Choosing a Home Defense Firearm
What is the best choice for home defense? Is it a handgun or a long gun? If you choose a handgun, is a revolver or semiautomatic pistol best? If you choose a long gun, is a rifle or a shotgun best? That is a difficult question to answer, it depends on your experience level, living situation, local gun laws, and overall personal preference. No one firearm is necessarily the worst choice nor the end all be all choice. This section will look at some of the most popular options in each category and their pros and cons.
One of the most popular categories overall that is generally 50 state legal is the shotgun. The two most popular actions are pump and semiautomatic. These firearms are popular because they are easy to use, generally affordable and have a wide variety of ammunition available. Like with any tool there are things it does well and things it doesn’t do so well. For close quarters defense this is a great tool, it is powerful and devastating at close range. Some downsides are that shotguns are generally very limited in capacity, anywhere from 2 rounds to 7 rounds and takes time to load each individual round into the mag tube. The effectiveness of the shotgun can widely vary based on the type of ammunition chosen for example buckshot is much more likely to stop an threat than birdshot. For some a shotgun may be heavy and difficult to fire, and depending on ammunition choice recoil may be intimidating to a novice user. Two of the more popular models are the Mossberg 500 and the Remington 870.
In the long gun category another firearm that has been gaining a lot of traction for home defense over the last 16 years is the AR 15. The AR 15 is popular for a large variety of reasons. One of the biggest reasons for its popularity is that it is very easy to shoot and handle, and is a good option for novice users as it is light, ergonomic, and has very low felt recoil. The AR 15 is good in that is is light, has light recoil, can be adjusted to different sized users, has varying magazine capacity that can be as high or low as the user desires or is able to have based on local regulation. The AR 15 can also be fitted with accessories to help the user better identify their target such as lights, lasers and optics. Some of the downsides of the AR 15 are that it is often regulated in various states and localities, and in tighter quarters such as an apartment building a missed shot in a self defense situation carries risk as AR 15 rounds as well as other rifle caliber rounds tend to penetrate drywall which can put others in the home or adjoining apartments at risk. There is no one set type of AR 15 that is more popular than the other there are dozens of brands as well as home builds, it is generally determined by budget.
In the handgun category the semiautomatic pistol is the most popular. They are popular because they are semiautomatic and generally have a higher capacity than revolvers. They come in multiple calibers depending on preference. Handgun are good because they are smaller than long guns and can maneuvered easier inside tight places like hallways. Ammo type can effect effectiveness of the handgun for example full metal jacket rounds often can pass through the attacker with risk of penetrating walls hitting unintended persons. Another round that makes the semiautomatic handgun more effective is the hollow point. These rounds expand on impact doing more damage to the attacker, and mitigate the risk of over penetration. The downside to the semiautomatic handgun for some shooters is recoil mitigation. There are some that believe the bigger the handgun caliber the more effective the weapon, however if that logic is followed then a shooter may be limited by shooting ability. Another train of thought is that shot placement is more important than caliber size. Either way training is key to effectively using the semiautomatic handgun for self defense. These firearms come in many different sizes to fit different shooters. Some popular semi automatic handguns are the Glock 19, Sig P365, and the Smith & Wesson Shield.
The last category on our list is the revolver. This is probably one of the more controversial firearms. It has very obvious pros and cons attributed to it that are the basis of the debate surrounding using a revolver for self defense. First revolvers come in a variety of calibers like their semiautomatic cousins, as well as many different sizes for different shooters. There are fewer moving parts which some say make them more reliable, while others say that when they have a malfunction they are much more difficult to address quickly which can be esspecially problematic if you are in a dangerous situation. The biggest con to the revolver is the capacity will always be limited, and becomes more limited the larger the round you choose is. Whereas with semiautomatic handguns you can generally get extended magazines to add a little more capacity. One of the pros of a revolver is they are safe, they have a double action trigger which is has a heavier pull and generally makes for safer carrying though we always suggest that the 4 rules of gun safety are always followed at all times regardless how safe you feel with your firearm. The heavy double action trigger though comes as a pro as it makes the firearm a little bit safer can also be seen as a con by some as it takes a little more practice to become proficient with a heavier trigger. Some of the more popular revolver brands are Ruger, Taurus, and Smith and Wesson.