In our third and final installment of ‘Don’t Bring a Bean to a Gunfight’, we’ll be taking a closer look at the characteristics of the rifle and its use as a means of self-defense. The rifle is a firearm that is designed to be fired from the shoulder and uses a barrel that has a set of grooves cut into the barrel wall, called rifling. The origins of the rifle are somewhat difficult to trace but clearly it’s an improvement of the smooth-bore musket design which was being utilized as early as the 16th century and throughout the 18th century. By adding ‘rifling’ or grooves inside the barrel, the projectile or bullet begins to spin once fired. This spinning motion increases both effective range and accuracy.
Modern rifles come in a number of varieties and flavors, but most designs used for self-defense are bolt action or semi-auto. Fully automatic weapons are typically restricted to military use and applications but contrary to common belief private citizens in the US can legally own such weapons in most states if they are granted permission by the ATF and pay the associated taxes.
Bolt-action guns typically require the shooter to manually cycle the action after each shot in order to expel the spent cartridge and chamber a new round. On the other hand, semi-auto guns automatically expel the cartridge and chamber a new round without any additional work from the user’s end. Many semi-auto rifles allow the use of ‘high capacity’ magazines that provide additional firepower which may give the semi-auto an edge over bolt-action guns.
A bevy of bullet options exist for rifles, from the much-loved .22 to the granddaddy .50BMG, capable of making hits in excess of 1800 meters (1.1 miles). The .223 Remington (similar to 5.56 Nato) is widely used and is thought by many to be a good starting point for a practical self-defense round.
Most rifles will come with iron sights from the factory, with one sight above the chamber and one at the end of the barrel. By aligning the sights with the correct sight picture, the shooter can aim the rifle and use proper shooting techniques to put shots on target. Red dot sights or magfied scopes can increase quick target acquisition and identification and are widely used in place of, or in conjunction with iron sights. In addition to sight systems, aftermarket stocks, slings, lights and even frickin’ laser beams (sharks not included) can be attached to modern rifles to improve capability and function.
When selecting a rifle for self-defense, look for a manufacturer and model with a proven track record. By visiting a gun shop, you can get help sizing the rifle to make sure it fits you and provides the options to fit your needs.
In conclusion, the decision to use a firearm as a method of self-defense requires serious consideration and an understanding of laws governing firearms in your area. There are many options available but as you can see, no one-gun-fits-all solutions. Get informed and stay safe.