Skip to comments.The Fighting Rifle (And Why Your Pistol Is A Backup Weapon)
Posted on 06/25/2012 10:16:51 AM PDT by Sopater
America is very much a gun culture, and more weapons remain in civilian hands here than just about anywhere on earth, which is a good thing. We also have a fascination with pistols in this country, with the vast majority of the states having some sort of carry provisions in their laws allowing anyone not prohibited from carrying a pistol on their person. Some states have open carry while most have concealed carry, and thus a great many Americans are armed with handguns at any given time.
Reasons listed on most concealed carry applications range from personal protection, to protection from wildlife, protection from previous stalkers, or because of business considerations. All in all, we arm ourselves with pistols for just about any and all reasons our law enforcement officers respond in kind, choosing to wear mostly Level IIA body armor, which is good only for pistol calibers.
A quick look at the military, however, shows an opposite preference. Each soldier or Marine is armed with a rifle or carbine. Even cooks, clerks, and supply staff must qualify with rifles, regardless of their jobs in the military. Pistols are a rarity, usually afforded to officers and senior NCOs, almost as an afterthought. In Iraq and Afghanistan, room clearing is still done by rifle. For all intents and purposes, pistols are a seldom-used backup weapon or at best, used for garrison MP work stateside.
Why, then, does the civilian populace have it backwards? Leaving aside the practicality of carrying a rifle around, a pistol for defense purposes is inferior in every way to a rifle. If it were the reverse, armies would march to war with them but they dont.
As an off-the-grid prepper or retreat homeowner, you need to begin acquainting yourself with the idea the home defense is a rifle fight that most people bring a pistol to. Sure, there are some cases, such as small homes, condominiums, and apartments places in urban settings that lend themselves to having a pistol as a primary defense weapon with a rifle in reserve, but in a rural or retreat setting, your pistols can safely remain in their holsters as backup where they belong. As Clint Smith said, “The only purpose for a pistol is to fight your way back to the rifle you should have never laid down.”
The Right Tool for the Job
In a rural or outdoor environment, a rifle or carbine is the perfect companion for a patrol. If you own an acreage or large retreat property, youre going to want to walk it extensively to scout it out, learn its nuances, and see how your home looks from various other perspectives on your land. See what a potential intruder sees! Bring along a rifle in case of any trouble even if no trouble is expected. First, this will familiarize yourself with patrolling, and secondly, it will teach you to bear the heft of your rifle. Go out as far from the home as you can on your land three, four hundred yards if possible. Now take out your backup pistol unloaded of course and draw a bead on your house. The front sight probably is bigger than the front door. How do you expect to hit anything with a pistol at that range? Its a rhetorical question.
Your new retreat should have a battle rifle to defend it. Dont get hung up on nomenclature and armchair ninjas who declare that a battle rifle is solely a .308 caliber weapon. Your battle rifle is whatever you choose to defend your home with. Ideally, it should be a semi-automatic, gas-operated, detachable-magazine model chambered in a military caliber such as 7.62 x 39, 7.62 x 51 (.308), or 5.56 x 45 (.223). The reasons for these choices are simple. In a home defense situation, each one of the aforementioned features you dont possess is a huge handicap to you.
You can most certainly hold off an invading horde with a Remington bolt-action rifle, or grandpas .30-30, or even a shotgun. Sooner or later though, youre going to run into rate-of-fire problems since all of these designs are slow to shoot, relative to a semi-auto, and have extremely limited magazine capacities. So if those designs are inferior for home defense use, where does that leave our venerable pistols?
As excellent backup weapons! Outside fifty yards, a pistol not only loses accuracy, but also knockdown power. Target acquisition becomes difficult due to the coarser sights on most pistols, and there are usually no adjustments possible in any case. Inside twenty-five yards, the game changes somewhat, with pistols having decent accuracy and passable knockdown power. They still suffer from short barrels (between three and six inches on most semi-autos) and low magazine capacities (as low as eight and as high as twenty without extended magazines). Even a $300 junk AK clone with a handful of thirty-round magazines brings far more firepower to the fight than a pistol with the same number of magazines, regardless of caliber.
Train Like You Fight
A prepper who is lucky enough to have a decent size piece of land should definitely practice with both a rifle and pistol (dont forget the shotgun!) in various drills designed to have the shooter engage targets at long range with a rifle, and then transition to pistol for short range targets. This way, the shooter can smoothly switch from one weapons system to another. Why fool around with your rifle sights? Its easy to make a range card beforehand so that you know the distances accurately on your own property so that that tree over there is 50 yards, that rock, 250, that gully, 75. Preparation is key. While doing these drills, feel free to occasionally engage rifle targets with your pistol, to see just how useless it is at anything that is afar off.
While distance drills are great practice, dont fall into the mentality that a rifle is purely a long-distance weapon. Carbines like the M4 and others represent excellent close-quarters weapons that have incredible power, huge magazine capacities, and the ability to rapidly reload as well as accept accessories such a lights and lasers, making them the perfect weapons for any job. Get good at clearing rooms or doing drills with a carbine, and youll start questioning why you even own a pistol.
©2012 Off the Grid News
I prefer long guns. They are within my comfort zone.
M-1 Garand in Springfield 30-06, accept NO Substitutes!
It's always a matter of using the right tool, for the right job.
If home owner steps outside of his house, and fires a "range" weapon, he's going to have some explaining to do. However, inside his own home the homeowner's primary concern is maneuverability in a confined (and very familiar) space. I can swing my 9mm around my house - faster than a stranger can swing around a carbine. My 9mm will kill the intruder, without going through the walls, penetrating the exterior walls of my neighbor and injuring/killing them. This is by design. Totally different mission - and for the homeowner, the proper tool.
Whereas, many of the fire-fights our troops are engaged in are at ranges greater than 25 ft.
Much as I’d love to carry my FAL into the 7/11, it might be a bit inconvenient. I find the author’s reference to “armchair warriors” more than a little ironic. Is his whole point that a rifle is better than a pistol?
I tend to agree. I think a well stocked tool box is the ideal situation, coupled with a good understanding of what tool to reach for in any given situation. Sometimes you reach for more than one tool if you know that the situation is capable of changing at any given time.
I don’t think there is a great chance that I would ever need a defensive rifle. Just not likely in my area tho I would never dismiss it as impossible.
I did have an incident happen a few months ago which made me realize a high capacity shotgun or pistol could happen.
I had driven out to the nearest town which is about 12 miles away. As I approached home I noticed a van parked in my rural driveway.
I thought about getting my pistol ready but decided to just play it by ear. It turned out they were friendly and didn’t act at all hostile. They had almost lost a tire and had no spare. The bad one had metal showing. I knew a guy who would help them out and he lived near enough that I told them to go ahead and creep to his house which was only a short distance to go. I phoned him to warn him.
After they were gone, I did check a tire and wheel I had in my driveway and they had definitely checked it out before I got there. Maybe just something they would have offered to buy but maybe to steal. Anyway it was the wrong size.
I just realized I didn’t mention there were around a dozen Mexicans in and around the van.
One perhaps oblique ancillary: I have just recently converted my ARs to piston driven guns. The reduction in heat in the firing chamber and bolt carrier, as well as the reduction in carbon fouling is very significant for more than five or six rounds fired in a fire fight. I reccommend one of three best systems because of functionality to the level of three hundred rounds in less than an hour.
The real question for me is .40 cal or .45 acp :)
Advice from my neighbor, who was going on a business trip, to his wife, who was staying home: “if someone breaks in to the house, point this gun (300 Weatherby Magnum) at that wall (solid cinder block) and pull the trigger — they’ll leave.”
In a survival situation, I’d say screw stupid laws and saw the barrel off a shotgun for close in defense.
“My 9mm will kill the intruder, without going through the walls, penetrating the exterior walls of my neighbor and injuring/killing them. This is by design.”
Most handgun rounds will penetrate 3 or more sheetrock walls. Many will also penetrate cinder block and brick exterior walls. Shotgun (shot, 00, and slugs) will also penetrate multiple interior walls.
I’ve read several articles that the 5.56 round actually has the least penetration as the bullet will break apart by the 3rd sheet rock wall and fail to go through.
There are numerous videos on youtube showing penetration of the various calibers.
They say in Viet Nam about 10000 rounds were expended for every enemy killed. Unless I am attacked by a mob, a hit team, or Zombies, I think Mr. 12 guage and Ms. 9 will suffice. I particularly like Hornadays rifled 12 guage fragmenting slug for Zombie work. Just remember to hit them in the head. I have no problem with citizens owning AKs or AR15 clones and using them for self defense. Use what you got Bro.
Carbines and rifles are obviously superior to a pistol beyond close range. A shotgun can be depending.
However, nothing is more handy than a pistol, or easier to use in a confined space.
Just to be safe, have a long gun to fall back to.
I’m in the market for a new AR15 and ran across the piston driven ARs at the store. Appreciate the comment, I need to learn more about them.
I would switch to this for intermediate ranges.
And this for close in.
Garde la Foi, mes amis! Nous nous sommes les sauveurs de la République! Maintenant et Toujours!
(Keep the Faith, my friends! We are the saviors of the Republic! Now and Forever!)
LonePalm, le Républicain du verre cassé (The Broken Glass Republican)
That's how I look at it.
Wife sleeps with a flap holstered 3” cylinder Taurus Judge under her pillow. Loaded with five rounds of .410 with six 9 mm balls in each one, it is a formidable up close and personal weapon.
Me, I prefer the .45 acp Ruger P90DC under my pillow.
Sig P6 (225) at the bed. 12 guage riot gun and a carbine within a dozen steps.
My husband’s affinity for his reproduction Civil War era Gatling gun doesn’t seem so weird when I read things like this.
That’s about the range at which I use my .30-06 to nudge trespassers. Different strokes for different folks.
I live in a small (1440 ft2) home on a small lot, by other small places in a 55+ place. Mr. Remington 870 with buck-and-ball (.65” ball w/6 OO buck) and Mr. RIA 1911 (Tactical) will do the job.
I sold my Saiga .308 and bought more ammo.
As BoT reiterates over and over again, "pistols are pistols, shotguns are shotguns and rifles are rifles". A rifle can do it all, including penetrating most soft body armor. No pistol or shotgun round can do this reliably. As for all the talk of overpenetration, unless you live in a stone castle any round can overpenetrate. A little preplanning does more to protect the innocent that all the nerf rounds in the world.
I've been considering one of those conversions, which did you ultimately decide on?
Also, any signs of wear due to the tendency of the piston/operating rod pressure to cause the bolt carrier to deflect downwards at the rear?
That one came from Jeff Cooper, a truly brilliant and knowledgeable man. Like most people, Cooper was capable of being wrong and I agree with you that the statement is not entirely correct.
I think Col. Cooper began to mellow a bit in his later years. Even tho he was often quoted as making fun of mouse guns, he admitted that he often stuck a .22 auto in his pocket while walking around the ranch.
I think he said “It doesn’t hit hard but it hits hard enough for most purposes”, maybe not an exact quote but close.
Gotta love the AK 74.
Ballistics are comparable to the AR15 but it is so much cheaper to feed.
Do marines use ear protection on a daily basis when they are on patrol?
After a couple of thousand rounds I detect no visible wear from carrier tilt from any of the three. With good lightweight lowers now selling for under hundred bucks, I wouldn’t worry about that anyway. If you want reliable, durable and trouble free, I reccommend the Osprey Defense. But if you want to easily turn off the gas piston drive to shoot 22 lr conversion for cheap practice I would go with the CMMG. With the Osprey you use your current gasblock and they send a gas cup to slip into the gas block, a piston and drive rod and bolt carrier and handguards, and with the CMMG they send a gas block along with the piston, rod, spring, and bolt carrier. You use your own bolt. I have yet to clean the Osprey system and it still runs like a sewing machine after hundreds of rounds down range. The CMMG needs cleaning after around five or six hundred rounds to remain flawless for 22lr use. But I would trust it for a couple thousand rounds without cleaning if burning IMI or even Tula ammo. I prefer the Osprey because it is so simple in operation. One minor thing: with the piston systems, the heat and carbon dump out near the gas block, so with attachments that require tight mounting you can have things work loose if not on nice and tight.
I don’t guess I even know who Clint Smith is tho the name sounds a bit familiar. I have read or heard that quote literally dozens of times and always thought it came from Cooper. Actually I still do but sure could be wrong.
Maybe Cooper was quoting Smith. I never thought it was all that good a statement but yes I can see someone in combat needing a rifle ahead of anything else.
Beside my bed is double action .380, and within 6 feet is a Winchester defender with 7, OO buckshot tho I have at times changed that to BB shot. Still not certain what the best load is. I would rather have a Remington 870 but the Winchester was what I had and practically speaking it is just as good.
When my wife was alive, I kept a Colt auto in the drawer close to the bed, sometimes changing it for a Browning Hi-Power. I also used to keep a Ruger 10/22 in the bedroom with a high quality 30 round mag.
The one time someone was literally trying to get into the house, I grabbed the Ruger. I still am not sure why. It was probably about as good as anything, tho the Colt would probably have been a better choice. It turned out to be a drunk at the wrong house.
I have owned a large number of AR-15s and wish I still had one. All were Colts and none ever gave the slightest trouble. It would be a good home protection weapon but I can get by with a 10/22.
I was looking for a good PC9 at a reasonable price for years. I already have two P89 automatics that take 15 rd mags. The PC 9 takes the same mag.
I would really like to find a .45 ACP Camp Carbine but they are ridiculously rare since November 2008. They use a standard M1911 mag and I can't think of a better carbine/pistol combo. My Ruger combo is fine but it's not .45 ACP.
The KelTec sub 2000 in 40 cal using Glock23 mags makes a very nice combination of carbine and pistol using the same mags and ammo. The bonus is that the KelTec folds to sixteen inches with mag in it, so you can carry it around in a book bag! They are fast, accurate, and reliable, and very easy to clean and feed. I range mine with Tula ammo and keep Hornady HPs in the defense mode.
Take a good hard look at the Ruger SR-556 with the gas piston setup. Not my choice, but I've worked on M16s since 1967 and complete teardown of the weapon is no problem for me. And if I get a 5th AR platform, it might well be a Ruger...or another one I build myself.
You really ought to get him a new one as a birthday or anniversary present.