Choosing a Home-Defense Gun

Determining the best home-defense firearm takes careful development of a self-defense plan.


Possibly the only topic to generate more arguments than politics is the never-ending discussion of what qualifies as the “best” home-defense gun. The truth of the matter is, no single shooting solution meets the needs of every individual or household. Every firearm is an exercise in compromise. Each platform has limitations to be considered carefully when making a choice.

Many firearms can be useful for a variety of applications, such as target shooting, hunting and concealed carry, as well as protecting your family. However, the following discussion focuses on firearms in the primary role of home defense. The general advantages and disadvantages of each gun type should be considered in light of the fact that most houses and living areas limit the defender's mobility. Remember, practical defensive shots will be fired at very close range, i.e. contact distance, to across-the-room ranges of 5 to 10 yards. 

Gun buyers should be looking for a firearm and ammunition combination offering an optimum level of stopping power. Overpowered guns produce excessive amounts of recoil, noise and muzzle flash that can leave the home defender deaf, blind and pointed in the wrong direction. More importantly, hot rounds are more likely to pass through the intended target, travel through thin wall or window materials and keep on going to cause unintended damage to others. At the other end of the spectrum, underpowered guns will not stop the threat effectively.

Dealing with the concerns of overpenetration or underpowered defense options is one of the reasons civilians are often encouraged to examine law enforcement agency practices. A police officer and a home defender have the same goals in mind, namely, to stop a threat quickly without causing unintended collateral damage. So don’t be too surprised when some of the gun choices listed here look like they came out of a precinct inventory.

Plenty of affordable rifles and handguns are available chambered in .22 Long Rifle. However, they should be avoided for home-defense. The .22 round produces low levels of stopping power, allowing an assailant to continue doing harm long after he or she has been struck by the bullet. Rimfire guns like the .22 are more likely to jam or fail to fire due to faulty primers than center-fire shotgun, rifle or handgun cartridges. The .22s are terrific for plinking, small-game hunting and practice but they have no place in a home-defense lineup.

The primary difference between shotguns intended for outdoor sports and those for self-defense is the barrel length. Combat shotguns—sometimes called riot guns, are typically fitted with short barrels between 18.5 to 20 inches in length. Some combat models offer an extended magazine capacity, or a specialized sighting system, but they are usually the same as sporting shotguns in other respects.

The common types of combat shotgun include pump-actions, semi-automatics and occasionally break-actions. The pump-action, or slide-action, requires the shooter to pull the forearm back toward the receiver and then push it forward again to chamber a fresh round from the magazine. Pumps are plentiful, relatively inexpensive and mechanically reliable. Semi-automatics chamber a fresh round with each pull of the trigger until the magazine is empty. Semi-autos can fire shots more quickly and accurately, but they are more expensive to buy. Break-actions are hinged to allow the base of the gun's single or double barrel to swing away from the receiver to remove spent shells and load fresh ones manually. Break-actions are reliable and simple to operate, but they only offer a one or two-shot capacity.

The 12-gauge combat shotgun has been called the most effective anti-personnel firearm invented. The saturation effect of buckshot and, at close range, birdshot is simply devastating to soft tissue. The result is a high degree of stopping power. However, the felt recoil produced by the 12-gauge is intense, often too intense for small-framed shooters. The shoulder-bruising effects of the shotgun can be reduced by switching to low-recoil ammunition or by using a 20-gauge instead.

Shotguns have a low ammunition capacity, usually 4+1 in the chamber, compared to most tactical rifles and semi-automatic handguns. They are relatively slow to reload, requiring rounds to be fed into the chamber or magazine one at a time. Also, their length and weight can make them difficult to maneuver in tight spaces.

It's important to take a moment here to dispel some of the Hollywood mythology that surrounds these potent firearms. A strike from a shotgun shell will not send an assailant flying across the room. Shotguns are not magic wands that launch beach-ball sized orbs of destruction. Holding a shotgun at hip level and spraying lead in the general direction of a threat is a bad idea for two important reasons. First, shot patterns remain small at home-defense distances. This means un-aimed shots are just as likely to miss the threat as those fired by any other defensive firearm. Secondly, although a cluster of shot pellets is unlikely to overpenetrate the human body, the said cluster can pass through walls with plenty of energy left to do harm beyond the intended target.

Movies and television shows have glamorized pistol grip only shotguns. None of the professional instructors I’ve worked with recommend this configuration for home protection. Removing the shoulder stock makes a shotgun shorter and easier to move with, but they are not practical defensive tools since they’re nearly impossible to aim properly. Leave the pistol grip only shotguns to the SWAT teams for breeching doorways, and install a traditional or six-position stock on yours.

Although bolt-action hunting rifles may be ideal for taking large game, they make a poor choice for home-defense. These rifles are slow to load, slow to fire, and the high-power cartridges they shoot produce excessive muzzle flash, noise, recoil and are very likely to overpenetrate the target. If you want a rifle for home-defense, then consider a tactical semi-auto or pistol-caliber carbine.

In the last few years, the popularity of tactical rifles, also called modern sporting rifles, has skyrocketed. The most popular seem to be those based on the AR-15 design. Other examples of this breed include the AK-47, M1 Carbine and Ruger Mini-14. These rifles are light, easy to shoot, produce low levels of recoil and provide plenty of ammunition.

Rifles are powerful defensive firearms with some models offering stopping power similar to a shotgun, but without as much recoil. For home defenders who live in rural areas, rifles can provide the added range and accuracy needed to deal with pests of the four-legged variety. Like the shotgun, a rifle's length may make it difficult to maneuver in tight spaces. The other drawback to tactical rifles is the high price tag. In some cases, you can buy two or three defensive shotguns for the price of one tactical rifle.

Another good choice for home defense is a pistol-caliber carbine. Compact lever-action rifles, chambered for revolver cartridges like .357 Mag. and .45 Colt, have been protecting people’s interests for quite some time. Lever guns usually hold several rounds in their magazines but fresh cartridges have to be loaded one at a time, much like a shotgun. Some manufacturers offer semi-auto carbines that accept handgun magazines in popular defensive pistol calibers. These rifles can offer ammunition and magazine compatibility with a handgun you already own, and the longer barrels increase the velocity of the load.

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203 Responses to Choosing a Home-Defense Gun

Martin wrote:
December 09, 2014

1911 .45 ACP was standard issue to all US Military officers for a reason. Cold stopping power at close range with relatively low recoil

Ron wrote:
November 24, 2013

Dumb! How dumb can a person be think they are safe with the house unlocked anytime. My elderly aunt and uncle came home (farm) to be attacked by two felons looking for money and guns. Lucky they survived and the bad guys were caught. Don't depend on luck. YOU could be very dead.

Ryanrathbun wrote:
September 11, 2013

When I'm home alone I kind of think someone's gonna brake in the house so my dad has been teaching me to shoot a 16 guage shotgun it kicks but when someone brakes in with a gun it's basically what is close but my dads got a berretta 92f but I don't care to use it because it will kill the victim and I don't really want to kill somebody

LsB wrote:
August 01, 2013

There are several comments about the Miami/FBI statistics, shich gets one to thinking. If they want 12 to 18' penetration how think is the normal human body, unless you are shooting from the side it is less than 18' and for the most part just shy of 12' deep from front or back. With this in mide why would you want more than 12 inches of penetration. If you are worried about over-penetration and the possibility of going through a wall, which is the major concern in a home, other family members and neighbor safety. The comments of waiting for the perp is good if your are a patient person, most are not, but it is still better advice than trying to clear the house, because most of citizens are not trained in the proper techniques of clearing a room or house. It usually take more than one person as there are more than one way around a house. So having an out from every room besides the regular door makes more sense, trap doors in the closet or fire ladders to hang out the window. Also having more than one method of protection is the best protection, 2 or more dogs (inside and out), motion activated lighting, and alarms that sound when things are not opened from the proper direction (inside). When it comes to weapons or tools self-defense training is paramount and having more than one method (guns, small baseball bats, homemade night sticks) and ALWAYS get the training to use them properly. Get comfortable and proficient with all types of tools and to use them effectively.

LB wrote:
July 12, 2013

Rolling Thunder Yes a 12 ga buck will punch thru many wall sections. I and my brother did some LIVE FIRE using 3/4 inch drywall,2x4 pine. Using .45 ACP (ball, HP & HC(hollow cavity) .556,30-06,9mm, and .270. we found that all these rounds would go thru 4-5 walls with little problems and still have damaging velocity. After these tests we decided that .45 ACP HC(not ball!!) was the round to use in home defense. But that choice MUST be your own. An article published by NRA prompted us to see for ourselves. P.S.- The HC round I use,learned in SE Asia and legally used by military and police only using C4 in the cavity. Don't ask for more info on this round as it is/can be "VERY" DANGERIOUS to make and use.

Eric wrote:
June 17, 2013

I have a 12 gauge and a mean wife.

oakman wrote:
June 13, 2013

In the past 45 years, our various residences have never been broken into, though neighbors have. I attribute that to always having two dogs. That being said, I've always been comfortable with relying on any of my hunting weapons as self defense. I am extremely familiar with them as is my wife, and to a certain extent, as were my kids. When moving to a rural area I did trade a 30-06 for a .357 revolver as a nuisance gun, and have used it a few times on close range varmints. With recent trends in home invasions, I now keep it ready inside a cabinet. My wife is a little frail now, so her bedroom self defense weapon is a single shot .410 that has been used by us regularly for 40 years. With heavy shot, at ten 5-10 feet it should slow someone down a bit to allow me to grab the 12ga pump. I only keep four rounds of 00 in it, but am confident in my ability to effectively use it, having shot thousands of rounds at trap, skeet, squirrel, rabbit and birds. Oh, how worried are we? We sleep with doors unlocked.

Don wrote:
June 12, 2013

I wanted to buy a handgun for home defense. My brother said not to get a 22 or 32 but anything bigger should be ok. I ended up getting a 36 caliber 1851 revolver because it looked cool and was inexpensive. The downside is that it used black powder and a ball and cap, which takes forever to load. When I took it to the range, I had no idea how to unload it, so I had to bring it to the range loaded. When I shot it at the range, the smoke it made annoyed the other shooters and got me kicked off the range, so I couldn't practice much with it. Perhaps I shouldn’t have used it at an indoor range. In retrospect, there are probably better choices to be made when choosing a handgun for home defense.

AlmostDeadVendor wrote:
June 09, 2013

@Arnold, Hey just what you see [in the article], pal.

Calvin Nichols wrote:
May 02, 2013

Great article. Spot on about all different rifles, shotguns and handguns. I appreciate the refresher as I feel I am spot on. Know what you are buying and what you are buying it for.

Joe wrote:
April 30, 2013

I like my Browning .380 BDA...13+1, and have practiced close range room-to-room with my S&W m&P15 AR..with soft tip 55grain....works wonders......

Carl Garrand wrote:
April 29, 2013

Spraying bear spray or pepper spray in your house is not a good idea.You will end up not only blinding and/or choking who you spray it at but yourself as well.

Brad wrote:
April 22, 2013

I live in a small 2-bedroom condo and have a few unloaded guns (Mossberg 500 w/ 18" barrel, Ruger Security Six with .38 specials & Ruger Redhawk with .44 specials in speed loaders) in my master bedroom closet. However, to load them, specially in the dark, will take some time. In my home defense plan, the first thing I reach for is the can of bear spray in my nightstand. It will allow me to lock my bedroom door, get to my closet and load a gun. It shoots 30 ft. which is farther than my short (15 ft.) hallway and can stop an attacker or even saturate the hall & livingroom with a mist of bear spray, which would effect the intruder's vision and put him at a tremendous disadvantage in a gunfight. I would also put a 360-lumen flashlight on strobe in front of me facing the bedroom door and wait for someone to kick it in. I would call the police as soon as I thought I could safely do so.

Jim wrote:
April 13, 2013

Interesting comments. I just view a gun as a tool - like a drill, saw, screwdriver, hammer, etc. I learned to dislike carrying and love turning in weapons at the armory in the Marine Corps. In terms of useful defensive weapons - the top two are easy - a basic .38 revolver or 9mm pistol with good hollow points and a basic 12 or 20 gauge shotgun with standard or low recoil buckshot (skip the magnums and slugs). For affordable target practice a 10/22. If you hunt - a basic .30 cal hunting rifle makes sense too but if someone is over 100 yards away, good luck convincing a jury that it was "self defense". I've owned many other firearms but most end up in the safe or sold / traded because after using them awhile, getting over the oh-ah effect, and thinking about it, you realize they just aren't as practical as the basics. They require too much time to load in an emergency and have too much recoil for your lady to use effectively. They create excess noise, muzzle blast, penetration, and legal liability. The ammo is too expensive to practice with regularly and there are too many different types of ammo - which you eventually realize is foolish as the only important variables in ammo are the lead projectile and how fast it is moving. So a marginal increase in performance doesn't justify the logistical headache of myriad calibers. You'll find yourself back at the target range with basic weapons where you and yours can enjoy practicing for under 20 bucks, then go for a nice lunch. Meanwhile the "dollar a shot" guns sit back in the safe or the consignment shop.

Erland wrote:
April 09, 2013

Enjoyed reading the tactics that are being used. My thoughts... using dogs is a conservative way to address unwanted "guest." But with today's threats, do you really feel 100% safe that your dog will fully protect you? We have all read about recent random killings in schools and workplace. We do not know if the intent of the intruder is to rob you and/or cause bodily harm. I believe today, more people are "thinking" about being more proactive in defending their personal self, family and property. It is ashame that we must second guess what means we need to protect ourselves. kind of gun I need to use for my self/family protection. I read with humor some of the opinions (pink colored gun; 180 lb dogs, etc). But seriously, the many comments shared on this site shows how serious the situation is or can become.

Yipspring wrote:
April 01, 2013

I live on a yacht and have 24 years cruising experience all around the globe. Some parts of the ocean are just plain packed with pirates. Now you may be thinking that this article is about home defence so why is he writing about sailing, but my yacht is my home, so I aint taking any risks. My onboard arsenal consists of a mossberg maverick 12ga with an extended mag loaded with magnum slugs to get the attackers before you get in range of AK fire and my wife has a Mossberg 500 loaded with 00 buck for any unwanted boarding parties. Both also take 12ga flares for emergencies and exploding assault dinghies filled with ordnance and petrol tanks. Both will destroy anybody and rip through any body armour. My maverick is also a great shark defence weapon aswell. Those shotguns have never failed to save our bacon.

Quinn wrote:
April 01, 2013

My personal choice is a Ruger Mini 14 in 5.56. I live out in the country and do a lot of small game hunting but I keep the rifle in my bedside closet. 5.56 is a good caliber, you hit someone with it, they're going to hit the deck, y'know? Also overpenetration isn't a huge worry.

braelynkivett wrote:
March 21, 2013

Just got outta the Marine Corps my home defense weapon is a dpms.panther ar15. Its big but with 800 rounds in clips and the skill i learned in the Corps. Nothing getting by it

Big Nate wrote:
March 18, 2013

Spent quite a lot of time researching what was best for me. I'm proud to say that I have made my first firearm purchase and… it’s a Benelli Supernova Tactical 12 gauge. As it’s my first and only gun, I felt think it was just about the most versatile weapon out there. It can use just about any shell from 2 3/4 up to 3 1/2 Magnums which is a real plus if you have been shopping for any ammo… What good is that 1911 or .357 going to do if every box of ammo disappears every time Obama and Biden fart in the wind. You’re in a catch .22 (pun intended) because you can’t practice shooting because you can’t replace the rounds or you can shoot and hope that you lucky enough to get that next shipment at your local gun shop. You can walk into any Wal-mart and find target loads, birdshot, and turkey shot, which in a home defense situation, usually less than 20 feet is more than enough to stop somebody cold. But I don’t get why anybody would actually want “laser” sights and all that junk on their shotgun… lasers, side saddles, etc… it’s all extra junk that is going to get in the way, catch on something as your quickly trying to grab your gun, or just show your position with that little red dot… So in summary, get a shotgun…just not a “double barrel”…thanks for that little tip Joe!

Tony wrote:
March 08, 2013

My primary home defense firearm is my XD9 Sub Compact. If the situation requires something more, then my Mossberg 500 20 gauge is secured with a bedside Shotlock Solo Vault. I do have a AR for home defense but its use would require extreme circumstances.

Dan wrote:
March 08, 2013

38 special and compact 45acp(extra loaded clip by its side) compact .380 for the pocket(again extra loaded clip)..mossberg 930 in each room of the house...way rather lose my hearing then my life!

Ross wrote:
March 02, 2013

I don't think any kind of a rifle, other, possibly, than one with a pistol caliber is a good choice for home defense. First, because it will penetrate and possible hit the neighbor. Secondly, a rifle is a bit unwieldily in a tight hallway or maybe even a bedroom scenario. I believe a shotgun is a good weapon for home defense as long as you don't go walking around with it and can't swing it into play as rapidly as might be needed. I believe the handgun is the best choice, if a person practices with it. No gun is good in the hands of the inexperienced. As far as the .380 goes, if you shoot a man with it and he finds out about it he is going to be pissed. May as well use a .22, something you can afford to practice with, then just empty the magazine into the perp, especially if you can place it well, such as in the head/eye/throat, etc.

otis wrote:
March 01, 2013

ur shot gun is the best but who wants to carry a long gun from room to room, i prefer the Judge, a hand gun revolver that shoots shotgun shells

Alex J wrote:
February 25, 2013

.22 lr is highly under estimated. Between my M&P 15 22 and a Mossberg 500 id choose the mossberg most of the time. The facts are straight though,as Dave H stated above. It doesnt matter if its a .22 or a 12 guage,people dont like being shot...period.

dj wrote:
February 23, 2013

I got a grumpy Pyrenees, and an even more grumpy wife (I call her "the barracuda"). If anyone/thing gets past those two... I wish I could say I would pull out a shotgun, but there's too much junk in my house. A shotgun would be a real disadvantage in my case - and yup, I have given a pistol grip a chance. All I can say is, were I to use that (pistol griped shotgun), I better hit em on the first go. My follow-ups just ain't that fast. Hence, it's a hand cannon for me. And by cannon, I mean a 9mm. If they don't run away after the dog and the barracuda have at em, I am thinking they are there to murder me - which means I better hit what I shoot at. My 9mm is the most accurate thing I can shoot other than the b.s... I hope I never have to shoot my 9mm... life really would be empty without my dog and my "barracuda."

Grant wrote:
February 23, 2013

I just had to jump in here for a sec to comment. Typically the idiot who's broken into your house is not the Terminator bent on your destruction. He's a turd looking to steal your laptop so he can buy today's crack. If you open fire with ANYTHING he's gonna run like a wide receiver unless you hit him. This search for the "stopping power" is a little over the top for home defense. You're not being attacked by crazed Taliban whose only reason in life is to kill you! It's probably your freakin' paperboy! I'll tell you what, we're 20 feet apart, you pull your knife, I pull my Remington semi-auto and start pumping .22LR's into your chest, who you think is gonna win? I bet I'm sittin' on your corpse when the cops pull in the driveway. I'm in Canada, and maybe it's different here, I have never heard of a burglar here carrying a firearm. Do you have alot of burglars who kill people in the States really? There are home invasions that are armed here but they're out to steal stuff, and do you really want a shootout in your house with .357s with a bunch of guys who just want your stuff, when your family's in the nexy room? My home defense piece is for me to say ", get out of my house", and be able to back it up. Right now I have all longguns, .22, .243, .303, and 12 gauge SxS and semis. I don't shoot anymore and want to sell them all and just get a pistol for under the bed. Maybe I'll get a PPK in 7.65mm, it was good enough for Bond right?

Kent wrote:
February 12, 2013

I had to use my S&W .357 three days before Christmas last year on a bad guy who kicked in my basement door, bypassed my alarm and dog and came upstairs with a blade in hand. I can't say I was ready but instinct took over and I put two into his chest and one into his left eye when he was about 10 feet from my 11 year old boy's bedroom door. No trial needed forr this perp but it sure shook us up for a while. Killing a nut job like that still isn't something I'd want to do again. It makes a mess of your house, causes some nightmares and ties you up with the police for quite a while. We are still dealing with it on many fronts. That said, practice paid off for me in protecting my family.

Matthew wrote:
February 10, 2013

I wonder if people who write articles like these have ever fired a gun in a confined space without hearing protection. Rifles and shotguns simply produce too much muzzle blast, which can disorient you and put you at a serious disadvantage if you miss an attacker with the first shot or there are more than one. It might be fine using a shotgun if you're a cop and regularly do live fire exercises in close quarters and get used to being rattled by the blast, but civilians usually can't do this. Get a handgun and professional training in defensive shooting and practice until you can consistently make t-zone shots at 50ft from any position. I know, most self defense shootings occur within 20 ft, but don't forget about the fact you will be scared and pumping adrenaline if you're ever attacked. That's why you should practice at a greater distance. Stay away from magnum calibers and .45 autos, as they produce severe muzzle blast. A 9mm is quite sufficient, but even a .22 will work if you can shoot it well. Don't make the mistake of choosing 'more power'. I'm 6'5" and 280 lb and I wouldn't do it. What if your attacker is wearing body armor and you have to make a head shot? You want the gun you can shoot most accurately.

Regi wrote:
February 06, 2013

Regarding Jim’s Shotgun hallway comments; I’m not sure what you are saying and/ or who you are responding to. Just for clarification. A gun is a last resort tool. You don’t go looking for anyone. You protect yourself. If someone is in your house trying to steal your TV set then call 911, but at some point you may have to defend yourself and/or your family. I have given this much thought. I don’t want to kill anyone, but if and when the situation arises I will defend myself. This is not a simple matter. Truth be told, I hate the fact that I have to own and be knowledgeable about guns. But do you really think that a crazed crack head will give you that same consideration? A gun is a tool with a specific use. We are talking about home defense here. Every night I check my shotgun(s) light(s) and lasers to make sure the batteries work and perform properly. I run snap caps through the action about once a week to make sure everything is moving smoothly. I break down my shotguns every six months to clean and inspect them despite if they need it or not. Your TV is replaceable. You are not. Just not sure where you are coming from.

Jim wrote:
February 03, 2013

I have a "shotgun" hall way, if I get an intruder in my home I will NOT go looking for him, I'm not going to kill a man or be killed over a TV, BUT! if he enters the hall, I have my 12 GA...

Regi wrote:
February 03, 2013

I just wanted to add some of my (additional) personal thoughts on this issue. Just like any other machine, a pistol grip shotgun has to be thought thru. If I had the time to think then I would use my 870 12 ga with a Knoxx recoil reducing stock because it has both the pistol grip and the adjustable stock. If I was in a hurry (2:00 am and just awakened) then I would use my 870 20 ga with a Knoxx recoil reducing pistol grip breaching stock. In my opinion the 20 ga has the best advantage in a hurry up situation because it is easier to access and shoot. The most important thing about the 20 ga is the rounds I use. I stock it with Federal PD256 # premium home defense # 4 buck and Federal PB209RS Truball rifled slugs. The slug is the best for stopping power and because of Federals “Truball system” it sports a grouping of 2” at 50 yards. When you combine either of these rounds with the recoil reducing pistol grip, the red dot laser and a weapon mounted flashlight your odd of missing at close range are limited. The other effective thing about Federal’s Truball slug is that it delivers 2200 pounds at muzzle velocity and only drops down to 1800 at 50 yards so for close range in a home defense situation it will definitely stop an intruder. Even if the intruder is wearing “body Armor” the slug will break ribs and possible stop the heart. The buckshot will not. I also employ the use of a side saddle so I can choose between rounds as the situation may dictate. The combinations of all of these things are especially beneficial if you are a small man or woman. I am not a not a firearms instructor and I do not claim to know every aspect of home defense; however I have been shooting guns since I was 9 and I am now 53. Even the manufactures of the Knoxx breaching pistol grip stock say that it is only to be used for breaching, but I really don’t think that they explored all of the home defense applications that it possibly offers. Just my final thoughts on this issue.

jim klink wrote:
February 02, 2013

I love my five seven i practice moving and shooting simultaneously. Hitting silhouette about 50[%] . If intruder breaks in i got security system. Let them come to you. I got devastor will blow thru 30 layers of kevlar if they got a class 3 vest on. I can use the sights or shoot instinctly whatever the scenario dictates. Identify your target use deadly force if they broke in your house. Dont accidently shoot a family member.

Regi wrote:
January 29, 2013

I keep hearing that pistol grips are a no no on shotguns because they are hard to aim...Wrong!First you put a Black hawk Knoxx breaching pistol grip. Then you add a flashlight and a laser. The laser does the aiming for you. The pistol grip is available for Remington 870 12 and 20 gauge. Stock your 12 gauge with # 4 buck. Stock your 20 gauge with federal truball slugs. Do you really want to maneuver a full length stock when someone is trying to break into your house at 2:00 AM? Hit the flashlight and laser. Identify your target. Ask them to leave. If you believe your life is in danger then shoot. As far as handguns are concerned I prefer a 357 magnum. While I like this article, I strongly disagree with the opinion that shotgun pistol grips are non-effective.

John wrote:
January 27, 2013

Thank you this article, it is very informative. I live in NYS so unfortunately my options are becoming increasingly limited on what I can own without being deemed a "criminal" by the State.

Tom Ray wrote:
January 26, 2013

To the poster Graham below about the .22, I could not disagree with you more. Plain and simple fact is when you make the choice to fire a weapon at someone, you must be making a kill or be killed decision. Shooting to injure or maim with a .22 is just irresponsible in my opinion.

Ray Darrah wrote:
January 24, 2013

Thank you for the information on Shotguns and the bird shot for home defense. I'm an ex-marine, but without having handled a weapon for 35 years. I feel compelled to have home protection. I understand the shotgun, knives for home protection. Now about the car and my person....... what handgun should I be looking at and then the ammo?

Todd wrote:
January 23, 2013

9mm is usually a fatal wound, but won't knock them down. I have read some police don't like using them, if someone is on drugs, they keep coming. Also, automatics and jam. I think a shotgun is the best defense for knocking someone down, but I have a colt python, .357 magnum. Won't jam, will knock someone down or stop them and easy to handle. You can load it down to a .38 too which my wife uses, this would also stop someone. I think if you were just set on an automatic, a 45 would be better as it would knock someone down...

Bob wrote:
January 22, 2013

randy - I agree with your home defense loadout, but I gotta say your friend who went deer hunting with birdshot was pretty irresponsible in regards to giving the animal a swift and humane death.

Glen Morris wrote:
January 18, 2013

I have 2 Jack Russells and I think one of them carries a razor.

randy wrote:
January 18, 2013

My choice would be a 12 gauge with the shortest legal barrel loaded with #7-1/2 bird shot first round, #00 buck for the remaining four. If you hit with the birdshot at close range it is like a solid round. If you hit him in the head with birdshot at 30 feet he will not be able to see ever again. My buddy knocked down a deer with 7-1/2 in the head years ago. Shotguns are simple, take the safety off and pull the trigger and yes you can shoot from the hip if necessary. Handguns require some skill and possibly training. Shotgun is simple.

locknload wrote:
January 16, 2013

I have a loaded winchester SXP 12ga defender with PDX1 self defence rounds 5+1,Tactial 22lr with 25round clip also purchasing a 45 or a 9mm tomorrow. Lots of swords and knives i collect as well i think i will be ok.

Just an old lady with a gun wrote:
January 16, 2013

It's not just about the gun...remember the ammo! Don't forget to put a good hollow-point in whatever you're shooting for defense. Target rounds won't get the job done. A lady close to here defending herself and twin boys hit a home invader in the head and neck with 5 out of 6 rounds from a .38 revolver and the guy is still alive. I'm betting she had target rounds instead of "stopping" rounds or the guy wouldn't be here to face a jail term!

niko wrote:
January 16, 2013

I got a german shepard and a mean ol ladie, so if they make it past them, I keep my glock 40, workin on AR not sure rather 5.56 Or 7.62 any sugestions?

rangerup wrote:
January 15, 2013

have been reading the comments, you seem responsible. I am looking to purchase 1st handgun. i am looking at the Sig P226. This will be solely for protection and home defense. what is your opinion.

Evan wrote:
January 13, 2013

I believe that a pump action shotgun can be one of the most useful home defense weapons because there is no way the intruder is going to get away from you with that. Also the spread will make sure you hit him. With a rifle if that one shot misses you could be screwed

Russ wrote:
January 13, 2013

Yeah yeah yeah. I have two 300lb junk yard dogs with schizophrenia, punji stick traps and Claymores around the perimeter, a M134 on every corner of the house, a Benelli Super 90 next to every bed, a .45 in every drawer, a fighting knife in my underwear, and a 12ga double-barreled Remington with a walnut stock, cobalt blue steel, and a hair trigger. Plus I watch Chuck Norris movies. You guys crack me divulging either your real home defenses or your fantasy ideas.

rangerup wrote:
January 12, 2013

oh and these people that have duns hidden all over your house. i hope to god you don't have kids

rangerup wrote:
January 12, 2013

I agree with sneakypete, 9mm has more than enough stopping power, Iv seen it first hand. The ammo is cheap so you can afford to practice more. As long as you know what your doing, you will have no problem with the 9.

Drug Dealer wrote:
January 12, 2013

If someone trys manages to get past the security system, trough the only door which has 3 dead bolts, past my two akitas then there gona have to go toe to toe with me and my MP5 to get to my business

Kacey wrote:
January 11, 2013

Hey guys will a Pink gun work?

Peddler wrote:
January 09, 2013

First and foremost,Start with a good home security system. If that fails or does not stop an intruder - Taurus Judge with home security loads.

sneakypete wrote:
January 05, 2013

Anyone stating that the 9mm is not large enough ammunition has absolutely no idea what they're talking about. The German military had no problem killing thousands with the 9mm during WWI. They felt the 9mm was sufficient enough to continue to kill thousands with it during WWII. I fired a lot of stuff in Vietnam in SF and have experience with firing hundreds of 9mm rounds though German weapons and the 9mm will kill plenty good. Even for you drugstore commandos.

MGunner1 wrote:
January 03, 2013

S&w 64 38 special sits in my night stand. Sure it only has 6 shots, but it goes bang every time. Just purchased a Win. SXP defender though will report back on what I think of her.

LaTxGuy wrote:
December 31, 2012

from rel experience I would not choose the 9mm, just not enough stopping power especially if from a large person attacking. I would go nothing less than a 40 cal or 10mm. Cost, when it comes to self defense I would not comprimise of cost! we say, better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6. I see some say a 22, no way. they remark a safety as not to kill. Maybe in a blue state! If i must draw a gun and if I must shoot; it will be to kill!!!

Sport wrote:
December 27, 2012

I have 2 70lb+ Weimaraners that will alert to any sound of a break in. They are both formidable and will protect. Behind them, I have and practice routinely with a Remington 870 12 Ga. loaded with 6 +1 of #4 Buck and at the ready, a Ruger SR40C with which I readily practice. My plan is to let the dogs warn, gather family in safe room, call cops and let stupid intruder decide his/her fat facinf 7 rounds of #4 Buck and 10 rounds of .40S&W if they make it thru the door to the safe room. After that, 23 years of military experience and edged weapon training remain.

Graham wrote:
December 27, 2012

I would prefer .22 for several reasons, chiefly the fact that they can be less lethal. Less likely to accidentally kill a member of the household, or be killed by your own gun. Also, people can say whatever they want, but usually someone breaking in is at a horrible point in their life, ending theirs and ruining yours over a TV or some cash hardly seems with it.

Graham wrote:
December 27, 2012

I would prefer .22 for several reasons, chiefly the fact that they can be less lethal. Less likely to accidentally kill a member of the household, or be killed by your own gun. Also, people can say whatever they want, but usually someone breaking in is at a horrible point in their life, ending theirs and ruining yours over a TV or some cash hardly seems with it.

Robbie wrote:
December 24, 2012

I have a 125 lb. Alaskan Malamute that still occasionally draws blood on me when welcoming me home after work. Two 85 lb. labs, And a Benelli Supernova Tactical 12 Ga., Should the dogs spit them out due to bad taste :)

DC wrote:
December 22, 2012

I have a Glock 23 40 -police handgun and a 870 shotgun with 6/1 00 buckshot will take care of biz.

ubob wrote:
December 22, 2012

If you are not familiar with guns the easiest to use is a 38 special revolver. You may very well incur hearing damage, but wasting time applying hearing protection make cost you your life. Most of the answers given are by gun enthusiast. Training is a major consideration.

James wrote:
December 21, 2012

22 mag ruger in wife's dresser 16 ga double barrel L = 000 R = slug in bed room corner Judge Public defender in foyer coat closet 870 rem in garage hidden closer Also have sawed off double 29 ga hid in fake cabinet . All of these are for reasons plane to see. Been there done that all I say is know, pray and practice. When it happens adrenalin and training reflex run the show

the tank wrote:
December 16, 2012

Gp100 can have two ammo choices I practice at the range with the 38 special and keep it by my bed with 357 rounds close however my wal mart special junior 20 gauge is not too far it is short with low recoil

Jim wrote:
December 12, 2012

First, do you live in a bad area? Move. Do you have a dog? Get at least two? Is your home secure - good locks, gates, etc? If not - home depot. After that is covered - guns? Yes. Everyone will tell you theirs is the best. If they have a big bore revolver - it's the best. Got an M1A - it's the best. Only got a .22 LR - kills more people than any other. Only got a single shot 12 or bolt action 30-06 - that's all they need they'll say. In a way they are right. If you're really good with a 10/22, I wouldn't want to mess with you. Ditto if you're handy with a single shot 12 or a bolt action hunting rifle. It doesn't take that much to kill someone. Since we're talking optimal home defense though, you should probably stick with tools any member of the family can use in an emergency. So skip the big heavy guns and big heavy recoil. Doesn't add much. Common, cheap calibers are best - exotic ones aren't magic and it boils down to a hunk of lead flying through the air. Common sense will tell you, all else constant, a bigger hunk of lead flying faster is going to do more damage than a small hunk of lead flying slower. Enough said. Given all that, my advice would be: 1) a 12 or 20 gauge short barrel shotgun with youth or knox stock loaded with standard or reduced recoil buckshot. 2) a .357 or .38 revolver with 3 to 4 inch barrel, loaded with .38 (regular or +p) hollow point ammo. A shotgun is the best way to cover a safe-room door and with good buckshot, will end a fight quickly. Mossy's are easier to load (drop & slide) than Remys (push, hold & slide) but both are great. A revolver's springs are at rest when loaded (unlike a mag-fed semi-auto). So you can leave a revolver loaded in the drawer for 20 years, pull it out and fire if the need arises. If you pull the trigger and it doesn't go bang - just pull the trigger again. No fun clearing a jam at 0 dark thirty.

Crazy13 wrote:
December 12, 2012

I have read many articles on best home defense weapon. I have about 2 dozen guys and only read them for joy and a little laughter. I think this is one of the best articles written. It lets you know the pros and cons, and gives you the best advice of all. Practice and education. Just to let everyone know. I sleep with a Sig 380 and a Kimber 45 next me. They both have pros and cons. Let's me choose which gun I want if the situation rises.

Jim wrote:
December 12, 2012

Interesting. Many platitudes - "purpose of pistol is to get to long gun" and "12 gauge is the most effective weapon ever yet it won't over penetrate" and then all the armchair warrior stuff "I'd have a flamethrower and a MK 19, ma deuce, and some weapon I saw while playing D & D :) In reality, you should start by asking what is your objective? For most it is planning for the contingency that someone, someday, might decide to break into your home and threaten the safety of you and your loved ones. Period. You want to do what you can to minimize that possibility. Ask yourself, how might you logically do that? If you live in a crap area - plan to move. If you don't have a dog - get two - having one dog is borderline animal cruelty. I assume you have good locks and some door reinforcement? If not - a trip to Lowes is in order. Look at the house - if stuff happened, do you have a plan - does everyone who lives there know about it? Why not? Done all that? Ok - on to guns. First - everyone loves the gun they selected and bought. Yes, glocks are very simple and very reliable. Yes Mossys are for most people, easier to load than 870s. Yes revolvers can be left loaded for decades while semi auto mags will have spring issues if left loaded too long. Regarding what makes sense if you were just going to have two guns (about all one or two people can realistically use anyway in this type of situation). First, what are you and your partner comfortable with? It is pretty selfish to have a gun that only you can shoot - leaves her SOL if that is 1/2 the arsenal. So get something simple that everyone in the house can employ. Think cheap, common ammo you can buy at Wally World - exotic ammo doesn't give much advantage. Practice often. My advice - an 18 to 20" shotgun with youth or Knox stock in 12 or 20 gauge with (00 or #3) standard pressure buck. A .357 magnum revolver loaded with .38 (+P or regular) hollow point ammo. Electronic ear protection.

TooToo wrote:
December 11, 2012

The purpose of a handgun is to get you to your shotgun.

Regi wrote:
December 04, 2012

I want a good home defense weapon. Looking at getting a 20 gauge or 410 for my wife for Christmas (shhh, surprise!) Ease of use, stopping power, cost effective, accessory capable (flash light, laser sighting, grenade laucher) all factors which in my opinion, make this an excellent choice. Not sure if I should go with mosberg or remington or maybe another brand? Little help needed here. Also, anyone considering the in-home minefield system available on line suggested by bob (11-18-12), have to strongly disagree. Been there, done that. Let's just say you won't be seeing this at Consumer Reports in the "recommended" catagory or as a "CR best buy" anytime soon. There are 4 major problems with this system: 1. Friendly Fire - Didn't consider mailman, neighbors kids & pets, UPS carrier, etc. etc. etc. when making purchase. 2. Placement of mines - difficultly in creating accurate map of mine locations. They do offer a mine sweep kit to rectify this. (They get you coming and going) 3. Not an effective system if intruders do survive getting through the "perimeter" - Also, problem for home owner if attempting to escape out of the "perimeter". (You can only imagine) 4. Legal ramifications severly outweigh protective good - Try finding a defense counsel for this product once the dust has settled. No takers! You'll basically end up defending yourself. In spite of what I just mentioned, if you absolutely must have an in-home minefield system, I would only recommend a SALMEDS (smart acute local manual exterior detonation system) made by Morbid(TM). A little costly but very effective when puchased with HD infrared cameras and a computer inhanced motion detector warning system. Early prototypes of this model utilized on a large scale in the movie "the green berets". Also, optional 25' command surveillance control tower(as in movie) with 100ct 50lb sandbags a must! Hope this helps. PS Crazy Joe - Need a little more info on "man traps".

CerberusKy wrote:
November 30, 2012

I live back in the woods, and don't have any guns. I do have a 190 lbs Tibetan Mastiff that is a great guard dog, and is very territorial. If you were going to pick a house, you would most likely not pick mine. That being said, the wife and I are getting some home defense weapons soon.

joey wrote:
November 23, 2012

my remington 870 stays in my gun case near my bed with a combo of 00 buck and #7 4+1 i find it ideal for my home, being as i live in a trailor long narrow hallways offer a large margin for error with rifle or pistol ammunition, and with an intruder present in my home i can safely say my 870 is my first choice

Jordan wrote:
November 22, 2012

Have a question. Given the thought that over the next 5 or so years, home self-defense might be on the rise, I was interested in picking up a rifle for the house. I've got 12 years experience in the army under me, with 2 tours of Iraq. I'm quite familiar with our current weapons in the military so the first thought was an ar-15. But I wanted to ask, what would you recommend? I wanted to go for a rifle for the versatility, the familiarity, the options, and such. However I dont know much about rifles outside the M-16/m-4. I want something with decent stopping power, good accuracy, manueverable, and reliable. I'm not too concerned about the barrel length around my house. I would prefer rails to add a red-dot and light if necessary, and handle. All suggestions and recommendations are greatly appreciated, even if they don't meet the criteria. I love to do research first, so just suggesting even names works for me. Thanks again.

Dave wrote:
November 21, 2012

Seems to be a heavy representation of Judge users. All well and good if that's what you like. I don't think five pellets of .410 shot at short barreled velocities will get the job done. I've also never seen a Judge pattern tightly enough (or consistently enough) to work well. I think you're likely better off loading .45LC. Loved reading above that you didn't need a sight picture with them.

Dave wrote:
November 21, 2012

It's quite sad that 'Not a handgunner' would lose the ability to have firearms for the simple act of acknowledging he would use them in self-defense.

Alan wrote:
November 19, 2012

A 12 or 20 ga. Shotgun 18' barrel with a light and pressure switch mountd ,loaded with bird shot first round and 4 buck or 00 after that should do the trick, then a holstered full size hi capacity in the largest caliber you can handle, my choice is a glock 35 w night sights, mounted light and crimsontrace laser. In a rural setting, a pistol caliber carbine marlin camp, ruger pc9/40,mini 14/30,ar15,even a lever action .357 or 30/30 will work well.

Alan wrote:
November 19, 2012

A 12 or 20 ga. Shotgun 18' barrel with a light and pressure switch mountd ,loaded with bird shot first round and 4 buck or 00 after that should do the trick, then a holstered full size hi capacity in the largest caliber you can handle, my choice is a glock 35 w night sights, mounted light and crimsontrace laser. In a rural setting, a pistol caliber carbine marlin camp, ruger pc9/40,mini 14/30,ar15,even a lever action .357 or 30/30 will work well.

Bob wrote:
November 18, 2012

You people miss the point. Guns are ok but if you want serious protection get yourself some quality mace. This stuff works great, stops the intruder In his/her tracks and has minimal collateral damage. If you want a little more added protection in case you run out of mace holding back a group of invaders, invest in an in-home mine field system available online. The systems are designed for large flat open field use, which makes them perfect for close quarters indoor use.

Jim wrote:
November 18, 2012

First off, the Government restriction on their use of advanced rounds (like Hornady Critical Defense, etc.) makes their research near useless for home defense decisions. They have to use larger calibers because their ammo sucks. Also, I find it ill advised to have to maintain an arsenal for me and a seperate one for the wife who would not practice with a 10mm or 45acp. Everybody over the age of 12 in a household needs to be able to shoot effectively with every gun. That said, my primary is a full size Beretta PX4 9mm with the aforementioned Hornady rounds (+P). Manageable recoil from the 9mm (17+1 rounds of it) combined with the PX4 rotating barrel design(further reducing recoil), decent weight and a full size frame to grip provides great control and quick recovery between shots (things that move and shoot at you in the dark can cause you to occasionally miss those "head shots"). It is a "Constant Action" model which is really easy to operate - "point gun; pull trigger". No cocking or safety to contend with. A bullpup in a large pistol caliber? I might have to think about one of those, though.

crazy joe wrote:
November 18, 2012

A Browning M2 and plenty of man-traps keeps my family safe in our apartment

Robinp wrote:
November 16, 2012

James, I have a similar concern. I purchased a gun vault (Brand name) that is operated with a key pad that has finger slots to quickly access even in the dark. I bought at Academy sports for $100, I would recommend as it is very secure when locked.

Gary wrote:
November 07, 2012

I have a remington 870 12ga. Tactical 6+1 use #00 it will stop someone dead, like I said there is 7 shells but if you can't stop him with the first one something is wrong. Again, at least you know you have more.

james wrote:
November 04, 2012

Thanks for all the great tips. Im getting my gun permit soon. I have 3 small children and am concerned with their safety versus the ability ti quickly get to firearm when needed most. Any suggestions??

ben tubal wrote:
October 30, 2012

Facing a gun armed intruder is very different coz a man stopper bullet & shot placement is a must, see this cctv footage in the Philippines & learn a lesson: QRT:panghoholdup sa isang grocery store sa Manila, nakunan ng cctv camera-YouTube. The woman's pocket gun jammed after 2 shots at the bad guy's back & she was shot & died before the robber drop dead. Consider a .357 revolver, it may have changed the scenario.

Thomas wrote:
October 28, 2012

I had a guy start banging on my door, and thinking it was a neighbor that just left trying to spook me, I answered. I was face to face to a guy with 15 shotgun shells wrapped on his waist and a pistol grip short barrel shotgun sitting on the apt. bannister. Yelling in my face, I pleaded he was accusing the wrong person of banging on his door so he left. About 10 minutes later and about hearing 7 shots outside the building, the police arrived and took care of business. I feel like I was lucky he left my door, considering he knocked in the door above us, and banged on almost every door in that building. I'm concerned about what could have happened to me in that 10 minutes. I moved, but I will always have that in the back of my mind and I am looking for home defense, if things do ever become necessary.

Andrew wrote:
October 19, 2012

Had an intruder in my back yard and woke up to him prying my screen off of the window. I was completely unarmed and he was 5 feet from me and my wife. We had slept with the windows open because it was a beautiful night. I am contemplating purchasing a weapon but not sure what to get. I pushed the screen out onto the perp nd aggressively yelled at him. He ran away. The cops were very helpful but i can't help but feeling like I got very lucky.

Barry V wrote:
October 16, 2012

One thing that I did not see mentioned as a safety precaution...do not rely on your house phone to call 911, put your cell phone on a charger where you are sleeping because it will work if your house phone line has been cut.

mcoins wrote:
October 13, 2012

I think installing a Brinks Security System and a in house dog, would be a better security system and safer for the neighbors. There are a lot of people out there that think they're shooters when in fact- they're not.

rollingthunder wrote:
October 12, 2012

Reading the comments, a lot seem to like pistols and rifles. What they seem to forget is the neighbir that is 10 feet from your house. A rifle bullet will tyravel through your wall and his. High powered pistol ammo will do the same. A 12 guage with buck shot wont go through both walls and it will stop an anyone.

VirginiaFr wrote:
October 06, 2012

Most dogs are untrained.

vlad wrote:
October 06, 2012

"self defense first requires a call to 911...". Uh, no. It requires personal and family planning, preparation, then the million year old understanding that you alone are responsible for your family's safety. The SCOTUS EXPLICITLY STATED the police have NO DUTY TO PROTECT YOU, and they will not. They are present to investigate, report and perhaps (not as often as you think) apprehend criminals. I am not talking about a fake "john wayne" syndrome. I am talking about reality.

Jako Smirnoff wrote:
October 05, 2012

I sleep next to my Mossberg Model 88. 12 gauge. 7+1. 00 Federal Power-Shok. Pistol grip only. 300+ bulk rounds. Break in to my house!!

Montana wrote:
September 27, 2012

@Bud Woods, that's a good plan, but doesn't always work. For example if there is a home invasion in the middle of the night, and you have children, you need to go get them, and make sure they are safe as well. I agree though overall, the idea is to protect the life in the house, not the things in the house. Call the cops. Make a defensive stand, and wait it out, don't go "clearing" your house, you never know how many are in there, and what they are armed with. And have a plan for getting out fast... you never know what they may do.. IE: Start the house on fire.

Bud Woods wrote:
September 23, 2012

Let's get real! Home defense requires three things - first a call to 911 [if possible], then a plan for whatever room you're in [might require multiple hide-out handguns or shotguns that are loaded], third a willingness to use them BEFORE the bad guys can do you in or change the odds in their favor. Don't try to clear your house; find a safe defensive position and wait. Don't shoot the bad guys outside if you can avoid it - legal troubles ahead. It is likely that, if using a handgun, 2/3/4 shots or more might be required; don't fire once & freeze. This isn't the movies and whatever type handgun bullet you think is great is still often marginal per just one shot. Keep at red alert until cops arrive. You're doing this to keep yourself & your family safe. It wont' be like any Hollywood scene.

Roast_Pork wrote:
September 21, 2012

I have a Versa Max tatical shot gun uner my bed, loaded and ready for action; it holds 9, 2 3/4 inch double OO buck or #1 buck shot; very effective. Also a M4 by Ruger loaded with light and laser in the closet. Under the matress is my good old faithfull 1911 colt commander. Peace

I'm the Nevada Coyote wrote:
September 18, 2012

I practice head shots, have for years. Most of my instructors have chastised me for doing this, but if you think about it, a good head shot with just about any caliber will be effective. Think about it! What is the best home defensive weapon? The one you feel most comfortable with. Well placed rounds in the head will stop most criminals,. whether they are .22 or .45. Practice, practice, practice!!!

David wrote:
September 17, 2012

124 grain 9mm jacketed hollow points 124

Tom wrote:
September 17, 2012

I had a friend at work ask me the "what type of gun should I get" question. He and his wife are worried about crime, but not experienced with guns. I asked him if he ever thought of getting a dog. So now he has a nice ig German Shepard! He's still going to buy a gun, but now the dog is part of the home defense plan.I would also advise lighting up the outside of your house like daylight. I keep an XD45 and a 20ga tactical auto-loader for home defense, but the first step is to cover the basics.

Adam wrote:
September 15, 2012

full sise xd(m) 40 with green laser max uni rail and streamlight m 300 attatched to the uni rail = ultimate bedside home defense gun. Nuf said

Adam Lambert wrote:
September 14, 2012

A good AR or M4 or Mini 14 are going to be a best bet at medium ranges to long ranges if you can get to it but a Springfield XD (M) original length in 40 s$w is the best on the nightstand/ in home/ or carry handgun your gonna find. Reasonably prices infinitely reliable and sporting features like you see on a $3000 custom 1911 for less than a third of the price. Load it up with i7 rounds of winchester Ranger Talon (not the crappy late energy release black talon either, just read street stoppers, or better yet stopping power the latest book by Marshall and Sanow to see that)strap a green laser max uni rail laser to the m 1913 rail (expensive but worth it even in daylight) and strap a good white light to the uni max like the streamlight m 300 and you have the most effective handgun package ur gonna get. 17 rounds plus two extra clips, or however many clips you choose to buy with 16 rounds more each of a proven stopper like the 40s$w which is second to none with the right load except the 357 mag using the right load (again I refer to Marshall and Sanow's work) when it comes to stopping power against a human being. Add to that incredible reliability, durability, a match grade barell from the factory, grip safety, awesome trigger with a crisp short pull and letoff, visual and tactile loaded chamber and cocked striker indicators, interchangeable backstraps, an awesome case and two extra mags plus holster and mag pouch that come with the gun and you just can't beat it. With it and my customised stainless mini 14 with ruger factory high capacity mags and plenty of practice since I live in the country and own my land and I am feeling as safe as possible.

Bryon wrote:
September 12, 2012

This is an excellent article. I am former navy and spent 6 months training at Blackwater North Carolina and am very proficient with most common weapons and have several myself including AK-47's, AR-15's, bolt guns, pistols etc. When people ask me my recommendation for home defense, I give 3 main criteria which are stopping power and ease of use. I have seen someone on PCP shot 5 times in the abdomen with a 9mm continue to advance towards the security personnel. One also needs to remember that at 2 am you will be scared, groggy, and maybe disoriented so trying to figure out a bunch of lasers, levers, and safeties will be difficult if the moment of truth arrives because it seems to happen very fast. Personally I use a short pump action shotgun for home defense since it is very easy to use and very reliable. It does only hold 4 or 5 plus 1 in most cases but with 00 buck, one shot will do the trick no matter how big or strung out the intruder is.

William wrote:
September 05, 2012

I find this article by B. Gil Horman essential and informative. Among them I work, personal defense measures often resurface as I initiate conversations which aid in the nights long hours. Of them, staffers are quick to put down our 2nd Amendment, using the oldest argument, guns kill. Often, I fine myself alone, defending what I have started. The question imposed, "protect or not to protect" is one of great consideration, as we work within the Department of Corrections. I would have believed that them whom work in the system among criminals would understand the need for personal protection, even at home. Many don't! The incarcerated of who we care for medically, often discuss among themselves the ease of obtaining firearms off the streets, and once released from prison will return to the same life and means of survival. To them, as far as I understand, they do not care about you or your families, but what is important to them are their drug use affordability, and taking care of their own peoples' as they call it. Many are under educated and carry long criminal records of many sorts, to include home invasion. These felons know their survival depends on us. Therefore stealing, robbing and breaking entry into our homes is not a concept, but a reality! Should this be the case, many things can go wrong for both criminal and home owners. Most self proclaimed gangsters prefer not to harm others during the crime, but wouldn't hesitate to if it came down to you or them. Therefore, I agree with the comment by Jay, dated 6/1/2012 7:12:06 AM, "My family"s safety is paramount and i would never go search for the intruder ... let him come to me on my ground with my family safe." His comment holds true. Should a home intruder knowingly come your way, you can be sure their intentions are not good for you or your family! Our hard earned belongings are at risk; the good news is, they can be replaced. Our families are precious and priceless! Do them and yourself a favor, protect them!

Ralph wrote:
September 04, 2012

A one gun man is the most prepared apponent for any situation and the most threat to an intruder. It does not matter on what type of weapon you have as long as you are proficent in using it well, you can stop the threat, so, do not feel confused over too much information. Keep it simple and work with what you have.

johnnyvee wrote:
August 26, 2012

Two weeks ago--about three miles from where i live a man broke into another man's home at 7:30am. Had a gun, the man grabbed his two kids and ran out the door. called police who sent a robot into the house to make sure the guy was gone He was. Point is, I'm told robberies occur between 9a-2p when you're gone. My suggestion--six motion-detection lights around outside of house. Wireless alarm system set at night with loud sirens. I have two video cams inside downstairs and two outside at front/back doors with 48 LED's. i can look on my iphone at 2am to see what's going on downstairs and outside. Front and back door bar jams I put on at night. I have a Judge with PDX-1/45lr I have at bedside, with a 22lr, 10 rd 1911 on a gun magnet behind headboard. A 357 snub in a old suit pocket in my clothes closet--in case i'm forced into it. i have a 12 gage Cobra Force up against my bedroom wall. A Rossi Circuit Judge in closet behind long bathrobe. A 38 4" barrel under office desk attached to gun magnet. The 22lr can fire quickly up to 10 rounds. However--I like what another post said about a plan--a retreat plan--if someone breaks in--make them come to you while you call police. Stay in bedroom or kids room with weapon ready. A point my CCH instructor made is that by calling 911--not only will you get the police there--but describe what you're wearing, where you are and what firearm you have. This is also recorded and may be used in court against perps. That's what the young woman who was intruded in her home with a baby did--and it was excellent evidence in court for self-defense. Plus--if you shoot an intruder near/in your bedroom or safe room--it's most likely evident that you weren't going after someone. I asked a woman I work with whose husband was a local chief of police if i were being too paranoid with all the home defense stuff--she said no, that she had seen twice as bad as local events in my neighborhood (25) reported in the last 12 months.

Dennis wrote:
August 23, 2012

I would love a shotgun for home defense. The problem is the effort spent getting a small pattern. Yet an effective defensive shotgun should have a large pattern of 12 to 16 inches at a maximum range of 7 yards. That is long distance shooting inside a house. And a 2-4 inch pattern can easily be a miss when under the stress of close combat. So unless I can get a 16" pattern at seven yards I'm forced to depend on a handgun which is easier to wield than a long weapon.

Edro wrote:
August 23, 2012

Glock29 or 29SF (Short Frame) 10MM with grip extension, SF if you have small hands or Glock20 or 20SF (Short Frame)10MM with 165 gr Gold Dots bullets loaded to full power in a rural area is my choice for the home and legal concealed carry. Awesome ballistic performance. The FBI and Military really should reconsider the 10MM.

Jonny wrote:
August 20, 2012

Don't forget a good white light on whatever weapon you decide to go with.

Dan wrote:
August 20, 2012

A Gen4 compact Glock 19 (9mm) or Glock 23 (.40). Either gun would fit your hand. Glocks are extremely simple to use, accurate, high capacity and very reliable. My teen daughter can handle both these guns. Have the gun store fit night sights for you. Oh, and they are very affordable.

Dinah Estrada wrote:
August 19, 2012

What is best home defense weapon for a 5'3" mid-60's female? I'm very fit and not afraid of guns but need some good advice.

Patrick wrote:
August 18, 2012

I have frequently heard the story of how the sound of a round being chambered in a 12 ga. pump action shotgun is enough to scare home invaders away. I have,with the help of local police,enforced dozens of warrants and even kicked in a few doors. The noise of screaming,barking dogs,alarms and toilets flushing makes it hard to hear the sound of one round being chambered. Shotguns are great, although my s & w model 13 .357 is the first thing I grab when the dog goes crazy at 2:00 am. My 9mm is right next to it.

Chris wrote:
August 15, 2012

Ruger GP100 .327 Federal Magnum for home defense. Get 7 potent rounds without a lot of recoil or muzzle blast. It's also very reliable.

Ken wrote:
August 11, 2012

It's been noted in the comments already, but more important than the actual firearm itself is the training (and upkeep of training). A 454 Casull won't do much wizzing by your target. 3 well placed rounds with a .38 would be better, right? So regardless of your choice (9mm, 45, 12G, etc.) : 1) Get training and 2) practice regularly. Training can actually be pretty darn fun.

Matthew wrote:
August 11, 2012

I have fired pistols, rifles and shotguns since second grade. I'm also trained on assault rifles, being military. However, I do not consider myself truly versed in weaponry or, especially, domestic tactics and weapon preferences for home defense. In that light, I have found this article to be good food for thought, but the vast majority of the comments below to be truly educational. Thank you all for sharing your respective expertise and viewpoints.

Bl wrote:
August 10, 2012

What about glock 18 pistol? 1100 rpm or m134 Vulcan minigun? 2500 rpm or AA 12 shotgun? 300 rpm! Best home DFence guns EVERR

Dutch Schulz wrote:
August 07, 2012

for me its: Springfield XDM 40 Cal Sub-Comp and a Rem 870 Police shotgun loaded with low recoil 00.

Vincent wrote:
August 05, 2012

CZ 83 in .380 is both my IWB Concealed Carry and home defense. Planning a 20guage pump in the near future. The CZ is 12+1 and minimal recoil. A very nice shooter. Got a 1911 in .45 elsewhere in the house in case I cant get to my primary.

Big smith wrote:
August 03, 2012

Im wit ya on that John can't go wrong there either. Mossbergs kick butt

John wrote:
August 03, 2012

Colt .357 Magnum 4' barrel for me, with a 12g Mossberg 500 as backup.

Big smith wrote:
July 31, 2012

The judge with 5 rounds of 3 inch 000 buck at close range is devastating to the baddest bad guy if not then the glock 23 15 rounds of hollows if the job doesent get done after either one of those call the cops

Danbo wrote:
July 31, 2012

Kimber .45 Ultra Raptor 3" barel

Hector wrote:
July 31, 2012

Remington 870 Express Tactical 12ga shotgun with a Glock 19 with Federal 9BPLE as a backup. It doesn't get any better than that for home defense.

chesterc wrote:
July 30, 2012

glock 23, 4th generation... the best ther is

Brian wrote:
July 30, 2012

I have a Glock 17, Beretta 96, and a Taurus 66. Love all 3 of them.

Sinn wrote:
July 28, 2012

Mossberg 500A 12gauge, 18" barrel, 6 pos. stock, vert. foregrip, Holo sight, tac light, 6 rd shell carrier, loaded up with Hornady Critical Defense "00" buck.

clifford wrote:
July 27, 2012

my is anorth american arms 22 mag. loaded 22 WRF.In a pocket holster. because anything goes wrong is going to be 5ft. to 25ft. from you.and just about anybody can move 5' to 25' in about 1 second. my backup is a glock 27 in 40 s/w. IWB or glock 19 with a laser/light. and by the front door is a mossberg 20 ga. 18 in. barrel with a laser/light. I cc all the time. I'm retired now an want to enjoy it.

Dan wrote:
July 27, 2012

Glock 22 4th Generation. The new glocks have less recoil (double spring), and pistol goes into the back of hand instead of flipping up. The new hand grip sticks to the hand, so less chance to drop it during a stressful situation. Gun sticks to the KISS principle and easy to learn. Aim and shoot. No fumbling for safety or messing with hammers or long first shot trigger pulls. .40 caliber is still easy to control-my teens have no problem with it. I use the Glock 22 while hunting large Russian boar because it can penetrate the large armored skull when a final shot must be made. Imagine what it can do to a human skull....

Ben wrote:
July 24, 2012

I would prefer the Taurus Judge or Peace Keeper and use the .410 #6 buckshot in the first two rounds to get their attention followed by .45 Long Colt to put them down once I've woken up.

ron wrote:
July 23, 2012

They can build a ship to go to the moon. Or one to mars, Why can't they design a low DB hand gun.

Larry wrote:
July 21, 2012

I have a Springfiled XD in 45 ACP in my nightstand. My wife prefers the Remington 870 with 00 buck shot because she can shoot from the hip and rack the slide ridiculously fast. That being said, as mentioned many times, practice is the key. Being able to acquire your weapon of choice and KNOWING how it functions instinctively will win the day, or night. Practice at every opportunity.

Exvojak wrote:
July 18, 2012

S&W 10mm by the bed. Just to buy time to he to my AR - 15.

Grunt 4 Life wrote:
July 18, 2012

Glock 21 SF All you need to know

ALVAN wrote:
July 17, 2012

I like the Phased Array Plasma Gun. I can choose what energy level I want very easily. It has kept me safe on my galactic adventures.

Darren wrote:
July 14, 2012

Its not just what you have for home defense, but keeping the weapon both secure and accessible. Upstairs, I have a Springfield XDm in 45 ACP (13 round clip)loaded with hollow points in a lock box next to the bed. Its only purpose is to protect me while I go for the Mossberg 930 SPX 12 gauge secured in the closet and loaded with 6 rounds of 3" 00 buckshot, 15 pellet ammo with another 6 rounds in a side saddle holder. Both guns have flash lights. Downstairs, I have a Taurus Judge loaded with 5 pellet, 000 buckshot in .410 (Federal Premium .410 personal defense) in another lockbox. Most importantly, I've trained with all these weapons and continue to train with them. I've also practiced using the lock boxes and where to retreat to as a safe room.

Arnold wrote:
July 11, 2012

Phased plasma rifle in the 40 watt range.

John wrote:
July 09, 2012

I have a Marlin 9mm Camp Carbine, semi-auto with a combination of 10, 15, and 30 round mags (among other fireeaarms). Real easy gun to hold on a target, low muzzle flash and low recoil. Seems perfect for "out in the country" where I live being a temptation for a home invasion due to some of my homes contents. Any thoughts on this weapon.

Gene White wrote:
June 28, 2012

My Benelli SuperNova 12 gage and my Sig 1911 45 with home defense rounds works for me, my wife has a 20 gage pump and a Sig 9mm loaded with home defense rounds. That being said I think the most important issue is not the weapons or load but to be familiar with your weapons. To that end we go shooting often at least twice a month or more. No round is effect if it’s not well placed. Keeping up with the skills necessary to handle your weapon and hit the target is more important than your choice of weapon or rounds. A well placed 22 round can win the day, a miss with a 44 mag can lose the day!

Robert Strain wrote:
June 11, 2012

For a good and powerful handgun round that will penetrate over 12 inches, 45acp or 10mm. Don't worry about over penetration, look up the stats, non exsistent. Your life and family come FIRST.

Steven wrote:
June 06, 2012

BULL PUP RIFLE!!!! You forgot the bullpups!!!! Ok here is a point to consider. A bullpup can offer shorter length, less weight, easier carry, and good cqb home defense accuracy. Due to closer muzzle to ear distance use electronic ear muffs. An absolute must for home defense as they can increase hearing amplification to where you can hear the pistols internal springs stretch and click in a trigger reset, but block the bang the gun makes. The 5.7 ps90 by FNH is a good candidate as the round can penetrate a solid cedar log but fragment in a bottle of water . So in hitting flesh it will explode fairly reliable but not too likely to exit the bad guy. It provides a reasonable but non magic bullet balance between needed penetration without excessive chance to over penetrate . Whether using a FNH FS2000 in 5.56, Steyer AUG in 5.56 this is one overlooked non mentioned category for home defense. You get a full length 16 in civillian legal barrel in semi auto ability. Some concerns are shorter barrels reduce pressure and long range accuracy, but how many people have 350-400plus yard hallways? So look into bullpups too please.

frank wrote:
June 05, 2012

what about a lever action .357?

Bob Birney wrote:
June 02, 2012

Competence has a MUCH larger impact on the topic than even hinted at in the article. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, and PRACTICE! Fear the man with one gun, he probably knows how to use it.

John Williams wrote:
June 01, 2012

FN-FNP 40 with flashlight/laser in the nightstand, Benelli M4 with flashlight next to the headboard, Steyr AUG A3 with 4 mags in the safe for when things get hairy. M&P 9c on the hip for daily CC.

Bill wrote:
June 01, 2012

The OP missed the mark on one point. The 44 magnum is an excellent choice. Loaded with 44 specials, it's as effective as a 40 or 45 ACP and the weight makes it comfortable to shoot. Noise and flash are tamer than the 44 mag. JMHO. Bill

Kenji Nihipali wrote:
June 01, 2012

I personally love my FNH 5.7. Almost zero recoil and three 20 rd magazines. No hammer to pull back or anything. Just take it off safe and aim to shoot. Easy enough for the wife to handle and not enough noise to make me loose more hearing than I already have.

Robert Spitler wrote:
June 01, 2012

Glock 36 .45 with PDX1 no worries

Gary wrote:
June 01, 2012

Let's talk about over-penetration. When the FBI lost agents in Miami due to insufficient penetration, that did it. The search was on for a new cartridge to replace the wimpy .38 Special and 9mm. The number one requirement called for a bullet that MUST penetrate 12 inches and 18 inches would be preferable. The number two requirement was a large permanent wound cavity produced by a large diameter bullet. But haven't we all been taught that over-penetration is bad? "Aren't you (FBI) afraid of over-penetration?" Their answer will blow your mind. "The fear of over-penetration is a misconception, which was created back when law enforcement was trying to overcome misinformed public resistance to the use of hollow point ammunition (over-penetration is bad but we can overcome that by using hollow point ammunition on the bad guy). In the process, we began to believe it ourselves. First, our lawyers are unaware of any successful legal action resulting from the injury of a bystander due to a round over-penetrating the subject. We are aware of numerous instances of Agents/officers being killed because their round did not penetrate enough (Grogan and Dove, for example). Further, if you examine shooting statistics you will see that officers hit the subject somewhere around 20-30% of the time. Thus 70-80% of the shots fired never hit their intended target, and nobody ever worries about them, only the ones that might over-penetrate the bad guy. Third, as our testing shows, even the most frangible bullets designed specifically for shallow penetration will plug up when striking wood or wallboard and then penetrate like full metal jacketed ammunition. We are aware of successful legal action where an innocent party has been struck by a shot passing through a wall, but as we have proven, ALL of them will do that." The FBI really put a lot of time, effort, and money into finding the right round to protect their Agents. Does your weapon meet their specifications or do you need to trade up?

Paul D F wrote:
June 01, 2012

In addition to weapon choice, might I also suggest you and your family discuss, plan, and practice for a home invasion scenario. A monthly review and drill of how to respond in a sudden crisis just might be the difference between life and death.

Anon wrote:
June 01, 2012

A Home Def weapon is whatever you are most comfortable with, (But as always avoid .22) Just remember the rules and don't stop shooting until the target is on the ground. That said I use a Glock 17...Glock because its reliable (Lets face it you pull the trigger on a Glock its going to go bang.) 9mm because its effective, you will be firing at least 2 shots into the target so wouldn't you want a light recoil allowing you to return the sights to the target faster? As for the AR-15 platform it was purpose built to kill humans, however they are designed for Combat where over penetration is common and in most cases a non issue. (By contrast OP is a major issue in home defense.) But it comes down to this any firearm is preferable to no firearm. And as always Practice Practice Practice.

Rodger wrote:
June 01, 2012

Having a dog to sound the alarm , will give you more time to prepare.

clint wrote:
June 01, 2012

Comments...in my house I would say the first gun i can each even if it is my walther ppk .380 I can hit with all the guns in my house even if it would come down to my 22 lr . just give me somthing to shot with if needed.

Jay wrote:
June 01, 2012

Many people right off forget that often defending your home happens either when you've just woken out of a dead sleep or are startled and are rushing to grab it during a home invasion. In either case a proper retreat plan is needed for your family. In my case if i wake up in the middle of the night My wife and I would retreat across the hall to my kids room and "hold" at the doorway taking command of the hallway. She is responsible for calling 911 while i protect the family with a 12 gauge ( if I am not home my wife will use her weapon a Circuit Judge loaded with copper defense load). By using this method or any method like it one can easily even in the haze of sleep defend their position. My family"s safety is paramount and i would never go search for the intruder ... let him come to me on my ground with my family safe.Shotguns are a good solid weapon for that moment when your brain is trying to clear up...or your adrenaline is pumping. My wife and I have practiced this method several times and a few years ago we had to use it with great success. Anyone who thinks they will be clear headed enough to aim a pistol or rifle in these circumstances is either highly trained or a fool. Just My Opinion.

Darren wrote:
June 01, 2012

I have several home defense weapons but as you know, a well place shot of a small caliber round is better than a miss with a higher caliber round. Shot placement is first; that being said I use a minimum of a forty. Use what ever weapon you are comfortable with and practice, practice, practice. Shooting is a perishable skill

Evan. hd specialist wrote:
May 31, 2012

i plan on getting a six inch blade and a military grade stye fighting blade. for a gun in home defence i want the p26 or mark 22 (special made for seals) in my home. hand guns allow for better close quarter defense and duels.

James wrote:
May 31, 2012

20 Gauge Semi-Auto, Youth stock with #4 shot.Great for women in the house.

John wrote:
May 31, 2012

For my home defense I went with the Taurus Judge loaded with Winchester PDX1. My wife can handle it but she's got her a Glock 17 that fits her better. I wont use my AR inside cause I've seen the over penetration that can happen and I got two kids in the house.

Barry wrote:
May 31, 2012

A well aimed 9mm with good hollowpoints should do the job. Military folks use the hardball ammo. We civilians can use the good stuff. If you're worried about stopping someone, then practice, practice, practice.

jsg wrote:
May 31, 2012

For the military the 9mm is not a good fit. The military doesn't need to conceal their weapons but the most critical issue is the restriction on ammo. They can only use ball ammunition, they are restricted from using hollowpoints or other 'altered' mmunition. If you read the FBI wound study and look at the various gel tests, 9mm JHP rounds perform fairly well. I keep a Springfield XD9 with a CrimsonTrace laser in a touch code mini vault on my nightstand. I practice regularly with sights only and always confirm the zero on the laser.

Jimmy wrote:
May 31, 2012

It is better to carry a .22 or 9mm that you shoot well than carry a .45 you cant hit a barn with It is better to habw

Brian A. wrote:
May 31, 2012

I must say, a perfect hdw for me has been my Ruger Redhawk in 10mm. And of course , I also have bladed weapons, just in case the intruder comes thru my bedroom sliding glass door. 24 inches of Wakizashi is pretty effective also.

Derek Boise wrote:
May 31, 2012

This is my thing with a flash light once u turn it on they know where u are in ur house people should know there house good anuf not to need the flash light until u see the person and I don't care what everyone says 12 gauge pump is the best home Defence gun most of the time just the sound of a pump of a gun will make the intruder think twice before caring on with a break in I know that would turn me around if I was breaking into a house

Charles wrote:
May 31, 2012

I prefer the Judge 3 inch loaded with combination of buck,personal defense,6 shot and maybe a 45 or two.

J.B. wrote:
May 31, 2012

I use an H&K USP.45 compact. Good for concealed carry, and home defense.

Ric wrote:
May 31, 2012

12 ga. pump, 12 3/4" barrel loaded with buckshot.

Noel wrote:
May 31, 2012

1911 always!!!

Larry wrote:
May 31, 2012

Living in a heavily populated neighborhood, my choice is a Mossberg 12 ga. pump with home defender barrel. Very effect at close range, but will not cause 'collateral damage' through a wall or such. Accurate for poorly lit areas, and at moving targets.

Gary wrote:
May 29, 2012

Why does the Army want to replace the 9mm? Lethality is among the M9’s several “limitations,” said Daryl Easlick, project officer for close effects. The requirement for a new pistol calls for “an increase in permanent wound channel,” which suggests something more powerful than a 9mm may be on the horizon. Soldiers have a love/hate relationship with the M9 service pistol. Army Times asked for opinions of the M9, and heard from troops whose experience involves four of the services. “Proponents of the M9 and 9mm counter that there are a lot of dead people due to this weapon/round, and they are correct,” Frisina said. “However, more people are killed in America every year by the .22LR caliber than any other, but that doesn't make it an effective combat caliber.” The majority of opinions seem to fall into the “hate” category. Most take issue with the M9’s accuracy and stopping power. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Rehan, a former 11 Bravo, said his unit logged several instances in which the 9mm did not stop an enemy combatant after multiple hits, even to vital areas. “I find the M9 lacking and possibly costing soldiers’ lives when there are better options available,” he said. Staff Sgt. Joe Caruso with the 42nd Military Police Brigade said “in combat, the M9 is a major loser. “[I] used the M9 in combat and it took three rounds to put someone down,” he said. “A few years back, when there was the Colt 45, I had to use it. One shot to the chest. Done deal. The target never got up again.” Brig. Gen. Robert Enzenauer, the Colorado Army National Guard’s assistant adjutant general for space, said the 9mm “doesn't have the stopping power that I prefer, so for personal protection I choose a .40-cal or .45.”

larry wrote:
May 29, 2012

Like Greg, I use a "judge" also. The shot shell chews up a lot of meat but won't over penetrate.

Gary wrote:
May 29, 2012

Why did the FBI drop the 9mm? Why didn't the 9mm do better? The 9mm is no more effective than the .38 Special, which should not be surprising since they are the same caliber bullets (.35 caliber) at the same range of velocities and bullet weights. Are you saying the 9mm is no good? No. We are saying it is as good as the .38 Special, which has served us for a long time. It has severe limitations, which we are not willing to accept. It is woefully inadequate for shooting at people in cars, for example, and over half of our shootings involve vehicles. It is a marginally adequate wounding agent. We have had a number of 9mm shootings over the past couple of years, and if you define a good shooting as one in which the subject stops whatever he was doing when he gets shot, we have yet to have a good one, and we are hitting our adversaries multiple times. We have shot half a dozen dogs in the past year and have not killed one yet, although we have run up a significant veterinary bill. The 9mm with proper ammunition is not a bad round. It is just nowhere as effective as the 10mm and .45 offerings, and the disparity between it and the larger calibers has remained a constant throughout all the testing we have done over the past two years. Isn't shot placement the most important requirement in a shooting incident, and doesn't that make the issue of caliber less important? Shot placement is obviously critical. But as our experience in Miami amply illustrates, shot placement is only the first part of the equation. Bullet performance is critical to translate shot placement into an effective, incapacitating wound. If shot placement was all that mattered, we could arm all Agents with .22s. Secondly, perfect shot placement may be difficult to attain in the stress and dynamics of a shooting incident. The larger calibers offer a "margin of error" in that where a smaller bullet may just miss the aorta, for example, the larger one in the same placement will damage it.

Russell wrote:
May 27, 2012

L.O.L. You haven't seen my mother in law have you.hahaha

Marvin Spragg wrote:
May 27, 2012

The problem with a 22 is that if you end up in court the attorney for the other side is going to ask 'why did you shoot the inturder so many times???'. The judge/jury will not even consider that you where using a 22 just that you shot so many rounds into the 'victim' and you end up guilty of MURDER not self defense.

modernsamurai wrote:
May 27, 2012

ole gil did ok here,comes down to whatever u can handle and are comfortable with!practice regularly to make center mass shots w/a follow up to the majic T!a .22 or .357 mag to the brain pan is gonna slow up any two legged predators!besides 99.9% of folks (criminal or not and armed)usually run like hell when the gun fire erupts.so in my opinion use what u want,but train w/it!on a side note,it behoves all gun owners to learn retention techniques for said weapon,and why not learn target focus striking.being handy w/a gun or knife is great,but knowin how to use ur hands for instant incapacitation is priceless! be safe and shoot strait!tc

Dan wrote:
May 26, 2012

At least the word 'flashlight' was mentioned. Keep one with whatever you choose or mount one to your gun so you can control the lighting and identify your target before you shoot it. A bright light can disorient your target while you figure out whether you're pointing your gun at a burglar or your mother in law.

Gary wrote:
May 26, 2012

Since the .22 kills more people than any other cartridge, we should arm all law enforcement and our military with .22s. And train them to make only head shots. Think of all the money that would save. For self-defense, we would have the perfect cartridge and wouldn't have to worry about hurting our hands or our ears like we do with the centerfires. Sometimes I think the Gun Magazines are just brain-washing us with their stories on self-defense weapons. Who needs a 12-gauge, an AR15, or an M1911 when our trusty little .22 will save the day. Thanks for the heads-up Mark.

reader wrote:
May 26, 2012

No one has said it wasn't a deadly round, but the .22 is not a man stopper. Reagan got in the car and was way down the road before they even knew he was shot, and he was awake most of the way to the hospital. You don't shoot to wound, you don't shoot to kill: You shoot to stop the attack, and people have killed others after being shot with a .22.

Mark wrote:
May 26, 2012

Mr: Horman: You need to review Hinkely's attempt to assinate Reagan. Watch what that 22lr round actually does. Then come back and state: "It has no stopping power."

Dave wrote:
May 25, 2012

Remarkable how much this was supposed to help us and did absolutly nothing. Shame on you, Horman. Turn in your keyboard.

Ernie wrote:
May 25, 2012

As a "gun nut", according to my wife, we have a variety of weapons at our disposal. She has a Smith & Wesson M&P in .38 SPL. I keep a Springfield XD-45 in .45 cal. and a Taurus 24/7 in 9mm by my bed. For long guns I have a Mossberg 500 Defender pump in 12 ga., a Marlin Camp-9 Carbine in 9mm with 20 round magazines, a Mini-14 and an SKS in 7.62x39mm. So, what ever the threat, I hopefully, have it covered.

Seajay17 wrote:
May 25, 2012

My personal preference is a Sig Sauer 1911 Ultra Compact loaded with 7-230 gr hardball.It has a full size 1911 grip,3.3 inch barrel and is extremely accurate.I always hope the day I have to use it will never come but if it does I'm covered.Also my CCW.

Roy wrote:
May 25, 2012

The scattergun IS the ultimate home defense gun. Try a .410 Mossberg pistol gripped Cruiser, if you're worried about recoil, and add a single point sling to that swivel on the grip. High base bird shot, is great for inside the home.

Greg wrote:
May 25, 2012

As a few have mentioned the Judge is a great home defense gun. I load mine with 1 bird shot, 2 Buckshot (or defense disks), followed by 2 .45 Colt 250 grain HP. Works fo me.

Marvin Spragg wrote:
May 25, 2012

I live in an apartment and my choice is a 3 inch judge loaded with 3 #6 shot 410 and 2 250 gr 45 LC. The 410s solve the thin walls problem and the 45LC is the final solution. I also back it up with a speed loader of 225 gr silvertips.

Steven wrote:
May 25, 2012

My Model 10 Smith & Wesson (38 Special) is always in reach to be prepared untill I get my 590 Mossburg 12 gauge with trap loads. I live in a rural area and if an external threat occurs, will have time to get my Mini 14 instead and call 911. These are my personal choices of comfort and trust as an experienced firearms owner.

Karen wrote:
May 25, 2012

"Maybe it's time for an article on ear protection that allows you to hear normal sounds but blocks out damaging dBs." I just bought the Howard Leight Impact Sport, the only one I saw with low profile earcups so you can shoot with a rifle. Got to be honest though, ear protection is the last thing I'll be thinking about if someone breaks into my house.

Rich wrote:
May 25, 2012

Primary for home defense is a Remington 870 police with a side saddle and mounted flashlight. There is simply nothing more effective than a load of 00 Buck for stopping a bad guy. There's an old joke among law enforcement folks. What's a bad guy doing after you shoot him with your pistol? Whatever he was doing before you shot him with your pistol. In a home invasion situation, I want to stop the bad guy NOW. With one shot.

stephen wrote:
May 25, 2012

As a police officer I encounter most more situation in the home happen at night. No one mentioned a good flashlight and how to use it properly. My ideal handgun would be a 44 special round in a hollowpoint. Low recoil, low muzzle flash and better target recovery after the shot. Remember Elmer Keith? Big, slow moving bullets. And please, take a Defensive Pistol Class.

Buck wrote:
May 24, 2012

For most nightime shooting situations, the handgunner has one shot. Then they are deaf and blinded. Give me the .22 rifle and I can shoot it all night.

Mbe wrote:
May 24, 2012

I believe he/ they are correct in saying that a 22 cal is not a' good choice' as a defensive weapon. No said that it would not kill or was un able to kill. It just doesn't have the stopping power or pentration to make a effective weapon against a determined assailant. For example;if I put you in a 30 by 30 cage with a 150-200lb black bear i'd been agitating (equivalant to a determined attacker) i'd rather hope you'd choose something other than a 22. Maybe a 357

Kevin wrote:
May 24, 2012

the Judge works well in my home.

Don wrote:
May 24, 2012

Does not mater what fire arm / weapon you have if you're not willing to use it when the time comes.

Jim Finley wrote:
May 24, 2012

In the warm season I keep a Glock 30 .45 loaded with Hornady Critical Defense next to the bed in a touch-key lock box - it's my carry piece, but at home I keep a 13-round mag with 2 10-round reloads instead of the 10-round that's in it with the 13 as the reload when I'm out of the house. In winter I switch to my Glock 20 10mm, same basic kind of ammo, for both carry and home defense.

Randy Johnson wrote:
May 24, 2012

I like the Taurus Judge with 000 buck. Great for home defense. It is the best of both worlds

Mr Peepers wrote:
May 24, 2012

The Taurus Judge Public Defender 2" Revolver with .410 pellet/shot load is the way to go....Or load or stager with 45LC rounds....just point and shoot....NO sight alignment needed...easy to handle and the recoil isn't to bad...!! And as a revolver very reliable.

Bill Johnson wrote:
May 24, 2012

I keep my Ruger P345 in a holster beside my bed. I used to keep a 16 ga sawed off in the corner but the humidity got to it and rusted the barrel.

Gary wrote:
May 24, 2012

Personally, I wouldn't want to be shot with a BB gun, much less a .22. But at some point in the self-defense weapon debate, logic has to enter. The most thorough study ever undertaken on the subject of "what is the best handgun cartridge for shooting men" was the FBI effort after the Miami Shootout. The number one finding was that the bullet had to penetrate at least 12 inches, and that was after penetrating various barriers. The number two finding was that the bigger the hole made by the bullet the better, and expansion didn't count because it couldn't be depended on. The result was that 10 mm replaced the .38+P and the 9 mm. Unfortunately, the 10 mm was loaded down and turned into the .40 S&W because some agents couldn't handle the 10 mm. Now, if you think shooting bad guys is like shooting paper targets, then buy a .22 and practice until you can make head shots all day long. Remember, the goal is to make the bad guy stop what he is doing right now, not die in the hospital tomorrow after he kills you. If you can't depend on your ability to make head shots all day long, under all circumstances, then maybe you should prepare for shooting through things, like arms, heavy clothes, a door, or whatever, and still produce that 12-inches of penetration that the FBI mandated. I mean, come on boys and girls, why are you afraid to buy a gun that can save your life under all scenarios? We all know that a .30-30 will kill a deer but wouldn't a 30-06 be more likely to put it on the ground faster? Power is good. Use it!

Tommy P wrote:
May 24, 2012

I'm with Dave above whose son, unfortunately, had to shoot someone. Glad he was able to defend himself though! Even though the .22 isn't my first choice for self-defense I would still use if needed. And many people seem to forget that many cowboys were gunned down across poker tables quite effectively with tiny derringers firing .22 and other similar rounds for decades. Was also a .22 that dang near killed President Reagan. Same for the .410. Certainly not a 12gauge but but I wouldn't want to get a chest full of it either. I have yet to find one person always talking down about either if these cartridges who will then volunteer to stand in front of my Walther P22 or Judge to prove their own point :-) My choice though is either my GP100 .357 or my Saiga 12. Heck in a bind I'll shoot my old Crossman pellet pistol if I have to!

John wrote:
May 24, 2012

Just remember a handgun is no go-t0 weapon for HD.

T.rees wrote:
May 23, 2012

Regardless of the firearm chosen,it should be augmented with an NRA PPIH course.

Dave C wrote:
May 23, 2012

That bruised shoulder can be a problem the next day, when your life is on the line. The 12ga would be perfect for a barricaded situation.

Kpend21 wrote:
May 23, 2012

Dave H, Good for your son. I'm sorry he was forced to shoot someone, but thank god he was able to defend himself.

Phil Poole wrote:
May 23, 2012

Barring an MP-5, a 12 gauge pump shotgun is my ideal home defense firearm.

P Higgins wrote:
May 23, 2012

I have a colt 1911, on my side of the bed, and a glock 23 on my girlfriends side. Behind the door is a mossberg 500 with 3" #5, and I carry a XD 40 in my truck.

thomas meador wrote:
May 22, 2012

My Beretta 92 two. 40 in my Knight stand, conceal carry my 380 or 1911 high capacity

Paul Carrol wrote:
May 21, 2012

Charter Arms Bullgog .44 Special is what I keep at home.

rob wrote:
May 19, 2012

My default home defense handgun recomendation is always a .38 Special revolver (or 357), loaded with quality 125-158 grn hollowpoint ammo. That recommendation is always for those who are not gun entheusiasts but see the need to be able to protect themselves. Barrel length should be 3-4 inches. One should always keep a flashlight and reload with the gun. I would not discourage someine from relying on a 22, however. A person at home forced into a situation requiring him/her to defend theselves who is armed with a quality 22 handgun such as a Ruger semi auto, or a S&W 34/63, to name a few would be well armed. Shot placement under stress is the key when using any firearm for self defense. Training to become proficient with a 22 is much cheaper than anything else. The disadvantages of a rimfire are always present, but quality ammo minimimizes that risk. I recently finished up a stock of Remington 40 grn 'Golden Bullet' I bought back in the late 80s(early 90s and they all went bang from my Model 34. From reading the Armed Citizen columns, its obvious to me that a number of the stories where a person was forced to fire either missed or inflicted non life threatning woulds to the attacker. Nevertheless, the citizen weilding a firearm or the loud bang in many cases were enough to chase off the badguy. Bottom line - rely on what you can handle and train!

Dave H wrote:
May 19, 2012

"The .22s...have no place in a home-defense lineup." Back in the real world: It worked just fine for my 16 year old son up against a hardened home invader. http://www.khou.com/news/local/65864742.html Ruger 10/22 / 25 rd mag / quality high velocity solid point ammo decisively won against a really bad dude armed with a 9mm pistol. Both investigators & medical examiner techs said this wasn't unusual; that a .22 RIFLE with solid point ammo kills a person quite quickly. (.22 pistol is a different story) "A police officer and a home defender have the same goal...to stop a threat quickly" You're comparing apples and oranges. The threats are completely different. Someone attacking a police officer knows that the police officer is armed and trained. That threat is highly motivated for whatever reason. In contrast, a home invader picks a victim it feels is unprotected or can be quickly overcome. They will run when shot at by anything (including a .22). This is not a motivated offender. Again...apples and oranges. Furthermore, I've observed that a inexperienced shooter under stress performs exponentially better with a short carbine-type rifle than any handgun. What good is a larger caliber if the terrified defender misses? I don't get caught up in the technical performance numbers mumbo-jumbo. A firearm is just a tool. I simply go by what works in real life. The next time you harvest a small to medium whitetail deer, shoot a rib with a .22 rifle configured as described above and see the results for yourself. The proof is in the pudding.

Gary wrote:
May 18, 2012

Short exposures of 100 dB or higher can cause permanent hearing loss. The following doesn't indicate if the guns were fired inside or outside or the length of barrel. Regardless, they all scored over 100 dB and loudness doubles every 10 dBs: .25 ACP 155.0 dB; .32 LONG 152.4 dB; .32 ACP 153.5 dB; .380 157.7 dB; 9mm 159.8 dB; .38 S&W 153.5 dB; .38 Spl 156.3 dB; .357 Magnum 164.3 dB; .41 Magnum 163.2 dB; .44 Spl 155.9 dB; .45 ACP 157.0 dB; .45 COLT 154.7 dB; .44 Magnum 164.0 dB. So the Magnums are twice as loud as the .32 ACP but we probably already knew that. Just accept that they're all too loud, especially for inside. And ports and muzzle brakes are even louder. So what to do? I would suggest that for the bedroom, at night, use a lower psi cartridge and a longer barrel to help keep the noise and flash under control, if that is even possible. For instance, a full-size .45 ACP, with laser, would be good and you can probably get the job done with a minimum of shots being fired which would be important to your ears. During the day, a 6-inch or longer Magnum in the desk drawer, complete with a pair of ear muffs, would work because you should have plenty of warning that someone is coming. Since it's light out, you can use your eyes and not so much your ears. And the Magnum could go outside if it were needed there. I know, I know, penetration is a no-no. But remember the FBI study where 80% of the rounds completely missed their target and nobody worried about them. Your best plan is to have enough gun so that you don't have to spray 18 rounds all over the place in an attempt to put the bad guy down. Maybe it's time for an article on ear protection that allows you to hear normal sounds but blocks out damaging dBs. Now that would solve the problem. How about it Mr. Clapp?

Not a Handgunner wrote:
May 17, 2012

I live in a country where handguns are only available to strictly licensed club members, and use is very severely limited. We have more gun deaths from mistaken identity in deer hunting, than from crime, which is gratifying. I have some .22 rifles, a 28" barrel shotgun, and a hunting rifle, 7mm 08. If called upon to defend life and limb in the face of armed assailants (highly unlikely), I have an SKS, which would suffice. Note that expressing such a thought would invalidate a firearms license here. I do enjoy the freedom and safety of the absence of handguns. But I like them! Sigh.