Defense In An Urban Environment.
In an urban environment, there are many effective firearms to choose from. However, a particular firearm may be more effective in an urban environment than others, depending on use & need.
For example, a shotgun is very effective in a home defense role but may not be best outside of the home. Likewise, an AR-10 chambered in .308 is typically less effective indoors but generally more effective outside than a typical shotgun would be. Again, choice of firearm should be dictated by specific use & need.
Handguns are typically a responsible gun owner’s first purchase. Of all firearms, handguns are generally the most concealable. The concealability of handguns make them essential to most Every Day Carry (EDC) loadouts. Additionally, handguns are easily handled & manipulated. Concealability & ease of use grant handguns inherent benefits over other choices in everyday situations. For example, most would consider running errands in a loaded plate carrier & full-size rifle extremely uncomfortable, although, technically, it would be “the best” setup for defending yourself against an armed threat. A simple handgun & two spare magazines is widely considered more than acceptable for most EDC situations. Some store a “bug-out” bag in their vehicle, containing a plate carrier or soft armor, ammunition, food/water & first-aid. Regardless, the role of a handgun in urban environments, first & foremost, is to be concealed. Whether an active defensive situation or not, a handgun should always be within reach, concealed, on the body. The most popular style of carry is over the appendix, inside of the waistband. A concealed handgun is considered the most basic style of armed urban defense & should be the first purchase for most responsible gun owners.
Shotguns are very effective firearms in close-range defense. There are various shotgun loads, some of which are designed for engagements of further distances, however, the shotgun primarily excels in close-quarters. Shotguns have similar long gun regulations to rifles, therefore, aren’t as effective as other choices for EDC or concealment. Furthermore, compact pistol grip shotguns without stocks are much more physically difficult to operate. While the shotgun isn’t the best choice outside of the home, it may be the best firearm for defense inside of the home. Although longer & heavier than most other options, the shotgun is a reliable platform with simple manipulations & doesn’t require the marksmanship required of other firearms for effective use. Additionally, most shotgun loads tend to not over-penetrate, which is important in home defense, as over-penetration puts other inhabitants & neighbors in potential danger.
The Pistol-Caliber Carbine, or PCC, is a general blanket term for a semi-automatic Personal Defense Weapon or PDW. Typically, a PDW is considered a full-auto Small Machine Gun, or SMG. Due to regulations in the United States, actual PDWs & SMGs are, for the most part, illegal for civilians to own or possess. Although actual PDWs/SMGs are prohibited, the semi-auto variations still have much of the same utility, especially in an urban defense capacity. The small, compact nature of PDW-style firearms generally make them relatively easy to operate & manipulate. PCCs are also strong candidates for a “backpack gun” role as many models do not require a buffer tube, instead offering a variety of folding or telescoping stocks & braces. Generally, pistol calibers do not reach the same velocity as rifle calibers & tend to have lower pressure as a result. Pressure from the velocity of a fired round of ammunition can be concussive. An added bonus is that PCCs do not suffer as much velocity loss from shorter barrel lengths as rifle calibers tend to. This gives an edge to PCCs, specifically in the role of urban defense, due to closer quarters. Simply put, a PCC will be easy to manipulate in close quarters & isn’t as concussive as a weapon chambered in a rifle caliber. Another benefit of PCCs is their ability to fire subsonic rounds through a suppressor. While, generally, rifle rounds are supersonic, pistol calibers are much easier to suppress & typically more quiet than rifle calibers when suppressed.
A “rifle caliber” designation encompasses a wide-variety of firearms. From pistols to AK variants to all of the variations of the AR platform. Technically, bolt action & certain exotic handguns can be described as rifle caliber, as well, however, for the purposes of urban defense, rifle caliber refers to civilian models of semi-automatic pistols & rifles which fire rifle caliber ammunition. The most popular firearm of this variety in the United States is, by far, the AR-15. The ATF defines a rifle as a firearm with a stock & a barrel length greater than 16”. Likewise, an SBR is a firearm with a barrel less than 16”. Unlike PCCs, the shorter the barrel of a firearm chambered in a rifle caliber, the more velocity is lost. The tradeoff for a shorter barrel, which makes a firearm easier to manipulate, is a loss of velocity. Specific barrel lengths are typically personal preference, although hard data on the velocity of various barrel lengths is plentiful. The longer the barrel, the more difficult a firearm is to manipulate, especially in an urban defense capacity. Barrel length aside, the rifle caliber is much more effective in many more dynamic situations than pistol calibers or shotgun loads. Rifle calibers can generally travel further than pistol caliber or shotgun loads & have higher velocities, which transfers much more energy. While shotguns, handguns & PCCs excel in close-range, they lack the accuracy & effective range of a firearm chambered in a rifle caliber. Rifle caliber firearms are all-around more effective than handguns, shotguns & PCCs in many situations, including urban defense.
While urban defense consists mostly of close-range engagement in dense environments, the ability to effectively engage at distance is extremely important. Rifle caliber pistols, while sacrificing velocity, are generally more maneuverable than their full-size rifle counterparts. In an urban setting, this trade-off makes the most sense. A firearm chambered in a rifle caliber with the smaller size of a PDW/SMG may be the best choice, generally, for most urban defense scenarios.