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small caliber for home defense?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by bt3128, Mar 16, 2011.

  1. bt3128

    bt3128 Member

    Recent developments in my town (muggings and home invasions are up while law enforcement budgets are down) have caused me to think more about home and personal protection. Since my .22’s are generally considered inadequate in a defensive situation, I have been looking at stronger stuff and am enrolled in an upcoming CPL class. I don’t think its practical to try to figure out one gun for both carry and home defense, so I’m looking at options for home defense specifically.
    I’m having a heck of a good time doing my due diligence. Yesterday I shot a S&W 38+P ultra light revolver with a 2” bbl. Owner claims it has an aluminum frame and titanium cylinder and it is amazingly light. I also got to shoot a Ruger single six chambered in .32 H&R Magnum. The .38 bruised my knuckles and almost flew out of my hand. I don’t think I could be sure of hitting a man size target at any range with that gun, unless I had a lot of practice. The single six was a joy to shoot and gave me about a 6” group at 25’ with very manageable recoil. In contrast my 22/45 with a red dot put 10 rounds of 40 gr blazer into a 3.5” circle almost as fast as I could pull the trigger at the same distance. That’s 400 grains of bullet just about where I want it in about 5 seconds. The .32 threw 25% more lead and was nearly as accurate but I took much more time re-acquiring my point of aim. The .38 would have been almost as effective if I had just thrown it, but it’s widely considered to be a highly effective weapon with outstanding “stopping power”. So - what is the gun that can be aimed reliably and also throw enough lead to be a dependable real-world home defense solution for a recoil sensitive shooter or non-professional? Is it possible that a MK III is enough? In my informal test, it put out nearly as much or more total lead faster than either of the others. Is a 9 or 10 shot cluster of .22 caliber hits comparable, ballisticly, to one or two well placed .380’s, 9mm or .38’s? Please forgive the longishness of the post, but also please share your knowledge and ideas. I bet there are others who have similar questions. Thanks in advance for any and all insights.
  2. Shadow 7D

    Shadow 7D Well-Known Member

    unless it's what you carry, you can just as easily have a service size pistol or even a shotgun near at hand in your home.
    You don't have to carry what you have in the safe, open or one off (for a dial combo)
    as for your carry gun, go with what works best for you, small caliber require different tactics and styles of shooting vs. larger calibers

    But in the end, more people have died of .22s than most other calibers (outside of war).
  3. JoelSteinbach

    JoelSteinbach Well-Known Member

    A full sized 38Special like a S&W model 10, would be great for your needs and is faily conceable. Another choice would be the new S&W 38special bodyguard. Any gun would be good as long as you spend time knowing it and practicing with it.
  4. Shadow 7D

    Shadow 7D Well-Known Member

    Another point, is this
    safety and security is like an onion, if you rely on a single layer, you will have it breached, quickly,

    Do a search here, it's rather well covered, reinforce your latches, even using a NY door brace/kick stop (it's kinda like the chair under the door knob idea, but even stronger)

    Put shatter resistant film on your window, a video and security system, a driveway alarm to let you know when someone is walking up to your house, spiky plants, TRIMMED SO AS NOT TO BLOCK THE VIEW FROM THE ROAD to deter someone breaking in your window, and if they try, to be seen by the public/neighbors.

    AND, don't tell people what you have, don't let it be seen from the window, don't have friends who talk/tell people what you have. Most stuff isn't random, it's someone who knows what you have, either a friend or a friend of a friend.

    And most importantly

  5. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine Well-Known Member

    Here's the thing. The bad guy isn't going to just stand there while you try to empty your 22 into him. Chances are he will be shooting at you with a 9mm, 45, shotgun, etc. So the idea is you want to stop him as quickly as possible.
    That means a shotgun, rifle or big caliber handgun.
    And as important as the gun is, being able to quickly, accurately shoot it is more important.

    So, IMO start out thinking 12 ga shotgun and decide what gun will work best for you.

    Then practice to become fast and accurate with your choice.
    Remember the BG will probably be as fast and accurate as you and he has the element of surprise.

    At this time I'm helping a lady choose her home defense guns by shooting on my range. I let her shoot a lot and make up her own mind, with some guidance from me. She bought a 9mm Saturday and a 12 ga shotgun yesterday.:)
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2011
  6. AlexanderA

    AlexanderA Well-Known Member

    I would think that a .22lr pistol is inadequate for a home defense gun, mainly because of the lack of "intimidation factor." Yes, you can put some lead into a target using a Ruger Mark III, but that's under range conditions. In a dark house, with the adrenaline flowing, you might not be able to shoot with such precision. My #1 choice for HD would be a 12 ga. shotgun, either a pump or double barrel (with 18-20 in. barrels). Remember also that if you can hold the guy at gunpoint until the police arrive, that would be better than actually shooting him -- ergo, a cellphone is almost as important as a gun.
  7. sm

    sm member

    I stay in trouble...

    Still those that know me, and especially those few that know my life and life experiences...will back me up.

    1. Try before you buy. Whatever you end up, it has to be one that fits YOU and affords you quick, effective hits.
    I don't care what make, model, or caliber. The reality is, non of us Internet folks are going to be present, when a serious situation comes into your life.

    2. One should have a .22 rim-fire, period!
    Besides all the the other reasons, the reality is, one never knows when "life will be life". Meaning, in a blink of an eye, one can find themselves in a "no-recoil" situation. Anything from detached retina, to neck/back/shoulder surgery and the like and the Surgeon/Doctor/Physical Therapist will order "no recoil", but, in my experience, will often approve a .22 rimfire.

    My deal is simple, and comes from Mr. H, and I have done this with students I have assisted with, and instructed.

    Get a piece of typing paper, fold in half, then again. Then only load five rounds in whatever gun and shoot that paper at five yards. The paper will NOT lie. It will show what platform, what caliber, YOU shoot best, at "this" time".

    Meaning, one might shoot a certain gun, in a certain caliber, and loading, but with say injury, arthritis, or whatever, one CANNOT shoot that loading, instead same gun, with a milder loading that affords shot placement, and quick effective hits.

    i.e. Going from .357 to .38spl.
    Another being, having to go to 148 grain wadcutters...

    Hits count, not Internet folks that will not be there, when serious happens.

    Even a .22 has been known to stop a threat...
  8. lvalmont

    lvalmont Active Member

    I have an airweight j-frame. Shooting normal 38spl and 38spl+p, that thing has more felt recoil than my Desert Eagle (in .44 mag). I have it because its very easy to carry, I would NOT use it for home defense.

    Don't be quick to discount the caliber, maybe just the gun.
  9. NMGonzo

    NMGonzo Well-Known Member

    A mid size revolver in .357

    Can't go wrong with that.
  10. klutchless

    klutchless Well-Known Member

    If recoil is a concern I would say a 20 ga pumpgun loaded to meet your house needs if you have no close neighbors go for a 00 buckshot slug combo no handgun will compare in the intemidation factor. If you have close neighbors number 4 or even number 6 will shop a threat without over penetrating. I recomend you do not chop of the stock or go with the tacticool pistol grip four pressure switch six attachment shotgun. Instead go get a mossberg 500 20 ga and a couple boxes of shells. Short barrels 18in are great for HD.If you are economy minded my 20 ran me a whopping 120 bucks at a gunshow.I have found them cheaper since then.P.S they have a house alarm that sounds like a pumpgun being racked and one that sounds like a large dog barking to deter intruders.
  11. BHP FAN

    BHP FAN Well-Known Member

    If you like the .327 mag, go with that.The Ruger SP101 is controlable, and accurate.
    To quote the article '' In the world of rugged and reliable compact medium bore double action revolvers, the SP101 is king, and I will not hesitate to recommend the .327 SP101 to those needing an accurate defensive piece. It is a very versatile weapon, firing the .32 S&W, .32 S&W Long, and the .32 H&R cartridges in addition to the .327 Federal Magnum cartridge...''
  12. Ala Dan

    Ala Dan Member in memoriam

    2.5" barrel Smith & Wesson model 19's or 66's work well in HD situations~!
  13. BHP FAN

    BHP FAN Well-Known Member

  14. MtnCreek

    MtnCreek Well-Known Member

    If I was comfortable with the 10-22, that would be my home defence weapon for the time being. A couple of 40 gr .22 rim fires will likely be more than most folk will be able to bare. I would look at getting something a little larger like a slightly heavier .38 and get some training before making that your weapon of choice. Training doesn't have to be a paid class; a few sessions with an experianced friend may be all you need.
    Main thing is; if you can shoot the 22, it should do fine for now (maybe longer).
    Purchase high quality 22 ammo for defencive stuff (22's seem to misfire more than others).
    Also, don't worry about 6" vs 3.5" groups so much; Either one will fill your needs.
  15. B yond

    B yond Well-Known Member

    If you can, try out a Ruger P345.

    It's a .45 DA/SA with a second recoil absorbing spring under the primary recoil spring. I have one, and it recoils less than my .380.

    It's fairly thin, and dehorned, and I find that it's easy enough to conceal. I carry it frequently, and attach a light when I get home and keep it ready as my go-to home defense pistol.

    I strongly urge you to try one out. Light recoil and DA/SA trigger allows me to put a lot of lead on target quickly. I bet it'd work the same for you.
  16. Hypnogator

    Hypnogator Well-Known Member

    If you can shoot your .22 rapidly and accurately, and it's 100% reliable, don't let anyone talk you into a heavier caliber that you shoot poorly or that will cause you to develop a flinch. Stoke it with CCI Mini-Mags and keep it handy.

    At the same time, there's a lot to be said for having a good HD shotgun in 12 or 20-gauge to back it up with! :cool:
  17. ATBackPackin

    ATBackPackin Well-Known Member

    I would recommend a 20 gauge shotgun for the home. You can use your .22 to fight your way to the shotgun. Anything from #4 to 00 buckshot is usually considered to be a good load for HD. If you liked the .32 H&R then I would recommend that for when you get your carry permit. The previous suggestion for the Ruger SP101 is a good one especially since it shoots all four rounds.

    Lighter gun = more recoil. Practice, practice, practice.

    Best of luck.
  18. Manco

    Manco Well-Known Member

    It's quite reasonable for some folks to use the same handgun for both home and carry, depending on the person and various circumstances (particularly if they're able to carry a large, easy-to-shoot, often more powerful handgun).

    Yeah, I bet! :D

    Ultra-lightweight revolvers are really designed for pocket carry, or some other mode of carry that is greatly impacted by weight. For those who plan to use a sturdy rig, such as a reinforced gun belt with a good, stable holster, heavier handguns are usually preferred because they're inherently easier to shoot (all else being equal). Obviously for home defense, heavier guns are preferred for the same reason, and given your experiences so far, I'd recommend staying away from those ultra-lightweight revolvers (unless you're going to shoot .22 LR).

    In general how well you shoot is more important than the caliber, especially if you can land more hits with one than another. That said, in a real defensive encounter, you may not be able to land multiple hits, so you have to balance shootability with per-round effectiveness. Basically, use the largest caliber that you can shoot pretty fast with confidence. If a particular caliber feels overwhelming, then it's almost certainly too much. Shootability depends a lot on the gun being used, though, so what you need to do now, if you haven't already, is try out a heavier steel-framed revolver with .38 Special to see how that suits you--something like the Smith & Wesson 686 or Ruger GP100 (4" barrel or longer). While you're at it, you might want to try a full-size 9mm semiautomatic pistol (whatever looks and feels good to you). There are many intermediate options available that the rest of us can help you with, but I think that knowing how you'd fare with these combinations would be helpful.

    Others have suggested shotguns, and that's a great idea if you're open to it.

    A .327 Federal Magnum revolver has also been suggested, and that may possibly be the perfect option if you're recoil-sensitive, but I want to see how you handle heavier handguns first (unless you want to talk shotguns now ;)). On the other hand, if you're significantly slower at recovering your sight picture with that Single Six, then maybe a .22 LR is the best option, at least for now.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2011
  19. CZsp01

    CZsp01 Well-Known Member

    You just brought me back a lot of memories of my house(s) in NY. Still got robbed twice lol.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2011
  20. TexasBill

    TexasBill Well-Known Member

    You fired a lightweight, snubnose revolver with .38 Special +P ammunition which is one of the most punishing combinations there is. You shouldn't let that be the representative of the .35x caliber. Simply switching to a steel revolver, like a Ruger SP101 or a Smith & Wesson Model 60 (either one with a 3-inch barrel), will work wonders at making the .38 Special round manageable.

    Going a step up in size, the Smith & Wesson Model 10 (or Model 64 in stainless steel) is one of the finest self-defense handguns ever made. It's been on the job in millions of holsters and night stands for more than 100 years. It's not fancy but it's easy to learn to shoot, always ready to go and can handle .38 Special +P with no problem.

    Walther makes a dandy little pistol: the PK380. It holds up to nine rounds of .380 ammo and the recoil is negligible. The Bersa Thunder is another good .380. Stay away from the mouse pistols, like the Ruger LCP, they tend to have fairly snappy recoil.

    In full-size 9 mm pistols, you have a wealth of choices. A lot of people will recommend the Glock, but I am not one of them. I prefer a real hammer, so I like pistols like the Beretta PX4 Storm, FN Herstal FNP-9, Stoeger Cougar, Ruger P95, Sig 2022, Sig P226 and Browning High-Power. However, there are very good striker-fired pistols, as well, including the Smith & Wesson M&P, Walther P99, Springfield XD9 and others. The Glock is definitely worth a look; it's a good gun. It doesn't meet my personal preferences but my sister sure likes hers (she has a Glock 19).

    Yes, a .22 will work - eventually. But if you have to use a firearm, you want something with a bit more impact that creates a larger wound channel. Even with a .45 automatic, there's no guarantee one round will do the trick, so you should always plan on firing multiple shots. Remember, the idea isn't to kill your attacker, the idea is to persuade them to stop the attack.

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