Article title : Rifle feud, the Henrys vs the Ars
As it is detailed below, we can have two different platforms to arm our family members with, for 450 dollars each, including the ammuntion. What standard will be superior in this context ?
The argument is academic, because A.you all have your rifles already B. You have a variety of that serve different functions, covering more situations, just like an infantry squad. Typically you will have at least a .22LR rifle and a shotgun, and probably an accurate long-range rifle as well.
That said, a standard weapon platform has its merits in terms of unified training (and as we will see, tactics), procurement cost and logistics.
Part one : price equivalence
I have 1800 dollars and there are four people in my household. Should we be armed with Henry single-shot rifles or AR15s ?
As we've seen previously, 1732 dollars buys me four Henry single-shots in .44 Magnum, 200 reloaded cartridges for each, and on top I have my reloading equipment for them. With the 68 dollars left I 'll purchase another 100 Magtech FMJ cartridges because I can't find FMJ bullets to reload with (?), leaving me with 225 cartridges per rifle.
The Bear Creek Arsenal AR-15 Rifle is the cheapest I could find online, at 400 dollars per unit, and one magazine only per unit : http://www.gunwarrior.com/2286/ar-15-400/
The problem is, it lacks a back sight. The cheapest I found costs 12.97 USD
So 413 x 4 = 1652 USD, leaving me with 148 USD for ammunition.
A box of 20 rounds of Tulammo costs 4.38 dollars, I can thus buy 33 boxes, or 660 rounds. I will optimistically consider that five rounds per rifle are necessary to zero it, while the Henry rifles are already zeroed (and typically nobody touches those hunting sights anyway). So I have 640 rounds left, or 160 per rifle.
I would like to point out that the single-shots have 40% more cartridges than the ARs, although they will consume much less.
Part two : the controls
When you hand out your AR rifles, this is what your average family member sees :
Now just memorize every part and its function, see how much time it takes you. Welcome to his mind.
(Probability is high that this training session takes place just after some traumatizingly bad event on the news or a prolonged blackout or something, so part of his brain is furiously processing some other information right now)
One of the reason the AK is so popular in shitty countries with no education (I should be writing presidential tweets) is that its controls are easier to grasp than the AR's.
Your aunt now has to be armed and is actually pretty serious about it.
But what she sees are SEVEN buttons or parts that can move (apart from the magazine and other stuff) :
1. The trigger (it's the only one she knows, from TV, it's the “work” button, to her it's the on/off function)
2 and 3. The charging handle, which even has another latch inside of it (fractal design). The handle moves but you can't see what it does (Oh my gosh something moved inside the gun. Was it supposed to ? Have I broken something ?)
4. The bolt catch/release button, which is suspiciously close to the
5. Magazine catch, that gets activated by the magazine release button from the other side of the thing.
6. There's also the Forward Assist Knob, which is the Bullshit Button.
Question : What is this ?
Answer A : don't touch it (but what if I do ?)
Answer B : it helps you pushing the cartridge forward in case it doesn't feed well (okay so I'm going to do that every time now. But wait, did he just say the cartridges don't feed well ? What is this piece of crap ? Other guns on TV always work, why doesn't mine ?)
Answer C : it doesn't do anything (Who designed this shitty rifle ? Steve Jobs ? And why couldn't my nephew buy something better?)
7. The safety selector level, which will prevent you from firing just because.
Not only there are seven (thankfully, binary) controls but they have to be activated in the proper sequence, which is not intuitive at all. There is also other stuff (telestock latch, ejection port cover) and screws (especially in the line of sight, with the back sights) the function of which is not explained. Your people will tinker with everything because that's what everybody does when they don't understand how something mechanical works.
This is what the complete procedure looks like, explained in three and a half minutes by a very calm guy : AR15 Load and Unload https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQYlpueCvxA
For an untrained person this is a Monthy Python sketch. But even if you do train them, it will cost everybody an inordinate amount of time and patience.
Compare this to a break-open single-shot rifle : it's an expresso machine.
1. This opens the rifle (expresso machine). You insert the cartridge (coffe capsule) there. Then you close the rifle.
(Note : the Henry single-shot has in-built safety features that prevents accidental firing, there is no manual safety. It makes it even easier to use, especially under stress.)
2. This is the hammer. It will make the cartridge go bang. Feel its power when you cock it back.
3. This is the trigger. It will release the hammer. Now dry-fire.There.
4. Now you will learn to decock. (External hammers are wonderfully intuitive controls)
Now you will have time to explain the safety rules, and the very basic combat use you can have with it (mostly how to aim, and anticipating a target in movement). Which is already a lot for your aunt, actually the maximum she can afford in an evening (especially under dire circumstances).
Bonus : If your aunt is in complete darkness she will not know how to operate the AR, but she will be much more successful with the break-open rifle.
Your aunt is the weak spot in your defenses. The weak spot is where your demise will start.
While you are asleep( let's say, between 6 AM and 12 AM) she will be on guard duty. If she has to fire at intruders but can't because her weapon is impossible to use, things will go bad from that moment on.
It is my belief that in the first days bad people will not engage armed families but will select defenseless people instead. I also doubt that street gangs will make banzai charges against a place that has four rifles trained at them.
Part three : forcing more realistic tactics
Let us imagine for a moment that every member in your family now knows how to operate an AR-15. Will they make every bullet count ? Of course they won't. Why should they ? The enemy is right there, and the situation is the most stressful they ever experienced in a lifetime. Jim has gone over this numerous times, so I won't insist on fire discipline, but you know that these 160 rounds are not going to last long.
My point is a different one, it revolves around the limitations of the single-shot rifle : you can only shoot one bullet at a time. Which is exactly what your family members should be doing.
The AR-15 has been designed for modern infantry tactics in which covering fire is a central element. It takes a lot of time to train for this, with young men in their prime and screened for their sportive nature (infantry combat is a very specialized thing). Your whole family will not fight like that. (Hey maybe it will (*cough cough bullshit cough cough*), but then it will be the exception and not the rule).
Of course the AR-15 can be used for the same defensive role as the single-shot rifle. The perceived blessing that it can do that and also much more is actually a curse : it will be used for more, every time.
Here is the rub : tactics are a very difficult thing to master, and this is when standards have a simplifying effect.
If you have to devise tactics with your current arsenal it is not going anywhere : Gary has the pump shotgun, Little Jimmy the single-shot .22LR rifle, Amanda her concealed carry 9mm pistol, Grandpa his scoped .270 hunting rifle and you have your AR-15 (with the red dot !).
(Say what you will but there's nobody out there who is going to mess with that bunch anyhow)
When everybody has the same weapon, tactics get simpler, and training is unified. It's the same weapon, with the same limitations. The single-shot limitation removes the rate of fire & refill aspects (now try to enforce that with ARs). Also note that a rifle is already a versatile weapon in itself because it can reach out, to 200 yards if need be.
Of course in this context repeaters like lever actions or bolt-action rifles would be more efficient than single-shots (and then only with intermediate or pistol cartridges), but they cost twice as much, so you can have only have half the number. (Note : several bolt-action in .243 are available at about the same price as the Henry single-shot rifle, but they typically lack iron sights. It would be interesting to know how much it would cost to have some installed).
In conclusion for 450 dollars per family member you are better served with a single-shot rifle than an AR because it's much easier to use and forces you to more realistic tactics.