Home defense

5 Worst Types Of Firearms To Use For Home Defense

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5 Worst Types of Firearms To Use for Home Defense593

With home invasions becoming more common in urban neighborhoods, having a way to defend your home from violent criminals is crucial. After all, the police can’t be everywhere at once. So despite the exorbitant prices charged by some gun manufacturers these days, gun sales are on the rise.

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In fact, the AR-15 may be the most popular home defense firearm in America today, even surpassing the popularity of the 12 gauge shotgun. However, while many firearms on the market are perfectly suited for home defense, there are some firearms that are absolutely terrible for this purpose. Here are five of the worst types of firearms to use for home defense.

1. Pocket Guns

One class of firearm that is positively not well suited for home defense is the class of “pocket guns” which are small, compact, handguns such as semi-automatic pistols chambered for the .22 LR or the .25 Automatic cartridges, as well as derringers. While it is true than any handgun is better than none when you are being accosted by a violent criminal, the simple fact of the matter is that due to their compact size and extremely short barrels, pocket guns are specifically designed to be very close range weapons and thus, they are difficult to aim and shoot accurately over any distance. But because accuracy is of paramount importance in a home defense situation, these underpowered pocket guns are not well suited for the purpose of defending yourself and your family from criminals who have invaded your home.

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2. Large Revolvers

On the opposite end of the scale, there are large revolvers designed specifically for hunting medium to large game species. Not only do these handguns have large frames which enable them to withstand the recoil generated by firing magnum powered cartridges such as the .44 Magnum, the .460 Smith & Wesson Magnum, and the .500 Smith & Wesson Magnum, they generate an excessive amount of noise and recoil which makes them difficult to control in a combat situation. Plus, due to their extra high muzzle velocities, they cannot only endanger the criminal you are shooting at, they can also endanger family members hiding in other rooms and can even penetrate exterior walls, endangering your neighbors as well.

3. Single Shot Rifles and Shotguns

Yet a third class of firearm that is poorly suited for the purpose of home defense is the single shot rifle or shotgun. While most boys who grow up in rural environments (where hunting is often a way of life) receive single shot rifles chambered for the venerable .22 LR cartridge or shotguns chambered for 20 gauge shotshells, these rifles and shotguns are poorly suited for the purpose of home defense because, in the case of the .22 LR, the cartridge simply lacks the stopping power needed to deter a determined home invader and, in the case of either type of firearm, they lack any type of internal or removable magazine and thus are limited to a single shot. So if you miss your target or find yourself faced with more than one assailant, you will likely not have the time to reload your gun before you are attacked.

4. Bolt Action Hunting Rifles

Of course, this naturally leads to a discussion of the bolt action hunting rifle, which is also found in many households. While this type of firearm is well suited for hunting game in the field, it is particularly ill suited for the purpose of home defense because, even though most rifles of this type feature internal magazines that hold multiple rounds, they commonly have long barrels that make them difficult to maneuver in close quarters, and they require the shooter to manually operate the bolt in order to eject the spent case and load a new round into the chamber after each shot. Plus, they are most often chambered for high-powered hunting cartridges and thus present the same problem as magnum-power handguns in that they can easily endanger family members in other parts of the house, as well as neighbors.

5. Military Surplus Rifles

Last but not least, military surplus rifles have long been popular firearms among the shooting public due to their relatively inexpensive purchase prices. The problem is, the large majority of these firearms date from World War II or even as far back as World War I, which means they were specifically designed for use on the open battlefields of Europe and Africa and thus, they too usually feature excessively long barrels that are ill suited for home defense in addition to bolt actions, just like the modern sporting rifle. Plus, because they were specifically designed to engage enemy soldiers at long ranges, they are most often chambered for high-powered rifle cartridges that generate way too much muzzle energy to be safe for the purpose of home defense.

So while there are numerous handguns and rifles on the market that are very well suited for the purpose of protecting your family from violent criminals, there are also just as many–if not more–that are very poorly suited for the job. Therefore, when choosing a firearm for home defense, it is best to avoid the types of firearms mentioned above and instead purchase one of the many models of pistols, revolvers, or rifles that are well suited for this particular purpose such as small or medium framed revolvers chambered for the .38 Special cartridge, semiautomatic pistols chambered for the 9mm, .40 Smith & Wesson, or 10mm Auto cartridges, as well as the AR-15 rifle configured with a short barrel.


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5 Worst Types of Firearms To Use for Home Defense


  1. October 30, 2016 at 7:42 am

    Gun of any type is better than no gun at all. But I completely agree with advices in the article. Choose proper tool for home defense. My home defense gun is Remington 870. Don’t forget to train on regular basis. Jeff Cooper: “One is no more armed because he has possession of a firearm than he is a musician because he owns a piano. There is no point in having a gun if you are not capable of using it skillfully.


  2. September 22, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    A friend of mine once stopped a home intruder with a .25 caliber “pocket gun.” He broke into her apartment in the middle of the night (the guy had gotten into a fight with her boyfriend earlier that evening). She unloaded the gun inside of him. He died from his wounds.


  3. September 18, 2016 at 6:45 pm

    R.E.M. 870 with bird shot. It takes a really brave man to keep coming when they hear the slide jack a round in. 18 in November barrel great stopping power enough rounds to do the trick.


  4. September 15, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    I tried to solve this problem back in 1974 when I actually built a 4 X 8 foot section of wall to compare bullet penetration. I made it out of 2X4’s sheetrock on both sides, insulation, and panneling on both sides. Every handgun, rifle and shotgun slugs & buckshot penetrated both sides of my wall at 15 feet. Living in a condo with my family meant I was putting a sleeping child in another room in mortal danger from a stray bullet overpeneterating!
    The only cartridge not penetrating thru my wall was a low brass 12 guage #9 shot. It is my personal choice for home defence for 40 years. I have a loaded Rossi coach gun with a 5 shot ammo sleve on the stock. In a home invasion you will be scared, confused and pumping adrenaline and a missed shot has to go somewhere. Don’t let it be in a family members or neighbors bedroom. BE SAFE


    • September 16, 2016 at 10:12 am

      I use a 12 guage semi auto with birdshot. In most cases, if you put 2 rounds in any direction most human being dont enjoy the though of being shot, so they tend to take off in the opposite direction


  5. September 13, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    The implication is the AR platform is “good” for home defense. Which ignores that the .223 round is very good at penetration, but only so-so at stopping someone from attacking you.

    The large frame revolver can be excellent for home defense – if loaded with the right ammo. A 44 Mag revolver loaded with a good 44 special round would be very effective indeed. A 45 LC (Long Colt) with moderate ammo would also be excellent, and if you swapped in a 45 ACP cylinder and used full moon clips, you would have the ultimate home defense handgun.

    A single shot 12 gauge is not without potential, if you do your part. With the barrel cut down to 18.5″. you have a weapon which is quite maneuverable and with an extra round between each finger of your off hand and practice, you have 4 fairly quick shots. Certainly not a good first choice, but it might be safer and less nerve wracking to have a cheap, unloaded gun (with ammo in a butt stock sleeve) readily available than a fancy pump or auto loaded up and at risk of being stolen, used by an unauthorized person, or having a round “cooked off” in a fire. Or locked away so you can’t get to it quickly.

    As pointed out, surplus military rifles often have serious downsides for home defense. Not much can be done about the ammo unless you hand load it, but if the problem is a long barrel, well it can be cut down to the minimum length which is legal and does not impact function.


    • September 13, 2016 at 5:19 pm

      add the venerable M1 carbine to the list of surplus military weapons and I believe you have a superb and underrated self /home defence platform, its light controllable, lotsa punch, without a lightning quick wall penetrating round, magazine fed and reliable.


  6. September 12, 2016 at 11:13 pm

    I am always amused by well intentioned folks who opine that “this gun” or “that gun” is outstanding for home/personal defense”, OR, “worst choice ever for home/personal defense”.
    You will fight with what is at hand, at the time of the incident occurring. I find that the “Hollywood-styled “home-invasion” scenarios are myths for the majority of Americans.
    In fact, if one wanted to style ANY burglary, where residents are present as a “home invasion”, then that would be correct. As would any burglary into a dwelling, where the residents were/are not present, to be a “home invasion”.
    Unless one is engaged in the dealing of illicit items/drugs/weapons, etc. your chances of being a victim of a “home invasion” are, remarkably SLIM. (source: DOJ-Uniform Crime Report-Most Dangerous Cities in America)
    While the thugs can and do occasionally get the wrong address, (like cops do in far greater numbers), the actual risk is slim it will happen to you.
    This does not mean, one should be an ostrich and pretend you cannot BE a victim.
    First rule of any gunfight, is to HAVE a gun ready to go, in your hand.


  7. September 12, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    Agree with most comments above. Almost any gun will penetrate modern construction, even a pellet rifle. Surplus guns are fine. The SKS purchased back in the 90s for around $100 is about as good a deal in a defensive / multipurpose weapon as can be found. The Garand is simply a wonder of 1930s technology. I’m very comfortable shooting those, and the AR is currently pretty new to me, so it might not be the “ideal” for me, despite being the “better” weapon.


  8. September 12, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    This writer has his heart in the right place, but has a poor handle on reality.

    Just a couple of comments that might help. First, the commenter who noted hundreds of homes were cleared in WWII with the M-! Garand was spot on. Training – and more training is definitely helpful. True, it is powerful and will penetrate walls and other materials, but so will a 12 gauge.

    Second, the comment about needing to operate the bolt after every shot is a, ‘so what?’ type of comment. A single-action revolver needs to be recocked after each shot as well. Also remember, the US Army did a series of studies about shooting AIMED SHOTS (comparing the ’03 Springfield to the M-1 Garand) and found the time difference between the two rifles (aimed shots) were practically negligible over the course of ten shots (a fraction of a second).

    Also remember, a hunting rifle with scope can be aimed at an intruder OVER THE TOP of the scope at distances under 25 yards quite easily. Again, practice certainly helps. A couple of things to put into the mix as you think about this issue.


    Son of Liberty


  9. September 12, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    When you go into a store and purchase a piano, that does not make you a pianist. The same applies to firearms.

    I am sure the author means well but this is a silly article with an extremely narrow view of the subject.

    Any firearm can be good enough provided you are good at using it. Hundreds of thousands of homes were cleared in WWII using M1 Garands. Shotguns are used extensively by the USMC in clearing CQ in the Middle East. A 22 caliber shot in someone’s eye socket will work every time. IDF operators use suppressed 22’s all the time. If some shooters were to spent half the time they use discussing caliber superiority actually improving themselves in the range instead, more of the good guys would be alive today.

    So here is the deal:

    1. Training. Pumping lead into paper targets is better than nothing. Still, you need to know a LOT more to effectively defend yourself. Look for courses taught by instructors with SPECOPS combat experience. TRAIN VERY HARD, ASSUME NOTHING

    2. Attitude You can have a gun collection and all the proper training in the world. If you are going hide under a table holding your firearm when the bad guys come for your family chances are you will not do a good job while defending them.

    3. Mindset While confronting the bad guys in your home you may be shot, stabbed and start going into shock. Having the survival mindset will make you pull out of some otherwise almost impossible situations. Acquiring this mindset unfortunately, is not within grasp of some individuals. That is not a put-down, just a fact of life..

    4. Light armor: If you can don flexible light armor ( III or II IA) prior to engagement in less than 3 seconds GO FOR IT.

    5. Time to acquisition How much time does it take for you to reach a firearm once danger is perceived?
    Having more than one firearm (safely secured in the case of non-adults) will increase your chance of survival considerably.

    Train hard, remain vigilant, train some more and be safe.


  10. September 12, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    Having a gun is 1 st that beets no gun every time this is a waste of time and ink. The man with one gun no matter it size as the advantage !!!!!!!


  11. September 12, 2016 at 10:15 am

    Some folks will not have the luxury to have anything but what they have, right now, and I’ve seen more than a few people that were quite deadly with a “pocket gun” or single shot shotgun, While “Mr. I have a 600 dollar mega shooter ” could not hit a thing because they don’t shoot….
    You are right… a modern handgun or AR is the best thing, but your article sounds like you are promoting new gun sales.
    The bottom line is know how to shoot what you have….. right now.


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