Politicians’ Stances On Gun ControlMay 20, 2014
Tips for the New Gun OwnerJuly 28, 2020
Okay, I know there are a lot of articles on the Internet about this. They're all over the place. I'll make you a deal: if you promise to stick with me to the end, I'll try and make this as light and pain free as possible.
This is just an overview, and I may discuss the pros and cons of each option in more exhaustive detail in the future, but let’s begin with basic introduction for now.
Home Defense Weapons
So you have purchased your first gun (or you are considering the purchase of your first gun) and your primary concern is home defense. Let's look at this practically...
(Note: At some point, I'll write an article about the concerns about keeping a gun in the home and/or away from children, but for now we're going to focus on the basics of selecting a weapon for home defense.)
If you only have a handgun, use it! It is your home defense weapon. There are advantages to using a handgun: maneuverability is THE big one.
Handguns also produce less noise than a long arm, but that's little consolation for shooter indoors without hearing protection.
The issue is with a concealed carry handgun (the thing you use outside the house) portability and the ability to conceal are top priorities. In the house, however, you have the entire house to conceal it and portability matters very little.
Handguns can have less muzzle flash and are easier to control for some weaker shooters (that's physically weak, not unskilled).
It’s also fairly easy to attach a light to a handgun for better visibility in the middle of the night.
Unfortunately, that's the end of the pros.
Typically, handguns are terrible at wounding, which makes them less able to stop a threat quickly.
We carry handguns outside the house so that we don't get funny looks or get arrested (depending on your state) while open carrying a rifle or shotgun.
Handguns are more convenient and allow us to have some sort of physical protection on us at all times. That's what they are designed to do.
The shotgun is the uncontested King (shot for shot) for the most efficient termination of an unarmored threat. There's not much arguing with an ounce+ of 35 caliber or so (00) buckshot to the high thoracic cavity
. <-- see all those squishy parts you need?
Although, not guaranteed to be a showstopper, a direct hit or two is awfully hard to walk away from.
There are some misconceptions about the shotgun. Let's clear those up now:
- Yes, you DO have to aim it, those sights are there for a reason.
- It will not cover a wall with buckshot at 20 feet.
- It will not send your opponent flying back through the door he came in (that’s Hollywood stuff).
However, if you can deal with a high level of recoil, lots of noise, and are able to operate a shotgun reliably-- it is a tough opponent for your would-be home invader.
The shotgun is longer and more cumbersome than a pistol and it has less ammunition loaded and more recoil than an intermediate caliber chambered rifle.
Things you need to know about Shotguns:
- If it is a semi-auto or pump action, you should make sure that operates reliably with the ammunition you have.
- If the ammunition you have will not penetrate your drywall it will not penetrate the bad guy.
- There's a lot more to be said about shotguns, but the basics are: go with #1 buck or heavier shot, aim it, and be aware of its shortcomings.
I'm going to stick (for the purposes of this article) to the modern sporting rifle or as I begrudgingly refer to it as: a tactical or "assault" rifle.
What Is a Rifle?
Usually compact, fairly short barreled (16-20" without a NFA taxstamp) semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine or similar holding on average 10-30 cartridges (depending on how much Freedom you are afforded in your state) chambered in an intermediate cartridge
This is not to say that your lever/bolt action rifle won’t do if it’s all you have., but if you are buying one, these are the things you should consider.
For Americans, the single most popular rifle would be the AR-15 carbine, with the single most popular loading being in .223 Remington/5.56 NATO. There are better cartridges and there are worse but this is a broad overview and I'll use this one type of round specifically for the purpose of this article.
The benefit of a rifle is it's usually slightly more compact than a shotgun, lighter, has less recoil and is exceptionally terminally effective.
Statistically, you'll have more rounds in a single 30-round magazine than you'll ever need in your entire lifetime (and several other people's lifetimes) for defense.
The recoil is mild. It’s so mild that I just taught a 12-year-old cousin of mine to use one. With just a little training, and from a standing position, she could produce better accuracy than I could just 7 years ago. (Imagine the embarrassment, if you will.)
The rifle's manual of arms
is easy, and it's easier to be more accurate with a rifle than with a handgun.
Over penetration with rifles, shotguns and handguns are all a problem. (For the newbies among us: This is what happens to the projectile if it goes through your intended target.)
There are certain considerations if you live in an apartment, if you have neighbors nearby, children or other “not-want-to-shoot'ems” in nearby rooms and when I expand on these particular arms for self-defense in the home I will cover those things more clearly. For now, be aware that overshooting can happen and it can be devastating.
Guns are loud! Have hearing protection stored next to it. I prefer the electronic kind because they allow you to hear what else is going on in the house. Always use hearing protection when practicing to improve your skill with any weapon.
A light mounted to any of these weapons is a great idea, since things sometimes go bump in the night, and a sleepwalking child, or a meandering pet is not your intended target.
So, Which Weapon is Best?
The one you have when you need it.
Handguns are more maneuverable/controllable but less effective, long guns are less maneuverable but more effective and the amount of compromise you're willing to put up with should determine which is the best for you.
The main thing is keep safety in mind, get proper training and in the unlikely event that you need to use it be absolutely sure before you pull the trigger.
How to determine the best home defense weapon from the options of: Handgun, Shotgun and Rifle.