Defensive Carbine & AR-Pistol Setups

Defensive Carbine & AR-Pistol Setups

What is the first thing that just about everyone does after they invest in a carbine or AR-pistol?

They want to accessorize it!  And all too often it’s with the latest and greatest Gucci trash.

Today, there is a sh!t ton of products that have saturated the market. Optics, red dots, lasers, grips, stocks, rails, and the list goes on…

What do you truly need? What really works?

BLUF:  Think about where you live and what weapon system/platform best suits that environment.  Get a weapon mounted light, run backup iron sights because your optic could fail, a solid sling that is functional, and training.  Train, train and train some more. 

Consider Your AR Setup Carefully

Think broadly about the AR you intend to use for personal defense; adjust the length of the barrel, firing settings, primary optics, stock, and other features of the firearm to suit your specific, most likely engagement. As with any potential action, consider the direction, distance, and terrain at work; and weigh the risk vs reward.

Beyond these environmental factors, consider the following two features: Lights & Sights.


A weapon mounted light on your AR is important.  Here is the why. Experience and history tells us that home invasions and robberies rarely happen during the day. Odds suggest you will employ your home-defense AR in low-light or darkness so, fit it with a solid light. Not only will this give you a clearer view of the engagement–a bright light can blind and stun your target/threat. The barrel of a gun and a spotlight might well deter an evil doer before you must pull the trigger.

Some will recommend using Night Optic Devices (NODs), but these are expensive and require extensive training to use well.  For most civilians this is not a good option. For home defense, go with a weapon light.

My recommendation is Surefire, I used Surefire lights with great results with the USG. However not everyone has Uncle Sam paying for their gear.  For civilians on a budget there are other options. For example, Streamlight and Inforce make some quality lights, and a good example of that is the TLR has become a popular choice for many. Remember to periodically check the battery in your light and keep spare batteries on hand.

Iron Sights

In addition to a comprehensive light, fit the weapon with back up iron sights (BUIS). Aimpoints, EoTech, any red dot variant is great, and all well and good. However, optics can fail. Your BUIS will be there if/when needed. 

Just remember to train with them so that you feel comfortable using them at a moment’s notice. Also, training with BUIS “helps with breath control, discipline, and shot accuracy” thus, making you a better marksman. Several manufacturers make reliable iron sights.

Other Functional & Performance Considerations

Don’t neglect to make the gun comfortable. Remember, the basic function of an AR – or any other firearm – is: pull trigger, make holes. Anything beyond that basic mechanism is icing on top. We have all had someone try to convince us to adopt this particular sling or that particular grip.

While you should be open-minded at the range and try out different gear, the gun you adopt for personal defense should feel like an extension of you, not a damn SHOT Show exhibit or a GI JOE promo.

Defense engagements are unexpected and unpredictable, do not complicate any situation in which you are defending yourself and your family, and avoiding hitting bystanders, by using a setup that is not user friendly or functional when all the chips are down.  Sometimes less is truly more. 

Think about where you live and what best suits that environment. Get a decent light and spare batteries; attach BUIS, personalize grips and slings to your liking.  And train, train and train some more.

Remember, it is not the weapon or gear that makes the warrior; it’s the warrior who becomes the weapon. “Beware the man who only has one gun. He probably knows how to use it!”

Some final thoughts… 

We prefer an AR with a barrel length at or below 14.5″ as it makes it much more maneuverable when operating inside a home for defensive purposes.

Mounted lights, to illuminate the target area and threat/intruder are paramount to ensuring you stop the threat immediately.

Sights are an essential addition to your defensive AR so that you can quickly and accurately gain sight of the threat/intruder at a variety of distances. Most of us lean toward our preferred red dot sights, but many also recommend BUIS as a precaution.  No single point of failure. 

Lastly, as mentioned above one of the most important aspects is training. No matter what you choose as your go to AR setup, make sure you spend a great deal of time training with your weapon system and gear so that all actions and maneuvers are second nature.

Remember the AR or any gun is just a tool.  Even if you have “the best” defensive AR setup, the lack of training will limit your effectiveness with the gun and could mean the difference between life and death.  Be an asset for those in your life. 

Prepare – Protect – Prevail

Here is a down and dirty list for those looking for some aftermarket recommendations. 

Iron Sights:

  • LMT
  • Magpul
  • Scalarworks
  • Troy Industries


  • Magpul
  • First Spear
  • Haley Strategic
  • Blue Force Gear


  • Surefire Scout
  • Surefire Mini Scout
  • Modlite Weapon Lights
  • Surefire Pressure Pads

Red Dot Optics:

  • Aimpoint T2
  • EOTech XPS3-0
  • EOTech G33 Magnifier
  • Leupold Deltapoint Pro – Offset
  • Trijicon RMR Type 2 – Offset

Low Powered Variable Optics:

  • Vortex
  • Steiner
  • Leupold
  • US Optics
  • NightForce


  • Arisaka
  • Geissele
  • Scalarworks

*If Mil, LE or you have the budget add Infared (IR) lasers and a suppressor.

A couple additional enhancements that can be felt is a trigger by Geissele and buffer spring by Sprinco.

There is an almost endless list of aftermarket parts if you want to modify your stock, rail, grip, etc…

What is your Carbine or AR-Pistol setup?  What accessories do your run? 

Are you going to change anything or buy some new gear based on this?  Please contact Tyler, Owen or Matt in our Pro Shop.  These guys are guru’s in the industry and have the relationships in place to get you what you need.  They can be reached at 425-641-2877.

By:  Travis N. – Director of Operations at Bellevue Gun Club

Travis N. – LinkedIn

If you are interested in organizing any specialized training for yourself, your business, department, family, etc., or if you have any questions, please call us at 425.641.2877. 

To schedule private lessons please email:

No Comments

Post A Comment