Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Just the Basics - Your AR “Patrol Rifle”

This is an “opinion” piece.  And, we all know what is said about opinions . . . everyone has one.  I want to offer mine on things you might want to consider for the rifle you choose to defend your home and family.  I use the phrase “Patrol Rifle” as a way of moving your mindset to a more serious place.  This isn’t a rifle you plink with.  It’s not to be taken to the range to “check zero” . . . and nothing else (though if I ask a shooter at our range what they are working on with their AR, THAT is the response I get 90% of the time).  It’s not for target shooting, precision shooting or just blasting away.  It has a very specific purpose . . . to defend the lives of the most important people in your life from those who intend to do them harm.  That is the purpose of a “Patrol Rifle”.

Last week I went to our local police department and spent half a day stripping, cleaning (if needed) and inspecting their 9 patrol rifles.  These are the weapons their officers carry in their squad cars.  I did this in my role as their armorer and to fulfill the state requirement that these firearms be inspected by an armor once a year.  It was an interesting experience.  It was easy to see which officers worked with their weapons regularly, which were diligent about maintenance and those who placed their patrol rifles at the bottom of their “to do” list.

That said, virtually all of them provided good examples of what I consider constitutes a “Patrol Rifle” and that is what I want to chat about in this post.  What is its purpose, how is it typically used and what gear would you find attached to the weapon.

The Patrol Rifle is a “close in” weapon, typically the engagement distance is not significantly farther that those encountered with your handgun.  It may be across the room distance, down the hall distance, length of the house distance . . . but I suspect not much farther than that.  The “zero” I recommend is a 50/200 yard zero.  Zero your patrol rifle at 50 yards and it will also be zeroed at 200 yards while shooting about 1 inch high at 100 yards and 2 inches low at 10 yards.  The 50/200 zero will cover virtually all the ground necessary for a typical home defense need.  I might add that this also covers the typical range for a law enforcement officer’s engagement as well.  The actual need for a civilian homeowner to engage a lethal threat out to 200 yards is, for all practical purposes, nil.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend some time at that distance . . . but you will be much better served spending your time at 50 yards or less and the majority of your time at 10 yards or less. 

The rifle should be equipped with the basics . . . 16” barrel, front and rear iron sights, a holographic optic, adjustable stock, flashlight and easily adjustable sling.  That’s it . . . the end . . . nothing more.  Here is an image of my “patrol rifle” that I carry in my Jeep. 

I started with a DPMS 556 Oracle.  I know DPMS takes its share of complaints, but this particular rifle has been through many multi-day, 1,000+ round count courses – all without a weapon related failure.  Fat fingers failure – yes.  Head up butt failure – yes.  But no weapon related failures. 

It has also been through a 2-day basic armorer course where it was completely, COMPLETELY disassembled and reassembled – followed by a 2-day range course.  Again, no problems.  Bottom line, this is my “carry gun” and I trust it to protect my family.  This was my foundation. 

Feeding the patrol rifle are Magpul P-mags.  In it’s carry case I have three loaded magazines, downloaded by 2 rounds.  I have found these magazines to be incredibly reliable though I do take the precaution of keeping my carry magazines separate from my range magazines.

For basic iron sights I like the Magpul MBUS front and rear popup sights.  I have no problems using them through the EOTech holographic sight should its batteries crap out.  I’ve been very happy with this pair of sights.  They have remained rock solid, provide a solid sight picture and can be kept “stored” in the down position and be released with a simple touch of a button.  I have zeroed this particular pair a couple years ago and it has held zero just fine.

My EOTech optic has been around for more than a few years . . . yet it remains rock solid and I’m happy with it.  As with all similar optics it allows rapid target acquisition and rapid first-round hits.  Honestly, I like this particular optic since it uses AA batteries and I always have a fresh set available.  I realize the new kids on the block claim 4000+ hours out of their batteries, and that many shooters simply dim the dot and never turn it off . . . I simply don’t take that approach.  To each their own.

A weapon mounted light on a carbine is simply a must.  It DOES NOT replace the need for a handheld flashlight in your pocket but trying to identify a threat at distance while holding your patrol rifle and a handheld flashlight is just not practical.  I like the Streamlight TR-1.  It’s reliable, my generation light has 300 lumens and it is at my fingertip if I need it.  

Finally, there is the sling . . . and yes you need one.  Should you need to transition from your patrol rifle to your handgun, you don’t want to be in a position to have to juggle both or have to drop your rifle.  The trick is to find a comfortable sling that you can easily adjust.  The Bravo Company Viking Tactics wide padded is SIMPLY THE BEST!  It’s comfortable when worn all day and very easily adjustable.  A simple tug of the strap or release cord make rapid adjustment easy.

More stuff???  Well, there’s lots and lots of additional pieces of gear you can add.  Laser sights, IR Illuminators, bipods to name just a very few . . . I would suggest you do your best to pass on the temptation.  Keep it simple, keep it clean and spend the range time you need to be able to use your Patrol Rifle to defend yourself, your family or those in your charge.



Magpul Pmags

Magpul MBUS Sights

Bravo Company Viking Tactics Sling

Streamlight TR1 Weapon Mounted Light

EOTech 512 Holographic Sight


  1. That reminds me. I need to get to the range with mine... sigh...

  2. And I need to go to the range and zero the optic I put on mine!!