Carbine vs. Pistol for Home Defense

One of the big questions that gun owners have on home defense is whether to use a pistol or a carbine like an AR, AK, or lever-action.

This is a big topic, but I’m going to boil down some of the big advantages of pistols and carbines…

Advantages for pistols:

  1. Easier to have on your person, in a bedside gun safe, or in secure single-gun, quick access safes.
  2. Cheaper for the gun and for the safe.
  3. In many parts of the country, it’s cheaper and easier to do live fire training with a pistol.

Advantages of carbines:

  1. Easier for newer shooters to learn and make hits with at in-home distances
  2. Ability to sight along the barrel and still make solid hits with less training than with a pistol
  3. Easier to retain in a scuffle because of 2 hands and because of slings.
  4. More effective as a striking tool.
  5. Fewer hits required to stop a threat.
  6. It’s easier for a newer shooter to find the dot on a carbine with a red dot than on a pistol with a red dot.
  7. It is easier to find grip-activated light/laser options for a carbine that require little to no thought to operate.
  8. Because of having multiple points of contact (at least the shoulder, hand, and support hand and preferably your cheek and a sling), it’s easier to hit man-sized targets at in-house distances with a bad trigger press–a trigger press that is bad enough to turn a perfect sight picture into a miss with a pistol.
  9. Ironically, fast, light carbine ammo will penetrate FEWER layers of sheetrock than defensive pistol ammo…even frangibles.
  10. In most areas, an AR has more ammo capacity…even though you probably won’t need it.
  11. Easier to make fast, accurate follow-up shots with a carbine.

If you always carry and always put your pistol in the same spot before bed (mine goes in my bark-in-the-night, next-to-the-bed battle belt), you might respond easily with both a pistol and carbine.  We have moose, coyote, mountain lions, and wolves that our dogs alert us to fairly frequently in the middle of the night.  My immediate action is to grab my belt/pistol, and THEN grab the carbine if I think it’s necessary, put on my tactical flip flops and NODs, and check things out.  In other words, if something happens fast, I’m responding with a pistol.  If I’ve got a few more seconds, I’m grabbing a carbine.

So, there’s a pretty strong argument for having a carbine as a home defense weapon, but how do you train to use it in a home environment where loved ones are present in the house and neighbors may be close by?

What can you do TO your house to make it less likely that you’re selected for attack and that you’re less likely to need to use it?

How dangerous

What are the most common mistakes that happen during home defense situations and how do you avoid them?

Just how dangerous is it to use military, law enforcement, and competition tactics in a civilian home defense situation? (this is HUGE)

What are the most common gun malfunctions that happen during home invasions and what can you do ahead of time to prevent them and how can you fight through them when seconds count?

We’ve got the answers to all of those questions >HERE< and if you own a carbine for potential home defense, you are going to want to check it out today.

We’ve all seen how quickly our cities can go from relatively calm and civil to burning and rioting…and none of the bad actors who burned and rioted in the past have gone away.  They’ve just regrouped and are waiting for their next opportunity to cause havoc.

This isn’t the kind of training that you want to wait until the 11th hour to get…you want to get it NOW and start letting it percolate in your brain, and start building the skills so that they can compound over time.

Like I said…check it out now by clicking >HERE<  You’ll be glad you did.

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  • rod vanzeller

    Reply Reply June 4, 2023

    How is the type of weapon going to be used against you in court?

    • Ox

      Reply Reply June 5, 2023

      That is a great question and is highly dependent on where you live.

  • Rick

    Reply Reply June 5, 2022

    I was wondering about larger caliber AR’s I don’t have a 556 or 223 mine is 300blk it’s a large investment for me being retired I love to shoot it.You can never get enough practice time but try to make it effective when you do.

    • Ox

      Reply Reply June 10, 2022

      I’m a big fan of .300 blk. and if I’m going to grab a carbine in the middle of the night, it’s probably going to be my blk. 5.56/.223 with super-light, frangible are going to penetrate fewer layers of sheetrock if you miss, but overpenetration isn’t nearly as big of an issue if you hit your target and the round uses up some/most/all of it’s energy in your intended target.

  • Glenn Edward Miller

    Reply Reply June 4, 2022

    I read lots of stuff and yours is excellent, even the comments section, nice to get other’s views. My question> There is a lot of talk about bullets penetrating wallboard. From a degensive standpoint if I’m just peering around a corner in my house looking for the bad guy, or he’s doing the same, sounds like I could just shoot through the wall board and get him, or vice versa. What is a better position to be in?

    • Ox

      Reply Reply June 10, 2022

      Thank you!

      In real-world situations, 124gr 9mm HSTs can penetrate 6 layers of sheetrock in an office building. Even 2x4s won’t stop most defensive loads.

      As to whether or not you could shoot through the wall board and get him…I’ll say this, you are responsible for every shot you fire. That may be appropriate in some cases, but despite the fact that Biden suggested shooting bad guys with a shotgun through your front door, you need to be incredibly mindful of risks before doing so.

      A better position to be in? It all depends on how your house is set-up, but I’d like to be on the other side of a bookshelf full of encyclopedias.

  • Uncus

    Reply Reply June 4, 2022

    Another plus for carbines [mine is a PCC9] is that you don’t need a permit [well, not until next week] to buy/own one.
    New York State has gone down the toilet.

  • Grumpy 49

    Reply Reply March 5, 2022

    I like reading opinions on handgun versus carbine versus shotgun for home defense. Most important issue should be which one do you know how to use? Almost as important – Which one do you feel comfortable using?

    However, everyone should also be aware of how the local DA looks at self defense. A .223/5.56 hollow point round is possibly the best home defense cartridge, and a 5.56 (AR) carbine is one of the easiest firearms for anyone to use. But, if the local LEOs use cartridge XXX in model YYY firearm, then that should also be a serious factor in what you use. I did find that the local Police Chief carries a full sized 1911, in .45 ACP.

    • John Gill

      Reply Reply June 4, 2022

      Yes, several very good points. It’s not always possible to know what the local DA has on his mind; the other criteria should take precedence. I’m partial to my “carbine”, but don’t always take the time to retrieve it from the safe at night.

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