A personal defense weapon, a.k.a. a PDW, is designed to be a lightweight, compact, firearm designed for rear troops or troops not commonly engaging the enemy. This includes tank crewman, truck drivers, cooks … and the list goes on and on. The weapon typically fires a round that falls between a pistol and rifle round, and is often a hybrid between the carbine and submachine gun.
The concept isn’t new, but the buzzword is kind of new (1980s). For example, the M1 carbine is an excellent example of an early PDW. The weapon was much smaller and lighter than the M1 Garand, and fired a unique 30-carbine cartridge. The M1 carbine was initially designed for the non-frontline troops, but became a favorite among all troops for various reasons.
These days, the term PDW is almost solely associated with two weapons: the Heckler & Koch MP7 and the FN P90. Both weapons have become mainstays as futuristic weapons cemented by video games and film. Yes, there are other PDWs, but let’s not pull punches in terms of their popularity just to flex our gun knowledge. The MP7 and P90 are the weapons most gun guys and gals, as well as legions of sci-fi and video game fans, picture when the phrase “PDW” is thrown around.
The PDW concept was born with some significant popularity and gusto, when NATO made the request for a weapon to replace submachine guns and modernize their design. Well, the weapons were introduced, but like most problems, budget was a bigger decider on widespread adoption than anything else. It was simply much cheaper to make rifles than PDWs, and that’s why we don’t have every tank driver armed with a P90.
The weapons did become a favorite of special operations teams, the Secret Service, SWAT teams, and police forces worldwide. That’s nice and dandy, but these weapons are essentially being used as modernized sub guns, and not a compact weapon for non-combat troops. While special military units and some police are adopting it, this is not the popularity most expected from the PDW concept.
So what has caused the rebirth of the personal defense weapon? Well, for one, it’s we everyday Joes becoming more interested in self-defense. Also, the SB 15 and SB 47 pistol braces have boosted the popularity. This doesn’t mean we have adopted the P90 and MP7 as concealed weapons, but they laid the groundwork for what has come.
There is a small but growing minority of people who have taken to carrying something a bit larger than a pistol. They carry these weapons in the backs of trucks, in the trunk of a car, or even a sling bag for day-to-day carry. These type of weapons include the AR 15 pistols with a Sig brace, or perhaps something like an M92 Pap Pistol with an SB47 brace. Even your average “carbine” is a personal defense weapon in the hands of a civilian. A good semi-automatic rifle does not need to be kept in the closet or under the bed.
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These weapons offer much more firepower than any typical pistol, and give the user an extra option for a rainy day. Some may see it as extreme to carry a short-barreled rifle in a backpack every day, but what would you prefer to have in a serious active shooter situation? Or a riot like the Ferguson situation?
Anyone watching current events can see that the world is changing. What we have seen is an increase in the rise of lone-wolf terrorists. Is it really that extreme to have an AK or AR pistol in the trunk for self-defense? In one word: No.
The recent slate of braces have transformed these weapons from novelties into solid self-defense weapons. Or you can stick to the traditional AR carbine and AK rifles. What about just packing a few extended magazines and a full-sized pistol? Slam a 33-round mag into a Glock 17 and you’ve nearly doubled your firepower.
Now, I know people are going to say these are carbines, or pistols in a rifle caliber, and they do not meet the definition of PDWs. I agree these aren’t a pistol and rifle hybrid caliber or design, and both designs are decades old. But even AAC is calling the Honey Badger, a 300 Blackout AR style SBR, a PDW.
In the grand scheme of things we as civilians are essentially the non-combat troops of the entire world when you look at it from a cops, criminals and “us” perspective. We do not have MRAPS and squad cars. What we do have is a constitutional right to own these weapons and defend ourselves.
What is your favorite personal defense weapon? Share your tips in the section below: