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I wrote this article for my website and thought I'd post it as well to generate some discussion.

THE BEST HOME DEFENSE GUNS
Posted on May 2, 2017 by Gunpowder Meditation

“What is the best gun for home defense?” and “What’s the best home defense gun for my grandma/friend who isn’t into guns?” are two questions you’ll often see asked on firearm forums. Like many questions the answer is, it depends.



BEFORE we get into specific weapons we need to address our basic requirements.

Light
A light is an absolute must have. There is simply no debate about it. As responsible gun owners we don’t go shooting at shadows or figures in the night. Many irresponsible gun owners have learned this the hard way. They awake to a noise and half asleep with adrenalin pumping they didn’t think there was any reason for a person to be in their house. The shoot the figure moving in the dark, turn on the lights and discover it was a loved one they weren’t expecting to be there. I can’t even imagine such a horrible event. Even if it’s not a loved one and it’s the neighbours bone-headed 12 year old being stupid, while you may be legally justified in shooting them wouldn’t you want to avoid that if possible? Please use a light.

Handheld lights and weapon mounted lights each have their trade-offs but having at least one of them is mandatory. I prefer to use both, I have a handheld light sitting next to my nightstand gun with a Streamlight TLR mounted. I feel this gives me the greatest amount of flexibility with whatever the scenario is.

Capacity
I love 1911s but I don’t want to have only 8-9 rounds to deal with a situation, I need whatever gun I grab to hold lots of ammo. If you consider the average shots-fired-to-hits ratio in a standard gunfight and then add in just waking up, I want as much ammo as possible in the magazine. My personal minimum is 15 rounds. With it not being uncommon for multiple invaders to enter a home I don’t think I’m being unreasonable.

One Hand Operable
If you have kids this is a big requirement. Even if you don’t I highly recommend it. With kids you may need to carry, lead, or drag them from one area to another. If you encounter a threat you must be able to engage and move without dropping your kid or leaving them behind.



THERE are always a few recommendations people automatically give in home defense discussions but when you break it down they really aren’t the best options.

The Shotgun
Often touted as the best home defense gun is the shotgun. The problem is the reasons it is often recommended are based in fiction. Things like not having to aim because the shot will expand and you’ll hit everything in front of the muzzle. Joe Biden himself is a fan of the shotgun and has this to say on using it for home defense-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=40&v=HHZ7zXLvOkY

Horrible advice. Not only is it incredibly unsafe but also illegal.

Shotguns do a devastating amount of damage, if you get proper hits. In typical home interior distances the shot isn’t going to expand that much, aiming is still key. The shotgun is limited in capacity and not for the inexperienced. In addition to the recoil that must be managed most people buy a pump that they must also remember to operate under stress. For non-gun people those aren’t positives. Even for gun people, shotguns are quite long unless you go the NFA route and they aren’t accommodating to one handed use.

The Revolver
This is the one I see most often recommended for non-gun or elderly people. The theory is that because they’re so simple and reliable that they’re foolproof. There are issues with them though. If the person is elderly then hand strength may be an issue and revolvers have heavy triggers. Plus with a heavy trigger comes the increased challenge in hitting your target. And to round it out they have limited capacity.

Here’s a real life example of an average person defending themselves from three armed intruders-


She was blasting one handed and used lots of ammo in her defense.



NOW we know what our requirements are and what we want to avoid, so what does that leave us with?

Pistol
A double stack pistol is probably one of the most common home defense guns people use. They have high capacity, can be operated one handed, can have a light mounted and are very simple. There’s no reason for a dedicated home gun to be compact, take advantage of the higher magazine capacity along with the increased size and weight to reduce recoil.

AR-15 / AK-47 / Modern Sporting Rifle / Assault Rifle / Whatever…
Often attacked as having no real life defensive use the AR-15 can, in fact, be a great home defense gun. Recently in Oklahoma a man defended his property and life against three home invaders. Four armed robbers walked into a jewelry store in Texas, the punchline is they were met by three armed employees. One of whom grabbed an AK-47 and laid down some hurt on the robbers. It does have limitations in one handed use but certainly doable with a little practice.



WHAT about for someone who isn’t a gun person? K.I.S.S. ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’ works for a reason. If this is someone who isn’t going to go to the range, has only shot a gun once in their life, maybe never, but still wants to have one around just in case then they need something as simple as possible. For that reason I prefer a firearm without a manual safety. It may seem counterintuitive but if something happens they aren’t going to remember to disengage the safety so they may as well throw it at the burglars.

Now before someone gets worked up I obviously don’t recommend the above scenario. If someone owns a gun I believe they should receive training and regularly practice. But that’s not real life and just may not be feasible for some people. This is where simple education comes into play. I’m not going to drop off a loaded Glock to Grandma and say “Here you go, have fun and don’t shoot yourself!” I’m not even going to tell Grandma how to load or unload it. It’s going to sit in her nightstand, she has absolutely no reason to be messing with it.

From as young as I can remember I was around loaded guns, in major violation of probably every state’s laws nowadays. But, I knew not to mess with them and had a clear understanding of the consequences, i.e. their destructive power. We lived out in the middle of absolutely nowhere so I also knew how they worked should an unwelcomed visitor of two or four legs come by. While I wouldn’t claim as a 6 year old to have been proficient with our .44 Magnum lever-action rifle I knew if there was trouble a round was in the chamber, to cock it, line up the sights, squeeze the trigger, rack the lever and take up the sights again.

Once again, I’m not recommending the above scenario. In my real life story and with the fictitious grandma neither have a reason to ever touch a gun unsupervised unless in a life or death situation. As long as that is crystal clear, along with the basic rules of firearms safety, I’m happy to arm Grandma. The other option, heard in the video below, is completely unacceptable.


-SA
 

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My personal recommendation is, first, if you're going to buy a gun take the time to become proficient with it. Take a class on firearm safety, at a minimum. With this in mind, let's move on. I also recommend everyone carry a gun, but it isn't for everyone. IF you do carry a gun take the time to practice with it. Get instruction, and become proficient with it. If you do this then it is my recommendation that THIS gun should be your primary "defense" gun whether you're out in the public or in the home. It is the gun you're going to be most proficient with, which will come in handy once your fight or flight system explodes.

As a secondary "home defense" gun, I also like an AR15, over the shotgun and an AK. The AR15 fires a high velocity round, but it will tumble quickly or disintegrate upon impact with a wall or door, etc., with the right ammo, and it is an extremely high capacity. They're easy to learn how to shoot and maintain, and you can get a really good one for less than $600. The AK fires a somewhat more powerful round that may tend to over penetrate more so than an AR15 will, but the 300blk would be a good option, IMO.

For a HD shotgun I recommend a Remington 870 youth model 20ga pump shotgun. Super reliable, it is small, which will make it easier to manipulate in a house but it is still large enough for most everyone to be able to shoot safely and accurately. Recoil isn't nearly as much as with a 12ga, and it carries twice the impact of a .44 magnum. I don't recommend auto loading shotguns, bc they can be a handful once the FoF system kicks in (if you're not trained and skilled), they're generally more expensive, they tend not to be quite as reliable as a pump, and more difficult to maintain.

Revolvers are fine, but they are generally more difficult to shoot than semi-autos as it relates to recoil, and they are low capacity. They do jam, contrary to popular mythical opinion, but some people swear by them. Also, I am in the process of adjusting my uncle's J-frame .38 now b/c at 83, he can't quite pull the trigger b/c it is stiff. I say in the process b/c I really don't think he needs to have a gun at his age in his condition, but he is at least well trained.

WRT lights, lasers, RMRs, etc., I think it comes down to the individual. If you use a light then it is best to get some knowledge of how to properly use it. IF you think a light is going to give your position away, you don't know what you're talking about...best to stop now. Lasers and RMRs do tend to make shooting in low light somewhat easier, especially for those with challenged eye sight, but I'm not a fan of them, personally. A light can be extremely beneficial, whether it is hand held or WM, but again, learn how to use one effectively.

My EDC/PD/GP gun is my Glock 19 Gen 4 with the Surefire XC-1 WML, and it is the first gun I'm going to reach for no matter where I am. I have a number of other guns set up for secondary guns ranging from my second G19 to my AR15 to my Winchester .30/30, 870 12ga and 20ga pump shotguns to my old Colt Det. Special .38, and it all depends on the need at the time. I am familiar with all these guns, but none like I am with my Glock, so that is my primary GT/GP gun.
 

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Any gun will work. Just have ear protection for every family member.
How's that gonna work, exactly? I mean are you going to ask the intruder to pause while you wake the whole house up and tell them to put their hearing protection in? :lol:
 

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I have ear muffs and ear plugs in all bedrooms. Everyone is aware of what can happen to their ears if ANY gun is fired indoors.

We have practiced this ritual. Everyone can shoot a gun in my house. We practice at the indoor range at my club.

We are prepared, but not afraid.
 
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I have ear muffs and ear plugs in all bedrooms. Everyone is aware of what can happen to their ears if ANY gun is fired indoors.

We have practiced this ritual. Everyone can shoot a gun in my house. We practice at the indoor range at my club.

We are prepared, but not afraid.
Well, I was really teasing, b/c I thought you were being funny, but seriously, why else would you shoot a gun in your house, except in the case of an emergency? I understand practicing for that at the range, but if someone intrudes your home, will you have time to put your hearing protection on/in? Not trying to be a smartass here...seriously curious now that you've made it a point to explain it.
 

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I grew up in a HARD CORE bird hunting family. Operating a shotgun, autoloader or pump is totally ingrained in my muscle memory. 870 pump AND a DA/SA Sig within reach of my side of the bed.
 

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I don't understand why this topic comes up so often.

9mm rounds have energy from 300 to 450 ft/lbs and hit an are .380 inches in diameter at 7 meters.

a .45 may go up to 500 ft/lbs energy and hits an area less that 1/2 inch at 7 meters

A 12 gage shotgun at 7 meters (open cylinder) hits an area 1.5 to 4 inches at 7 meters and delivers 1200 to 1400 ft/lbs of energy

Fatality rates run 20% to 30 % for hand guns and 65% for rifles and shotguns ( https://www.buckeyefirearms.org/alternate-look-handgun-stopping-power )

Having shot a wild pig who was charging me with a AR 15 (polymer tipped hunting loads) and also having the first 4 hits not even slow it down I would never use that caliber for home defense (hit # 5 blew out it's shoulder and put in on the ground). When I cleaned it I verified 5 entrance and 5 exit wounds.

Everyone is allowed their own opinion but physics is physics.
 

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I don't understand why this topic comes up so often.

9mm rounds have energy from 300 to 450 ft/lbs and hit an are .380 inches in diameter at 7 meters.

a .45 may go up to 500 ft/lbs energy and hits an area less that 1/2 inch at 7 meters

A 12 gage shotgun at 7 meters (open cylinder) hits an area 1.5 to 4 inches at 7 meters and delivers 1200 to 1400 ft/lbs of energy

Fatality rates run 20% to 30 % for hand guns and 65% for rifles and shotguns ( https://www.buckeyefirearms.org/alternate-look-handgun-stopping-power )

Having shot a wild pig who was charging me with a AR 15 (polymer tipped hunting loads) and also having the first 4 hits not even slow it down I would never use that caliber for home defense (hit # 5 blew out it's shoulder and put in on the ground). When I cleaned it I verified 5 entrance and 5 exit wounds.

Everyone is allowed their own opinion but physics is physics.
Most people aren't charging pigs, which are significantly harder to stop than a charging man/woman (especially given the average person is going to stop at the sight or sound of a gun simply in the interest of self preservation). Also, the notion that a 45 is more lethal than a 9mm is pretty much poppycock. The size really doesn't make that much difference. Placement, no the other hand...HUGE!

https://thedesertsedge.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/a-case-for-your-carry-caliber-and-why-they-all-suck/
 
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We are fortunate to live in a well lit very low crime area with good neighbors (many of them hunters), three cops on our street, and a Police Station nearby. Then we have two Labs who would bark if a stranger entered the house without Treats. I actually feel safe here.

But if the unlikely does occur, the HK45 with 3 magazines and a SF XC1 is about two feet away.
 

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One should read all they can about everyone's recommendations for home defense weapon. Then select a weapon that ONE has confidence in and can shoot accurately.
 

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I have ear muffs and ear plugs in all bedrooms. Everyone is aware of what can happen to their ears if ANY gun is fired indoors.

We have practiced this ritual. Everyone can shoot a gun in my house. We practice at the indoor range at my club.

We are prepared, but not afraid.
Just MHO, but crippling one of the senses you need most when clearing your home doesn't sound like that good of an idea to me.
 

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Everyone has their opinion. I am building an SBR, suppressed 300BLK.. Saves ears, for the most part.. Its what I am choosing for SD in the home..
I really believe that the weapon is part of a system of home protection. You need lights, cameras, security, a dog maybe. Something needs to deter and/or warn you as the homeowner..
Too many variables..
 

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What Steve40th said.

Keep doors and windows secured, use an alarm system, and get a dog.

And one of the best practical applications of suppressed weapons is home defense, IMO. Certainly if there's an intruder creeping around inside my home there's no way I'm sticking plugs in my ears.
 

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For a HD shotgun I recommend a Remington 870 youth model 20ga pump shotgun. Super reliable, it is small, which will make it easier to manipulate in a house but it is still large enough for most everyone to be able to shoot safely and accurately. Recoil isn't nearly as much as with a 12ga, .....
Finally, some common sense. I have been preaching the virtues of the 20ga 870 Youth model. In addition to everything previously mentioned, the 20ga Youth model has a shorter length of pull so it is less likely to get entangled in clothing. It is easier to shoot while wearing a coat.

How's that gonna work, exactly? I mean are you going to ask the intruder to pause while you wake the whole house up and tell them to put their hearing protection in? :lol:
I have always dreaded having to fire a handgun in a closed automobile. :eek:
 

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I am happy to see that we have made it 17 posts without someone saying that all you have to do is 'rack' a pump shotgun and every criminal within a 100mi radius will poop their pants and immediately go to the nearest police station and turn themselves in.
 

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I am happy to see that we have made it 17 posts without someone saying that all you have to do is 'rack' a pump shotgun and every criminal within a 100mi radius will poop their pants and immediately go to the nearest police station and turn themselves in.
:lol: I heard something like that about the effect of racking a pump shotgun and criminals disappearing.
 

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There are two things that are next to my bed that I rely upon heavily. First is my P229c with tac-light and second, and probably my initial go to is my KSG. Say what you will, but a good old trusty shotgun is quite reassuring. The fact that this holds 24 mini-12's aint bad either.

 
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