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How to Choose a Home-Defense Gun


Welcome to our new Home Defense series! Check back every Sunday for tips about the best gear and tactics for defending your castle. And what’s the first thing every good home-defense plan needs? A good home-defense gun.

Location, Location, Location

When choosing your home-defense gun, remember the old real-estate adage: “Location, location, location.” Where you live will determine which type of firearm and caliber is apt to work best. If you live in a multi-family unit — with shared walls, floor or roof — your own personal safety is not the only concern. You must also consider the safety of your neighbors and the gunfire you could unintentionally be sending in their direction. While you certainly have the right to defend your home against intruders, you also have the responsibility to not injure your neighbors.

For example, choosing a .44 Magnum revolver loaded with full-power ammo shows a reckless disregard for the neighbors. Any reasonable person should know that even with perfect shot placement, a full-power .44 Magnum round will penetrate through the target and continue into whatever lies beyond. You don’t need a .44 Magnum to stop a threat — especially when surrounded by innocent bystanders. Choice of caliber and bullet type are critical in terms of safeguarding yourself and your neighbors.

Wide-Open Spaces

What about a long gun? I will be discussing this option in more detail in the future, but let’s quickly touch on the basics. With shotguns and rifles, space can become a concern, as neither is ideal for maneuvering in tight areas. A shotgun can make a great option. The “spray” of pellets makes a miss less likely. And a rifle, though over-penetration is again a concern, makes for great defense in more rural areas, where four-legged threats can often be a consideration.

I live on a ¾-acre lot in a solidly built 1955 ranch home. There are neighbors on either side of my house (about 40 feet away) in equally substantive homes. There are woods directly behind my home and across the street. Even with a reduced risk of striking an innocent party because of my location, my usual home-defense gun is a five- or six-shot .38 Special revolver or a 9mm semi-automatic pistol loaded with hollow-point ammunition. Both are reasonable choices given the circumstances.

Carefully consider your location, risks and potential situation when purchasing your home-defense gun.

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