12 Best Home Defense Rifles in 2023 | Best to Protect your Family

rifle for home defense

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Home defense is a major concern for the majority of gun owners, and one of the primary reasons that many people purchase a firearm in the first place.

While the debate over whether pistols, shotguns, or rifles reign supreme as the idea home defense firearm will probably never be fully settled, we're going to use this article to focus on rifles in particular. 

Why Choose A Rifle?

When it comes to a home defense weapon, a rifle may not seem like the most obvious choice. After all, they are much larger than a handgun, can't be readily concealed, and require both a larger gun safe to store securely and more hands-on training to operate properly under pressure when compared to shotgun. 

PRODUCT

DETAILS

Products

BEST FOR LIGHT WEIGHT

Kel-Tec Sub2000

Kel-Tec Sub2000

  • Finish: BLACK
  • Action: SEMI AUTO
  • Weight: 4.2 LBS
BEST FOR VERSATILITY

Springfield Armory SAINT Victor .300 BLK

Springfield Armory SAINT Victor .300 BLK

  • Finish: BLACK
  • Action: SEMI AUTO
  • Weight: 5.5 LBS
BEST FOR RELIABILITY

Ruger 10/22 Takedown

Ruger 10/22 Takedown

  • Finish: Synthetic Black
  • Action: Blowback-Semi-Automatic
  • Weight: 4.7 LBS
BEST FOR HUNTING

Marlin Model 336

Marlin Model 336

  • Finish: BLUE
  • Action: LEVER ACTION
  • Weight: 6.8 LBS
BEST FOR GRIPPING

IWI X95

IWI X95

  • Finish: BLACK
  • Action: Semi-AutoGas Piston
  • Weight: 7.9 LBS
BEST FOR GRIPPING

IWI X95

Hechler & Koch MR556A1

  • Finish: BLACK
  • Action: Semi-AutoGas Piston
  • Weight: 8.60 LBS
BEST FOR GRIPPING

IWI X95

Daniel Defense DDM4V1

  • Finish: BLACK
  • Gas System: Carbine 
  • Weight: 6.70 LBS
BEST FOR GRIPPING

IWI X95

Ruger AR-556

  • Finish: BLACK
  • Caliber: 5.56 NATO
  • Weight: 7.9 LBS
BEST FOR GRIPPING

IWI X95

ArmaLite M15 

  • Barrel: Black Nitride
  • Twist Rate: 1:7 RH
  • Weight: 6.8 LBS
BEST FOR GRIPPING

IWI X95

Remington 700 CDL

  • Finish: BLACK
  • Action: Semi-AutoGas Piston
  • Weight: 7 LBS
BEST FOR GRIPPING

IWI X95

HK SP5

  • Finish: BLACK
  • Weight: 5.1 LBS

While those are valid arguments, there are also some reasons why a rifle can make an excellent home defense weapon.

Ease of Use

Study after study has shown that it is much easier to make accurate shots in high-stress situations with a rifle than with a handgun.

Much of this comes down to the ergonomics of a rifle - the stock manages recoil and reduces the physical impact of an adrenaline rush on the shooter by keeping the weapon tucked into the body, while the position of the rifle's front handguard or forend creates a natural "tripod" that reduces muzzle climb and barrel sway as the larger sight radius (the distance between the rear sight and front sight) simultaneously allows for more accurate shooting.

Larger magazines allow the shooter to engage multiple targets and deliver fast, accurate follow-up shots, and most of the common rifle cartridges boast enough stopping power to disable an attacker even if the round misses a vital organ. 

Versatility 

If you need one weapon that can do it all, a rifle is your best option. Regardless of what range you are shooting at, and whether you are bagging small game, target shooting, or defending family members from an attacker, a rifle is versatile enough to handle any task.

They are also endlessly customizable - with something like an AR-15, adding suppressors, weapon lights, lasers, foregrips, and even night vision optics is trivial, allowing you to modify your gun to suit any situation.

best rifle

No HD weapon is complete without a light

Cost

The cost of rifles can vary tremendously, but there are a plethora of very affordable, highly reliable options on the market that make great home defense rifles.

An AR-15 can be assembled for under $500 if you don't mind putting the parts together yourself, and if you need a rifle that can pull double duty for both hunting and home defense purposes, you can find decent options for even cheaper.

While there are certainly affordable handguns and shotguns available as well, they tend to have less overall utility, and the for popular options such as Glocks, it may necessitate buying used, which can be risky if you don't know what to look for.

So what are some potential picks for self defense rifles? We've compiled a list that will provide options for every budget, from simply using grandpa's hand-me-down to investing in a fully kitted out, state-of-the-art rifle for home defense.

1. Kel-Tec Sub2000

best home defense rifle

The Kel-Tec Sub2000 is a semi-automatic carbine chambered in either 9mm Luger or .40 S&W. A pistol caliber carbine like the Sub2000 has a few interesting benefits worth talking about: recoil is extremely light (especially when shooting 9mm ammo), and overpenetration is less of a concern, which is crucial if you live in an apartment building or have family sleeping in other rooms when an emergency scenario occurs.

The Sub2000 can also use standard Glock mags, and Kel-Tech offers a number of magazine kits that allow you to use magazines interchangeably with a number of other common handguns - a convenient feature for those who have a backup defensive handgun or an EDC pistol.

best home defense rifles

Pistol calibers and small-caliber rifles can still make for excellent HD weapons

The Sub2000 features an AR-15-style collapsible stock for length-of-pull adjustments, and the barrel assembly can even be folded vertically to make it even more compact for those who want a camping rifle or a truck gun that can also be used for self defense.

And with a top and bottom picatinny rail handguard, you'll have no problem mounting an optic, light, laser, or vertical foregrip.

Kel-Tec Sub2000

The price of Kel-Tec Sub2000 varies, so check the latest price at

2. Springfield Armory SAINT Victor .300 BLK

best rifles

Ok, this one is cheating a bit - it is technically an AR pistol, but one of the major benefits of .300 BLK is that is was designed specifically for close quarters combat and functions flawlessly out of a suppressed short barrel. 

With a suppressor and the tactical pistol brace, the SAINT Victor looks, feels, and handles very much like an SBR AR-15 build, which means it is very handy in tight quarters, easy to shoot with minimal recoil, very accurate at the kind of range that self defense scenarios will be taking place at, and is more than capable of handling multiple targets.

A .300 BLK bullet packs a lot of knockdown power in a small package, so it's no surprise that rifles chambered in this round are an increasingly popular HD option. 

The classic AR-15 design lends itself well to this round whether in a rifle or pistol configuration, and Springfield Armory really knocked it out of the park in terms of build quality and customization options with this one. 

Springfield Armory SAINT Victor .300 BLK

The price of Springfield Armory SAINT Victor .300 BLK varies, so check the latest price at

3. Ruger 10/22 Takedown 

best rifle for home defense

A .22 is probably not anyone's first choice for a self defense rifle, and I'll be the first to admit that there are more optimal platforms, but hear me out: the single most important factor when it comes to home defense is familiarity with your weapon, and that only comes from a lot of hands-on time at the range.

You can be kitted out with the same gear as the world's most elite doorkickers, but if you're fumbling for a bolt release in the dark or can't clear a basic malfunction when there's a bad guy in your home, none of that gear matters.

Most shooters are familiar with the Ruger 10/22 - it's one of the most popular civilian rifles in the world, and a tried-and-true choice with shooters who want hunting rifles capable of taking small game while also being excellent plinking guns and ideal guns to train new shooters on.

In a defensive capacity, the 10/22 is still plenty capable of killing or disabling an attacker, and the lack of any appreciable recoil or muzzle flash makes it easy to quickly and accurately place a follow up shot when necessary (this is also a major benefit if you have family who may need to use the weapon in a defensive situation but aren't as comfortable or well trained as you).

Just as importantly, ammo is cheap and can be stored in bulk, which means training with it until shooting and manipulating the rifle is second nature is well within the ability and budget of any shooter.

Ruger 10/22 Takedown

The price of Ruger 10/22 Takedown varies, so check the latest price at

4. Marlin Model 336

home defense rifle

Like the .22 above, a lever action rifle is certainly not the first thing many people think of when they think of personal defense rifles. But when you look at the reality of most defensive scenarios, you'll realize that it's not as outlandish as it seems at first glance.

After all, the vast majority of defensive situations involve a single assailant at close distance, and most are over very quickly. In other words, you're probably not going to be getting into an extended shootout with a heavily armed squad of bad guys.

And a lever action like the venerable Marlin Model 336 has a surprising amount going for it - the lever action system itself is incredibly reliable, so as long as you put enough practice in to avoid short-stroking it, you aren't going to have to worry about some of the more common failures that can plague semi-automatic rifles.

And because most lever actions have a carbine-length barrel, they're quite maneuverable in enclosed spaces such as hallways and interior rooms without compromising on accuracy at medium distances.

While .30-30 is the most common round you'll see with lever guns, there are also plenty that are chambered in revolver cartridges, which can provide cross-compatibility between a primary and backup defensive weapon. It may not be my first pick, but if all you've got is grandpa's old Marlin rifle, it can still put in a surprising amount of work.

Marlin Model 336

The price of Marlin Model 336 varies, so check the latest price at

5. IWI X95

home defense rifles

Bullpup designs are well-suited to urban and indoor environments, so it's no surprise that they function very well as an HD rifle, too. With an overall length of 26 inches, it's short enough to easily maneuver around corners and through rooms even with a suppressor (and yes, it comes with a threaded muzzle).

Ergonomically, the pistol grip is comfortable and both the safety and magazine release controls will feel natural to anyone who has shot an AR-15. While the design of the X95 has some shortcomings when it comes to medium and long range accuracy, it's very well suited to the close quarters shooting that a home defense rifle will be used for - you don't need sub-MOA accuracy when your target is 10 feet away.

It uses the same ammo as the AR-15, so most shooters will already have some laying around, and recoil is as soft as you'd expect. While I always recommend an illuminated optic for HD firearms, the X95 also comes equipped with integral back up iron sights, which are always appreciated.

IWI X95

The price of IWI X95 varies, so check the latest price at

6. Remington R4 Operator

rifles for home defense

The R4 Operator is Remington's spin on America's favorite weapon, the classic AR-15. While there are any number of AR-15 makes and models that would fit on this list, we decided to go with the R4 thanks in part to the fact that its build quality and performance contributed to Remington winning a recent contract to produce weapons for the US military.

The R4 has all of the benefits that you'd expect from an AR-15 for defensive use: it's a reliable rifle that is light weight, easy to shoot, has a well-designed bolt carrier group, accurate at close to mid range, capable of engaging multiple targets, and easy to equip with any number of optics and accessories.

The Hechler & Koch MR556, or HK MR556, is widely regarded as the commercial version of the HK416 used by the military and police. It has received wide praise from shooters for its reliability and ability to withstand harsh environments. 

The HK MR556 is manufactured with the same steel used to make cannon barrels with the Hechler & Koch cold hammer forging method. You get durability and improved accuracy with the smaller internal diameter at the muzzle, helping to improve bullet speed and accuracy.

There is better precision with the HK MR556 thanks to the heavy and thick barrels, a common feature in all MR series models. This optics-ready rifle weighs 8.60lbs without a magazine with a 16.5-inch barrel and a 7.64-pound trigger pull. 

If you’re ready to spend on quality and reliability for your home defense, then the Hechler & Koch MR556 is a fantastic option. It carries a steep price tag for some but is worth it, in my opinion.

Hechler & Koch MR556

The price of Hechler & Koch MR556 varies, so check the latest price at

Introduced in 2009, the Daniel Defense DDM4V1 is not a rifle to buy for its looks or add-ons but for guaranteed reliability. It is a standard rifle for use in emergencies. If you want more than that, I have other alternatives for you.

The DDM4V1 has a 12-inch rail allowing you to mount an aiming device or light for a clear line of sight and optimal ergonomics. Right and left-handed shooters are accommodated by the independent Grim-In-Rip charging handle, which has a heat resistance of up to 300 °F.  The upper and lower receivers are both machined from lightweight aluminum. 

There is a 16-inch cold hammer forged M4 Profile barrel with a specially forged front sight post and a Carbine gas system. The company incorporated all these features into the DDM4V1 to ensure reliability in the pursuit of securing your home. The DDM4V1 weighs 6.70lbs and comes with the Daniel Defense pistol grip and buttstock. 

The Daniel Defense DDM4V1 is a good option if you’re looking for a rifle to get the job done, nothing more, nothing less. 

Daniel Defense DDM4V1

The price of Daniel Defense DDM4V1 varies, so check the latest price at

The Ruger AR-556 is made from 7075-T5 aluminum with a black oxide finish, making it lightweight and rust-resistant. Unlike some similarly-priced rifles, the AR-556 upper receiver has a forward assist, dust cover, and brass detector. The AR-556’s competitors often overlook these three basic features.

A branded pistol grip on the AR-556 has an extended trigger reach for improved trigger control. The exposed single-stage trigger has a small trigger for safety while still giving extra control, even with a gloved finger. 

The flip-up rear sight and front post are adjustable for windage and elevation, respectively. The AR-556 has consistent accuracy in windy and not-so-breezy conditions due to its ability to adjust for windage. And also there are many red dot for Ruger AR 556 available in the market that can increase accuracy more. As with all the rifles listed here, the Ruger AR-556 scores high on reliability and safety features. 

The AR-556 has a round-shaped two-piece black polymer handguard. Ruger included a Delta ring designed to make removing the handguard easier without tools. A small safety point is situated near the trigger, allowing you to move the locking system from safety to fire quickly.   

Ruger AR-556

The price of Ruger AR-556 varies, so check the latest price at

The Armalite M15 is widely regarded as the ultimate survival weapon. This assertion largely depends on which M15 you buy and what you use it for. For a rifle that combines durability and quality precision, the ArmaLite M15TAC14 is the best option.

One of the best features of the M15TAC14 is that you can confidently go through over 100 rounds without experiencing any malfunction while keeping exact precision. The 14.5-inch barrel is stainless steel with a black nitride finish, making it durable and rust-resistant. 

The M15TAC14 weighs a manageable 6.8lbs when empty, and ArmaLite has included a 30-round magazine with the package. It comes with a 6-position collapsable stock and the ArmaLite two-stage precision trigger. The gas block is adjustable, allowing you to tune it according to your ammunition or suppressor. 

The octagonal, slim handguard profile has a rail for optional accessories and sights with a length of 32” when collapsed. It measures 35.3” when extended.   

ArmaLite M15

The price of ArmaLite M15 varies, so check the latest price at

The Remington 700 CDL's superior shot-to-shot consistency is mainly due to a fluted barrel and stainless steel machined receiver. Remington’s famous adjustable X-Mark Pro trigger mechanism makes the 700 CDL one of the most accurate rifles on the market.

A satin finish, cut checkering, and raised cheekpiece means the Remington 700 CDL looks and feels as great as its performance. The buttstock has a recoil pad, sling swivel studs, a black fore-end tip, and a pistol grip cap. 

The two-position safety is simple to operate with a thumb, and if you add the forefinger, you can move from safe to fire quietly and quickly. The 700 CDL muzzle stays down after release, with follow-up shots coming quickly, while the built-in recoil pad minimizes any recoil effects. 

There are no sights on the 700 CDL, a feature that has split shooters' and hunters' opinions on many rifles. Some hunters want rifles with installed sights, while others enjoy the freedom of choosing optics for their weapons.  

Either way, the demand for Remington rifles has not been diminished by the absence of this optional feature. Like most Remingtons, the 700 CDL would suit first-time collectors of rifles.    

Remington 700 CDL

The price of Remington 700 CDL varies, so check the latest price at

12. HK SP5

With discreet suppressors, roller delayed blowback mechanism, and smooth recoil impulse, the HK SP5 is a class above most home defense rifles. Some users believe that using this Hechler & Koch weapon for home defense only is a waste of its quality, especially given its price tag.

The HK SP5 has the MP5 threaded three-lug barrel made from cannon-grade steel, making it durable with a weight of 5.1lbs without a magazine and a right-hand twist on the barrel profile. It comes with the same four-position rotary rear sight found on the MP5. Hechler & Koch designed the HK SP5 to be a mass-produced version of the MP5. 

If you have come across the legendary MP5 and liked what you saw, then the HK SP5 is the best option for home defense. The price might be high, but not too much to pay for peace of mind and safety. 

All the rifles mentioned in this article are highly reliable, the greatest asset any gun bought for home defense and personal security. Personal preference aside, any one of these rifles would be a great option to protect you and your loved ones in your home. 

HK SP5

The price of HK SP5 varies, so check the latest price at

Home Defense Weapon Buying Guide

So which of the options on this list is the best home defense firearm? That's going to depend on your specific needs and budget. If you live in a small apartment where overpenetration is a real concern, you're going to want a different rifle than someone who lives alone in a rural area with no neighbors for miles.

And while something like the Springfield SAINT Victor might be an excellent choice for an HD gun that will tick most boxes for the average shooter, it also has a price tag that matches its performance.

Some people simply don't have the budget to drop one or two thousand dollars on an HD rifle, and that's where cheaper rifles like the Kel-Tech Sub2000 or even a Ruger 10/22 can come in.

Not only are these weapons inexpensive to purchase, ammo is also cheap, which makes it more likely that the shooter will be able to receive adequate training time or be able to use them for other things like training other shooters or harvesting small game.

These smaller-caliber rifles are also solid choices for people with families who may not have the shooting experience or training necessary to handle the recoil or weight that comes along with traditional rifle cartridges.

FAQ's

We briefly answered below a few questions about rifles, guns, and home defense. 

What gun is best for house protection?

There is no definite answer to this, as different firearms have varying features. A shotgun has a more significant impact but requires a short range, while a handgun is easily concealable with slightly less impact. Rifles are more durable and reliable but need more space. Each gun has its merits and demerits.

What is the best gun for home defense in 2022?

This is largely down to personal choice and preference. Handguns are more accurate and compact but are not as reliable as rifles. Shotguns take longer to reload and a bit more to draw, where speed of draw might be critical. Reliability is the most essential quality a gun must have to protect your home.

Is a rifle good for home defense?

Yes. Rifles are very reliable and last longer than most other types of guns. Rifles have greater stopping power than handguns, with one shot enough to move an intruder back out the door. Moving most rifles from safe to firing silently and quickly is easy. Rifles are accurate, and follow-up shots come quickly.  

What caliber AR-15 is best for home defense?

The DPMS Sportical AR-15 gets my vote as the best AR-15 for home defense because it has simple mechanisms to operate. It’s a light rifle to carry and be used by family members of any height. It is designed for use by inexperienced shooters and first-time gun owners, thanks to its reasonable accuracy.  Caliber of an ar 15 has the best caliber in terms of accuracy.

Parting Shot

Preparing for the safety of yourself and your family is something that virtually every gun owner considers when purchasing a firearm, and it's important to know that your weapon is capable of doing the job when it counts.

While there are a virtually endless number of weapon options that will fit this role, we've used this list to highlight options that fit any niche and any budget.

self defense rifle

No matter which weapon you choose, the most important factor is training time

The important thing is that you find something that you feel comfortable with, and then spending as much time as possible training with it until you the know the weapon inside and out.

Did we leave your favorite HD gun off the list? Sound off in the comments and let us know! And if you want to see some other options, we've got shotgun for home defense and hunting as well!

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