Hero Training: The Best Weapons for Home Defense

When you become the man of the house you inherit a sacred responsibility to protect your family. Former Marine Jeff Barnett gives the bottom line on the best tools for the job we hope you'll never have to use.

Jeff is a former Marine with a lifetime of experience with firearms. For the past ten years he has pursued strength and health in numerous ways and posts his daily workouts on his website, CrossFit Impulse.

Defending yourself and your loved ones from home intruders that would do you harm is a serious matter and a grave responsibility. If you have decided to take this responsibility seriously but don’t know quite where to begin then this article is for you.

Today’s focus is what weapon to choose for home defense. Each option I will recommend is a firearm, because firearms are simply the best modern home defense weapons. While a fighting knife and a backpack full of claymores may work well for John J. Rambo, there can only be one Rambo. Similarly, non-lethal defenses such as stun guns and mace leave much more to chance than I am willing to accept. Real aggressors don’t slowly walk towards you in a straight line like Jason Voorhees.

When selecting a weapon for home defense you should consider the following factors:


The weapon must be capable of stopping the threat, which is primarily a matter of caliber, assuming proper shot placement. This is a very subjective topic and you will find as many opinions as you will find commentators. Let it suffice that all of the weapons I recommend will be effective enough for anything short of a zombie horde or rabid grizzly bear.


The complement to effectiveness is overpenetration. Walls don’t stop bullets. If you have to discharge a firearm in your house then you must be aware of what lies behind your target. Innocent bystanders in adjacent rooms and adjacent houses can be wounded and even killed. Caliber and ammunition selection can mitigate this significant risk, but the bottom line for any weapon of any caliber is this: Never discharge a firearm at a target if you are not willing to strike everything that lies behind that target.

Ammo Capacity

The weapon should also hold ample ammunition, because under stressful situations even an accomplished marksman requires more than one shot to hit his target, and some aggressors require more than one shot to neutralize.


An effective weapon that doesn’t work properly when needed or that quickly malfunctions is hardly effective at all.


Just because home defense is important doesn’t mean you should squander your retirement preparing for a scenario that will likely never happen. Effective solutions can be had for less than a $200 total investment, including ammunition.

Here are my top picks for home defense weapons:

1. 12 Gauge Pump-Action Shotgun

No, not because of the sound it makes when cycling the action. Sounds do a poor job of neutralizing intruders. Pump-action shotguns are familiar to everyone and easily accessible to the beginner.

Remington 870

Effectiveness: High 

Effectiveness Effectiveness Effectiveness Effectiveness
At ranges of less than 25 yards there is scarcely a more effective weapon than 12-Gauge loaded with #1 or larger buckshot. When it comes to shotshell loads, smaller numbers mean larger projectiles. Example: #1 buckshot consists of (10) .30” diameter projectiles while #4 buckshot consists of (21) .24” diameter projectiles.
Overpenetration: Moderate 

Overpenetration Overpenetration
With #1 and smaller buckshot the projectiles will lose enough energy to reasonably mitigate this risk. With larger buckshot the chances of overpenetration increase. If you are in a densely populated home or neighborhood you can almost completely mitigate overpenetration by using small game loads of #6 shot or smaller, but this sacrifices a great deal of effectiveness. Versatility in available loadings is a great strength of shotguns, but you must choose your loads carefully for your environment.
Ammo Capacity: Low 

ammo shotgun
With extended magazine tubes seven to eight round capacities are common. This is likely more ammo than you’ll need in the most common defense scenarios, but it still relatively low compared to other choices.
Reliability: High 

Reliablility Reliablility Reliablility Reliablility
Extremely reliable. KISS design and manual cycling make weapon-related malfunctions all but impossible.
Cost: Low 

You can find used examples in gun shops for $150. With quality brands, well-worn shotguns work exactly the same as their new counterparts. I suggest going with an ugly example of a proven brand. New models start around $300.
My pick: Mossberg 500 or Remington 870 Both designs have proven themselves for decades. I prefer the controls and price of Mossberg, but a Remington 870 is my primary home defense weapon.

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2. .223 / 5.56mm Carbine

You may know this type of rifle by the name AR-15. It is the civilian (semi-auto) version of the M16 family of weapons. While this may seem intimidating, it’s just a rifle with lots of doo-dads and handy features. If you can shoot grandpa’s lever-action 30-30 then you can engage targets with an AR-15.

Effectiveness: High 

Effectiveness Effectiveness Effectiveness Effectiveness
While not packing quite the punch of multiple projectiles (a shotgun) a 5.56 mm frangible projectile is extremely lethal and has greater range.
Overpenetration: Moderate 

Overpenetration Overpenetration
With frangible ammunition (such as Hornady TAP) bullets begin to yaw, turn, and fragment upon impacting any medium other than air. This significantly reduces overpenetration, but is only valid for frangible ammo. Do not use standard full metal jacket (FMJ) or hollow point (HP) ammo for home defense!
Ammo Capacity: High 

ammo shotgun ammo shotgun ammo shotgun ammo shotgun
Thirty rounds in a single magazine–almost certainly more than you’ll need.
Reliability: Moderate 

Reliablility Reliablility
A clean and broken-in AR-15 will function for many hundreds (sometimes more than 1000) rounds before malfunctioning.
Cost: High 

Cost Cost Cost Cost
Quality entry models begin just short of $700.
My pick: DPMS Panther Lite 16 This is a quality rifle that’s on the low end of price. Short, light, effective, and relatively simple.

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Glock 17

3. Handgun

While one of the least overall effective tools for the job, small size and accessibility to the beginner have made handguns one of the most popular home defense weapons used today. Handguns are easy to learn, cheap to practice with, and store comfortably in a nightstand.

Effectiveness: Low 

Despite what you may have seen in movies, pistol caliber projectiles simply do not create the type of damage that instantly incapacitates an aggressor. The key is to place your rounds on target and have plenty of rounds available. Overpenetration: High 

Overpenetration Overpenetration Overpenetration Overpenetration
Know what lies beyond your target, because your rounds may end up outside your home. Ammo Capacity: Moderate 

9mm cartridge 9mm cartridge
Most handguns hold between 7-15 rounds. Some hold over 30 rounds. Reliability: High 

Reliablility Reliablility Reliablility Reliablility
A quality handgun with quality ammunition will function flawlessly for much longer than you’ll need it in a defensive scenario. Cost: Moderate 

Cost Cost
Inexpensive handguns start around $300. Some production handguns go well into the $600s My pick: Glock 17
The Glock design is as simple and reliable as any handgun made. These polymer framed pistols have a high capacity, good accuracy, unmatched reliability, and are readily available for $500 new and as low as $300 for a well-worn example. There are no external safeties to fumble with, making this a good weapon for high-stress scenarios where fine motor skills are lost. I use a Glock model 26 as my backup home defense weapon and concealed carry weapon.

Concluding Thoughts

You are legally, morally, and financially responsible for everything that exits the barrel of a firearm under your control. Any of the choices presented here will serve you well in a defensive scenario. However, should you be thrust into the dreadful circumstance of repelling an aggressor in your home, you must decide based on federal, state, and local laws as well as your own principles what constitutes a legitimate use of deadly force. I’m not advising you to shoot at anything other than paper targets, and I hope that’s all that will ever be necessary.

Jeff Barnett is an entrepreneur, fitness enthusiast, and former Marine. He has an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and an MBA. When you don't find him wakeboarding, writing, or eating meat off the bone, he's at his startup, CrossFit Impulse.

  • http://www.filmschoolrejects.com Doc Brown

    I would definitely agree that the Shotgun is tops for home defense, though I think you may be under representing the overpenetration danger of the .223 round. Without frangible rounds, any AR-15 derivative with a normal loading will penetrate interior walls without problem, and more than a pistol round – and even with frangible rounds,testing (theboxotruth.com) shows penetration of 3 sheets of drywall spaced 10 feet apart.

    On that same note, frangible rounds and safety slugs are available for the much lower velocity handguns, which would have significantly lower risk of penetration than the high velocity .223.

    An interesting article and good thoughts here, though personally I would rely primarily on a shotgun with a backup handgun.

  • http://midnight.hushedcasket.com Jeff Barnett

    Doc, I agree on all counts. There are many details I don’t want to broach in such a brief essay. I tried to emphasize that a 5.56mm round with anything other than specialized home defense ammo is insanely dangerous with respect to overpenetration. I did forget about specialized home defense loads for pistols and shotguns. Thanks for reminding me.

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  • Kyle

    great article, I’ve been wanting all 3 for some time

  • Neuville

    Although I have a Remington 870, Ruger 357, Colt 45 Auto, S&W Airweight 38 Special, Barretta .32 and a number of other weapons, I believe that pepper spray in your pocket is better than all of these. It is non lethal so you don’t have to worry about penetration or forgetting to lock secure it. Even if kids get it they will not kill anyone. So, other words you can alway have it withing reach. Pepper spray subdues nearly any mammal and allows you to get away and get to larger weapons if needed. Of course, if the intruder has a firearm you need to get to your firearm. However, unless you walk around strapped, locked and loaded firearms in the home are hard to get into action. Remember, if someone with a firearm gets the drop on you and knows how to shoot you are most likely dead anyway. I used to carry a .32 to for the racoons robbers in my neighborhood. The coons attack dogs. They attacked me and my lab. We were both bitten. It would have been very difficult to hit a coon with a .32. Pepper spray is light, compact, cheap, easily concealed and carried in any circumstances. Plus, if you get some taco or burritos you can spice them up also.

  • Neuville

    I think you are really in overkill mode. An AR-15 for home defense? Unless you have many enemies I don’t see the need. As I wrote in my previous post, seldom do you need a fire arm at all. In the home, far more family members are hurt by fire arms than bad guys. I mean, it is just too dangerous to have a loaded, unsecured weapon in the house, especially if you have kids, visitors or marital problems. And listen, I am no anti gun person. But a loaded AR-15? Give me a break. The bad guy is liable to get it before you do. At any rate, it is my humble opinion that the best weapon, if you must have one, is a revolver. To be more exact, a .357 that as you know, can fire either magnums or .38 specials. They are soooooooooo dependable. Some people don’t want to admit it, but semi-autos all jam. All it takes is a little dirt, bad ammo or a faulty magazine. Conversely, revolvers never, ever jam. Give me six sure shots over 15 that might jam any day. But again pepper spray in the pocket is the best first line of defense.

    • Rockola

      Some of us live in area where we’re not at the top of the food chain. Some of us have/had careers in dangerous jobs where we have made enemies.
      Don’t judge the choices of others based on your limited experience.

    • mr forum

      pepper spray are you kidding? try living in a ghetto neighborhood where you got gangbangers tryin to do harm to you and they have assault rifles then what? they are not going to just stand there and be like”hey spray me!” they are going to be moving around and shooting at you! they dont even need assault rifles, it could just be pistols, your pepper spray is obselete against these factors, I for one would never use pepper spray for home defense ever when I could reach for a firearm. I live in the hood and trust me you never hear one or two gun shots, you hear multiple and most times in fully auto. Any gun is better than any pepper spray and besides your revolver has how many rounds again?6-7 rounds only against 15 rounds in a glock or 30-40 rounds in an AK? plus you got multiple assailants, Im not certain where you live but it must be nice if you can use pepper spray for defense, some of us dont have an option to move into nice places because of our financial situations, however if we could we would, try moving to the hoods of Los Angeles, east St.Louis, Detroit, Tennesee, South Sacramento Oak Park neighborhood and if your pepper spray works against the bad guys here then you have some credibility to back up your pepper spray claim.

    • Ray Houthuysen

      If you really knew revolvers, you would NEVER say they never jam or malfunction. I’ll take the 15+1 rounds in my sa handgun which I shoot and clean regularly.

  • http://midnight.hushedcasket.com Jeff Barnett

    Revolvers are a popular weapon for defense, and rightly so. However, it’s my opinion that a Glock malfunctions so infrequently that the extra ammo capacity is worth it.

    Keeping your weapon safe from visitors, kids, and your spouse is a separate issue. However, if you honestly fear that your spouse might take advantage of a loaded weapon to kill you during an argument then I would advise you to divorce him/her.

    There is zero chance an intruder can get to my weapon before me. It rests against the headboard of my bed–less than 10″ from me while I’m asleep. If they get to it first then I’m being attacked by a ninja and I was doomed from the start.

    You’ll likely never need to defend yourself with a firearm. Speaking of “need” is almost irrelevant when preparing for an emergency. I learned in scouting to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

    • Brian

      If you are sleeping, you’ll never hear the intruder…a dog is the best early warning you’ll find. They will get your gun after they get you.

      • jimmc1952

        My house has a shotgun hallway, I have an IR trip sensor across the entrance. I’ll know he’s coming, believe me.

        • Ray Houthuysen

          I like this idea. Where do I get more info or buy an IR trip?

  • http://www.filmschoolrejects.com/author/bobbyquickdraw Doc Brown


    An AR-15 is just as valid, if not more so, for home defense than any other. Saying some guns are “over kill” or anything like that, is a slippery slope that leads to gun bans. A gun is a gun is a gun and all guns can kill whatever you’re aiming at. I’m much less scared of an AR-15 than I am of a shotgun. (Though I’d be pretty f’n scared of either, pointed at me in close proximity)

    As for pepper spray, I would avoid any “weapon” that can be defeated by a pair of glasses. You still have to hit your target in the face and if you overspray, or get into a tussle, it may go in your eyes as well.

    Revolvers are great, but any semiautomatic that is decently cared for is a safe and reliable weapon. I, like author Barnett, have a Glock 26, which has failed to fire only 3 times in 5 years, and 2 of those times were using reloaded ammo, which is somewhat less reliable than manufacture loaded ammunition. My other handgun, a Beretta 92FS, has never had a failure to fire in the past year and I’ve put probably 1200 or more rounds through it in a short period of time. I trust either with my life.

    Back to the AR-15, I’d much rather have 30 rounds than 15 rounds than 10 rounds than 6 rounds. As long as the weapon is reliable, the more the better when your life is on the line. Of course, this is coming from someone who lives in California, which means even my relatively high capacity Beretta is limited to 10 rounds. =(

    Anyway, I like the article (obviously, I’ve read it a few times and commented twice) and always love reading about weapons and other peoples opinions on them.

    Yours in the future,

    Doc Brown.

    • joe shmoe

      I think when you’re talking overkill it’s the overpenetration risk that concerns me especially if you’re using full metal jacket with an AR15. I don’t want to deal with accidently shooting someone in another house down the block after it went through my target, and that stuff does happen even with reletively small rounds like .22s esp. if you miss your target. So I would much perfer a smaller round in an urban or suburban setting.

  • http://slowfoodsacramento.com/ Neuville

    Hey Doc,
    Who do you anticipate is going to attack you in your house? I don’t know if you have alot of enemies or what, but my goodness and AR-15? I don’t think I have ever heard of an incident where an AR 15 was necessary for defense, except for people in the drug business. And listen, Jeff keep his AR-15 ten feet from his bed. He walks into the other room or the bathroom to piss. A cat burglar is looking through his window. he sees the weapon he grabs in. Jeff is toast. Unless you have it on your person, even ten feet can be deadly. Not to mention he leaves the room. A child is visiting. He strays away. Finds the weapon. BAM somebody is dead or injured. It is irresponsible to leave a loaded weapon unsecured. My father in law had a pistol in every room. That meant nobody could visit and kids couldn’t come over. He never had to use one in 70 years. Sounds like paranoia to me. The only resposible way to carry a weapon is to have it on your person at all times or secured in a safe manner. It just doesn’t make sense. If you live in that bad of a neighborhood you should probably think about moving. Where the hec to you live?
    And Doc, why stop at thirty rounds why not a hundred, two hundred? Do you expect to be attacked by someone with more than thirty rounds to send you way?
    And back to the revolver. Your Glock jammed three times. My Ruger has never jammed. Never ever. My Barretta has, my Colt has.

    • The Logical Argument

      “I don’t think I have ever heard of an incident where an AR 15 was necessary for defense” you mean like this scenario right here?

      You’re outnumbered 4:1, do you want any weapon other than an AR in that scenario? The scenario is he was in his garage when they rolled up, he ran inside, locked the door and grabbed a nearby loaded AR. So you have a closed door with 4 armed criminals rushing it. If it were me I wouldnt want a pistol or a shotgun because I’m going to pre-fire through my own door. I’m sure as hell not going to try opening it because they’ll pin me. You have 2 options:
      A) Pre-fire through the door to get them running, then open the door and take aimed shots
      B) fallback into your house and hope to god they don’t have any brains and they all try to funnel through the chokepoint that is that door. If they have any brains they’ll surround you.

      Defining what guns are “necessary” is flawed and is a slippery slope. It makes me personally frustrated people say crap like that. You should not define how I choose to defend myself from pieces of scum like exist in that video.

  • http://midnight.hushedcasket.com Jeff Barnett

    1. I use a shotgun and Glock for home defense, not an AR-15, but I think an AR-15 is just fine for home defense. RTFA.
    2. Let me worry about securing my weapons from kids and visitors. It’s not that difficult.
    3. You can construct any number of straw man scenarios where almost any home defense plan will fail. It’s nonsensical to use an argument to attack my plan that is equally disastrous to your plan with a revolver.
    4. What if I do have a pistol on my person?
    5. I don’t expect to be attacked by anyone. Your premise is faulty. If I am then I am prepared. Where do you expect to crash your car today? Will you still be buckling your seat belt?
    6. This whole situation has nothing to do with number of enemies. That line of reasoning is just another emotional pseudo-argument.

    • jimmc1952

      I like the “far more family members are hurt by fire arms than bad guys.”….Just jerks my chain, By the governments own numbers this is a myth.

  • Neuville

    So Jeff, we get to the real crux of the issue. The reality is guns don’t make you safer. Guns make you feel safer. They are a psychological salve more than a real instrument of safety.

    • The Logical Argument

      Does that mean seat belts don’t make you safer, they just make you feel safer? Tell all the people that use guns for home defense they didn’t make them safer, it just made them FEEL safer. Here are some examples (you are seriously not thinking about what you’re saying at all, unplug from your media, do you some independent research and have some rational thoughts):


  • http://midnight.hushedcasket.com Jeff Barnett

    Well, I certainly can’t argue with an argument unsupported by any facts, although I’m sure you’re quite capable of psychologically stereotyping most of the American population. Good day.

  • Jay Season

    Per AR-15: I’m an awful pistol shot. A friend let me fire his AR-15 (with scope) at the range and I could not miss.

    For home defense – likely night time defense- what would you recommend for sighting?

    • Ray Houthuysen

      Mount a laser on that AR

  • http://crossfithuntsville.com Russell

    Good piece Jeff,

    I’m a big advocate of small carbine rifles for home defense. For one, I’d like my wife to be able to wield any weapon that we might have in the house. Pistols are notoriously difficult for amateur shooters. The AR-15 is a very stable shooting platform and probably less cumbersome than a shotgun.
    for the less-mature readers in your audience that respond emotionally to the idea of a “big scary rifle” being used for defense..

    Pepper spray is a great alternative to the ability to apply lethal force.
    It’s great to have fun pissing off your violent aggressors before you are murdered.

  • http://midnight.hushedcasket.com Jeff Barnett

    Russell, thanks for the encouragement.

    Jay, keep it simple. There’s nothing wrong with the AR’s factory peep sights. The 0-50m aperture should work just fine. If you really think you need an optic, I would definitely go with a 0x magnification–a red dot of some variety. However, most of these will require batteries, of which I am not a fan for home defense.

    You might want to check out Trijicon Reflex optics. They use tritium instead of batteries, but have a limited life. The Tritium dims over time and after a few years your $300 optic will be barely usable.

  • nonsubhomine

    Okay, let me put my two cents in. First, to the guy who suggested the pepper spray – pepper spray simply doesn’t work in all situations. I’m a cop, and I have had two incidents where pepper spray simply did not incapacitate the subject (and one time that a Taser didn’t – talk about a pucker factor of about 9). In both situations, the suspect was high or drunk, or some combination thereof – but, even when pepper spray works, it rarely incapacitates someone in the normal sense of the word. What it never fails to do, though, is piss off the recipient. Pepper spray is used in my world to temporarily blind and distract a subject until compliance can be gained with restraints. Yes, there is a pain compliance element to pepper spray, but it is dangerous to rely solely on that to overcome an attacker – that’s why we also carry Tasers, batons, and guns. Besides, I’ve never talked to a cop who hasn’t gotten dosed with it at least once when dosing the bad guy. That stuff hangs in the air and causes the same problems that a direct hit does, albeit not as severely.
    As far as an AR-15 goes, I like rifles. I really do. But regardless of the ammo used, those things are hot about a mile down range, and unless you have actually been in combat, or trained in very realistic conditions, you are simply not going to hit with every round in a high stress incident. If your day job is as an agent on the FBI Hostage Rescue Team – the AR-15 is a very deadly weapon. For the rest of us, no matter how good of a shot you are on the range (during the day with a normal heart rate, no adrenaline dump, no tunnel vision or auditory exclusion, no tachypsyche, and no panic), you will likely hit with less than 1/3 of your shots in a critical incident. Thems just the facts. Might be okay if you are living on a farm somewhere – but if you can see your neighbor, one of your rounds very well may find him, instead of the bad guy. Yes, frangible ammo destabilizes faster – but even if the bullet hits sideways, it can still have enough force to kill if it hits the right part of the body
    Pump shotguns are by far and away the best home defense weapon ever. And I will disagree with the author here on one small point. The sound of a pump shotgun action cycling CAN convince a would-be assailant to remember that he has pressing plans elsewhere. Again, I wouldn’t rely on it. But that ka-chink! sound is universal and tends to focus attention.
    Get a 12 ga. pump – load it with buckshot. Put it in a safe location where you can get to it. That’s all you need.

    • D_Apostraphe

      A mile down range??? What AR-15s have you been shooting? I have never seen a .223 round go a mile down range and I have used that round in a combat situation. 500 yards in optimal conditions and that still doesn’t even reach a third of a mile. And as for the arguments relating to inaccuracies due to the heat of the moment and adrenaline… any weapon in the house that you are not trained on is a dangerous weapon in the heat of the moment. Whether it be a shotgun, pepper spray, or a plastic fork. There is no such thing as home defense that negates proper training.

    • Ray Houthuysen

      Agree with most of what you say, especially deteriorating skills in a life and death situation, however, if I’m going to use a shotgun in my home at night, I will have a round in the chamber. Racking just serves to give a way my position and lets a bad guy know I’m awake and ready. I believe a weapon for SD or HD MUST be loaded. Why carry an empty gun?

  • Neuville

    nonsubhomine I like your thoughts. In fact, I have ka-chinked at least one bad guy to leave my vicinity. And, I very much agree with you about the AR-15 and really any semi automatic weapon for most people. As you put it it requires “a normal heart rate, no adrenaline dump, no tunnel vision or auditory exclusion, no tachypsyche, and no panic” and very few people will be in this state when the are at home and feel threatened. Furthermore, hostage rescue teams plan and prepare over and over. They suit up and arm up and psyche up. Compare that with the average person suddenly awakened by a threat with their weapon perhaps not easily reached. An AR-15 is a disaster waiting to happen. If fired, the likely hood of killing another member of your family is great, not to mention a few neighbors. But to a slightly less extent the same could be said about a Glock with 15 rounds. Find the safety fumbling in the dark fire 10 rounds before you know it. But really, I recommend that most people don’t have a weapon in the house at all unless they will be very, very serious about securing it and knowing everything they can about gun safety.
    I question the whether suggesting these guns will make people safe is a responsible thing to do. For example, in 2002 5,285 children were kill with firearms in the United States. Also, consider this, according to the FBI 1.7 million guns have been stolen in the past 10 years and only 40% of those were recovered. 80% of these guns were taken from homes and cars. This make us all less safe. You know it is only bad guys who have these guns now.
    Certainly, recommending an AR-15 is irresponsible unless you are a drug dealer or live in a serious ghetto. Perhaps some of the people who recommend these type of weapons do live in bad neighborhoods. I do not know. I do not know what kind of neighborhood Jeff lives in, but if it is so bad that he needs this kind of weapon I would suggest a move rather that an arsenal.

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  • RoMac

    Neuville, Your statistics as well as your fear leads me to believe you work for either the Brady Campaign or the city of Washington DC and this is one of your stops on the way to the election. I do agree that weapons need to be secured when not in use from children or others who may enter your home. As for not having one at all, that fallacy is misguided at best.

    You mention fumbling for a safety on a gun (a Glock) that doesn’t have an external safety to flip off. You’re probably thinking of a 1911 which has an external safety, you probably saw a bunch of those 1911’s in the magazine aisle at the grocery store, and somewhere on the cover was the word Glock, but the fact that you don’t know the difference tells me you’re guessing. Which tells me your anti-gun rhetoric thinly disguised as a gun aficionado has some serious holes in it.
    You toss around a lot of statistics and numbers but then form an illogical conclusion. The fact that 1.7 million guns of which 60% are still out there (your stats), just tells me that I better be equally armed to handle any aggressor that tries to invade my home. If he’s more likely to have a gun, I’m probably more likely to need one to create a balance of power to protect my family.
    I will concede the fact that all gun owners should be well versed in gun safety and proper handling. To do otherwise is irresponsible. However, the demographic that is capable of handling those responsibilities in my world is considerably larger than yours.
    Before you think I’m just some gun nut, I’m a Federal Law Enforcement Officer. I’d rather have John Q. Public trained and armed in stopping the threat before it turns into a shooting than have him not armed at all. That’s right, having a gun, in numerous cases, has resulted in a very large number of crimes being stopped before they even start. I’m not going to insult the readers and guess at the statistic, but if I remember correctly,the number of stopped crimes when a good guy presents a gun, to be somewhere in the millions.
    You’re a good writer, but I suggest you go back to the Brady Campaign and write some blog entries for them. You’re style is right up their alley!

  • Robert

    Glad Romac already pointed out that the Glock doesn’t have a safety and questioned the statistics.

    Anti-gunners always like to talk about the number of “children” killed by guns. Well, their definition of “children” is anyone under the age of 18, and that includes 17 year old gang members who are murdered. These are not 5 year olds shooting each other or 3 year olds accidentally killing themselves. Granted, accidents can happen, but the fast majority of “children” killed by guns are 15-17 and gang members.

    If you talk about the number of children under 10 who die from handguns, the number is, on average, 50 per year. Sure, 50 deaths that probably can be avoided, but far, far, far fewer deaths than are caused by car accidents, pools, and falls down stairs (many of which too, can be prevented).

  • Robert

    Oh, and the FBI estimates the number of crimes stopped by a firearm are between 1.5 and 2.5 million.

  • http://thehighroad.org jlbraun

    It is simply an accepted part of life that there is evil in the world, and evil is only vanquished by standing up to it, not running from it. It is an essential part of being a man to be able to defend your loved ones, and the best tool for that is the firearm. Period. No amount of statistics will ever change that.

    • bacon artist

      Or a woman. An essential part of being a woman is to be able to defend yourself as well.

  • B


    Pepper spray is useless against a determined attacker, especially one who has been sprayed before.

    I have been sprayed in the face with both MACE and Pepper spray during both my time as a soldier and in police training. and I gotta tell you, it may work fine against animals, but against a large, angry assailant it will just piss him off more.

    Your comments re semi pistol vs revolver are more reasonable, though it does appear you have not really shot very much because you didn’t mention double-indexing when you mentioned firing a revolver. Revolvers almost never jam (if you load your own bullets a buddy of mine got one just a tad too long) but in rapid fire situations they do have a tendency to double index, meaning the cylinder goes right past the ‘next’ chamber and lands on the second one.

    I have a glock, I have never had a jam with my glock. It has about 10,000 rounds through it, as I have only fired it a few times a week, since I bought it back in ’90. Now, my S&W 586 has about 40,000 rounds through it since I bought it in ’83, and it has been to the gunsmith numerous times for several reasons, one being double-indexing.

    I suggest that the weapon you know and understand how to use best is probably the weapon you use for self-defense.


  • wiseguy

    Hello To All,

    I just brought a 410g Moss. 500 pump/w buck shot ammo. this is my first shotgun and its for home defense. if ever i have to use it, and i aim at my target, will it just be a bullet coming out of the barrel or a serious of pellets which can spray out and make its way through cielings and walls?

  • Barry


    If you own a firearm and don’t know the answer to your question, you would be well advised to get some formal training. I’m glad you are asking the question, but a little scared to read it at the same time. I will attempt to answer your question, but please look farther than this for knowledge and experience.

    Your shotgun can be loaded with a single projectile (called a slug) or a charge that consists of a number of separate pellets (called shot). Buck shot is a group of separate pellets, each large enough to be suitable for deer hunting. Buck shot can be had in several different sizes. Other common kinds of shot loads use smaller pellets and are suitable for bird hunting, etc. The pellets do not “spray out” they instead travel in a tightly packed group at close ranges and they all hit the same target at the same time. If they travel farther down range, the group of pellets gradually gets larger, but to call it a spray is to overestimate the dispersal.

    As for penetrating ceilings and walls, yes, buck shot can penetrate, but is considered a lower risk for overpenetration than single projectiles (bullets or slugs) which can penetrate more layers of building material and can carry their energy farther downrange. As a rule of thumb, if you fire buckshot inside a typical single-family residence, your neighbors inside their homes are at relatively low risk from that. However, someone inside your home, especially in the next room, would be at risk.

    You should give careful thought to your lines of fire and what is downrange as you lay out your home defense plan. For instance, firing down a stairwell may put the ground downrange which would generally be safer than a horizontal or upward line of fire. Also, firing in the direction of a bedroom occupied by a family member would not be a good plan.

    Again, please check out your local shooting clubs or firearm training centers.

  • wiseguy


    Thanks for your advice. i never considered bullets traveling and hitting non targets untill i read this article and comments. My uestion was answered. Thanks again!

  • Steve

    For home home invasion type robberies where time is of the essence for defense what would you(open to anyone) suggest is the best way to have access to your guns quickly while being in a house with young children with ages less than 8?

  • Robert

    Well Steve, children like things they aren’t supposed to touch, so I grew up in a household where I was taught about guns very early and knew enough not to touch them. That’s part of it.

    Second, children are fairly small, so you might want to store it in a place where you can reach, but they can’t. This isn’t foolproof, as a smart kid could use a chair to possibly get high enough.

    You also should assess how “quick” you need to be. If you wake up with someone already in your bedroom, anything short of sleeping with a gun in your hand won’t help. But if you live in a two-story house and have more time to react to a noise, you can afford more time to access the gun, or to make it ready for use. Storing the weapon unloaded, on safe, with the magazine out, but nearby, may be sufficient to stop a child from having an accident, but the amount of time it takes to insert the mag and load the weapon is under 10 seconds from the time you get out of your bed, most likely. That’s for a handgun.

    So basically, keep the gun in a near-ready state in an unfriendly location for a child, and educate them about the dangers.

  • Iron Butt

    Great write-up and some great posts. A couple of thoughts, for what they’re worth;

    1) Shotgun-in my opinion, best HD weapon, period. Dirt simple, effective and reliable as an anvil. Pick a load that works best for you.

    2) AR-15-Why not? Many people loath the “Evil Black Rifle”. If fires a .223 round, which in many states is outlawed for dear hunting because it’s a light round. It is however, effective on humans and again, with the right load, makes a reasonable HD weapon.

    3) Handgun-For most people who are novices, or don’t practice, it’s the 3rd best choice. They’re tough to aim under pressure, and follow up shots, which surely will be needed, may be difficult.

    Jeff; great review.

  • Responsible Parent

    Positive control of the weapon is the best option for keeping kids and guns apart. That is, carry a (sub)compact pistol in a comfortable holster at home, and you can be confident that a) you have the gun at the ready, and b) the kids do not.

    The mobile but very young kids cannot rack the slide on a subcompact pistol of “9mm-type” or higher recoil energy. The lighter slide (compared to the full-size counterparts) of a subcompact necessitates a rather heavy spring to absorb the recoil, and this can be too much for a weak adult, not to mention a toddler.

    Thus, if you happen to temporarily place such a pistol, when it’s not in your holster, in condition 3 (empty chamber) in a location the small child can’t get to 99.9% of the time, you can be quite confident nothing will happen the other 0.1%, though you’d have to verify this in case you have an unusually strong kid.

    I’m already teaching my rather verbal 2 year old about guns and gun handling, and watching him handle several subcompact semiautos, it is clear that it’ll be a considerable while before he can budge any slide at all. For now, a condition 3 subcompact is about as lethal as an oddly shaped rock in his hands. It remains to be seen how responsible he will be in time, but in the worst case, all guns not under positive control will be in the safe.

    As for the choice of HD weaponry, I do NOT feel undergunned with a subcompact Glock out and the big boomsticks all in the safe, but this is a result of being somewhat diligent about practice — airsoft, draw / dryfire drills, and lastly some IPSC. Airsoft (with a gas blowback Glock replica) has been exceptionally valuable for learning to point shoot a real Glock — it’s cheap and convenient and similar enough that you can fire thousands of “rounds” and learn to instinctively point the gun (and fire) at the desired point of impact without using the sights.

    The dry fire drills have been most helpful also for learning to squeeze the trigger without disrupting the sight picture, and to improve the speed of the draw, rack, and target acquisition. IPSC is where you’re reminded you have a long way to go.

    As well, I typically carry in condition 3, since my draw/rack is quick and the added safety of having no round in the chamber is priceless for otherwise low-threat conditions.

    On the whole, I can’t more emphatically recommend dryfire practice at minimum to the casual pistol owner. No snap caps required for centerfires, and who wants a rimfire for HD anyway. Dryfire practice does a lot for steadiness, confidence, and speed, building muscle memory which is critical for being able to function at all effectively under the adrenaline dump of SHTF.

    Stay safe out there, and fight the good fight for your family and our 2A civil rights, jeopardized as they will now be with a government so leftist, they make Al Franken look like Pat Buchanan.

  • ExtremeDaze

    Thanks for a great article. I used to do a bit of shooting in my teens and 20s, but that was 20 years ago! Like many people in recent days, I’ve been examining the idea of acquiring weapons for self-defense.

    My comment on the AR-15 style weapons would simply be that it wouldn’t be my first or even second choice for home defense per-se, but might not be a bad choice for civil unrest, which IMO is unlikely at least for now, but certainly possible down the road, depending on how the whole economy and obamanomics develop. I think he’ll make Jimmy Carter look like Ronald Reagan by comparison.

  • Wade

    I have read several articles on home defense weapons that recommend the use of a light mounted to the firearm (be it a shotgun or handgun). To me, this seems like a “double edged sword”. If you need a light to find the aggressor, doesn’t that light act as a target for the aggressor? This may be overkill, but would night vision goggles be a better option? This would allow you to locate the intruder without signaling him of your position. Thanks in advance for the advice.

  • http://midnight.hushedcasket.com Jeff Barnett

    Wade, 1. NVGs cost way too much for the average person 2. With NVGs you have no depth perception 3. I’ve worn NVGs in hairy scenarios. I didn’t like it. If the moon was anywhere close to full I preferred to take them off. 4. A flashlight is a great tool in a defensive scenario. Light is your friend. I think the benefits of the light would outweigh the drawbacks.

  • Joey C.

    To throw a little gas on the fire, I just saw a ballistics study that showed that .40 s&w had roughly 4x the over penetration into ballistics gel after going through a simulated wall than 5.56 50 gr. ball ammo!

    Simple physics. A 150+ grain bullet will carry a heck of a lot more momentum that a 50 gr. 5.56 ball round no matter what you do to it even in spite of having more than twice the muzzle velocity.

    Other interesting studies show that a slow moving .45 ball round will penetrate deeper into ballistics gel than a +p hollow point 9mm or .40 s&w that successfully expands.

  • Dan Mann

    Great article and discussion!

    I agree that an AR-15, if you can afford it, is definitely a must have for HD, depending on where you live. I live in a suburb and there’s some space between houses, but I would only grab mine in a case of being majorly outnumbered or a civil riot situation. And I’d be darn sure of what’s downrange before I flipped off the safety. But that goes with any type of firearm I’d use to defend my home.

    I believe the 12-gauge + pistol combination is the #1HD plan for a home owner to have. As for the light question, although it’s probably good to have a flashlight near the bed, I’d rather not use it if I’m sure someone has broken in. That’s just a golden arrow reaching right back to me. I’d prefer to rely on the night-sights on my glock and my own wits.

    JOEY C … although I’m not one to argue about studies I’ve never read, I am extremely skeptical of your ballistics study above. A high-powered rifle round definitely has more penetration than a pistol round. Seriously, just hold an .223 round next to a .40S&W and you’ll see what I mean.

  • Debalo

    Great reading!

    I am a fan of .223, 12ga and 9mm. My son and I have collected and fired almost everything on the market. We have decided on these calibers for HD. We both prefer the FS92, mine is a M-9. I think the answer to the flashlight question is laser sights. Maybe a little expensive for some people but what’s your life worth, they can be added later to the weapon.
    Mossberg is my hero! Their 590 series 12ga is great. I use NO accessories because, in a stressful situation, they can get in the way. Mag shells loaded with “T” or “BBB” shot is my choice.
    My .223 is an Olympic. great on price and with scope, flashlight and fore grip it should do when the going gets rough. My son chose a Bushmaster outfitted the same except no fore grip.
    Kids and weapons should be handled very delicately. When my son was VERY small, guns were locked in a cabinet and he was not allowed to touch even the cabinet. He could however look all he wanted. He was also instructed if he ever wanted to touch, he was allowed to with me in charge. I NEVER denied him this curiosity. I sometimes had to take time I didn’t have to live up to this deal but isn’t that what being a responsible parent is about? He is 16 and 6′ 2″ now and can out shoot me.
    Another note, I am a three time war veteran. I have seen combat and stress when defending ones life. Never underestimate how nervous you will be. The key to this is proper training and lots of practice.

  • Dave

    One comment on using a flashlight or weapon-mounted light in a home invasion scenario, the idea is to use the light only to confirm the target and sight alignment before firing. Don’t walk around with the light on constantly, just a quick light-up for the previously mentioned reasons. Familiarity is your greatest advantage in your own home, so don’t give it up by walking around with your light on.

    Several companies make lights with momentary switches on the tailcap that are designed for tactical use, one of these is the best to use in a situation like this.

  • Austin


    My father and I (im 15) have started shooting (he was in the navy, i have never shot before) last week. I first shot a CX4 Storm 9mm. We (my dad, me, and mabye my little brother (12) are going every week to get more familar and get into the sport of shooting. ( I actually did really well first time.) My dad is interested in home protection.

    So we are considering a glock (not sure on caliber) and mabye the CX4 Storm for protection, and use of recreational shooting. Hows that?

    Should we get a pistol and a shotgun instead? Shotgun mainly for home protection, pistol recreation. I am most likely going to join the army after college, so i want to start getting familar with this stuff.

    And another question: we live in California, does the ban on alot of guns in the state ban AR-15s? And if so, what types are legal and illegal?

    So what assault rifle should we get for recreation shooting? That is if they aren’t all illegal

  • Robert

    Hey Austin,

    Where did you first shoot the Beretta CX4 Storm? There is some confusion about their legality in the state of California. They have a pistol grip, a thumbhole stock, and a detachable magazine, which may make it an “Assault Rifle” under California law. The AR-15 is banned specifically by name and many variations of it are banned as well. The simplest answer to the AR-15 question is you can only buy one if it has been modified to have a 10 round fixed magazine and is a knockoff, not a real Armalite AR-15.

    You can’t really buy an “assault rifle” because they’re banned and purchasing one requires jumping through a lot of loops. You’d be better off buying a rifle without a pistol grip, like the M1A or something similar.

    Glock makes a fine pistol, not a bad choice. You should double check the legality of the CX4. For home defense, it wouldn’t be a bad choice – the stability of a rifle platform in a small package, common/cheap ammunition.

    A shotgun is great for home defense, but if you guys aren’t interested in one, then buy what you’ll use, practice with, and learn to shoot well with.

  • danno

    Good article. I currently have a Ruger 10-22 which I use for plinking at a friend’s place up in the woods. It’s my only gun. Since I live near a sketchy neighborhood I keep it handy. I’ve run a lot of rounds through it so shooting it is second nature. But I’ve always wanted a bit more gun for HD.

    I think the Mossberg 500 pump looks like a solution, but wouldn’t I be almost as well off with the .22, since I can actually hit something with it?

  • http://midnight.hushedcasket.com Jeff

    Danno, you are correct to assume that shot placement is very important. However, unless you are good enough with your .22 to place a shot that disables the assailant’s central nervous system (brain or spine) then your .22 will not effectively stop an attacker. Even if you can score a CNS hit in a stressful situation, an almost impossible task, your .22 projectile may not be able to penetrate through the bone and cartilage necessary to disable the attacker. The likely scenario is that you’ll score several body shots and the adrenaline of the attacker will let him ignore them until the assault is over.

    A 10-22 is better than nothing, but not by a lot.

  • Margo

    I’m ready to buy a gun or two. Made national news a year ago when I came home to a burglar in my home. Chased him down, took him down, and used 9 yrs of martial arts to beat the crap outta him. Had I had a weapon in my room, he’d of found it and things may have ended differently. I was lucky. 2 weeks ago, my husband came home at 1am, from Calif.,all lights were on in the house, I was asleep, and 2 armed men tried to get into my room. If I’d had a gun, I’d of shot them point blank in the head as they tried to open my sliding door, but instead held my fingers up and went bang bang, why don’t I have the gun I shoulda bought last year.Instead I screamed and they left, ran down the street and found another couple to hold up and rob. Yes, they DID have a gun.. Now, I don’t no what to do. Pepper spray?? No thanks, I don’t wanna be that close to anyone. Besides, I would of had to wait til they got in. I’m confused since I’ve now had 2 totally different scenario’s. I’m very afraid with the economy getting so bad. Crime is so bad in south Florida and getting worse. I want to carry a weapon and sleep with one. Any suggestions? Thinking of a shotgun for the house, but what can anyone suggest for a carry all? I’m scared.

  • http://midnight.hushedcasket.com/ Jeff

    Margo, I recommend a Glock 26. That Glock model is a subcompact model, and is quite small. It will conceal on most people, and fits nicely inside a purse. It holds 10+1 rounds of 9mm ammo. 9mm is not the perfect caliber for home defense, but it’s effective with proper shot placement and cheap to practice with. Practicing with your weapon until you are proficient and comfortable is more important than caliber. You can buy one new for about $500 or slightly used for about $400. Any local gun shop will have it available to order or in stock. It is stone cold reliable and will not fail you. Let me know if I can be of any further help. Best of luck. Oh, and don’t be scared–be prepared.

  • http://www.filmschoolrejects.com Robert


    Your first scenario wouldn’t necessarily have been different if you had a gun. Store the gun in a safe place that isn’t entirely obvious. As long as you know where it is, that’s what matters. You could invest in a gun safe that have coded locks that only know the combination to or you could simple pick a hiding place that isn’t your sock drawer. Some experts recommend having guns secured in more than one area of the home, like one in the bedroom and one in the living room or near the entrance.

    A gun is your best bet. If you pepper spray someone that has a gun, they may shoot at you anyways or because of that. Pepper spray is just as effective against the person spraying it as the person getting hit and foam pepper sprays can literally be stopped by a pair of glasses.

    If you’ve chosen not to be a victim, get a good, quality weapon (or two!) and secure it smartly. I can second Jeff’s recommendation of the Glock 26 – I keep one secured near my bed at all times.

  • AMBoss

    Well, I have, like the rest of you, two cents of my own that I shall share with you good folks. To the guy with the pepper spray, I was attacked by two cops and their pepper spray did not in any way affect me with respect to “immobilization.” As for the author of this debate, Jeff, I was an Army Paratrooper and an expert with an M-16 and found it to be one of the most reliable guns made (providing that you don’t saturate it with oil), can hold as many as 30 rounds, and has great accuracy up to about 300 yards with the proper training. With that said, I would not personally recommend an AR-15 for home defense but think it great in riot situations should you be ambushed by a gang of thugs which is a reality these days. And too, Glocks are ugly but good tools to consider. Personally, I recommend my Baretta M-92 because of magazine capacity and the less likelyhood of it jamming in comparison to other automatics. Lastly, the ole shotgun, I somewhat would recommend it as I have one of them by my bed as well. My only concern with it is the spread of the pattern. In a situation of one of your family members being too close to the line of fire, they could be hit as well. Now for my gun lock rant. Securing your weapon with a lock seems quite absurd to me. If I had time to find the keys and unlock my weapon, I would certainly have time to use the same key to drive away in my 4×4. To our Brady Commission supporters, more children are killed by automobiles each year than by guns and no one is trying to outlaw them. For statistics, the average person has one 33A cup size, 3 inches an one testicle too!

  • Mossad

    I have a Mossberg 500 that is fairly in expensive, a Bushmaster AR-15, a FNAR .308, a couple Glocks, Springfield, Desert Eagle, etc. I wont list everything I have, but I can say this, anyone of these will do the trick, but as Doc mentioned, know matter what you are using you better dam well know what’s behind your target regardless of who you are shooting at. Anyone that thinks they are going to take just anyone out with a can of OC better think again, A) not everyone is affect by OC, B) If glasses/mask etc. is being used you just wasted a perfectly good can of hot sauce and B) OC is an oil base and will transfer from anything it touches if you are in a struggle you better expect it to be just as effective on you as it is on the perp. As to the question what or who are you expecting to break into you house? I would submit this video and ask you to think about what you would want in your hands if this happened to you. http://www.learnaboutguns.com/2009/02/12/caught-on-tape-man-defends-self-against-4-armed-home-invaders/ this is not an uncommon situation and if you’re going to ask me what the best weapon would be, I would say first knowledge and second something that will incapacitate whoever is trying to get into your home. Everyone please stay safe and lets not take the guns out of the hands of responsible people while putting them in the hands of criminals.

  • cisco

    about the ar-15 for hd, wasn’t one of the critteria for effectiveness caliber for it’s stopping power? so why is 5.53mm considered more effective than my 9mm (about 3/4 larger caliber) or my 44 (nearly twice the caliber) handguns? now, i don’t plan on using either for hd as they’re keep locked up but i am curious about this seeming discrepancy. for hd i highly agree w/pump shotgun. i keep a mossberg 500 18.5″ barrel, pistol grip & side saddle next to my bed. after 15 yrs ownership it finally came in handy last spring when the sound of some one opening my bedroom window woke me. i chambered a shell, ka-chink, and he made speedy gonzales look like regular gonzales….or may be it was because i sleep nude. hope it was the former.

  • alkipug

    Great discussion. One comment on the kid/gun issue, for HD I have a colt 45 auto, (I know not the best but I grew up with it), I keep it in a handgun vault that has a handprint on it and a 4 digit code you input with your fingers. Very safe. After a couple tries it “times out” so a child can’t keep trying different combinations. It has room for the 45 plus a couple mags. I have VERY inquisitive 6 YO twin boys.

  • Old navy gunner

    I read an article such as this where the author actually tried various guns looking for this over penetration. His conclusion was that the best for knocking down the bad guy and not penetrating the bedroom walls was to use bird shot. A doss of #7’s from a 12 gauge at twenty feet will put most anything on its back, but not go through walls very far. I’m going to dust of my Dads old Winchester 97 and keep it handy. I doubt that I will have to use it on anything much more that twenty feet from me.

  • DR. DAVE

    Thanks for the concise article. Just what I was looking for. I really don’t need pics of how well certain ammo does with a hunk of gelatin.
    A lot of the articles and forum posts about home defense seem to come from a vary narrow view of how the rest of the world lives.
    – Most of us in California (30+ million) don’t have large houses on large chunks of land.
    – California laws are pretty strict on where and when I can shoot an intruder or potential intruder. (I get the impression on some forums that these guys have gun turrets on top of their houses.)
    – I have older teens and adult kids that come and go at all hours and move out and then back in.
    – I’m not a liberal but if I have to shoot someone who is breaking into my house, my first goal is not to kill that person but to incapacitate them until the police arrive.

    Seems like the absolute worse nightmare would be for your 22 year-old son who drank too much on a Friday night, lost his keys and broke the family room window to crawl into the house, and for you to mistake him for an intruder and put a load of 00 into his stomach.

    So, I’ve not come to a exact formula yet but I’m a fan of the shotgun with loads that escalate from less lethal to more lethal. I know it goes against the KISS rule but guess what, my life just ain’t that simple.
    Any thoughts would be appreciated.
    Thanks again for the article.

  • http://midnight.hushedcasket.com Jeff

    Dr. Dave,
    It appears you have thoroughly thought about the situation and have found a solution that works for you. If you do have to engage an intruder the simple rule is to shoot until they stop doing whatever they are doing that is threatening your life. Unfortunately, if they are armed that may involve killing them. I wish anyone luck that has to face such an unfortunate situation.

  • antwon

    I would have to say shotgun without a doubt. 12 gauge 3″ 00 buck well certainly stop anything coming my way.

  • jeff

    WOW!!!! This is a great debate you are all having.I’m an ex-law enforcement officer by choice.I have just one thing that I would like to add to your debate .
    I’ve noticed the one and what should be the first weapon that everyone seemed to totally neglect in all of this .I’ve been through mutiple different hairy situations all with different outcomes . I know the other officers on this page will understand what and why after they read this . It sounds to me like everyone has neglected the weapon between there ears . Think about this for just one second,although some of you may need a bit more time . If you go buy your shotgun/rifle/handgun whatever and you don’t get educated or trained with it , and your not mentally prepared to use it ,and accept the consequences of what can arise , then it really will not matter if you have any of the weapons that have been mentioned or not . The knucklehead that breaks into your house may just take that weapon from you and kill you and everyone you care about with it . I really do not intend to offend any of you , but I know that there is far more to it than just picking the right firearm . If you’re going to put so much serious thought into something , then why not look at every imaginable angle , pick something reliable, get educated about it , train with it under different conditions , look at the layout of your home . Do everything possible to survive ,should an incident happen . Real world fights are not planned , or fair and the crime rate where I’m at is rising .
    With all that being said , my pick is a simple Mossberg maverick pump 12ga. with the plug removed , 18″ barrel , light mounted and loaded with 00 buckshot .
    I also keep an M-4 sized AR-15 , and a glock 20 with night sights .
    I’ve examined my lines of fire from inside and outside my home for others safety, and have repeatedly taken everyone in my residence to the range .
    You can’t prepare for everything but it doesn’t hurt to try. So just use your brain and expect the unexpected . Bad guys are not all as stupid as some may make them sound .
    So be safe . I’m done .

    LATER ,

  • jeff

    WOW!!!! This is a great debate you are all having.I’m an ex-law enforcement officer by choice.I have just one thing that I would like to add to your debate .
    I’ve noticed the one and what should be the first weapon that everyone seemed to totally neglect in all of this .I’ve been through multiple different hairy situations all with different outcomes . I know the other officers on this page will understand what and why after they read this . It sounds to me like everyone has neglected the weapon between there ears . Think about this for just one second,although some of you may need a bit more time . If you go buy your shotgun/rifle/handgun whatever and you don’t get educated or trained with it , and your not mentally prepared to use it ,and accept the consequences of what can arise , then it really will not matter if you have any of the weapons that have been mentioned or not . The knucklehead that breaks into your house may just take that weapon from you and kill you and everyone you care about with it . I really do not intend to offend any of you , but I know that there is far more to it than just picking the right firearm . If you’re going to put so much serious thought into something , then why not look at every imaginable angle , pick something reliable, get educated about it , train with it under different conditions , look at the layout of your home . Do everything possible to survive ,should an incident happen . Real world fights are not planned , or fair and the crime rate where I’m at is rising .
    With all that being said , my pick is a simple Mossberg maverick pump 12ga. with the plug removed , 18″ barrel , light mounted and loaded with 00 buckshot .
    I also keep an M-4 sized AR-15 , and a glock 20 with night sights .
    I’ve examined my lines of fire from inside and outside my home for others safety, and have repeatedly taken everyone in my residence to the range .
    You can’t prepare for everything but it doesn’t hurt to try. So just use your brain and expect the unexpected . Bad guys are not all as stupid as some may make them sound .
    So be safe . I’m done .

    LATER ,

  • Dr. Barry

    Great discussion! I own all three being discussed, a 12 gauge Benelli semi (never, ever has it not properly recycled, so don’t go there) loaded with 5+1 00, an AR-15 with a 30 rounds, and as backup, a Colt Detective with 6 rounds of 38+.
    We have no kids, none are allowed in as our home as it is not kid proofed anyway, and we live in solid block homes so a .223 is not going through 2 solid block walls, mine and his, to endanger him.
    I totally agree on the use of brains first, knowledge of your layout without lights, etc. However, no one has discussed how important hearing is to the choice of a HD weapon.
    With any these weapons follow up shots must be anticipated either for bad guy number two (or three) or if bad guy number one is still a threat to your life.
    But shot number one, on bad guy number one, with a 12 gauge loaded with anything will COMPLETELY take out your hearing for 20 plus minutes. If there is a bad guy number two or three and they are not directly in your now VERY limited line of sight due to your adrenaline dump, then how are you possibly going to HEAR them to know where they are?
    A 12 gauge shotgun loaded with magnums is approximately 170 decibels. An AR-15 is around 140 decibels. Decibels being on a logarithmic scale, this means the shotgun is 1000 times louder (10x10x10)!!!
    For me, this changes the entire equation of which weapon to use at 3 in the morning. If I am incapacitated by limited sight already due the tunnel vision of the adrenaline dump, I hardly want to completely lose my hearing as well. The 140 decibels of my AR-15 will at least keep me in the game if bad guy number two is to my side, on a different floor of my home, etc.
    Please don’t tell me to move to a better neighborhood where only one bad guy at a time will even think of attacking our home. I live in an expensive gated community and my neighbor was attacked at gun-point by two intruders with a third in the stolen get-away car a block away.
    I have considered using amplified hearing protectors such as those made by Peltor, but that just seems like another 10 seconds to turn them on and put them on before reaching for my weapon. Any thoughts on this??
    So for me, I am reaching for my AR-15 first.

  • Erica

    Hello Everyone…just wanted to drop a note. I have been thinking about aquiring a firearm for some time and I never considered a shotgun. My husband deploys a lot, and it would be a comfort to know that I have a means of protecting myself when he is gone (after I take classes of course!).

    We get a lot of looting around here during hurricanes when the power is off and since I live in a military town (poor south), people know what to look for when it comes to choosing victims (cars that havent moved in a few weeks, the yellow ribbons in the yard, even the “Half my heart is in Iraq” magnets on some ladies cars).

    Any ways, Im just saying its all good info and Im going to look more at the shotgun. Thanks!

  • Ferrard

    Keeping in mind, I’m just a civilian with no firearms training, I’d just like to mention the tumbling effect of the 5.56/.223 as a big point against it for home defense in my book. While it might not penetrate as well against heavy materials, being a lighter round, most 5.56/.223 rounds tend to tumble and skew as they continue past their target, meaning that their path of flight and penetration is unpredictable – definitely not something one wants with non-combatants in the house. Also, I’m pretty sure the sheetrock in urban construction is nothing to even the lightest of rifle rounds.

    Plus, the AR-15 type rifle is designed for long-range combat (and use by the military for that matter) meaning that it’s not a KISS weapon – a number of steps need to be taken (loading, chambering, safety) which a civilian in a high-pressure situation is likely not to instinctively know. I think that’s probably an even bigger point against it than the round tumbling.

    Anyways – I’d probably go with the shotgun despite the decibel problem as Dr. Barry mentioned; I would presume that one knows their house well enough to clear it effectively even without sound cues. It offers more variety in responses (gel rounds, rock salt, birdshot, or just straight up buckshot), doesn’t require a complex preparation, is hella intimidating, is slightly less likely to overpenetrate, and doesn’t require fine aim.

    Of course, I’d also say that with a long-arm in close-quarters combat, the first thing to learn isn’t shooting, but rather weapon retention. A shotgun doesn’t do any good if your foe jumps at you from behind a corner and yanks it out of your hands.

    A little addendum:
    How good an organization is Box-O-Truth? They do some pretty interesting experiments in regards to ballistics, and I enjoy reading their articles. They seem experienced and intelligent in terms of defensive firearms, and especially over-penetration.

  • Strange swiss

    nice text, nice story, nice discusion, but sensless. In the army we use the normal 223remington for the Stgw 90. But I never would like to shoot this rifle in inside a house. Your ear will be damaged for the rest of life. Even outside shooting without earprotection will damage your hearing. And SD are illigal, even if you built them by yourself. The budy wich shoot the rifle without earprotection was not able to stand for about 1/2 hour. So my recomendation. A normal 38 revolver with normal lead bullets will do the job. Or do you reali believe you could protect yourself against 2 or more armed thiefs? By the way, I even would not recommend to fire a 357 inside a house. Better to spend some money on regular training with a 38 and in my opinion its better to stay in safe areas then to play hero. Your children nead a father, not a dead man.

  • Nick85

    strange swiss, i would rather fire my 12g, .223, .45, or .40 and damage my hearing than to die at the hands of an armed intruder. i don’t have children and i don’t plan on being a “dead man”. some ppl can’t afford to stay in “safe areas”, it’s just not an option for some ppl. crime can happen anywhere, hopefully honest citizens are prepared.

  • Chris

    For close defense, with one exception, you simply can’t do better than a .12 gauge pump loaded with # 4 buck, modified or IC choke. I like the Bennelli Nova but any decent pump shotgun will be better than any other weapon, bar none. If all you happen to have is bird shot, please be advised that at the range you will be using it, which will be 20 feet or less, even 7 1/2 or 8 lead will stop any attacker. At 15 feet, 6 lead will create a terrible wound regardless of choke.

    The one exception is a good German Shepherd Dog.

  • David

    Good sir,
    While i enjoyed reading, i do have to disagree with your rating systems results on whats best for home defense.

    I would rate number one a nice high caliber pistol (.357-.45) esp the excellent 1911, loaded with Glacier Safety Slugs as the best home defense weapon. Shotguns (esp #2 shot or higher loads) cut through drywall and fiberglass and reflect off 2×4’s too easily and randomly to be considered for home defense.

    I would put the AR-15/ M-16 family of rifles as the worst weapons. TO much power for home defense. Somone is gonna die down range when someone not trained uses them. (dont get me wrong I Love the M-16, but it’s just not a home defense weapon system, it’s an offensive weapon).

    Thanks for the good read:


  • Pingback: The Best Guns for Home Defense | The Art of Manliness()

  • Josh

    All, find the commentary interesting. Haven’t read through all posted but about halfway. What are your thoughts on something like the Taurus “Judge” revolver with a shot shell for home defense? Best of both worlds? Better off with a shotgun? Also, for handguns, are there quick release finger-combo type of safes or gun cases available that someone would recommend? Forgive me if this isn’t directly on point for the subject of the article. Thanks

  • David

    @Josh: I don’t know much about guns, but am currently looking into it. However, I’ve heard a lot of negative things about the “Judge”. It seems it’s meant more for carjacker protection than Home Defense.

    Great article. One question though:

    I know it’s been discussed, but don’t Pistols jam a lot? It’s just what I’ve heard. Any thoughts on this? Thanks

  • Joe

    Great discussion. I too have read some intersting thing about the Taurus “Judge” and would like to find out what others think. It’s a revolver that shoots .210 gauge. Sounds like a great HD gun, except maybe for some punishing recoil.
    I was considering a S&W sigma in either 9mm or .40–seems like a pretty good gon fpr around $350.

  • Jeff Barnett

    David, well built pistols do not jam often at all. I don’t even think about my Glocks jamming. They are just that reliable.

    Joe, the Sigma may have changed in recent years, but as of about 6-8 years ago it had a horrible reputation. It is cheap for a reason. I would not trust it for home defense–period.

  • Shawn

    Hey Joe, I owned a sigma for a while, and its not something I was happy to trust my life with, out of 10rounds it would jam upwards to 4 times. Sometimes none, but my life and yours isn’t worth the possible 40percent its not going to work. I take damn good care of my guns. I now own a Springfield XDm 40, I have shot 500 rounds, no jams. If you are considering placing your life in the hands of a cheaper priced gun, go with a glock, and yes, that’s coming from a Springfield guy..lol.. If you have the money, get a gun like an XD, or XDm, but I would say an XD for someone less gun savvy. Sigs, HKs, most smith and Wesson’s are all great guns as well. All of which cost more. As for the article, great post man, I am at almost 100percent agreement. I feel better with a hand gun than an AR, but that’s all opinion and not argument. Im getting an other mossy 500 today, I had one before, but had to sell. I like buck #4 and anything bigger, but there is always going to be worry in the back of my mind of over pen or missing. I do practice a lot though, so I can only hope to hit what I need to hit and nothing else.

  • matt

    I notice that no one here mentions a taser. I think it is a good alternative to a lethal weapon because most have a 15 ft range, which is long enough for most indoor use and much better than pepper spray. It has enough power to stop a determined attacker and will work through body armor. It can also be left easily available in houses with children, and you don’t have to worry about the legal problems of shooting someone. (In Wisconsin you can be sued for shooting someone who was breaking into your home.) The only major drawback of a taser is that you only have one shot, but at less than 15 feet with a laser sight accuracy shouldn’t be a problem if you practice with it beforehand.

    For more information about tasers look at this site:

  • Dan

    Gentlemen, ladies and responsible persons (including children),
    Some thoughts to consider;
    —Firearm laws restrain the lawful majority against the lawless. Unlawful people will never obey the law.
    —Police, Criminals, Rights, Outcome of the Story should be distinguished between “Hollywood” and “Real Neighborhood”.
    —Crime and society grow at the same rate.
    —Severity, kind and gravity of a crime are not distinguished by race, age, size, sex, religion, mentality and education.
    —Lawful people from lower and lower middle class neighborhoods are at a greater risk. Congested living, mutiple jobs, crime-infested neighborhoods. They need more responsible and proficient firearm owners.
    —Criminals are always looking for an easier target. Be it a person, establishment or residence. Learn how to be a hard target.
    —Your kind of neighborhood does not guarantee your safety. “Flies don’t always gather in a garbage dump”.
    —A gun is a tool and as good or bad as the hands that use them.
    —News of crime on TV or paper is better than living them. Be cognizant, crime does not happen to other people only.
    —We constantly teach/orient young and old on the proper use of appliances, tools, cars etc. to lessen harm or damage. Firearms education should be taught as much.
    —When SECONDS count, the police is just MINUTES away. What would you do as you wait? It is your choice to be a victim or try to be the victor.
    —You are the “First-Response”, either as a victim or witness to a crime. Act responsibly, lawfully and wisely considering your safety during and after the incident.
    —No matter how right and lawful you are, you are not free from litigation arising from greed.
    —Laws, no matter what for, how and for whom will not always protect you. Be wise, be smart.
    —It is deadly to think that what will stop or incapacitate you, will do the same to another person.
    —The safest place for a loaded handgun is on a responsible person.
    —Unaccessible, inoperable, locked firearm for defense are more likely to do harm. You lose valuable time gaining access to your firearm. Criminals will not give you time to secure a firearm or wake you up to get ready.
    —Discipline, knowledge, proficiency and responsibility are vital to a defensive person. The person is the primary weapon, other things are his tools. Be combat effective.
    —A firearm is not a “magic wand” that will make a criminal/s disappear. But, it can be a “magnet” for criminals who want your firearm.
    —If your fight with a criminal is fair, then you need better tactics. You fight to win, not to fair even.

    The Second Amendment;
    A Well Regulated Militia, Being Necessary To The Security Of A Free State, The Right Of The People To Keep And Bear Arms, Will Not Be Infringed.

    On the Constitution,
    “The Right Of The People To Keep and Bear Arms”
    does not refer to firearms only, but to any weapon that can be used to keep the security of a free State.

    It does not refer to;
    —kind of weapon used to guard the security of a free State.
    —magazine capacity limit.
    —sporting rifle.
    —hunting rifle.
    —caliber of firearm.
    —what kind of firearm.
    —what number of firearm.
    —when to carry firearm.
    —what firearm to carry.
    —how many firearm to carry.
    —who can carry firearm.
    —where to carry firearm.

    “A Well Regulated Militia”.
    A Militia regulated by the people, not by military or police under the government.

    “Being Necessary To The Security Of A Free State”.
    Corruption, deceptive laws, unlawful spending, poor economy does not make the State secure and free.
    The people’s Militia is necessary to act on threats within or outside of the State.

  • Dan

    The topic is home defense firearm. A second or more as back up weapon should be at hand. I think home defense firearm/s should be more than one.
    Home defense against one or how many should be considered.
    Home defense firearms should not be sensitive, pinicky or too professional.
    You are the primary weapon, things you use defense are your tools. Tools with “bells and whistles” may not be as good as your basic weapon or tool.
    Reliability, durability and effectivity are characteristics of a good home defense firearm.
    Strengthening weak spots, analizing, familiarizing, planning and drills of scenarios are necessary in securing your home.
    Proper lighting inside and outside with battery backup can be used to your advantage as well as strong cover, movement and positioning.
    A bright, easy to maneuver handheld light for you and others.
    Where, when, how and who, firearms are accessed is good to know.
    Your actions in the process, firearm, phone and family. Plan A, plan B or make up.
    Your home or apartment is your castle. Knowing your defensive tactics, if alone or with family is important.
    Who else in the household can help you and rely on to secure your safety? Coordination and communication must be practiced, considering firefight, hand to hand defense and separation of family members.
    What if the incident happen when you are not at home? Are they capable? What should they do?
    If you live alone, consider coming home to a burglary in progress or worse, an ambush.
    Accountability and management of family members for their safety.
    Consider your first line of defense, second line of defense and most of all “The Alamo” as you wait for help to arrive.
    Combined with the above, you and/or other family members should be disciplined, proficient and responsible in terms of home security.
    It is different if you live alone or as a family. The ages and mentality of family members need to be considered when choosing defensive firearms or planning.
    Please do not rely on one “tool” to do the job. Tool effectiveness rely on the tool itself or the user.
    When we talk of firearms, we mean firearms with multiple consecutive discharges. Firearms with a minimum of two or more cartridges or shells.
    Trusted household members should be familiar with your defensive weapons.
    The unlawful, will come any time, any day, any number.
    They will come prepared against your probable defense.
    They will come cocked and locked.
    Everybody on “yellow alert” and knowing how to react will increase safety.

  • Alexander Wolfe


    Just wanted to say thanks for this article. I’ve only recently started considering a gun for home defense, and your article was one of the first links I found with a web search on the topic. I’ve really been looking for a good, down-to-Earth summary of the pros and cons of various types of guns useful for home defense (something appropriate for a non gun owner) and your article is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Thanks.

  • Glenn


    I retired as the Army Aviation Gunnery Branch Chief, 2007. I was in charge of all Gunnery operations for helicopters. As an Apache Instructor Pilot and NRA supporter, I have always owned guns. This past Saturday night, I attended the Alabama vs. Virginia Tech game at the Georgia dome (Atlanta, GA). I parked in the club level garage, Red Deck, and walked into the game. Following the game, my Avalanche was broken into and everything gone. My GPS, radar detector, and my Ruger .45. I have always prided myself on personal protection and security, but this was a hard lesson to learn. They punched a small hole just under the driver side door handle and gained entry without the alarm system going off. Folks need to understand that even when you think your property is safe, it might not be. Just a heads up to anyone who has a Avalanche, Tahoe, Suburban, Yukon, GMC, Ford F150, etc… BTW, While driving through Atlanta today I saw 7 vehicles on the road with the same hole under the drivers side door handle. I’m sure there are many more that dont even know.

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew


    Thank you for the heads up, and I’m sorry to hear that this happened to you. I’ve never heard of this kind of breaking and entering, hopefully others will heed your warning.

  • PH

    Wow, this struck nerves better than a Ford vs Chevy debate.

    Jeff, you have assembled a reasonable starting point for anyone to consider what is important for their particular scenario. Generally speaking, do your homework and practice. Consider your budget, your concerns, and various defense scenarios.

    In my home – a cape cod – there are lots of stairways and doorways. For this purpose, I find a shotgun or carbine awkward, so I keep a 38 Special handy. I practice raising the pistol to fire 3 quick shots within a “kill zone” at 30ft. Thus, I would not raise the barrel until I decided to destroy that which is immediately in front of me.

    If I need more than 6 rounds to disperse an intruder, then I have seriously pissed off the wrong people. I would have to retreat back upstairs and create a fortified position with heavier firepower – a true SHTF scenario. Your mileage may vary.

  • GunLovingLiberal

    Thanks for the useful article and the generally informative comments (particularly from the law enforcement officers). My wife and I are looking for a gun for home protection, and this confirms our suspicion that a shotgun is best. (Our only real concern had been where we could shoot it every so often to keep it operational–but I’m sure there are skeet ranges nearby.)

    Not all liberals are anti-gun, by the way. I’ve always believed in an armed citizenry and in the Second Amendment (along with the others).

  • Sean Kelly


    Very interesting. I have to admit that I believe that lethal weapons are too easily available in this country. At the same time, a recent home invasion in my city has left a young mother of two dead, and two others seriously wounded. My wife is disabled and vulnerable, and I don’t want to be defenseless if we’re attacked at home.

    Still, as you point out, owing a gun is a very serious responsibility. And you have to be prepared to take another life—and to have confidence in your judgment that you won’t shoot unless it’s absolutely necessary. I’m thinking of incidents like what happened a few years ago in (I think) New Orleans, when a man shot and killed a college student at his front door in the mistaken belief that the student was a threat. One of my relatives is a federal agent with extensive training in firearms, including how to tell the difference between a real threat and a situation that doesn’t call for lethal force. Obviously, someone who’s broken into your home is up to no good. Yet it’s not unusual for home owners to shoot members of their own family who’ve come home unexpectedly. Personally, though I don’t own firearms myself at this point, I believe that those who do should have the most thorough training possible in safely handling and using their weapons—including professional training in how to assess and respond appropriately to potential threats using the least force necessary. It’s my opinion that not nearly enough gun owners have had such training.

  • Ron

    Jeff, suggesting a rifle for home defense is irresponsible and reckless. Rifles cost more (both in weapon and accessory costs), and almost any rifle round will penetrate drywall with ease. Furthermore, the mag-release/charging handle/bolt release systems on AR-15’s are simply too cumbersome for the average person to manipulate under stress. Coupled with weight and low light, a miss is likely with a rifle, and the high velocity ammo will become a hazard to innocent people.

    Shotguns (appropriately loaded) work, so do mid-range handguns, but rifles should not be advocated by somebody who professes to be an expert. If it’s the only gun available, fine use it, but I wonder how many AR-15 owners own no other weapons……

  • RBAR

    A good article, and a great followup discussion. Very educational.
    Recontextualizing an old religious joke, I think it is safe to say that if 2 Jews=3 opinions, and 3 Baptists=6 opinions, then 10 gunowners = 5,283,416 opinions!

    (no offense intended of course)

  • RBAR

    ON a serious note, though, let’s not forget the value of all home security ingredients like a good dog, good outdoor lighting, a decent security/alarm system, neighborhood watch, good relationships with neighbors who know your schedule/routine, “the plan” (i.e. all your family knowing the routine for various types of emergencies), home defense weapons (and their accompanying training), personal self-defense training, and accessible phones (both land line and cell). Let’s also not forget the power of ideas, as the “pen is mightier than the sword.” Toting our guns without voting likewise only dooms our freedom to carry. So VOTE so you can TOTE.

    This was a great article on just one of many possible ingredients for your overall home security. Just as there is great debate on the most suitable weapons, we could have equally charged debates on the best martial art, the best defense dog, even the best light bulbs!

    In a civil unrest, the government may confiscate our guns anyway (like Katrina), which leads to perhaps the most important weapon of all, which is PRAYER!

  • americansoldier

    I recently had to defend myself and my home form a lone armed assailant he held me at gun point in my driveway and then forced me into my house. there still at gunpoint he told me to disarm my security system. I complied he then told me to show him where the money was i appeared to comply. As i lead him through the kitchen i grabbed a frying pan and struck at him as he jumped back i ran and got my gun a S&W .38mag I came around the corner and fires two shots grazing his shoulder as he ran away… three days later the police caught him… this guy first of all looked like he was about 23-25, he was 16 (crime free memphis) and had robbed two other people in the same manner… At his trial when asked if there was anything he would like to say for himself he said “I should be given a lighter sentence. that guy shot me.” to this the judge replied and your lucky its my understanding that he also has a shotgun. all this to say that children being shot isn’t always the three or five year old sometimes its the thug “gangsta” who’s parents never took the time to beat any sense into him.

  • americansoldier

    apologies for the typo’s form should read from, fires should read fired

  • j

    hey guys I’ve read a lot of the insight of the people here and some of you are just plain stupid on the other hand some of you view your rights as Americans and that’s a positive note i train state police in hand to hand, gun retention and gun defense in my home town I also help train with a HD class I shoot a high point 45 cal., a glock 9 and a 12ga. For my HD weapons but my AR is right next to my bed in the safe all of which are loaded. Kudos to “American soldier” im glad your still alive bro. and yes I will shoot anyone who attacks me or my family in my own house and includes hostel take overs, gang members, or just random burglaries

  • j

    and good article jeff

  • Rick

    I’m now leaning towards the shotgun for my primary weapon of defense (if I have the time to grab it) even if it does hurt my hearing. However, if I don’t have the time to grab the big shotgun then I’m thinking about getting a 9mm sub-compact springfield XD to keep in my nightstand. But I’d have to rack that too. Even though, I prefer the idea of a semi-auto to that of a revolver because of the ammo capacity and more accurate repeat fire.
    I currently have a remington 870 express. That’s a long barrel to maneuver around in a small house that doesn’t have expansive hallways and such. So I’m also thinking about getting a shorter barrel shotgun but I don’t know if they really get that short legally.

  • Alan

    People are very interested in this topic: good choice. I have some differing views, and solid experience. Here goes: The box o’ truth (Insulated Walls o’ Truth #12) really does show that 5.56 rounds do not make it through walls so easily as a 9mm or .45 bullet. Yes, they turn sideways, but they also deform, and the turn (physics says) causes so much deceleration that I’d much prefer to take the “turned 5.56” to a straight-on 9mm. The FBI reached the same conclusion, re 9mm sub-gun bullets. The Rem 870 pumps are fairly heavy. The M4-sized plain-jane AR is more than 2 lbs. lighter, and much shorter. I side with the AR guys, though I don’t own one (borrowed one for a year in RVN). I’d teach my wife to handle a short AR (rack, turn the safety) with a partially collapsed stock before I’d give her an 8.5 lb 870. Pumps have brutal recoil for people who have no technique. (AR’s have very low recoil, easy to aim the 2nd or 5th shot.) People don’t appreciate that revolvers have problems too, and many more small parts inside than most semi-auto’s. Cylinder timing can go at the worst possible moment.

    Pepper spray has one terrific use, and I’ve taken advantage of it at least four times: If you retreat to your gun (or just run in the city!) in the face of an attack, spray liberally side to side behind you as you retreat, covering your eyes with your hand (looking between fingers). Buy “cone mist” spray, not the “stream” type. You will disable your pursuer. Police use stream spray to avoid blow-back, but it does not disable very well. Too focused and dense. The perp will breathe the cone mist ‘liberally applied,’ his eyes will shut and his lungs will burn. I always carry pepper and a very bright little Surefire light. Even to Court (deposit it). I go safe places, generally.

    I myself rely on a few well-used 1911’s in two lengths and weights for carry and home. I keep a shotgun with buck in what I consider a clever place, and it’s appearance has frozen a perp fleeing arrest, and turned away a gang of 10 or 12 that didn’t realize it had wandered into a safe, affluent, well-policed neighborhood. (Both events were outside the house on the lawn.) I’ve switched to a modern shotgun (Benelli M4) for defensive use (as opposed birds), but otherwise things are the same. I use Glazer safety slugs, Blue. Good luck to all. Don’t make it a hobby. Choose. Train. Arrange placement. Go back to your life. Range practice quarterly or better and dry fire often. Do not change gun actions or models unless you want to start learning all over again (muscle memory). Just my 90 cents. laugh

  • Rick

    Alan, do all of these studies regaurding 9mm ammo use solid 9mm ammo or hollow points? It seems that most studies are done with solid 9mm ammo because that’s what the military and police have to use in most cases. Is that incorrect?

  • Alan

    Rick, I can’t answer your question accurately, because I haven’t kept copies of each report I read. Dry wall, though, doesn’t do much to get a 9mm JHP bullet to expand. “The Box ‘O Truth.com” has good clear tests of that. Please don’t take my comments so much as a rejection of 9mm or .45 ACP, as an acceptance that 5.56 ammo of an appropriate kind, in a civilian AR-style rifle, is not the awful choice than many believed for home defense. I think too many people buy an item, but don’t have a chance to put it through its paces under pressure on realistic targets. If they did, many of the pump-shotgun buyers might try something else afterward. Same goes for powerful handguns. A 5.56 16″ barreled, short-stocked rifle with the right ammo might leave them more confident after such practice. Low-recoil, much easier to aim than a pistol, much easier second shot that a shotgun. Better-balanced than a loaded extended-magazine shotgun. Convenience is the only argument (a good one) for a pistol. For people who don’t carry, convenience is much less of an issue. Reflect on these, and draw conclusions which fit your life.

  • Alan

    Rick, et al,

    I should have put IN CAPS that a simple short AR-style rifle makes sense in many ways, as listed, but ONLY WITH FRANGIBLE AMMO, as Jeff Barnett pointed out.

  • gary

    Great article! There is one very important thing that everyone is forgetting. CALLING FOR HELP! If you are serious about home defense one of the most important things you must do is call for help so with that in mind my choice for home defense is a handgun. It doesn’t matter if it is a revolver or a pistol but it is kept in my nightstand with an extra mag, a flashlight and my cell phone. Granted a rifle or a shotgun is a better fight stopper. However , I can not run the gun and the cell at the same time if I chose a longgun as my primary home defense wepon. Now I do keep a 870 with 00 in my room in case it really gets bad but my choice is to also be able to get help rolling my way.


  • jack

    Very interesting discussion. I however hav a few things for everyone to think about. As a 30 year veteran of a large metropolitian police dept. I have seen alot of different situations. All three types of weapons have their advantages and downfalls. The shotgun is a weapon with a great audible sound, great firepower, and ease of use. The defensive rifle should be a short carbine type rifle, it does have the most firepower, range and stopping power. The handgun is the most portable of the three and if your choice is a semi-auto it does have more ammo than a shotgun. The down fall of the rifle and the shotgun is the length. They are harder to go on the move with to gather your family. Because of the length of their barrels they are easily taken away by a hiding intruder. Handguns are easily handled by one hand therefore giving you the option of opening and closing doors, calling the police on your cell phone, or gathering the kids. Not any one is the best tool in every situation so a battery of at least one long gun and one hand gun is a good solution. As for the non leathal options, they are all ment to TEMPORIALY subdue an indivual long enough to restrain them so unless your are trained to do so and have back up while you are doing so forget them. USE YOUR HEAD AND BE CAREFUL!!!!!!

  • David Stienmetz

    LOL, this is pretty crazy. Coming from a combat veteran, armorer, and former law enforcement officer, I’m gonna have to say this is all overkill. The best home defence is a good alarm system, pepper spray, and posibly a high voltage taser. If you want to look at statistics, by a huge margin, guns kill more people than they save. Having lived in many different countries, I can tell you that in places like South Korea, where guns are illegal, the murder rate is less than half what it is here in the states. Considering how much better equipped our law enforcement is, it’s a clear indicator that our gun control laws are inadequate. Sorry to shoot in the reality check here, but if you’re buying shotguns and assault rifles for the slim possibility that a burglar is going to invade your house, you’ve been watching too much TV.

  • Alan

    David Stienmetz: The South Korean murder rate is much lower. Their aggravated assault rate is quite high, and the society is, generally, repressive and severely patriarchal. The suicide rate per 100,000 is TWICE that in the USA. Until 1930, nearly half the population were still slaves. It is true that in the U.S.A. we allow violent offenders and hard-drugs addicts a freer life, a shorter sentence, and a black market for guns. You call a semi-auto carbine an “assault rifle.” Rubbish. If your stated resume is accurate, I don’t believe for a second you’d be willing to go on a military assault mission facing actual assault rifles armed with only a semi-auto-only M4 clone. I’m experienced, and I certainly would not. Good alarms connected to central stations are, compared to a motion detector and a shotgun, very expensive over five or ten years. I have a central alarm, and can testify to that. The response is slow too, despite an excellent local PD. Pepper spray is only effective if you can run from the threat outdoors after spraying. It is useless against an armed intruder in a closed space if your back is to the wall. It panics the intruder. Good luck with your taser against a pair of armed burglars, by the way. laugh. Let us know how that works out.

  • Jeff (But not the author)

    Jeff, I would like to say I completely agree with the AR-15 as a home defense weapon, given the right ammunition. My first time using one I was able to place 78 out of 79 rounds on a target at 200 yards. Prior to that my only firearms experience bad been with single shot belt action .22 LR and 12 Ga shotgun. One skill I found to improve my shooting (on .22 ‘s and the AR-15) has been to alternate live firing with exercise so that I could train with the problems of a fast heart beat and heavy breathing. Though I would only recommend this to someone already very proficient with the firearm.

  • Rex

    There is the danger of “one size fits all” solution to the question of which weapon is best for home defense. The best answer might be “Whatever fits into your lifestyle and fits in with the whole range of measures one must take to live safely.” That involves a lot of sacrifice for me personally (not going out to the movies at midnight, e.g.) now that I take it seriously.

    In fact, this is the main question I kept running into before I got my little seven-pound house dog when I researched “Which dog is best for home protection?” It depends. Most people (like myself) instinctively think of a Rott or German Shepherd or Doberman or even a “pit bull” (the pitbull ironically being perhaps the friendliest breed toward humans). For 90 percent of people, a dog that simply barks at strangers or strange noises is best. And that is what I got, one that eats almost no food and has no medical problems. Unfortunately, there are tons of people getting dogs they cannot handle, dog breeds that don’t make any sense for them.

    Home defense is a very emotional subject — the word ‘home’ being perhaps one of the most emotionally charged words there is — and the whole subject either sends a lot of people into a paranoid panic or it just turns them off and they avoid taking responsible measures.

    These emotions are based on where you live. If you live in the countryside, owning a gun is like owning a lawnmower or a chainsaw, and in a lifestyle where most of the regulations are personal and are those imposed by the church or the family, the government stepping in to ban a gun is like some cop groping you or your wife. In the city, every practical aspect of life is regulated necessarily anyway, and a gun has a whole different meaning (even a chainsaw is scary to city folks); the gun is the city is a tool of criminals and police, not ordinary people, and freedom relates more to personal lifestyle (the first amendment, not so much the second).

    The real question, similar to that in choosing a dog breed, is perhaps “How much time or opportunity do you have to practice the craft of shooting?” For me, and for most people, the answer is “Almost none.” I live in the city, in an apartment. If I lived in the suburbs, the answer might be different. If it was a rural suburb, perhaps a shotgun or an AK47 which I could practice with every weekend. In an urban suburb, maybe a pistol. In the countryside, I just might collect guns the way my neighbors would.

    I plan on getting an airsoft pistol and airsoft rifle and a lot of ammo, and once I run through the ammo, then I’ll begin shopping for either a pistol or rifle depending on which I found most usable and comfortable. (And if I ever get a dog for self-defense in the city or a suburb, it would probably be either a 200-pound English Mastiff or a 40-pound Standard Schnauzer (or both), fiercely protective dogs that I would not have to exercise two or three times a day.) My point is that people need to get into a comfort zone before they start making decisions on this. They need to try different things and be experimental and feel good about learning about guns. This website is a great step in that direction. Thanks, Jeff!

  • parent-with-a-plan

    Jeff, great article, made me rethink how our family may need to respond. BTW – we just put together a Preparedness Kit (Water, Food, Medical, Safety) to cover us for 1 month. (you can’t wipe your butt with a Glock) Protecting ones family certainly includes rapid response i.e. firearms, but will likely include services disruptions that can change the threats that you and your family could face. If you have ever been in the middle of a SHTF ice storm, hurricane, power grid failure etc.. that lasted more than 1 week with no power/water/gas/coffee! you will understand what “normal” people are capable of. It pays to have a plan with a bit more reach/capacity and the shotgun begins to make much more sense for longer/changing protection periods. I am going to include thoughts from your article and some of the posts into the Safety section of our plan.

    Why have a broader plan? remember the news reels from our Katrina response? (we knew that storm was going to hit BTW) It was more like, IN CASE OF EMERGENCY – GOOD LUCK! Keeping my family safe includes some of what Jeff covered, but its part of a broader plan to keep them safe & healthy if the infrastructure we rely on takes a hit. To be clear, I am not putting together a survivalist bunker, its a cabinet with food, water, camp stove, TP & coffee to get us through several weeks IF our infrastructure takes a significant hit.

    For the interested, we bought the Berkley Royal water purifier. The dehydrated food from http://www.mountainhouse.com/index.cfm
    (the canned food lasts 30 years, so I am doing this part only once)

    “Responsible Parent” made SO much sense to me … until he ripped off the rubber mask and went right-winger. Taking folks guns away? sigh, that is just NRA spin and its not accurate or productive. From a family protection standpoint, parents probably don’t need AKs or ARs unless they live in Somalia.

    Thanks for the article and the posts, they have helped me refine how I protect my family.

  • http://www.badoer.com Metal Slug

    great info mate..
    thanks for your post 🙂

  • http://www.ninjahq.com how to be a ninja

    Lots of good info. I live in Australia and here we don’t have guns. Its highly illegal to carry a gun and knives over 6 inches. I used to live in America and I had a gun and a permit a few years ago and I sure as hell felt a lot safer. I dont agree with all the people who are saying having guns in the general population increases gun crime. If I was a criminal I’d be less likely to hold someone up If i knew they could potentially have a gun on them and shoot me…

    Anyway – thanks for the great post 🙂 lots of good info.

  • martin

    I can tell you one thing. A 16″ barrel AR-15 is not to big for home defense and requires 1:50 the training to be good at it. Double taps 5, 10, 15, 25 feet away is childs play for almost anyone with no experience. Try that with a hand gun with someone and see what happens. I will grab a rifle every time over a pistol if given the chance. I have and am very good with my 870 shotgun and for close work it is the king man stopper but it is limited in total pin point accuracy and can be hard to handle without a decent amount of training. Females especially have a hard time operating it without the upper body strength. I love my shotgun but my wife – no way. A mini 14 or M-1 carbin is a perfect rifle for her – simple and uncomplicated and pin point accurate for a first timer. A glock is excellent for the pull the trigger simplicity (never had a malfunction ever in my glock 21). No FMJ military rounds are needed in the home for rifles. For you wishy washy people out there I say. You have no business pulling a gun unless you mean buisness so don’t have one unless you know how to use it and/or handle it. When someone breaks in your house and you are home – they are not stopping by to say hello – they mean buisness and so you better mean buisness. pepper spray ouch for sure but it is no stopper I can tell you.

  • Climb-on

    What about 20 guage shotguns for home defense purposes. They have lighter recoil, and are lighter and easier to maneuver while still providing the benefits of a shotgun. Massad Ayoob has a very detailed article in the Backwoods Home Magazine titled “Consider the 20 guage”. I recommend having a look if you’re in the market for a shotgun for home defense.

    Link to article online:

  • http://www.kapaza.be/Autos lowie

    wow big guns(;
    .-= lowie´s last blog ..Nissan titan =-.

  • martin

    I have 2 personal favorites. Shotgun Tactical load “00” buck shot for myself but I think the “0” buck is just as good but no one seems to use it. You don’t need the 3″ magnum shells it is just over kill and penetrates farther with tons more recoil, which you don’t need. The second choice/favorite one for everyone is the M1 carbine. It is so simple, no recoil, 30 round magazines and the new rounds that have been developed for it with the expanding bullets 2009 are about as perfect as you can get for unloading on a human target without overpenetration. Military ammo is so cheap for this rife so you can practice to your hearts content and it is so easy and fun to shoot. But do not use the military FMJ ammo for defense in the home because it will overpenetrate and go right through someone, ever III body armor and keep going. So practice with the fmj rounds by the 1000 and keep 2 mags of the new awsome rounds developed for it for defense. Your wife and all family members will like and enjoy handling and shooting this small easy gun. The best thing is that they have all sorts of suff you can put on them with lights, optics and whatever and they are just plain simple to operate. The new rounds have brought it into the 21st century:)

  • Mark Lumpkin

    I came across your article just as I was beginning to think about acquiring an additional firearm besides my Beretta 92FS for home defense. If you were going to buy one additional firearm, what would you purchase? I am more comfortable with the prospect of an AR-15 than a 12 gauge, but would like to see if you still feel the same as when you published this article. Thanks.

  • Jeff Barnett

    I keep a Remington 870 HD beside my headboard with a Glock 26 in the nightstand and an AR-15 on call in my gunsafe. The AR-15 is technically the best choice, but ONLY with frangible ammo. Let me say that again: ONLY with frangible ammo. I like the simplicity and reduced need for accuracy of the shotgun loaded with 00 buck. I live in a suburban neighborhood of brick homes, so overpenetration is not a huge concern for me. Best of luck.


  • Jeff Barnett

    Wait, sorry for the mistake. My home defense load is #4 buck. More effective and less overpenetration.

  • Mark

    Thanks for your reply. I went looking today and couldn’t quite decide what to buy. I thought about checking out pawn shops but wound up going to several gun stores and just looking. Do you own the DPMS Panther Lite? Would you buy used or even trust buying one from a pawn shop? We had an army base that closed and I wonder if that would be a good place to start (the pawn shops that is). Sorry to be so uneducated about this issue.

  • Mike

    Thanks for tips, great article!

  • Karl

    Just wanted to throw in my two cents on this debate. I am a former infantryman, and I recently purchased an AR-15 for home defense. I went with the AR for a number of reasons, but one of the most important was that it was the weapon I felt the most comfortable with. After lugging an M-4 for years, the controls and action of an AR-15 seem second nature to me. Also an AR is more versatile than the other options. I can use it for simple home defense, civil unrest situations and for fun at the range. But back to my main point, I think people should get the weapon they are the most comfortible with. Remember most people won’t rise to the occasion, they will revert to their level of training!

  • NN

    Ok, it’s interesting reading this as an outsider. I thought this was an interesting magazine until I saw this article.

    Reading this as a European this reads like it was written by a psycho. The comments are even more scary.

    Why the hell do Americans persist in believing that guns make you safer? Your crime rates (and particularly violent crime rates) are orders of magnitude greater than ours – almost certainly because of your crazy constitutional right to bear arms.

    Charlton Heston’s “cold dead hands” comment really epitomises the collective madness that you have all gotten into.

  • BB

    I haven’t checked out your estimate that crime is magnitudes higher in America than in Europe. But, as an American victim of one violent unprovoked crime that sent the perpetrator to prison for 20 years, and another home invasion in which I was threatened with a knife (all strangers to me), I can attest that crime does happen to regular middle class people like me. If, as you say, crime is heavy in America, it only makes sense to me, that I SHOULD be responsible enough to inform myself, protect myself and arm myself to take care that I not be victimized again.

    In a crime situation, since time is of the essence, a faster repulsion of the perpetrators, either by scaring them away or blowing them away, seems the better option than waiting for someone to call 911 (if they can. I couldn’t in my cases) and then waiting for a possible appropriate response from law enforcement (or not). Being armed and ready is, in my estimation, not ‘mad’, but rather, a prudent and responsible way to provide security and preserve one’s own life and property.

    In the case of an isolated situation of home defense, as above, or more widespread anarchy or tyranny, where law enforcement would either be overtaxed or otherwise unavailable to defend someone, the U.S. Constitution, fortunately, recognizes the right of U.S. citizens to defend themselves with ‘arms’. One of the main reasons this right to bear arms was originally instituted was as a check to avoid tyranny, wherein a power-mad government might forget that government in America is of the people, by the people, and for the people. One could even call the second amendment a sort of 4th branch of the government (the people) because of this defensive check against possible tyranny. In my opinion, this amendment to the Constitution was not only not ‘crazy’, but a sound and solid preventative measure – a very good thing. If the unfortunate circumstances ever occur wherein we need to exercise resistance against tyranny, it’s easy to see that if we were not armed, we would just be mowed down. If armed, we could defend ourselves and defend freedom. But, no matter where a possible threat may originate, be it rouge government, criminals, civil unrest, dangerous animals, or foreign invasion, it shows healthy responsiblilty, to just be prepared for it – in case. This is a good thing and there’s everything right with it and nothing wrong with it. To me, it is self-evident.

    On another note to anyone,
    That some people are paranoid so they own a gun and others are paranoid so they are afraid of guns, just shows that some people are paranoid and has nothing to do with the separate argument that it’s better to be prepared for emergencies than not to be prepared.

    Another ‘weapon’ for home defense, not related to firearms, but certainly worth mentioning, is Heaven’s help. In the 2 instances where I was victimized (above), the intervention of God in my defense was what brought me through. I know that God is there for me to call upon for help. And it’s the best kind of help I’ve yet experienced.

  • http://www.filmschoolrejects.com Doc Brown

    Hey NN,

    I’m back from the past and can tell you’re living in some sort of Time Warp. Even the European Media admits that Europe is more dangerous than America in terms of violent crime. Violent Crime and Murder in America has steadily declined for decades. Violent crime in the UK rose – unironically after stricter gun control laws. Take a look here:


    Britain is the most violent country in Europe. London is the 10th Most Dangerous City in the world. America doesn’t even rank in the top 10 Western countries for violence anymore. Statistically, per 100,000, Britain, France, Canada, and Finland are all more dangerous than America – and America counts reported crimes, not just cases that result in conviction. So while we may seem paranoid, at least we’re safer.

    And for BB,

    In terms of religion being there for you, I’ll simply say this: God created all men equal, Samuel Colt made them all the same size.
    .-= Doc Brown´s last blog ..Uncovering The Secret of Kells: This Year’s Surprise Oscar Nominee =-.

  • TXinChi

    I am a former IPSC shooter from Texas that would like to add to this conversation.

    I am unable to arm myself with a pistol in Chicago. It is currently under review, and I hope it works out. Why?

    I live in a high rise and have neighbors. My load hear would be a .38 Special Glazer round out of my 4″ Colt Python. I used this gun on rare occasion for competion. I shoot my Gold Cup .45 more commonly in IPSC and shoot much better.

    I have grown up with pistol shooting.

    I have practiced with shot guns a good deal, but I know pistols.

    I am now forced into a .12 gauge by world. I live in a high rise Chicago, Chicago law say I can not have a pistol or hand gun and as such left them all in Texas with family.

    I am much better with pistols, but have been made to live with a weapon that is not my best shot. My neighbors are the one that might suffer the price. I admit the chance of home intrusion is low where I live, but I have to sacrifice my capability and the saftey of those around me for what? Look at crime stats in Chicago.

    All that said, it’s about what you know how to shoot. For me, I will never miss shot with a .45, or a .357. These are the best 1st shot stoppers. (Outside of really large rounds). Time and time again they have proven as the best (one round) man stoppers.

    These are what I shoot best, and I can’t. I am greatful that that hand-band of Chicago is before the supreme court.

    As to the topic..

    I would never fire a rifle in my own house, but that has a lot to do with the fact that I have never effectively used one in competion or for survival.

    As former Marine, I would trust you know that weapons. For home use, I am not sold on a combat rifle outside those with such expertise. I trust myself with a pistol more than any other weapon because of my exp. This is not to disregard rifles. I own many.

    Experience is the word. Learn to shoot. Take classes. Learn proper handling. Know your weapon well. Take proper care of your weapon. Safety, safety, then, practice, practice, practice.

  • AG


    First my qualifications: I’m professionally trained, non-LEO, and I teach that of which you debate for a living. (Unfortunately with experience on both sides of the gun – although without any self-inflicted issues.)

    The difference between anti-gun and pro-gun is usually one violent encounter. It’s easy to sit at Starbuck’s and take shots at Mr. Barnett when you have NO idea how a violent attack feels. Chances are good that many self-proclaimed commando types are also fat-body types professing knowledge in the martial/civil combat/defense arena. A ‘real’ commando (true believer) is one with which you NEVER want to encounter. They are tools groomed for one specific purpose. Leave that alone.

    Civilian encounters can be violent and brutal. Spend some time with a violent offender sometime. You’ll want to leave that room so fast that you’ll spill your Latte. They exhibit compassion, reason, sympathy, and whatever else you would expect from your next door neighbor – until you reach the point of disconnect from ‘normalcy.’ They actually believe their own BS. I digress.

    Who really believes that society has progressed from biblical times? Really? The nature of men hasn’t changed much. ‘We’ actually want to believe that ‘We’ are a civilized society. Close, but no cigar.

    To the naysayers: I hope you get to live your life according to your plan. Walk around in your Birkenstocks along your clean city streets to your hybrid Earth-friendly sapien transport device and be happy. Feel fortunate if you haven’t lost a loved one to a violent act.

    To the caliber warriors: A man I’ve known for a lifetime was executed with a 22 caliber Beretta. One shot. He was felled by a lucky semi-pro. If he had a thousand 1911s in 38 super (you know who I’m talking to, guys) strapped to his body he still couldn’t have defended himself. This man could do more with his bare hands than most could do with edged weapons and firepower. I encourage everyone to become proficient in unarmed technique – yep, that means getting a few practice bruises and sprains here and there. They hurt a lot less when you get them from a controlled encounter. After an uncontrolled violent encounter be happy that you preserve life over all, but also eyesight, teeth, ears, and enough blood to sustain you on your trip to the ER. Waking up with surgical masked faces hovering over you is something you won’t ever forget.

    Shoot what you shoot well and HOPE you never have to use it. A 22 Beretta can kill you just as fast as a $2,500.00 speed gun.

    Seeing a charging militant unload his AK at your team – while recently losing his cardio-pulmonary system is quite an enlightening moment. It wouldn’t have mattered if he was hit with a 9mm or a 50bmg.

    My choice is easy: Dogs. Training. Home alarm (alerting system). Trained wife. Fly below the RADAR and make myself a hard invisible/latent target. Know when to NOT go somewhere.

    Peace or absence of conflict – your choice.


  • http://www.bluepitbulls.info/ Jameson

    waiting for a possible appropriate response from law enforcement (or not). Being armed and ready is, in my estimation, not ‘mad’, but rather, a prudent and responsible way to provide security and preserve one’s own life and property.
    .-= Jameson´s last blog ..News Release 4 =-.

  • Pingback: The New Generation of Nerf | Primer()

  • iowapatriot

    I have been reading all the responses, and it’s been extremely interesting and informative. Only shot years and years ago while in Navy basic training (25 yards in an indoor range, only once, which is like not having any experience at all). My wife and I are considering a weapon for HD, and I will probably get a 12-gauge. We have a nephew who is a cop, and will take his advice on what kind of training to get (and we WILL get training). I just want to let everyone who has posted here that it’s been a real education. Thanks!!!!!!

  • 18y/oFarmer

    Personally i have a mix of weapons. Where i live the cops are 15 minutes out on a fantastic day. Under the my pillow i carry a 38 special wheel gun, i have enough experience with it and my black powder wheel gun that i trust them more than most. But please remember, i have military training and to ex cops for parents i am extremely well versed in the use of any type of weapon.

    Concerning the suggested weapons under the premise that the user is a civilian with limited to no experience outside of knowing how to fire the weapon, i concur to the lineup. Admittedly i would think that to “dumb it down” even further a simpler rifle might be better, a 30-30 lever action perhaps? Again this is to simplify the weapon even further. I forget who called the AR-15(M4) a “big black scary gun” but that person is right, the AR-15(M4) has military badass stamped all over it and is intimidating to the average person.

    But overall i believe that the shotgun with a birdshot or multi slug shell is still the best weapon BY FAR. It is very simple, very wide with the right choke and thus reducing the risk of missing due to adrenaline and lack of experience. Children do get killed by guns, but kids such as myself that are raised to respect firearms are no risk. It is those that seek to explore taboos that get themselves killed. In these cases it can be reasonably argued that had they been properly educated they would have never been killed in the first place.

  • 18y/oFarmer

    Oh yes, and as a side note from a “stupid farmer hillbilly soldier with a ego complex” CITE YOUR FUCKING SOURCES!!!! Some of you idiots need to go back to college which i am IN right now. WRI121 is devoted to the education of the need for citation.

    I am young, i have little to know experience compared to many of you, but this bickering over caliber and gun laws makes me pity you children. As AG said “Shoot what you shoot well and HOPE you never have to use it. A 22 Beretta can kill you just as fast as a $2,500.00 speed gun.”

    Do some calibers carry more lethality than others? No shit sherlock. Are some guns better than others for particular jobs? Duh. But at the end of the day a little 22 twin shot is just as deadly when shoved in your face as a shotgun. Experience and knowlege of your guns and your weaknesses are your best weapons.

  • http://redcrowmarketing.com web design mo

    Jeff great post. I love the way you placed the data.

  • Dennis C

    Thanks for an informative intro to home defense. I am not currently a gun owner (not for political or moral beliefs, I just don’t own one). I skimmed many replies, and I don’t recall anyone mentioning the need for firearms because some less-lethal means are basically useless against someone on certain drugs. So first, a question – what is the effectiveness of each of these weapons on someone on something like PCP? Do a couple of 9mm slugs in the stomach or chest stop someone who is basically impervious to a regular ass kicking?

    I have a second degree black belt in tae kwon do, and I learned first hand that trying to subdue someone on PCP is basically an exercise in futility (I broke his radius, ulna, four ribs, his collarbone and jaw, and he still kept coming). There are lots of home invasions in my city, and if someone comes through that door, I want effectiveness in spite of what they’re on.

    Any advice you can share is greatly appreciated.

  • TAB

    I just purchased a 12 gauge semi-auto Browning Maxus shot gun. I also own 2 handguns, a .45 S&W M&P and a S&W Air Weight .38 sp. I purchased the Browning because I am becoming involved in hunting and in sporting clays. That being said I have a question for those of you with more experienced than I may have. You have stated the pump shotgun to be a great home defense choice, how would my semi auto Browning compare in effectivness? Thank you and by the way, great job Jeff, great discussion.

  • gypsy

    I am a single mother of three young children. I do not have much gun experience but feel the need to change that soon. I live next to a bar. Due to the job I have I don’t get home until late at night sometimes even early in the a.m. My schedule is pretty consistent. My work location is in a not very good part of town. I also leave work late at night with lots of cash. I am looking for a versatile weapon that I can use for home defense and concealed carry for work. Leaning toward the Taurus Judge. Any thoughts? Easy on me fellas I’m new at this.

  • http://none Brian

    hey guys, I have always had a remington 870, and recently bought a ruger 9mm with a 17 round clip. just love this gun, it’s the SR9c, compact version but it comes with a 17 round clip! this gun feels so comfortable and easy to shoot and comes with a unique safety feature that is a small bar that pops up whenever there is a bullet in the chamber. it pops up and says right there “ready to fire” this is in addition to the regular safety. you take the safety off, and the bar is there telling you this gun is now ready to fire, so there is no mistake. anyway my question is more along the lines of not what gun, what caliber to have, but really what should one do? I recently had two kids (19 or so) ring my doorbell in a nice quiet suburban area full of expensive homes(mine not) at 6 in the morning. my car usually parked in the driveway was not there, it was at the shop, so they thought nobody was home. I woke up and looked out my peephole (great device to have!) and saw them looking in. then before I could think straight, one of them went behind the house and had a screwdriver or something in his hand looking for a way to pry open a window or door. Now I had the shotgun but it wasn’t loaded and I thought by the time I go back to my room and load the gun etc they could be inside the house already, so I just stuck my head out the window and told him to get lost. so they did, they just calmly drove off. ok so say I had the shotgun, or got my new 9mm and pointed it at them and gave them the old dirty harry routine. “well, do ya feel lucky, punk?” ok this would have worked in this case since they wern’t armed. well I don’t know for absolute sure but they didn’t seem armed. but what if they were? me pointing the gun at them, they might panic and start shooting at me. so on the one hand you have me telling them to get lost and they do. or, if I had had the gun, a possible shoot out. seems to me the first choice is better.
    also, which is better if you got 3 guys burst into your home and they all have loaded guns. cooperate and hope for the best? or start shooting and hope they have bad aims or get scared and leave? these are the types of questions I wonder about. now if severely threatened, I think I could definately shoot to kill but to always have a gun around seems like in some situations it’s just escalating the situation that might not need to be escalated. when to actually use the gun, and when to not in different situations, this is what I am thinking about, not what caliber is best. (by the way i took the advice and have hollow points for home defense, not the FMJ)

  • Jason

    Tab, If you’re comfortable shooting the Browning, then it’s effectiveness will not disappoint you. Get as comfortable as you can and train so you know it inside and out. Any properly working 12 gauge will accomplish what you need it to.

    Gypsy, no first hand experience with the Taurus Judge, but you may want to look into the Magnum edition since the .410 regular version isn’t rated very highly for self defense.

    Brian, The way I see it, if you’ve entered my home you’ve already escalated the situation. I’m not going to take the chance you’re not going to hurt me, by entering my home you’ve already made aggressive move towards me and there’s no way to tell how far you’ll go.

    Great discussion!

  • http://www.asciugatriceclassea.info Gina

    In my family we always had beretta’s, but I would like to handle a glock, look quite compact and of not too big size, too.

    I have start training in combat sports untill i was a kid, I have to say in almost 40 years of adult age I pointed a gun to somebody only once, all other stress situation I had met I was able to affront with out even take out my beretta.

  • Bill Mclaren

    Good question Brian.
    IMO having a secure perimiter is the first line of any home defense. If its hard to get in you will give yourself time to secure the family and arm yourself. Then you can call the cops and verbaly warn them before they are in your home.
    I have a 12 gauge with 00 for home defense which I feel comfortable keeping in the safe away from my small kids because my home is hard to get into without making a lot of noise.

  • Brian

    good point bill.my house is rediculously easy to break into, many cheap made windows, and a cheap sliding glass door in the back. putting a stick in windows and sliding glass doors works but it’s a pain since you always forget you have the stick in there and you have to keep on removing it and putting it back over and over again. most break in’s dont happen in the middle of the night. it’s usually when they think nobody is home during the day, as in my case. but you never know. even in my nice area of the city, we had a crack house close by, and even in a fancy bluff house overlooking the water, the renters had a pot growing operation and I came home one day to find the entire street blocked off, cause they had pipe bombs inside the house I guess to guard against somebody breaking into their pot operation and stealing stuff. crazy.

    we recently had a crime here in the north of seattle area, where people put adds on craigslist, and the people who responded to the add, came to their house. this happened two times. first time the person answers the door, and one guy says I want to buy such and such, so they let him in, he pulls a gun and then a couple other guys come in later with guns. they tie the people up with those plastic ties and ransack the house, stealing petty things. and left. second time, guy was selling a ring, and they showed up, again one guy, followed by a few more all with guns. this time a 14 year old boy put up some resistance so they pistol whipped him, his dad saw this and put up a struggle. they shot him dead. tied up the rest of the family stole some stuff and then left. they caught them in california a week later and charged this one punk with murder. so, first instance they cooperated and nobody got hurt, second instance they fought back without guns, and lost. I have decided I will not open my door to anybody whom I dont know. if I dont’ know em, I’m going to ignore em, unless of course it’s a 8 year old girl selling cookies or something. the newspapers came out and said anytime you sell something, agree to meet them in a public place. but how do you do that if what you are selling can’t be moved easily? i’ts pretty scary. the thing I think about in carrying a gun is if I was out hiking say. I like to have a gun for possible animal attacks or weird people attacks. we also had two women found murdered off a popular trail in the mountains close by where I live, and nobody ever found out who did it. if they had had a gun things might have been different for them.

  • Bill Mclaren

    Its expensive to make your house safe brian, but it is worth it. Memorial weekend around 8pm im barbecuing in back yard and my 6 year old daughter runs out shouting someone is trying to get in front door. I have ornamental steel outer security doors so i can open inside door and safely see who is there or leave inside door open to let breeze in. this guy is banging on door and trying handle. i tell him to back off and he just keeps trying door. so wife calls cops and i grab shotgun. he finaly gets the message when i point gun at him and warn him off. cops were there in 4 mins and took him down. turns out he was in a hit and run, ditched his car and was running from cops.
    only takes one instance in a lifetime to pay for those windows and doors.

  • The AncientOne

    When considering a weapon for self-defense, one must absolutely consider the circumstances and while most are thinking and applying what has been said to living in a city or town, there are a vast number of Americans living out in “the country” where things are much different. For example, where we live, we have 15 acres and there is no a home within a quarter of a mile. Yes, normally the shotgun would still apply, but change the circumstances to a total breakdown of the system to the point there is no power, no fire or police protection, and you are on your own and if people know you have more than they do, they will come. They will come anyway to find out if you do have more than they and they will plan on taking it. Still thinking .223? I don’t think so. For me, surrounded by woods with a large, very large open area, say 100 yards in all directions between us and the woods, I want some power so if I have to shoot an invader at 75 or even 100 yards away, I know they are not coming any further because I will protect my entire family. We have buried caches all over the property so I can get to what I need no matter where I am on the property and no, you will not find them and if you did, I assure you, entry into them will NOT happen unless you know how and unless you have had the intensive training many of us have had in the military, you will not get close enough to any cache to open it and if you do, you will not get it open!
    The AncientOne
    Remember this: Things are usually NOT as they seem!

  • http://domestictreason.blogspot.com MadDogMarine

    Neuville said
    “So Jeff, we get to the real crux of the issue. The reality is guns don’t make you safer. Guns make you feel safer. They are a psychological salve more than a real instrument of safety. Sep 24th, 2008”

    Weapons have never been an instrument of safety. They are an instrument of freedom. And many have died using them for that very purpose.
    Semper Fi

  • Brian

    Ditto about the AR-15; this is a long-range rifle with an easy 1/4 mile killing-range range, which isn’t really required unless you live on a ranch and have a lot of advanced warning about who’s coming. Likewise, it’s just too big and unwieldy for an indoors-weapon.

    If you were to cut the stock and barrel off, then you’d have a great home-defense pistol though– but I don’t know about the legality (or even feasibiity) of doing this.

  • Dau Tieng 59

    Mr. Chamberlain, the Second Amendment is about military weaponry does say do about hunting as the pols like to think. A shotgun in a multi person family is best because it will sweep an area as oppossed to a single ball needing to be placed properly. A head shot with a shotgun will settle the problem one shot, one problem solved. It is better to have a thousand extraneous rounds left then to be one round short. Evidently you think the only people with an interest ilarge capasity magazines are drug dealers. If you look to our southern boarder you will find the drug dealers are not just using their weapons on other drug dealers but on police and citizens. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to defend against them and also remember LA during Katrina when the citizens were disarmed and only the police and crooks had weapons.
    Over 100,00 people are killed each year by Medical mistakes are we going to close the hospitals to save them? As has been mentioned here the reason kids are dying from gunshot wounds is that the are not taught about weapons and kill themselves playing with weapons.

    Another scenario for your possible problems with a weapon in the home is if the sun came up behind the prep while you were trying to defend yourself you could be blinded by the light and the prep could take the weapon away from you. Remember when seconds count the police are just minutes away.

  • Mike Reiter

    Jeff, great article. I’ve kept a Mossberg 590 in our home for years. First shell is a #8 game load, the rest are #1 buck. The idea is, if I get my way with the first one, I don’t need the buck shot. However, if the first shell doesn’t get it done, the next one will. Another advantage of the lack of overpenetration on the game load is the drywall repairs are easier. In a pinch, you can always use a shotgun to beat an intruder half to death if you’re up to it.

    I have a Ruger .357 as a backup, using frangible ammo. I like 6 in the wheel and I like not tripping over spent brass on the ground…especially in the dark. If you can’t get it done with 6, you’re probably not ever going to ever get it done.

  • Matt

    Being an avid target shooter, my first choice would be a 12 gauge pump, followed by my S&W .357. However, both of these take practice to use in any situation. However, I did hear of an idea that is great as a backup, as well as for those who don’t have the time, inclination or money to invest in firearms and training. Wasp and Hornet Killer. Before you start laughing, grab yourself a can of the stuff and read the label. Sprays up to 22 feet and kills on contact. Hazardous to Humans and domestic animals. Contains Tetramethrin and Permetrin. It will disable and render someone unconscious. And it is cheap and readily available. Several cans will cost less than a box of good ammo. You can keep a can in different areas of the house so you are never without some defensive measures. A spray in the face will stop an aggressor. In the eyes, nose or moulth better call 911 unless….

  • Pete

    I prefer the concept of accuracy by volume. Meaning, more bullets, more better.

  • Fabian, another swiss

    A .223 Carbine would be the perfect choice if all functions were available, particularly the 3 shots full auto, but it takes some training. These weapons being unlawful I will settle on the shot gun but in 20 gauge.
    Effectively and unless you can drill like we do in the army, the 12 gauge has more to do with folklore than efficiency. The noise and the recoil are way to violent for a casual shooter. Furthermore, I checked the price of ammo and at $ 1/shot, it will cost you a fortune to get proficient. Automatic double actions handguns like the SIG or the Glock are very good weapons, they never fail with the proper ammo. Contrary to popular belief, shooting doubles with 2 hands, at 10 yards (majority of gun fights are within 10 yards) is easy and fun to master. Regarding over penetration, I’m sure that you can find loads that will mitigate this problem.

  • Brad Nailer

    I wonder, what are the odds of a life threatening personal attack, versus the threat of heart attack, stroke, cancer and the like. Do you guys bring the the same passion to guarding your health and protecting yourself from disease that you do to your weaponry?

  • Dan

    Some of the arguments against rifles here are ridiculous. Its obvious you shouldn’t trust your life to a weapon you are not comfortable or practiced with. An adrenaline dump and limited visibility don’t make you safer or more accurate with a shotgun than they do a rifle. Ever heard of reflexive fire? I’ve seen 19 year olds who can barely tie their shoes do it.

  • Keith Whitmore

    Using a AR-15 for home defense, you nuts? The 223 round is a deadly round. It will easily penetrate a block wall & keep going. Now, your going to shoot it in your house for home defense. I hope none of your family, friends or innocent people are walking any where near your hooch. If they are, they are dead meat & all you need to do is call the cops & the meat wagon.

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  • http://www.homedefenseshotgun.net Chuck Burns

    Great article!

    Lots of very good comments and it makes me smile and shake my head to read some of the comments. The one about the Glock safety was a head shaker. I love the Glock, it has three built in safeties that are always on as long as my finger is off the trigger. When my finger is on the trigger the safety is off. No worry in a stressful situation about finding the safety. Just aim and if need be, fire. 17 rounds of Hydra Shok.

    My home defense weapon of choice is the Remington 870 12GA along with my Glock 17. I keep trigger locks on all my guns because of grand children who live with me. My guns are not readily available to me but that is my choice. I like it that way, my choice and not the government dictating what I “SHALL” do. If I lived alone I would keep the Glock 17 and shotgun, and AR15 in a more ready to use condition.

    The recent comment about the AR15 penetrating a block wall. I guess that depends on the block. I watched a TV show that compared the M16 5.56×45 round to the AK47 7.62×39 round. The 5.56 did not appear to go through both sides of a common cinder block with the first round. After several rounds the block was broken up. The 7.62×39 round being much heavier did considerably more damage to the block with one shot and easily broke the block apart with following shots.

  • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Woody

    Jeff, I stumbled on this site by accident, but am glad I did. I live S/W of H’ville out in the sticks, I’m a retired farmer, totally disabled Vietnam Vet and needless to say a gun owner. We have NO close neighbors just cows and coyote’s, its not as safe out here as it use to be, when we were younger we never locked a door or window! Now if we are watching TV the doors are locked if we are out back the front door is locked, we live off of the road and have drive way monitors that let us know if someone turns off the main road. It goes off in our house and out back. We also have an alarm system on the house, but out here no one could hear it and the County cops are so far away by the time they got here intruders would be gone with what they came for. We have a daughter that lives on our farm with her husband but they both work, they are our only neighbors that we can see, you could yell you head off and no one could hear you. My wife and I are here most all of the time, she is disabled also, we’re in a hell of a mess but still function. As for protection I carry a Taurus PT 380 auto in my pocket 24/7, I have guns all over the house and in our out buildings, I’m not scared, I’m just rational. You can tell to look at me that I’m not in good health, but also I’m too damn old and have been too many miles and too many bad places to be scared of anyone, I won’t run and I never won’t to hurt anyone, But let someone try to break in on us or hurt me or my wife or hurt my daughter and he will be a dead SOB. I also keep a Mossburg 500 20 ga. pump gun close by.
    On the subject of kids and guns around the house, I’ve always had guns around and at a very young age we taught our daughter what guns were for and that they could hurt you very bad and kill. We never had a problem she knew what they were and didn’t bother them now at close to 40 she is a heck of a shot with anything that has a trigger.
    .-= Woody´s last blog ..Get Your Email Under Control Like a CEO =-.

  • Dan S

    The thing I have failed to read throughout this thread is the need for tactical defensive training. Low light, shooting on the move, carjack defense, handgun retention, defensive folding knife. All are available and absolutely necessary. Find an instructor, a group…whatever, and start training. Train the way you’d fight. Use the weapons, ammo, and circumstances to get the muscle memory. We train at least twice a month. It’s fun, informative, and progressive.

  • Don

    Nice article and good discussion…In my south Texas nieghborhood, it is quiet for the most part except for speeders, drunkenly stuporous drivers and an occasional car break-in…I could care less about what is outside my home, insurance can help replace what is busted or lost of the items we really need…

    Coming inside will bring prospective thieves face to face with 4 dogs that have already been barking beforehand, which will give me more than enough time to make a 911 call and arm myself if or when it comes to that…I am proficient with 12 gauge shotguns and have a Mossberg 500 pump…but I like the idea of hornet/wasp insecticide as a possible temporary incapacitating agent if the situation dictates…But I’m going to assume the thieves are armed and defend myself accordingly…

  • Jonnyrat

    Jeff, great conversation.

    I would also recommend the alarm. We installed an alarm, every window and door has a sensor, plus 2 motion sensors. The sirens could wake the dead. This SHOULD deter most any intruder.
    If someone gets in the house and keeps coming with both alarms blaring, he probably needs to be met with lethal force.

    As a side note, we awoke at 2am to the screaming alarm, my 5 year old was apparently sleep walking and opened the front door.
    I hate to think what could have happened if we didn’t have the alarm.
    I’m on the road a lot, $40 per month is a small price to pay for peace of mind.

    I am also well armed, Colt Govt .45, Mossberg 12ga, Baby Eagle 9mm, SKS, Dragoon .44, Taurus .357….. The Colt and Mossberg are my at-hand weapons. Go to the range often, shooting should be second nature if you choose to own a firearm.

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  • Julie

    I am a older woman in my uper years and can not handle one of them 12 gauge guns. What do you think about the 20 gauge ones. Should I use a pistal, I have been robbed 2 times now.

  • Rob

    Hahaha an assault rifle (or almost) is the best weapon for home defence?? I’m glad I live in a country where guns are illegal… and also most homes are far too small to be able to bring a gun to bear, especially a huge one like that AR-15 or the shotgun. I live in London, by the way!
    Doesn’t being armed with a firearm mean you’re more likely to get shot and killed? i.e. you’re more of a threat. Isn’t this what insurance is for? Almost no-one is going to get kidnapped, so just keep safe, don’t be a hero, let the insurers reimburse you.

  • Frank M

    I prefer a short barrel 20 ga pump. Educate your children.

    I am 74 now and grew up with guns. I was started with a BB gun at age 6, then progressed into .22 bullseye, trap shooting, handgun bullseye and now, home defense. I reload to make target shooting and plinking less expensive. We live in Illinois where carrying is not yet allowed.

    We have a safe room. We (my wife and I) have a Mossberg 20 gage pump gun which I bought used and shortened to 18 1/2″ with a hardware store tubing cutter. Federal law allows, without special license, a short barrel shotgun if the barrel is 18 ” and overall length is 26″. Check local laws. I chose the Mossberg over a Remington 870 because the Mossberg is easier to reload quickly and it doesn’t pinch your finger. I left the original stock on it because to me the stock up at my shoulder is familiar, like trap shooting or hunting. I would have to learn the hip shot hold if it had a pistol grip. The weight of the stock absorbs some recoil. With 15 rounds of 2 3/4 inch, #3 buckshot the whole shebang only cost $177 in November 2010.

    I sleep with a cheap, Hi-Point 9mm semi-auto, with factory made jacketed hollow points, nearby. It and the 20 ga are ready/safe, with magazines full, chambers empty.

    My sons are grown and gone, but I would like to pass along my way of educating them because I think children want to learn and will be safe if they are properly taught. As soon as mine showed interest in my guns, I assured them that guns were dangerous and they should not touch them until they grew older. But I would be glad to stop whatever I was doing and show them a gun whenever they asked. I let them choose which gun they wanted to look at. I would hold the gun myself, but after the show, they could hold it for a minute or so to feel it. I began by determining and showing them the gun wasn’t loaded. Then I would carry it elsewhere, get one bullet or shell and point to where it goes in, point out how you cock it, where the trigger is, how you hold and aim it, and where the bullet or load comes out. Each time I showed them a gun I used the opportunity to review the gun handling safety measures I was following.

    I stopped whatever I was doing whenever they showed interested and used the opportunity to stress safety.

    When my children were old enough they could come with me to the gun club. I wouldn’t shoot when I had a “newbie” along, so I could supervise closely. One of them at a time could shoot for a while. As they matured I had them “coach” each other. At about age 9, whenever they demonstrated sufficient responsibility, they could shoot on their own at the gun range.

    At about age 11 we began hunting together. When they or their friends were old enough to drive, they could go hunting with friends, without me. I had confidence in their skill and safety.


    NEUVILLE, OBVIOUSLY you have no first hand experience with forced entry home invasions. I live in a place where it has occurred to a house on every block and recently mine so I’ll tell you the basics.
    Criminals is a plural word. When they get together with a great idea they usually all/most carry weapons and storm down a locked door or two in about 1 minute. Once inside they point all of their guns at whomever is left inside and anyone reaching for anything is shot. (pepper spray = dead) So enjoy your happy never have to hurt anyone crime free life to pontificate about how unlikely this is to happen to you as I walk down my block as do many others living in bad areas know that our home invasions don’t even make the news.

  • Michael

    Interesting article. I actually went another route for home defence. Being a former military man I am very familiar with firearms. But my policy has always been that my house is a gun free house. I guess I’ve seen what guns can do and I’ve had enough.

    So I got a dog, a good alarm system and a motion detector connected to outdoor lights. Sure, someone can always break in to the house. But they will set off the alarm, which will alert the police. They will have to encounter an angry dog with lots of teeth. And after that, they will encounter me. I will have more then enough time to assess the situation, I will have more then enough time to secure the family and I will have more then enough time to properly get prepared to encounter the intruder/intruders.

    Think about it. If you are a home invader or a burglar, do you pick the house with a dog, or the one without a dog ? If you have a gun, you might only get one shot, and in a stressed, dark situation without proper training (shooting thousands of rounds at a gun range is not proper training for trying to hit a moving target in a dark house with adrenalin pumping and family members in the next room) you might not hit your target. Then what ? The dog will not miss the target. The alarm will make sure that the police is on their way. You’re not the first line of defense. You’re the last. And most likely, you’ll never be needed.

    I still enjoying shooting and marksmanship. But not in my house. And I feel a lot safer without a gun. So first, consider all options. You’re the protector. Not the gun.

  • Dan

    I wouldn’t choose a full length shotgun or an AR-15 for home defense. Most residences have too narrow of hallways and doorways to safely wield these long weapons. If one wants a 12-gauge, then opt for a riot or police model which is usually the shortest. The recoil can be easily managed by using lighter loads. Rifles just overpenetrate too much for my liking as well as being so lengthy. If one still wants a rifle, opt for a AUG or other Bullpup design. You get plenty of power and a more compact weapon. Remember, any thing sticking out beyond your forward hand can be grabbed and compromise control of your weapon.

  • Shane

    There are so many good thoughts here and a few really bad ones too.

    I have had the unfortunate chance of finding myself in two situations that were random and non provoked. Situation one was several years ago, my eldest son and I were at an intersection and a lets just say
    ” a low life gang banger ” attempted to open the door of my truck on my sons side while he was in a car seat. I was unarmed and helpless, yes a car was in front of me. I acted as if I were reaching for a gun in the glove box. He stepped back and I went around the car and just happened to see a cop. ( Lucky ) Scum bag went to jail.


    Myself and 4 boys belong to Front Sight Firearms Training Institute In Nevada. Guns and training belong together.

    Two; I was awaken by my wife at 0400 after I had been up all night the night before on a structure fire. Some one had broke into my truck used my door opener to get into the garage. I grabbed my shot gun went down stairs in my underwear out the front door ( setting off the alarm) found said moron with MY screw driver attempting to open the door from the garage to the house. Tide changed very quick for him, we were no more than 8 feet apart with my gun pointed at his face, finger on the trigger and pressure building. At the last second he turned and ran to a waiting car. I would have killed him without a second thought. My children and wife were inside. Dog was barking, alarm was sounding. I wasn’t the last line of defense I was the only line of defense.

    My family won Bad guy lost PERIOD.

  • jerome

    Here’s someone else’s opinion on this point that i found enlightening. (When he talks about “clearing a house”, he obviously means walking through your house trying to determine if an intruder is still there and, if so, clearing him):

    You really need both.

    A shotgun for defending your safe room, and a handgun for use while herding your family into the safe room.

    Clearing a house with a shotgun is asking for an intruder to take your gun and hurt you.

    Think about it, the first thing through a doorway will be your gunbarrel. If an intruder is laying in wait to one side of the door, an 18.5″ or longer barrel gives him a great lever to deflect your weapon and get inside your zone of fire an injure, kill or disarm you. With a handgun, you can keep your weapon close in to your body and still be ready for instant action.

    Try it with a broomstick. Use the broomstick as a shotgun and let a friend play the intruder. See how easy it will be for him to deflect your weapon. Then try the same drill again, but this time use a comb or similar object to represent a handgun. Keep it tucked in close to your side at waist level. See if you can’t say bang before your friend can grab it.

    I recommend a revolver with a barrel not more than 4″ long and chambered for .38 S&W SPL or .357 Magnum, or a similar sized revolver in .44 S&W SPL or .45 either LC or ACP. Then keep the 12 gauge pump shotgun in the bedroom for defense once everyone is safely in that room.


  • Mike Meserve

    colt officer model 45 acp carry in by the bed gun. Mossberg 12 ga. First two rds #5 birdshot next three 00 buck, in ready locker mini 14 3 20rds mags ready if needed. My wife go to house gun is a S&W model 19. I got all of my gun for enjoyment reload my ammo so I can shot more. I like Front Sight moto any gun will do if you do.

  • Willem lamberts

    What about a spas 12 or a AA 12

  • Matt

    Great post and conversation.

    First, ear protection is silly. You want to hear what’s going on in your house.

    Second, a good dog will warn you of intruders before they even touch your house. Some people say that dogs can even sense bad intentions in people…

    A phone for emergency calling is essential.

    An outdoor alarm to alert the neighbors is a good idea. Bonus if it also alerts the police.

    Self-defense training, like Krav Maga, is very powerful. You will learn how to defend against guns and knives. You can take your knowledge anywhere you go, even on airplanes. 🙂

    So far, any person in any country can do these things.

    Now…………..if you live in a country or city that doesn’t allow guns, then don’t have one. If you live in an area where many people have guns (the USA), you should have one (or several) too. When in Rome…

  • http://[email protected] Michael B

    Great subject & posts. Lots of good info on HD here.
    Most posts may be assuming that we are all reasonably young &/or in good physical condition.
    I have worked with many seniors who may have some disability that would preclude them using some of the most effective firearms [12ga.etc.] who are interested in obtaining weapons for home defense.
    My advise has been that a handgun in a smaller caliber that they can easily control,such as a .22 or fullsize .380 would perhaps be the right choice.
    Well placed shots in any caliber are better than no firearm at all.
    I’d appreciate your thoughts.

  • http://www.primermagazine.com/2008/learn/hero-training-the-best-weapons-for-home-defense NICK


  • http://none Tom S.

    I just bought a Maverick 20 gauge and had the barrel cut to a legal 19 in. and followed up with an intense private lesson including range time on use of the gun and home defense, which also included a plan for dry shooting at home and quick reloads which may not be needed. I feel prepared.

  • http://www.ktog.org Felix Galvan

    I recommend the PLR-16 for HD.

    it’s the AR-15 pistol with the sexy vibe

  • chris allen

    if you’re interested in keeping you and your family truly safe, get a BackUp, the bedside shotgun rack. fully adjustable, it slide between your mattress and box springs.


  • Ray

    There has been alot said pro and con for guns in our homes. Thank God, we don’t have an overwhelming problem with house breakins although, this is changing. I could quote the many incidents I have read about that are heart-wrenching and because someone had a gun stashed in a place nearby they were able to reverse the situation to their advantage. You don’t have to be a cop or soldier to understand the dangers that are facing us in our cities or towns today as compared to years ago. My feeling is, it is better to be prepared for dangerous possibilities than to be caught unprepared. The sad part is there are consequences from not being prepared if things should go wrong and you are faced with and your family is being faced with bad guys who don’t care if they kill you and your family.
    Whichever weapon you have practised with and learned how to use efficiently that is what you use. We always pray we will not have to deal with situations that might take someones life but in todays times with things the way they are with drugs, alchohol, even prescription drugs we are more at the mercy of the addict if we do not prepare for possible problems.
    AR-15, 45 ACP, 40 cal. 12 gauge 357, 38, even a 9mm if you are fairly good at placing your shots. whichever one it takes to stop the ones that are trying to put a hurt on you is feasible. These guys don’t stop at robbery, they will rape your wife and your children at the same time also. We are not talking about the nice guys down the block here we are talking about the dregs of society who want to take everything you have worked for so they don’t have to work for it.
    My final comment is, practice, practice, practice, and hope you never have to face the terror that comes from those who want to terrorize you. Find the weapon that suits you the best and you are the most comfortable with but remember you want somethiong that stops them in their tracks when it comes down to the nitty gritty of living and dying.

  • http://www.thegasgrillreviews.com/blog [email protected] Tips

    My Fav is the handgun, lightweight, effective and easy to handle. I wouldn’t go for a shotgun though, although I might just pick one up at desperate times.

  • http://www.keonrobertson.com Keon Robertson

    I’m a single female and live alone. Tonight I had an intruder and wished like hell I had that gun I’ve been meaning to buy. I served in the Marines and trained with a Colt 45, but am curious about what you’d recommend for a female or whether your recommendations were gender neutral. I have pretty small hands so I’ve been looking at the compact or subcompacts.What are your thoughts on the mini Desert Eagle? I’ve shot with it and liked it, but don’t know how it compares in reliability to a Glock. Also, what about a laser? The intruder tonight ran past me, within 3-4 feet of me, in the dark so a laser would have come in handy but I supposed at that close range if I can’t hit him I’m in trouble anyway. But it was dark and I wasn’t expecting him to come running out of the dark. Sooooo, which Glock would you recommend for a female to protect against home invasion? Because I can assure you, next time I’ll be prepared and it won’t be with pepper spray. Thanks.

  • keith

    personally i choose a .38 special loaded with +p hollow points, i know if i need it i can put my life on the fact that it will fire. i own a .223 carbine and a 12 gauge pump but would not consider them for home defense. the large size of the 12 gauge make it harder to aim fast when speed is important and the .223 against a human with no protective gear is sure to pass right through and end up in the next room unless you hit bone. simplicity is the key to defense. there is no reason for overkill unless you want to show off. I would choose a reliable hand gun. light weight, easy to aim, and there is a large variety of ammo to suit your needs.

  • michael herbert

    nobody is focusing on the key to stopping the dirt bag; penetration. the premier ballistics lab in the world (our humble fbi) requires.12 ‘ in ballistic gelatin, which is not the same as penetration in a human body, remember, the dirtbag will not be motionless harm hanging at his side waiting to get shot like a b27 target,odds are his arms will be up in front of his torso with a gun or knife or hammer or just reaching for your throat. so, mr bullet needs to penetrate leather jacket sleeve, cotton shirt, skin muscle,ulna, radius, muscle, skin, cotton shirt, leather jacket sleeve, air leather jacket front, cotton shirt, skin, fat, muscle, ribs or sternum and finally, the aorta, which is a couple of inches behind the manubrium. this gives a rapid incapacitation. this is the tertiary target the secondary target is through the tip of the nose to sever the medulla oblongata which results in instant incapacitation from flaccid paralysis (the brain no longer communicates with the body. the primary target is through the occular sockets which again results in instant incapacitation by destroying the brain and producing instant death. having said all that lets get down to serious penetration.
    9mm = federal hst 147 gr 15″
    .40 sw= federal hst 180 gr 15″
    .45 acp= federal hst 230 gr 12″
    5.56= 75 or 77 gr bthp 12.5″(a boat tail rifle bullet will tumble after penetration)
    12 or better yet 20 g shotgun= 1 buck or larger 12.5″
    anything smaller, .380 .32 .25 .22 is a waste of time.
    my contention with the shotgun is length and recoil. ar 15…. not so much.and if neuville is afraid of the 30 round magazine get a five round and home you don’t miss.
    for the ladies? get a glock 19 or 26 and learn to use it well and don’t be afraid of it.

  • michael herbert

    oops! *hope you don’t miss*

  • Patrick Norton

    Jeff – I have WWII M1 Carbine. It’s a gorgeous piece handed down from my father. It’s my only firearm and thus my choice for HD. I live in a condo and am concerned over possible over penetration with the .30 caliber 110 Gr. softpoint. Is my concern valid? If so, I am willing to forego a family heirloom for a possible Mossberg 590.
    Great article – Semper Fidelis

  • Darian

    I agree with these three choices because these r the three my dad uses. He has a Colt match target AR-15 with 3 loaded clips close to it but still separate (only takes seconds to throw in a clip and chamber a round), He has a Remington 870 police magnum with 8 round capacity beneath his bed, and he keeps a H&K 40. caliber handgun (similar to the glock) on his nightstand. He has these because he is a police sergeant and knows from experience wut to get. In my opinion the best way to be safe with a firearm in the house is education. Educate children or use a gunsafe with quick access and know how to use your weapon. I live with my mom (im under 18) and i taught her how to use my remington 870 and she keeps it under her bed and i keep a walther p22 close by in my room. I woud recommend a revolver such as the judge revolver for a beginner so they wont miss and if it was my choice I would use a ak-47 instead of the AR because of simplicity, durability, and reliability. I have shot many many guns ranging from a ruger 22 to a winchester 300 magnum and h&k g3 and my personal favorite 3 choices are the Remington 870, AK-47, and a H&K 40.

  • Dean

    Great article and a good read for folks considering a home defense gun,

  • J ANN

    Wow. I started reading this string yesterday (not even sure how I got here!) and I couldn’t stop! Today I had to sit down and finish reading all the posts. I have learned a lot and I appreciate everyone’s opinion.
    We (husband and 6 yr old daughter) live in a nice city and law enforcement is definitely visible, so there’s a part of me that would like to think that in “my little world” I would never need a gun. I have never been a victim (thankfully) of violent crime. Sure, car broken into many times still a violation, but not the same thing as a home invasion or walking in to a robbery in progress.
    I sit here now in my living room, on my quiet street in the middle of the afternoon all by myself and I think about the “what ifs”. What if someone just wanted to get in to our house right now? What could/would I do to stop him/them? I currently don’t own a gun and you know, I don’t have an answer. I have been thinking about what the best strategy would be in a number of different scenarios I concoct in my head. None are good. None are pleasant. It’s like BRIAN posted though, it’s really so hard to know what the right answer is.
    My husband is a planner. We actually do have tons of emergency preparedness equipment, food, clothes, batteries, tools, water, radio. I start to wonder what might happen if for example the power grid is disrupted for a serious length of time. I mean, if people who did not prepare decide they are simply going to go and TAKE from those who have supplies…what could I/we do to stop them? Without a gun, I think the answer is not much. At least with a serious home defense weapon, we would stand a chance at defending ourselves against others intent to do harm, steal etc.
    I grew up in a country that does not allow its citizens to carry weapons, unless you are a hunter. The idea of keeping a deadly weapon in the house is foreign to me, but I am not naive. I think it does make sense that if the “bad guys” all have guns, then to at least stand a chance, I should have one too (and, of course be practiced with it and comfortable with it and be safe with it AND have good outdoor lighting, an alarm system, secure doors and windows AND also have a solid evacuation/hunker down family plan in place for the unexpected acts of man or nature…and and and…
    Anyway, I really have enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughts (well, aaaalmost everyone 🙂 … and my next move is to do more research on a shot gun and a Glock 19 or 26, contact a shooting range nearby, plug my phone in beside my bed to recharge each night, and take some self-defense classes. I agree completely, we (as a family) need to be proactive. It does no good to say later, oh, I was gonna…
    Thanks again.

  • Shad

    I stopped reading when you picked the shotgun as the best weapon…

    Total ignorance.

    1. Racking a round is not going to scare away someone intent on harming you, but hey as a bonus you just gave away your position, your weapon and the fact that you are awake…so much for surprise, well done.

    2. A shotgun is not a magic bullet. Depending on what you’re shooting out of it you still need to worry about placement, over penetration, and damage too your house (which is of course a very minor consideration). Lots more to be said here, but frankly none of it supports using a shotgun.

    3. A shotgun is generally a long weapon and now you have to handle it in the dark, in the confines of a house, under stress. That requires a lot of training. Just more plain ignorance.

    4. A shotgun REQUIRES that the user has put quite a few rounds through it. I can teach someone to effectively use a 9mm or a .38 in day. You cannot do that with a shotgun. Someone people (women and um….smaller males) may just not have the mass strength to handle this weapon in this situation at all.

    the shotgun may actually be the WORST choice for home defense for the average person. It is a devastating weapon in the hands of an expert, but you should not need to be an expert to defend yourself.

  • bill

    my former boss, a physician, just had his home broken into.
    He and his wife(also a physician) were there, first the dog barks, then the alarm went off and the two guys who broke in just kept going , went up his main staircase.

    he was at the top of the staircase and apparantly shot his pistol once and hit one guy in the arm. Both guys hauled ass.
    he was in the navy although many years ago. they caught all three culprits (basically dumb ass kids 16- 19)

    I am considering a home defense gun now.

  • bill

    my former boss, a physician, just had his home broken into.
    He and his wife (also a physician) were there, first the dog barks, then the alarm went off and the two guys who broke in just kept going , went up his main staircase.

    he was at the top of the staircase and apparantly shot his pistol once and hit one guy in the arm. Both guys hauled ass.
    he was in the navy although many years ago. they caught all three culprits (basically dumb ass kids 16- 19)

    I am considering a home defense gun now.

  • jo

    keep pistol on me at all times 45 or my new 40 also keep my ak sk an 12 ready those in my safe along with many others ready but you never know whats gonna happen had a tweeker try to stab me right before x mas my mom used to hate how i was about guns now loves it 2nd till the day i day

  • http://www.omale.nl J.Houkes

    Having been a forst ltnt in the Dutch army som 20 years ago, i was able to shoot any waopon from 25 mm to .45 browning (1911). A few years ago i had an extensive training on the Glock 17, which is in use by the Dutch HR teams. What suprised me was the “kick” of the gun, although i considered myself as a failrly adequate shooter. Having shot Fals, Uzis and ( in a shooting contest) even a Garand, the manoeuvrability of a weapon is extremely important. On the other hand ,the point of “stopping power” is overrated. Everybody seems to think, that the average intruder should be killed with one shot.
    People tend to forget that on average being hit, regardless of the fact that it is incapacitating, is very very intimidating. This means that a HD weapon should be easy to use and handle i.e.have very little recoil, should be lightweight, have enough ammocapacity and to be at hand as quick as possible. It might be expensive but the FN P57 fits the bill perfectly.

  • Ryan

    Seems like the reliable AK-47 with frangible ammo would be a much better choice than the crappy AR-15. The only possible advantage of the AR-15 might be accuracy, but my AK shoots very small groups at 200 yards with iron sights, and we’re talking about the distance inside a house.

  • Ryan

    Seems like the reliable AK-47 with frangible ammo would be a much better choice than the finicky AR-15. The only possible advantage of the AR-15 might be accuracy, but my AK shoots very small groups at 200 yards with iron sights, and we’re talking about the distance inside a house.

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  • Austin S.

    Honestly, in the very unpredictiple chance that yours and the lives of your loved ones is to be threatened, ou aren’t really going to be thinking about what weapon is best, your just going to grab one that you know is loaded and use that to the best of your capabilities. So I think that you should have more than (one safely kept) weapon close by that is a good HD weapon and is safe.

  • jim

    Great discussion. I’m a former Marine and Afghan vet. I’m familiar with most firearms and usually managed to shoot expert without too much difficulty – ok I got a “pizza box” once but figured it out with time. Regarding home defense, I think prioritization is key.

    First, if you live in a crap area – move. If you have bad locks, lights, doors, windows and fences – improve them. If you don’t have a dog, get down to a local shelter and get one – it doesn’t matter if it is a 10 pound yapper or a rottie – the purpose of a dog is first alert – to make noise and alert you to the presence of an intruder – you wouldn’t want your beloved dog getting hurt trying to fight someone anyway.

    In terms of weapons – a mossberg pump is your best bet – legal everywhere – totally effective and reliable – easy to load – and cheap / basic. So if something happens and the police confiscate it you won’t cry that much. If you have to go to court for shooting an intruder it won’t look “scary” – it will look like a basic HD shotgun owned by a solid citizen. If it is stolen, it won’t be used by some thug in a concealed carry situation. Above all, nothing is more effective at short range –

    As for the AR – shooting expert at 500 yards doesn’t negate the fact that when the SHTF you find that you miss more often than you would like to admit – ditto for the pistol. Also – both are expensive and both overpenetrate – if you are getting a pistol, stick with a basic, inexpensive .38 – it will get the job done, is much easier for a female or smaller family member to control, easier for female to load than mags, springs are at rest when stored, won’t blow out your eardrums, and all you need to do is pull the trigger.

    Also – you don’t want to be on trial for shooting an intruder and have the prosecutor show the jury a .50 cal desert eagle, FN five seven, or glock 21 – if they show them a lil .38 snubbie – preferably pink – it will create a totally different impression.

    .50 Cals, MK-19s, and M240s are a hoot at the range. Ditto with many popular civilian weapons – but for home defense a 12 gauge pump paired with a lil .38 is tough to beat. Of course the best defense it to live in a good area and to have a home that is a more difficult target (lights, locks, dogs, visibility) than the other homes in your neighborhood. Keep it simple and save the AR for the range.

  • James santarelli

    I agree with all the weapons in their exact order and Jeff is spot on with details and order with DAMAGE per round…mind u he states all are ample weapons. Hence ur good with either. I will say this. The hell with pepper spray. Is someone is in your home uninvited ASSUME they are armed and prepared to cause u harm. My go to is a shotgun 000 buck which is on a shelf in my bedroom closet with 3 rounds next to it, NOT in it…for convenience out of sight, reach…..as kids get older use your head. 4 inches from that weapon is a Springfield 1911 with a loaded 7rd 45acp HP mag next to it, not in it. The pros of the handgun is I can pop the mag and rack ready in 1sec. Depending on time I have the 1911 is ready if I need it… Depending on time I pick a weapon and lay prone is the doorway facing down the hall toward the staircase….kids room is off to the immediate left of me. I don’t wake them…. Here’s the deal. If ur family is asleep don’t wake them. Stay quiet sit and wait especially if ur on another floor whatever they’re doing ur not in danger and either is your family and don’t put yourself in danger by investigating. Stay low and keep a bead on the only way up to the floor….once the steps get made the ONLY RESPONSIBILITY you have IS DO I or don’t I know him,her,or them. Dont order or reason to give them a chance to make a move. Just pull. Nobody is in your house to bring u a cake If u get woken up late night. And if u investigate u give urself away with noise and can lose the advantage and worse your life with your family alone and defenseless. A 911 call if possible while ur ready u can talk low and don’t need to answer questions it’s recorded…name address incident click and let them sort it out worry about yourself and your present situation

  • Mike

    I disagree with the fact that the sound a shotgun makes while cycling has no effect. Most home intruders are after money, jewelry, and electronics, mot psychos looking to hurt someone. They have varying levels of nervousness when entering a strangers home. A shotgun cycle is one of the most recognizable sounds thanks to TV and movies and would create a very real psychological effect in an intruder, and hopefully send him running away with crap in his pants.
    Don’t underestimate it.

  • John

    Good topic, good arguments. Most of the points I would touch on have already been beaten to crap but I skipped to the end from about halfway because I thought I should share.

    I was a wild teenager and even wilder in my early twenties. With an ultimate preparedness to any WSHTF situation as my goal and with a few friends in the police force and many more in the martial arts world I enveloped myself in situations farther than most peoples imaginations go. Relating to the topic at hand include being pepper spray and being stun gunned and tased with police issue tasers. The first time I was maced, it was not fun but i didn’t die. The first time I was hit with a stun gun, I wanted more. Neither of these options are a viable HD weapon unless you’re defending yourself against puppies.

    Further proving my point to others I’ve come in contact with and had these same arguments with, I’ve wrestled tasers from people’s hands while being stunned, ripped the shooting mech out and tased the defender. If you’re fighting a gun, better have a gun. If you’re fighting a knife, better have a gun. If you’re fighting bare hands, better to not have a stupid taser or mace to get taken from and used against you.

    As for the .223… WTF? why not use a .22? less penetration risk, cheaper, easier second shot. or get a real gun and shoot a 7.62×39.

    But back to the original post, great article. minus the .223 part IMO (if it won’t take down 180lbs of prey, why expect it to take down 180lbs of aggressor.).

  • Bill

    What about an 8 shot 357 Mag Revolver for stopping power as your second weapon of choice, and where you can have the choice of using 38 special ammo if you feel 357 ammo penetration just too much for your home situation, I mean just how often does a revolver jam.

  • Hamish

    What kind of post apocalyptic world do you people come from?! I am SO glad I don’t live in the US any longer. The argument that you need to be able to protect yourself in your home is a ridiculous one and one that has been statistically disproven many times over. The rest of the world does not understand the brainwashing and gun nut ethos that is fostered in the good old’ US of A. I am gobsmacked at the brainless knee jerk reactions. So start slagging and spewing rhetoric. I expect nothing less.

    • http://twitter.com/SkeeboMacBane Skeebo MacBane

      Like ya said you don’t live here anymore…..don’t worry yourself about it.

  • ZodiacRose

    Walther PPK…accurate, safe and small grip and recoil for the ladies in your life.

  • NinjaCommando

    You use whatever gun you want and stop listening to the opinions of others. Me? I carry knifes on me at all times. When bad guys come in, I simply throw my knifes right into their necks or sneak up on them real slow and end them silently one by one. Nothing like killing a man up close and personal with your own two hands to make you feel alive!!!

    • Jkyser

      Until you really have to do it. Thrown knives are great, if you hit your what, 2 inch? at best target while they are moving, and your hands are unsteady with adrenaline, in the dark, when just waking up. And that is also if you hit pointy end first. If you are going to bring a weapon to defend yourself, don’t waste it by throwing it away. Especially since the invader may have a gun, and isn’t very shy about using it. 

  • Dan

    Just for fun, and those who say overkill is impossible, I have a friend who only owns one home defense weapon, an 8mm Mauser from 1936. I shudder to think how many neighboring apartments the round will go through if he ever has to use it.

  • Russ

    C’mon kids. I have been hunting and shooting my entire life. I am now 52. In your house… in your bedroom IF you are so inclined to do so, keep a shotgun, Period! Put you maccho crap back in your pants. Close shot, DARK, scared, nervous, lucky to even get a shot off…really a pistol? a rifle?…. um NO… a shotgun!!..MAXIMUM damage MINIMUM aiming. Yes I carry a pistol in my truck…in my bedroom an 870 and I sleep good.

  • Rick in MI

    I have a Colt 1911 Combat Commander in .45acp. While I am trained to shoot it well, I would MUCH prefer to use it to get me to my 20 gauge 870 or my ancient Marlin 336 in 30/30. Because of how our home is arranged, if someone broke-in in the middle of the night, I would likely grab the Marlin because there would be much less chance of me shooting through the walls into our kids’ rooms with the shotgun. But then, this is also why I prefer a 20 gauge to a 12 gauge. It seems that most seem to think a 12 gauge is fine?

  • Dylan

    first off, I am a combat vet, I have done the time and can say that a shot gun is the best home defence wepon. wont kill the neighbors and have enough verieties . honestly its on you to buy your gun and train till you want to puke your guts out then train some more. if you want to be safe and stop the bad guys. this is absolutely nesissary for survival,. take the course, do the time and survive. I may be a bad speller, and even worse at other things but one thing i do no is combat. thats why im still alive today….dont be a victim and put in the work. know your weapon safety rules, know your tagret and engage it as you see fit…better to be juged by 12 than carried by 6

  • Brian Mead

    The AR15 is expensive, insufficiently reliable, tough, and effective. I’d recommend a 5.45 AK first. If you’re a bit more experienced, then I recommend a 7.62×39 AK or a FAL. SKS for those on a budget, but if you’e got a lot of money, then a G3 is your best bet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=633737934 Floyd Young

    The only true home defense question is what shot to use in your 12ga.

  • http://twitter.com/EchtoGammut Matt Kent

    I disagree with everything but the Glock. You must consider the ability to maneuver through your house with the weapon and a shotgun or AR15 is sorely lacking in maneuverability when traversing stairs or hallways. Also, if you can’t shoot and hit a positive center mass, you shouldn’t be shooting at all.

    Personally, I wouldn’t consider a gun for home defense because that is something I keep locked up. I have no idea on what the statistics are for home invasion when the owner is at home, but I would guess they are pretty low and at night/early morning. I would think investing in a lighting system that turns on every light in the house (so you can verify it is a stranger not your teenage son sneaking back in) would be a bigger deterrent than a gun. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for defending your home, I just don’t see a gun as being very practical. Plus, outside of you being the target of an assassin most thieves want to get in and out with little resistance. If your place looks like it is going to be a problem, they are going to skip you and go somewhere else.

  • Jeff Bailey

    I’m thinking m2 Benelli

  • Johnnyvee

    Good article and posts. I was able to go online and see from my local police website how many incidents occurred in a one mile radius of my home. 47 in the last year! This is an upscale neighborhood. I realized how naive I was. Started collecting various guns. Judge, circuit judge, pistols etc. practice couple times a month at the range. Got outdoor lights, alarm, video cams. Talked with the wife of a police chief. She said she had seen twice as many incidents as my area had. That we’re seeing gang initiation rites, drug addicts…wanting guns, cash and drugs. She said I wasn’t over reacting. I now have my CCW and assume I could have a night time or daytime home intrusion from multiple perps. Two or three breaking in doors at the same time and rushing occupants BEFORE they can get a weapon. Sounds paranoid, but I have my judge with pdx1 and 45lr in a hollowed out book on my coffee table. Just today, a mile north of my office a man killed his brother then fled and shot himself. I’m now aware all of the time and playing what ifs off and on. Sad to see where our country, etc is heading. Better safe than sorry.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dwgray David W Gray

    If an intruder hears me cycling the pump shotgun then that indicates two problems. 1. The chamber was empty to begin with – duh that’s stupid not to have your gun fully loaded and ready to fire. The first sound that the intruder may hear in my house is the safety clicking off. The next is “BOOM.” 2. I missed the first shot or there is more than one intruder.

    • Lesli Longbottom

      Most shotguns will go boom if knocked over or dropped even with the safety engaged if a round is chambered. Most trained professionals keep the shotgun chamber MT,” cruiser ready”, and rack a round in as they bring the weapon into play. It takes no extra time and reduces the number of ADs significantly.

      • http://davidwgray.com David Gray

        That is absolutely absurd. No unmodified modern day shotgun will fire if dropped or if it falls when the safety is engaged. All firearms are tested thoroughly to ensure the integrity of the safety system. All accidental firearm discharges occur because stupid and unsafe acts. On very rare occasions will a firearm manufacturer recall a gun for safety mechanism failures.

        • Lesli Longbottom

          Bad dangerous info………MOST shotgun safeties lock the trigger only. They do not block the firing pin. Sagas have a block of some sort and mossberg has some sort of firing pin block ……you will not however hear them claim it is 100 percent “drop safe”.
          Sheriffs, police and state troopers departments all dictate that shotguns be carried “cruiser ready”……….magazine full, hammer down, empty chamber………guess you know better that 10s of thousands of pros that deploy shotguns every working day.
          More than a few with cavalier safety attitudes have left this planet early when their shotgun was knocked over chamber hot safety on.
          The tiny speed advantage to having a shell chambered safety engaged as opposed to the professional s choice “cruiser ready” is so small it is absurd when considering the safety of our families.

  • jimmc1952

    Good write up Jeff, though I’m surprised how many people here are willing to trust to their safety with a prayer and a closet. But hey, to each his own.

    PS. Pepper spray is NOT effective with all circumstances and individuals.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.fox.395669 John Fox

    the bottom line is, you need to be prepared for anything. Criminals have access to the same technologies and are likely more skilled, and prepared for confrontation than you are. Having said that, I won’t argue with anyone about what they choose to arm themselves with. Each nieghborhood faces unique challenges, so to each their own. If you want a revolver or a plasma grenade, I really don’t care. Just be ready, because you never know what or when something might happen.

  • Texas Bass are the Best

    It’s interesting “parent with a plan” talks about “responsible parent” “going right winger” for being concerned about having guns taken away. The liberal establishment would like nothing more than to take away all guns. It won’t happen in one piece of legislation. Instead, like most things, it would occur as a slow erosion over time that eventually culminates in a loss of weapons. I support drawing the line now and support “responsible parent.” What’s more interesting is “parent with a plan” sights the Katrina disaster as something for which he’s preparing. Good idea on food water and medical supplies. But sure seems to me he forgot New Orleans devolved into lawlessness not long after the storm passed and violent crime spiked throughout the city. I wonder how many otherwise unarmed peaceful people in New Orleans wished they had a rifle such as an AR15 to protect their property and life? I support gun ownership for just such things as the aftermath of a disaster as well as home defense, hunting, and simply enjoying the art of marksmanship.

    Jeff, superb article. You present a great deal to think about when defending a home!

  • Texas Bass are the Best

    It’s interesting “parent with a plan” talks about “responsible parent” “going right winger” for being concerned about having guns taken away. The liberal establishment would like nothing more than to take away all guns. It won’t happen in one piece of legislation. Instead, like most things, it would occur as a slow erosion over time that eventually culminates in a loss of weapons. I support drawing the line now and support “responsible parent.” What’s more interesting is “parent with a plan” sights the Katrina disaster as something for which he’s preparing. Good idea on food water and medical supplies. But sure seems to me he forgot New Orleans devolved into lawlessness not long after the storm passed and violent crime spiked throughout the city. I wonder how many otherwise unarmed peaceful people in New Orleans wished they had a rifle such as an AR15 to protect their property and life? I support gun ownership for just such things as the aftermath of a disaster as well as home defense, hunting, and simply enjoying the art of marksmanship.

    Jeff, superb article. You present a great deal to think about when defending a home!

  • alpha

    LOL masterful trolling by neuville. wtf mate.

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  • Tom

    I own a Mossberg 12 gauge pump with a pistol grip. I can not think of a better home defense gun.

  • Joseph Friday

    Unless you have experienced a home break-in or faced an armed intruder, all you can do is speculate and guess. I live in a relatively rural area in a small town by big city standards and with enough room between my place and neighbors where only a big bore fast moving projectile would be cause for concern regarding penetration. My closest neighbor is over a mile away and with a dense tree stand and several hills between us. My house is laid out and constructed of materials that would considerably impede/stop a .223 or even a 10mm pistol round from traveling too far. Just me and the wife living in the house and our bedroom is at the end of a long narrow hallway with the door to our bedroom facing down that hallway. Anyone breaking down the door would alarm our 2 80 lb weimaraners who sleep in the house and set them to raising all kinds of hell. My 870 with extended tube is kept by my bedside as is my 1911 and a high CP flashlight. The 870 is loaded with 00 buck and backed up with 4 rounds of #4 buck. Coming down that narrow hallway only allows one person at a time and the hellfire coming at them would do some serious damage. Then, if they are still breathing, I’d turn the dogs loose on them. It would take the local sheriff about 25 to 50 minutes, depending on which side of the county he might be at, to reach my place if given a 911 call, so that would not be a viable alternative. That would give me time to remove the remains outside and in Montana, during the winter, they would probably be frozen solid by the time the law arrived!

  • Rockola

    I agree with everything stated.
    I would add two firearms to those listed. #1. a 7.62 x 51mm AR for those of us living in a rural setting. (The Colt 901 fills both the 5.56 and 7.62mm roles with it’s magazine conversion.)
    Besides defense at greater ranges, this small arm can be used to engage hostile vehicles or hunt medium sized game at moderate to longer ranges.
    The second arm is a smaller handgun, preferably, in the same caliber as your full size handgun. The ability to share magazines is also preferable. If you chose a GLOCK 17 than a GLOCK 19 or 26 would be the alternate handgun for you as a back up, or your spouse.

  • Ray Houthuysen

    LMAO at myself. This thread is five years old!!

  • Robert Swafford

    In today’s crazy time the self defense weapons have gained much significance. If you are interested you can visit at http://selfdefenseweapons-wcss.com/home-protection.html.

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  • joe

    I personally think for home defense in a normal urban area the concern (unless you have somehow made heavily armed enemies) is the protection of what is behind the target and the legal problems that follow. Thus, considering that you rarely need to fire the gun I think that a .38 aca or even .22 handgun with hollow point or 20 gauge shotgun with an underpowered birdshot round would be sufficient and reduce the posibility of it going through the wall (or the attacker which could happen with an AR15 with full metal jacket easily) and hurting someone behind.

  • https://www.mapleholistics.com/blog/dangers-carnauba-wax/ Pickle Rick

    Its the best when you dont need to use weapons.