If you have come to the conclusion that an AR-15, or rifle in general, is what fits your needs and/or wants for a home defense gun, here is how I recommend you set it up. There are many variables in a home defense ar-15. Barrel length, silencer, weapon light, flash hider/brake, etc. Some people might say "I don't need to think that deep into it, I will just go buy an AR-15". That is your right and your choice. If that fits you, then I am unsure why you are reading this in the first place. I digress. There are many environments where an AR-15 is a good option for home defense. AR-15's are easier to shoot for smaller stature individuals, like women for example. A handgun is a more difficult platform to learn and shoot well compared to a rifle. A rancher who deals with drug smugglers on their land. These are just two examples, but in the end it is up to you. There are a few key things we need to discuss when talking about an AR-15 for home defense. Optics/sights, barrel length, weapon lights and maintenance. While other things like a silencer I would recommend, the chances someone is going to go out and buy one and going through all the bullshit and wait to purchase one is not going to happen. My recommendations are all easy and can be done right after watching this article. Let's begin!
With the FBI showing statistics that around 80% of all shootings happen in low light and one of the firearm safety rules being identifying your target, having a weapon light is a must. It means you are a
responsible gun owner. Now just having a weapon light on your gun does not mean you are now a low light ninja gun fighter. Go to a course and learn about using weapon lights and protecting yourself and/or home in the dark. There is no substitute for at course training. In finding a good dependable weapon light research, research and research. Don't buy a under lumen bargain bin light. There is plenty of people doing great reviews on weapon lights, like MrGunsandGear. Some of my recommendations are, depending on your needs, the Streamlight Protac Rail Mount 1 and 2, SureFire Scout light series, Elzetta and Inforce WML (Very niche applications). Something around 400 or higher is my recommendation on lumens and with a hot center. People talk about "bad guys shooting for the light". Well if they can't see shit, they can't shoot shit with any precision. Hot center lights are the way to go, look into candela when researching weapon lights. Weapon light operation consistency is also key. If you find an operation type that fits you, switch over all your guns to that operation type. Do not have a WML on one gun and a Scout with tape switch on another gun. Depending on which you pickup you will fail. Mastering one rifle weapon light operation is hard enough, let alone using multiple operation types.
Let the butthurt flow! Can you have a home defense gun with only iron sights? Absolutely. If that works for you, then that is what you should go with. Nothing wrong with using iron sights. For me, I like a good micro red dot optic. I pick up targets and shoot faster with a red dot. So my
recommendation is to use a red dot. There are many out there, but the best is an Aimpoint. Aimpoint is the leader in this industry and for good reason. They build red dots that work and work and work and work. I have a T1 and a T2, both work the same. The other thing with an Aimpoint is the battery life. Having your red dot on is key. You do not want to get up after knowing someone is in your home meaning you harm, only to try and remember what setting your red dot was on. You don't want to fumble around in a life or death situation. Aimpoint red dots last for like 30k or 50k hours on one battery. If you just change it out once a year, your golden. Now Primary Arms makes a budget version of a T1/T2 called the MD-ADS. Same battery life and close performance. It just is not built like a tank like an Aimpoint. For strictly home defense I believe you could use one with success. They are 1/3 the cost of an Aimpoint.
People always are worried about their optic glass. I mean you spent $600 bucks or so on your red dot! That makes sense. But think logically through this. People want to protect the glass and put on the straps their red dot comes with or aftermarket flip caps. Keep them off when they are next to your bed! In a home defense situation why do you need to protect your glass? Are pillows going to pop a cap in your optics ass? I do not think so. Again, this goes back to fumbling around in the dark during a home defense situation. I have heard stories of some of our brave soldiers going out on missions, forgetting their straps are on their optics and upon contact shouldering the rifle only to see a black circle because the straps are still on there. For home defense, fuck dem straps and flip caps.
This should be quick and easy. If you want a smaller barrel, go through the process and get one. Any length barrel can be used, this is truly personal preference.
This is something not really talked about. So you got all these go fast parts, but they don't go fast without lube (God I love lube!). I use Lucas Oil Extreme Gun Oil, it stays in place and does not burn off fast. Frank Proctor turned me onto it and he has 10's of thousands more rounds on the range than me. Also, make sure to inspect your parts on your rifle. Looking for cracks, etc. Cleaning it after each range session will insure you have a rifle ready for you when you need it most.
All the other parts like uppers, bolt carrier groups, lowers, rails, etc. are even. As long as your buy quality parts. This whole article is written off the assumption you have a quality rifle or build. I could talk about quality magazines but there are so many quality magazines that there is not one special one that is better than the rest. But if I had to recommend one I would say the Magpul Gen3 PMag. I hope this helped you in your search for information on setting up your home defense AR-15.