Clay’s Guide to Urban Defense: Ep. 1 Rifles

Editor’s note: We’re continuing to rerun Clay’s series on urban defense. As mentioned in the introductory episode we republished last week, things have changed since 2018 and Clay has published a book this year, titled, “Concrete Jungle: A Green Beret’s Guide to Urban Survival” that dives further into this topic and includes important updates. I suggest you check it out if you haven’t already.

I am beginning my series on Urban Defense with everyone’s favorite part: the hardware.  I guess that makes sense because this is GunsAmerica after all.  But before we get to the fun part, a quick disclaimer and then a brief recap of our scenario for newcomers who missed the introductory episode.

Clay’s Guide to Urban Defense

Disclaimer: I’m not an Attorney

I am not giving legal advice. Not even close. As anyone that knows me will tell you, I am the last guy on earth to be advising you on when it’s okay to go hot. I pushed the limits enough for multiple “talking-to’s” from JAG in an actual combat zone, which is reason enough for me to live in Mooseballs, Idaho now.

Sound good?  Okay, moving on.

The Violent Left Rises

Setting the stage for our scenario.  You live in the inner city.  Antifa goons have taken it over.  The problem ballooned from a small riot to an open insurgency overnight. You are stuck in your residence. The police have left the area, retreating behind the perimeter created by the National Guard outside the city. Mobs roam the streets seeking to punish the One Percent, Three Percenters, people with different colored sneakers, and anyone that looks like they may have voted Republican or Libertarian once in their lives.  Not to mention the gangs of opportunistic looters and street thugs who see this event as an open season for depredation. Burning cars light up the night, and all that is missing is Bane giving orders and the trucks with the neutron bombs circling the beltway. John Wayne and the Calvary are nowhere to be seen, you are on your own.

We are also assuming that you live in some type of hardened building, like a concrete apartment complex, or one of the old stone buildings common to eastern cities. The firearms portion of this series works equally well for the suburbs, but the defense is different. We will cover that in detail next episode, but most 2×4 built American homes are indefensible in real terms. It would take three of them to reliably stop a bullet and the fire danger is much greater.

So here you are, huddled in the darkness with your crying children.  Your martial prowess and skill with firearms will most likely decide if you survive the night. What should have been on your shopping list to increase your odds of seeing daylight?


Rifles are the greatest tyranny-stopping tool that has ever been devised. In terms of man-portable combat power, nothing is more flexible or deadly than a modern rifle. You are going to absolutely want at least one of these, preferably multiple.

In terms of reach, no other firearm even comes close. Under normal circumstances, rifles don’t have much of an appeal to city dwellers. But in a situation like this, where you might also be receiving rifle fire, nothing else will do. The rifle platform also has the shortest learning curve, if you need to arm someone besides yourself. Think about a new shooter with absolutely zero experience. Are they more likely to hit a 25m target with a pistol or an AR?

The two great debates in terms of a rifle for urban defense are caliber and style of rifle. As it relates to caliber, I feel it is best to narrow the field to common and affordable options. We’re talking: 5.56, 7.62×39, and .308.  No surprises there.

For the style of rifle, semi-auto is the best choice — hands down. But depending on your area’s pre-collapse gun regulations, you may not have the same choices I do. So, for our options packages we will break that down into two categories.  Free City (e.g. Dallas, Atlanta) and Non-Free City (e.g. New York, Baltimore).

Free City Defense

In terms of value per dollar, the Springfield SAINT Edge is tough to beat.  Check out the full review.

For a free city, a military-style modern sporting rifle is exactly what you want. Depending on your caliber, an AR-15, an AK-47, and an M1A are all excellent choices. I am not a huge fan of AKs, except that they are relatively inexpensive, so for me, it really comes down to the other two. So, which one do I want?

Amongst my peer group, we have had the 5.56/.308 debate for urban combat within the last 6 months. To be clear this peer group consists solely of multi-tour Iraq SOF veterans that have had an opportunity to use both. And unlike a discussion you are likely to find on a forum amongst strangers, it was serious and without references to anyone’s appendage size or racial heritage. The actual question put up was caliber in a sniper rifle, but that is easily transferred to a battle rifle. You get a little more lethality out of a 20-inch SPR-style barrel than a normal 16-inch 5.56 barrel, but not a huge figure.

I would like to tell you we solved the world’s problems and came to a consensus, but we didn’t. It was about a 50/50 split, and both calibers have merits. I feel the same way. I’ve shot people with 5.56 and 7.62×51 and they both work. All things being equal I prefer the 7.62×51, but I don’t feel naked with a 5.56 gun.

The benefits of 5.56 are mostly weight and volume. The gun weighs less, so it is easier to carry. It recoils less, so you can shoot it faster. The ammo weighs less, so you can carry more of it. Weighing two popular loads from Hornady, 5.56 is about half of .308 in ounces. Which means you can pack literally twice the ammo in go-bang terms. And since you are your own log train, the ammo also costs less. Significantly. If I were recommending one AR-style rifle, the Springfield Armory SAINT Edge is arguably the best dollar spent in the category.

The .308 has some things going for it too. You will notice I left 6.5 CM, .300 Win Mag, and some of my other mountain favorites off the list, even though they will outrange the .308. The. 308, in turn, will also outrange 5.56, but it is a discussion hardly worth having in an urban environment. In a city you will be hard pressed to find a shot past 400m, and past 800m is almost impossible. Even straight down a long road the terrain and refuse will mask an opponent at that distance. So in terms of reach, the two are basically a draw.

What the .308 does, in my opinion at least, is put people down harder. Yes, I have had a bad guy walk off a .308 round. There is no magic bullet. But cumulatively, I have liked the results better from .308 than 5.56. This is usually about the time someone chimes in with “shot placement, blah, blah, blah,” to which I say this. Snap shoot a sprinting bad guy with a 1-second exposure between alleys, 300m away. Then tell me about aiming for the heart or whatever. Arguably the most dangerous man this nation has ever produced blasted a jihadi in the butt cheek with a .308, causing him to flee into the night. Unhappy for sure, but very much alive.

What .308 absolutely does better is penetrate barriers, which is worth considering. Even with my SR-25, one of my favorite rounds was de-linked 147-grain machine gun ammo. Match-grade 175 grain will start to outpace it around 600 meters, but as mentioned above, that is rarely a concern in the streetfight. The 147 grain, with its thick copper jacket, proved very adept at defeating barriers smaller bullets wouldn’t. Brick, thinner concrete, mailboxes, cars — it is a winner for certain. For an extra dose of the good stuff, remember this. Machine gunners in the European theater of WWII generally preferred belts of armor piercing rounds for urban fights. It won’t expand in people, for certain. But it still leaves a 30-caliber hole, which is nothing to sneeze at. And it will chew right through a brick building, to devastating effect for anyone on the inside.

The Barnes Precision Machine in .308.  Check out the full review.

In .308 caliber weapons, there is a wide variety of options. Given that range is not an issue, I would be leaning towards a 16-inch barrel for this one. An AR-style is a good option, and I like them. As is the FN-FAL, G3, or SCAR-H. But if I had to pick one, it would be the M1 SOCOM 16. Short, reliable, and it comes out of the box with tritium sights!

The M1 SOCOM 16 from Springfield Armory. (Photo: Springfield Armory)

Non-Free City Defense

Now for those of you in a non-free city, your options are severely limited. You are still going to want a rifle, and semi-auto if you can. My first choice would be the SKS, cheap little bastard that it is. I remember when you could still buy one with a spam can of ammo for $90 all day long and twice on Sunday. Prices are closer to $500 now, without the bullets. The SKS is at least very reliable and easy to shoot. The biggest reason I like it for you non-free city guys, it loads fast. Using stripper clips to feed as opposed to “detachable magazines,” it does circumvent most nanny-state red tape. And 7.62×39 is nothing if not cheap. My second choice would be an M1 Garand, though they are a bit more expensive. They also load from a stripper clip, a relatively quick affair.

The SKS Carbine.  Here’s What You Need To Know.

If semi-auto is absolutely off the table, we have a third tier of weapons, the old school bolt action. Most people are going to tell you to the military surplus route and pick up a Mosin Nagant or a Mauser K98. But a recent check of prices on those presents another option. For pretty much the same price, or cheaper, you can get a Ruger American in any caliber you like. I reviewed the Ruger American Predator recently and came away impressed. At $430 on GunsAmerica, you are not going to find a better bolt action for the price.

The Ruger American Predator.  Check out the full review.

Lastly, don’t rule out the lever action. Having recently been reacquainted with a Model 89 from Big Horn Armory, this is an excellent choice. Normally I recommend them in pistol calibers, but for this exercise, .30-30 is the choice. Because .30-30 is nearly identical ballistically to 7.62×39, which is reach enough. Light, fast handling, and they pack some teeth- the cowboy original can’t be ruled out.

Big Horn Armory Model 89. Stay tuned for my full review.


If you take nothing else from this column it should be this: you need a rifle. And preferably several friends with rifles. It doesn’t have to break the bank, and there are options for any location, including the People’s Republic of Chicago or Los Angeles or New York. Because when the mob is on your block, you need a gun that has a stock!

Next week, we will conclude our weapons discussion with scatterguns, peashooters, and other things that go bang.  Stay tuned.

***Shop for a Rifle on GunsAmerica***

About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website,

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  • Stan d. Upnow March 12, 2022, 6:04 pm

    In an urban/suburban, or even rural situation where you’re defending your home from would-be invaders, how is choosing a rifle on the basis of 600m, or even 300m performance justifiable? I would say an AR carbine in 5.56 set-up for quick deployment, i.e., not a” Swiss Army Knife” configuration, is the way to go. It would do double service for any home defense and to protect you when trips to the grocery store or gas stations were necessary, although it could be argued that a handgun would be better for outside excursions.

    If your situation warrants it, maybe something like an M1A set-up for long range, stand-off duty. My go-to for home invaders is a 12ga pump. At 15yds, (16) .30″ pellets inside a 3″ circle will leave a nice big hole.

  • Kurt Zimmerman March 12, 2022, 3:33 pm

    M1 Tanker 308 works great… Also ‘Note to self’ don’t stand out in the open for long periods of time. thank me!

  • singleshotcajun March 12, 2022, 6:35 am

    If one has loaded En bloc magazines in bandoleers an M1 Garand is a great choice. I have a good supply of Greek M2 ball in En blocs in bandoleers which I can drape on my person , carry more and reload faster than with detachable mags . My Garand was once my hurricane bug out and social purposes rifle but I will admit that these days an M-forgery has taken it’s place. Dang M-forgery does what we set out to do with the M-1 carbine and then some. I am partial to my 336 marlins, 1892 and 1894 Winchesters and believe I could acquit myself well with those.

    • Oafdawg March 20, 2022, 9:36 pm

      I have a shit ton of the Greek ammo in spam cans that I bought from CMP. I’ve noticed that a lot of the rounds have loose bullets, in fact some just fall out of the case. I’ve only opened one can, for obvious reasons, to see if they’re all like that, but I’d check out whatever you have opened.

  • Bones March 11, 2022, 8:19 am

    Thr radical right wing nutjobs are the ones with all guns.. theyre the ones with all the conspiracy theories, theyre the ones with all the hate in their heart for people of color ,theyre the ones that hate the poor immigrants, theyre the ones with all the paranoia,they re the ones that love the thug cops who are racist and trigger happy killing unarmed people,theyre the ones feeding on lies , disinformation and and right wing propaganda..theyre the ones spewing bs about election fraud.. theyre the fascists.. so when the anti fascist have had enough oppression.. the white right wants to being their guns out for protection against other americans fighting for equality.. armed militias.. making shit up not much unlike killer putin.. radical right wing nutjobs listen to me.. can you imagine how you would feel if your race and people were eliminated from the land? If your people were stolen and enslaved? How would you feel if you were a victim of systemic racism your whole life, Imagine how you would feel if you didnt have the white priveledge the last 400 years like you have ?… just imagine how you would feel.. but instead you white wash history and could care less about your humanity .. trust me i know.. i been watch the radical right wing fascist for years.. and its been slowly building…hope your god forgives you for being such uncompassionate and ,hateful..your right are not more important than anyone elses..instead of trying to become better and improve and strive for peace and love.. the radical right nutjobs sink further iinto the past.. preaching th same values spewed in 1933 germany. Anti color, anti gay, anti immigrant.. anti equality .. which is anti american and anti freedom..traitors disgusied as patriots.. the enemy within .. killing fellow americans.. thats what you mfs want? It is pure evil disguised as righteous.. just like putin , hitler and other bad actors in himan history.. Prove me wrong ! Be more like jesus and turn the other cheek.. or admit radical right wing conservative gop nutjobs are deplorable losers that are just that have lost thier minds brainwashed with hatred and lies!

    • survivor50 March 11, 2022, 8:52 am

      Thank you Mr. ” WAR and PEACE ” …

      Try using PARAGRAPHS … and be sure to SURRENDER to the first person carrying a FIREARM !!!

    • Frank March 11, 2022, 9:01 am

      So you pen a lengthy, yet incomprehensible diatribe in which you call people “racists”, “nazis”, “fascists” “nut jobs”, “evil”, “traitors”, etc., etc., etc… then adjure them to be more like Jesus. Looks like you don’t know Him at all.

      Keep on playing the victim, Bones. You almost have it down pat!

    • J March 11, 2022, 10:26 am

      Conspiracy Theories?….How is that Russian Collusion still working for you?….Racism?….Tell us all how choosing a Vice President and Supreme Court Justice Based primarily on skin color is Not Racist?

    • Muleskinner March 11, 2022, 11:24 am

      Being white, voting mostly for conservative candidates and ballot issues, living in the country, with a flag flying proudly in our front yard, and memberships in a local gun club, the NRA, GOA and BFA, I suspect I may be squarely in the sights of your one breath, one-paragraph diatribe.

      BUT, I don’t recognize myself from your description. Here’s why…

      My Christian beliefs require that I hate no one. I recognize myself as a sinner however, so I’m sure I may occasionally fail in this regard, as it concerns people like Putin, Biden, Schumer, Pelosi, Maduro, Xi, Little Kim, certain Iranian Ayatollahs and others who have acted or spoken in such a way so as to harm others. For that reason I pray daily to be “forgiven for my trespasses as I forgive others”. I am certain however, that I have never consciously harbored ill will towards anyone based on the color of their skin or ethnic origin.

      Concerning cops killing unarmed black people disproportionately, it simply isn’t so. Data actually shows that more unarmed whites are killed when resisting arrest than are black folks. Numbers for both groups though, are in the very low double digits for both groups, so systemic police racism is not causing “trigger happy” cops to kill black folks.

      Gun ownership of blacks vs whites? While there may be a historical disparity of gun ownership numbers, it’s rapidly changing. in the last couple years, minority purchasers of firearms are among the largest groups buying guns. I welcome their participation in taking ownership of their Constitutional Second Amendment Right to “keep and bear arms”.

      I’m sorry you have experienced incidents of racism and hatred which have led you to hold such animosity to people like me. I will not however, reciprocate your anger and hatred. Rather, I wish you well in our journey together as redeemed and forgiven children of God. May God Bless you and Yours.

    • fee1776 March 11, 2022, 12:54 pm

      Explain the Summer of 2020 to me. Billions in damage and scores shot and killed by peaceful leftwing demonstrators. Now the left let criminals out of jail and onto the streets attacking Asians in cities. Funny how they explain to the Chinatowns of the cities that their threat is not the black criminal but evil white racists. Keep this up because Asians and Hispanic Americans are changing their voting preferences. Only thing left of the liberal establishment is a minority of white liberals and their angry black army. Like to see what happens after 2022 when most of the white Dem reps lose and most of the Dem reps left is black/hispanic. Are the white liberals willing to take orders from angry black army, something they never envisioned when they recruited them to make up the loss white voters. These white libeerals figure they will always be in charge. 2022 is going to change that. I will see how white liberals will take being ordered around and told to sit down and shut up because the blacks are now in charge!!!

    • Stan d. Upnow March 12, 2022, 4:17 pm

      The “radical right wing nutjobs” are a tiny minority. If some of them happen to own guns, legally, that’s their right as Americans. Until they step out of line, they are entitled to their own opinions, even if that includes prejudices or bigotry. There’s a little something called the 1st & 2nd Amendments to our Constitution.
      Oh wait, I forgot, you don’t believe in our Constitution or its principles. Then, why are you even here?
      Better hurry, Bones, you’ll be late for the next Antifa meeting.

  • Steven W Harder October 6, 2020, 4:12 am

    I’m pretty much in agreement with the rifle choices in Ep. 1, and availability for purchase is as welo. However ammunition in these calibers are pretty slim pickin’s today. On a side note, even some of the uncommon calibers are no longer readily available either. That also goes for handguns and handgun ammo as well. Shotguns are still available, as is shotgun ammunition, but that may become hard to get too. That brings us to reloading . . . Brass, bullets, and powder, are still pretty easy to come by, however, the last component that is needed for reloading is primers and good luck finding them. (I know of one place that you can get the components to re-use your expended primers, after they’re out, you’re on your own to learn the old, hard way to make home-made primers.

    Beyond Ep. 1 Rifles, there’s probably some great advice, but it may be too late to think about recommended firearms. That’s going to put you in a very bad position. Those problems aren’t insurmountable, just a lot more knowledge, experience, tools, and work. Oh, most importantly, remember the 7 P’s (Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance).

  • Ed Hippensteel October 5, 2020, 1:53 pm

    Ric, all you need is a 12ga shotgun! Don’t forget to just “shoot ’em through the door”!

  • Philip October 5, 2020, 11:50 am

    Unless the G M1 has been re-barreled to .308 as many have.

    • Jones October 6, 2020, 2:35 am

      My M1 in 308 shoots half dollar groups out to 300. Don’t knock it till you run it.

  • Grumpy 49 October 5, 2020, 10:56 am

    The idea of a .357/.38 lever gun with a “back-up” handgun is an underrated choice. Older/Younger/Non Shooters can use the lever gun with minimal instructions. Nobody thinks of a “Cowboy” lever action as a nasty “Black Gun”. The new “X” model HENRY, with a threaded barrel, is one of the better “Home Defense” guns when you add a Linear Compensator (Flash Hider).

    • Stan d. Upnow March 12, 2022, 6:12 pm

      A lot of people don’t know that back in the days of the Wild West, it was very common to have your rifle chambered in a matching pistol caliber, such as, .44-40 or .45Colt. Something to be said for that, so long as the range wasn’t too great.

  • Miles Mueller October 5, 2020, 8:31 am

    As a recently minted Idaho property owner (North of Sandpoint), I had to do a double take on Mooseballs; Then I got the joke…….

    Sorry, loved the article but it’s early in the morning!

  • Robert Kuhs October 5, 2020, 7:27 am

    Clay, really enjoyed the Urban Defense series. Can you elaborate on the reason you chose 77g OTM ammo in the 5.56 versus 55g ball, 62g Green Tip and expansive ammo like 55g ballistic tip or TAP series?

  • Ray October 2, 2020, 12:03 pm

    Might add consideration of body armor as bad guys seem to be using it more since funded by Soros and his ilk.

  • rt66paul October 2, 2020, 10:50 am

    Long range in the city has its place. You could be in tall building shooting bad guys in central park, or be set up on an overpass and guard the traffic coming and going below you. Having specially trained snipers taking out bad guys at a mile or better is one thing, but a patriot with practice could be accurate(with good match ammo and a long barrel) to a 1/2 or 3/4 mile. And high ground in Los Angeles could be a win.

  • Phillip DeWitt October 2, 2020, 10:21 am

    Not mentioned is the importance of keeping a low profile and not attracting attention in your dress,language,mannerisms and the way you lead your daily life. Don’t post all over the internet arguing politics.

    • DAVID MILLER October 6, 2020, 7:13 am

      Grey man the way to go

  • Rick Brown September 25, 2020, 12:41 pm

    Hey Clay, Let’s don’t forget about the right wing crazies that are willing to pull the trigger. Let’s don’t put all the blame on the left. I’m a left supporter and carry a H&K 45c. with hollow points. I have enough fire power to defend my family. So let’s don’t make the left sound like we are the only crazy fish in the pool.

    • Donald Stratman October 2, 2020, 11:42 am

      I do not see the right wing burning and looting. You sound like joe biden.

      • Rick Brown October 3, 2020, 8:23 am

        Just saying there are bad people on both sides.

        • Bad Penguin October 5, 2020, 11:10 am

          Rick yes there are bad people on both sides but the left has the overwhelming majority of bad guys.

    • Stan d. Upnow March 12, 2022, 6:19 pm

      Maybe you’re OK, Brown; maybe not. If so, you’re probably like the 0.001% of Lefties who are Ok. I know, I’ve dealt with PLENTY of them, and they are total wack-jobs!

  • flintman50 September 25, 2020, 9:11 am

    Will a .50 Beowulf (red dot / lighted) – DPMS lower work okay ?

  • Larry Bauer May 11, 2019, 12:55 pm

    I consider the AR15 pattern modern sporting rifle in 5.56 to be a jack of all trades and the master of none.
    It is light both in weight and recoil so controllable by younger or smaller shooters.
    Most come with an adjustable buttstock, so again can quickly adapt to whomever needs to use one.
    The ammo is readily available and fairly cheap.
    For these and a host of other reasons the AR is fast replacing the pump shotgun in most law enforcement patrol vehicles.
    So even with it’s issues regarding penetration and stopping power, as a general purpose rifle I don’t see how it can be beat in jurisdictions where it’s allowed.

  • Gummy1 February 18, 2019, 3:24 pm

    Depends upon where you live.

  • Big Coulee January 15, 2019, 6:17 pm

    No one has mentioned the very handy PPS 43 semi auto pistol that fires the very potent 7.62×25 mm round and packs a real punch out to 100+ yards. The muzzle velocity of that piece is close to 1700 fps and it has some pretty good penetration against protective vests. Compared to a 9mm, .40 cal. or .45 cal. pistol rounds, the 7.62×25 round would get into where the bad lives (his insides) much better. The piece uses a 32 round magazine that can be very easily is inserted and withdrawn from the piece when a fresh mag. is required. I realize that ammo isn’t sitting around on dealers shelves but is still readily available through mail order. A couple pistols also are available chambered for that round, such as CZ 52 and Russian / Chinese Tokorev pistols. Watch for the PPS 43 semi auto and if you can find one grab it.

    Russian / Chinese Tokorev,

  • Jay W September 21, 2018, 8:54 am

    Hey Clay great article and informative series.
    Just have one simple comment here.
    As former military that has interacted with them, you made a grammatical error that is made over and over every day by the uninformed.
    I’m guessing the damn liberal spell checker did it to you!
    John Wayne rolls over in his grave everytime this is done.
    So here goes, it Cavalry not Calvary.
    Calvary is a mountain.
    Just a good natured jab my friend! LOL
    Keep up the great job and fighting the good fight every day!!!
    God bless you and yours!

    • Charles Surratt October 5, 2020, 11:38 pm

      Back before super-duper spell check, we used a goddamned dictionary (l hated having to use one for correct spelling). But to paraphrase an American History professor I had: Christ died on Calvary Hill, the Seventh Cavalry got its ass kicked at the Little Bighorn because its leader was a blonde-headed egotistical narcissistic raving idiot and Kennedy was assasinated not assinated. This has always stuck in my head because if a word was misspelled you lost ten points (four misspelled words and you flunked the assignment).

  • CR0330 September 14, 2018, 9:53 pm

    I have long believed a lever action 30-30 makes an effective home and property defense rifle. Lever guns probably aren’t as likely to be restricted as modern sporting rifles in less-free states. Also, I’m not a huge fan of revolvers, but I’m considering picking up a lever guns and a revolver that will both fire .357 magnum /.38 special. A long gun and a revolver in the same caliber would mean a lot of versatility.

  • archangel September 7, 2018, 1:57 pm

    Have your fun guns like I do, 45 Raptor, 30-06, 45 long Colt and what not, but at the least have some in “local calibers” for when you run out, like 5.56, 9mm and .45 so the “local uniforms” can help you “add to and or supply”your ammo.

  • Sgt Allen USMC September 6, 2018, 7:36 pm

    I enjoyed your article and would agree that, based on local laws, that these do make good sense. I think I would add pistol caliber carbines for closer in. Highly maneuverable, light weight and very cost efficient. It would also reduce the caliber of rounds needed to be able to cover both hand gun and carbines. I have 3 different carbines that will shoot 9mm and all will use the Glock 17 magazines. This dove tails nicely with the owning of a couple of Glocks as well.

    As for lever action. Rifles that will use the 357 magnum would be great for up to 100 yards. If you are really speaking about mobs, you will be speaking about enclosed areas as well.

    • Sgt Allen USMC September 6, 2018, 7:38 pm

      btw – I forgot, I love your choice of arms. No quit peeking in my safe.

  • Jeff Karn September 4, 2018, 10:07 pm

    “My second choice would be an M1 Garand, though they are a bit more expensive. They also load from a stripper clip, a relatively quick affair.”
    The M1 Garand loads from an 8-round enbloc clip. You do not strip the rounds out of the clip on loading like you do with an SKS or any of the military bolt-guns from the first half of the last century. You stuff the entire clip into the magazine. When the eighth round ejects, so does the clip. The Garand system is actually faster than stripper clips.

  • cali_ken August 30, 2018, 7:35 pm

    hey clay. i don’t mean to sound like a smart ass, but i live in “so com” (so cal) a non-free state for sure. just wanted to say if you picked the m1a for the free states then you’d pick it here too. although idk bout ny, nj, ma; but here in cali the m1a is still kosher… for now smh lol

  • Daniel Upton August 24, 2018, 11:16 am

    What about the slide action rifle (Remington m7600) for non free cities?

  • Mo August 24, 2018, 10:50 am

    In an urban setting Id choose a suppressed 9mm SBR over a rifle any day. I favor the HK94 platform with an 8″ barrel and all the paperwork to have a real stock and can on the end. Firing a 9mm indoors without a can or hearing protection is a miserable affair, but firing a 5.56 indoors can be disorienting. Even with a can (suppressor), the 5.56mm sound about like an unsuppressed 9mm. The suppressed 9mm though, is an excellent tool. Not movie quiet, but a great mix for indoor engagement without hearing protection. Also in urban environment, will a civve really need to engage a threat past 150m??? I think that real life civvie threat engagement will be well within the kill range of an 9mm SBR. We aren’t talking full scale military invasion, we are talking an Antifa uprising/riot, etc.

    I’ve handed the HK94 to a number of people over the years at the range, and begin with a few shots at 10 yds, then move it out to 20-50yds depending on their skill. With an Aimpoint M4 or Triji 1.5×20 ACOG, they all can hit the target accurately, every time. Followups are fast, recoil is low, speed increases with each shot. Ten year olds look like pros with it in their hands.

    In my opinion, where civilization will be restored, in a single uprising event where bugging in is the safest option, and those who may be around you (in need of a weapon) to help you secure your position and may have limited experience with a firearm, a suppressed pistol cal SBR is hands down the way to go. Not to mention that I can fit two 30rd MP5 mags in a the same space and take the same weight as a single 30rd 5.56 AR mag.

    So what if they have body armor…well keep shooting until they fall or go away or invest in some mags full of M39/b. Riots are crimes of opportunity, no one wants to charge into an apartment building with suppressive fire constantly coming their way, be it 22LR, 9mm, or .308. This isnt the movies.

    My $0.02

    • Rusty Shackleford August 25, 2018, 5:19 am

      Should check your math. Pretty sure a loaded 30rd Hk94/mp5/sp89 mag weighs more then a loaded AR type mag. Agree with everything else. Rifle indoors with no auditory disclusion will daze you. Have any m39 for sale?

  • Gary Burns August 19, 2018, 8:02 pm

    For years after watchin Rambo First Blood my wife said we needed a ‘Rambo’ gun. Somehow my Model 94 did not impress her. I had carried the M-16 in Vietnam (downloaded to 18 rounds) and was familiar with. Finally I realized she was not just talking M-60 or M-16, but capacity for her “Rambo” gun. I bought us both an AR hers a DDM4 in 5.56 and me a 16″ stainless steel barrel fixed stock Armalite AR-10, I got the Armalite for the Urban scene. I discovered that AR’s multiply like rabbits. A M1 carbine snuck into the house also. I do have a half dozen 22 rimfires, and two 94’s in 30-30, one Model 70 in 7MM just to have a rifle that will really kick. Not much of a inventory, but I don’t hunt. I don’t re-load, but it is a consideration. I have a lot of ammo.
    Good article.

  • Pat J August 19, 2018, 10:21 am

    Get a Dillon, start looking for brass while a Republican is in office, you’ll figure out which caliber you want quickly after you put 500 rounds in your backpack. Don’t tell people you reload. People bitch about reloads but I have over 50,000 rounds through Glocks, ARs, AKs, M1s, and M14s. They’re dependable and accurate and private.

  • James Guidry August 18, 2018, 12:43 pm

    I am tickled that someone had to have looked in my vault. The only difference is my bolt-action .308 and an AR-15 in 7.62×39. Your explanation is spot-on, as are your suggestions. Many thanks!

  • jack August 18, 2018, 7:41 am

    Forget the Garand, I own one for sentimental reasons ( my dad used one in WW2) but if I was looking to buy an urban assault weapon the old G wouldn’t be it, first mostly because of the expense, a good Garand will cost you more than an AR just because of their collector value, their heavy, reload slower and cumbersome than an AR and also the ammo is more than twice the weight of a 5.56 and more expensive.
    Now that the eight year corrupt socialist O-blunder depression is over gun sales have dropped off and supplies are piling up in warehouses, dealers are bending over backwards to sell their stock, there’s deals going on all the time and prices are gradually coming down on AR’s, it’s a no-brainer, buy an AR and if you can’t get one because you live in parts of Soviet America then I’d start looking for a lever action carbine in 30/30, 44 mag or 45 Colt, you can find these used sometimes for as little as $200-250

    • Mickey September 1, 2018, 11:42 pm

      @Jack: Yes, the Garand is old, heavy and expensive. OTOH, the .30-’06 has been successfully converting cover to concealment for over 100 years. In an urban environment, that can be both good and bad: you have to know what’s behind your target, and every round is going to penetrate several walls. OTOH, you don’t have to wait for the BG to come out to shoot him: just shoot *thru* whatever he’s hiding behind. Regrettably, black-tip is no longer widely available…

  • Barkus Rudis August 17, 2018, 9:06 pm

    Great article, right on!

  • Bill boy August 17, 2018, 8:31 pm

    Dave b comments nra @ 12 in 64, nNamdraft card,? But the time you got old enough nam was damn near over. And you didn’t need draft card to,get in , only to dodge.. 2you missed the whole point of clays article.
    It’s about surviving in this jacked up world we live in .
    Keep up the good work Clay, the caliber issue the one that hit’s the mark and hurts most . Be it 22 or 50 cal.

  • SAZ August 17, 2018, 7:58 pm

    A very timely series of articles. When I got out of the USMC many many years ago the black rifle craze was just starting and my contempt for most of that crowd kept me away. I’ve recently re-evaluated my home defensive position and since I can’t get my M-60, bought my first AR. I already had a bolt action .223 so an AR made the most sense. However, I agree 308 hits harder. Very much looking forward to the rest of your articles.

  • Auggie August 17, 2018, 7:43 pm

    You can please some of the people most of the time BUT you can not please all the people all the time!
    So far so good keep going Clay

  • Dave Brown August 17, 2018, 7:19 pm

    Come On U are better then this. You lost me when you make it a right and left thing. Me, I had my Draft Card for Nam, back then the right and the left joined together to fight for, wait for it, US. I am guessing they will join together if need be, but when most everyone with a Face keeps beating the same old Drum, You become the problem. Me, Big Time Gunner, NRA brought me in around 1964 at age 12, and I have been shooting since. I have or do own most of the firearms you have listed, I am in the top 1% of gun owners in this Good Old USA, yet I can support some reasonable gun control, yes control, as like it our not Big Gov Right or Left Control US. My FFL is part of that Control. Me, I have voted left and right, and I don’t think I have ever voted a straight ticket as I vote for The Person and not A Party, or as I call them a Gang. So it is time to Man Up or Lady Up and Be Party Blind. Free Your Mind. Other then that BS you had to put into this article it was decent reading.

    • BUURGA September 14, 2018, 3:29 am

      While your litany of voting habits is interesting, it is hardly rates anything more than personal taste. The fact is the American Left has becoming increasingly militant and removed from mainstream America. The ‘BS’ you trashed the author with may unsettle your own ideas of society, but it cannot be ignored. What is important is not being ‘party blind’, but being ‘liberty blind’.

    • Tina Roberts October 24, 2020, 6:33 pm

      As long as the lefties are promising to burn the system to the ground and rebuild it as a Marxist utopia (like the U.S.S.R. I assume), I think we must consider the right to be correct and the left to be evil.

  • Predatorzr August 17, 2018, 6:50 pm

    Extrapolating a little bit from what was said I would think an AR-47 might be an ideal rifle. 7.62×39 cartridge is cheap and plentiful and easy to shoot accurately from an AR platform and offers the .30 caliber advantage over the 5.56(22). The only disadvantage might be very specific magazines. I suppose for a little extra weight one could get a replacement upper in 5.56 with a few extra mags to add to the versatility of the “system”

    • James Guidry August 18, 2018, 12:49 pm

      I built one and love it… 30-cal. load without the added weight of an AR-10? I think not…

      • JT August 19, 2018, 6:35 pm

        Now there are small-frame ARs in .308\”/7.62x51mm, too. I know they\’re lighter but unfortunately seem to be proprietary designs. I haven\’t done a lot of research on them but they\’re interesting

    • Janet Tomkins October 24, 2020, 6:36 pm

      I like an AK-47 (semi-auto version) with a 75 round drum. Like anything it has it’s pluses and minuses but it goes bang every time you pull the trigger and ammo is still cheap where I am.

  • Will August 17, 2018, 2:42 pm

    The SKS and Garand are out of production and not readily available at the local mom and pop shops.
    How about the Ruger mini-14 and mini-30? Fifty state compliant, detachable magazines, based on the proven and reliable Garand action.

    • Penrod August 17, 2018, 3:40 pm

      I think the stainless Ruger Minis are serious contenders in places like Hawaii. Highly rust resistant is a plus. So is the fact one can have 20 and 30 round mags, which are illegal for ARs in Hawaii because there are handguns which accept AR mags. Handgun mags over ten rounds are a misdemeanor to possess and a felony if inserted in a gun. Whatever the downsides of Minis, they have some real benefits in some places.

    • Art C. August 17, 2018, 7:23 pm

      Will…………I mean no disrespect, and share your lack of excitement for the SKS & Garand. But you missed the author’s point. He included those rifles for people unfortunate enough to live in a state that does not allow it’s residents to own rifles with DETACHABLE MAGAZINES. He is NOT claiming that they are a good choice for the rest of us, just offering alternatives for those who cannot legally own a better choice. A while back I read about a company making pump action AR-15’s. If they are in production, and you live in a restrictive state, that would be my choice along with a case of 10 round magazines……………Regards, Art

      • Will August 18, 2018, 11:46 am

        Hello Art,

        I didn’t miss his point. I know he was suggesting an SKS or a Garand for restricted states. I happen to think a Ruger Mini-14 or Mini-30 are better options.

      • Will August 18, 2018, 11:55 am

        Hello Art,

        I did a quick internet search and I can’t find a single state that outright bans rifles with detachable magazines. There are ten states with magazine restrictions and other states that ban a combination of features which can include a detachable magazine. I didn’t miss Clay’s point. I just think the Ruger mini-14 and mini-30 are more available that an SKS or a Garand and they are legal in all fifty states.

    • Mike D. August 18, 2018, 5:46 pm

      I agree with you- The Ruger Mini-14 would be high on my list if I was in a restricted state.

  • manimal August 17, 2018, 1:48 pm

    for those of us in 2×4 wooden houses. What about stacking sandbags against the walls by the windows? What if I don’t have sand? Maybe the river rock and dirt I have in the back yard?

    • Mongo August 17, 2018, 2:37 pm

      How long would it take to surround your house with bags of sand or rocks? Wouldn’t that draw attention?

      • manimal August 17, 2018, 5:43 pm

        I’m talking about on the inside. Inside the house and against the walls at fighting positions like windows. I seem recall someone doing this back in the day, like the SLA or Black Panthers, ending with a long shootout with police.

        • Zackary W August 17, 2018, 11:11 pm

          If able, do a renovation and fill spaces in walls with kevlar blanket “insulation.” Better than sheetrock and fiberglass insulation for protection, cheaper than brick and will actually provide some insulation.

          • Z August 18, 2018, 12:11 pm

            A 4’x4’ Kevlar blanket is 860$.

    • Jake August 18, 2018, 2:08 pm

      Fill your garbage cans with the dirt from the garden.

    • Ti March 11, 2022, 9:00 pm

      I worked for a company that built custom commo shelters(think disaster recovery) for a customer. These were lined with ballistic panels. The panels were a hybrid composite of fiberglass and other material. These shelters were for the electronics only. The panels were rated for 7.62 x 39 and 54. Basically a 4 x 8 x 3/4 sheet that could be cut down into any dimension.

  • Z August 17, 2018, 1:44 pm

    If you kill armed intruders while huddling in your darkened home that’s self defense. If you are out on the street shooting people at 200+ meters that’s simply murder.

    If you want to talk about preparing for guerilla warfare go ahead. Your setting is bullshit. The 1% don’t live in your neighborhood. Unless you have a confederate flag on your house no one knows your political affiliation.

    The AK-47 has been used in more urban warfare than any other rifle in history. A 123 gr. 7.62 projectile has more barrier penetrating power than a .223 as evidenced by countless YouTube videos. Don’t dismiss it based on personal prejudice.

    • Calvin Johnston October 24, 2020, 6:42 pm

      And you can get any size magazines for AK’s from 10 rd to 75.
      And to your point about not knowing your political affiliation, in some cities the bad guys have been marching through residential areas and throwing rocks and bricks through house windows. Next step might be molotov cocktails? Better to be ready than to be on fire and afraid to go outside.

  • Bad Penguin August 17, 2018, 1:17 pm

    I should have also mentioned an M-1 Garand wouldn’t be a good choice simply because 30-06 is not as common as 7.62×51 or .308. Its a great weapon and round but not common enough.

  • UncleNat August 17, 2018, 1:14 pm

    Good article, Clay. Keep em coming!

  • Bad Penguin August 17, 2018, 1:13 pm

    I enjoyed your post. It didn’t get into the mine is bigger than yours as you mentioned and gave a fair comparison of different rifle options. The only point I’d like to take exception to is your reference to having using a lever action rifle using .30-.30 ammunition. Not that its a bad round because it isn’t. However 30-30 ammo is hard to come by nowadays and is expensive. A better bet would be a pistol caliber rifle with a matching caliber sidearm. Even better if both used the same ammo as your local Law Enforcement officers use. An abandoned cruiser would be a great place to look for additional ammo.

    Most people who don’t shoot often cant hit beyond 100m anyway and most pistol ammunition is still very lethal at 100meters. The rifle would also have less recoil making follow up shots quick.

  • IDAN GREENBERG August 17, 2018, 11:32 am

    Enjoyed Mr. Martin’s article and writing as usual. One factor that should be mentioned is that unlike our military, which has international rules to go by, the civilian can use expanding bullets, which greatly improves bullet effectiveness on people, though of course also greatly reduces penetration on bricks and other solid wall materials. A soft point can make a big difference with an otherwise marginal rifle like an M1 Carbine, which is a very fine rifle for people of small stature and reasonably accurate out to 200 yards. A 30-30 is actually much more powerful than a 7.62 x 39, with a 150 grain bullet going as fast, or faster than the 123 grain 7.62 x 39. And if a manual action is required by your urban area laws, I would choose a Lee Enfield, over either a 98 Mauser, or a Mosin Nagant. The Enfield is a much better, faster shooting rifle, with better quality consistency. The .303 British ammo, including soft point expanding, or fmj is not hard to find in quantity presently. Out west where deer rifles are not so valuable, as deer hunting is not as good, good bolt action sporting rifles like the mentioned Ruger are suprisingly affordable used, if one takes one’s time. I prefer rifles without muzzle brakes, disliking the concussion every time a muzzle brake rifle goes off. The same for very short barreled rifles. A 24″ barrel IS short and handy. Otherwise ear protection will be necessary for accurate shooting, unless you have a suppressor. A great item, if your state allows it. I like ARs, AKs and the SKS and have found the unaltered SKS generally more accurate and pleasant to shoot than an AK. Lotsa personal choice here. I look forward to more of Mr. Martin’s articles!

    • Jake August 17, 2018, 1:16 pm

      The Lee Enfield is the champ of bolt action battle rifles. .303 can be hard to find sometimes. The Ishapore arsenal of India made large numbers of Enfields in .308 when India adopted the FN FAL. Those would be a great choice for people stuck with crazy gun laws. My nephew has one and it is pretty decent.

    • Don October 5, 2020, 3:20 pm

      You are clueless about deer hunting in the west.

    • Raleigh T. October 6, 2020, 11:00 am

      ‘Out West where deer rifles AREN’T SO VALUABLE, because deer hunting isn’t so good…’
      Dude you are totally clueless. Do you actually OWN a rifle, or have even fired one?!? Skippy the Keyboard Warrior, please enlighten us on the value of a good bolt gun with a decent scope. In the urban setting Clay outlined in this ( great) article, it is gold, regardless if you can own an AR or not. An ‘average’ deer rifle/bolt gun is accurate enough for head shots to 200 yds easily, most to 300 to 400. A single shot rings out and a bad guy goes down. Contrast that with a guy with an AR banging away in semiauto for a couple mags worth of attention. I would choose ‘single shot guy’ all day, not withstanding a ‘mob at the Gates’ scenario.

    • Raleigh T. October 6, 2020, 11:28 am

      I would respectfully disagree that ‘an M-1 Garand would not be a good choice due to lack of available ( 30-06 ) ammunition.’ The 30-06 is one of if not THE most common hunting rifle calibers in the US, and if there is ANY rifle ammo on the shelf of any of the big-box stores all the way to the most remote country outpost or hardware store, there will most likely be 30-06 ( and 30/30 Win.) ammo. Garands are not cheap, but a great rifle. Get an adjustable Schuster gas port valve to accommodate the slightly higher pressure of modern ‘06 ammo, to eliminate the chance of bending the operating rod on a Garand, get a supply of enbloc clips, and you are good to go.

  • spatin August 17, 2018, 11:31 am

    How can I save these articles in .pdf format?

    • Bad Penguin August 17, 2018, 1:53 pm

      If the article is not available to save from the website in PDF just copy it over to a word document and when you save it just specify you want to save it in .pdf

    • David McCormack August 17, 2018, 2:12 pm

      Copy the whole article, then paste to a word documents but save it as pdf, rather than word. Formatting won’t be the same, but the text will be an exact copy.

  • MP August 17, 2018, 11:06 am

    If your imaginary enemy are Anti-Fascists, would that make you… Fascists?

    • Z August 17, 2018, 12:27 pm

      Christian Conservative Jihadis spreading GOP Sharia?

      • Mukeskinner March 11, 2022, 11:59 am

        In my 77 years of church attendance, I’ve NEVER heard ANY Christian Pastor advocate for waging jihad against ANY other group or people. Christ’s choice of greatest commandments were “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40). CHRIST’s commandments are 180° in opposition to Islamists’ Sharia-inspired, homocidal, misogynistic, jihadi-murderous, homophobic precepts.

    • Muleskinner March 11, 2022, 11:44 am

      Just because AntiFa doesn’t understand the meaning of the word “fascist” doesn’t mean we must let them define us incorrectly too.

  • Irish-7 August 17, 2018, 10:45 am

    I really enjoy your material, Clay! My family started preparing for long term crisis and disaster scenarios about 7 years ago. Although we had to stop stockpiling beans/bullets/band-aids when our kids entered college, we are always open to suggestions to revise our survival planning. My utmost gratitude for sharing your experience. I am compelled to thank GunsAmerica, too. Several weapons in our arsenal were purchased through GunsAmerica (post Sandy Hook, when less was available).

  • JAMES August 17, 2018, 8:55 am

    Where exactly is Mooseballs Idaho?

    • Tenbones August 17, 2018, 10:05 am

      It’s about 345 miles due west of Bear Scat, Wyoming.

  • Jackpine August 17, 2018, 7:15 am

    Glad the lever gun made the list. In that vein, Clay, I’d love to hear your take on the Mossberg 464 SPX.

  • Frank S. August 17, 2018, 7:10 am

    For close in urban defense a pistol caliber carbine would be a good choice. Longer range and easier handling than a pistol, still hit hard enough in 9mm/40/45. There are some cheap and reliable ones out there also. Even a $300 Hi Point 995ts is a pretty good little carbine – can get it in .380, 9mm, 10mm, .40 & .45. I don’t know about the .380, but any of the others would be good. Limiting factor is 10 and 15 round magazines. There is a 20 round, but it’s long and ungainly looking, and many report jams with it. Of course there are more expensive and arguably better pistol carbines out there, and then there is the .30 M1 carbine also… it should be a bit more powerful and longer ranged. A plus is you can carry a pistol of the same caliber, so don’t have to stock up different ammo. This is why cowboys generally carried pistol caliber lever guns. Same ammo, but more accurate and longer range in the lever carbine/rifle.

    • Mike D. August 18, 2018, 5:42 pm

      I was thinking the same thing- The new Ruger carbine would be a good choice for defense as well as the Hi Point and others.

      I think the 15 round magazines are fine. The original M16 was issued with 20 round magazines, and how many of our grandparents fought with 8 round Garands or 5 round Springfields?

  • Tyrone Greene August 17, 2018, 6:49 am

    Great chunk of timely info. Only wish it was included in video format so it could be shared on FB or other social platforms where most urbanites are located….

    • Stevo August 17, 2018, 1:24 pm

      Get the hell off NATO sensored Facebook! Try LINE app.

    • ArvadaDude August 17, 2018, 2:28 pm

      I agree get off Facebook. Read an actual paper book… you will get some IQ benefits and save your eyes from blue light macular degeneration starting at screens all day.

      • Z August 17, 2018, 4:03 pm

        You receive GunsAmerica in print format?

  • Bud Harton August 17, 2018, 5:53 am

    The M1 Garand loads from a stripper clip? Really? I’d like to see that done. Was this written by the PR firm that represents Springfield Armory?

    • Michael Rockwell August 17, 2018, 7:40 am

      He’s confusing the 8 round Enblock clip which a Garand uses, with a stripper clip

    • Tenbones August 17, 2018, 8:36 am

      What’s the big deal? Anyone familiar with the Garand knows what he meant.

    • Heart of Texas August 17, 2018, 10:02 am

      We know what he meant. Lets focus on the overall intent of the article instead of taking every opportunity to pick on the details.

  • Nick M August 17, 2018, 5:32 am

    “The two great debates in terms of a rifle for urban defense are caliber and style of rifle. As it relates to caliber, I feel it is best to narrow the field to common and affordable options. We’re talking: 5.56, 7.62×39, and .308. No surprises there.”

    You don’t need the 2 extreme ends of the debate with 5.56 or .30 of some sort.

  • Zackary Westmoland August 17, 2018, 3:20 am

    Your honest preference, with your experience do you look for easier 2nd hits or more effective first hits? It’s been addressed in the article, but just for examples sake, an 11 pound 308 with 200 rounds or an 8 pound 556 with 400 rounds? Assuming theyre dressed appropriately, etc.

    • clay martin August 17, 2018, 10:17 am

      at any kind of range 50m and out, more effective first hits. at CQB range, easier 2nd-10th hits. even with lots of urban combat time, this one is a little bit gray. even in door kicker units, most of the killing happens in the streets, at a range of 50-150 meters, in my experience.

      • Zackary W August 17, 2018, 11:24 pm

        Thank you. Also, extending this to contact distance room clearing: would your experience suggest the power of a rifle, or maneuverability of a pistol?
        Appreciate your time

  • Bobs your uncle August 16, 2018, 9:23 pm

    What about compact AR pistols in 223 for confined spaces as well as targets in 75/100 yrd

    • Dr Motown August 17, 2018, 8:19 am

      Most people can’t own every possible kind of weapon! He’s making suggestions about the one rifle you should have if that’s all you can afford or own in you location. Clearly, a carbine gives you more flexibility and punch than an AR pistol

      • clay martin August 17, 2018, 10:20 am

        agreeing with Dr. Motown here. an AR pistol does give you significant range past a normal pistol, and most certainly has some unique benefits. but in my opinion, a real size carbine gives more flexibility. not to mention higher velocity due to barrel length, hence a longer lethal range. an AR pistol isn’t a bad choice, but I would pick it as a supplement rather than replacement to a rifle.

        • Bad Penguin August 17, 2018, 1:19 pm

          My personal opinion is the AR pistols are just to bulky to be practical. They also make a lot of noise and flash which would draw unwanted attention.

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