Firearms Food for Thought: The Best Long Gun for Home Defense

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When it comes to home defense, your idea of sleeping well at night might just be a pistol within arm’s reach. Then again, you might be among those who favors long guns for home defense (or perhaps you do both). If you do utilize a long gun, do you have a preference?

For decades the answer to home defense was a shotgun, typically of the 12-gauge variety. Take it a step further and it’s easy – and likely accurate – to presume the logic behind having a shotgun wasn’t just the devastating wound cavity. It was also believed there was a psychological twist to hearing a pump action getting to work. Today there are two sides of the argument when it comes to whether or not there’s any side benefit to a would-be assailant or thief hearing a pump. For example, shouldn’t you be prepared before the intruder is in your general vicinity? Is it really worth hopefully gaining a psychological edge by losing the advantage of time? Of course, that’s an argument for another day.

In recent years rifles have gained popularity for home defense; more specifically, ARs. Shotguns still have an edge when it comes to numbers sold for the purpose, but ARs are being used with increasing frequency. You can take the semi-auto component out by realizing shotguns also come in semi-auto, but then there’s capacity. And regardless of the gun there’s the issue of over-penetration. The last thing you want is to send a projectile tearing through a door or wall, injuring or killing the very family members you’re trying to protect.

Which do you prefer, a shotgun or a rifle? Why? Or do you leave the long guns for hunting and the range, relying only on handguns to defend your castle?


katie.ainsworth

Katie is an avid shooter, hunter, military journalist, and Southern girl. Firearms are her passion whether at the range or on a spot-and-stalk after a big buck. She’s a staff writer at The Firearm Blog and writes about guns, hunting, and the military for various publications both online and in print such as Outdoor Life, Handguns, and Shooting Illustrated. Shoot her a message at ainsworth.kat@usa.com


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  • BattleshipGrey

    No, not the blunderbuss, the Stay Puft marshmellow grenade, gets ’em everytime.

    Seriously though, I don’t have a light on my shotgun yet,
    though it, and my AR are ready to go in a locked closet. I keep my FS92 with
    TLR1 close by for bumps in the night, as well as a good separate flashlight.

    • Mort Leith

      Anything in a “locked closet”,, is NOT a gun,, but a paperweight….

      • BattleshipGrey

        The papers in my closet are quite unruly.

      • Zebra Dun

        You can teach your children gun handling and safety, you cannot teach their friends or count on your children to always be there and always do the right thing.
        While I was in the Marines we kept our weapons locked securely unless duty called for us to carry them, in an armory or locked in a rifle rack.
        This was in an area filled with Riflemen and Grunts with no children.
        Safety first and nothing beats absolute safety like a locked gun cabinet.
        You do what you wish, if it’s not a main line Self Defense weapon it is locked up here. Only those are left unlocked and only when there are no kids around.

        • carlcasino

          I can’t imagine a more dangerous situation than a room full of grunts, testosterone flowing, off the battlefield, stateside, coming back from liberty and unlocked guns. Oh the fights I have seen and even participated in. My AR is always at the ready, no children and my G children know that when the visit, weather permitting, we will go burn a few hundred rounds and kill a few clays. My 7 year old is deadly inside a hundred feet. She has developed her own anti kick mechanism. It’s a sight to see a 60# waist shoot an AR. They have better gun sense than a lot of the so called adults in the room.

          • Zebra Dun

            I’ve seen a triple combat tour Captain in the Marines the Infantry Co of a Line Company of grunts exchange handguns after a tour as OOD shoot a .45 caliber hole in the ceiling of his office.
            I’ve seen a well trained,Infantry combat veteran Marine Cpl shoot a .45 caliber hole with with his duty pistol in the overhead ladder leading out of the guard post while sitting at his desk. The round went up to the deck above and clattered as it bounce across the mess deck. In dead silence from the chow hounds.
            I’ve seen a Combat Veteran Sgt load a 60 mm mortar backwards into a tube.
            In short, I have seen Grown adult, well trained, experts and professionals accidentally discharge a firearm while doing their duty or simply handling their weapons.
            I would not trust a child under 16 with any firearm alone and, or with his/her friends nor their friends.
            Be that as it may I wouldn’t trust a child under 16 to handle a powered saw alone or with his friends.
            Kids today are not the kids we were and certainly not the kids our father’s were.

            Murphy said, “if it can happen it will happen” and Murphy was a well known famous optimist.
            Cheers Buddy Semper Fidelis ;^D

          • carlcasino

            We had a topside watch (Subs) practicing loading his 1911 and chambering a round and then repeating the exercise when his OOP’s moment occurred. The live round in the chamber being discharged into a paint shed on the pier and obviously hitting a can of MEK. The paint shed was removed from the pier by the explosion and the topside watch was removed from Subs.
            My Grand Children NEVER handle firearms unattended.
            Having served in the Military you are well aware of Peters Principal! That of being elevated one level above your competence. I served with a bunch of those and the opposite also. We made a few patrols where the CO saved a bunch of our lives by shear force of Character. Now that’s something sorely missing in todays military.

  • Budogunner

    I had teachers like this in middle school. They wouldn’t poor tone into creating lecture content, they’d just phone it in by assigning short readings and having us “discuss amongst yourselves.”

    • Suppressed

      Katie should just go by the pen name Linda Richmond.

    • TheNotoriousIUD

      I liked those teachers.

      • Edeco

        Yep, better than most of the highly motivated ones.

    • Jimbo

      I had a teacher like this in high school physics. He threw out an idea for us to discuss, then retired to the teacher’s lounge to smoke and drink or do whatever they did there. The students argued about the assignment, coming to no consensus, and at the closing bell, the teacher sauntered back in. We asked him what the answer was, but he always said he didn’t have time. We were moving on to the next subject next day. I got smart. I ignored the discussions and spent the time reading a physics review book. I passed regents test with a score of 99 out of 100. No one else came close to that.

      That teacher was very BAD and unfortunately, he had tenure. I asked him once why we never had any labs, and he said, “because you are all too stupid to learn.”

  • M.M.D.C.

    9MM pistol (loaded with a round in the chamber and no safety) with a separate flashlight on the nightstand. If sumdood trips the alarm I figure I’ll be too rushed out of a slumber to do much more than point and squeeze a trigger.

    • Chris

      If you are too tired to pull back the slide you are too tired to aim. If you don’t have the time to pull back the slide, you don’t have time to determine your target and their intents. HD is different than street defense. Yes moments matter, but a threat is revealed within inches a foot tops for street defense, in home defense you hear or see the possibility of a threat. You do have the responsibility to determine if that person is a threat or not. It could be a family member or friend that you forgot was too drunk to drive home so you let them crash at your place. Know your target and what’s behind it, the rules of shooting apply even in self-defense.

  • Drunk Possum

    Both for me. 9 under the pillow (sort of) and AR behind the door. Nothing in the pipe, but I have little kids running around so it’s about them not having an accident. I used to leave the 12ga behind the door, but with the freaking 8000 inch barrel it’s got, it would be less than ideal in the close quarters of my apartment.

  • lol

    a pistol will over penetrate a perp and through dry wall etc more than a .223 of any loading. thus, with proper CQB technique, an AR15 pistol or SBR would be the ideal choice. if we’ve learned anything from middle east block partys, the days of shotgun entry teams is over and MK18 or sub guns are preferred.

    i dont like to leave nfa gear out of the safe when i am sleeping and god forbid, actually have to defend myself, would rather not do it with a nfa weapon when equally good options exist. my personal preference is a g19/17 with x300 and pressure switch on the bedside table and a 11.5 ar15 pistol up against the wall next to the bed with electric ear pro nearby.

    • Biglou13

      I presently use a M1 carbine w/ 30rd mag. Red dot sight.

    • FarmerB

      I might agree with you, but for one thing. Have you ever fired that combo in a SMALL enclosed space? Not sure the hearing pro will make it to your ears in an emergency. I would suggest you go into a dark room and try to fire 4 shots at two targets. You might reevaluate your option.

  • DW

    Double barrel shotgun like the DP12 because vice prez recommended it. I suspect he secretly works for Standard Manufacturing, ha.

  • politicsbyothermeans

    So many factors in play here. Threat? Single story or multilevel? Level of training? Who else is typically home? Proximity to neighbors? Laws? Lots of others too.

    My go to long gun when I lived in Free America was an AR-15. Now that I live behind enemy lines that’s not really a great option but not just because of the laws.

  • Andrew Foss

    What would I grab? A Mossberg 590 with a razor sharp M7 bayonet, stoked with alternating deer slug and buckshot. (Because “Wrong house”) Overpenetration is a concern, yes, but only after I would have stopped the threat.

    • Marcus D.

      A bayonet does not have to be razor sharp–the sharp point does all the work. It is for stabbing, not slashing.

  • Zachary marrs

    Not as bad as the last one, but still pretty bad

  • Trey

    you can split the difference with a Pistol or near pistol caliber carbine

    Beretta Storm
    M1 Carbine
    High point

    If A shot gun is choice for easy of movement a “tacitcool” one or a bantam / youth model are options.

    As far a full power rifle, the choices are of course the common AR/AK wtih some sort of fragmenting or expanding bullet.

    If you want to be esoteric a M-44 loaded with practice ball and bayonet extended is a fright full picture.. 😉

  • Theo Braunohler

    10.5″ AR-15 SBR in 5.56 with a tac light, short suppressor, such as a Specwar 556 K, and an always-on type red dot, like an Aimpoint.

    It’s pretty hard to beat something like this for home defense. 31 rounds, reliable, easy to shoot, barely any recoil, won’t make you go deaf, highly maneuverable, fragmenting rounds that won’t overpenetrate.

    • Joe Pepersack

      Using a NFA firearm for home defense is a monumentally stupid decision.

      People tend to forget that self defense has 2 components. First, you need to survive the attack. Second, you have to survive the legal system. It is very easy to win the first fight and lose the second one.

      Using an “evil” black gun gives the prosecutor ammunition that you were looking for trouble and used excessive force. IT DOESN’T MATTER if this argument is complete bullshit. What matters is if a gun grabbing DA can sell it to 12 people whose only knowledge about guns comes from the liberal media and are too stupid to get out of jury duty. People can and have lost their freedom and/or their life savings because they used the wrong gun or ammunition to defend themselves.

      Keep the SBRed AR tucked securely in the safe and use an unmodified, wood stock 12 Gauge with standard 00 buck hunting loads for home defense. Anything “tactical” is not going to play well in court.

      • billybob

        My 870 is quite a bit more than $250 as it has a Knoxx SpecOps stock, 7rd tube, saddle rail w/ red dot sight, laser and light on the fore end and stoke it w/ #4 buck to keep over penetration down to a minimum. For longer range there are 00 buck and slugs on the side saddle. The pistol is still @ bedside if I don’t have time to pick up the shottie!

        • Joe Pepersack

          Then you better pray you never have to use it.

          Read what I wrote. Or better yet, read what Massad Ayoob and Marc MacYoung write.

          Aftermarket modifications, especially tacti-cool mods, are a severe legal liability if you ever have to fire your weapon in self defense. Ignore this advice at your own peril.

          You need to assume that any weapon you fire at another human being is going to be confiscated and not returned until well after the case is resolved, if ever. If you can’t afford to lose it, don’t use it.

          • billybob

            Hey you can’t just leave things stock! Improving a tool’s functionality is as old as man, as for lawyers, I prefer Shakespeare’s take on them.

      • Greg Tag

        Joe

        I am an academic and I’m always interested in the idea of the evil prosecutor going after the innocent private home defender because of tactical or black rifle use.

        In what state do you live?

        Do you have any specific incidents ?

        Thanks for the info

        Regards

        Greg Taggart

        • Joe Pepersack

          Greg, to the best of my knowledge, the foremost living authority on the defensive use of firearms under US law is Massad Ayoob.

          He has testified as an expert witness of dozens of cases, many of which he talks about in his extensive writings. He is far better equipped to answer than I am; he is the master, I am merely a casual student. I do not know him personally, but his reputation is that he is very approachable for interviews.

          My advice is his advice, passed on through the imperfect filter of my understanding. But everything I have learned from multiple credentialed instructors says that any kind of aftermarket modification to a firearm used for self defense is a potential legal liability, and I have yet to find a single credible source which contradicts those teachings. I currently live in VA, but I have lived in and been licensed to carry in several other states.

      • The Brigadier

        i live in Texas so your warning must be for a left wing controlled state. I suppose your argument has merit where you live. In Texas we now have the “castle doctrine”. The judge only needs to determine, did the victim breach your door or windows without your invitation to do so. If so, you have the perfect right to dispatch anyone who does this.

        • Joe Pepersack

          In the civilized world, the bar for using lethal force is thankfully set significantly higher than that. The common law standard for using lethal force is that you have to be responding to an eminent threat of death or grievous bodily harm. That legal standard worked for over a thousand years and sets an appropriate balance between safety and restraint. It should be neither higher nor lower than that.

          Regardless of what the law is, it is morally repugnant to kill unless that is the only way to save your life or the life of a third party. You Texans claim to be Christians, but the Bible you say you follow has some pretty specific things to say about killing. The Bible has a word for people who don’t practice what they preach.

          In any event, I’ll go on living in a place that isn’t quite so trigger happy and has a higher regard for human life, thank you very much.

          • The Brigadier

            Your way of thinking has dire consequences. Most people who break into homes with people inside do so for the intent of harm – rape, murder and torture. You read this in the paper every day. What do you propose Demented Hammer? Asking the criminal “Please tell me your intent in breaking into my house before I shoot?” Once they break in their intent is manifest, and you condemn me for protecting myself or anyone else in my home.

            My children do come to visit me once a year with my grandchildren. Spare me your sham moralizing. You stated “Your bible…..” told me volumes about you. You are not a Christian. You are probably a progressive who thinks that every criminal needs to be treated with kid gloves. Spare me and your condemnation of Texas. You really sound like an atheistic New Yorker. Please don’t move to Texas. Thirty percent of our state is just like you and that is thirty percent too many.

          • Mikial

            You are either supremely naive, or you live in a much nicer and kinder world than the rest of us. All it takes is a few minutes of reading the news a day and anyone who lives in this world would know that when people invade someone elses home, it is not to be kind or share some magical benefit, it is to do grievous harm.

            When you refuse to defend yourself and your loved ones, you are essentially laying down and inviting these people to put their foot on your neck and do as they will. I cannot and will not live that way.

            My home is mine and my loved one’s castle and sanctuary in this violent world. Your way of thinking does nothing but empower criminals to do as they will to whoever they want to. That line of thinking is just as evil as the people committing the crimes because people like you empower them with the promise that nothing will happen top them for destroying other people’s lives.

            You’re as much a part of the problem as they are.

  • JASON B

    I would imagine if anyone ever touched off an unsuppressed AR in 5.56 indoors, it is probably something they would never do again. Horrible choice for indoor home protection. The resulting noise, muzzle blast and concussion could render you totally useless and disoriented. Not to mention the permanent damage to your hearing. The shorter the barrel, the exponentially worse it is.

    All of the following are readily available to me should something go bump in the night…Suppressed 9mm AR SBR, PS90 SBR (a suppressed & unsuppressed one), FN Five seveN pistol (a suppressed & unsuppressed one), Glock 17 suppressed, 300BLK SBR Suppressed with Barnes 110gr Supers.

    Notice a suppressed 5.56 AR is NOT on the list. I have a few, but even a suppressed 5.56 AR is still not pleasant indoors without hearing protection. A 5.56 AR is just a bad choice for indoor shooting.

    • CommonSense23

      You realize how many people in the military have fired M4s in building without ear pro. Yeah its not going to be good for your hearing. But you aren’t going to automatically go deaf. Same for pretty much any round. The idea of clearing house with ear protection is relatively new. So to think you are somehow going to be useless from lighting a single shot or two off ludicrous.

      • FarmerB

        If you train for it. But all these people with short barreled AR’s have never shot it at dark in a small room. I’ll bet the first time they do it, it will thoroughly disorient them (not to mention kill their night vision). I train in tunnels and caves. The flash, shock and concussion will be a factor. People would never accept carrying a piece and never shooting it for real until the big day comes. I think people should do the same with their home defense choice. They might reevaluate their options.

        • Mike

          Don’t think the wife would be happy if I practiced with the AR in the living room.

        • Tassiebush

          It’s interesting reading Fairbairn and Sykes (shooting to live) writing from the 40s about the need to train in dark and unfamiliar surroundings. Obviously the latter isn’t so necessary for home defence but they certainly though noise and muzzle flash were important to be conditioned to.

    • Tassiebush

      The people being shot at would be as exposed or more to the effect and the defender may well be shot at too so it’s an uncontrollable variable to some extent.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    Glock 21 on the night stand next to my head. No light.
    Its amazing how good your night vision can be on its own after being acclimated.

  • CanadianShill

    I’m Canadian, so we just call the cops so we don’t get a prison sentence worse than the bad guys, so I definitely don’t prefer my mossberg 500 over my VZ58 for home defense 😉

    • hkryan

      And you don’t own a backhoe either…

      • CanadianShill

        Neighbour has one and would be… Err… Sympathetic to my need

    • Mort Leith

      Cops get there just in time to tag your toe and place you into a body bag,, FACT…

      People ask me why I carry a gun,, I tell them because a cop is too heavy….
      Must suck to live in a socialist/liberal/NA Z1 country where you are not free.

    • Mikial

      I feel sorry for Canadians. Like Australia and Europe, they are no longer allowed to defend their lives and those of their loved ones. I will always love being an American because at least here . . in some states anyway, we can protect ourselves legally.

  • Hensley Beuron Garlington

    I’ll take a Crye Precision Six12 like this, please.

    • Eddie_Baby

      Does that have a 40 watt range?

  • Jim Drickamer

    Shotgun? Rifle? For home defense? Depends on the home and the threat. A hallway, corners, doorways with the threat already in the house and in position to pull the shotgun or rifle out of your hands argues for a handgun. A rural home where an equally likely threat is outside, get a rifle if distances will be long, a shotgun if the distance will be shorter. In any event, what kind of firearm can you handle? A .380 you will shoot at an attacker is to be preferred over a shotgun that scares you more than it does him.

    • jamFRIDGE

      Ideally you won’t be clearing rooms/hallways in an HD situation; you should prepare an ambush should the intruder find you and your family. Your TV isn’t worth risking your life for.

      As for shotgun vs rifle, distance has nothing to do with it. Even the highest capacity shotguns are easily outclassed by standard capacity semi-auto rifles, and with good ammo choice a 5.56 will penetrate less than any lethal 12g ammo choice.

      • 33Charlemagne

        I read about some study showing that someplace shotguns were the more effective in close quarters tha either carbines or submachine guns. I would myself agree with Jim that it would depend on the circumstances. Shotguns are easier to hit with (a fist sized pattern as opposed to a hole under a quarter of an inch). They are more apt to stop an intruder with one shot as well. On the other hand multiple intruders might tip the balance to a carbine like an AR or better yet an AK.

        • carlcasino

          Lasers are a wonderful addition to any home defense weapon. Mine is grip activated, on Pistol and long gun.

        • The pattern on an open choke shotgun is so slight, it’s effectively irrelevant to hitting a target at idoor ranges.

          You’re still more likely to miss cleanly than catch the perp with part of the pattern.

          But with a well chosen rifle, you can get off multiple *good* shots in the time the shotgunner is recovering from recoil (even if he has a semi). Especially if you aren’t a large, beefy guy who shoots shotguns all the time.

  • vwVwwVwv

    it depends of what you have to fend of

    predator or thief, 2 or 4 legd…
    is the intruder after you or your money,
    magazine will get a weak fether, within
    1 year, revolver drums have limited amunition…

    most important is training of the situation. it shows errors and
    you are reacting more experianced….

    a bayonet on the long gun is sometimes useful and prevents grabeing of your barrel…
    i know a hunter who killed a big male hog with a bayonet.

  • TheSmellofNapalm

    At the risk of encouraging these poor excuses for articles from this author, I’ll play. Suppressed .300 BLK SBR with 115 gr Lehigh Controlled Chaos, light and T2. Game over

  • Swarf

    Mosin Nagant 91/30. With bayonet mounted.

    I’ll stab the bastard before he gets in the house and shoot his parents in the next county.

    • Marc

      That’s funny

  • Alex Nicolin

    Shotgun buckshot has the advantage of reduced penetration compared to bullets.

    • CommonSense23

      No it doesn’t. Especially compared to spitzer rounds.

    • Tassiebush

      Mucking around shooting a car door I found .223 hollow points or soft points are probably even less penetration than buckshot but buckshot was pretty low penetration too. Basically neither went reliably through. I say probably because it was a small sample size.

  • Twilight sparkle

    I prefer rifles especially the Ps 90, it’s small, quick, has a large capacity, and over penetration is nothing compared to buckshot.

  • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

    My ideal HD tool would be one of the following:

    1. Remington 870 18.5″ 6+1 12ga with receiver side saddle and stock sleeve using standard 00 Buck with a few 1oz slugs in the side saddle (with a shell already in the chamber)

    2. Custom AR15 build 8.5″ .300blk unsuppressed with 40rd Pmag shooting Barnes 110gr TAC-TX

    Both with a Vortex Venom and weapon light and nothing else. The priority for my HD guns is having everything I need (including all my ammo) on or in the gun and not having anything I dont need hanging off the side

    • Biglou13

      I agree with with your AR-15 build.

  • ltulrich

    Whatever it is, if you use it indoors, you can count on momentary deafness for everyone nearby, and the smoke alarms going off.

    • Heinrich D. Bag

      I agree. I just had a thought of someone using an air-rifle to minimize those effects. I knew I should have done that brain scan…

      • carlcasino

        I have a Beeman with a red dot . If it were not for the adrenalin factor it would make a great head shot weapon. I ‘ll just keep my suppressed AR laying in a saddle like we had in Navy Boot Camp a hundred years ago.

  • Captain obvious

    Defending my home against bears, the 12 GA gets the nod. Against zombies, squirrels and rabbits, a 22 lr rifle. Against mutant, alien, biker cannibals an AR15 is my choice.

    • aka_mythos

      What happens with robots, mutant bear, and cryptozoological species like the chupacabra or noble yet unstable yeti?

      • DW

        Phased plasma rifle in the 40watt range

  • CommonSense23

    Buckshot is going to overpenetrate compared to that of a rifle. Its also not going to give you any substantially better chance to hit at home defense ranges compared to a rifle. Pistols with JHP are going to go thru a lot of dry wall just like buckshot.

    • Major Tom

      What the F are you going on about buckshot? A single round of .223 will overpenetrate anything a modern home is made of that isn’t super sturdy brick or stone. (Or steel I-beams.) There’s not a single model of supersonic rifle ammunition available today that won’t behave that way towards most materials.

      Lead and soft steel buckshot deforms immediately after impact and dumps most of its kinetic energy right there. It’s why it’s one of the more preferred shot types in police scenarios. It’ll penetrate exactly one layer of drywall in a typical home. It won’t penetrate any sturdy walls all the way through. It’s also low velocity compared to rifle ammunition so it dumps that kinetic energy that much faster, basic Class I and II vests are known to defeat buckshot because of it. Worse, buckshot doesn’t overpenetrate the unarmored human body worth beans.

      And buckshot provides better chance of hit. From a short-barrel shotgun with an open choke like say a Mossberg 590 it’s possible to have a shot spread wider than a man at 5-10 meters. Which is easier to hit center mass? A super precise needlepoint of a rifle shot? Or the natural multiple projectile shot spread of buckshot? Buckshot wins hands down the probability of hit. (Bird shot is even easier, but it’s that much less effective.)

      • CommonSense23

        So many a single ballistics test of lead and soft steel buckshot penetrating exactly 1 layer of drywall and thats it.
        Also I would love to see what choke you know of with which load other than a duckbill which would give you that spread.
        And do you not understand how drywall effects projectiles such as buckshot or something like a 55gr softpoint?

        • Major Tom

          I understand exactly how it works. Drywall does darn near nothing to high velocity ammunition or heavyweight ammunition. Buckshot is neither.

          • CommonSense23

            Your backwards here. Drywall has more of effect on high speed spitzer bullets than something like buck or a pistol round. Its what happens when you have a spitzer round versus a pellet or rounded pistol round.

      • FarmerB

        Really? Have you even tested one of those assertions?

        • Major Tom

          Yes. Common rifle ammunition be it .223, 5.45, .308, etc. will overpenetrate just about everything in a modern construction home, even with allegedly expanding or fragmenting bullets. In some cases, those rounds will overpenetrate the entire home end to end.

          LEO’s commonly tell you that’s the main drawback of rifles for home defense. Likewise military handbooks tell you military grade 5.56mm isn’t really any different than civilian .223 in how it just zips through most modern construction materials. And I’ve seen the bullet holes where .223 or other rifle ammo plows right through wooden 2×4’s, cinder block walls (insulated or hollow), all types of drywall, and wood siding.

          • FarmerB

            Well, of course rifles will plough through the first layer of whatever you put in front of it. The question is how many layers. In my experience, putting a “fragile” bullet (like Nosler BT) on a full speed small calibre rifle, the bullet will break up pretty quickly. Putting a normal projectile in an SBR (slower) or using FMJ normally makes it penetrate more (I disagree with your military handbooks).
            Where I do disagree with what you say is with things like buckshot. If you use buckshot at short ranges (try it at 2m) it acts like a slug, and will plough through numerous layers. Even birdshot at close range is almost solid. To me, this makes birdshot a serious contender. Up close (a few meters) it’ll leave a hole like a solid and devastating wounds. And as soon as it penetrates something like a wall, it’ll quickly dissipate.
            The basic tenant to disavow is that drywall will stop anything at all. If anybody thinks that drywall should stop any projectile, they are fools.

          • The Brigadier

            Compressed cardboard with multiple layers of epoxy makes a better bullet stopper than drywall. Ask all the men who put their fist through drywall after an argument with an unreasonable female.

        • Zebra Dun

          I’ve seen a 5.56 x 45 mm FMJ go completely through a filled dumpster. I’ve also seen them occasionally go through an entire wood frame house.
          Buckshot usually stops fast and short but not reliably to count on it.
          A slug will stop even faster.

      • RegT

        You need to understand that the ammunition used makes a big difference. Federal Tactical 12 ga 00 buck with the Flite Control wad (their spelling) will give a slug-sized hole at 15 yards. At 25 yards, it only opens to about three inches (the same results out of a Beretta 1201 semi-auto and a Kel-Tec KSG pump).

        Cheaper 12 ga 00 buck (like the Estate or S&B brands) will indeed open up at your stated 5-10 meters (5+yards to 11 yards). You might want to test your ammo at those distances before making blanket statements like that.

      • The Brigadier

        God help anyone wearing a soft vest hit by buckshot. It might not penetrate, but the shock is enough to break any number of ribs and stop your heart.

        If you have the time to don a vest, then put on SAAPI plate (level 3), or better yet a new Bluestone Plate (level 4) and if you can find and afford one a one inch thick plate of Beta Titanium will stop almost every long gun up to 50 BMG. TFB had a recent video by a guy who shot everything at that titanium plate and even .338 magnums barely made a dent. Only the Barrett with an armor piercing bullet penetrated it. I am currently searching for a company that will make me a couple of beta titanium plates for front and back.

        Graphene that is 22 1/2 times harder than our hardest tool steel is another possibility that is even stronger that beta titanium and the price of manufacture has just been brought down from $200 an ounce to only 4 cents an ounce. A grad student at UT El Paso has recently discovered how make graphene from used motor oil instead of the expensive and complicated process of making it from graphite. We won’t have to give up our pencils and this will be a major building material in our near future. It will probably make a level 10 body armor and be impervious to 20 millimeter cannons and maybe even 40 mm ones.

  • El Rastreador

    Which ever I grab first?

  • Blake

    My first vote would be for not getting broken into in the first place. A few neighborhood watch signs, motion detector lights, not leaving keys in locks, an ADT sign or two, and a couple of these will go along way towards persuading a perp to look elsewhere:

    http://images.mysecuritysign.com/img/lg/S/guns-welcome-on-premises-sign-s-6119.png

    Also don’t leave the empty box from your new stereo out on the kerb mmmkay?

    If that fails, a short handy 12-gauge with “good neighbor” loads should do the business.

    • Katie A

      Excellent points. It’s rather frequently forgotten that not getting into a situation in the first place is the best tactic. I’m a fan of dogs, lights, and a strategically placed camera or two as well.

  • HKGuns

    I see the retards are in full bloom this spring.

    Why don’t be respectful to the young lady and stopping acting like 15 year olds. Oh, wait, you are 15 year olds. If you don’t have any thing good to say keep it to yourself.

    Good article Katie.

    • Katie A

      This made me smile, thank you. They do keep the traffic up though, don’t they…? 🙂

  • Roy G Bunting

    Ideal? A pistol caliber (or 300blk) suppressed semi auto SBR. However, there is so many legal issues there it’s probably not the best choice.

    I think the reduced recoil of a 223 or pistol caliber rifle as opposed to a shotgun is worth considering for most people.

    Per the Box of Truth, over penetration will be an issue with any reasonable ammo. You can build backstops with bookshelves or filing cabinets full of paper to reduce the risk.

    Due to that risk I have 2 ‘shooting lanes’ for home defense. If they want to rob the living room, they are welcome to it, that’s why I have insurance. If they want to come to the living quarters, they will find themselves in a ‘fatal funnel’ where I have a safe backstop.

    But I also keep the blinds drawn and doors locked.

  • Darhar M.

    I prefer my pistol grip Mossberg 500 and have my Cougar as well.
    The wife has her Ruger LCRx which she prefers.

  • Wetcoaster

    Dogs. Big ones. Multiple of them.

  • Billy Jack

    No point in telling people what you’re doing by racking a shotgun. Still I was good with my Mossberg 500 being the goto home defense weapon until I saw an attempted home invasion last year in Atlanta where the perps knocked a long time loudly then kicked the door in. The homeowner engaged 2-3 attackers. 30+ rounds were exchanged on a weekday afternoon. They were shooting back. The criminals fled and crashed nearby. One dead and one in the hospital and the homeowner was safe and unharmed. I’ve seen multiple home invasions/burglary attempts with armed criminals shooting back at homeowners near me. I ain’t Jerry Miculek on the reload with a 12 gauge so I’ll choose something with more capacity.

    Even with a side saddle of 6 more rounds & defensive 00+slug rounds it may not be enough if you have one semi-experienced criminal with a full size non-California/Conn magazine. It’s AR or full size sidearm with extra mags for me. In a hurry AR is the preference. Anything is better than nothing. Want to get motivated to have enough firepower? Look up home invasion stories within the past year in your area. Family of four, wife and kids escape out the back while husband is murdered in the home – unarmed. Lottery winner who donated a big portion of his $400k winnings to charity has name released to public per state law. 4 killers invade his home and kill him in front of his family because he didn’t have any cash for them – unsolved and unarmed victim again.

  • J.J

    Shotgun for me. I’m not worried about capacity. 5 rounds of 12 gauge with another 5 in the sadle is plenty for any conceivable situation. Plus their is less pass through. A shotgun is easier to find and manipulate in the dark. It’s also less prone to jam.

  • Evan

    AR. 28 rounds on tap beats 5 any day, semiautomatic is a good feature, and it’s easier to attach optics and lights to than my Mossberg

  • nick

    Canadian…we can defend ourselves…but…its a very, very, narrow path. Knowing the laws is vital here, and even that wont protect you from an over zealous crown prosecutor, so, call 911…
    …and if “in theory” I was going to have something “handy” (still locked up as per safe storage laws…) short pump 12 ga with non lethal munitions, such as rubber bullets, rock salt, #6 etc., progressive lethality (00) in the tube mag., if the threat has not been neutralized.
    big thing being a rural landowner…proximity and depth of defence. No one gets close to the house at night without me knowing about it. First “trip” is 150 m from the door., second “trip” is closer, dogs do the very close in work. Lots of time to unlock said safe stored firearm for the “varmint” that’s after my chicken coop.
    had a varmint a while back…to make sure he / they didn’t want to creep up on the coop, a well placed 12 ga “bear banger” type munition seem to encourage them to leave the lane way. The idea is to keep them away from the coop, not to try and take them when the are in the cage with the chickens.
    family as a whole, all trained in laws, handling and weapons deployment . I saw how some families lived in other parts of the world, such as a country in the eastern Med. Sea area, during my “working days”, saw how personal security was a daily part of the family life so it was second nature
    and the use of a shovel, also a good skill to have…

  • thorin

    yous see I utilize everything by keeping this gun around

  • FarmerB

    Thanks – that fits with my testing and experience as well.

  • MissileMech

    I’ve got a shotgun, a rifle, and a forty-five…I do, really. The plain-jane XD45 (and extra mags) is the night stand gun while the shotgun and AR are ready in the quick access safe in the closet if it’s a Spetsnas hit or the Apocalypse. I was contemplating building a 300 BLK SBR, but I figured I could do what I needed to do with the XD and spend the build money on something else I don’t really need! That being said. If I had a long gun for HD, it would be a 300 BLK 10.5″ SBR with a Superlative Arms Clamp-on Piston and a suppressor.

    I might still build it yet!

    • Dirty_Old_Madman

      I keep my XDS 45 right above my head as I am laying in bed. It has a couple of extra 7 load magazines next to it. Having seen the new XD mod 2 with a 15 round double stack in 45CAP I’m really tempted to get one and only keep the XDS as my concealed carry. I’m fortunate that I live in Florida and have a licence to carry

  • Ed Gooding

    My Kel-Tec KSG, loaded with 25 rounds of 1.75″ 12 gauge (mix of #1 and #4 shot), with another 14 rounds in the shell carrier. Say hello to my nasty ‘lil friend….

  • Random Disabled Person

    Solved…

    An AR with a Master Key Covers the AR crowd and the Shotgun crowd……..

  • Jacque Mehoff

    pretty basic, any shotgun!!!

  • Jon Hammett

    It amazes me how many people in the comments still don’t seem to understand how shotguns work at close ranges.

  • Doug Wicker

    My choice: Beretta CX4 in 9mm. Love the concept of high capacity, short length, pistol caliber carbines for home defense.

  • Peter

    There is much to be said for a lever action carbine in one of the handgun calibers, a .357 Mag, a .44. or a .45 Colt. Loaded appropriately they are easy to shoot, more accurate than a handgun and won’t go through the bad guy, two walls, the baby’s crib, the refrigerator, the neighbors house before coming to rest in a minivan full of Nuns.

    They don’t have to be as deafening as a shotgun or full sized rifle cartridge and they do not have the (unearned) social stigma that the black rifles do. Mine isa Win. 92 clone in .4 Colt since my #2 boy got my old Marlin 1894 in .357 for his.

    • CommonSense23

      A lever action gun in the caliber you listed are going to have serious over penetration problems.

      • Peter

        Horse pucky!A .357 carbine with a .38 special +P lead hollowpoint is going to penetrate less than many defensive handgun rounds, same with the .45 Colt with that Winchester silvertip or the Federal hollowpoint. Sure it can with the wrong load but some people use their brains and test their ammo.

        • CommonSense23

          You are adding speed to a pistol round, its definitely going to cause overpenetration issues compared to a regular handgun or rifle.

    • Tassiebush

      Haha re the overpenetration scenario. The mini van full of nuns!

  • Core

    Hungry, hungry, shotguns.. They are a great camp guns all around, but the Stoner is far superior for multiple bad guy scenarios, allowing quick mag changes and 30+ round mags. Recently there has been a huge increase in heroin use in my region. We know where the heroin is coming from, but the LEO’s can’t seen to stop the flow and use, it’s an epidemic. Breaking and entry has sky-rocketed, I can’t wait to see next year’s statistics for the state.. A current trend is three to four person teams of heroin/meth/crack heads using a female to get the resident to open the door. Then two or more males enter and hold the residents hostage while they loot. So far they have killed an old lady, severely beaten several men, and assaulted numerous women, teens (rape), and other family members. They are always armed with knives or clubs. It’s happening at least once or twice a week it seems, and they’re targeting the middle class homes in rural areas. I answer the door with a 9mm or 45 IWB. I canvas the peripheral before I open and have strict orders that my wife doesn’t open the door if she cannot visually identify the individual. We also have infrared network cameras running 24/7 in various locations. If this type attempts to make entry, they won’t be walking out. Shotguns are great, but Stoner rifles are better. And I might add that having a backup in 9mm or 45 is also a good idea, because CQB happens fast, and if you experience a stoppage it’s easier to draw a secondary if you’re being attacked. The governor made a controversial statement recently saying that constitutional concealed carry folks should lock and load and get out there and shoot the drug dealers. This was said with sarcasm but it’s a painful truth that these criminals are not gun owners, and we live in a culture where a huge population are law abiding gun owners. And for this reason the criminals are targeting more liberal “gun free” neighborhoods. I believe as the numbers increase, we will see more resident gun owners killing these criminals. This will either curb the crime in areas with gun ownership and shift the crime to the cities, or the criminals will resort to escalation of force. I’m betting it will curb crime when it reaches this point. Time will tell, but home owners are really starting to lock the doors and dust off the shotguns around here. Right now the only thing protecting residents from this phenomena is the Second Amendment and constitutional carry.

  • 10.5″ AR with a SilencerCo Omega. Using 300blk in subsonic is the setup of choice here.

    • KUETSA

      Nice – but it’s easy to guess that you are NOT from NY!
      State by state – it is acceptable for communists to be repealing our bill of rights – the second amendment in NY is read “The right of government enforcement agents, active and retired, to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed – all other citizens are limited to whatever the politician of the day dictates.” (And they have outlawed all effective tactical firearms!) US courts are OK with this – the constitution is meaningless!

  • Zebra Dun

    If ammo is not a problem I’d say Winchester M-92 in .30 WCF-30/30.
    If ammo is thought to be hard to find go with any .223/5.56 x 45 mm repeater.
    If you wish to match pistol with rifle the .357 magnum or .45 Colt and .44 magnum will do.
    If you think you may have a bear problem .308 or 30.06 is the ticket.
    If it’s just squirrels and pests go for the Ruger 1022 or a good Daisy BB gun.
    Nothing quite beats a Plasma rifle in the 40 watt range.

    • KUETSA

      nice!

  • Jack 250

    a 380 pistol w/12 rd. clip bore cutters, 410 pump mag 18 in. barrel w/slugs, finally a 30 cal. m-1 with hollow points. Need more, you need to move.

  • Zobeid

    S&W M&P 15-22

    Yes, 22 LR. Seriously. Think about it. Look-and-feel of an AR. Cheaper to buy, cheaper to practice with, no recoil, minimal muzzle blast, less of that dreaded “over-penetration”. I promise you, nobody wants to get shot with it. Unless you’re planning to fight a war in your house, it’ll do Just Fine.

  • Jamie Clemons

    The best one is the one that is in your hand. But you really can’t beat a shotgun for home defense.

  • Mikial

    Well, I’ll at least add my input to this seriously lacking article.

    I have a Saiga 12 with a 10 round magazine of 00 and a mounted light in one of those nifty racks that fit against your mattress and hold the gun horizontal right on my side of the bed. My back up is a Glock 21 with a mounted light on the nightstand.

  • Mikial

    Good post.

  • 33Charlemagne

    One other advantage for many with the shotgun over a carbine is cost. The IAC Hawk is available for $200 or less. This is substantially less than even the Romanian WASR or aone of the bargain basement AR15 with questionable reliability.

    • Mikial

      Agreed. I have my Saiga, but my wife doesn’t like it much so we got her a Hawk for about $200. We mounted a light on it and a spare round carrier on the stock and she loves it.

      Great home defense gun.

  • ChiptheBarber

    K-I-S-S. I like to keep it simple as I’m not very smart when awakened from a deep sleep in the middle of the night. Ithaca Model 37 with alternating 00 Buck and BBx4 Duplex loads. For backup there’s a Glock 30 with a 13 round mag inserted.