What is the Best Home Defense Rifle?

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What is the best home defense rifle? If you’re asking that question, chances are you already own a rifle or have one in mind to buy. Rob Pincus talks about some of the common types of rifles you may already own that may not be as good for self defense or home defense situations, and then reveals what he recommends as the best home defense rifle.

High-Powered Hunting Rifle

This is the most common type of rifle that a person thinking about home defense may already own. Why is it not a good choice for home defense? Generally, high-powered hunting rifles have slow rates of fire, are heavy and long, which makes them difficult to use in confined spaces, and that high-powered rifle cartridge is probably going to go through a bad guy and maybe a wall or two behind him.

.22 Long Rifle

This has some of the same disadvantages as the high-powered hunting rifle, in that it is large and slow to fire, but now we’re on the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of caliber and power. Now we have a small round that isn’t potentially going to do the damage we need it to do to a bad guy. A semiautomatic .22 is very fast to fire, but may have reliability issues.

Lever-Action Rifle

Now we’re in what Rob considers an acceptable realm of defensive long gun. Lever-action rifles are generally short, controllable, relatively high capacity, and use medium-caliber rifle cartridges or high-caliber pistol cartridges.

The Best Home Defense Rifle

In Rob’s opinion, this is the medium-caliber semiautomatic rifle, such as an AR-15 or civilian version of the AK. It’s powerful enough to do the kind of damage it needs to do to a home invader, and it can hold 30 rounds or even more.

Reply to James
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20 Responses to “What is the Best Home Defense Rifle?”

  1. frontierfarm54

    I know I’m late to this dance, but hopefully, you will see it and comment. The question of home defense weapons is one I have been wrestling with lately. Currently, I rely on my Glock 19 on my nightstand. I have recently been wanting to increase the power of my home defense weapon. You recommend an AR15. I certainly don’t mean to question your logic. However, 2 questions come to mind. First is the maneuverability of even a shorter carbine length firearm in such tight quarters. Second is the noise factor of a .223 or .556 round fired indoors. The only experience I have firing anything in an enclosed space was a .22lr cal pistol. It was deafening. I cannot imagine firing a .223 or .556 indoors. For my upgrade I am leaning toward a 9 mm pistol with say an 8″ barrel, arm brace, and a suppressor.

    • Customer Service

      Hello. This was actually the main topic of the newly relaunched training talk (link below) and they hit all the points you mention. The upgrade configuration you mentioned is definitely a valid choice and the suppressor is a great addition for a home defense weapon. Keep in mind that the AR platform is a more complex system than a handgun so you need to dedicate time to training.


  2. James

    Personally I like my .45 on my nightstand so that if they are already in the door I can keep close to my person. step 2 is my shorty 8 shot shotgun from my room to the front door or in the house so as to not have a lot of thru wall rounds endangering others in the house. Then I have my AK for those problems outside the home that may need defending.

  3. Mike Payne

    Best home defense? My choice is between my Winchester 9410 , my Ruger .44 carbine or my M1 carbine.

  4. David Gaeddert

    Dear Rob Pincus and everyone, just saw the referenced video this sweaty afternoon. In NYS,. 10 rounds is the max for any magazine. I have a pistol permit, would go 9mm, possibly .44mag.

  5. James

    I wish people posting contrary views on here would include their YT channels so we could compare their bonafides to those of Rob Pincus, Clint Smith, etc. An opinion not based on experience and training isn’t worth much.

  6. bmyers

    I see a few other post and I would say for our family, we have opted to use PCC for home defense rifles. Everyone can shot them, they are compatible with our Glock magazines. Plus, the nose level is not as high as the AR.

  7. ron jasper

    the best home defense rifle is the m1 carbine its lighter shorter than the AR much handier and loaded with Hornady critical defense ammo is a capable of taking deer at short range too. how do I know? I have have over 70 years experience with M1 carbine. thanks Ron j.

  8. Jerry

    For a rifle I like the Ruger Mini 14. It is semi-auto, uses the same ammo as the AR-15 (223/5.56). But does not have the AR (assault rifle) appearance and stigma to many people, and is an excellent small game and varmint gun. But I believe a Shotgun or hand gun are better suited for home defense.

  9. Jack F

    I’d like to slip in a #1.5. The Pistol Caliber Semi-automatic Carbine. They can have the capacity of the medium calber semi auto rifle and the lever action type of pistol calber.
    Just as with you handguns, do you research on them and the appropriate ammunition.

  10. Paul B

    How about not using a “Rifle” at all. How about something like a Mossberg Shockwave? Now, if you are talking about defending your home from attackers still outside, it would be much help. Inside the home, I believe this weapon would be handy as a shirt pocket. 26″ long, 14″ barrel. At about 15ft, 8 shot will put a fist sized hole in a pumpkin. I put a streamlite on it and feel pretty positive I could stop most intruders inside my home.

  11. David

    Good review, but were does the semi-auto Carbine with a shorter barrel fit into this equation. OK, it doesn’t use a rifle round, but I find the Beretta CX4 Storm in 9mm as adopted by police for close quarters work should be an acceptable option?

    • Randy Peters

      My bedroom home defense weapons are a CX4 and a 92A1 with multiple interchangeable mags within a couple steps of the bed. As I have trained with them, I like that system.

  12. Nicholas Cousins

    I temporarily live in the socialist republic of Connecticut. I am lucky to own 2 of your choice home protection along with a huge collection rifles, pistols etc. I can use any pistol caliber ,rifle to protect my family. Here are my preferences. Sig Saur 245 , and if needed a .30 world war 2 carbine with a 20 rd. Mag in the ready and another Velcro attached to stock. If that isn’t enough, well the major SHTF. The carbine is light, accurate, manageable, and probably more reliable than a AR-15. They are available in every state.

  13. BUURGA

    The answer:none. A quality pistol for indoor defense is the ticket. New fragmenting AR ammo could change things a bit, but the need for a high capacity rifle for indoor use is just not there. For defense from attack from the outside, then the rifle comes into play (and also a change for a court date).

  14. Robert


    What about an M1 Carbine with a 15- or 30-round magazine (and spares)? What is your opinion about using one for home self defense?



    • Customer Service

      Hi Bob. There are better options but a .30 caliber M1 for home defense can be an acceptable choice with the proper ammunition. The ammunition should be designed for Personal Defense such at the Speer GDSP or similar from a major manufacturer. Also, it’s important inspect the angles and backstops of potential impact from the home defense barricade position and take steps to mitigate potential problems.

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