Choosing a home-defense rifle is more complex than choosing a home-defense pistol. This is because any pistol used for concealed carry can also be used for home defense. The home-defense rifle has a different purpose. The rifle is basically best suited for perimeter control.

Close Perimeter Control

I do not advocate the rifle for interior home defense. Operating a rifle doesn’t leave you with a free hand, which is a major detriment. A rifle also provides greater leverage to your opponent should he make a surprise grab of your barrel.

That being said, every gun owner — even an apartment dweller — should have a defensive rifle. Think of an emergency situation (natural disaster, mass power outage, terrorist attack, civil unrest, etc.). I would hate to defend everything with just a five-shot .38. A close-perimeter-control rifle allows you to defend yourself and your property if you shelter in place. It also makes the statement that you are not a person to be trifled with should you decide to abandon your home.

Bolt, lever or semi-automatic rifles firing intermediate rounds make excellent close-perimeter-control rifles. They can protect you and your family at distances from just outside your door to about 250 yards.

Bolt Action Lever Action Semi-Auto
.223 .357 Magnum M1 Carbine
.300 Blackout .44 Magnum AR-15
6.8 SPC AK-47
5.7 FN PS90


Equip these rifles with XS tritium sights rather than electronic optics and you will be ready to rock at a moment’s notice. If possible, mount a high-intensity weapon light, such as those available from Streamlight, to help you dominate the dark. Use 20- rather than 30-round magazines — especially with AKs — to make your rifle more maneuverable in, out and around vehicles.

Home-Defense Rifle Offers Extended Perimeter Control

Close-perimeter-control rifles may not deliver enough power for those who live on farms or other large rural tracts of land — particularly on our open southern border. Extended-perimeter-control rifles deliver decisive blows well beyond 250 yards. Scope-sighted rifles or those with precision metallic sights in .308 caliber and higher make ideal extended-perimeter weapons.

I keep my treasured WWII M1 Garand for just such a purpose due to its firepower and excellent battle sights. If you ever need to evacuate, a long-range rifle will help you define your perimeter in a new location. An extended-perimeter-control rifle doesn’t need to be a bolt-action sniper gun (although it can be). The Springfield Armory M1A or the Century Arms C-308 come to mind as top choices.

When the rifle is applied properly in home-defense situations, it’s an indispensable asset. Don’t forget to throw in a good .22 for emergency forage.