When You Are Your Own First Responder — Setting Up a Rural Home Defense Rifle

By Hunt Fish Shoot
Posted in #Gear
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When You Are Your Own First Responder — Setting Up a Rural Home Defense Rifle

May 27th, 2022

6:09 runtime

Your closest neighbor is miles away and the closest law enforcement is the lone sheriff’s deputy, state trooper or small village police department in the next county over. You are the sole defender of your household or your property with someone or multiple attackers posing the harm of serious injury or death upon you and your loved ones. How do you defend yourself? How do you hold out until help arrives? Law enforcement response is 15 minutes at a minimum if you are lucky, so how will you protect yourself?

Man shooting an AR rifle from under a farm cart
A rifle is often the best defensive weapon choice in a rural setting. Knowing how to equip it to fight effectively in that environment is  important.

These are all thoughts we think should be going through the minds of anyone living in a rural community throughout the United States. If you ask us, it is wise to have a defensive rifle set up to defend yourself in a rural environment.

Ammo from True Shot Gun Club
True Shot generously provided the author with the ammo used in this piece.

Special thanks to the folks at True Shot Gun Club for helping us out with the ammo we used in this article and video. Thank you!

The Foundation

First and foremost, you need to select a quality rifle with the performance and power you need. Obviously, the AR-pattern rifle is just about the best choice for this role. Reasonably priced, powerful and capable of filling the role of a rural defense rifle, it’s a no-brainer for us.

Man shooting a rifle for self defense in a rural setting
The foundation firearm is a critical component of a defensive rifle set-up. The author selected the Springfield Armory SAINT Edge rifle.

But, which one to choose? Our pick is the SAINT Edge 5.56mm from Springfield Armory. Set up with a good balance of very high-quality parts, the rifle is a great performer and shooter. It also is a solid foundation for all the gear we are going to recommend.

Reaching Out

Your rifle needs optics, a weapon-mounted light and a better-than-average trigger. You also need a way to easily carry the rifle.

Aimpoint RDS LVPO on a Springfield SAINT Edge rifle
A red dot sight, like this Aimpoint Duty RDS, works great with a 3x magnifier like this Aimpoint 3X-C. When it is not needed, the magnifier flips to the right.

Regarding your optics choice, outfit your rifle with the best optics you can afford, and they must be set up for your environment. When I think of optics choices, you have only two options for the rural home defense setting. These are a red dot with magnifier or a low power variable optic (LPVO).

We chose an Aimpoint Duty RDS red dot with their 3X-C magnifier and flip mount. Why a red dot and magnifier? Chances are when you engage a threat, it’s going to be close range. However, if you have to extend your capabilities, the magnifier can help you make hits at distance with ease.

Aimpoint RDS with 3x magnifier on a Springfield SAINT Edge AR rifle
The Aimpoint Duty RDS proved to be a fast, accurate aiming device on the SAINT Edge rifle. With the 3x magnifier, it gives you the ability to reach out to farther distances.

A red dot cannot be beaten at close ranges; it’s uncluttered and fast, and the red dot is easy to track in low or no light. With an LPVO, they aren’t quite as user friendly and take a more skilled shooter to use proficiently. However, you can get a lot of performance out of them. But, we feel quite well-served with the Aimpoint and magnifier.

Shooting Shadows

The next vital piece on your rifle is a weapon-mounted light. You cannot positively identify your threat if you cannot see it. Nor can you hit what you can’t see. Lumens and candela go a long way in how far the throw of your light beam is.

Cloud Defensive light mounted to rifle
A white light should be considered a mandatory accessory on all defensive rifles. In a rural setting, you might need one with a tighter beam for more distant illumination.

We chose the Cloud Defensive Rein Micro for our rifle. This light produces over 55,000 candelas and 1,300 lumens. What does this mean in a rural home defense rifle set-up? You will see your threat clearly at distances greater than 200 yards, blast your light beam through ambient light (barn lights, pole lights or porch lights), and finally, you can blind your attacker at close range. It’s a bombproof light, trusted by professionals all around the world, including us on our own duty rifle.

You Can’t Miss

This next point can be argued until the end of time, but a better than mil-spec trigger is important. Precision shots are hard even without stress. Now, add in someone threatening the lives of you and your loved ones, and you have a formula for difficulty. If you can’t stop your threat, the attack will persist — whether it be at 100 yards or at your doorstep.

Man testing trigger on SAINT Edge for rural defense rifle while shooting out a barn window
A lot of factors impact accuracy. The author recommends a trigger pull weight of 4 to 6 lbs., and found the Springfield SAINT Edge’s to be ideal.

What if you find yourself facing a four-legged threat? What if it’s wolves attacking your cattle in the pasture 200 yards from your house? Are you just going to let the wolves destroy your livelihood if in your state you can defend your livestock from predators?

All of the above are realistic scenarios. Would you want your accuracy hindered by a heavy trigger pull? We do not recommend something too light, but rather the 4- to 6-lb. range with a crisp break like the trigger in the Springfield Armory SAINT Edge is perfect.

Coming Along

When you live in a rural area, chances are you will have far more ground to cover. If your rifle is pulling double duty and is used for predator control or home defense, you need a way to carry it.

Grovetec Sling on rural defensive rifle
Like lights, slings should be a standard part of any rifle’s set-up. For his defensive rifle, the author used a Grovetec 2 Point Sentinel QD sling.

This set-up of ours has a Grovetec 2 Point Sentinel QD sling. Easily detachable and adjustable, this two-point style sling keeps the rifle close to your body and, if you do engage a threat or need to go hands-free, the rifle is still at the ready. No flopping around with this one like a traditional single-point style. It can be a vital piece of equipment on your rifle if you are traversing a rural property to check on a large outbuilding or when you need the rifle close but not in hand.


The beauty of the AR platform is customization. You can outfit the rifle to fill your needs in your environment. Just remember the things which are a must, and start there. Don’t overlook things and be sure to buy the best you can afford. Adding components to a defensive rifle can be expensive, but just ask yourself — how much is your life and those you love worth to you? We think that will be easy question to answer.

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Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles and videos are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

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Hunt Fish Shoot

Hunt Fish Shoot

Hunt Fish Shoot provides you with honest, objective and professional firearms-related content. Hunt Fish Shoot also provides a multitude of outdoors-related content. Hunt Fish Shoot’s Mike Chiarappa is currently employed as a law enforcement officer in a large metro area with 10 years of experience. He has experience in tactical operations, firearms training and drug interdiction. Most importantly, Mike is a staunch 2nd Amendment advocate who loves to help educate people about their inalienable rights.

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