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Rifle Or Handgun?

Gun Range Stock Photo

The rifle is a generally a better tool for self-defense than the handgun. I write mostly about handguns because they are convenient to have around. But the rifle should play a role in your self-defense plans. Colonel Jeff Cooper described the rifle as, “The Queen of Battle” and like the Queen in a game of chess, she is a formidable weapon in the hands of a skilled practitioner.

The first advantage of the rifle in self-defense is power. Pistols are poor fight stoppers. It is generally accepted that 70% of people shot with pistols will survive. If that same person is shot with a rifle, there is an equal chance they will die. Rifles are simply chambered for much more powerful cartridges. Rifles are also much easier to shoot accurately than pistols, they often come with better sights, a longer sight radius and other aids to accurate shooting. It is much easier to accessorize a rifle due to its size. It’s easy to add a light, a laser, a red dot sight etc….all of which can add to accurate shooting and ease of use. The rifle has greater capacity generally- most modern defensive rifles have a minimum of a 20 round magazine and more common are 30 rounders with some even larger readily available.

The obvious disadvantage of a rifle for self-defense use is its size and weight. In most cases, it’s simply not convenient to carry one around and so a person is unlikely to have it when they really need it. It’s also not socially accepted in America— YET- and that’s an important point. Thirty years ago there was hardly a single state that had Shall Issue Concealed Carry licenses….things change, rapidly, and especially in the area of defensive firearms.

In our next few installments, we’ll look at some considerations in the defensive use of the rifle.