Proper Self Defense Rifle Ammo Recommendations

Article Posted: Septermber 18, 2012

This article based of years of research and discusses the experts recommendations on what caliber and ammo to use if you intend to keep a rifle for use in a self defense situation. It's short sweet, and very insightful. Have a read and be sure to share via your favorite social network outlet.

Rifles do not always work well as a self-defense firearm compare to pistols and shotguns. Ayoob: "The rifle is not well suited to the sudden, close-quarters deployment and maneuvering that is required of a defensive firearm. On the battlefield, yes. In civilian close combat, no way." Ayoob adds that "the rifle is too bulky for maneuvering through doors and hallways, too long to quickly and surreptitiously pick up when the attacker drops his guard, and too easy for the criminal to take away if the homeowner's attention is diverted."

Some cities ban handgun ownership (Chicago, New York, Detroit), so shotguns and rifles are the only choices for self-defense. Take some comfort from the fact that rifles have better stopping power, are a strong visual deterrent, and are much easier to hit with than any handgun. On a ranch or farm a rifle may be quite appropriate under certain circumstances today, just as it was on the frontier. Never use ball (FMJ) for self-defense in a rifle.

.22 Long Rifle

A good .22 auto loading, pump, or lever action rifle like the Ruger 10/22, Marlin Model 60, Remington Model 572, or Marlin Model 39 can do the job when nothing else is available. Use any high-velocity round (I like the CCI Stinger, Remington Yellow Jacket, or CCI "SGB" hunting load, #0058) and fire repeatedly. Multiple hits are crucial with a .22: shoot and shoot and shoot some more. Stay away from the after-market large-capacity magazines made by Ram-Line, Eagle, Hot Lips, etc: these plastic nightmares are unreliable, jam-prone and easily breakable.

.22 Magnum (.22 WMR)

Any Jacketed hollow point works. Winchester Super-X 40 grain JHP, CCI Maxi-Mag 40 grain HP, or another factory load.

.223 Remington (5.56x45mm NATO)

The .223 has a variety of hollow point factory loads to choose from and all are good man stoppers. The AR-15, Ruger Mini-14, Steyr Aug, and others all work well as self-defense rifles. Federal 40 grain P223V high-velocity hollow point works well.

Marshall says this is the #1 urban defense load. It is lighter than other .223 bullets, however, so you'll need to adjust your sights if you carry the P223V (it shoots lower than all other .223 loads).

If you want better penetration than the P223V offers, choose any good 55-69 grain hollow point from a big name manufacturer (I like Federal). Soft points offer even greater penetration, probably more than you need.


older .223 guns with a 1 in 12\" rifling twist shoot more accurately with 55 grain bullets (as they were designed for the old U.S. Army M193 ball round). Newer rifles with a faster 1 in 7\" twist (this includes the AR-15A2 and nearly all European models) prefer the heavier 60-70 grain bullets (like the M855/SS109 ball round). Ruger Mini-14 rifles have a 1 in 10\" twist and do well with either bullet weight. This is only important at longer ranges. Save the cheapo ball rounds for practice.

7.62x39mm (AK Round and 7.62 mm Russian Short)

Some prefer this East Bloc cartridge to the .223 for defense use. It is an excellent round, most commonly used in SKS and AK-47 derived rifles, as well as the Ruger Mini-30. Use any 123-125 grain soft point from Cor-Bon, Federal, Winchester, or Remington. PMC makes a good low-priced 125 grain soft point (PMC762B) you might like if you have a lot of magazines to fill.

.30 M1 Carbine

Never use ball in your M1 for defense. The .30 Carbine ball sucks, but .30 Carbine hollow points work very well. Buy the Winchester 110 grain Hollow Soft Point (X30M1) and forsake all others.

.30-30 Winchester

This hoary old round has survived so long for a simple reason: it works. Load your Winchester or Marlin .30-30 lever-action rifle with any hollow point - I recommend the Federal 125 grain (3030C). Leave the soft-points for hunting and practice.

.308 Winchester (7.62x51mm NATO)

This is an excellent rifle cartridge, perhaps the best. Over-penetration is the biggest problem. Use fast opening bullets of 150 grains or less. The Nosler Ballistic Tip, Hornady V-Max, and Remington Accu-Tip are examples of quick-opening bullets that are available in several brands of factory loaded ammunition.

9mm Parabellum

Generally the same as for pistols, above. Heckler & Koch, Uzi and Colt 9mm carbines will feed anything, so I recommend the Cor-Bon 115 or 124 grain +P JHP and Remington 115 grain jacketed hollow-points (R9MM1). Any reliable hollow point is a good choice in a 9mm carbine and the long barrel makes for high velocity and increased effectiveness.

.30-06 Springfield

This excellent and time-proven cartridge has too many top-notch loads to list. Choose the same bullets mentioned in connection with the .308 Winchester (above).

.357 Magnum (rifle)

Follow the guidelines for revolvers, above. The .357 makes an excellent carbine round for urban self-defense in Marlin or Winchester lever-action or Action Arms/Israeli Military Industries \"Timber Wolf\" .357 pump-action carbines.

.44 Magnum (rifle)

Pick any good hollow point, using the guidelines for revolvers (above). Don't be tempted to use soft points; these hunting rounds will blow right through your foe.

Contributing Author: Jason Brumett. Based off original work from Evan Marshall, Massad Ayood, and Ed Sanow

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