, no rifled spin) but you've increased the odds by 9 times v. a single projectile. Further, from test results I've seen and testimonials from police trainers and other advocates of the carbine for HD and law enforcement use, I have been convinced it is "safer" to use the .223/5.56 than the 12ga with an effective weight projectile (sure, the birdshot has virtually no overpenetration problem, but it isn't very likely to penetrate enough to be effective).

    There is a real possibility that I'll simply stay with the pump shotgun (but replace my tactical looking model and go with a wood stocked version).

    However, in that line of thinking, the Remington 7615 is looking interesting (though I don't like the $900+ MSRP). Designed after the ever popular Remington 870 and the Ranch Carbine has non-threatening looking wood furniture (looks like a hunting shotgun to a large degree). Meanwhile, it is capable- reliable 870 action and AR mags (5 and 10 rounders to look PC, and I could load my 20 round AR mags if I really felt the need). The only negative, you need the 7615 tactical (looks tactical) or the camo (not sure how that would play with a potential post-shoot jury) to get iron sights so a scope of some kind would be a must (and "tactical" scopes, like a red dot, may remove some of the PC looking benefits).

    You are right that a bolt rifle may be a good bet. Definately not going to look too tactical. The removable box mag may help alleviate the lower round count somewhat (also a consideration with the BLR). I guess I could go with something like this and just stick with the shotgun a little longer while I got used to the action type.

    If I stick with the shotgun, that is definately the way I am going. Lighter shot would definately alleviate some of the overpenetration worries. In the end it would certainly be the least expensive PC looking option (I could probably trade my Benelli Nova for about what a wood stocked Mossberg 500 would run and if I kept both we're talking what, $200-250 for a 500 or 870).
     
  22. sansone

    sansone Member

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    the Russian Saiga .223 or 7.62x39 is a good low-priced alternative to a mini-14.. they are higher quality than the Romanian & chinese AK's.
     
  23. chaim

    chaim Member

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    Woof, I hadn't thought about it before, but you are probably right. Even more than the SKS, the AR (EBR) and the numbers in my collection (less than 2 dozen, significantly more than 1 dozen) will hurt. Maybe I should keep most of my non-home defense guns in a storage unit (eZ Storage isn't that much per month, about $60 for a small AC/heated unit), it may turn out to be cheap insurance (and would solve a big part of my gun security issue I posted in general gun discussions due to mainenence having access to the apartment).

    Steve, you posted while I was composing my last post, appears we are on the same wavelength. Other than cost (MSRP over $900) the main problem is that that wood stocked Ranch Carbine is drilled and tapped for a scope but has no iron sights. Since the camo version and tactical version do have sights, and since it is modelled after the 870 which has all kinds of accessories available (including sights) I doubt it would be too hard to address as an aftermarket modification though (however, it would add even more to the cost).
     
  24. Domino

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  25. Hypnogator

    Hypnogator Member

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    That's what I'd do, IIWY. If you're looking for "harmless," get a skeet gun in either a pump or autoloader. It has a relatively short (26") bbl, open choke, and you can't get more "gentlemanly" than a gun designed solely to break clay birds.

    Whoever told you that must've been smoking crack. You get a solid torso hit on an unarmored goblin with a 12-ga skeet load (#9 shot) at across-the-room distances, and I seriously doubt you'll have to worry about what he'll do next, other than how are you going to clean up all that blood! Not that I recommend skeet loads for SD, but, again, for the "harmless" defense, I would have a box of high-base #4 goose loads handy. If you wanted to hedge your bets, as has been suggested, get some #4 buck.

    Another rifle possibility, almost as "harmless" as the skeet gun would be to get a Marlin 1894 or Win 94 in .44 Mag., then load it with .44 Spl SWCs. Fast-shooting, punches big holes fairly deep, and the SWC configuration is a "target" load.

    I know you don't want to hear this, but I consider .223 in an urban apartment to be bad juju. It's going to be close, fast, and nasty. Unless you're talking head shots, the .223/5.56mm just isn't going to be effective enough fast enough, and if you do get a head shot, you're dealing with the overpenetration issue again.

    Just my $.02 worth (after taxes).
     
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