So you’ve committed to defending your home, and a firearm seems like the best choice. There is a lot to consider. Here are some important things to keep in mind as you begin choosing a home-defense firearm.

  1. Make sure that if you are considering a firearm for home defense, you are absolutely willing to take another human life. If you scrutinize yourself and find that you couldn’t under any circumstances take a life to save yourself or a family member, consider another means of defense. The Taser Pulse and Bolt come to mind as possible substitutes for firearms. They are also great to have when deadly force is not justified but danger still threatens.
  2. A gun is never to be used as a bluff or to scare an attacker. Remember the four universal safety rules: A gun is always loaded, keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire, don’t point a gun at anything you are not willing to destroy, and be sure of your target and your backstop.
  3. Is anyone advising you in this choice? Is he or she trustworthy and knowledgeable? Many years ago, you could get pretty fair advice from law enforcement officers. The average cop today, however, knows very little about the gun he or she carries daily, much less about the numerous other models out there. I’ve also found that gun salesmen, although well-meaning, are so enthused about guns that they only suggest the newest, latest and “greatest.” It’s important to think about what is best for you and your situation. Instructors who are certified by the USCCA or NRA should be able to offer sound advice. These folks are likely to be more oriented toward helping an individual find something that meets his or her defensive needs. Make sure you test-fire anything anyone suggests before buying. You should like and be totally comfortable with your selection.
  4. If you already have a concealed carry permit or plan to get one, think about double duty. You can use the same handgun for both purposes if you choose wisely. Any of my concealment handguns work fine for home defense, and using the same firearm for both circumstances will save you money initially.
  5. If you decide to get a home-defense pistol separate from your carry gun, select one with the same or similar operating system. It need not be the same brand or model but should operate similarly for the sake of familiarity.
  6. Any home-defense firearm — long gun or handgun — that you select should be one that you can operate entirely on your own without assistance from anyone else. This includes safely loading and unloading.
  7. If you are looking at a long gun for home defense — rifle or shotgun — don’t overload it with a bunch of gizmos that weigh it down or make it less maneuverable. The lighter the long gun, the better. Just add a laser and a light, preferably as a combo system. An optic isn’t necessary unless you are defending a large perimeter.

Once you have settled on your home-defense firearm, practice working with it in your home — unloaded, of course. If you don’t feel like it works for you, it might be time to reconsider your choice. There is no shame in learning. It’s better to know before you need it.