Home defense - shotgun and which handgun?

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Jan 7, 2011
Roxbury, CT
I recently bought a Remington 870 20 gauge for both me and the wife. We want to buy hand guns now and just received our carry permits. I was advised to check out the Taurus Public Defender. What else should I be considering? Price is not an issue.
Hi, I like a .357 mag revolver ( any flavor Ruger, Colt, Smith ) in 2", 3" or 4" stashed and loaded with a low recoil .38 defensive round of some kind. It's My Wife's first line of defense should We get seperated in the house. I use My EDC as My personal home defense weapon located close to My sleeping area as My wake up piece, it just makes better sense to me to rely on the weapon i most practice with. As You have yet to decide on a personal carry weapon try to locate a range that rents or if friends have pistols for You to try. If You don't plan to get to deep into the " Gun Thing " ( to most here { Me included } guns are like crack, can't get enough of them LOL LOL ), and just want a personal defense plan for when the SHTF or the Martians really land try to stick to readily available ammo ie: .38, 9mm, .357 or .45acp ( I left out the few thousand rounds of .22lr with rifle and tinfoil cap, but I have mine ! LOL ). Once You decide on a personal weapon then the only thing left to do is practice, practice & practice.
I almost forgot, concerning CCW a quality belt/holster combination is a must as the weapon does not serve it's purpose sitting home in the safe.And a cheap holster gets old fast........WVleo


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I hate to say this, but there are many guns much more suitable for defense than the Public Defender. I would choose a .357 with a 4" barrel for home defense only, or a snubbie in either .38 Special or .357 for a carry weapon (that assumes you prefer a revolver.)
I've shot the judge a fair amount as a shooting buddy of mine owns one. I would pass on the judge and its variants for a multitude of reasons. Others disagree but I am in the camp that sees it more as a gimmick and marketing hype than a particularly good self defense gun.

Chris Costa (or perhaps it was Mr. Haley) remarked that they see shooters and newer shooters in particular have the fewest issues with the popular polymer framed striker fired pistols. I own and have had occasion to compare side by side a number of the most popular handgun designs (Glocks, sigs, various 1911s, kahr, Steyr, etc) my conclusion is that so long as any given exemplar functions reliably and shoots more or less to POA they are are well suited for defense and more up to that task than the vast majority of shooters. Just like everyone else I have my personal preferences which lead me to prefer certain guns over others. Anyone that acts like any of the major common pistols is a per se universally better choice than the others is someone I'd ignore.

I'd suggest as a starting point considering the following: Glock, S&W m&p series, Walther P99, Steyr (these are less well known but I'm a huge fan), XD, etc.

People fret over getting just the right gun, the fact is you could buy any of the above and it will more than likely serve you well. If you put in the effort you can become proficient with any of them.

I personally really like 1911s but I do see them as more of a race car than a some of the above. That is to say they can be more finicky (this is often because there is a whole spectrum or quality in how they are built and also some are built with other considerations in mind than being a defensive firearm) and/or require more work or maintenance. I'd be more confident in picking up a random glock than a random 1911. That said a good 1911 is very hard to beat IMHO.

There is no right answer, although there are IMO some wrong ones. I would go handle some guns and see what appeals to you. Shoot some different ones if you have a chance. I wouldn't worry too much about picking though.

I'd say the same for caliber. People fret over caliber. I used to be one that felt I needed to carry my .45. I have, through greater education, changed that position. I know believe that with quality ammo there just isn't enough difference to really spend time worrying about it at all. It is probably the least likely factor to be outcome determinative (that is unless a gun's caliber presents a problem for someone to shoot well, i.e. too much recoil). I've leaned towards 9mms lately, in part for ammo capacity but honestly more than anything because they are less ecpensive to shoot and I believe that the additional practice (not just shooting) is likely to be of more benefit than having a 357 sig, or a 45 ACP would be. Just my 2 cents.

In sum, any of the usual suspects and a number of the not so usual ones will do you just fine. The more important factor will be learinng how to use and run whatever you get well and putting in the effort to develop proficiency. The determinative factors for people are often matters of personal preference so go see what you like.
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When I am instructing and folks are having a problem with their shooting I always put my Glock 19 in their hands and watch them hit with it. The 19 just seems to be one of those guns that almost anyone can shoot well and it is great for both home and carry. The 9mm is a great cartridge and cheaper for practice than some of the others.

Personally if I were you I would take the wife and head to a range that does rentals and try a bunch before buying. Pick what works for you, not what someone on a forum says you should have.
IMHO as far as a EDC pistol i would go with the smallest gun you feel comfortable with. For many reasons some being, ease of concealment, convenience of size and weight and a greater likelyhood of you actually strapping it on everyday, which brings me to my next observation. I have noticed that a lot of people tend to buy their first carry gun to big and end up not carrying it once the new factor wears off. With that said, everyone is different and some don't mind carrying and concealing a larger gun. Usually the larger someone is the easier time they have concealing larger guns.
IMO some great options are (glock26-27,springfields XD compact,S&W M&P compact, Kahr compacts) as far as true pocket pistols i really like the ruger LCP.
I dont think you can go wrong with any of the above mentioned guns and in the end it all comes down to personal preferences, such as (grip feel and angle,ergonomics, trigger-pull, ect...)
Good Luck...
I would look at the Walther PPS 9mm or Kahr P9, if you plan on carrying it. You should be able to shoot it more accurately than a snubnose with less felt recoil. You will need a little more training with a pistol over a revolver. More with cleaning and safety.
I'm in the same camp that believes the Judge is probably a little gimmicky.

The .410 Winchester Super-X has 5 000-buckshot pellets, which is really the only worthwhile round in the .410 loading IMO. I'm not convinced the .410 winchester PDX is anything other than an interesting idea. The .410 in slug form isn't as good as the .45LC in a hollow point round, and if you're going to use the .45LC option, many people would tell you to look at a .357 instead.

I would advise you check out a Ruger SP101. It offers 5 rounds of .357 magnum, which you can also shoot .38 special (and the +P .38) for practice or if the .357 magnum is just too hot. It's all stainless, so it's weight will help with some of the recoil. If you ever have to use it, you'll be too focused on the actual situation instead of on recoil, but harsh recoil turns people off to practice. These can be had for as low as $450-$500 NIB if you look around.

For autoloaders, the polymer framed handguns are getting very popular, and for good reason. Glock, Smith M&P, and Sig all have good offerings and will serve your purposes. Just remember for a home defense weapon, it doesn't have to be small, and whatever you get, practice often.
I have noticed that a lot of people tend to buy their first carry gun to big and end up not carrying it once the new factor wears off.

I've noticed that a lot of people get very excited about getting that new gun and are willing to spend several hundred dollars for it. They either don't know they ought to be concerned about it or for some other reason totally neglect selecting a quality holster and a belt suited for carrying a gun. Carrying a larger gun, or any gun for that matter, is greatly facilitated by that. I really don't get the time money and effort people will put into gun selection and then follow it with very little effort in holster and related equipment selection.
Personally, for home defense, I'd suggest a full size hi-capacity autoloader that you can both use effectivly and feel comfortable with. Possible choices:

Para Ordnance P-14 (.45 ACP - 14 rnd mag - 5" barrel)
Para Ordnance P-16 (.40 S&W - 16 rnd mag - 5" barrel))
Glock 34 (9 mm - 17 rnd mag 5.32" barrel)
Glock 34 (.40 S&W- 15 rnd mag 5.32" barrel)
XD Tactical (.45 ACP - 13 rnd mag - 5" barrel)
XD Tactical (9 mm - 16 rnd mag - 5" barrel)
Berretta M92 (9mm - 15 rnd mag - 5" barrel)
Tarus PT92 (9mm - 17 rnd mag - 5" barrel)
Browning P-35 Hi Power (9mm - 13 rnd mag - 4-5/8" barrel)

IMHO the most important considerations are (in order):
- reliability
- comfort / useability by everyone in the house who might use it
- capacity

For a home defense gun you don't need to worry about weight or concealability so a longer barrel (more velocity) is better as is a large frame gun (more controlable). If you need it you will most likely be half awake, suprised and grabbing for it in the dark. No need to complicate things grabbing spare magazines so hi-capacity is a benifit. Caliber is less important than everyone in the house being comfortable with it.

Things that are greatly benificial:
- night sights
- Crmison Trace Laser Sight grips

I do NOT recomend a flashlight mounted on the pistol. There is too much tendancy to use the flashlight as a flashlight (rather than a weapon light) when investigating the odd noise you heard at night. This often results in violating rule 2 - usually while you are half asleep or hyped on adrenalin. Invest in a super bright flashlight instead and train to shoot with two handed, two handed w/flashlight and one handed holds instead.

For me personally, I went with the Para Ordnance P-14 and later a copy of the Hi-Power with an aftermarket 15 rnd mag.

If you want to carry the same gun, there are more compact versions of the Glock & XDs available, as well as both 4" and 5" barrel versions of the 1911 (single stack) with aluminum frames. I wouldn't recomend the Para Ordnance wide body guns, or the Berretta 92 / Tarus PT92 for carry as they are just too large / bulky. the Browning High Power is of a size to do either, though many currently don't favor it. It is however a might on the heavy side (about the same as an all steel 1911).
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DO NOT GET A TAURUS PUBLIC DEFENDER. the person who advised you to get this gun as your concealed carry doesn't know anything about handguns, probably guns altogether.

the public defender aka the judge is a gimick gun that is only good for shooting bird shot as snake, it's actually very good for that. it SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKS at shooting .45 long colts, i have personally seen it spray those things all over the place at 10 yards. and unless you want to carry around little teenie weenie 410 shotgun shells loaded with bird shot to defend yourself (more like piss off attackers, you will get 2 or less inches penetration in human flesh) then you need a better gun.

i would suggest a .357 magnum snubby. you can shoot .38 specials for practice and then carry .357s. the .357 doesn't kick as bad as people claim it does, i barely even notice it anymore and science as well as most people will agree that it is the best man stopping hand gun bullet available, it will put a ton of energy in a body without overpenetrating and leaves a nice size hole.

i would suggest a ruger sp101 and get yourself some buffalo bore tactical short barrel 125 grain jhp, you'll get 1200+ fps out of that short barrel. the gun is accurate, rugged(it will last longer than you), and it's actually a good looking gun. also it's way cheaper than a smith and wesson.
My first gun for home, after much research, was a S&W model 65 with a 4" barrel.
I could shoot .38 at the range, but it also took .357, the 4" barrel was optimum for H/D, it is stainless, and a revolver that needs no thinking in a panic.
I still have it.
I've moved on to more sexy pistols, but I never regretted my first choice.
Taurus Judge for SD = FAIL.

It is a gun with lots of hype, that noobs think is really cool, but the actual ballistics on that thing are a joke. But you were smart enough to ask, and have been getting some good advice so far.

Good luck.
Get the judge after you have several handguns. They are neat guns but I wouldn't carry it or grab it if I heard a noise in the middle of the night. Make sure your wife shoots the gun or one like it before you buy it. Just to make sure she is fine with the recoil.
I will get the 'Judge'.....but first I need to buy some "dirt", coveralls, straw hat, corn pipe and stop wearing shoes.
Personally I like my Ruger sp101 on the nightstand. Though I'd recommend anything you could easily operate in low/no light after suddenly being woken up. For me, that tends to be a revolver (no safeties, no levers), or alternately my Sig (no safety,, minimal levers). When you're at the gun shop/show, I'd highly recommend imagining a sudden wake up in the dark scenario when judging your prospective choices.
Honestly, I'd be more apt to rely on the shotgun though. Much easier to hit with in a low light situation. For that I like my 12ga Mossberg 500 with the extended mag next to the nightstand with alternating bird shot and slugs (little pain, little blood, little pain, little blood).
For that I like my 12ga Mossberg 500 with the extended mag next to the nightstand with alternating bird shot and slugs (little pain, little blood, little pain, little blood).

I'd re-examine the reasoning behind that loading scheme. I am not aware of any credible trainer or the like that recommends that. Personally, I can think of a number of reasons why it is a very bad idea.
I keep a 12 gauge in the closet and a Glock 26 on my hip. When concealment allows or the handgun goes on the nightstand I insert a 15 rd. Glock 19 magazine with spacer. The combo covers all my bases.
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