Lately, there have been some fairly prominent people making statements about what you don’t need in order to defend your home. Often, these folks have little to no real-life experience on the subject, but their agenda drives them to demonize “assault rifles” in an effort to scare buyers away. They’ll claim the guns are “too dangerous.” But in my mind, that’s precisely the point. In this article, I’m going to make the counterpoint – not from a position of fear – but from one of logic and experience.

Before I approach this lofty goal, let me first explain that I’ve been in law enforcement for over 22 years. I’ve responded to and investigated many burglaries at homes. In addition, I have responded to a few home invasions and witnessed their aftermath. From a more personal standpoint, I survived a home invasion perpetrated by an armed offender when I was very young. All these experiences have stewed together over time and allowed me to reach a few conclusions.



Home Defense AR Rifle
Home defense is about stacking advantages in your favor. The AR-15 is a big one. (Photo: Sean Curtis/

First off, I would be remiss to not address the fact that any home security approach should be layered. A firearm is a part of that sweet, sweet cake combined with other goodies like a security system, locking doors and windows, and a dog motivated to protect (optimally) or alert you at a minimum. With that provision out of the way, here are some great reasons why an AR-15 is a wonderful choice to defend your home.





5.56 vs. .22 LR
The 5.56 NATO, left, is essentially a very powerful .22, right. It’s like an espresso with extra shots. (Photo: Sean Curtis/

While ARs come in a lot of different calibers these days, the standard version is 5.56 NATO. Essentially, this is a little .22 caliber bullet that travels around 3,000 feet per second depending on bullet weights and barrel lengths. What these bullets do when they strike flesh is impressive, particularly at shorter distances where they still keep their velocity.

When I say firepower, some people’s minds envision a gun so potent it knocks the world off its axis when fired. No! To defend your home, you need a round that will stop your target quickly without continuing through your target, through your wall, and into a neighbor’s house.

Once, during a manhunt, a fellow officer engaged an armed suspect with his AR-15. The suspect was holed up in a camp trailer with very thin walls. I was on the opposite side of this deadly confrontation and still approaching the scene. I was glad the rounds stopped the suspect and went no further.



AR-15 Magazines
The standard AR magazine holds 30 rounds. But ARs can run on 10-, 20-, 30-, or 40-round magazines, not to mention various other options. (Photo: Paul Peterson/

The standard magazine for the AR-15 holds 30 rounds. While there are some that are smaller (and a few that are bigger), 30 rounds is a good start in my humble estimation. I’ve heard talking heads make the argument that you don’t need that many rounds. Here are a few salient points about that.

First off, how can anyone possibly know what will be needed or not needed in your home defense scenario? It is nearly impossible to guess what you might face should that terrible scenario occur. One thing that can be gleaned from the study of police shootings offers sage advice. I have seen studies indicate that accuracy – the percentage of hits to shots fired – were as low as 35 percent and up to 54 percent. 

Some might argue this is a bad comparison, but if trained officers are doing this poorly, how would the average person fair? In this scenario, each round represents another opportunity to stop the threat to you and your family. Assume your target will be moving and you are going to miss – how many rounds would you want then? This is not a situation where you want to be coming up short.





Home Defense AR Rifle
Here you can see rail grips, a tactical light, and a hand stop all mounted on the rail to fit the user’s preferences. (Photo: Sean Curtis/

I remember seeing a peculiar setup on one of my grandfather’s old rifles. It was a standard wood and steel long gun I always saw in the rack on his wall. But it had an ancient flashlight crudely affixed to the handguard with what appeared to be a plumber’s strap. As I got older, I learned why this was done. I also know guns have evolved a lot since then.

Trijicon MRO Red Dot
Another great option for a home defense AR is the Trijicon MRO. (Photo: Sean Curtis/

The AR is simply amazing because of its ability to accept various accessories. You can absolutely tailor this gun to suit your mission by mounting different lights, lasers, and optics. You do not need experience as a gunsmith to do this either. Just a few hand tools will get the job done. Provided you purchase a rifle that is outfitted with a Picatinny rail or M-LOK handguard, the world is your oyster.

Ease of Use


Daniel Defense DDM4V7
AR-style rifles are easier for most shooters to control, and they offer plenty of options for customization. The rail on the Daniel Defense DDM4V7 seems like miles of opportunity to mount your favorite accessories. Just keep in mind that the weight adds up quickly. (Photo: Sean Curtis/

The AR-15 is very simple to use. Just like almost any other modern gun, the functions of loading, charging, firing, and making it safe require only basic knowledge and practice to master. The rifle is bigger, but that does not make it more complicated or more difficult to wield. The length is built around the barrel and supporting systems. The longer barrel means greater accuracy as a rule. Over years of firearms instruction, I’ve often seen inexperienced shooters pick up a rifle and shoot it more accurately than they could a pistol. In addition, the rifle is pretty reliable.

Final Recommendations


From used budget ARs to decked-out Daniel Defense rifles, there are plenty of great options. (Photo: Samantha Mursan/



There are many reasons why the AR-15 makes a great home defender. It delivers an appropriate amount of firepower and provides good capacity to deal with most invasion scenarios. The modularity allows shooters to add wonderful optics and lights to help zero in on and confirm targets. The AR is really easy to use and very accurate, especially in the engagement distances found within the typical home.

If these points make sense to you, by all means, pick up a quality AR-15 – provided they are legal in your area. The best investment you can make after your initial purchase is training. Find someone who can teach you how to load, fire, clean, and maintain your AR-15. Find an instructor who can provide wisdom on how to best equip it and use it in defense of your home. Of critical importance, learn the laws that apply to self-defense in your jurisdiction.

revolver barrel loading graphic