What Should You Use for Home Defense?

If you browse social media, or the news, you will likely run across a story or two involving a home invasion. While violent crimes in general have been on a downturn for the last several years, those of you reading this likely recognize that while uncommon, there still is a predatory element in society that lacks moral scruples when it comes to taking what you own, and potentially hurting or killing you in the process. I have written about concealed carry and self defense outside the home, but have stayed away from defense inside  the home till now. For one, it’s a highly individualized subject that varies based on the layout of your home, where and how close your neighbors are, and perhaps most importantly, the number, location, and age of any children you have in your home. Before we go any further, perhaps we should discuss the pros and cons of “the big three” options for home defense.



Shotguns: Long heralded as the king for home defense, a shotgun chambered in 12 or 20 gauge is certainly a formidable weapon. However, round capacity is usually limited, even in something like the pictured Maverick 88 by Mossberg, with its 7 round magazine tube. With a pump action shotgun, each round must be manually chambered by pumping the foregrip, making follow up shots difficult if you are hurt, or encumbered by carrying a child or using a hand to open doors. Shotguns also suffer from the common  misconception that you don’t have to aim them. While multiple projectile loadings do spread upon leaving the barrel, they do not open up nearly as much as Hollywood would lead us to believe. Also, with projectile spread, also comes an increased liability for any projectiles which miss their intended target and go through a wall.


For the sake of this article, we will only be talking about modern sporting rifles, such as the AR-15

Modern Sporting Rifles: Ak-47 variants and particularly the AR-15 have become increasingly popular as home defense weapons, and it’s easy to see why. They commonly have 30 round magazines, are soft recoiling, easy to get on target, and particularly with the AR-15, are extremely customizable for the individual user. In many homes where the designated home defense firearm would potentially be used by multiple shooters, the AR-15 has garnered a great deal of popularity. Even at 6’1, 250 pounds, when my 5’4 wife picks up my AR, with a quick adjustment of the length of pull on the stock, she’s ready to go, and vice versa. However, modern sporting rifles do still suffer from the two handed use requirement for best performance. Yes, you could operate the rifles with one hand to a limited extent, but accuracy will suffer, and in a home with loved ones present, isn’t accuracy paramount?

The author’s CZ P-09 Urban Grey

Handguns: Perhaps one of the fastest growing segments in the home defense firearm category, and also one of the most misunderstood choices. Handguns are dismissed often as being too hard to use under duress, or lacking sufficient power for home defense. But we rely on handguns daily when we carry them to both possess sufficient power, and in our ability to operate them correctly in a self defense situation. There are many reasons someone might choose a handgun for home defense. Their typical size allows for easier storage and concealment in otherwise conspicuous places. They can be much more easily operated with one hand than a long gun, and ammunition is typically much more affordable to practice with and keep around.

With all that being said, I don’t believe that there’s any one correct answer. So much is dependent on the factors I outlined at the beginning of this article. For instance, using an AR-10 chambered in 7.62x51mm may not be the most prudent decision if you reside in an apartment complex. By the same token, even if you live in a rural setting, you must consider where those projectiles will go should they pass through your intended target or miss completely. A quick search on YouTube will show you that most rounds will penetrate residential interior walls, and some even on through exterior walls. This should help to drive home that shot placement is vital.

Children in the home is huge consideration that I feel is often overlooked in this conversation. How many kids do you have? What are their ages? Are they old enough to be counted on to remember what you told them to do in an emergency situation, or will you likely have to herd them or retrieve them physically in the event of a home invasion? Such things can and will impede your ability to operate a firearm, particularly if you are using a rifle or shotgun.

Lastly, the time to discuss with your spouse, room mates, or children, if they are old enough to retain the info, is before such a situation arises. Have a plan. Know who is dealing with the threat initially, know where other residents are supposed to stay, who is dialing 911, what to do if the initial defender fails, and where to regroup if you all must leave the residence. Just like the fire escape plans some of us did in elementary school, the time to prepare is before the time comes to implement the plan.

My goal is not to tell you what you should or shouldn’t use for home defense, but rather to promote these things being taken into consideration. Also, please read up on your local laws. Some jurisdictions have a requirement to retreat, while others don’t. Also, there is a plethora of info available in regards to making your home less inviting for would be burglars.

For gun reviews, please check out my YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/countryboy9384 nd subscribe. I will be making a video presentation on this same topic in the near future as well.

Stay safe, and I hope everyone has a great holiday season.

Published by Nick

Nick is an avid shooter and 2nd Amendment content creator with 20 years shooting experience. You can usually find him testing guns and equipment at his range on his property, or creating video content to help others enjoy the shooting sports as much as he has over the years.

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