When we imagine a home intrusion, we tend to think of being in a bathrobe, in the dead of night, and Fighting off an invader. But crime doesn’t punch a time clock. A home intrusion can happen in a barn, shed or garage, in the driveway between parked cars, and at high noon or early in the morning. Protecting your home and family is personal, so when you chose to outfit yourself with an AR rifle, make sure your choice is personal.
An AR for home defense should be compact, lightweight and easy to use. That means the rifle should be short so it can be easily maneuvered along hallways, through doorways and in rooms. A 16-inch-barreled AR or the civilian version of the military M4 Carbine is short in length, compact and lightweight. It meets the criteria for a home defender, and a number of manufacturers are building ARs for defensive purposes. The military M4 actually has a 14-inch barrel, but the two extra inches in the civilian version still make for a very usable rifle in close quarters and adds only a bit more heft.
While being compact and maneuverable is important, the weapon also needs to be brought on target quickly. That means the carbine needs to be optics-ready for home defense, and by that I mean it should be able to mount a red-dot or reflex sight. These sights are designed for a user to keep both eyes open and fire at one or multiple targets relatively fast—magnification is not needed in an engagement that is across a room or across a fenced-in yard. And if the engagement turns out to be a coyote in the chicken coop, a red-dot sight can provide excellent accuracy from close to medium range.
Model 3 Details
The Stag Arms Model 3 is a good example of an AR that is ready for personalization and customization. It is stripped down yet all set up for optics and anything else a user might need or want for thwarting a home invasion. The Model 3 has a standard direct impingement gas system, and the gas block features a rail on top for the attachment of iron sights. The front sling swivel is also attached to the gas block. The rear sling swivel is affixed to the base of the butted.
The lower reciever sports a six-position, collapsible stock, which helps make the carbine compact. With the stock fully extended, the overall length is 35.75 inches. Fully collapsed, the stock and the rifle shrink to a 32.25-inch overall length. Collapsible stocks make a lot of sense for a home defense weapon because the abbreviated length not only makes the weapon easy to handle in confined spaces but also easily adjusts to a large or petite user. The safety switch and magazine release are standard mil-spec, and the pistol grip is a standard A2-style made of polymer. The buffer and spring are to standard carbine specifications. The trigger is a mil-spec single-stage unit adjusted at the factory to between 5 and 8 pounds. The Model 3’s upper receiver is forged, mil-spec, 7075-T6 aluminum with Type III hardcoat anodizing. It comes with a forward assist, and the 16-inch barrel is made of 4140 steel, chrome-lined, with four grooves and a 1-in-9-inch twist rate. The barrel follows the government profile and sports a manganese-phosphate coating. The muzzle device is an A2 flash suppressor.
A new feature is the drop-in, modular Diamondhead VSR handguard. It is smaller in diameter than a lot of handguards and fits nicely in average-sized hands. The surface texture is smooth, unlike that of a lot of other handguards, which can feel like cheese graters because of their quad-rails. The Diamondhead also is notched along the sides, which helps the supporting hand to grip and pull the carbine into the shoulder and allows the user to customize the handguard with rails. The handguard is drilled and tapped at the 3-, 6- and 9-o’clock positions. Oblong vents are located on the top end, along the left and right sides, and larger vents are located along the bottom. From the top of the receiver to the end of the handguard is a Picatinny rail that provides plenty of space for mounting an optic or sight.
I set up the Model 3 for home defense by mounting an EOTech XPS2-0 holographic weapon sight, which is excellent and durable. (The U.S. military uses EOTech sights, and Stag Arms offers the sight as an accessory.) The sight is compact and barely takes up any room on the Picatinny rail. It uses one CR123 battery, and run-time is about 600 hours at the brightest setting. The reticle allows for super-fast target acquisition using a 1-MOA dot with a 65-MOA circle around it. It mounted in about the time it takes to load a five-round magazine. To zero, it took about as long to load a 30-rounder by hand.
Range conditions were not optimal but were consistent with what one might expect in a home encounter. The sun was setting, and the angle of the final rays produced a glare on the target. I set up at 25 yards, closer than normal, but wanted to run the Model 3 through a more realistic test. The EOTech’s red reticle was bright and stood out, and I was able to keep groups with three types of inexpensive ammo close to 1.5 inches. Both shooting from a rest and off-hand, the Model 3 was eager to please, and even with the military-style trigger’s performance, I liked the groups the carbine was able to punch in paper.
I was pleased with the performance, and as the sun set and dusk encroached, the EOTech and Model 3 were working like a team. My final customization would be to add a tactical light to the handguard to blast the blackness out of a room or the corners to ferret out an intruder. Of course, the Model 3 would back up the tactical light with a more lethal defense, and some of you might want to add a vertical grip. That’s the cool thing about ARs; they are infinitely and easily customizable.
ARs are wicked-looking weapons and will do wicked work when called upon. Just the sight of one may scare off an evildoer, but if the situation escalates, an AR can walk the talk. These optics-ready models are a good platform to create your own personal home defender. For more information visit stagarms.com or call 860-229-9994.