Question # 10 – What is the Best Practical Rifle for Personal Defense?

June 1st, 2006  

Hi, this is Ignatius Piazza, Founder and Director of Front Sight Firearms Training Institute. I’m answering the top ten questions that were received in a survey that was done on May 15, 2006.

Question number 10: What is the best practical Rifle for personal defense?

Well here at Front Sight we have a motto, and that motto is:

Any gun will do if you will do

What we mean by that is:

You are the weapon – the firearm you carry is just a tool.

So we train you to be great with anything it is that you choose to carry.

But with that said, there certainly are some choices that are better than others.

So let’s talk about bolt action rifles first.

My favorite bolt action rifle in 30-06 is the Blaser 93 [said Bl-OW-ser]. The Blaser 93 is very unique in that it’s got a very fast straight pull-back bolt design. Its the fastest bolt action rifle you’re ever going to shoot. It also has the safety in a very ergonomically correct position, has a great trigger, and has barrel interchangeability, which means you can have one rifle but you can have several different barrels. I place a fixed-power, 6-power scope on that rifle, and it’s good to go. And I like the 30-06 caliber because it’s probably the most versatile caliber for North-American use. So, that’s the 30-06 bolt-action rifle that I prefer.

In 308 there is the Steyr Scout Rifle. And those of you who are not familiar with the scout rifle, if you ever train with a scout rifle, you will quickly understand that this is a very, very user-friendly weapon that is extremely easy to hit with. And after you’ve trained with it for quite some time, that rifle truly becomes an extension of your will.

It has a fixed-power, low-power scope that is mounted forward of the action. It’s a long eye-relief scope which allows you to keep both eyes open when you are tracking targets or getting into a field position. You keep your eyes on the target, the weapon mounts very, very quickly. And there the target is because you can keep both eyes open. It also has a very, very good fast action bolt, although it’s not the straight pull-back design that you have on the Blaser. It has a box fed magazine system with a spare magazine in the butt stock, which is extremely handy. It also has the fastest sling system that you’re ever going to experience. So for those reasons and the way the weapon is designed and the inherent consistency of the weapon – its very, very consistent – the Steyr Scout in 308 is my favorite bolt action rifle.

Then when you drop into the semi-automatic category in 308, my recommendation and my favorite weapon is the Springfield Armory M1A. I do not believe that anything has been built since that, in 308, that really is superior to the Springfield Armory M1A. It has great sights, which is what you need in a battle rifle to be able to hit. It has a very good trigger. The safety is placed in a perfect ergonomic position, in that it is very easy to engage and even easier to disengage, being right in front of the trigger guard, actually piercing through the trigger guard slightly.

It, of course, comes with the standard type of military sling, and it’s just a great rifle: very consistent, very reliable, and you can hit a great distance with it once you understand how to use iron sites and operate the trigger properly. So that’s my choice for a 308 semi-automatic rifle.

When you drop down to the 223 caliber, there is the Steyr AUG – which many of you probably are not familiar with, because I believe it was the first President Bush, that implemented the import assault weapons ban, and that prevented the Steyr AUG from coming into the country any further. There are still Steyr AUG‘s available out there through private parties sale, but they are quite expensive now.

But just like the Steyr Scout, the Steyr AUG was made out of a lot of composite materials in a very interesting disassembly function, where the barrel quickly comes completely out of the weapon. It’s very, very easy to clean. It has an optic built into the carrying handle – low-power optic – again allows you to keep both eyes open if that’s what you wish to do in tracking moving targets and getting into improvised field positions. The trigger on it is quite unique. It has a pistol grip, but the trigger is much like the trigger on a 1911, and all of the component parts are much like a glock pistol. They basically all come out in different components, and it’s very easy to maintain. Very easy to hit with, extremely consistent, just a great rifle over all.

Now, those of you who are not able to train with a Steyr AUG or not even able to get it anymore, then your choice is probably the AR15.

And in that platform of weapons systems, we like the Bushmaster Dissipator. The reason we like the Dissipator is because it has a full 20-inch sight radius with a 16-inch barrel. And we prefer the lighter barrels. Again with a practical rifle you want something that is light and handy. Now if you’re going to place an optic on an AR15 with a carrying handle place it forward of the carrying-handle like the Trijicon Reflex sighting systems. Do not place it on top of the carrying handle, because in order to use that you have to put your head above the stock. You lose your cheek weld and that makes it very, very difficult to hit with a rifle. And of course, job number one with a rifle is to hit with that first round. If you’re going to put an optic on it you may want to go with the option of the flat-top receivers where there is no carrying handle. And whatever optic you choose to put on there, whatever you do don’t use anything that involves batteries, because batteries are notorious for going out when you need them most.

Now these options or these recommendations that we’re giving you, I believe are listed on our website under The Front Sight Experience A to Z. And you can look on the A to Z experience on our website and you will see all kinds of information that will answer 99% of any questions you might have about our courses. But in there, there is a chapter on weapon selection and you’ll see some of these recommendations there.

So I hope that answered your question regarding what is the best practical rifle for personal defense. The short answer is the best rifle is the one you have in your hand when you need it.

So again, come on out to Front Sight. Bring what you have. You don’t have to go out and by anything new to take a rifle class at Front Sight. Just bring what you have and we’ll train you to be extremely good with it. So again, I hope this answered question number 10. And if you have any other questions feel free to email us at Thank you.

Entry Filed under: Dr. Ignatius Piazza,Front Sight.

Ignatius Piazza
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