This is a discussion on New to rifles with questions within the Defensive Rifles & Shotgun Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Originally Posted by Bruiser419 New to rifles, so not trying to start any wars, honest. 1.) Since this would mostly be for target practice and ...
2. Lever, bolt, or semi-auto? Let's rule out bolt-action for home defense, as follow-up shots and ammo capacity are lacking compared to lever guns and ARs. So between lever guns and ARs, which to choose? This is a tougher choice than it first appears. ARs are great - powerful, with fast shots and virtually unlimited ammo capacity, but also the most excoriated gun in America and the most likely to fall under restrictions at local, state or federal levels. Bring an AR with a flash suppressor or a bayonet mount into Connecticut and you're liable to face felony charges... but out here in AZ, ARs in any style or denomination are as common as SUVs. Lever guns, probably because they are the quintessential American deer rifle, will likely be the last repeating rifle to be banned. They also have a pretty simple "manual of arms" - you don't need to know you only load 28 rounds in a 30-round mag, you don't have a forward assist, and you won't get confused hitting the mag release when you meant to hit the bolt release. So don't rule them out.
2a. Calibers. In the AR, the basic caliber is the 5.56x45/.223. There are lots of other chamberings, from .204 Ruger to .458 SOCOM, but the 5.56 is the most prolific and the easiest to get ammo for. Lever guns also have a wide range of chamberings, but the most common today are deer rounds (.30-30 and .35) and the pistol rounds (.38/.357, .44 and .45) which are commonly used for Cowboy Action shooting. For home defense, assuming your home isn't the Southfork Ranch, the pistol chamberings have a lot going for them in lever guns. Reduced recoil and muzzle blast and greater capacity over the rifle rounds are the big advantages. The extra barrel length of a rifle over a pistol adds extra wallop to the handgun rounds at the receiving end, so for home defense (HD) a lever gun with a dozen rounds of .357 or .44 Special is pretty formidable.
3. The basic Marlin 336 (.30-30 or .35) is around $500 new these days, but there are lots available on the used market for lots less - check GunBroker for examples. The pistol caliber guns are pretty popular so they'll run a bit more, either new or used. A good red dot like the Aimpoint H-1 will run you $400 or more, plus the cost of the mount, but if you're willing to take a chance on lesser products the Bushnell TRS-1 is about $100 and Tasco, Barska and others also have low-cost offerings. Just remember that you usually get what you pay for! But a red dot sight on a pistol caliber lever gun is a pretty cool HD tool... nothing to sneeze at!
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I am going to add my 2 Cents, see if there is a range in your local and see if you can rent an AR or anything you are thinking about.
Second with your hand-eye prob. a red / green laser. and practice all aspects of shooting.
and 3rd. or maybe this should be 1st. get some training, then make your choice.
just my 2 cents
If your defensive situations are likely to be in spots where over-penetration would be a serious issue, as would be the case in a tightly-packed suburb/urban type environment where your neighbors' kids are just on the other side of that wall, then you'll want to take this into consideration when you select caliber. A .30-06 (on your list), for example, is going to zip right through many walls, as compared to others.1.) Since this would mostly be for target practice and home defense, what would be the best caliber?
5.56x45mm NATO or any of the lever-action calibers should be peachy for such situations, I'd think.
Myself, I prefer lever-action, though I suspect that's simply due to not having much saddle time with the AR platform. Up to you. Lever-action is, IMO, a simpler device. It's got less capacity, and reloads take much longer than simply swapping a magazine.2.) Lever/bolt action or AR-type? I would think in HD situation the AR would be better, but that seems to kick out the .357.
A decent used lever-action rifle can be found for $250-350. Some models exist in 16in barrel lengths. New should $500 or less. IMO, a .357mag caliber lever rifle in 16in bbl format would be an excellent choice for HD/plinking. Extremely low recoil, easy to operate, doesn't have the "evil black rifle" stigma. A Marlin 1894P .44mag or 1894CP .357mag might be a suitable choice.3.) Is there a good entry level inexpensive rifle based on your recommendations above that would also be able to be fitted with a red dot sight (which sounds to help the cross dominance issue). I guess total I could spend $700-800, maybe a little more. This may not be possible, and if so, thatís fine as well.
An AR platform is going to be nearer to the prices you suggested, or more. Any "flat top" type AR (without the carrying handle) that has a picatinny style mount on top should be able to support add-on sights such as you mention. Same with the lever-action.
IMO, it all comes down to caliber, comfort level with the platform, comfort with a long rifle in a home defense situation (as opposed to a handgun).
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"Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn." - C.S. Lewis
Thanks to everyone. Lots to think about. I probably should try to rent something once I can shoot again first, though I think I'm leaning towards a lever action with a pistol round.
There was a nice AR from Palmetto though referenced in another thread.
Bruiser, I have 6 boys. Of them 1 is left handed, and one is right handed with left eye dominance. [ Lefty is the youngest] Until the lefty came along I did not recognize why the other one was cocking his head when trying to shoot a rifle or shotgun. Once we realized that he had cross eye dominance he started shooting as a lefty. It took a short time to adjust to this, But now he is a shooter. Now when I look for guns for either of them I make sure they are ambidextrous. Lever guns, double barrel shotguns and ARs are pretty much ambi. If you have not shot a rifle much it will be easier to change now. DR
"1.) Since this would mostly be for target practice and home defense..."
When talking home defense, I prefer to narrow it down to inside or outside defense. My lot is 85'x125', so range is not as much of an issue as it might be for someone who has a 5-acre lot. My "home" defense will most likely be limited to 125' or to close-quarters inside, so size of the firearm is more of a concern to me than caliber. An unwieldy firearm in any caliber could be more of a hinderance than an asset. Where my .30-06 700 would be great on the acreage, probably not so good in a bedroom shootout.
While some lever-actions can be long and unwieldy, if you have a handgun in a .357 the rifle in the same caliber makes a good backup and greatly increases your defensive power outside the house. I don't see the ARs as the end-all to defense, but they certainly have their selling points. 5.56 ammo is relatively inexpensive and available nearly everywhere.
As for penetration, at least in my house, if I'm fighting for my life, I don't give a rat's butt about penetration--it's me or the BG, period.
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PSSSSSSSSST!!!!!! Hello????????????? All you AR fans. He said he knows NOTHING ABOUT RIFLES. Which means if/when he gets a FTF, FTE, double feed, of stovepipe, he is going to stand there, look around, and say "WHAT NOW?" I realize everyone on the internet is Audi Murphy/John Wayne/John Browning but a novice shooter needs to K.I.S.S.
Stick with a lever action. You can fire hot .357's or mild .38's with nothing but 5 minutes of YouTube training.
I prefer pistol caliber carbines, namely the M1 carbine (the .30 carbine is a pistol round) but they cost as much as an AR now and the ammo isn't cheap.
I would go with a .357 lever action
A real man loves his wife, and places his family as the most important thing in life. Nothing has brought me more peace and content in life than simply being a good husband and father.
For a 'grab it right now and shoot' the lever action is top notch. OR he could spend 6 years in the Marines like I did and on line 23B of his DD214 would say "PROOF TECH (SmARMS)", OR he could spend $2K-$3K taking all the rifle classes at Front Sight, or one of the other top notch schools, OR he could listen to the armchair commandos on gun sites and just THINK he has his bases covered. I may be in error but I think a family guy is going for a K.I.S.S. approach.