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Old December 11, 2018, 01:06 AM   #1
chaim
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Mini-14 or M1 Carbine for home defense

So, I haven't had a long gun for home defense in a while and I'm in the market.

I know many people say a shotgun is ideal, but I am not a huge fan. I don't like the recoil or the low capacity.

I am a fan of lever rifles, and still may go that way for HD use, but a semi carbine with a detachable mag is a good way to go. Using the standard (though sometimes debated numbers) that on average it will take 3 hits to stop a dedicated attacker (though, presumably, a long gun will need fewer hits than a handgun), and that one out of three shots will miss (something else that will likely be better with a long gun as well), it could take as many as 9 or 10 shots to stop one attacker. While a single person or maybe two people breaking in is more likely than a home invasion with 3 or 4 attackers, it is a possibility. So, a long gun with enough power to stop an attacker, with a 20 or greater round mag for multiple attackers, easy reloads, and relatively low overpenetration risk seems ideal for home defense.

Another factor for me, I live in MD which is very anti-gun. County prosecutors will try to find an excuse to bring you to trial even with a good shoot, and most people don't really know guns. The more PC a gun looks, a good wood stock that looks like it could be grampa's hunting rifle, the better. I want to maximize my chances that a potential prosecutor may decide I wasn't a Rambo wannabe that they need to charge, and if charged, I want to improve my chances by not prejudicing a likely anti-gun (or at least ignorant of guns) jury by using an "evil black rifle".

Note on overpenetration, I know that modern building materials are as good as paper. I don't expect anything to quickly stop a miss. Even a pellet gun will go through most modern walls made with standard wall board (as I learned at 18 when shooting a .177 pellet pistol indoors). I'm more concerned about hitting an attacker but having the round go through them causing a risk to anyone beyond them and in the path of the bullet. I want a round that increases the chances of it stopping in the bad guy (with the additional benefit that if it does stop in the bad guy, expending all of its energy in that attacker, it increases the chances of stopping the attack).

So, the more likely/obvious choice is the Mini-14, but I'd love to get an M1 Carbine.

The Mini uses the ever popular .223. Many loadings of the .223 have very favorable ballistic gel tests. They penetrate sufficiently to stop an attacker but stop at 15-18" (depending upon the specific load), minimizing the chances of overpenetration and hurting someone you don't want to hurt. They are small and handy, and should make a good home defense gun, and can still be had with a wood stock for the PC look I'm looking for. They should also be fun at the range, but it is a little soulless.

I am a huge history buff, especially WWII history. Even a reproduction has some cachet as a historic design. I've shot them, M1 Carbines are a lot of fun to shoot. It may be even more handy and quicker on target than the Mini. From a purely emotional level, it would be my first choice. The Auto-Ordinance guns are close to the price of a Mini-14, though a little more expensive, but some of the other brands are quite a bit more. The standard mags for the Carbine are 15 rounds, so it would need to be reloaded more in a worst case home invasion scenario, but could be doable. The biggest drawback is the round. It has enough energy for home defense purposes at short range. However, it has more of an overpenetration problem. FBI gel test standards set 18" as the maximum, more than that and the round will go through and through most people. Based on tests I've seen with the .30 Carbine round, most JSP as well as dedicated self defense rounds go a minimum of 18" and many go over 20", while with standard FMJ, forget it (I've seen plenty of tests where it went through two 18" blocks of gel). At 18-20" with the best/most suitable rounds, it is marginal if worried about overpenetration, and I live in an apartment.

On paper, the Mini is the clear winner. However, the emotional/historical side makes me really want the Carbine, and I can't get both right now. The chances of actually needing it for home defense are pretty low (and short of a home invasion, I'll probably stop a break-in with my handgun, which I will get to before I can get to my long gun, long before I put the long gun into action). In a worst case scenario, if I use one of the 18-20" penetration home defense rounds or older JSPs my odds won't be too bad with overpenetration (worse than I'd like though), and it will be much better than other rifle calibers like 7.62, .308 or 30-30.

So, which should I do? Go with my heart and get the less appropriate (for my needs) but more desired M1 Carbine? Get the Mini since it will work better for what I need, and get the Carbine later when I can afford to have both? As for the second, it isn't like I won't enjoy the Mini-14, and if I get that first, I can still get the Carbine eventually, but the Mini will never be an M1 Carbine.
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Old December 11, 2018, 01:49 AM   #2
Bill DeShivs
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Better buy a carbine. Load it with JSP ammunition.
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Old December 11, 2018, 02:33 AM   #3
Pathfinder45
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Between the two, I would choose the M1 Carbine. Given a third option, a lever-action pistol-caliber carbine in, say, 357 magnum or even 32-20 would be hard to rule out.
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Old December 11, 2018, 03:20 AM   #4
chaim
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Between the two, I would choose the M1 Carbine. Given a third option, a lever-action pistol-caliber carbine in, say, 357 magnum or even 32-20 would be hard to rule out.
I love lever rifles, and for years I considered getting a revolver caliber carbine as my HD gun (and for a while had a Winchester 94 in .45LC that I bought for this purpose, but it never proved reliable enough). My problem is the overpenetration issue.

I live in an apartment. My next home will likely be a townhouse. I also have a roommate. Overpenetration can be a big issue.

.357mag out of a 4" revolver can penetrate 18-20+" in ballistic gel from many loads. Out of a long gun, it would likely be worse. .44mag would likely be out of the question for nearly any load. .45LC might work, but it isn't as likely to feed and eject reliably in all rifles and I'd still have to be careful about which loading to use. Meanwhile, ballistics gel tests out of rifles/carbines can be hard to find with most loadings in these calibers.

As for the capacity, I'm not as worried. With a rifle/carbine with a loading gate (unlike a Henry), they could be quickly topped off as you go. Also, the commonly cited numbers of 3 shots to stop a determined attacker, and 3 misses to every hit when under life and death stress, will likely be better with a long gun than with a handgun (assuming the numbers will be accurate at self defense ranges). After all, aren't two of the main reasons to go with a long gun over a handgun for self defense the greater stopping power and the easier practical accuracy with the longer barrel?

Another more wild card option I'd consider is one of the .223 bolt rifles with a detachable box mag. Preferably something like the Mossbergs that can take AR mags, but maybe something like the 10 round Ruger Scout Rifle with propitiatory mags.
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Old December 11, 2018, 03:52 AM   #5
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Getting back to a 357 lever-action carbine.... As far as I know, they all can use 38 Special, too. That could decrease power and increase magazine capacity a little. But either cartridge, loaded with a light-weight, fast-expanding hollowpoint, should be just about ideal for your situation. I don't know what could be better unless it's something like a Ruger 10-22 loaded with the most reliable hollowpoints you can feed it. Of course, I'm just speculating about a hypothetical situation that has never played out in my life.
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Old December 11, 2018, 06:11 AM   #6
TJB101
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Originally Posted by Pathfinder45 View Post
Between the two, I would choose the M1 Carbine. Given a third option, a lever-action pistol-caliber carbine in, say, 357 magnum or even 32-20 would be hard to rule out.

Ditto ... a nice Marlin 1894 in 357 .... very light weight compared to the M1.
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Old December 11, 2018, 07:18 AM   #7
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Lever guns are over rated for home defense, they aren't significantly faster for repeat shots than a bolt rifle. Any of the pistol caliber cartridges are less effective than 223 and will overpenetrate building material much worse than 223. In fact 223 is less likely to penetrate building material than most handgun rounds or even buckshot. Even with FMJ ammo.

How much a particular round penetrates in gel has nothing to do with how much it penetrates building material. A 223 round would be the safest round if concerned about bullets going through walls.

Quote:
Ditto ... a nice Marlin 1894 in 357 .... very light weight compared to the M1.
A Marlin 1894 weighs 6.5 lbs. That is more than most of my bolt action rifles, more than some of them with scopes on them. An M1 weighs 5.2 lbs.

The M-1 is a handy lightweight gun, but the 30 Carbine round has always been a poor performer, especially if shooting someone with heavy winter clothing. It just doesn't penetrate enough. It had some success during WW-2 in the Pacific and during Vietnam jungles at close range on 130 lb men wearing light clothing. It was a poor choice in Europe and Korea at longer ranges or where men were wearing winter clothes.

The 30 Carbine would be a distant 2nd place finisher with a 223 Carbine the clear winner. A pistol caliber lever gun would be a nice range gun, but not really in the running if my life depended on it getting the job done.
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Old December 11, 2018, 08:04 AM   #8
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Ditto ... a nice Marlin 1894 in 357 .... very light weight compared to the M1.
It's important to know the difference between an M1 Garand and an M1 Carbine.

Then you'll be in a position to discuss the relative weight differences in relation to other types of firearms.
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Old December 11, 2018, 08:10 AM   #9
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Of the two rifles you mention, the Mini is better suited to the purpose you describe. Having said that, the first priority is to have a firearm you know how to use and can make hits on target with. An M1 carbine you love to shoot is going to beat a Mini that has a slight technical advantage but never gets shot because it bores you.

You know what overpenetrates more than a .30 carbine FMJ that hits? The lightest, super-special fragmenting .223 that misses the target entirely.

Besides the handiness of the M1 carbine, they make premium defensive ammo in .30 carbine now that considerably improves performance over the old ball ammo.

Also, longer barrel doesn’t always mean more penetration. Many .223 rounds have more penetration in short barrels because as velocity is reduced, they fail to break up and a solid aerodynamic mass loses energy slower than many smaller, irregular chunks. Once velocity exceeds the bullet design, penetration tends to go down.
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Old December 11, 2018, 08:42 AM   #10
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After all the years of buying and shooting guns, I've just never had a yearning desire for an M1 Carbine. It seems like too much gun for not enough punch.
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Old December 11, 2018, 09:47 AM   #11
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My view of "defense" is that WRT rifles, it's up close and personal. My opinion is that a soft-point load from a GI Carbine would work quite nicely. Granted that I'm not thinking of a one-shot bang-flop, necessarily.
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Old December 11, 2018, 09:54 AM   #12
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I like the handiness and compactness of the M-1 Carbine. That said, I prefer the Mini-14. Bullets are easier to come by but also consider the cost. M-1 Carbines are going at insane $1k prices now. Mini-14 are cheaper, easier to replace and ammunition more readily available.
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Old December 11, 2018, 10:32 AM   #13
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Mini 14 is a utility rifle chambered in a caliber that law enforcement uses, and is or has been a firearm that they used, that is good for legal defense. M1 Carbine technically is a weapon of world war.


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Old December 11, 2018, 10:42 AM   #14
AK103K
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I have a number of Carbines, and the reliability issue with them would rule them out for me. Fun to shoot, just not what I consider reliable.

Im not a Mini fan, but at those distances, they wouldnt be an issue.

The downside to either of them would be the muzzle blast indoors, especially the Mini.

Personally, even though I keep a suppressed AR "pistol" by the bed at night, I also have my Glock 17 in my pants, along with a good flashlight, also right next to the bed, and unless I was sure I was going to be repelling boarders, or taking things outside, the Glock makes more sense for moving around in the house.
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Old December 11, 2018, 11:18 AM   #15
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Does Maryland have restrictions on magazine capacity?
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Old December 11, 2018, 11:46 AM   #16
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If you are involved in a SD shooting, which would you be more okay with the police confiscating and you never get it back? (or you do get it back but it's severely damaged or destroyed)
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Old December 11, 2018, 01:21 PM   #17
amd6547
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I'd take an M1 Carbine over a Mini 14.
In fact, I did.
I've had a CMP Inland for several years, and I have kept it loaded with Critical Defense for HD use
A couple weeks ago, I bought an Auto Ordnance folding stock M1 Carbine for a bargain price.
Haven't shot it yet... But, if it checks out at the range, it will be my new HD weapon.
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Old December 11, 2018, 01:37 PM   #18
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A 223 round would be the safest round if concerned about bullets going through walls.
Not if you are using FMJ in that .223!

And ok, so the M1 carbine is a weapon of war...so what? it was also used by police and prison guards. I've heard Ruger's intent for the Mini-14 was to replace the M1 carbine, in the hands of police, and especially prison guards. It was never made with the idea of military use. it was made to match or exceed the M1 carbine's use and utility with a round that was flatter shooting with a couple hundred more yards of easily usable range.

Don't expect much sympathy from the anti's if your wood stock Mini is sporting a 30 rnd "banana clip". If you want a chance for the anti's to see you as anything but a blood drinking foaming at the mouth fanatic killer, better use that lever gun. And, even then, its a coin toss...
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Old December 11, 2018, 02:34 PM   #19
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"...not thinking of a one-shot bang-flop..." A Speer 110 grain HP with IMR4227 will blow a hole the size of a grapefruit in soft tissue. My old Plainfield Carbine will shoot circles around any Mini-14 ever made too.
However, you still need to consider excessive penetration with either cartridge. Moreso, if you should miss, exit the building through a window and have a shot go way down the street and hit something or somebody.
"...that is good for legal defense..." No it isn't. You kill or seriously wound somebody you didn't shoot at, you're guilty of manslaughter or aggravated assault(or whatever it's called where you are.)
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Old December 11, 2018, 02:58 PM   #20
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Home protection

Of the two mentioned, I would go with the M1 carbine.

Over-penetration is a concern and I would stick with a jacketed soft point like the Sierra RN 110gr.

This round is fairly close to .357 mag specs and will do the job.

A folding stock would make this an easier weapon to move around with.
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Old December 11, 2018, 04:31 PM   #21
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A folding stock would make this an easier weapon to move around with.
The last Carbine I got came with a repro GI folder on it, and the original stock off the gun.

Those type folders SUCK! And for a number of reasons. If you feel the need to go that route, Id look to something else.

I shot mine once, to see how it was, and immediately put the original stock back on the gun. The stock was pretty well done, but the full wood stock is really the only way to go.

The folder is going up on EBay next batch of stuff I get.
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Old December 11, 2018, 04:56 PM   #22
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I've never been impressed with the folding stocks that I have had an opportunity to try out. I wouldn't have one. Is it mere rumor, or is it true, that the weapon of choice for Audie Murphy was the m1 Carbine?
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Old December 11, 2018, 05:35 PM   #23
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The M1A1 paratroop folder is pretty bad...I tried one for a while.
The folder on my new Carbine is made by Choate, and seems pretty nice. Very solid lockup, and the whole gun is only about 28" folded.
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Old December 11, 2018, 06:27 PM   #24
chaim
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How much a particular round penetrates in gel has nothing to do with how much it penetrates building material. A 223 round would be the safest round if concerned about bullets going through walls.
No round is going to be stopped by modern wall construction, thus my definition of my overpenetration concerns in my first post.

Quote:
The M-1 is a handy lightweight gun, but the 30 Carbine round has always been a poor performer, especially if shooting someone with heavy winter clothing.
I remember reading some of the same stories in some books about WWII and Korea that I read as a kid. Those are not documented and confirmed accounts, they are urban legends. No round capable of self defense is so weak that winter clothing will weaken it (or have it bounce off as some accounts I read stated). The only effect winter clothing will have is to clog a hollow point and make it perform as a JHP. The .30 Carbine out of a rifle has far more power than a .45ACP or .357mag, so I'm not worried it will be too weak. It was under powered in comparison to the 30-06 used in the M1 Garand in the same conflicts. Compared to any handgun it is quite capable, and only slightly less capable than a .223 at short self defense ranges.

Quote:
Does Maryland have restrictions on magazine capacity?
It does, but only for sale, transfer, or manufacture, not for possession. It is perfectly legal to go to any other state, buy any mag you want and bring it home. However, if it is over 10 rounds you can't turn around and sell, give, or lend it to anyone while in MD. I'm not sure if it would be legal for me to repair a 11+ round mag (such as changing the spring or mag follower) without taking it to another state first.

Quote:
If you are involved in a SD shooting, which would you be more okay with the police confiscating and you never get it back? (or you do get it back but it's severely damaged or destroyed)
$700 some Mini or $700 some Auto-Ordinance M1 Carbine reproduction, doesn't really matter. I'd rather not lose $700-800, but I'm definitely not going to use a historically significant (and these days, quite expensive) WWII or Korea gun for home defense.

Quote:
Don't expect much sympathy from the anti's if your wood stock Mini is sporting a 30 rnd "banana clip". If you want a chance for the anti's to see you as anything but a blood drinking foaming at the mouth fanatic killer, better use that lever gun. And, even then, its a coin toss.
I definitely wouldn't use a 30 round mag, not in MD, I may as well use my AR. I'm thinking the 15 round standard mag in the M1 Carbine might be sedate enough that I'd be OK. For the Mini, I'd be torn between going with a 20 round mag, or limit my capability should there be a full on home invasion (say 3-4 or more) since that is pretty unlikely and going with a 10 round mag. If I did that, I'd probably have a loaded 20 round mag next to the gun in the safe for reloads should I need more than 10 rounds.


A few people mentioned a folder. I'm not interested in a folder. One, for the MD friendly PC thing, I think a full wood stock would work better. Also, I just like the wood stock version better. That would be the case for both the M1 Carbine folder (which people mentioned) and the Mini with a folder (which no one mentioned).
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Old December 11, 2018, 06:36 PM   #25
chaim
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I have a number of Carbines, and the reliability issue with them would rule them out for me. Fun to shoot, just not what I consider reliable.
I wasn't really thinking much about that (maybe a little since the Auto-Ordinance reproductions, at least used to, have somewhat mixed reputations). As with any gun used for defense, I'd wring it out with quite a few rounds to be sure it was reliable before I relied on it. It is another mark for the Mini I suppose. On paper, the Mini is definitely the better gun for this purpose, but I want the Carbine much more than I want the Mini and I likely won't have both for some time (too close, too much money... then again, I have 3 .357mag revolvers and I used to have others, I have 2 "compact" 9mms, several CCW sized pistols, 3 2" snubs, etc.).
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