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Three-Gun for the Defense

It’s almost the 4th of July. I plan to watch fireworks, grill a brat, and wear red, white, and blue. I may even go for a dip in the community pool and down a beer—or two. Yet on this, our patriotic day, I’m forced to wonder how I can best protect myself, my family, my community.

And so I’m considering the best options for defense of my home and neighborhood.

This means having defensive materials in place, and being familiar with their operation and deployment. I’m thinking a handgun, a rifle, and a shotgun, all in non-reflective black with plenty of ammo.

For a shotgun, I want a 12-gauge semi-automatic like my old stand-by, the Remington 1100, only with a shorter barrel, something in the 20-inch range. I have used pump-action shotguns, over-unders, and side-by-sides—and they are all fine in their place. A side-by-side for bird shooting. The over-under for clay pigeons. The pump—well, I personally don’t care for the pump because in a moment of stress it’s too easy to keep pulling the trigger without remembering to jack in a new shell. Oh, and in my opinion, no pistol grips—difficult to point and shoot effectively when under the influence of adrenaline.

And speaking of shells, is there a best bet for the shotgun? I had a fine editor once who believed in small shot for home defense, something in the order of #8s, but I’ve never shared his philosophy. I prefer BBs or small buckshot. Slugs are darn sure stoppers, but in an emergency, and probably in the dark, it’s simply too easy for we non-professionals to miss at relatively close range.

As far as rifles are concerned, I once owned a beautiful Browning .270. Scoped. Wood stock. Short throw bolt. Pure class. A stopper. And wrong for a real defensive moment unless you are a sniper. But when the mob rages through your neighborhood with fire and anger, you’re not going to be a sniper. A semi-automatic carbine will work better. Powerful, and easier to maneuver. Perhaps something chambered in .223 with a small to medium bullet weight.

And for a handgun, a semi-auto of course. No six-shooter; no revolver. Nothing cheap, either. I have a Walther in .40 S&W. I’ve shot quite a few handguns advertised as inexpensive and inevitably there are issues, like failure to load. When the chips are down, you need a reliable firearm, a proven model from a reputable manufacturer. You need the magazines preloaded, if not in the gun itself, though when the windows are unexpectedly smashed, you need to remember to jack that first shell into place. (This places an extra level of responsibility on families with children.)

Ammo for the pistol is anything you can handle effectively from .357 and up. I shoot a 180-grain bullet. Maybe a bit heavy, but a stopper.

Knives, pepper spray, baseball bats…all those are good but that means the attacker is within arm’s reach and, given that scenario, anything can happen—and often does.

Be safe. Reload and carry on. And Happy Birthday, America!

Related: Learn what to look for when choosing your best gun…

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