PROBABLY SHOULD NOT TRY THIS AT HOME unless you have an entire mountain as a back stop like I did.
While this is a completely useless skill, other then winning bets ( which posting this picture now did) and making cool looking pictures, it is proof of how familiar and you can become with a specific weapon after 28 years of almost daily practice. I don’t recommend practicing this unless you just have a lot of time and ammo on your hands. After en0ugh practice and skill is gained with any weapon, one day you may find that you can do this fairly easy having never tried it before. Living with your gun and being intimate with it, will give this skill level. Constant correct practice is always the way to gain true skill with a fire arm.
When it comes to plate carriers and plates, I like to use the smallest I can get away with. Of course this doesn’t give the largest amount of protection, but it does cover the organs that matter the most. I like to be able to keep as much mobility as possible. Like everything, it is a trade off.
Here are pictures of my friends PC on the left and mine of the right.
He uses the Diamond Back Fast attack PC for work doing entries and other duties as an officer in his states SP SWAT team. Mine is the Shell back TAG Banshee. My friend uses Level 4 plates that are “stand alone, while I use the ESAPI plates with soft armor backers to keep weight down. The Level 4 plates are too heavy for my tastes. Mine are size small to allow as much movement as possible as well as trying to keep the weight down. his is the medium sized stand alone plates. Both PC has as little on them as possible with most relegated to belts.
This picture gives a good view of how the plates fight in the respective plate carriers.
Remember, you can not just throw on plates. It is important to make sure the PC fits correctly and the plates cover the area they need to and not set too low on the body.
The topic of what firearm should I use for home defense is a question that people get a million answers on. Most of the time, your local gun store, unknowledgeable friend or people who have little training experience, will tell you a shotgun because you can’t miss. Sometimes you even get some of these same people telling you never a “high powered rifle round”, mostly referring to 223/5.56mm, it will over penetrate. And yes, always the classic answer of, whatever you feel comfortable with. In most cases all of the above answers are wrong.
When approaching the topic of what firearm you want to use for home defense, you need to be thinking about several things. Most importantly: (1). Your specific home layout. (2). Other people in the home, specifically children. These two important topics will help you answer several questions, on what firearm you are going to choose as your primary home defense weapon. When thinking about these two topics, you can answer specific round selection, accuracy, handling/ease of manipulation, important defensive accessories, (i.e. lights and sights) and accessibility. All of this will point you towards what firearm(s) will need to be selected.
The Clear Choices:
There is no doubt that we are talking about three specific types of firearms here. These firearms are the standard for defense and have a proven track record in Law Enforcement, Military and Civilian use.
(1). A reliable full size semi auto Handgun, (Glock, S&W M&P, H&K, Sig, 1911 and others).
(2). A (Reliable) AR15 type rifle in 223/5.56mm, (i.e. Colt, BCM, Daniel Defense).
(3). A Shotgun ( i.e. Remington 870’s, Mossberg 500’s or Winchester Defender).
Now out of these choices you can probably eliminate one choice, the shotgun, right away in my opinion. I say this because once you start to answer a few of the questions stated earlier, the Shotgun is clearly the bottom of the three. The shotgun is larger, heavy, harder to maneuver in a home and impossible to fire multiple rounds one handed. I could keep going, but you get the idea. Also, racking it does not have the effect people believe it to have. Don’t get me wrong I love a good Remington 870. It’s an awesome weapon and very effective, but it has a specific place/role and you can miss with the 00 buck pellets. Contrary to what most people believe, you still have to aim with a shotgun. Modern Duty buckshot has a tighter pattern than the buckshot of 10 and 15 years ago. You will be accountable for those rounds if you miss because they will enter other rooms. Depending on the number of buckshot, it can range from eight to nine 25 cal. pellets to 32 cal. pellets, flying out of the barrel. They will pass through drywall retaining most of their mass.
Now let’s talk about why the semi-auto handgun and AR15 are arguable the two best choices. As we delve into them further, you will also see more reasons why the shotgun is the last choice, possibly not really a choice at all. My opinion is the handgun and the AR15 would serve most people the best. They are only separated by your particular home needs.
If you have to grab a firearm in a defensive situation and you have little ones at home, you most likely will need the use of one hand. You may also need a free hand to call for help, open doors, lock doors or pick up a little one. The handgun makes perfect sense in these situations. The handgun is the most compact and maneuverable firearm you can use. Once you rack it and its ready to go, you have the ability to have one hand free if needed.
You can move throughout your home in a high ready position, keeping the firearm close to your body. This will help avoid someone grabbing your firearm or pushing the muzzle down while coming around corners in the home.
One thing to keep in mind about a handgun is the rounds are larger and slower moving than a rifle round. Large slow moving rounds tend to retain more mass when going through barriers in the home, especially drywall. You do not want to be frantically shooting towards a loved one’s room, missing your target. Very good personal defense rounds for handguns (i.e. Federal HST, Winchester Ranger and Speer Gold Dot) are designed to penetrate auto glass, for law enforcement agencies. These are also some of the best rounds for personal defense in handguns. They will retain almost all of their mass, especially when passing through dry wall.
Any good modern firearm will most likely have a integrated rail on the frame. This allows you to attach various weapon lights on the handgun, giving you the ability to identify anyone in the home. You will be able to manipulate the light controls with one hand on the handgun as well. Target identification is paramount in these situations. You do not want to shoot a family member because you could not see them and thought they were the bad guy.
The handgun also allows you to store the firearm in a quick access safe, like a Gunvault safe. This insures others in the home, that you do not want getting a hold of the handgun, cannot access the firearm. A quick access safe can be stored, discreetly, anywhere in your home and gives you the ability to place several handguns in key areas of the home.
With all of these options you can see a reliable full size handgun is a very good choice. I feel it is the number one choice in most cases. I utilize several quick access safe throughout my home.
A reliable AR15 is also a very good choice for a home defense firearm. Keeping in mind those two key topics, the 223/5.56mm round is one of the best rounds you can use for home defense. Terminal performance of the 223/5.56mm round is also going to stop a threat more effectively than a handgun round. It’s a fast moving small round and is more likely not to over penetrate or go through multiple barriers, (with the right round selection). M855 is not a home defense round.
The AR15 is a compact shoulder fired weapon and is going to be more accurate than a handgun. You will find that a handgun at full extension comes close to the extended muzzle of a 16″ AR15. With some training and practice you can move throughout a home very effectively. The AR15 is going to have a larger ammunition capacity than either the handgun or shotgun. You have the ability to use the support hand for brief periods of time, opening doors, moving something or dialing for emergency help. But, when it comes to firing rounds you will need both hands on the rifle. Also you will need to use the support hand to activate your light.
With the AR15 you will be able to add accessories to mount, a weapon light and a red dot optic, (i.e. Aimpoint, Eotech or other). This will allow you to identify your target and get fast accurate shot placement.
I took no pictures with a shotgun for this article because I currently do not have a shotgun. I sold my 870 and my Mossburg 590 long ago. I feel the shotgun does not have the advantages of a handgun or AR15 in the home, especially when you need to think about your family response plan. I currently use both an AR15 and handguns throughout my home, in the previously mentioned quick access safes. As my young ones grow older the rifle will slowly be fazed out and locked away.
Think long and hard about what role you, your wife or others my play in a home defense incident. Things are different when mom and dad are home, vs. only mom is home. Look at the layout of your home, are your kids upstairs or are they down the hall from you? Choosing the right firearm to move quickly to their rooms needs to be considered as well as possible scenarios, you may have to hold a child in one arm. Look at the support gear you will need, lights, optics and ammunition selection. Don’t buy something because the guy at the local guns store said it was the best or your buddy uses a particular firearm. Your needs and family makeup may be very different.
Either way, once you choose your dedicated home defense firearm(s), training and planning for your family will be key to an effective home defense. In the end, the only rounds that count are the rounds on target.
When it comes to the eternal( infernal?) question of , “what is the best gun for CCW” , there are a few standard responses. There are a couple of typical type of answers. Some will say to carry a certain type of gun, others talk about the round fired and the most common answer is, “whatever gun you are the most comfortable with”. They are all used in the various gun magazines and on gun boards or even the old boys club at the local gun store and we will likely hear the question and answers until the heat death of the universe.
While most of those responses are not even worth talking about, the last one is worthy of addressing. Because, it is the one used the most lately and is just stupid. Sure, it makes sense a little when you first hear it. But it is idiotic to the point of being harmful.
The justification is always some version of ” use what you are comfy with or otherwise it will be left at home”. I have always found this to be so stupid, it makes my head hurt. This is the one thing you can say to give people the justification of not bothering to train or to carry something so ineffective that it is just slightly better then nothing. People will of course tell me the gun you have is better then the one you don’t have. Sure, but the guns that are the kind being talked about in this case, are small and light and of small caliber. A 22 LR will kill a man if used right. But who the hell is going to be able to make that eyeball shot at 20 feet while being robbed/shot/raped/chased/stabbed at? To add to that, small guns that are actually “comfortable” to carry, are not reliable the vast majority of the time.
To over come this bad advice, I think it needs to be looked at as a training issue. Some will make the argument that some would not carry anything if they did not have those tiny or sub compact guns to carry and its best to let them. But I submit that if you are going to seek out training, and practice, you can also train and practice to get use to a larger less comfortable gun. the actual “carrying” and getting use to a change in life style that comes with an effective gun, needs to be a part of your training as well. This of course does not mean training on a range by walking around all day with a bigger gun, but mental training. This goes along with training to shoot a larger gun more effectively and operate it.
Telling some one to just use what they like and are comfortable with is what they need is just a bad idea. Its a lazy trainers way of not dedicating enough time to work with the person who thinks they can not use a large gun or can’t shoot them well. Bullshit I say. There is always a gun that is large enough and reliable enough that can be found to fit almost any hand size. I have seen 12 year old kids shooting 1911s in IDPA, a guy with one arm working a glock, and tiny asian women who shoot better then most of the local shooters I know. How can a trainer just let some dainty lady use a jennings 380 as her only means of saving her self from a serial rapist just because she thinks it easier to carry? laziness? Not really carrying? I never tell some one to carry whatever they are the most comfortable with in that context. And by that I mean the small guns or the useless stuff. Clearly if a woman is comfortable with a FN 45 that is wonderful. but how often is that the case when you hear the above advice given?
To those people, I say. Get use to it. It is your life we are talking about here, not something just to shove in your pocket just to make you feel better. Everyone has heard the old line about you don’t wear a gun because its comfortable, you wear it because its comforting. Absolutely. Chose an effective tool. That doesnt always mean a cannon, but it does need to be something you can use easy and has a proven record. If you cant squeeze into your extra tight designer shirt to show off your muscles. too bad. Those muscles are not going to be of much help in a situation that requires a gun. Change your clothes a little to hide a more effective tool. Its traininga nd discipline. If you have enough discipline to go to the gym every day and work out and run and diet and all that stuff, then you should have no trouble training yourself to deal with carrying a little more weight on your belt and choosing appropriate clothing to hide it. Also this means actually getting a proper holster that you can retain the gun with, draw from easily and better abillity and hiding the gun. Not a cheap nylon el jeffe special from the bargain bin or walmart. Its going to be real nice when the piece goes sliding across the floor of applebeese when you bend over to tie your shoes because you are such a tight ward or dumb ass that you would not buy a proper holster. A good holster is a must have. No way around it.
Now as far as the gun goes, the debate rages on. It can be a tricky question and emotions and loyalty plays a big part when it comes to who is giving you advice. A lot of people will give great reasons to carry this model or that model and caliber and be willing to fight over it. That is why the “carry what is comfy” came to be. It is like talking religion or politics to some, and some trainers don’t want to step on the toes of their industry peers. Sorry to say, I dont have the magic bullet answer, but I will give some thoughts on it I feel are solid thinking,
When picking or deciding what gun to carry, forget all that crap about if its comfortable and easy to shoot. I can shoot a 25 ACP great, its light and easy to carry as well!! Is it what I should carry? No. Unless I think all I will ever need it for is scaring birds reliably. As I said above, you can get use to the comfort or slight lack of, and you can, and should, learn to shoot any round to the needed standard. So that leaves the rest.
the qualities to looks for are deadly simple. It has simple controls that you can use, better if its ambi, sights you can see, a trigger that is easy to work with and consistent with enough capacity to work with and a round big enough to work. Modern bullet technology is no excuse to cop out and try to use a tiny round. Pistol rounds are not rifle rounds and you can not count on any hollow point from a pistol to always work, I always assume the worst and pick a round that would still be effective if rendered as effective as a non expanding ball round.
A lot will say the glock meets this list, and it does, and you can get them pretty small and they still work. the S&W MP line is also a good choice. They are simple and accurate and light. I am a 1911 guy, so of course I feel it is a great choice. But not always the best choice for everyone. But to me, it is. Some do not like the manual safety and feel it slows the user down. I could not disagree more, and I like the extra safety. The striker fired pistols and the 1911s are great choices. I do not think the revolver is a good idea. Some want to foist it on to women because they feel it is so simple to use and safe. that is just crazy. The revolver DA trigger is like bending a nail, has a very low capacity, is a death trap if you have to reload with any real speed and if it is in a caliber big enough to be very effective , its going to be a huge gun. And if it is thrown in a purse or front pocket with no holster, it is just as dangerous as a semi auto. And usually the choice of the revolver is put off on women because who ever gave this advice figures the person using it will not or does not want to buy a holster.
As bad as I think revolvers are, in my opinion, nothing is worse then the double action/single action semi autos. They offer up way more controls then really needed. Especially for some one who has limited training time operating the gun, when they could have bought a glock. Getting that first double action round off accurate, is very very hard indeed for a large amount of people. I would argue that is the round that could mean the most.. Usually it means two different grips as well. When training with them, the person has to start form hammer down and decocked or hammer down and safety on, or whatever cockamamie system most european semi autos have, ( worse if the mag release is on the bottom of the grip) then draw and taking off the safety( that is usually moved in a counter intuitive way for us in the USA) if its on, then starting pulling a very heavy trigger. When the shot breaks, most people have to re adjust for a new grip to be able to work the now single action trigger. Not all people will have this to deal with, but most will. It can be mastered, but it takes a lot of time and ammo. Why bother when the glock or MP and other striker fired pistols have one type off pull. Same with the 1911. Flick off the safety in a natural motion, then depress the trigger about a 1/16 of an inch to fire then gun. The truth is, the DA/SA autos are not a good idea. The DAO semi autos theoretically are better, since the trigger is the same every time, but its still a long heavy pull when the last thing you need to be doing in a defensive encounter, is fighting a trigger that feels like trying to bend a nail.
I am not going into caliber very much but I will say, I would not use anything less powerful then a 9x19mm. I prefer the .45ACp. Guys who “no better” tell me the 9mm is better because its faster. but a pistol is not a rifle. The 9mm is not a 5,56 and it does not work the same way. Hollow points do fail all the time, and all things being equal. the 45 is still going to make a 45 caliber hole even as a ball round. It is heavier and it is bigger. I will give up a few rounds in my mag before reloads in a 1911 for this performance or just carry a glock in 45 and have the extra. Either way, it is a 45 caliber bullet . You can still get great terminal effect from smaller rounds, the 10mm and .38 super for example. The 9mm is most likely the best “everymans” choice. You get a lot of ammo in a round that is effective and you can put a lot of rounds on a target in a short time while being able to control the guns light recoil for fast follow up shots. Like all things though, training makes you better, and the better you are, the better you can control larger rounds and guns. If you have the time to train and master the 9mm like a pro, then use it. If you can not dedicate enough time to master the 45 or larger and get the same performance as you got from the 9mm, then do not use it. Stick to the 9mm. I have been using the 1911 for 28 years now. I can use it fast and effectively at speed. it is what I prefer and not just because it is light and comfortable, because it is not. Use common sense and select an effective gun of the right size and power with easy to use ergonomic controls. Not just something small and light. The idea people should just carry whatever they shoot on paper best is something the industry needs to move on from. It is bad advice and it could end in horrible results.
I have been using the Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 MOE for several months now. I initially purchased this firearm for my two young boys to start shooting and because of the crazy price on ammunition in recent months. I also wanted a fully functional .22lr AR for supplemental training/trigger time. As I have been shooting this with my boys, I have found it to be useful in several areas. Before getting to technical, I have to say this is one fun rifle to shoot. My boys love it and have had so much fun shooting the M&P15-22, it is worth the money alone for that purpose. Our friends at Herd Tactical hooked me up with the M&P15-22 MOE at a very nice price. When I was able to handle the rifle at home for the first time, I realized the M&P15-22 was going to be very versatile, for me and my boys.
The Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 functions just like an AR15 in 223/5.56mm and is basically the same size as its full power/center fire counterparts. Takedown is almost identical to AR15 variant rifles. Simply push out the takedown pins, pull out the carrier group and charging handle and your done. The charging handle, bolt release, last round lock back, magazine release and fire control function the same as a standard AR15. The M&P15-22 also has a built in 9″ picatinny rails system. With most .22lr conversion kits or dedicated .22lr AR’s, the bolt release and last round bolt lock back do not function. Although the weight of the M&P15-22 is light, once you start adding a few accessories the weight starts to add up, but it will still feel lighter than your 5.56mm AR15.
If you are going to purchase the M&P 15-22 make sure you purchase the MOE version. The MOE version is outfitted with Magpul furniture and sights. This is really the best bang for the buck as you are getting the Magpul accessories at a significant value. In most cases I found you get the Magpul accessories for only 50 to 100 dollars more. If you were to purchase these items separately, they would cost you close to or over 200 dollars. The MOE version also comes with QD sling points on each side of the lower receiver/buffer tube area.
When considering buying the M&P15-22, I was also looking at bolt carrier drop in conversion kits, for my AR15. When I started looking at prices, the Smith & Wesson was only about 100 dollars more. To get a drop in kit to function with all of your AR15 controls, you have to buy additional drop in parts. For example: the CMMG kit with all the functional upgrades was pushing 400 dollars. The S&W made sense, cost wise and it is a dedicated fully functional platform. With a dedicated .22lr rifle, I would not have to deal with changing parts in and out of an AR15 upper. Also, you get better accuracy at longer distances with a barrel twist of 1:16″ on the M&P15-22 . I have not pushed the limits of accuracy on the M&P15-22 but it is very accurate, probably more than I am. I bought it as a plinker for my boys and trainer. I have had very nice groups at 75 yards with el chepo ammo and I will push the accuracy/distance in the future.
The Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 will take all of the same accessories that your AR15 can take. I did some small modifications with a dermal, to small portions of the front and rear rail sections, so the KAC rail panel clips would mount properly. I recently purchased a set of LaRue Index Clips and they also worked on thepicatinny rails. The LaRue Clips were just as secure as on my KAC RAS rails and Colt LE6940 rail systems. I had no problem mounting optic mounts, rail panels/ladders, i.e (KAC,Tango Down, Magpul and LaRue), lights, hand stops, vertical grips and other 1913 picatinny rail accessories to the M&P15-22.
Due to the rail system on the M&P15-22 being polymer, I would suggest adding a rail panel system more robust than the soft ladder covers. This will protect the polymer rail system from being damaged inadvertently during fun range time/training .
I used several different slings (Tactical Link and Gear Sector) with QD swivels, with the M&P15-22 MOE QD point. I had no issues with the QD point, pulling on it as hard as I could. This really should not be an issue at all, as the M&P is very light. Even with numerous accessories on the rifle it is still going to be much lighter than your 5.56mm AR15. From what I understand you can drop in any replacement trigger system you would like as lower is .154 pin compatible. I don’t think spending a lot of money on a nice trigger system is really worth it on a rifle like this.
For Supplemental Training:
While only full power 5.56mm training can give you the real feel, the right .22lr can supplement your training at a substantial lower cost. The Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 does this very well as it functions exactly like your 5.56mm counterpart. I think one big benefit is in movement drills, where you want to improve your moving fundamentals and weapons handling, with some feedback at the lower cost of .22lr. I found that you lose no weapon manipulation skills while running and gunning with the M&P. I transferred all the accessories I use on my defensive 5.56 AR15’s to the M&P15-22. This gave me the feel of my full power counterparts.
I’ve had a few malfunctions with the M&P15-22 but I could not fault the rifle. In every case the firing pin had a good strike on the round, the round just did not fire. This was with Federal Champion Bulk ammo and I’ve only had three (3) that I remember. I had no failures to extract or failures to feed in the M&P. The .22lr rounds is inherently problematic when it comes to reliability. No .22lr is ever 100% reliable and I have never had one that was. I found that the occasional stoppage helped in a training setting, for malfunction drills and sidearm transitions. An actual stoppage in a quality 5.56mm AR15 just does not happen very often. Most of the time you have to set them up with dummy rounds in training. With a .22lr you are just going to have them time to time, no matter what.
The trigger is nothing special. It feels close to a Mil Spec. trigger break. It does have a long spongy pull before it breaks. You are getting a trigger pull the feels close to your AR15 trigger, definitely not better.
One of the best things about the Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 is how much fun the little ones have plinking with it. This was my main purpose for purchasing the rifle. I thought a lot about whether to go with a Ruger 10-22 for my boys first firearm. I went with the Smith & Wesson for several of the reasons stated above.
With my supervision, it is easy for my boys to hold and manipulate the controls. They have so much fun with the rifle that is just like, “daddy’s big guns”. The whole family can spend an entire afternoon shooting the M&P15-22. With the low price of .22lr, hundreds of rounds of quality plinking can be had by all. I find we simply lose track of time, we are having so much fun. The kids seem to be picking up the Magpul sights fast and were on target after the first few rounds.
I really like the Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 MOE. It has become one of the most enjoyable all around plinking rifles I have every owned. As I said before, this thing is just fun to shoot. I can only remember a few malfunctions (Failures to Fire) with the rifle. All of which I determined to be ammunition related as they had good firing pin strikes. Other than that the rifle has function flawlessly. The M&P15-22 can fill a supplemental training roll to offset the cost of 5.56mm training. When using the M&P15-22 for training, I would suggest starting the training and ending the training with your center fire rounds. Also, make sure you are incorporating the .22lr in the appropriate areas for training. You do not want to rely on the .22lr as a primary training tool.
If you are just looking for a super fun and accurate .22lr plinker in an AR platform, the M&P15-22 more than fills that roll. Pure fun for everyone is what the Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 MOE is all about.