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  1. #1
    JustRick's Avatar
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    Do My Self-Defense Rifle Homework For Me

    Buying a pistol was pretty easy -- go to Wade's, rent time on the range, and start firing 50 rounds through each of a stack of guns. It took three or four hours, but I found what I liked.

    The world of self-defense rifles (SDRs ?) is a lot more complex. A lot of times these are more like outfitting a boat than just "buying a gun." How do I start becoming an expert on choosing one? I've read Boston's Gun Bible which is a core of useful information surrounded by thousands of words of one man's opinions. It's hard for me to sort the wheat from the chaff when reading Boston. (For example, he says buy a .40 caliber Glock, use Corbon ammunition. Don't even consider anything else for a pistol. IMO, this is pretty limited advice.) I've also read the NRA Sourcebook, which was a great introduction to firearms, but not a whole lot of use on how to pick and buy a rifle.

    Some of the things I'm reading about and wondering about:

    Semi auto? For self-defense, this seems like a no-brainer.

    Small caliber, or large? My inclination is towards something like .308 Winchester, but if the .223 is good enough for the Army, shouldn't it be good enough for me? Do I need some other caliber?

    Do I really need an EBR, or is it possible to get something like a modern M-14 or M1A1 at a reasonable price with wooden furniture (right? "furniture" means stock and fore end?).

    How about those surplus M1s? Too old to count on them?

    What about something like an AK, or a CZ Vz. 58? I would be somewhat reluctant to buy an AK, but the Vz. 58 seems to be loved by its owners. How about an FAL (clone)?

    Some of these rifles get really expensive, really fast. Do I need to count on spending $2,000?

    Some background -- we live in a heavily wooded area east of Seattle. It's rare to be able to see 100 yards, let alone 1,000. If I'm thinking of defensive situations, I'm thinking that -- if I ever had to shoot -- it would be at ranges less than 200 yards. Of course, I'd take it to an outdoor range and shoot for fun, too, which is one of the reasons I'd like something "nicer" than an AK.

    I stuck to 9mm for the pistol in part to keep the cost down. I'm not sure how much difference there is between the costs of different rifle calibers (there are so many...), but, as with the pistol, I think I'd shoot more often if the ammunition wasn't really, really expensive.

    Are there good resources on where to learn this stuff?

    Thank you for your help. You guys rule.

  2. #2
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    My .02

    I have a few of the guns you mention. I like them all and I would use anyone of them as a defensive weapon for my home if I had to make long shots. However last year I read an gun mag article about a bugout rifle. He recommended one of the Remington pump rifles in .308. THe rational was that it would be good for hunting and could be used to good effect against other targets but also that you wanted be looking to get into any protracted firefights like the army so a pump would be ok. I also read a Ayoob article where he sang the praises of a SA M14 clone. Powerful cartridge and good long range capibilty. I know .223 is what the service uses but I think there are definitly some of them that would like to have something bigger.
    Dave Greenplate

  3. #3
    JustRick's Avatar
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    Thanks, Dave. Just spent a couple of hours on the Internet reading up on pump-action rifles ("Amish machine guns"). Very interesting and certainly priced right -- a brand-new Remington 7600 .308 for under $600. Thanks for the tip.

    Still open for other tips and tricks.

  4. #4
    Mike Barham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustRick View Post
    The world of self-defense rifles (SDRs ?) is a lot more complex. A lot of times these are more like outfitting a boat than just "buying a gun." How do I start becoming an expert on choosing one? I've read Boston's Gun Bible which is a core of useful information surrounded by thousands of words of one man's opinions. It's hard for me to sort the wheat from the chaff when reading Boston.
    Overwhelmingly chaff, in my opinion. He's spent a lot of time on the manicured one-way range and zero time on the two-way range. His opinions, which emphasize using target rifles as fighting rifles, are pretty well worthless for real-world combat rifle usage.

    I'm skeptical of the whole idea of rifles for civilian defense, which is almost invariably at short range and under surprise circumstances. I think most of this "urban rifle" fad has been dreamed up to sell ARs and carbine classes to guys who want to play Army without anyone actually shooting back. But here we go:

    Semi auto? For self-defense, this seems like a no-brainer.
    Depends on the context, really. If we're talking defense inside the home, a semiauto is the right choice, though it is only debatably better than a good pistol or shotgun in close quarters.

    A rifle for "ranch defense" can be a bolt gun.

    Realistically, a rifle is something you go fetch, unlike the pistol you have on your belt. This means that, by default, rifle encounters happen with a greater space-time cushion than pistol fights. If you have space-time, semiauto operation means less than in a pistol. I'd certainly have no heartache if I had to use my Steyr Scout in a rifle fight, and in fact I am selling all my other centerfire rifles but the Scout.

    Small caliber, or large? My inclination is towards something like .308 Winchester, but if the .223 is good enough for the Army, shouldn't it be good enough for me? Do I need some other caliber?
    When I was in Afghanistan, our Delta Company killed 120+ hajis. No complaints about 5.56mm "stopping power." 5.56mm/.223 is MUCH less likely to sail through walls than .308. It's also a lot easier to shoot fast and accurately, in case you plan to take on all of MS13 in your living room or back yard.

    Do I really need an EBR, or is it possible to get something like a modern M-14 or M1A1 at a reasonable price with wooden furniture (right? "furniture" means stock and fore end?).
    Again, it depends on your use for the gun. I'd only consider a .30-caliber rifle for outdoor "ranch defense." But a Ruger Mini-14 or M1 Carbine would serve fine for light-duty home defense use.

    How about those surplus M1s? Too old to count on them?
    Mine works fine. It's currently for sale. The CMP M1 rifles remain a great bargain. I think they're mainly just fun plinkers, but if you really think you might need to shoot someone 200+ yards away, a Garand will do the job.

    What about something like an AK, or a CZ Vz. 58? I would be somewhat reluctant to buy an AK, but the Vz. 58 seems to be loved by its owners.
    AK ergonomics suck, as do the sights, but they are very reliable.

    How about an FAL (clone)?
    A fine rifle if you stay away from the Century Arms guns. But once again, probably way more horsepower than needed for a civilian defense gun.

    Some of these rifles get really expensive, really fast. Do I need to count on spending $2,000?
    Meh. AKs can be had for $500, decent M4geries for under $1000, fake FALS for $700, CMP M1s for $500, SKSs for under $300, etc. Any of these will work fine for 200 yard fighting if you don't care about the approval of Boston T. Party, or about dressing and playing infantryman.

    as with the pistol, I think I'd shoot more often if the ammunition wasn't really, really expensive.
    5.56/.223 is pricy compared to what it used to be, as is 7.62 Commie and 7.62/.308. .30-06 Garand fodder is still reasonably priced through CMP.

    Are there good resources on where to learn this stuff?
    Put down SWAT magazine and Boston T. Party and pick up a copy of Cooper's The Art of a Rifle for a primer on real-world use of rifles.
    Employed by Galco Gunleather - www.galcogunleather.com / Veteran OEF VIII

    Donate to the Christian and Stephanie Nielson Recovery fund: http://www.nierecovery.com/.

    All opinions, particularly those involving politics and Glocks, are mine and not Galco's.

  5. #5
    Spartan's Avatar
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    I kind of think that using an AR for SD is stretching it a bit. I mean, I guess there are scenarios out there (gun owners seem to have great imaginations ), but it would be difficult to tell the judge you shot someone in SD when they were 100 yards away.

  6. #6
    Spartan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustRick View Post

    Some of these rifles get really expensive, really fast. Do I need to count on spending $2,000?
    I don't think this is true, per say. You can buy a very nice AR for $800-900. I find a lot of AR mods to be a little over the top for civilian use/ play. Sure, you can add a $400 EOtech or a $1000 ACOG, buy that quad rail so you can mount a bunch of stuff you'll never use, or buy one of those 250 round drums for when you want to shoot $100 worth of ammo in a few seconds, but I would rather put that small fortune into ammo and range time.

    Don't get me wrong, I love going through the picture threads of AR15.com and seeing everyone's rifles. I don't get past a page without seeing something I want to put on my rifle. "Wow, that Aimpoint red-dot with LaRue tactile riser is amazing, and those GG&G BUIS would co-witness it great... I want that!" Then I look up the prices and see the Aimpoint is $500 and the hardware to mount it is $160 and the BUIS are $125 for the rear. Yikes.

    Not that there's anything wrong with any of these things if one so chooses, but my point is you don't need this stuff to have a good, dependable AR. Personally, my Bushy A3 is essentially right out of the box (I do have an aftermarket stock and grip for comfort, but accuracy and sight wise, it's stock) and I can hit clay pigeons at 100 yards with the irons all day.


  7. #7
    JustRick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Barham View Post
    Overwhelmingly chaff, in my opinion. He's spent a lot of time on the manicured one-way range and zero time on the two-way range. His opinions, which emphasize using target rifles as fighting rifles, are pretty well worthless for real-world combat rifle usage.
    I was struggling to understand why I would need an FAL or AK. Thanks for your opinion.

    I'm skeptical of the whole idea of rifles for civilian defense(...) I think most of this "urban rifle" fad has been dreamed up to sell ARs and carbine classes to guys who want to play Army without anyone actually shooting back. But here we go:
    I am COMPLETELY uninterested in playing soldier. I'm too old, too slow, and my vision isn't what it was when I was 19. I'll leave it to the professionals. None of my camping gear is even camouflaged.

    I look upon a center-fire rifle as a dual purpose gun. I expect that 99.9999% of its use will be on the range shooting targets or other inanimate objects. The other .0001% would be to have it available for self-defense if I need it. I have a pistol and a shotgun, both of which I suspect would be more useful in a home defense role.

    Realistically, a rifle is something you go fetch, unlike the pistol you have on your belt. (...)
    Great point.

    When I was in Afghanistan, our Delta Company killed 120+ hajis. No complaints about 5.56mm "stopping power."
    You will note that I was pretty careful not to use terms like "stopping power" or "knockdown power." I read an account in James Fallows' National Defense on the creation of the original M16 model. Pretty interesting stuff. As stubborn as the Army can be at times, I doubt they would have stuck with a "loser" round for nearly 50 years. Some of the issues the Army has, though, don't apply to me. I don't have to send trucks of ammunition to infantry units, I don't have to carry several hundred rounds of ammo on my back, and I don't care too much whether a rifle weighs 6 pounds or 10 pounds. If you don't have the real-world problems the Army has, would you get a heavier rifle with a larger cartridge, or would you still pick .223? It just occurred to me that one advantage of .223 is that my 5'6" wife could probably handle it a lot better than an M1 Garand. This is a big deal, we seem to go shooting together about once a week lately.

    The CMP M1 rifles remain a great bargain. I think they're mainly just fun plinkers, but if you really think you might need to shoot someone 200+ yards away, a Garand will do the job.
    I might just buy one anyway. I had a toy M1 as a kid -- I think I have a soft spot in my heart for that rifle. CMP prices are still good, and I doubt they will depreciate.

    (comments on prices) Any of these will work fine for 200 yard fighting if you don't care about the approval of Boston T. Party, or about dressing and playing infantryman.
    Understood. That ain't me.

    .30-06 Garand fodder is still reasonably priced through CMP.
    I think I need to get me one of those.

    pick up a copy of Cooper's The Art of a Rifle for a primer on real-world use of rifles.
    I'm a reader, and the most useful thing I've bought on the subject of firearms so far is The NRA Firearms Sourcebook. I'll pick up Cooper's book. Thank you for your help.
    Last edited by JustRick; 10-30-2008 at 11:11 AM.

  8. #8
    wiseguy's Avatar
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    Might be a bit late of a reply here, but in my opinion go with an AK, they're fairly cheap in comparison to what you'll spend on a "black rifle" or an M1A. The 7.62X39 is pretty cheap and good at short-medium ranges, they're fun to shoot and can have attachments put on them. Most prolific assault rifle in the world I think. From my experience buying a WASR-10 (AK clone) stay away from Century arms, nothin but problems for me.

  9. #9
    JustRick's Avatar
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    Thanks, guys. I'm not close to buying, so it's far from too late. Any other advice is welcome.

  10. #10
    wiseguy's Avatar
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    well if that's the case, have you looked at the .50 Beowulf for kicks and giggles?

  11. #11
    DevilsJohnson is offline Senior Member
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    I dunno..I never really looked at any of my rifles for defense. I have several and I used to use a couple to hunt but I get them to shoot them at things so I can go "Yeah!"

    A decent shotgun can fill any need that most might have that a pistol can't do. Judges frown on taking out a BG at 200 yards. I have some of those "Assault" rifles but I didn't get them for the Ky, jihad (I do love telling the wife that though). I like shooting them. 223 and 7.62 ammo is really cheap compared to some other rifle ammo and I get to blow up milk jugs for far away.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spartan View Post
    I kind of think that using an AR for SD is stretching it a bit. I mean, I guess there are scenarios out there (gun owners seem to have great imaginations ), but it would be difficult to tell the judge you shot someone in SD when they were 100 yards away.
    That was my thought... LOL A 200yd "defensive shooting" is pretty low on my reality list.

    I'd love an AR if I had a thousand bucks to blow, but I'd guess I'd shoot it very little... until I expand my competition to 3-gun...

    I'm sticking with a good semi-auto pistol, and a good 12 gauge for "defensive" uses.

    JW

  13. #13
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    I've got a quasi-pimped out AR, http://www.handgunforum.net/gallery/...93&limit=views, and while I could use it for home defense, the likelihood of that is slim to none. Why? Because it's locked up. I can't see keeping it lying around because of its cost and, more importantly, with 2 kids running around. Realistically, I'd have no chance to get it in a HD situation unless I'm already upstairs and the BG is completey inept at breaking in. Most likely my handgun is going to be my weapon of choice since it's always on me.

    They are fun to shoot though!

  14. #14
    Method's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Todd View Post
    I've got a quasi-pimped out AR, http://www.handgunforum.net/gallery/...93&limit=views, and while I could use it for home defense, the likelihood of that is slim to none. Why? Because it's locked up. I can't see keeping it lying around because of its cost and, more importantly, with 2 kids running around. Realistically, I'd have no chance to get it in a HD situation unless I'm already upstairs and the BG is completey inept at breaking in. Most likely my handgun is going to be my weapon of choice since it's always on me.

    They are fun to shoot though!
    Nice looking AR.

    Is that a stock grip? And what is that on the bottom of the magazine?

    It is currently my #1 priority for my next gun purchase at the moment.

  15. #15
    Todd is offline Banned
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    Quote Originally Posted by Method View Post
    Nice looking AR.
    Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Method View Post
    Is that a stock grip?
    Rear? Plane Jane stock grip. Forward? TangoDown.

    Quote Originally Posted by Method View Post
    And what is that on the bottom of the magazine?
    Magpul Ranger Plate. Another part of the pimping out process. Here's the product description:

    The Magpul Ranger is a floorplate replacement for current issue USGI 30 round magazines that incorporates an integral loop, floorplate lock, and mag identifier. When installed on the base of a magazine, the Magpul Ranger provides unsurpassed speed and controllability during high stress, tactical magazine changes.

    Loop made of pliable Santoprene overmolded onto a stainless steel plate.

    Patended design based upon the tried and true para-cord loops and duct-tape tabs currently in use with special warfare units worldwide

  16. #16
    Mike Barham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spartan View Post
    ...gun owners seem to have great imaginations...
    Agreed! Most of the justifications for ownership of "urban carbines" and such are pretty farfetched. Three-gun and fun shooting I can absolutely see, but some of the scenarios cooked up by the black rifle crowd are just outlandish: overthrowing the government, a Chinese invasion, battling al-Qaeda in the streets of America, defense against marauding gangs in some post-apocalyptic Mad Max world, etc.

    .223 rifles can work fine for home defense, but they don't really do anything that can't be done with a $200 shotgun or a $400 pistol.
    Employed by Galco Gunleather - www.galcogunleather.com / Veteran OEF VIII

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  17. #17
    Method's Avatar
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    Thanks!
    I like the simplicity of it. Clean with not to much fluff.

    Magpul Ranger Plate. Another part of the pimping out process. Here's the product description:

    The Magpul Ranger is a floorplate replacement for current issue USGI 30 round magazines that incorporates an integral loop, floorplate lock, and mag identifier. When installed on the base of a magazine, the Magpul Ranger provides unsurpassed speed and controllability during high stress, tactical magazine changes.

    Loop made of pliable Santoprene overmolded onto a stainless steel plate.

    Patended design based upon the tried and true para-cord loops and duct-tape tabs currently in use with special warfare units worldwide
    I figured that's what it was just from visual assessment. I wanted to make sure though.

  18. #18
    Method's Avatar
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    Put down SWAT magazine and Boston T. Party and pick up a copy of Cooper's The Art of a Rifle for a primer on real-world use of rifles.
    Seems like a good recommendation. I think I might pick that up soon.

    Thanks.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Todd View Post
    The Magpul Ranger is a floorplate replacement for current issue USGI 30 round magazines that incorporates an integral loop, floorplate lock, and mag identifier. When installed on the base of a magazine, the Magpul Ranger provides unsurpassed speed and controllability during high stress, tactical magazine changes.
    hahaha.. for the longest time, I couldn't figure out what the hell they were talking about when it comes to speed and controllability. I really wondered why anyone would hold the magazine from there. That was until I bought a rig to keep magazines in for competitive shooting. Getting those buggers out of a mag pouch is tougher than it looks. Now they make total sense to me. I haven't had a need to order them, I just use Mag-pul P-mags and their base plates have a nice ridge to them to begin with. I felt pretty silly once I figured out what exactly they were for.

    As to the topic, I think my pistol will do just fine. As I've stated several times before, the first thing someone breaking into my house is going to hear is my dogs. The chances of even having to fire on all but the most determined thief are greatly reduced by noise and lights.

    Zhur

  20. #20
    Mike Barham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustRick View Post
    If you don't have the real-world problems the Army has, would you get a heavier rifle with a larger cartridge, or would you still pick .223?
    I realize this is something of a rhetorical question, but I think it's a good one.

    For "general purpose" rifle use (hunting, fun shooting, and maybe fighting under some bizarre cicumstance), I choose a .308, specifically a Steyr Scout bolt action. I have no illusions of entering a high-volume rifle fight here in America. I suppose there is some remote possibility - perhaps when camping in the desert - that I might need to make a long shot in self-defense. My Scout carries five rounds in the mag and five more in the secondary mag stored in the stock. That seems ample to me - it's a rifle, after all.

    But if I thought I needed a rifle purely for fighting, I would choose a .223. It recoils lightly so it can be shot very rapidly, and is less likely to overpenetrate in people or building materials than a .308. Power is adequate. Weight and bulk of ammo don't enter into it, and magazine capacity is a very limited consideration.

    It just occurred to me that one advantage of .223 is that my 5'6" wife could probably handle it a lot better than an M1 Garand.
    Depends. My wife is only 5'2", but she's a pretty experienced shotgunner who has no problem shooting my Garand or Scout. If your wife is inexperienced, though, she will undoubtedly prefer the light-kicking .223.
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