OK, I am really frustrated today…I mean really frustrated. On another website a person asked, “Which is better for overall protection–AR-15 in .223 or AR-10 in .308?” It was game on! There was a flood of replies, most of which was personal opinion or flat-out wrong information. And every single reply missed the most vital point of all.
What point is that?
Come on, you should know by now if you have been visiting this website for any length of time. The answer is “mission”…plain and simple.
I could tell right away from the wording of his original post, request for information, that he really has no experience with today’s modern rifles. The very first reply was recommending a shotgun as the weapon of choice for overall protection. Strange…the guy was asking for help choosing between an AR-15 & an AR-10 (5.56 vs. 7.62). That tells me right away the people are going to be sharing opinion vs. informed factual recommendations.
The next person replied that an AR-15 isn’t intended to kill, just wound someone. Besides, they said the 5.56 round was designed to go “clean through a person”. But, then they backed it up with the idea that an AR-10 was a “kill gun”, a “sniper rifle.” Come on people!! For crying out loud how can people be saying stupid crap like that!?
Then another shortly replied that you should never bet your life on an AR-10 because there are so many issues. Really!? Couldn’t be more false in the case of my current AR-10! The other replies weren’t much better. Two replies came close to really working with the person to answer his questions. Then it dawned on me…stop being so frustrated with someone like that…and the others that are replying to him.
Why? Because most people don’t have real life experience with a weapon, never did any testing, or simply don’t know how to figure out what the best equipment or gear is. Once I realized that I settled down and now will address the subject of an AR-15 vs. AR-10.
I wrote an extensive article in July of 2015 in regards to choosing the right rifle/carbine. I will dust that article off and update it with my most current info and opinion and post it in the next few days. But, for now let’s review how to identify this guy’s need…or the mission for the weapon.
His original question was “Which is better for overall protection…?”
This indicates that he has not thought through the “need” to any great degree. He does make it clear that he wants a weapon for defensive purposes but he fails to clarify what that specific need/purpose is. And that makes a huge difference. So let’s walk through that right now…
- What is the environment that you wish to protect? Home, cabin, land, commercial property, wherever you are standing, etc.?
- Will you be working alone or in coordination with others that will be, or could be, similarly armed? Part of a fire team, prepper group, family only, trained operators, etc.?
- Will you be operating in an urban environment vs. rural environment?
- Do you want to protect your home from someone inside the home (i.e. home invasion) or from someone approaching your home at a distance?
- Do you expect to place yourself vs. a large group of hostiles or against individuals one at a time?
- Do you expect you will do long-range patrols (i.e. 10+ miles at a time) with this weapon?
- Do you expect to utilize this weapon from a fixed and stationary position?
- Do you expect, or want the capability, to use the weapon against vehicles?
Home Invasion –
For “home defense” against a home invasion, intruder, etc. neither an AR-15 or an AR-10 is the appropriate weapon. During training I was able to completely neutralize a highly trained/skill operator from using his M4 against me. Granted, he did “kill” me multiple times with his training knife but that is a different story.
A long gun, any long gun, (i.e. M4, AR-15, AR-10, shotgun, etc.) is easily neutralized in close quarters by an empty hand aggressor. The preferred weapon of choice isn’t even an SBR (short barreled rifle) for professionals. The weapon of choice is a pistol. And then there is the caliber debate. Don’t go there! A 9mm semi-auto pistol is the pistol of choice, loaded of course with a large capacity double-stack magazine. I personally use a Sig P-226 with an 18-round Mec-Gar magazine.
Now my operator /trainer buddy really likes the pistol in combination with holding a knife with your off-hand while stabilizing the pistol. Gives you access to two close-quarters weapons immediately. A great combination to be sure, but you need training to handle the combo.
In an earlier article I wrote that I really like a double-barrel shotgun for home invasion. I still do…and it is an awesome weapon for defending a home. But, it isn’t the best weapon -not even close- for clearing a house of bad guys.
I mentioned a SBR for home defense. Yes, I like it and it is very effective. But, the primary reason I like, as do professional operators, it is based on its dual-purpose…it can be used to clear a house of bad guys and then taken outside and engage targets at moderate distances just as effectively.
So which is the best weapon?
Under everyday conditions, non-SHTF, I have a pistol on my nightstand and a double barrel shotgun beside the bed. I will choose the right weapon when the time comes based on the threat level/situation.
Under SHTF conditions it would be the pistol and an AR-15 beside the bed to defend against home invasion. Now, understand that my AR-15 has the shortest possible legal barrel length so it looks much shorter than the average AR-15 carbine and that makes it a better option for room clearing than the average AR-15 or M-16.
Home Defense –
To me there is a difference between home “defense” and home “invasion”. Home invasion is non-SHTF terminology where one or more scumbags (i.e. bad guys) have entered, or nearly entered, my home. Home defense in a SHTF
term and that means I am on war-footing, I am geared-up, full battle rattle ready to defend my home from zombies.
That means, ready to go:
- AR-15, 30-round Magpul mags loaded with 62gr M855 (28 rounds), Aimpoint Micro-T1.
- Sig 226, 18 round Mec-Gar mags loaded with 147gr Hornady XTP, Blackhawk drop-leg holster system.
- Fighting knife on my LBE vest.
- Spyderco Paramilitary II knife in my pocket.
- Proper mentality and Situational Awareness.
That means, close at hand:
- Benelli Super Nova 12ga shotgun with extended tube magazine, sights, side-saddle shell holder.
- Combination of 00-buck and slugs loaded, and Hornady SST sabot rounds available.
That means, ready to put into action:
- POF AR-10 (P308), 20-round mags loaded with 147gr NATO standard rounds.
- Trigicon 4x optics.
- Multiple 20-rounds mags loaded with recycled WWII rounds.
That means, ready to put into action:
- Siaga semi-auto, 12ga shotgun.
- Multiple high capacity magazines.
Why all the weapons? Now that is the right question.
Right Weapon, Right Mission –
I already talked about pistols and AR-15’s so I won’t repeat myself. The Benelli is a fantastic weapon to stop someone dead in their tracks…or even stopping a vehicle. It is a great close to medium range weapon with tremendous knockdown power. But, due to its length, not the best room clearing weapon.
The Siaga is simply amazing…a street sweeper. You place a 25-round drum magazine in it loaded with 7-pellet 00-buck and start pulling the trigger. You will clear out a crowd/mob in a real hurry. It is a unreal point and shoot weapon when dealing with a close-in group of people. Again, due to its length, not the best room clearing weapon.
The AR-10 is my weapon of choice…if I was a bit younger. My POF AR-10 is seriously heavier than my AR-15. And I can only carry a fraction of 7.62 ammo compared to 5.56 ammo. But, that POF AR-10 can really reach out and touch someone. It can disable a vehicle motor easily, shoot through most any cover, defeat almost any body armor out there, and sends a clear message to the bad guys.
One of the stupidest comments I heard on this other website was this dillweed saying the AR-10’s have a lot of problems and can’t be trusted. What a bunch of BS!! Now, I will tell you where he is coming from…cheap, crappy gun manufacturers like DPMS. I would never, ever, never bet my life on a DPMS rifle…ever! I know of three DPMS AR-10 rifles that were complete junk…total pieces of crap! And still junk after the factory gunsmiths and the best of the local gunsmiths worked on all of them multiple times. DPMS = Junk!
That is why I bought a POF AR-10 (P308). It has never FTF, never FTE, never failed at all period! I even tested it with crappy and dirty ammo…ate every single round and spit the lead downrange. I did a stress test on it…shot through six 20-round mags and then immediately pulled the bolt carrier group out. I could handle it with bare hands and it was clean. The POF is a piston system and is NP3 coated. I think the best AR-10 on the market today.
What About Ballistics for Home Defense/Invasion –
Stop! Just please stop. For defending against a home invasion ballistics doesn’t mean a darn thing. It is no different than any other bad guy engagement. I always use 147gr Hornady XTP rounds in my 9mm. That is simply the most deadly anti-personnel round out there…period. For my AR-15 I don’t have any special rounds for home defense. I use a 62gr M855 round. Yes, that is the steel core round. Yes, that means it will pretty much go right through someone, especially at close range. But…who freaking cares!? A round to the chest stops someone by blowing up their heart and/or lungs, a round to the head blows up their head.
There is an awesome report out there that was done by the FBI. The report clearly and conclusively shows that the average bad guy stops his attack 98% of the time when he is shot with a single bullet…regardless of the caliber. Just shoot the dang bad guy…and then shoot him again, again, again. If you have taken any kind of weapons training at all, you have been trained, or should have been trained, in a “double tap”, “double tap plus one”, or “shoot them in the head” methods. If you haven’t gotten that training forget the bullet choice…get the training before you get the bullets or even talk about ballistics or caliber!!
OK, for the shotgun I always carry the same loadout as well. In my pump shot-guns I use 00-buck, slugs, and
Hornady SST sabot rounds. For the double-barrel I have both tubes loaded with 00-buck. No reloading, I am using the pistol next…or first. I am not planning to reload the shotgun. I do have a bag of shotgun ammo in our home’s “Alamo” but that is a whole different scenario.
Distance Based Weapon –
One of the intelligent replies was choosing the weapon based on distance of shot needed. But, there is a problem with that also. If you are a highly trained sniper or Designated Marksman then a .50cal weapon gives you the ability to reach out 3k – 4k yards…yeah, multiple miles for the best of the best. But, are you one of those? Can you become one of those? Can you afford the $3 – $5 per round cost to become that good? And are you fit enough to carry a 20lb rifle not counting the ammo? Oh, and can you afford the $3k – $7k price tag just to buy the basic rifle? Probably not.
So why not a bolt action .338, etc.? Yup, you gonna be a sniper? Can you handle the pounding your body is going to receive? Can you afford the expensive rifle, ammo, optics? Can you take the time to learn how to shoot it effectively at distances of 1k yards or more…and keep those skills honed? Probably not.
So what about long distance shooting to kill bad guys? Realistically most people are never going to learn to shoot more than 300 – 400 yards tops…absolute tops. A 7.62 round can easily be shot 800 yards, even 1000 yards, with the right training, optics, ammo, etc. making an AR-10 just fine for 98% of the people who want to shoot long distance.
But, will you really shoot long distance at all? Well, only you can answer that question. Walk outside your home right now…how far can you realistically see with a clear field of view? Most folks…maybe 50 – 100 yards, most probably less, because they live in a suburban neighborhood. Even from my cabin in Arizona I can only realistically see less than 500 yards in 90% of my field of view. Less than 50 yards for about 40% of the view. For about 10% of my field of view I can see well over a mile across that valley…could I take a shot that far even if I had the rifle to do it? Could you? Would you even know someone is out there that needs shot?
But, I would rather take a long shot, 400 yards or more, with my AR-10 vs. my AR-15. But, my AR-15 is far more suitable for just about everything else. So why do I have an AR-10 at all?
Why an AR-10 –
As I already mentioned an AR-10 with the right optics can easily shoot 800 yards. I took a buddy of mine out to shoot my AR-10 and he was shooting 400 yards with his first shot, 600 yards by his fourth shot. So an AR-10 is a long distance gun…AND easy to shoot and learn.
And I already talked about an AR-10 has no problem disabling a vehicle. A normal 147gr NATO round will blow up plenty of a car motor to stop it dead in its tracks. If a person would load up some old WWII .30cal AP rounds they would be able to knock out any civilian vehicle and some military or para-military vehicles as well.
The other thing that an AR-10 is good for is “turning cover into concealment” as the saying goes. A person could hide behind cover that could stop a 5.56 round, an AR-10 wouldn’t be so easily stopped. I have shot up 6” of solid reinforced concrete, penetrating through on the fourth round.
So you can see an AR-10 is a great weapon that can accomplish a lot of good for you in the right situation. The downside is; weight, slightly harder to handle, usually smaller ammo loadout, as well as more expensive ammo.
Multi-Member Team –
I hoped you asked the question, “Why have different weapons at all?” Well, first off there are different missions. But, the best way to look at different weapons is in a multi-member team environment. Take a team of say five people:
- Three with AR-15’s
- One with an AR-10
- One with a good shotgun
That gives you great high rate of fire engagement capability, long distance capability, cover defeating capability, vehicle disabling capability, door busting capability, etc.
So looking at , “Which is better for overall protection–AR-15 in .223 or AR-10 in .308?” is not difficult to decide…it is all mission driven.
Take a look again at the previous topic, last line, right above this section. See his reference to .223 and .308? That is the first problem, he is thinking civilian ammo. A person has to be thinking 5.56 and 7.62 ammo. Why? Because when push comes to shove, or especially SHTF, you need to use only military grade ammo. Why? Because military grade is designed to be standard and be the most lethal overall.
So what is the bottom line, the real answer to his question?
If he is looking for simple overall best protection I would suggest a high-quality AR-15 with the shortest barrel he is comfortable with such as BCM, LaRue, or Daniel Defense. Add a high-grade military optic such as Aimpoint or Trigicon. Then plenty of high-quality high-capacity magazines such as the Magpul Pmag series (any “gen”). Lots of ammo…I am talking thousands of rounds…all of it standard NATO 62gr M855. But, all of that is worthless if he doesn’t get top-quality tactical carbine training. And then keep up his shooting skills regularly…no punching paper!!! Real-life engagement shooting practice is the only true practice.
Choosing a gun is no different that choosing boots, camp stove, or head lamp…define the mission and then buy the best quality piece of equipment to fulfill that mission.
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