Home Defense Choice Pro & Cons


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LaEscopeta
July 26, 2005, 12:31 PM
After numerous threads debating which is the best home defense firearm, perhaps a summary would be useful?

I am no expert; I am here to learn from people that are. Iíve listed the pro and cons below based on my understanding what Iíve read and heard here and elsewhere. Iím sure I donít have all the factors and Iím sure I have some incorrect ones. Iím also pretty sure we will get postings fixing those problems.

This comparison is primarily for home defense situations; limited number of threatening people in your home, at short range, situations that are over when you stop the threatening people, chase them away, or the police arrive. We are not talking about self defense outside the home, neighborhood defense, riots, SHTF, police or military situations, where the threat may be at a distance, or where many people may come at you from different directions, or over a long period of time, or where you have to go stop the threat first. But I have listed a few auxiliary factors for each firearm type, that relate to non-home defense uses.


Handgun:
Pro;
1. Small, light weight, easy to store and carry.
2. Lots of places to practice.
3. Low power handguns may be quieter.
Con;
1. Harder than long arms to hit the target.
2. Low power handguns have limited stopping power; more than one hit may be required.
3. High power handguns have difficult to control recoil.
4. High power semi-automatics have to be held firmly to reduce recoil induced miss-feeds.
5. High power rounds may over penetrate through the target and/or walls.
6. Usually more expensive than similar quality shotguns.
7. Regulated, controlled, restricted in many places.
Auxiliary factors:
- Generally only useful for defense and stationary target shooting; limited or no hunting use.
- Longer range then shotguns (if you can hit the target.)
- Semi-automatics have large ammo capacity and are quick to reload.

Shotgun:
Pro;
1. Generally easiest to aim (point.)
2. Can fire a variety of ammo types, to fit different purposes.
3. Can be loaded with one shot stopping ability (at in-the-home ranges.)
4. Usually cheaper than similar quality handguns.
5. Pellets not deadly for very far beyond effective aiming range (especially after the pellets go through something.)
6. Not regulated, controlled, or restricted in most places.
Con;
1. Long, heavy, difficult to maneuver (shorter barrel ones less so.)
2. Some shotguns have excessive recoil with some loadings.
3. Can be very loud (especially with shorter barrels and powerful loadings.)
4. Slugs likely to over penetrate through the target and/or walls.
Auxiliary factors:
- Wide variety of hunting & target shooting uses.
- Short range only.
- Most models have limited ammo capacity and are slow to reload.

Rifle:
Pro;
1. Better stopping ability than handguns.
2. Easier to aim than handguns.
3. Generally less regulation, control, and restrictions than handguns.
Con
1. Long, difficult to maneuver (carbines less so.)
2. Many types of rifle rounds are likely to go through the target and several walls.
3. Most rifle bullets are deadly for a long distance beyond effective aiming range.
Auxiliary factors:
- Variety of hunting & target shooting uses.
- Effective at long range.
- Removable magazine and clip fed rifles are quick to reload; some have large ammo capacity.

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No_Brakes23
July 26, 2005, 12:56 PM
I have to disagree with this:
3. High power handguns have difficult to control recoil. Unless you are talking about magnum loads, I think the frame of the pistol makes more difference. Every single person that has fired my wife's SIG P232 (.380ACP) and my 1911 (.45ACP) says they feel the 1911 is FAR easier to control. The little SIG is just too light for even the .380, whereas "old slabsides" soaks up a lot of the felt recoil.

Overall though, good list.

GEM
July 26, 2005, 01:11 PM
Training is more important than the gun.

A well trained person with a SW Model 10 and 6 rounds is better off than an untrained person with some gun chosen out of technobabble debate.

A trained person can handle most of the common firearms well. I would rather have my training and a Sig 232 in 380, then no training and a tricked out Benelli shotgun in a home defense situation.

Just my opinion after reading endless gun discussions. In fact, in many classes the instructors get annoyed with the technobabble from folks who can't hit the target.

Control Group
July 26, 2005, 01:38 PM
A well trained person with a SW Model 10 and 6 rounds is better off than an untrained person with some gun chosen out of technobabble debate.
Sure, but a well trained person with a good pump-action shotgun is, at least arguably, better off than a well trained person with that SW Model 10. Just because proficiency is more important than technology doesn't mean that you can't have a discussion about technology. I mean, a well-trained person with an English longbow is more dangerous than an untrained person with an M16, but we can still talk about whether the M16 is a better platform for ground pounders than an English longbow.

And if the discussion is a precursor to selecting training for home defense, I don't see anything wrong with deciding the platform to train for before going through training. After all, what's the first question everyone asks when someone posts about what first gun to get? "What are you going to use it for?"

El Tejon
July 26, 2005, 01:38 PM
The weapon matters very little; you matter very much.

Let your software guide your hardware selection choices. :)

CAS700850
July 26, 2005, 01:42 PM
And thus, the best weapon to have in a defensive situation is the weapon you are most effective with, be it handgun, rifle, or shotgun.

WT
July 26, 2005, 01:52 PM
No one on TFL is an expert in home defense.

Each person has to decide what is best for themselves given the particular circumstances.

Bobo
July 26, 2005, 11:46 PM
Something you can and will carry from room to room all the time.
Could be something different at night while in bed, but if you move to "another room" during the night take it with you or have something there also.

Murphy's law says, "a home invasion will happen at the exact time you are unarmed".

hompac
July 27, 2005, 12:16 AM
In my opinion for what it's worth, a nice short scattergun would deter any intruder. And if the intruder is persistent IT WOULD STOP HIM or HER (I'm not prejudiced.) Don't worry about ruining the walls, just protect yourself. Just the "bang" will scare the hell out of anyone.

22-rimfire
July 27, 2005, 12:48 AM
Pretty good list. Best home defense gun is what you already have and can shoot well out to at least the 25 foot target distance. I was wondering what you consider "high power vs low power" in handguns?

LaEscopeta
July 27, 2005, 10:38 AM
I was wondering what you consider "high power vs low power" in handguns?
I would arbitrarily set a .38 police special or 9 mm parabellum as about the middle of the handgun power range; low power would be less than that and high power more. IMHO, YMMV, etc.

entropy
July 27, 2005, 01:57 PM
Training is the key. Whichever weapon you choose, practice with it, both at the range and in your home. (Obviously unloaded or with snap caps/dummy rounds) DOn't forget all the other preparations you can do to avoid having to ever test your training; lock the doors and windows at night, (obvious, but many burglaries/robberies start with an unlocked door) create barriers to entry, (motion/timed lights, landscaping) safe area(s) with communications(old deactivated cell phones can still call 911, I keep one for just that purpose, plus usually have the current one handy), and a plan if these fail. Pick whichever weapons best suit your needs, and practice, practice, practice.

Control Group
July 27, 2005, 02:24 PM
Pick whichever weapons best suit your needs
Isn't that exactly the question he's trying to collect information on?

entropy
July 27, 2005, 02:57 PM
El Tejon stated what I meant much more succinctly. The weapon matters much less than training and mindset. La Escopeta laid out the pros and cons of each type rather nicely, but in the end is still the one to make the decision as to which type.

I'll reprhase; Whichever type you pick, training and mindset will make it much more effective. ;)

Vern Humphrey
July 27, 2005, 04:08 PM
The best gun to HAVE is the one you have with you. That's the pistol you routinely wear around the house.

The best gun to USE is the shotgun.

Have both. If circumstances allow you to choose which one to use, choose the shotgun.

Black Majik
July 27, 2005, 10:01 PM
For purely home defense? I personally would rule out the rifle. Biggest reason is overpenetration.

Now, the shotgun is probably the best for home defense. Best power delivery at short ranges, and lets face it... the chances of having a full blown shootout in your house are pretty slim. I'd even be comfortable with the standard 4 round magazine for pump/auto shotguns.

The handgun. Its nice to have around when the shotgun isn't nearby. The sidearm is to fight your way to the long gun. Even then, having a pistol at hand I wouldn't feel underarmed. Again... no need for high capacity magazines. Just something you can reliably hit your target with. And a pistol that is reliable.

My home defense set up is Remington 870 12 ga. w. a Colt Government. Simple, yet reliable.

CDignition
July 27, 2005, 11:40 PM
In my opinion, a shotgun is the worst weapon for home defense....just think of a 12 gauge 00 buck round...

1) they are always high powered,

2) kick like hell,

3) make a ton of noise,

4) can be hard to reload quickly (unless the gun is an auto),

5) are harder for women to control and use, even with decent training,

6) they shoot pellets over a large area, especially at intermediate ranges, so these pellets that Dont hit the BG are going somewhere else,

7) are bulky

Im sure there is a retort for every thing I have written here, but this is my opinion, and the reasons I dont use one for HD.

entropy
July 28, 2005, 12:11 AM
Respones:

1. Tactical low powered 00Buck. Or Aguila Mini-Shells.

2. See response #1

3. " ""

4. You rarely need to shoot repeatedly with one.

5. Ask female LEO's. Or Loral I. Delaney, a noted trapshooter in this area. Or my 11 year old son.

6. 1" of spread per foot of distance, roughly. How far away can you engage in your house? :eek:

7. Only for concealment. And before you even think of the 'they'll grab the barrel' copout, consider this;"They say you canít use a rifle or shotgun indoors because a bad guy will grab the barrel. Yeah? Well, he better hang on, Ďcause Iím gonna light him up and itíll definitely be an "E" ticket ride." -Clint Smith.

pax
July 28, 2005, 01:44 AM
In my opinion and experience, it is dang near impossible to safely keep a long gun accessible enough for home defense in a household with children.

pax

SteveS
July 28, 2005, 12:13 PM
I agree with Pax. I'd certianly like the option of a shotgun or carbine, but I haven't found a way to store it so that I could get to it quickly. The pistol works great it my home because it is what I have the most practice with and the same holds true for my wife. She isn't as interested in a rifle or a shotgun, so they aren't the best choice. I'd rather have something that we could both use.

Vern Humphrey
July 28, 2005, 12:25 PM
Two good places for a shotgun are under the bed, or on a rack at the head of the bed.

pax
July 28, 2005, 01:29 PM
Two good places for a shotgun are under the bed...

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=27023&stc=1

pax

Drav
July 28, 2005, 02:22 PM
6. 1" of spread per foot of distance, roughly.
Isn't it: 1" of spread per yard of distance, roughly?

GEM
July 28, 2005, 04:35 PM
It's per yard.

The decision shouldn't be made on cliches and folks saying:

"THE BEST GUN blah blah"

a myriad of quality guns would serve the person who knew what they were doing. That's the most important variable.

chaim
July 28, 2005, 06:32 PM
Just a couple quick corrections to your list before I go into my thoughts:

-Some handguns are just fine for hunting. A .357mag, .41mag, .44mag or .45LC are very versatile- depending upon the loading they can be great HD weapons or used on nearly all N. American game.

-Shotguns aren't necessarily slow to load (this also applies to lever rifles and other rifles that load out of a loading gate). Sure if you shoot until empty they are slower than revolvers with speed loaders or rifles or pistols with box mags since you have to load one round at a time. However, unlike the other types of guns, you don't have to wait until empty to reload. Whenever you have a short break in the action (of if you are behind cover) you can top off the mag before you run dry, and with practice you can learn to never let the gun run dry. Keep some spare ammo in a butt cuff, a cartridge belt, or loose in some kind of easily portable container and you'll be fine.

-I wouldn't count on one shot stops with any kind of gun, including rifles and shotguns. I've read of accounts where bad guys took multiple hits from shotguns before going down. Remember the goal isn't to kill but to stop, and sometimes people can keep going for a little while with some massive damage when the adreniline is pumping. No matter what I'm shooting I'll assume that I may need follow-up shots.


OK, now for my opinions on rifles/carbines, shotguns, or handguns for self-defense.

Ideally, you should have both a handgun and a long-gun for HD. It is best to have the handgun since you can always have it on your person (concealed as well if you don't want to shock unexpected guests). However, if you can get to it a carbine or shotgun offers advantages so it is good to have one available.

If you are only going to have one kind of gun (either finances, or a desire to keep things simple) I would strongly suggest the handgun for the reason that it is concealable and more portable. However, if you are not going to wear it but only leave it in an accessable spot I'd first suggest you reconsider and carry it around but barring that I'd say the one gun should be a long-gun since you've just decided to ignore the best advantage of the handgun.

Shotguns are generally considered the best HD weapon. Any long gun is much more forgiving when trying to aim under stress, however don't assume the pattern will save you since the shot won't spread much at HD distances. Shotguns hit hard and one or two shots of 00 buck out of a 12ga will put most attackers down quite quickly. A pump shotty is a pretty simple design thus it is pretty easy to use, and there is less to go wrong. It also does allow for ammo flexibility for different needs. The largest disadvantage is high recoil compared to most other options which could lead to less practice time (if you don't find it pleasant) and slower follow-up shots when needed. It is also pretty loud.

Rifles in full rifle calibers are a mixed bag. They are powerful so at HD ranges they will usually put a bad guy down pretty quick. They are long guns so they are much more forgiving than handguns when aiming under stress, with training I'm not sure how one could miss at HD ranges. They also tend to recoil a lot less than a shotgun. However, most rifle rounds will overpenetrate more than any other option, thus unless you live about a mile from the nearest neighbor it probably isn't a great option (and if you have family you may want to rethink it even if the nearest neighbor is a ways away).

Carbines in revolver calibers or .223 are usually my favorite. .223 overpenetrates less than most handgun rounds and still at HD ranges will put down a BG faster than most handgun rounds. Revolver rounds in a long gun will usually generate more power than the same round in a handgun and with less noise and recoil (noise and power due to more powder burning within the barrel and not outside the barrel, recoil due to more weight). A .44mag in a lever rifle will give near 30-30 power at ranges under 100 yards and .41mag, .45LC and .357mag are no slouches out of a rifle/carbine either. A lever rifle can be very handy and compact, a great feature in a HD weapon. They give the aiming advantages (due to the longer sight radius) of both rifles and shotguns. They overpenetrate less than other rifles. With lever and pump rifles, while they don't have box mags and thus a reload from empty takes longer, you can top off the mag when you have a chance and don't need to wait for it to be empty. However, they won't give the power of a full rifle round or a shotgun, and they aren't concealable like a handgun.

My personal choice is to always have a handgun or two ready, but also either my Benelli Nova 12ga or my .45LC Winchester 94AE is also set up if I have time to get to them.

Dr.Rob
July 28, 2005, 06:40 PM
There are volumes of books, magazines, articles and endless gunshop commando discussions about this.

2 basic solutions:

4 inch .357

12 ga shotgun

as far as weapons, the rest is bells, whistles and range time.

as important:

a plan

a phone

a big dog

an escape route

etc etc

lesjones
July 28, 2005, 07:19 PM
More pluses for the handgun in the home:

- easier to hide in a convenient place
- as mentioned, easier to secure in a home with children
- can be hidden behind your back when you answer an unexpected knock at the door
- leaves one hand free for a flashlight, telephone, holding children, opening doors, etc.

Having long and short guns available is best, but if I could choose only one gun for home defense it would be a handgun.

elric
July 28, 2005, 07:47 PM
In my opinion and experience, it is dang near impossible to safely keep a long gun accessible enough for home defense in a household with children.

I have an 870 bolted under the bed in a GunVault long gun lockup thing. Works quite well, can get the thing free in just a couple of seconds (if you know the code). When its locked, you can't get at the trigger or safety, or pull back the pump. Got it real cheap at Sportsmans guide, only $30, everywhere else was over $100. I see they still have them for $30.

http://www.sportsmansguide.com/cb/cb.asp?a=176908

GEM
July 29, 2005, 12:23 PM
Elric - do you have a big soul stealing black sword also? And do you know that Moorcock lives in Bastrop (or he did)?

:)

Drav
July 29, 2005, 01:03 PM
However, most rifle rounds will overpenetrate more than any other option, thus unless you live about a mile from the nearest neighbor it probably isn't a great option
Unless you live in a full-brick house...

elric
July 29, 2005, 05:17 PM
Elric - do you have a big soul stealing black sword also? And do you know that Moorcock lives in Bastrop (or he did)?

Yup, Stormbringer is my main home defense weapon. The 870 is just a backup. Why mess around with something weak like a 12ga when you can use a demon posessed sword that steals their soul and feeds its power into you? :D

I had no idea that Moorcock lived around here ... learn something new every day!

chaim
July 29, 2005, 05:26 PM
Unless you live in a full-brick house...

I'm not sure that the type of brick used on the facade of residential construction is going to hold up really well against 30-06, .308 or even 30-30 or 7.62x39.

GEM
July 29, 2005, 05:27 PM
Yep, I saw him at a Barnes and Noble book signing for a cowboy version of Elric and I knew a young lady who babysat his cat for him.

Sorry to hijack the thread but home defense choices are so overdone when you can talk about enchanted swords. :D

Drav
July 29, 2005, 05:36 PM
I'm not sure that the type of brick used on the facade of residential construction is going to hold up really well against 30-06, .308 or even 30-30 or 7.62x39.
With the exception of the 7.62x39, are you honestly going to shoot at an intruder with any of those other calibers? 30-06? Seriously?

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