Best Home Defense Rifle of 2019 – Complete Buyer’s Guide

Are you looking for the best home defense rifle? If so, there’s a good chance that you’re not alone. Finding the best rifle for a life and death situation will be key. Especially when you’re dealing with security concerns in your neighborhood or town.

​Regardless of how peaceful your neighborhood is, it's never immune to the dangers that home invaders and prowlers pose. To help you find the right home defense rifle, we’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list of the seven best home defense rifles that are currently on the market.

Before we unveil our list, we’ll be taking a look at some aspects that you’ll need to consider before making a decision and the characteristics that make a home defense rifle stand out better than the rest.

Comparison Chart of the Best Home Defense Rifles

PRODUCT DETAILS
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Smith & Wesson M&P 15 Sport II .223 Rem/5.56 NATO M-Lok Rifle w/ Crimson Trace Optic

  • Best overall home defense rifle.
  • Has a 30-round magazine capacity.
  • Collapsible, six-position stock included.
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Daniel Defense - DDM4 V7 16IN 5.56X45MM NATO 30+1RD

  • 30-round magazine included.
  • Chambered in 5.56x45mm NATO rounds.
  • Runner-up for best overall home defense rifle.
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Ruger AR-556 5.56 NATO 10.5" Pistol

  • Chambered in 5.56 NATO shots.
  • Best home defense rifle for the money.
  • Includes a stabilizing brace for more stable, accurate shooting.
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Ruger Mini Thirty 7.62x39 Rifle with Flash Hider

  • Chambered in 7.62x39 rounds.
  • Best Semi-Auto Rifle for home defense.
  • Flash hider included for night blindness prevention.
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Springfield Armory Saint Edge 5.56 NATO AR-15 Rifle

  • Weighs 6.3 pounds.
  • Best tactical rifle for home defense.
  • Can fire 5.56 NATO and .223 rounds.
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Springfield Armory M1A SOCOM .308 Win Kryptek Highlander

  • Chambered in .308 rounds.
  • 10-round magazine capacity.
  • Best rifle for home defense and hunting.
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Aspects to Consider Before Buying

Aside from the characteristics, it’s important to consider some factors that may aid you in making the best decision possible when it comes to finding a home defense rifle. Even if you’re a first-time buyer, you should consider looking over this list so you get a good idea of what you need to know. Here’s what you should mull over before making a decision:

Price

If you’re a budget shopper, it is possible to find a home defense rifle, but don’t settle on one just because of the price tag alone. The quality and overall performance should matter more than just numbers on a tag. Also, you might end up purchasing a rifle that might be high on your price scale but it will be worth it in the long run.

Are You a First-Time User?

If you’re a first time user and have no experience in using a gun for any purpose at all (including self-defense), it is important to enroll in a class where you can learn the basics of using a firearm for the purpose of self-defense (and other applications). Find information on a class near you and don’t be afraid to ask questions on what will be covered in the course itself. 

Am I Mentally Prepared to Use it if Needed?

While it’s something that we don’t want to do, sometimes using a rifle on an attacker is necessary. That’s because our lives (and the lives of our families) are absolutely important. Incapacitating or even killing your assailant comes with the territory of self-defense, so you need to be absolutely sure that you are in the right mental state to do this. 

Is it Legal to Own a Rifle for Self-Defense Purposes?

The short answer: it depends. At this point, you’ll need to consider researching your local and state gun laws to determine if it’s lawful to own a rifle for the purpose of self-defense. Some of them are either heavily restricted or are banned due to certain characteristics (i.e.--magazine capacity, barrel length, etc.). Err on the side of caution and make sure you research these laws so you won’t run into any legal headaches for unintentionally breaking the law.

What Makes a Great Home Defense Rifle?

There are a few standout characteristics that make a home defense rifle a lot better than most others on the market. It’s important to look for these characteristics as you conduct your own search. These separate the great rifles from those that are considered crappy in quality and unreliable in performance. Here is a brief list of what you need to look for in a rifle:

Rail System

A lot of rifles will have a top rail that might just be there for aesthetics. But rest assured, it has its uses. Some rifles will be either a Picatinny, Weaver or even an M-Lok rail. They will definitely work to your advantage if you’re looking for something to attach a scope or sight to. This rail will help you win the long game (no pun intended) when it comes to accuracy. 

Barrel Length

Keep in mind that some home defense rifles will have barrels in different lengths. Also worth noting is depending on the state that you live in, it might be unlawful to own rifles that are short of the legal length (i.e.--NY state allows rifles with barrels of 16 inches in length or greater). 

Review of the Best Home Defense Rifles

Below is a list of the seven best home defense rifles that are currently on the market. As you look through each one, it is absolutely important to take a look at the characteristics and additional features. This way, it will probably match what you might be looking for in your ideal home defense rifle.

Remember, close enough is a lot better than nothing at all. Now, let’s get started by unveiling our choice for the “best overall” home defense rifle:

Pros

  • M-Lok Provides Easy Customization Options
  • Handguard Helps With Easy Heat Dissipation
  • Engineered Not Just For Self-Defense But For Other Recreational Purposes
  • Red/Green Sight Helps Shots Become More Accurate From Various Distances
  • Lightweight and Rugged, It Can Take On All Kinds of Impacts While Navigating Obstacles

Cons

  • Might Be a Little Bulky For Storage
  • Trigger Break-In Might Take a Little Longer Than Usual
  • Red/Green Sight May Not Be Effective For Those With Poor Eyesight

​What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of recent buyers were happy with the performance of this rifle. While it can be used for home defense, they were able to sight it in easily at various distances. One buyer said that he was so happy with the firing ability and accuracy that he’s confident that it will work in his favor in a home defense situation.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This rifle is a multipurpose rifle that can get the job done no matter how you use it. Plus, it’s durable and lightweight. So you can run and gun, go through obstacles without worrying about banging up the rifle too much, and all the components are in place with no wiggle room to speak of. All in all, it’s exactly how a home defense rifle should work.

​Who Will Use This Most

This rifle will be used not just for home defense purposes. A lot of target shooters and competitive shooters will use this to their advantage. Especially when it’s both durable enough to take on abuse and light enough for you to run around and navigate around corners and obstacles. In short, home defense and recreational shooting will be the top applications here.

What Could Be Improved and Why

One thing that could improve is adjusting the size of the sight. Make it a bit smaller so it won’t be able to make the rifle look a little bulky. Alternatively, you can get rid of it altogether so it can make more room for scopes or optics that would perform much better and can be fit on the top rail.

​Bottom Line

The Smith & Wesson M&P 15 Sport is the best home defense rifle in the business. So if you’re looking for the best of the best, your search probably ends here. It’s the kind of rifle that will stay tough and reliable in most situations where you’ll be able to move quickly and navigate as much as possible, especially when you’re trying to gain a tactical advantage over your attackers.

Pros

  • Quick Heat Dissipation
  • Reduced Recoil Right Out of the Box
  • Easy to Customize Thanks to the Top Rail
  • Free-Floating Handguard Really Helps With Accuracy
  • The Magazine is Super Solid in Construction, Won’t Break Due to Hard Impact

Cons

  • Trigger Might Be Tough to Break in Initially
  • M-Lok Rail May Not Accept All Optics and Scopes
  • May Come With a Missing BCM Charging Handle

​What Recent Buyers Report

Many recent buyers were satisfied with the rifle for a few good reasons. One said he was able to remove his scope from one of his old rifles and attach it to the M-Lok rail with the greatest of ease. Once he was able to attach it, this rifle was quite accurate hitting targets from about 100 to 150 yards out. He also mentioned that the recoil was considerably reduced even right out of the box.

Why it Stands Out to Us

One characteristic that is worth pointing out is that it comes with a flash suppressor. This is definitely a must-have accessory on self-defense rifles. Especially when most self-defense incidents happen at night. A good flash suppressor will put an end to night blindness that can be caused by rifle flash.

​Who Will Use This Most

This will be used for tactical purposes by law enforcement officers and military personnel. Likewise, civilian users will use this for self-defense situations. Especially when they need a rifle that will allow them to navigate freely through obstacles while fending off attackers and prowlers. Since it’s light in weight, you won’t have a problem moving around.

What Could Be Improved and Why

A lot of self-defense rifles should be easy to use. In order to make it so, adjusting the pull weight on the trigger might be one place to start. While it’s not too heavy, it’s important to adjust it to a light enough weight where the shooter can quickly get a shot off. Timing is everything in a self-defense situation.

​Bottom Line

The Daniel Defense DDM4 rifle has proven itself to be one of the best in the business when it comes to home defense rifles. With reduced recoil and flash, it definitely earns its place on the list. If you want something that’s easy to use and light enough for you to run and gun, this rifle might be exactly what you’re looking for.

Pros

  • Easily Adjustable to Fit Most Shooters
  • Excellent Pistol For Home-Defense Purposes
  • Buffer Tube is Stable and Can Accept Most Pistol Braces
  • Reliable Feeding and Shooting, No Jamming to Speak of
  • Easily Customizable, You Can Attach Scopes or Sights For Better Accuracy

Cons

  • None

​What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of recent buyers found this pistol to be easy to use. One said he was quite confident in using it in the event of a home-defense situation because it fires accurate, reliable shots. Plus, he’s able to easily adjust it so it fits every time. Most of the users who used this pistol found this to be much easier to use than most AR-15 rifles.

​Why it Stands Out to Us

While it’s not a rifle, it functions like an AR-15. It has pretty much the same components that you’d find on a normal upper and lower receiver. The only difference is that the barrel is obviously shorter than your standard rifle. But it can fire rounds like nothing else. Still, it deserves its spot here on the list.

​Who Will Use This Most

This will be the budget shopper’s choice for a self-defense firearm. But nonetheless, it’s just as effective as any other AR-15 pistol. Even those who have enough money to throw around might benefit from an AR-style pistol as a self-defense firearm rather than a rifle. Also, it will come in handy for those who usually have a hard time with rifles due to a variety of issues such as mobility.

​What Could Be Improved and Why

While there really isn’t anything that we can think of for possible improvement, we can say that this should come with something that will sweeten the deal with budget shoppers. Perhaps throw in a few extra magazines for the fun of it. This will also give users the opportunity to stock up on extra magazines for this pistol. There is no such thing as having too many magazines.

​Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a really good home defense pistol that won’t suck the life out of your bank account, you’ll be quite happy with the Ruger AR-556 pistol. It’s no rifle, but it still packs quite a punch like one. Plus, it allows you to handle it with more stability thanks to the adjustable pistol brace.

Best Semi-Auto Rifle for Home Defense: 
Ruger Mini Thirty 7.62x39 Rifle with Flash Hider

Pros

  • Excellent For Many Applications
  • All Black Finish Makes it Look Really Good
  • It Contains a 20-Round Capacity Magazine
  • Sights Are Reliable, Can Help With Accurate Shots
  • Light in Weight, it Doesn’t Feel Heavy if You Move Around With it

Cons

  • None

​What Recent Buyers Report

Most recent buyers loved this rifle. They were quite impressed with the smooth firing ability. They were happy to report that through dozens of rounds, they were unable to see it jam once. The sight included is quite accurate, which is quite rare for factory sights according to one user. He also added that not only is it a great self-defense rifle, but he also uses it for the purpose of shooting targets on the weekends.

​Why it Stands Out to Us

It’s a semi-automatic rifle that looks like a bolt action. But don’t be fooled, it can fire like any other semi-auto rifle. The all-black finish gives it that menacing look that might be intimidating to those who dare invade your home or try to attack you. Aside from that, it’s durable and tough all over. It’s the rifle to have if you’re looking to quickly move and navigate through most obstacles at night.

​Who Will Use This Most

While it is considered a self-defense rifle, it is also the closest you can get to a multi-purpose rifle. This will be used by shooters who don’t really want to limit it down to one intended purpose. This can be used for casual target shooting and even varmint hunting.

​What Could Be Improved and Why

Despite no obvious cons to point out, we also like to point out yet another stock that has the lack of a good recoil pad. Granted, the stock is made from synthetic material. So a good recoil pad to add on will definitely reduce more recoil. The flash hider does reduce some recoil but doesn’t reduce enough of it.

​Bottom Line

If a semi-automatic rifle is more of your thing, then the Ruger Mini Thirty will probably be the rifle you’ll want for home defense purposes. It’s overall reliable, accurate, and will serve a purpose no matter which application you’ll use it for.

Best Tactical Rifle for Home Defense: 
Springfield Armory Saint Edge 5.56 NATO AR-15 Rifle

Pros

  • Very Accurate Shooting
  • Reduced Recoil Right Out of the Box
  • Very Lightweight, Easy to Move Around With
  • Very Reliable Firing and Feeding, No Jamming
  • Super Durable Can Take on the Bangs and Bumps

Cons

  • Magazine Might Wiggle a Bit
  • Some Scopes or Optics May Not Attach Properly to the Top Rail
  • It May Be Tough to Disassemble For Cleaning and Maintenance Purposes

​What Recent Buyers Report

Most recent buyers were able to run and gun quite easily with this rifle. In indoor settings where the light conditions were low, they managed to test it out by seeing how well they can navigate around dark corners. With attachments like flashlights, they had no trouble whatsoever. Functionality wise, they were satisfied with how it fired and how accurate their shots were.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This rifle has the ability to fire off not just NATO 5.56 and .223 rounds. No matter which rounds you use, you still get a good deal of firepower and accuracy out of this rifle. Plus, we see it as yet another rifle that isn’t just used for home defense. It also makes a great rifle for all other applications.

​Who Will Use This Most

This will be used for more than just home defense purposes. The rifle is useful for target shooting, competitive shooting, and hunting. In short, almost any shooter that may not be a beginner level user can handle it with ease.

​What Could Be Improved and Why

Cutting to the chase, it should be easy to disassemble and reassemble. There will come a time when you will have to clean the rifle itself. But taking it apart shouldn’t be a chore. That alone would make the user not bother with the idea of cleaning it at all. Failure to clean your rifle will lead to reliability issues.

​Bottom Line

The Springfield Armory Saint Edge rifle may be considered one of the best home defense rifles, but make no mistake about its ability to work with other applications. It’s a reliable, accurate rifle that will work in the most high-pressure conditions. Since it’s lightweight, you can move around no problem and beat your attackers and prowlers to the punch.

Best Rifle for Home Defense And Hunting:
 Springfield Armory M1A SOCOM .308 Win Kryptek Highlander

Pros

  • Will Work With Most One-Inch Scopes
  • Still Reliable and Jam-Free After 250 Rounds
  • Excellent For Both Home Defense and Hunting
  • Accuracy is Better Than Expected For Most Users
  • Camo Pattern Really Blends in Well With the Environment

Cons

  • Sights May Not Be as Reliable as Expected
  • Some Say the Finish May Not Hold Up Forever
  • Some May Have Issues With Zeroing in the Rifle at First

What Recent Buyers Report

New users were satisfied with this rifle. Most of them were using it for hunting purposes. But they loved the stopping power on it so much that they were confident that it would work to their advantage in a home defense situation should such a thing arise. One user says it's great for both varmint and big game hunting. The shooting is accurate, doesn’t jam at all, and recoil is considerably reduced right out of the box.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This rifle is useful for both the purpose of hunting and self-defense. No matter what you use it for, we love it for a few reasons. One, this has a set of sights that can co-witness quite well with most scopes and other sights. That can only mean one thing: very accurate shooting. Plus, the rifle allows you to easily install a scope or optic if you so choose.

​Who Will Use This Most

While most users will use it in a home defense application (when the situation warrants it), it will be used mostly for hunting varmint and big game targets. On the other hand, while you may not be able to encounter home invaders you may encounter a different kind of invader. We’re talking about varmints that might create a mess on your property or threaten your pets.

​What Could Be Improved and Why

One of the things that could improve is making the sights brighter and a little easier to zero in. Furthermore, it would be nice to include easy adjustments for windage and elevation. This way, it will allow you to zero in the rifle much quicker.

​Bottom Line

If you want a rifle that doubles as your best friend in the field and in life and death situations, the Springfield Armory M1A SOCOM rifle might be your cup of coffee. This might be the one rifle that will ward off all kinds of invaders, be it human or animal.

Best Assault Rifle for Home Defense:
PSAK-47 GF3 Forged "MOEkov" Rifle

Pros

  • Firing is Smooth and Reliable
  • Can Accept Most Muzzle Brakes
  • Functions Flawlessly After 200+ Rounds
  • Scope Mount Accepts Most 1-Inch Scopes
  • Finish is Excellent, Very Aesthetically Sharp

Cons

  • Magazine Might Be Hard to Fit at First
  • Trigger Reset Might Be a Little Delayed
  • May Not Be Legal in Some States, Check Your Laws to Confirm

​What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of recent buyers were looking for something that would be heavy-duty and useful for home defense situations. While trying this out at the range, they were impressed with the firepower it has. One user said that it packs a powerful punch and might be just enough to stop an attacker or prowler. The shooting was accurate and precise thanks to the sight included.

​Why it Stands Out to Us

This rifle looks rugged, intimidating, and the firing power matches it quite nicely. Plus, the look alone might be enough for home invaders and prowlers to think twice. While this rifle is still legal to own and use, it gives us the opportunity to add this to the list. The construction on this puppy is solid and the curved magazine makes loading a lot easier and quicker most of the time.

Who Will Use This Most

This will probably be used by those who are fans of the AK-47 or want a rifle that will truly be a force to be reckoned with. It’s also a rifle that can make its money not just as a self-defense rifle but as a rifle that will be used by casual target shooters and competition shooters. Either way, this rifle packs enough of a punch to hit through targets at various distances.

What Could Be Improved and Why

Two things to point out that might warrant improvement: one, include a sling swivel so it can accept all kinds of carrying slings. Two, add a thicker recoil pad so it will be able to absorb more shock that will be stemmed from recoil. With a rifle as powerful as an AK, anything to take recoil down a notch or two is a must.

​Bottom Line

If you’re looking for an assault rifle that will come through in the clutch in a home defense application, the PSAK-47 Forged “MOEkov” will probably be the rifle you choose. While it’s rugged in construction, it’s a beast when it comes to firepower. If you ever need a sidekick in life and death situations, what better way than to equip yourself with a rifle like this?

Pros and Cons of Having a Rifle for Home Defense

While having a home defense rifle has its advantages, it does come with its share of disadvantages. You’ll need to know what you can expect should you decide to invest in one for your own use. The following is a brief list of pros and cons:

Pros

Lightweight equals better movement

The good news about these rifles is that they are light in weight. That will allow you to maneuver and move around without it feeling like you’re carrying a one-ton weight. You will move fluidly and a lot faster. 

Easy to Customize

It’s easy to customize for the purpose of adding on a better scope or optic. Either way, it will allow you to customize it for the best possible accuracy you can get. Accuracy always matters, especially when you’re using a rifle in a home defense situation.

It’s Legal in Most Jurisdictions

You as an American have a right to defend yourself. In most states, you are allowed to based on the “stand your ground” laws or the like. This means you can defend yourself using a firearm if you’re in a situation where your life, property, and/or family are threatened. If your laws allow this, you are free and clear to own a rifle for this purpose.

Cons

Some rifles may be restricted or banned in some states

While defending yourself with a firearm is legal in all jurisdictions, there are some states that heavy regulate this. Furthermore, there are some rifles that are either banned or have to be manufactured to meet certain state requirements. It’s always vital to research the local, state, and federal laws regarding what kind of rifle you can own for not just home defense, but for other applications as well.

Some May be too Large for Maneuverability

Depending on your length of pull, some rifles may be long enough to be more of a hindrance. This may affect your maneuverability and could result in some bumping and banging. Thankfully, most of these rifles are more durable than most rifles on the market.

How to Store a Home Defense Rifle

While it is important to store a defense rifle where it can be easily accessible, it’s important to store it somewhere in a place where it is not easily accessible by children or unauthorized persons. Preferably, you should securely store it in a gun cabinet or gun case. If you store it in a hardshell case with locks, you can store it in a closet or under the bed. You should keep the key that belongs to your cabinet and case out of sight and reach of children as well.

Conclusion

A great home defense rifle will definitely be your saving grace in the situations where you need it the most. While you may not use it against a home invader or prowler constantly, it’s good to know that you have one handy if and when something goes bump in the night. It’s better to be prepared than not at all. 

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