The U.S. sees an average of around 2.5 million home invasion incidents every year. There has never been a better time to consider a home defense gun.
Choosing a firearm for your home defense needs is extremely important – and incredibly daunting.
This isn’t a case of choosing something fun to use down at the range; you’re going to be choosing that could conceivably be used to defend your life and the lives of your family.
It’s therefore imperative that you carefully take into account all factors when choosing a home defense gun.
But what are those factors? Is reliability more important than accuracy? How about safety considerations for those homes with curious young children?
The truth is that all of these things matter, as well as a few more. Let’s examine the most important considerations when it comes to buying a home defense gun.
What Type Of Firearm Should You Choose?
At the most basic level, you’ll need to choose the kind of gun you’re going to use for home defense: a handgun or a long gun.
Both have their advantages, and both have disadvantages. Let’s take a more in-depth look at both.
Handguns come in two basic flavors: pistols and revolvers. In general, pistols are better options for home defense than revolvers – although revolvers do have their strengths, too. We’ll take a more detailed look at the differences between these two types of handguns a little later.
When it comes to handguns overall, however, what are the advantages and disadvantages for home defense purposes?
Ease of Use
Typically speaking, handguns are very easy to use. You can get to grips with your average handgun after only a few practice sessions at the range.
They also tend to be lightweight, and the relatively low caliber of bullets used in most handguns means that recoil is not going to be as much of an issue as it would be for larger firearms.
The fact is that a home defense is likely to be fired (if anywhere) in the home. That generally means you’ll be in a residential area, and that over-penetration is a real concern.
More powerful calibers can possibly pass through walls and other barriers, and you run the risk of injuring a neighbor or passerby.
Handguns virtually obviate this because of the generally low caliber of rounds they use. Unless you’re using something like a Desert Eagle (which is not well-suited to home defense at all) then you’re unlikely to shoot through the wall and into your neighbors’ properties.
In fact, though much-maligned as overly weak, .20 caliber rounds are actually quite good for home defense precisely because of their low recoil and penetrability.
Ease of Storage
Handguns are generally pretty small. This makes them easy to store, easy to produce when needed, and harder for inquisitive hands to stumble across them (e.g. curious kids hunting around your bedroom). All of these are big checks in the plus column when it comes to home defense considerations.
Ease of Modification
Handguns are incredibly easy and cheap to accessorize or modify. From extended magazines and attachments such as scopes, flashlights, and laser sights, it’s relatively straightforward to customize your weapon in a way that works for you.
Pistols vs. Revolvers
To return to a question we touched upon at the start of this section: what’s the difference between pistols and revolvers? And which is better for home defense?
The more modern of the two handgun variants, pistols are generally the better picks for two reasons.
Firstly, they can hold more ammunition, meaning that you won’t run out of ammo at a critical juncture. Secondly, their design lends itself to lower recoil, meaning that you’ll be able to shoot more accurately.
Pistols do also have their downsides. They’re mechanically more complex, making maintenance a little more difficult. They’re also more likely to malfunction than a revolver due to this complexity.
Pistols are also generally chambered for lower calibers than revolvers. Though this isn’t necessarily a disadvantage when it comes to home defense (again, over-penetration can be an issue), it does mean less stopping power.
Revolvers have a much more storied history than pistols, having been in use for hundreds of years. Revolvers have a much lower capacity than pistols (usually 6-8 rounds) and are much more fiddly to reload under stress (since absent a speed-loader, you need to manually insert each round).
However, revolvers do have their advantages. They are relatively mechanically simple, making maintenance easier – and malfunctions rarer. They can also be chambered for more powerful calibers, thus offering more stopping power.
Long arms, for the purposes of home defense, can be broken down into two variants: shotguns and rifles.
Shotguns are an iconic home defense weapon and for good reason. They offer a very effective blast at a comparatively short range and don’t require much in the way of accuracy from the user. They are also quite simple to use and operate and have quite a low penetrability (ensuring a low likelihood of collateral injury).
However, as with any weapon, they have their downsides. They’re quite heavy and cumbersome, meaning they’re not suitable for all family members to use in a pinch.
The recoil can also be overwhelming, which means that generally speaking, you’ll have one shot to get it right. This means that shotguns are really only suited for experienced, physically strong users.
Rifles are an excellent choice when it comes to home defense. Unlike shotguns, they can be relatively low-recoil, and they’re extremely accurate.
Also, unlike pistols, however, they offer excellent stopping power. This combination of usability and power makes for a great option overall, and the whole family can be taught to use a rifle relatively painlessly.
However, a rifle is still a long arm, with the storage and maneuverability issues that that implies. They can be tough to bring around quickly and a pain to swiftly produce in an emergency.
They’re also not quite as easy to use as a handgun due to their size and power. However, they are generally a better option than a shotgun when it comes to home defense.
The Best Home Defense Gun is Based on Your Requirements
Ultimately, the best firearm solution for your home defense needs to boil down to the requirements of you and your family.
If you’re single and have a lot of experience handling firearms, you’re likely going to want something very different from someone who’s looking for a weapon the whole family can use in a pinch.
Ease of use, accessibility, customizability, accuracy, and stopping power are all considerations when it comes to picking the perfect firearm for you and your home.
We can only hope that this guide has been illuminating when it comes to every one of those factors.
Good luck in choosing the right home defense firearm for you and your loved ones – and may you never need to use it.