There has always been debate about what makes the best home defense weapon. Everyone has an opinion on what works. However, what works for one may not work for you and there are things that must be considered before purchasing a home defense weapon. First, know what the local and state laws are concerning firearm ownership. Next, find a gun range because you cannot buy a firearm, bring it home and then say you can now defend your home. Getting the weapon home is just the beginning.
Having a weapon locked in the safe to be brought out once a year for dusting is not taking home defense seriously. A firearm does not make your home or family safe by virtue of the fact you have one in the home. You must be trained on how to use one inside your home and that training must show in the way you handle the weapon, otherwise do not bother getting one.
The Shotgun Option
A 12-guage pump action shotgun should meet the demands of any homeowner. The ideal barrel length is 18.5 to 20 inches. These types of shotguns are sometime called combat or riot shotguns. Some members of the military call them room organizers. Barrels longer than 20 inches may pose a problem when bringing it to bear in a confined space. You will be swinging through doorways and along narrow hallways. Small framed persons may be affected by the recoil of a 12-guage shotgun so consider a 20-guage shotgun or low-recoil ammunition. Typically, the shotgun will have a round capacity of four plus one (4+1) in the chamber.
Being able to reload quickly is important so your training must focus on reloading by feel. While practicing on the firing range use your eyes to follow your hands and then begin doing it by feel. You can use a slip on shell holder that fits onto the stock so the shells are close. If you practice with a slip on shell holder, then that is what you are accustomed to using. Do not practice with it if you are not prepared to use one in the home. You will only rise to the level of your training so do not train with something you do not plan to use in a tactical situation.
Your choice of ammunition is important. Some immediately scoff when they hear of using birdshot in a home defense shotgun and some may tell you to use slugs, buckshot or rifled projectiles. You can use any of the above mentioned but you must consider penetration and through-and-through. Slugs and buckshot can penetrate interior walls quite easily and cause injury to others in the home or even neighbors across the street. Shotguns with rifled barrels can pose a threat to anyone in the neighborhood. Some may ask what happens if the firefight is carried outside, and that you may need the range. If you fire at an intruder, that is 50 yards (150ft) or more away, you will be questioned on whether you were actually firing in self-defense.
You will be firing at close range, 20 feet or even less inside your home. Birdshot at close range is devastating, it will penetrate to destroy vital organs, and yet the pellets will not pose a hazard to others if they strike a wall or door. High-powered rounds have a place but usually not inside your home. Many consider shotguns loaded with birdshot as point and shoot weapons, requiring little in the way of aiming.
Pistols are easily maneuvered in tight spaces and can be fired with one hand, whereas shotguns require both hands. Pistols can be used against an intruder even if you are grappling with one. However, the racking of pump action shotgun has a definite psychological effect on an intruder. A burglars’ worst nightmare is coming face-to-face with an angry and well-trained homeowner pointing a shotgun at them. It will require better aim when using a pistol and the rounds will penetrate if the handgun is a heavy caliber. The rounds will carry a great distance if unobstructed posing a threat to others in the area. A semi-automatic pistol is popular because it can be rapid fired and can usually carry more rounds than a revolver.
Some people may opt to have both a shotgun and pistol available for home defense. Once you have fired all rounds at the target you can drop the shotgun and bring the pistol to bear instead of trying to reload from cover.