169 – Our Rifle Bias: Setting Up The Best Gun for Home Defense

You should have a rifle. Handguns suck…comparatively. Rifles, by contrast, are awesome. By and large, in fact, a rifle — specifically an AR15 — is going to be your best gun for home defense. Particularly with the appropriate (in fact, we would say mandatory) accessories.

Agree? Disagree? That’s what we’re going to talk about in Episode 169 of The Mag Life Blog: our rifle bias, why we think the way we do, and why we hope to bring you to our way of thought too.

Now, let’s clarify a few things.

1. Should you have a pistol? Absolutely, if it’s legal in your state. After all, unless you’re Steve Fisher/Zeke Stout/Gregor Clegane sized, you’re going to need a handgun for concealed carry. But in a fight where a rifle is a practicable (and pragmatic) option — such as in your home, where you can stage a long gun —  then a rifle is going to be the better option.

Steve Fisher of Sentinel Concepts on the range at Alliance Police Training.
Steve Fisher of Sentinel Concepts demonstrates shooting on the move at the Alliance Police Training range. Fisher can carry a carbine concealed: we recommend the rest of you stick with a handgun.

2. From a gun handling perspective, at least as home defense weapons go (i.e. ability to manipulate your weapon and hit what you’re aiming at), the term “rifle” in this context could actually mean literally rifle, but could also be interpreted as a carbine, PCC, AR15/AR10 pistol, etc. Calibers will, of course, be a contentious issue, but even that discussion won’t (in most cases) refute the long gun over handgun assertion.

Using an AR pistol style weapon for a home defense gun

3. We mention the AR due to the ubiquity of that weapon. This could easily be changed to AK, FAL, G3, etc.

Here’s the discussion. As always, if you have questions that weren’t addressed, hit us up in the comments below. We’ll try to get ’em answered in a future episode.  Editor



Host: Daniel Shaw

Co-Host: Varg Freeborn

Introduction/Timeline: David Reeder


AR 15 Setup

Equipping the best gun for home defense


00:40 Why should someone have a good rifle?

01:05 What are the advantages of a rifle?

• greater magazine capacity (typically)

• faster, more accurate faster shots on target

• better recoil management

• mitigation of fundamental errors vs. how they manifest in a handgun


Outside of concealment considerations, the rifle is a superior weapon in basically every single way.


01:18 Effectiveness of fighting with a rifle vs. handgun and how each platform handles the elements of marksmanship.

A vertical foregrip of some kind is often a popular accessory but isn't often really necessary.

02:25 The rifle for hearth and home: beginning the discussion, why is it the best home defense gun?

03:05 Rifle setup. Differences (if any) between a “fighting” rifle (such as one for duty) and home defense. How that impacts “advanced safety” and benefits accurate gunhandling and effect PID.

a long gun is our choice for the best home defense gun -- AK, FAL, whatever
Inside your house, outside your house…in most cases (and with the appropriate accouterments and ammunition selection) a rifle is our preferred choice for “best home defense gun”; no matter what country it comes from.

03:40 Weapon lights and Positive Identification (PID): why a WML is the most obvious bit of rifle furniture that a home defense (or any fighting/defense gun) should have a light.

04:50 WML build and features (capabilities and characteristics of the light). Note Varg’s point about busting a light in the doorway of a shoothouse! Remember, you don’t have to have the best/most expensive light, but you should have the best light you can afford.

Training with a Stribog PCC.
If it has a rail, and there’s any chance you’ll have to fight with it, put a WML on. If there isn’t a rail, find a different way to mount it up! No home defense gun should be without a light. 

09:30 Daniel Shaw and Varg Freeborn: their personal rifles (both AR and AK types).

Using an AK 47 in non standard positions on the range.

11:10 Freeborn and Shaw: rifle set up, particularly the Low Powered Variable Optic (LPVO).

Daniel Shaw showing off a carbine build (with low powered variable optic).

12:20 Struggling with sights…how hard use and training lead DS to identify a weakness in his Magpul BUIS — and why it behooves all of us to train hard in order to identify potential failure points of equipment. Have gear for the worst-case scenario.

13:30 Slings and QDs — slings are an integral part of manipulating the weapon.

Slings are a funny thing. You’re gonna have a love-hate relationship with your sling. The sling does a lot of things for you.

17:20 How Shaw and Freeborn arrange their slings, and why.

Rifle slings do a lot more for you than just hanging it around your neck.

22:10 Optics and LPVO mounting and use.

25:08 Advantages of a higher mount (and “creating a vice” around the gun).

27:05  Muzzle device: brakes, comps, and flash hiders.

The best home defense gun should have a flash hider for a muzzle device.

29:50 Magazine selection

Note: for the video referenced here, watch “The 31 round magazine.” 

35:00 Accessorizing for a purpose. The right accouterment (or “furniture”) for the right reasons.


Weigh in with comments, concerns, clarifications, and your opinions!


Older rifles can be just as effective as newer ones for use as a home defense gun.
Older rifles can be just as effective as newer ones for use as a home defense gun…or for that matter, “art guns” (which are newer guns disguised as older guns!).
Gunmag Training's Chief Instructor Daniel Shaw is a retired US Marine Infantry Unit Leader with multiple combat tours and instructor titles.  Since retirement from the Marine Corps, Daniel teaches Armed Citizens and Law Enforcement Officers weapons, tactics and use of force. Daniel takes his life of training and combat experience and develops as well as presents curriculum to help Law Enforcement, US Military and Responsible Armed Citizens prepare for a deadly force encounter.  When he isn't directing marketing for Gunmag Warehouse, Daniel travels the US teaching and training under Gunmag Training, and discusses all things hoplological and self-defense related on The MagLife Podcast.

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