Pistol-Caliber Carbines for Home Defense

An 81-year old man in Florida, was sitting in his home one morning, when he heard someone knock at his front door. The homeowner didn’t recognize the man knocking so he ignored him and went back to watching TV.

The next thing the homeowner heard was breaking glass in the rear of his home. The homeowner immediately grabbed his carbine and made his way to the window that was broken.

As the homeowner entered the room, he witnessed the intruder clearing away glass and trying to get through the window.

The homeowner said he feared for his life and fired multiple rounds at the intruder. Police believe the intruder was hit by at least one round before fleeing to his truck and speeding away.

This homeowner did a great job in keeping himself safe. In fact, these days, more and more people are turning to pistol caliber carbines for home defense.

Of course, this brings up the obvious question as to whether these types of weapons are adequate for a home defense situation, which is why I want to share with you the pros and cons of pistol caliber carbines.

What is a pistol caliber carbine?

Basically, a pistol carbine is a long gun, but usually with a shorter barrel than a typical rifle.

Most carbines are shortened versions of full-length rifles that shoot lower-powered ammunition, including ammunition designed for pistols.

As I mentioned, here are some pros and cons for these types of firearms for a home defense situation.


Economical ammo. Handgun ammunition is definitely cheaper than rifle ammo. For instance, if you’re a competitive shooter who practices constantly your ammo budget will go farther when buying handgun rounds.

In addition, some gun ranges don’t allow you to shoot rifle-caliber weapons, but a handgun caliber rifle would still provide good training and practice because the platform is similar to your rifle-caliber weapon.

More accurate than a handgun. A pistol caliber carbine is easier to shoot than a handgun, because it has significantly less recoil to recover from when repeat shots are needed.

In a home invasion scenario that shooting advantage can be critical for family members who have to operate the gun in an emergency with little practice beforehand.

Potential for more power than a handgun. In the 9mm set up, a 16-inch barrel will gain around 150 to 200 fps velocity over the same load from a handgun.

For example, a 124-grain 9mm could increase to the same power as a .357 mag. The advantage here is that you gain extra stopping power with far less muzzle blast and recoil.


Less maneuverability. One of the biggest disadvantages to a pistol caliber carbine is that it lacks a handgun’s maneuverability in tight quarters.

For instance, competition shooters are routinely required to engage close-range targets from behind cramped barricades, small areas and obstructed positions, which is similar to a home defense situation.

A handgun allows you to shift hands and “point and shoot.” But, getting a carbine mounted to the shoulder and focusing through the sights can take precious time.

Increased chance for over penetration. Even though a pistol round is moving slower compared to a rifle caliber round, you have to take into consideration it over-penetrating more than the .223/5.56 round.

What I mean is, pistol rounds will penetrate more tissue, sheetrock and wood than the .223/5.56 since the .223/5.56 round will deliver more of its energy into the target it impacts.

More expensive. A high-quality company such as Sig Sauer sells their pistol caliber carbines for a starting price around $2,000.

When it comes to pistol caliber carbines, there is no debate that they are a fun type of gun to shoot. They are great for target shooting and simply shooting for fun with family or friends. Plus, they can certainly make a solid home defense weapon.

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