What is the Best Home Defense Weapon?

August 4, 2013 by | Be the first to comment »

The age-old question: “What is the best home defense weapon?” is a good question, but also, one that has no definitive answer.

The best weapon is the one you have in your hand when the SHTF. For some people, that may mean nothing more than grabbing a 7 iron when someone kicks in their door, while more prepared people have ready access to firearm. Personally, I home carry, which means my sidearm is holstered on my body anytime I have pants on. It and several other weapons are within arms reach any other time.

Intentionally defending yourself in a life or death scenario with anything less than a firearm, is foolish, so we’ll focus on your choice of firearms to defend your home.

You have a few categories to choose from;

  • Handguns (semi-auto or revolver)
  • Semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 or AK-47
  • Pump or semi-automatic shotguns
  • Traditional hunting weapons

Each choice has its pros and cons, and an ideal home defense plan will include a multiple choices.


Handguns are a great starting point for home defense. I prefer a magazine-fed weapon over a revolver because of the increased capacity and ability to quickly reload. My SOPs include handguns in home defense for two purposes; first, in the event of an attack, they leave me a free hand while I gather my family and guide them to our safe room. Second, they enable me to effectively defend my family while I work towards a more powerful weapon. The downside to a handgun is that you may need multiple rounds to neutralize an attacker.

Semi-automatic rifles

A semi-automatic rifle, like an AR-15 or AK-47 delivers significantly more power than a handgun projectile, and a standard capacity magazine holds 20-30 rounds. Between the efficacy of the projectile, and the magazine capacity, you could easily defend against all but a full-on raid from a drug cartel. The downside is over penetration. I’ve personally shot through cars with standard 5.56 ammunition—they will zip through the walls in your home even easier. Soft points or hollow points are far more effective for self-defense and will reduce over penetration.

Pump or semi-automatic shotguns

A 12 gauge shotgun deliver about twice the power of a 5.56 projectile, and about the same power as a 7.62 projectile, but the round is much larger, putting a massive hole in the bad guy. A single round, whether a slug or buckshot, will nearly always neutralize an attacker immediately and over penetration is hardly ever an issue. The biggest downside is that a shotgun can be a beast to handle for some people; it has  massive recoil, report, and muzzle flash, plus racking the slide of a pump-action can be difficult under the effects of adrenaline.

Traditional hunting weapons

Remington 700
Only as a last resort should you use traditional hunting weapons in a home defense scenario. This would include bolt-action rifles or break action shotguns. The drawbacks to these weapons is their rate of fire and reduced ammunition capacity—in some cases, as little as a single round. Both rifles and shotguns usually offer tremendous stopping power if you land a well-placed shot before running out of ammunition, but you’re in for some serious problems if you’re facing multiple attackers. And in the case of traditional hunting rifles, you face the added downside of over penetration.

So what is the best home defense weapon, then?

If you have a choice, I recommend a 12 gauge pump shotgun because it provides massive stopping power and has a reasonable ammunition capacity, while limiting the issue of over penetration, but you’ll need to train often to ensure you can handle it effectively during a high-stress situation. I also recommend a magazine-fed handgun to free one hand so you can gather your family and usher them to safety, and/or to defend them until you can get to your shotgun.

Whatever weapon(s) you chose, make sure to train regularly in a variety of situations until it becomes second nature.

Melanie Swick (a.k.a. Survival Chick) grew up wanting to be a rocket scientist, but when she realized she that required way too much math, she took to her second dream—spending time in the wilderness. Today, when she's not hiking, camping, or hunting, she's blogging about it. You can connect with Melanie on Facebook.

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