Sometimes I think I’m the only person in the shooting/self defense field who’s actually thinking about the average person: the man or woman who doesn’t want to become a soldier or a police officer, doesn’t want to look like one, doesn’t want to spend all their free time on a shooting range, and doesn’t care about a PR in a WOD. (I had to look those up to figure out what they were, too!) I mention this because I take a lot of heat from people who are heavily into the athletic and enthusiast parts of the self defense business, those for whom shooting and training is an all-consuming hobby.
The latest criticism from the hobbyist camp came as the result of a remark I made about guns like the M1 Carbine, Ruger Mini-14, and lever-action rifles and their application for home defense. The responses almost all centered on one common thought: “what can they do that an AR-15 can’t, and for less money?” I was then regaled with tales of the hobbyist: how you can get all kinds of different triggers and stocks and sights and handguards and grips and magazines and accessories for what was their favorite gun.
I don’t deny any of that. The reality is, though, that the guns I mentioned do have some advantages over the AR-15, and one in particular is something the AR does incredibly poorly. It’s also something which is hard for non-hobbyists to understand, and one which trips up even quite a few of the “experienced” shooters. In short, the AR-15 doesn’t always put bullets where the shooter expects them to go at normal defensive distances!
Before you get all upset and call me names, allow me to explain.
This issue with the AR-15 revolves around the fact that its sights sit very high above the bore of the barrel — 2-1/2 inches high, which much higher than in any typical hunting rifle and higher than any rifle which our military had used up to its introduction. The reason for this is because the AR-15 barrel sits inline with the buttstock to minimize the recoil and muzzle flip during full-auto fire — a valid military consideration. The problem, however, is that the barrel sitting so low wouldn’t allow a human head to see through the sights if they were mounted in a traditional manner. The solution was to raise the sights, either optical or iron, in order to meet the eyes.
At normal military-type rifle shooting distances this sight offset (known as height-over-bore) doesn’t present too much of an issue. The problem comes when the rifle is pressed into service at close ranges, because the difference between where the sights are and where the bullets come out can be up to 2-1/2 inches. That means at very close distances the bullet is going to impact the target 2-1/2 inches below where the sights are pointing!
Read more at grantcunningham.com
Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including “The Book of the Revolver”, “Shooter’s Guide To Handguns”, “Defensive Revolver Fundamentals”, “Defensive Pistol Fundamentals”, and “Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting” (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled “Defensive Revolver Fundamentals” and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.