Home defense gun for non-shooter


January 6, 2003, 02:59 PM
Someone I know is planning on buying a handgun for home defense. Now, I know that everyone here (yours truly included) loves shooting, and we all go as often as possible.

But what about someone who wants a defensive handgun, but is only going to go to the range once a month or so?

Yes, I know the idea of someone with a home defense gun who doesn't expend 300 rounds a week in practice is unthinkable, :what: but what would you recommend?

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January 6, 2003, 03:07 PM
The operation of a revolver seems a lot simpler than a semiauto, and .38 caliber is pretty easy to shoot. I'd recommend a .38/.357 revolver with 4-inch barrel, like the Ruger GP series or a S&W model 66.

January 6, 2003, 03:07 PM
For home defense? Become more aware of the neighborhood, get to know your neighbors. Have exterior lighting w/ motion sensors so that people approaching will be lit up & seen. A good alarm system helps, and a good dog in the yard helps too.
Your firearms are just a piece of the puzzle ;)

For an occassional shooter, I'd recommend either a pump shotgun or a 357 magnum revolver.

January 6, 2003, 03:12 PM
Agree 4" bbl 38/357

'nuther thought; shotgun.
know folks with arthritis, or
those whom handguns might not be best.
break open single shot, BG keeps coming
drunk,high,...If sees that big bore and keeps coming
do what you gotta do.

January 6, 2003, 03:17 PM
Can't go wrong with a 357 or a 12ga. If you're in an apartment, consider birdshot. Also, you'll be well served by a dog, and good lighting.

January 6, 2003, 03:26 PM
Mossberg Defender!!!! :)
00 buckshot!!:) :) :) :)

January 6, 2003, 03:35 PM
What "emergency car" for someone who doesn't drive?

What first-aid-kid for someone who will not practise his/her skills?

What good are tools you don't know how to use properly?


January 6, 2003, 04:15 PM
A revolver is a good choice for a gun that's going to sit in a lockbox for long periods of time. Expecting a non shooter to go to the range once a month is very ambitious, they may go a time or two the first month again the second but after that if they're still a "non shooter" it's going to be months between trips to the range.

The Plainsman
January 6, 2003, 06:08 PM
If all they're looking for is a home defense gun, I'd stick with the pump shotgun. To heck with a handgun. The shotgun is easier to operate. It's more forgiving for those who don't aim well. It's certainly got plenty of stopping power. It's much more impressive in terms of staring down a bad guy. It's easier to hang flashlights and other stuff, on it. They can be had for a lot less money. Depending on the person's size and disposition, consider a 20ga pump rather than a 12ga. ;)

4v50 Gary
January 6, 2003, 06:31 PM
4" S&W Model 10. 38 special - easy to use.

January 6, 2003, 06:43 PM
As stated above, a Medium to large frame .38 seems to be the best choice. Avoid lightweights and ultralights at all cost for the new user. Those are heavier recoiling weapons better suited to more experienced shooters. Some can be downright painful to shoot.

Your freind may also balk at the prospect of keeping a large shotgun. Most non gun types would also feel very leery about keeping one loaded but would not have a problem keeping a revolver loaded. Shotguns are also slightly complicated for the new user. I've seen folks stuck because they couldn't activate/ find the slide release or had long nails interfere with proper loading of shells.

If they have children, by all means make sure they purchase a small handgun safe.

Cheaper ones can be had for $30.00 or so. A small price to pay for security and in some areas, not breaking the law.

Good Shooting

January 6, 2003, 06:50 PM
Hammerless Lupara.

January 6, 2003, 06:51 PM
Baikal Coach gun in 12 gauge.


January 6, 2003, 07:10 PM
Affordable, reliable and easier for a novice to shoot accurately IMHO.

January 6, 2003, 07:13 PM
I'll reflect more of the same. If it has to be a handgun, 38/357 revolver. Shotgun would work well too, and may be easier to learn to hit with. Birdshot loads work good close inside a home w/o over penetrating.

January 7, 2003, 12:19 AM
While he isn't a regular shooter, he is familiar with riflery from his time in the military. He likes to go shooting, and has shot on and off since he was a kid. He just doesn't go all that often, and it's not his idea of a rollicking good pasttime. (For those of you who thought that I was simply asking about myself, :neener:)

In the times when he's gone shooting with me in the past, he generally shoots wheel guns, which are his preference, but he's leaning towards an auto-loader because of the higher capacity.

I've considered mentioning that he might be better served with a shotgun.

January 7, 2003, 12:47 AM
I would go with the .38spl 4" revolver, speed loader, flashlight,and small gun safe. If he wants a pistol then Glock 19 or 17.

January 7, 2003, 01:08 AM
I was going to chime in and agree with the shotgun crowd here ... but after thinking about it I say push them toward a Glock 19 or a CZ75.

Get 'em a 9mm they will enjoy shooting and can afford to feed and you just might turn them into a regular shooter :)

Matthew Courtney
January 7, 2003, 01:16 AM
Take them out and let them sample all of the suggested items, then let them decide with what they are the most comfortable. Comfort builds confidence. Comfort makes them more likely to practice. Practice builds skill and confidence.

Chosing a gun is a personal decision. Educate them, but let them make the choice that they may one day live or die by.

Kahr carrier
January 7, 2003, 07:38 AM
357 Revolver.:)

January 7, 2003, 07:57 AM
Hands down a .38/.357 4inch barrel revolver

January 7, 2003, 08:27 AM
denfoote: Mossberg Defender? Is that anything like the Winchester 500 series? ;)

January 7, 2003, 09:15 AM
If he will really practice once a month (and dry fire in between), I would recommend a Ruger GP 100 4". If he isn't willing to put in that modest amount of effort to get and stay proficient, I would encourage him to reconsider purchasing a handgun.

Ala Dan
January 7, 2003, 02:35 PM
I recommend a 12 gague pump shotgun, as well. Something
along the lines of a Mossy 500 or Remington 870 would work
nicely; as it would protect ones self all the way from the
out house, to the penthouse!

But, along the lines of a handgun I would have to give very
strong consideration's to a Smith & Wesson model 66 and/or
686 with a 6" barrel. Also, I would recommend lots of range
time with either weapon!

Best Wishes,
Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member

Double Naught Spy
January 7, 2003, 03:00 PM
Are y'all sure there isn't a "Home Defense Firearms and Mastery of Shooting Techniques for Dummies" book you could buy a non-shooter to go with the gun you got them? It could be a companion book for the "Hand-to-Hand Combat for the Physically Inept."

A revolver may be the most easy to use by a non-shooter, but it may also be the hardest with which to hit the target at which they are aiming due to the relatively longer and heavier trigger pull. The follow-up shots are likely to be much worse if the recoil, flash, and sound experienced were not expected by the neophyte shooter.

Andrew Wyatt
January 7, 2003, 03:08 PM
a ruger Mk2 in .22 LR. (assuming they don't like shotguns or revolvers)

it's easy to make safe if you don't have a round chambered, has mild recoil and easy to shoot.

for a complete neophyte, it's probably better than a 1911.

January 7, 2003, 03:14 PM
I must jump in on the side of the 4" wheel gun, 38/357 being the most common option.

Not to pick, but some of the responses to the question suggest that a hand gun is somehow less suitable than a shot gun, and since the new shooter won't train that he must be better off without a hand gun.

If he isn't willing to put in that modest amount of effort to get and stay proficient, I would encourage him to reconsider purchasing a handgun.

What "emergency car" for someone who doesn't drive?

What first-aid-kid for someone who will not practice his/her skills?

What good are tools you don't know how to use properly?

I don't understand that reasoning, I though the majority of handgun owners have not shot one in years (present company excluded), should they not have them either?

Please explain these handgun complexities to me.


January 7, 2003, 03:44 PM
I don't understand that reasoning, ...

I'm not saying you shouldn't have a handgun for emergencies if you aren't willing to train with it, I just don't see the point of buying tools which need some degree of proficiency to be effective and then not practising with them to develop this necessary proficiency. To me such a purchase would simply be a waste of money.

January 7, 2003, 04:17 PM
Ditto. To quote Jeff Cooper, "It has long been a principle of ours that one is no more armed because he has possession of a firearm than he is a musician because he owns a piano. There is no point in having a gun if you are not capable of using it skillfully."

Mike Irwin
January 7, 2003, 04:56 PM
Never go wrong with a .38/.357 revolver, a pump shotgun, or a single or double-barreled shotgun.

January 7, 2003, 05:05 PM
Pump Shotgun hands down!

... Not you keep your damn hands up!! :)


January 7, 2003, 05:27 PM
.38 special revolver with a 4" barrel.

January 7, 2003, 05:57 PM
But what about someone who wants a defensive handgun, but is only going to go to the range once a month or so?

What "emergency car" for someone who doesn't drive? What first-aid-kid for someone who will not practise his/her skills? What good are tools you don't know how to use properly?

Practice shooting once a month plus previous shooting experience seems like it's better than most gun owners. With kids and work, thats about all I get out these days. How often do you all get out shooting?

I do suggest your friend take a defensive shooting training course to cover both the tactics and legalites of home defense. A 99 cent "Beware of Dog" sign (even if you don't have a dog) and $20/year in electricity leaving on a few lights can be an excellent defense.

The .357 wheelgun is an excellent gun with a lot of options from .38 Special wadcutters on up to .357 hunting loads, but a revolver still requires a lot of skill to handle safely if it's your only defense.

There are a lot of folks here with more experience, but IMHO a Glock is an easier to learn gun than a revolver for home defense. Easy operation, longer trigger pull than a 1911 plus the option to leave it in Condition 3 with a full magazine and no rounds in the chamber (no boom if you accidently grab by the trigger at 3am). Rack the slide and you're ready. Ditto for a pump shotgun.

January 7, 2003, 05:59 PM
Your friend might also want to invest $150 in a Gun Vault http://www.gunvault.com/ if he ever has children in the house.

January 7, 2003, 06:35 PM
12g shotgun

January 7, 2003, 10:10 PM
Handgun wise, I would go with a .38 revolver, with barrels at 3". A Ruger SP101 would do the job. Plenty of great old S&Ws out there too. 4" barrels are okay too, but if you had to go outside and conceal it, it is a bit too big.

Shotgun wise, go with a .20 gauge, like the Winchester Defender. Cheap. Almost as effective as a .12 gauge, and a lot easier to shoot. I am a big believer in the .20 gauge shotgun as a home defender. Go with #3 shot magnums.

If you are a neophyte, stay away from semi-autoloaders.

January 7, 2003, 10:37 PM
Someone mentioned a S&W 4" Model 10 .38 spl. For a house gun in the hands of an occassional shooter - that's got to be just about the perfect choice. Normally I would say get a .357. But if they really aren't "into" shooting, why complicate things? The S&W M-10 is of a size and weight that will fit most anyone. There isn't a factory loaded .38 around that would be brutal to shoot in that particular gun. If for inside the house use, a .357 would likely be too much any way.

In my opinion, an auto loader of any type would be out of the question. In the hands of those that shoot them a lot - they are fine. But for the novice - too complicated and too many opportunities for bad results.

January 8, 2003, 11:28 AM
A .45 acp glock just make sure he knows that when you squeeze the trigger IT WILL FIRE

January 8, 2003, 11:41 AM
ruger gp-100 4"


Double Naught Spy
January 8, 2003, 06:40 PM
A lot of people who own guns have not shot them in years. That doesn't make them a non-shooter, however. That being said, I think they are probably kidding themselves if they are counting on effectively using a handgun in self defense that they have not shot in years. They might do fine, but from what I have seen of people who have not shot in years, especially those who didn't shoot much anyway, they don't do that well. I have seen some of the folks qualifying for a Texas CHL that had to unload the hollowpoints from their gun that they loaded in 4 years prior when they last qualified. Even at 3 yards, they get some wild bad shots and the qualification shoot isn't high pressure at all.

I would not suggest people should not be allowed to have guns if they haven't shot in years or don't shoot at all. I am just saying that I would put more stock into me performing a tracheotomy on a person with a collapsed airway like I have seen done on TV on the Lifetime network than I would on the non-shooter doing well under stress, say in a home invasion scenario. By the way, I am an archaeologist, not and MD.

January 8, 2003, 06:58 PM
Training is good, and highly recommended.


Has anyone besides me ever read a headline such as :

"Little Old Lady Shoots Would-Be Rapist"?

Well, I doubt she is a graduate of LFI, Thunder Ranch, or even the Boy Scouts.

Pick up a copy of American Rifleman sometime, and you will see plenty of similar stories where people who are untrained, poorly trained, and generally non-enthusiasts have successfully defended themselves from mortal danger.

It is better to be untrained and armed, than trained and unarmed.

January 8, 2003, 07:23 PM
Another Vote for the S&W 4" Model 10 .38 spl.

January 8, 2003, 08:42 PM
Shotgun, preferably 20 ga with #2 or 4 buckshot if recoil-sensitive.

Though 12 ga with #4 buck would also recoil lightly and can be used confidently by the weaker members of your household. Train them to use it too, obviously.

Otherwise, a 3-4" 38 spl revolver would be a good choice, Sp-101 or GP-100 comes to mind ;)

January 9, 2003, 12:06 AM
Agree with everyone else with a 4-inch .38 Special, but I would say in stainless instead of blue so it would be one less thing to worry about.

January 9, 2003, 04:20 AM
S&W M10 .38 Special revolver

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