Monday, April 27, 2009

Everyone loves a good rifle

Right? Oh, well.

I should probably still be busy writing about the further adventures of (redacted) and the (redacted), but I've been doing an exceptionally lousy job of concentrating today, so I figured I'd blog a bit. After all, when I get off the computer I have to clean kitty liter boxes and a bathroom, do dishes, work out, and generally do stuff. Yuck.

When I wrote this post I came pretty close to simple dismissing the defensive value of rifles. Especially in a home defense context. Hell, had the winds of hopen'change not gotten to blowing, I might never have revisited the topic. Now, however, I think I would be remiss in not doing so.

A little background...

By nature, temperament, experience, training, whatever, I'm a dyed in the wool rifleman. One of my fondest memories of the Navy is the first time I had an M-14 handed to me. Yeah, it was old, poorly maintained, and the sights were off, but I loved that thing. It was the first semi-automatic rifle I ever fired that wasn't a .22. Quickly learned that I had a bit of native ability with it too, when I finally got the sights zeroed. Then came the M-16, three variations of it, the M-4, M-25, EBRed M-14, M-82, and a few others I can't remember. I learned that if I did such and such, just so, breathed just right, and squeezed the trigger just like so I'd hit my target. Anywhere from CQB range to 1200 meters (I have hit target on a range at 1700, but that was more the exception than the rule).

As a fighting instrument, the modern rifle is a first class tool, not soon to be replaced.

Then I got out of the Navy. Still loved rifles, but in thinking about the times and places I'd actually needed them, I couldn't imagine needing one simply to defend myself. Still wanted to get a whole list of them, and had no problem with anyone else doing the same, but I prioritized on what I considered useful for defense. So I set about transforming myself into a pistolero and shotgunner, and, discouraged by the price tags of the rifles I wanted, simply tried not to think about them.

Had I kept my brain in the on position, I would have paid attention to the store owners who successfully protected their property during the L.A. riots or the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when armed citizens (before being forcibly disarmed by their 'protectors') had to fight off roving bands of looters. Are pistols and shotguns useful in such situations? Of course, but they are not ideal and when your life, or that of a loved one, is on the line, you want the absolute best tool for the job you can get.

When confronted with civil disorder and the breakdown of basic services, a fighting rifle is one of your best tools. The shotgun remains highly desirable as does the pistol, but unlike normal home defense you may have to engage multiple attackers at open distances. This is where a self-loading, magazine fed rifle is worth its weight in gold.

Apparently I am not the only one to think so, either. Ar-15s, Kel-Tecs, and any other rifles matching the description are flying off the shelves faster than gun stores can restock. Heck, last time I tried to price rifles, there weren't any that fit the bill. Can't say I blame folks, I just hope they remembered to buy plenty of extra magazines and ammo and make sure they can use the things.

I highly recommend to anyone who hasn't done so already to get themselves a defensive rifle. Yes, you'll probably be fine without one, heck you probably won't ever be in danger from rioters, looters, etc, but that is not the way I recommend approaching personal safety. Especially these days. * And no, I'm not at all recommending people take the approach of forming into impromptu fire teams and patrolling for trouble, with their rifles, if the fecal matter does hit the rotary air impeller. ** If trouble does come your way, however, you'll be far better prepared to survive it if you have a rifle you know how to use with plenty of ammo loaded and ready to go.

I won't go into recommending this rifle or that with what accessories. I could spend a week discussing options and still not cover everything, not to mention I'll be wrong by at least one person's reckoning. Nature of the beast and diversity of opinions and choices is a feature, not a bug.

Instead, since I currently have no rifles that fit the bill (remember I got laid off a while ago?), I'd simply share my plans, such as they are, for acquisitions. I just have to finish this book and get that sweet, sweet, vile mammon.

Our first two rifle purchases will be AR builds. I've never owned an AR, but I've had plenty of trigger time with them and have helped other assemble them from parts. Final decision has not been made on parts yet though. I'll try not to geek out to much in the descriptions...

For the wifey, a carbine length either M-4 style or flat top. Currently leaning towards a flat top with flip-up iron sights co-indexed (for the uninitiated, that means they line up with the other sighting gear) a good red dot sight, probably EOtech holosight, and a flip-in/flip-out magnifier for reaching out just a little bit further, foregrip, and a collapsible stock. Yeah, really good red dot sights will bump the total price by 300-800 dollars, but is totally worth it if you have someone good at short to intermediate range rapid acquistion and fire. Such as the wifey. Might also go with a laser and flashlight, as this will be intended for closer range.

For self, a full length AR probably A4 style, but with a Magpul stock. I'll go with a higher end upper, probably DPMS, fully floated, blah, blah barrel and a bipod. Haven't decided on glass (scope) yet, but whatever it is will likely cost a fortune. Heck, I'll probably even get a light amplification scope. I'm looking to make a 600-800 meter rifle. The odds against needed that kind of reach are astronomical, but my house has great fields of fire and I'd hate to have a chance to head trouble off and not be able to take it.

Finally, the value of the .22 rifle should not be discounted. Sure, I'd hate to have to rely on one to stop an attacker, but they serve plenty of other functions and the small, cheap (relatively, ammo just ain't cheap these days) ammo means you can, and should, have lots. Like in the range of thousands of rounds.

A .22 can be used to take small game such as rabbits as a supplemental food supply. In a situation where you have someone unskilled at arms, as long as they're reasonable unlikely to shoot you, then can blast away at bad guys without wasting more valuable ammo. Not only might they actually stop an attacker, they'll serve as improvised suppressive fire. The .22 can also be used, if a situtation actually lasts a while, to train others in firearms without using your primary ammo. Heck, if all else fails, a .22 rifle with ammo in it is worth more than your bare hands and even the greatest, empty, rifle in the world.

Finally, I advise not just having lots of ammo, but lots of magazines loaded. Having 32,000 5.56 hollow points is great, but if you have to reload magazines after the second one, you're probably in a bad place. Also of consideration, though not of primary concern, is ammunition commonality. If things go bad and stay that way for awhile, will you be able to find more ammo? If you are using a 5.56, .308 win, 7.62x39, .30-06, etc, yeah probably, but if you're slinging a 7.62x54R, you may have some trouble.

*I'm not one of the doomsayers who expects are entire civilization to soon collapse or any 'long night' style scenario. The worst I expect disturbances of a few hundred (maybe a thousand or two) square miles that last from two or three days to a couple weeks. Plenty bad, but not the end of the world.

**I'll probably be visiting the topic of what one should and should not be doing in such a situation, even assisting law enforcement in restoring order, but not encouraging reckless action.

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