Over the years, I’ve been asked many questions about home defense, but more recently, new shooters searching for a fine home defense firearm have been emailing me with subject lines similar to, “AR-10 for home defense?” 

While many are quick to say “Absolutely not” or “Yes, that’s fine,” I typically reply with a few questions. Deciding whether or not you should use an AR-10 for your home defense firearm takes much thought and consideration.

suppressed AR-10

A suppressed AR-10 may be enticing for home defense, but depending on certain factors, it may not be ideal. Source: battlehawkarmory

There are several things you should know beforehand to make that decision yourself. 

Let’s jump right in. 

Questions to Ask Yourself

I typically have people answer these questions once they express an interest in a full-power rifle round for home defense. 

Do You Have Neighbors That Live Close By?

Having neighbors nearby can make life harder when using a rifle for home defense—especially a full-power rifle like an AR-10

This is one of the more crucial questions to ask since one of the most significant liabilities of firing a gun in your home is overpenetration. The goal is to incapacitate the intruder and not have bullets flying into your neighbor’s house. 

To mitigate that risk, you want to make sure the round you are using isn’t so powerful that it will penetrate the walls and construction of your home and into that of another one. Taking this into account makes the AR-15 an optimal home defense round.

home defense

Don’t use 7.62×51 for home defense if you live close to neighbors. Source: realtor

Are There Kids In The House? 

Having kids in the house presents even more concerns when selecting a firearm for home defense. 

For the same reasons mentioned before, you want to minimize the potential for overpentation through the walls. This is extremely difficult to mitigate since most rounds will penetrate a few pieces of sheetrock and insulation. 

But you definitely don’t want to be shooting .308 Winchester in a house where their room may be in the line of fire. Not to mention how loud .308 is; we’ll get to that in a minute. 

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What Are You Defending Your Home Against? 

Some individuals have to defend their homes against more than just human intruders. 

You may wonder why this is a question in the first place since home defense typically means defending against a human being. Still, there have been plenty of cases where the intruder was an animal. 

For example, my dad once woke up to a black bear in his living room. Fortunately, the bear ran out of the house, but he would have been in trouble otherwise. 

Likewise, home defense may also involve land preservation, where you have to protect your property from trespassers, who can be human or animal. If you’re protecting your land against boars, coyotes, bears, or any other larger animal, having a bigger caliber can help.


Are you defending against humans only? Or is there some wildlife on your land? Source: abcnews

Can it help to have two firearms, one for inside the house and one for protecting property? Of course. Many of the people who own land do this. Having an AR-15 for indoors and an AR-10 for outdoors is a pretty solid setup. 

But, if you live in the city away from wildlife, chances are you only have to worry about defending yourself and your home against human beings. In that case, .308 Winchester may be overkill. 

What Is The Construction Of Your Home?

Figuring out what your house is made of is another helpful way to determine the best caliber for home defense. 

For example, some houses are made of cinderblocks and bricks, while others are made from wood and sheetrock. While all can be broken with the right caliber, there is a definite winner in strength, meaning the bullet won’t penetrate as easily. 

If your house is built with stronger materials, you can potentially get away with using a bigger caliber for home defense. Of course, you must remember overpenetration is still possible, but you have more leeway in this situation. 

How Much Can You Spend On Ammo?

Ammo is expensive. The caliber you use for home defense will determine how much you’re going to be spending on ammo. 

The most common round found in AR-10s is the .308 Winchester, which costs more than a dollar per round. Once you factor in training with the weapon to ensure it’s ready for any situation, you’ll wind up spending a lot of money on ammo. 

That’s not to mention the cost of defensive rounds, which you’ll be needing, of course. These will cost more than range ammo. 

Considerations To Take Into Account

AR-10s are LOUD

Gun shots are loud—no doubt about that. But if you’ve ever shot an AR-10 indoors, that’s a new world of hurt. It’s not only loud, but the concussion is astounding, which is not optimal in a home defense situation. Even shooting it outdoors can be rough on the body.

hearing protection

Without proper hearing protection, your ears would be ringing for quite some time. Source: tuesdaymorning

Suppressors are a good option, but they can take a while to obtain and are costly. Ear protection is also an option, but you won’t have time to put it on in a home defense situation. Ear protection should always be worn when training, though.

AR-10 Barrels Can Be Long

Many AR-10s achieve optimum performance by utilizing longer barrels. Not only can longer barrels give you away by protruding around corners, but they can also get snagged on various objects more easily. 

You can get a shorter barreled AR-10, but that goes back to how loud and concussive these rounds can be. 


AR-10s are not the best for most home defense situations. They are loud and heavy and are more likely to kill the intruder instead of incapacitating them. You also run a higher risk of overpenetration.

With all that said, there are scenarios where they can work well, but you’ll have to answer all the questions we discussed and decide for yourself. 

Be good and take care.

Brian Zerbian
Brian is a USMC Veteran and avid gun enthusiast from New Jersey who loves to spend his time shooting, writing, listening to classic rock, and learning new things.
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