Choosing the right home-defense weapon:
Trying to figure out the right home-defense weapon can be frustrating. You finally decide to take your personal safety into your own hands, but as soon as you go to the gun store, you’re overwhelmed by all of the information being thrown at you. People start spouting off facts about shotguns versus handguns, benefits of bigger calibers versus smaller calibers, and then they bring in the good ol’ fashioned debate: semi-auto pistols versus revolvers. It’s a lot of information that can leave you more confused than when you first came in. The best way to figure out which kind of weapon to purchase can be broken down into a few categories: home defense, self-defense, and concealability. For simplicity purposes, we’ll just focus on home defense right now. Personally, I believe a shotgun is the best home defense weapon but if it’s too big for you, you might want to go with a handgun. Ultimately, it will always come down to what is most comfortable to you.
There are pros and cons to all different types of weapons, but the most common home defense weapon is a shotgun. Shotguns are usually recommended for home defense because you do not have to be as accurate as you would need to be with a pistol or rifle. It is much more of a “point in the general direction of the threat and shoot” kind of gun. Also, if you use the right kind of ammo, you won’t be as worried about the round going through your intended target and hitting someone or something behind the threat. A lot of people recommend 00-Buck shot for home defense, but I’ve found that it has a problem with over-penetration. This is especially bad for people who live in an apartment complex or if you have roommates or children living in other rooms of the house. The 00-Buck shot can go through the wall and hit someone in another room. A common recommendation for this is to use a #4 turkey shot for home defense. It provides good protection and “knock down power,” but it won’t go all the way through the walls. And a great thing about using a shotgun for home defense is that the sound of racking a shotgun shell into the chamber makes for a very effective crime deterrent.
The second most common weapon for home defense is a handgun. If you want to get a handgun for home defense, you’ll have to decide if you want a semi-automatic pistol or a revolver. Common home defense calibers for revolvers are .357 and .38 special. A lot of people who are unfamiliar with handguns prefer revolvers because of their simplicity. Revolvers do not have a safety feature like most semi-automatic handguns. Many people with children do not like that revolvers are so easy to operate, and often prefer a semi-auto so that kids are less likely to be involved in a handgun accident. This goes into a whole different conversation about gun safety and keeping guns out of reach of children, but we’ll go into that some other time.
What’s nice about getting a handgun specifically for home protection is that you’re not worried about concealability. Usually when you get a handgun for concealing purposes, you end up sacrificing shooting comfort. The smaller and lighter the handgun, the more uncomfortable it is to shoot because there isn’t enough weight to absorb the recoil. For your own comfort, you will want to get a handgun that fits well in your hand. If you don’t feel like it fits well in your hand, you probably won’t shoot it very often. For a home defense handgun, I often recommend something like a full-sized Smith and Wesson M&P 9mm or a Springfield XDM 9mm. Some people believe that bigger calibers are always better, but you want to be able to control the gun. Often, people buy a large caliber thinking that it’s better because it has more knock down power, but they end up not liking it because they can’t control the recoil as easily as something smaller like a 9mm.
The only gun I would not really recommend for home defense would be a rifle. Rifles do not have a quick draw, they do not have an intimidating sound, and the ammo used for rifles has a very high chance of going through your intended target and hitting someone or something behind it. If you do not have a shotgun or a handgun, of course a rifle will work for home defense, but it’s just not widely recommended.