When considering a SBR or pistol variant, barrel length and caliber are important deciding factors. Most AR platforms come chambered in .223 Remington or 5.56mm NATO, but there are some models available in pistol calibers such as 9mm, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP. Other platforms, including the Sig MPX, CZ Scorpion, and variants of the venerable H&K MP-5, are offered almost exclusively in 9mm.
You should select your weapon’s caliber and barrel length based on the maximum distance you may need to engage a threat. In terms of rifle calibers like .223 or 5.56mm, the shorter your barrel is, the less effective your bullet will be over great distances. Comparatively, pistol calibers are most effective inside of 50 yards. If you want a weapon that is effective out to 150 yards, a 5.56mm pistol with a 10.5-inch or greater barrel would be ideal, whereas a 9mm with a 7.5-inch barrel would be perfectly adequate for 50-yard engagements.
An SBR or pistol with stabilizing brace makes a great addition to any bug-out bag or 72-hour kit. They are ideal for maneuvering in confined spaces, such as the inside of a home or vehicle, and are easily stored in a bag or backpack when not in use. Many people keep a pistol variant as a trunk gun, just in case they find themselves in a hostile situation while on the road. When placed in a bag designed for concealed weapon transport, such as the 5.11 Select Carry Sling Pack or Blackhawk Diversion Carry Racquet Bag, a pistol variant or SBR can be stored discreetly while still being readily accessible when needed.
Before attempting to purchase a pistol variant or SBR, consult your local gun store to find out what is legal to own in your state. While pistol variants are technically pistols, open carry of this type of firearm is strongly discouraged, as it will likely cause concern among members of your community, result in unnecessary attention from local law enforcement, and identify you to criminals as a potential target. If you intend to carry this sort of firearm in a bag, you may need to obtain a concealed pistol license. When going on a road trip with this type of firearm, research gun laws in the states you will be crossing.
Have you ever owned a short-barreled rifle or pistol variant? What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:
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