A Viable Choice for Home Defense: The Marvelous MSR

Handguns are typically the tool of choice for defense in the home. Depending on your home design — single-family, apartment/condo, duplex/townhouse, etc. — shotguns can also be deployed. Some will choose carbine rifles or even lever rifles chambered in pistol rounds (9mm, .44 Mag., .45 ACP), but few opt for rifles chambered for rifle rounds, the prevailing concern being overpenetration.

Reducing the Risks to Others

Over-penetration is something everyone using a firearm in self-defense must consider. What happens if you miss — and sometimes even when you don’t? Where does that projectile go? Just as you have to be conscious of bystanders in a self-defense scenario that takes place outdoors, that same concern translates to the home, where there are possibly loved ones, pets and neighbors on the other side of a wall.

Several years ago, while filming an episode for a TV show on personal defense, I was enlightened to the benefits of the modern sporting rifle (MSR) as a home-defense tool. We were at Gunsite Academy, one of the most well-regarded firearms training schools in the country, and instructor Ed Head had constructed a series of panels that replicated the walls one finds in a typical home or apartment. Some walls were sheetrock and 2x4s as you’d find in interior walls, while others had sheetrock, insulation and various exterior treatments such as clapboard simulated exterior walls.


We fired on those walls (with and without the water jugs) and with various defensive loads including 9mm and 45 ACP from handguns, birdshot, buckshot and slugs from a short-barreled 12-gauge and both 55-grain full metal jacketed and soft-point 5.56mm loads from an MSR.


The unexpected results came from the handguns and MSRs. A handgun round miss typically penetrated several interior walls — but the 5.56 rounds did not. In fact, the 55-grain soft point rarely exited the second wall. (Buckshot was less consistent.).

There was much to consider with these discoveries. Given the fact we were looking for a defensive solution that had reliable stopping power while also reducing the risks to others, the modern sporting rifle with soft-point ammunition was a front-runner, a sound choice ballistically. From the functional, ergonomic and tactical perspectives, though, MSRs also have a lot going for them when it comes to home defense.

Click here to read the entire article at LetsGoShooting.org.

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