What makes a good home defense weapon? This is both an extremely popular question and one of tremendous importance. Not everyone enjoys shooting sports and many firearm owners exercise their 2A right by owning a single firearm: a home defense weapon. The aim of this article is not to make a specific recommendation per say, but to explain what makes a good home defense weapon and guide you to what will fit the bill according to your circumstances.
First, let’s discuss what parameters and common recommendations should be taken with a grain of salt. Recommendations and advice are great. But taken out of context and without understanding of your needs, a great recommendation can inadvertently lead you to a screwdriver when you need a hammer.
Do not buy a home defense weapon based on what your friend likes to shoot. Preferences, especially strong ones, tend to develop over time and with experience. I am an unabashed Glock fangirl, but this is because I have used it, know it, and have developed an intentional proficiency with the brand. Despite my personal appreciation for the product, I understand different hands and brains may perform better with a different firearm. No harm in trying out what your friend recommends, but always try before you buy. Fit and preference matter.
Secondly, there is not a one-size-fits-all firearm for home defense. Evaluate your neighborhood, familiarize yourself with the likely scenarios if a home invasion were to happen, and choose accordingly. The goal is to learn what tool will be sufficient in the majority of scenarios, casting the most broad net of protection.
What are your needs?
What is your experience level with firearms? Do you live in an apartment? A single family home? A townhouse? In any type of shared living quarters? Alone? With a family? Children? Are there steps leading to where you and your children sleep, or is everyone on the main floor? These factors are important to consider.
Let’s think about the two most popular choices: a handgun or a shotgun.
Handguns are great and there is no reason a new shooter is unable to develop the proficiency for this to be a good home defense choice. Compared to a shotgun, proficiency will inherently involve much more practice to be effective according to the need (mitigating a threat). After those first sounds indicating that someone is indeed inside your domain, your sympathetic nervous system kicks into gear. Hearts race, palms sweat, and not everyone will operate in the fight versus flight. At the end of the day, you and your family need protection. Without having experienced this before, what do you know about yourself? What tool will allow you to be effective considering how immensely stressful this situation will be? A handgun will need removed from its place of storage. If it’s not loaded, a preloaded magazine can be inserted, the slide racked, and it’ll be ready to work. Shaky hands and a pounding heart can make target acquisition difficult when you need to land a small piece of lead in the right place without much light.
Shotguns are the other popular choice. Depending on your living circumstances and whether or not children are around, they may be kept loaded or unloaded. The benefit of a shotgun as a home defense weapon is that the sound of it loading is well known and terrifying to anyone who may be on the receiving end. And despite a potential predisposition to flight rather than fight, a shotgun can mitigate a threat in shaky, sweaty hands. But on the other hand, its effectiveness is limited by range; the closer the target, the more likely he or she will be stopped by fewer rounds.
In addition to the type of firearm you’re considering, you must think of its storage. The primary concerns are safety and maximum effectiveness. You must carefully consider the locus. There is no excuse for children accessing your firearms. None. Educate yourself on the storage of your firearm and browse the absolute plethora of options regarding safe storage. If you choose a type of safe, practice opening it quickly. If you choose a biometric locking device, regularly check that the batteries are fresh and that it operates as required. Be responsible.
Consider the points previously mentioned and you will have a better understanding of your needs. Head to your local range or gun shop and ask questions. Try before you buy.
Lastly, always practice with your home defense weapon. Choose a regular interval and stick to it. If you practice every two weeks for 30 minutes, you will have a much greater understanding of the function of your firearm. Remember that people do not rise to the occasion, but sink to the level of their training. Take a class. Spending a couple hundred bucks to build a foundation of safe, effective habits is insignificant when compared to what could potentially happen without that training. Be responsible. Remember that safety is the reason you’re purchasing a home defense weapon anyway.
The staff at The Machine Gun Nest is available and knowledgeable to help you through this process. Stop in, hang out, and learn. Try things. Get a feel before committing to a specific firearm.
Stay safe and keep learning!