They are dependable, accurate, fun to shoot and handy to have around when trouble starts. However, shooters who are going about selecting a rifle for personal and home defense should understand that they are not the only choices. And, for some, they may not even be the best choices.
Some folks live in areas where "black" rifles are really frowned upon and may actually cause you legal problems, even when you have been involved in an otherwise justifiable shooting. That this is a stupid approach is of little consolation when it is your head in the noose and on the dock. Also, because of their current popularity, the AR-type rifle and its accessories may be a little pricey for the budget-minded shooter. A viable alternative for the armed citizen is the legendary .30-30 lever-action carbine, grandad's old deer rifle.
To begin with, the .30-30 Win. cartridge delivers a 150-grain bullet at some 2,400 fps of muzzle velocity. That compares quite nicely with the AK round, the 7.62x39 mm, which drives a 154-grain bullet to 2,200 fps. And, in my view, both rounds have it all over the .223 Rem. cartridge popular with the AR crowd.
Today, .30-30 lever guns are offered by Winchester, Marlin, Mossberg and probably some others that have slipped my mind. They are generally found with seven-round magazines, which can certainly be enough ammo for the armed citizen who is thinking tactically and has a defensive plan. In addition, these lever-action carbines are relatively light, handy and easy to operate.
While the .30-30 carbine is generally good to go just as it comes from the box, it is improved with only a very few accessories. The addition of a ghost-ring sight makes it quicker to get on target, a leather butt cuff will support a few rounds of extra ammo and a sling makes it easier to carry. That's really about all one needs to have a fine defensive carbine.
Finally, .30-30 carbines can be found, new and used, at just about any gun show or gun shop. And, their cost won't break the bank, either. Should you ever have to use one for its defensive purpose, your statement could go something like this, "I wasn't expecting to be attacked but, luckily, I happened to have my old deer rifle handy."
Col. Jeff Cooper called the .30-30 carbine the Urban Assault Rifle. It's a reminder that you don't have to look tactical to be tactical.