In today’s flailing economy we consider every purchase. Am I overspending when America’s financial stability is uncertain? Should I be spending more on protection because of this instability? When it comes to protecting your home and family no amount of money seems too much. If you’re considering the popular AR rifle for protection, you might as well make your purchase serve double duty—in short, get the most bang out of your buck. Select the right AR and your investment can provide protection and security while delivering fun at the range and even the reward of a successful hunt.


Size Matters

Like people, ARs come in all sizes, shapes and colors. The civilian-AR was developed from the M16 and all its progeny, which had been tested and implemented in military operations for many years. Eight million rifles later the AR design has definitely been perfected.

To increase accuracy, hunting and benchrest rifles tend to be long and heavy. However, a double-duty AR should be short, compact and relatively light (7 pounds or less). Why? You’ll likely be using it for protection duties in and around your home, including hallways, stairwells, doors, outside shrubbery and so forth. This is one reason many personal-defense instructors recommend handguns for home protection: They are easily stored, retrieved and, most importantly, handled in tight spaces. Many of you have classic pump-action, 12-gauge shotguns that knock down geese and, when loaded with 00 buck, can take out intruders. But unless you’ve customized that shotgun, you’ll come out of a doorway swinging a firearm almost 50 inches long—try doing that gracefully at 1:00 a.m. in the dark, half asleep, with your heart pounding.

Although the standard-length M16 performed well in most battlefields, military thinkers knew it would work better with modifications. This became especially apparent as soldiers entered increasingly urban environments like Panama and, eventually, Somalia. The result was the M4, a shortened, more compact version of the popular M16. Today military and law enforcement utilize the compact design. More than a dozen companies manufacture ARs, so finding one that fits your demands is not too demanding. ARs equipped with collapsible stocks in a carbine format matching the M4 configuration measure a measly 32 inches collapsed and 35.5 inches extended. You may want your AR to be used in the field, but if its primary function is for protection, start shopping in the law enforcement section of your favorite AR manufacturer. You’ll quickly see the differences between styles, which center on length. Hunting and fixed-stock models reach 39 inches and may exceed 40.

In contrast, Smith & Wesson’s popular M&P15T has a 35-inch extended length and a weight of 7 pounds. It will set you back approximately $1,200 for double duty. Colt, the primary manufacturer of military M16s and M4s, also has a viable option with the LE6920-SOCOM. Also weighing in at 7 pounds the SOCOM has an extended length of 35.5 inches, providing equal maneuverability in tight spaces. Shopping around you’ll find LE6920s for as little as $1,200.

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