The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Home Defense Gun

Keeping a firearm in your home is one of the most effective things that you can do to keep you and your family safe from intruders. However, the first step toward keeping a firearm in your home for home defense is choosing the right gun.

Below, we’ll take a look at the three main categories of home defense firearms and the important considerations that you need to keep in mind for each category in order to help you choose the right home defense gun for you and your family.

Home Defense Handguns

Handguns are by far the most popular type of home defense firearm due mostly to their compact size. It’s easier to store a handgun than it is a rifle or shotgun, and its easier to maneuver throughout your home while holding a handgun than it is a rifle or shotgun as well.

The best types of handguns for home defense are revolvers and semiautomatic handguns since both can be fired without having to work an action. You’ll also want to choose a handgun that is chambered in a powerful enough caliber. 9mm or larger is ideal, though slightly smaller rounds such as the .38 auto are effective for home defense as well.

With all of that said, though, there are a few drawbacks when using a handgun as a home defense weapon. Handguns are not as accurate as rifles and shotguns, they don’t have the ammo capacity of a semi-automatic rifle, and they don’t have the stopping power of a shotgun. Still, they offer plenty enough advantages to make them a fine choice for home defense.

Home Defense Shotguns

The second most popular type of gun for home defense is the shotgun. Shotguns offer a number of noteworthy advantages when it comes to home defense, including plenty of stopping power, a small bit of forgiveness when it comes to accuracy due to the spread of the pellets (more on that later), and the ability to load your firearm with a wide range of shells for different scenarios.

In regards to the gauge that your shotgun is chambered in, you can’t go wrong with a 12 gauge. A 20 gauge is going to be too small, while a 10 gauge is going to be recoil-heavy overkill. You’ll also want to choose either a pump or semi-auto shotgun that is designed for home defense as opposed to a longer barreled hunting shotgun.

As for the drawbacks of using a shotgun for home defense, there are a few that need to be considered. For one, shotguns, on average, are going to hold less ammo than semi-auto handguns and far less ammo than semi-auto rifles. It’s also important to note that one of the advantages of a shotgun – the spread of its pellets that supposedly makes accuracy less of a concern – is often exaggerated.

For home defense purposes, you’ll want to use either slugs or buckshot in order to have enough stopping power to put down an intruder. A slug is a single round, like a rifle bullet, and will offer no spread at all. Buckshot, meanwhile, is comprised of just a handful of large pellets, meaning that the spread at close distances when firing buckshot is going to be very small.

In other words, accuracy is still going to be highly important when using a shotgun, and you won’t be able to cover an entire hallway with pellets as Hollywood would have you to believe.

Home Defense Rifles

Rifles are the least common type of firearm for home defense, but they do offer some advantages that are worth considering. Semi-automatic rifles such as the AR-15 are the most combat capable firearms that are legally available to ordinary citizens thanks to their reliability, their accuracy, and, most importantly, their ammo capacity, which may be upwards of thirty rounds depending on the magazine that you use.

However, the needs on a battlefield and the needs in a home defense scenario do differ, and semi-auto rifles have a few drawbacks when it comes to the latter scenario. The biggest drawback of a rifle for home defense is over-penetration. Slugs, buckshot, and pistol rounds are all slow, fat rounds that will stop in walls. Rifle rounds, however, are small and fast, meaning that they’ll travel through walls like they were made of butter. This means that with every round you fire, you risk striking your neighbors as well as your family in other rooms.

Rifles are also notoriously loud, and you’ll likely suffer from hearing damage if you fire a rifle multiple times with no hearing protection in an enclosed space.


Choosing the right home defense weapon for you will ultimately come down to your own specific preferences. However, knowing the pros and cons of each type of home defense firearms is an excellent place for you to start your search.

~ American Gun News

Most Popular

These content links are provided by Both and the web site upon which the links are displayed may receive compensation when readers click on these links. Some of the content you are redirected to may be sponsored content. View our privacy policy here.

To learn how you can use to drive visitors to your content or add this service to your site, please contact us at [email protected].

Family-Friendly Content

Website owners select the type of content that appears in our units. However, if you would like to ensure that always displays family-friendly content on this device, regardless of what site you are on, check the option below. Learn More

Most Popular
Sponsored Content

These content links are provided by Both and the web site upon which the links are displayed may receive compensation when readers click on these links. Some of the content you are redirected to may be sponsored content. View our privacy policy here.

To learn how you can use to drive visitors to your content or add this service to your site, please contact us at [email protected].

Family-Friendly Content

Website owners select the type of content that appears in our units. However, if you would like to ensure that always displays family-friendly content on this device, regardless of what site you are on, check the option below. Learn More

27 Responses

  1. I am relatively new to owning home defense weapons in your home having recently i migrated from New Zealand.
    Being a new US citizen I strongly support the second amendment I guess that’s always been how I have thought anyway.
    As for the guns to use wouldn’t a combination be a good thing, my thought is a shotgun and a hand gun, I don’t think an assault rifle is the right thing at all, that is a weapon that you would keep in case of a social breakdown to defend your entire property.
    The hand gun can be hidden easily and so be in your hands fairly quickly. The shotgun would not store so well but staring down the barrel of a shotgun would have a strong psychological effect on want to be intruders.
    My thought is if they are in your home hand gun is the first port of call, if they are trying to get in your home go for the shot gun.

  2. Personally for me…a handgun AND a shotgun.A rifle is needed for a societal breakdown,but in the house if you need something suddenly the handgun wins for me. If you have the advantage of pre warning such as trying to break thru a door or window, the shotgun wins. Shouldn’t need more than 7-8 rounds

  3. My choice is a combo of pistol & 9MM carbine. Pistol for immediate response & time permitting the carbine.

  4. If you are in a place where over penetration could injure someone else then choosing the correct weapon will be important. In an apartment building then either a 22 LR pistol or 410 would be appropriate . If that is not a concern then what ever you feel comfortable shooting will work. The pump shotgun also has the psychological effect of letting them know it is about to get serious. Or you could be like me and have all available and just use what ever is closest to where you are sitting.

  5. I was 19 out of 20 years listed as marksman in the Air Force. I like to 38 special. It won’t jam and you can pick what you want to hit. Also I have a couple of shot guns as well as rifles. At one time I helped some women who worked in the same company and I helped them select a good hand gun for home protection. Also the government does not need to know how many guns I have or how many knives I have. Every home should have the right to protect their home.

  6. A rifle is a stand off weapon and according to Florida law you cannot use a firearm to protect property.

  7. I prefer to a handgun in my home for personal protection. I am able to keep it away from grandchildren and out of sight to visitors much more easily than a rifle or shotgun.
    Personal safety is important, but so is the safety of others.

  8. I was in the Service and I fell in love with the 45. I think it’s the best defensive weapon that you can ever get. The left doesn’t want people to have any safety. All they want is to let the crooks have the upper hand.

  9. A well trained individual with a 10 shot .45 is just fine. Unless of course you are attacked by five or more folks…which does call for a shotgun and an .308 MVP Rifle.

  10. All of the above, personally I keep a 9mm 13 round semi in bed with me, then in my hidden safe by my bedroom door I have a shotgun and an AR and depending on my mood or what I see out the window determines which I grab and could throw one over my shoulder on it’s sling and shoulder the other at low ready. Someone comes unwanted to my place they better be ready for war because I’m coming and hell is coming with me!

  11. it would depend on what type of defense is needed, a break in or home invasion I would opt for a pistol my hk usp45, if there are riots a rifle my springfield armory m1a or my m1 carbine, a shotgun unless very short does not help much as it is too hard to move around and outside has limited range, but there are those that love them.

  12. the 357 snub is the best. average shooting is 7 feet. just directional point no sight picture necessary. CHRIS KELLY retired NYC TRANSIT POLICE 1984. Oh, have a nice big handle for control. Banana handle only for .38 snub.

  13. ANY weapon that you are able to use and use well is the best, Be it Handgun, Shotgun or rifle. Just be sure of your target.

  14. I live in Southside Virginia. I’ve mulled over this exact topic for quite some time. My wife and I attended a gun show in Richmond about 6 years ago and I began picking up handguns and checking for comfort as I held it. As we walked around, I noticed a large group of Sheriff Deputies, State and local police. I walked up and asked the group what they would recommend as a gun for home protection. Without hesitation almost all of them suggested a shotgun. Their rational made a lot of sense. They said if you hear an intruder and cock the shotgun, the sound it makes alone would send most intruders running. If not, you’ve still got the ability to take several shots!

  15. I recommend a larger caliber hand gun. I shoot jacketed hollow points as I want to limit the travel of the bullet thru house walls and inflect as much damage on the perp as possible. Maneuverability in confined spaces is a must. The smallest caliber I’d use in 9mm while I mainly use a .45 acp. If I lived in an apartment I’d use a Taurus Judge with a mixed load.

  16. I prefer a handgun as first choice for home protection. But I also have a shotgun.

  17. A 1911 in .45 cal. or .38 super Colt for the .45 and Tarus for the .38 super.

  18. Each weapon has a use better then the other 2. In my opinion a sawed off 20 gauge w/3inch chamber 17 in barrel, and pistol grip stock. You can then use different shells, shot size and slug.

  19. There are three things to consider:
    1) The laws where you live.
    2) Your home. A house with several rooms as opposed to, say, a small apartment. Rural, urban or suburban.
    3) Whatever weapon you feel the safest and most comfortable using.

  20. Handgun for me–I live in a house built before WWII, and my bedroom opens onto the living room and there is 13 feet diagonally (across a couch for someone on foot, but I can shoot above the couch) from my bedroom door to the front door. I’m comfortable with my accuracy at that distance, and the only longer distance is from my kitchen to that wall in the living room, and that’s still under 7 yards (and I wouldn’t want to shoot that way unless my daughter was not home, because her bedroom is on the other side of that wall). I figure at those distances, there’s not really much point in trying to use a long gun in the house.

  21. I prefer a 12 Guage semi auto with alternate buck shot and slugs. Also a 357 magnum pistol with night sights.

  22. After reading the article and comments above, I have little to contribute about the firearms themselves. But I do have a couple of points I’d like to address.

    I am retired from the US Army, where I spent much of my career as a weapons specialist and instructor. I also put in a few years as a civilian peace officer, primarily with the felony fugitive unit. I don’t consider myself any sort of expert but I have “seen the elephant” and learned a thing or two.

    Regardless of what firearms you use, they are utterly useless if your mental attitude isn’t right. You MUST be ready, able and willing to kill. If you’re not, forget the guns and get a dog instead.

    Forget notions of scaring the thug(s) who intend to rob, rape, murder, etc. Someone threatening harm has already crossed the line; they may be under the influence of drugs like PCP, which simultaneously gives them near superhuman strength, pumps them full of adrenaline and destroys their fear instinct. Racking the slide on a shotgun usually does nothing to frighten the thug(s), and thinking that the mere appearance of a firearm will stop an assault is likely to get you killed.

    Many folks are hesitant to kill another human being. That’s only natural. The very thought of killing is abhorrent, something to do only in the gravest extreme circumstances.

    So some think that they can shoot a thug in the arm or the leg, etc. Not smart. Just consider how often you learn of a police shooting, and how the officer(s) either missed the miscreant altogether or it took multiple hits to take them down. I remember an incident when a fugitive opened fire on a group of officers with a full auto MAC-10. He was on PCP-and it took 18 hits to stop him! (Every round that hit him was a .357 magnum or .45 ACP. Obviously this was a few years ago.)

    Now just imagine someone like that was confronting you. Do you think the sight of a gun in your hands, or the sound of racking your shotgun is going to scare the thug(s) into running away? Don’t bet your life, or the lives of your loved ones, on it!

    In sum, look yourself in the mirror and make certain that your mindset is where it should be. Be prepared to take the life of the threat facing you. Or go to your local animal shelter and adopt a dog.

    Anyway, that’s my 2 cents worth. Your mileage may vary.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *