Sleeping soundly next to your spouse, you are awakened by terrified screams coming from the other end of your house. In an instant you realize the commotion is coming from your child’s bedroom. With your heart pounding, you grab your carbine and move down the hallway as your spouse calls 911. And then, illuminated by your weapon mounted light, you see your worst nightmare in the form of a madman using your daughter for a shield and holding a pistol to her head. He screams at you to drop your gun as he tightens his grip on the throat of the most precious person in your life. What will you do?

If recent gun sales are any indication, a lot of people are worried about having to address threats similar to the one I have described. One of the weapons people are buying in record numbers is the carbine, or AR-15 style rifle. Working at a firearms training school, I have ample opportunity to ask clients why they are buying carbines and seeking training with them; the number one answer is in order to defend their homes. I couldn’t agree more – carbines make outstanding home defense weapons.

In the days of my misspent youth, my friends and I put a lot of time and effort into fixing up cars. In my mind, the carbine is the ‘55 Chevy of firearms–it is subject to a great deal of customization, can be user modified, and there are a huge number of parts and accessories available. This being the case, the carbine can be customized for specific uses, including as a home defense weapon.


Most carbines are chambered for the .223 Remington / 5.56 NATO round. Whether in soft point, hollow point or full metal jacket configuration, this ammunition is excellent for use indoors if you are concerned about over-penetration through walls and the dangers this may present to family members in the home. As opposed to pistol ammunition or shotgun slugs and buckshot, .223 ammunition will penetrate fewer walls, with the bullet tumbling and fragmenting often after going through only one wall. On the other hand, this ammunition has proven to be very effective in taking the fight out of someone and will penetrate body armor of the type sometimes used by crooks and home invasion robbers these days. Most of us would agree that adding a light to the house carbine is a good idea. From dedicated forearm lights and pistol grip lights, to mounts for tactical flashlights, the choices for mounting a light on the carbine are almost endless. Weapon lights can provide a real advantage in low light situations, but you should bear in mind that a good light can not only temporarily blind a bad guy, but it can also give away your position if activated at the wrong time. Also remember that, while you may be justified in defending your home you may also face the consequences of a charge of assault with a deadly weapon if you point a gun at someone without justification. For this reason, you need to be very careful if searching with a weapon mounted light, even in your home.

Light It Up

Conventional wisdom has it that your carbine should be equipped with a good quality electronic red dot or similar sight and a good set of back up iron sights. In my opinion, for use in the home, there is no need for the iron sights, as they add weight and expense and are difficult to use quickly and accurately in low light situations. Now, if we’re wandering around in the hills of Afghanistan, good iron back up sights are a must, but you really have no need for them in a home defense environment. But what if the batteries on your optical sight go out, you say? I would answer that the top quality red dot sights, such as the Aimpoint, are very robust, will take all manner of abuse and have a battery life measured in years. If you really want to worry about battery life on these sights, I would recommend you leave them turned on and change the batteries once a year when you change your smoke alarm batteries.

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