5.56 or 9mm for home defense?

One of the smartest reasons that people own and train with firearms is for home defense…to protect themselves and those they love during their most vulnerable moments.

One of the big reasons why people don’t use a carbine for home defense is because they’re afraid of overpenetration…especially compared to a pistol round like the 9mm.

But I’m about to share with you 5 reasons why a carbine chambered in .223 or 5.56 carbine as as good or better of a home defense gun than a 9mm pistol.

First off, if you want to stop a threat as quickly as possible,

Penetration Is Your Friend

And ALL rounds that are effective at stopping a lethal threat in a timely manner will “over” penetrate walls.

A recent example was a friend who was teaching a group of officers.  There was a negligent discharge in the classroom by one of the officers.  The round was a 124gr 9mm hollowpoint—a VERY good brand.  The hollowpoint got plugged with drywall on the first wall and ended up going through 6 layers of drywall before stopping.

A .223 round (especially lighter bullets) will penetrate drywall as well, but it’s an inherently unstable round designed to tumble and break apart.  In many cases, this means it won’t penetrate as far as a 9mm round.

If all effective rounds will penetrate walls, then we need to look at what we need to do to minimize the number of rounds that hit walls in the first place.  And the best way to do this is to make sure that your rounds go through the lethal threat first. 

Second:  # of hits required to stop a threat.  If you’re concerned about over-penetration through walls, you’re really only concerned about rounds that miss your attacker.  And the fewer HITS that you need to make to stop the threat, the less likely it’ll be that you have misses that over-penetrate.  There’s no doubt that the .223 is better at stopping threats than defensive pistol calibers.  And if .223 hits will stop threats faster than defensive pistol caliber hits, the next thing to look at is how to increase our odds of making solid hits…

Third:  Longer barrels are easier to aim than shorter barrels.  Shoulder mounted guns are easier to shoot accurately than pistols.  This is more and more true the less and less a shooter practices.  If you’re in a fight for your life, you want to hit your attacker and not the walls around the attacker and this is easier with a rifle than a pistol.

The question of lasers come up here.  Lasers are great.  They work on both rifles and pistols.  But they don’t fix flinch or trigger mashing issues that are common in stress shooting situations.  A flinch or mash can cause you to miss a man sized target at VERY close distances with a pistol…even when using a laser.  Rifles are much more forgiving because of the fact that you have additional points of contact that are spread out.

Fourth: Retention.  If you come around a corner in your house and an attacker grabs your gun, do you think you will have more of an advantage if you’re holding a pistol or a rifle?  Again, the scales tip towards a rifle…particularly an AR-15 style rifle with a pistol grip, but a lever action or pump is still a significant advantage over a pistol.  Add a sling, and the rifle is the clear winner.  In addition, if someone grabs the barrel/slide of your pistol, there’s a good chance it won’t fire and incredibly likely that it won’t fire more than once.  If someone grabs the barrel of your rifle, it won’t hurt the reliability at all.

Fifth:  Murphy loves gunfights.  If things go bad, and your gun stops working, it’s incredibly unlikely that you’ll have time to do a malfunction drill in a home defense situation.  But you CAN use that hunk of steel in your hands as an impact weapon.  And if you’ve got a choice between striking someone with a pistol and muzzle punching them with a rifle, a muzzle punch with an AR-15 lets you stay further away from your target and lets you deliver more force, more precisely than a strike with a pistol.

If this got you thinking about how you’re currently approaching home defense, I want to encourage you to check out this comprehensive training that covers the best way to set up your home to discourage an attack in the first place and slow down attackers and give you extra time if they end up picking you.  (Enter the coupon code “TAXMAN” this weekend only at checkout for 68% tax-day relief off of the platinum package)

In addition, it covers movement techniques with a carbine, identifying choke points and creating funnels and backstops, carbine selection, optics, lights, and sling selection and gear setup, retention, threat identification, muzzle strikes, and a full dry fire training curriculum to help you take head knowledge and turn it into conditioned responses that you can execute automatically under stress.

If you own or want to own an AR-15, you NEED this course, regardless of whether you’ve got a military or law enforcement background or are a complete newbie.  Get it now and take advantage of your 68% tax-day relief right now by clicking >HERE< and entering the code “TAXMAN”

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  • rod vanzeller

    Reply Reply November 3, 2022

    Is it going to be considered “excessive force” in court?

    • Ox

      Reply Reply November 3, 2022

      I’ve got to make some assumptions about what you’re asking…

      I’m assuming that you’re asking about using 5.56 in a home invasion situation where you are facing a clear and present threat of death or serious bodily injury. That your attacker has the ability, intent, and opportunity to hurt you immediately.

      While I do not have a crystal ball to predict the future…where I live or where you live (which could be very different), I would try to find any cases where a justified use of force in a home invasion was ruled excessive simply because of using 5.56 instead of a pistol round.

  • Jimmie

    Reply Reply January 10, 2018

    Seems to me, the answer is a 9mm carbine. I don’t have one. Thank you! Father’s day is coming up!

    • Ox

      Reply Reply January 19, 2018

      With the right ammo, that’s not a bad choice at all. I’ve got my mags loaded so that the first 2 are frangibles from TNQ and the rest are Speer 147gr G2s. The G2s are ridiculously hard to find right now.

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