The Best Home Defense Firearms: Your Top 5 Options
The debate over our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms is long-standing. If we could look back, we’d probably find that there were those in authority who wanted to disarm the population as far back as when the only weapons available were rocks and sticks. Fortunately, we live in a country which legally acknowledges our right to self-defense and to throw off tyranny, as enshrined in the Second Amendment to our Constitution.
Defending our homes is an important part of being a man. Our wives need security from us, more than anything. That can only happen if they know their home is a safe place.
While defending the home isn’t the only part of making your home a safe place, it is an important one. Throughout history, men have defended their homes from thieves, brigands, and marauding tribes. While the names and methods of these bad guys may have changed with the times, their hearts have not. It’s all about them taking what you have: your wealth, your goods and your wife.
Fortunately for us, we live in a time when firearms are the weapon of choice. I say that because compared to the other options out there, firearms are fairly easy to learn how to use well. They also don’t require that you have Ronnie Coleman’s muscles to use. That’s why they are called “the great equalizer.” The only real question then, is which one of these great equalizers to use.
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Before We Get Started
Before I go any farther, let me say that anytime anyone states that certain firearms are the best, there are countless others who are quick to argue the point. I get it. We all have our favorites and what’s best for me may not be what’s best for you. Even so, there are certain things we should consider when building our home defense arsenals. Yes, arsenals. No one gun is perfect for everything, so you should probably have more than one gun to properly defend your home.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let me say that there are certain things I think are essential for any defensive firearm or arsenal:
- Whatever guns you choose should be comfortable and easy for you to use (this won’t be the same for everyone).
- They should be reliable.
- They should be maneuverable in the tight confines of your home.
- You want a caliber that will best accomplish its purpose.
- It’s important to consider the potential for shots to pass through the intended target, the wall behind them and put others at risk.
- Night sights are essential, as many scenarios occur at twilight or in the dark.
- Tactical lights can be useful, but should have a momentary switch.
Personally, I prefer semi-automatics over revolvers. While revolvers are simpler and less likely to have malfunctions, they typically only hold six rounds. Reloading, even with a speed-loader, is much slower than ejecting a magazine and slapping in a new one. Besides, most of today’s semi-auto magazines hold a lot more than six shots.
None of my personal firearms are factory. I tend to modify them greatly, changing sights and adding other mods to make them easier to shoot and more effective in actual use (as opposed to range shooting). Probably the most common mod on my guns is adding tritium night sights, which I consider to be an essential for any self-defense pistol.
My Top 5 Choices… and Why
Each of the guns selected below has been selected for a particular purpose. While it is possible to use any of them for other purposes, they won’t work as good in that setting. This is why I said that you really need a small arsenal, rather than just one gun.
Springfield XDS – .45 caliber
Your number one home defense gun should be your concealed carry pistol. As far as I’m concerned, every man needs a concealed carry license. For that matter, if you can talk your wife into it, have her get one too. A gun on your body, even in your home, can help you defend your family. One in the nightstand is just something for a thief to steal.
After trying a few different guns, I settled on the Springfield XDS in .45 caliber for my concealed carry gun. It’s compact enough to be readily concealable, while still being big enough to be easy to hang onto when firing. That’s important when firing a .45, which as some people say, can “kick like a mule.” I carry it with a 5 round magazine, plus one in the chamber, for concealability; but carry two 7 round magazines for backup, giving me a total loadout of 20 rounds
The reason I’ve selected .45 caliber is pure ballistics. Back when John Browning designed the 1911, one of the design criteria was high energy transfer, to increase the odds of knocking down Moro tribesmen high on drugs. Since the chances are fairly high that any criminal I’m going to have to defend against is either going to be on drugs or high on adrenalin, I feel the .45 is more likely to put the bad guys on the ground, ending the engagement.
My Springfield XDS has a Crimson Trace laser sight on it and tritium night sights. While I do not recommend laser sights for everyone, my eyes aren’t all that good. If I’m wearing the wrong glasses (anything but my computer glasses) I can’t see the front sight clearly; so in those cases, I depend on the laser sight. I use a Crimson Trace because it comes on when I grip the gun, thanks to a pressure switch. I don’t have to take the time to turn it on, slowing my reaction time.
For most shooting, I use the tritium sights, so that I don’t become dependent on the laser sight. I don’t want to be in a situation where I need to shoot and can’t aim because my battery is dead. By the way, putting the tritium sights on this pistol is difficult. You’ve got to clamp it in a vice, to pound out the old sights. Just warning you.
SigSauer P250 – .380 caliber
This is probably the number one women’s pistol out there, although there are many other pink pistols marketed for women. What makes this pistol so good for women is that it is easy for them to shoot. Many women’s hands aren’t strong enough to rack the slide on the average 9mm pistol. Yet the recoil spring on the Sig-Sauer is light enough for them to handle.
Granted, .380 caliber isn’t the best self-defense round there is; it’s a bit light, with a relatively slow muzzle velocity. If your wife’s hands are strong enough to handle a 9mm, then by all means, get her one. That’s a much superior choice. But if they aren’t, quit trying to get her to shoot something that she has to fight with. She’s going to have a hard enough time using it, when it all becomes real, so give her something that’s going to be as easy as possible.
This was my wife’s pistol and once again, it had tritium night sights on it. These were easy to install, unlike those on the Springfield.
The one drawback to this pistol is a very long trigger pull, which takes some getting used to. That’s a safety feature and as far as I know, there is no modification on the market to change it. I’d like to see one though.
Glock G17 or G19 (Gen4) – 9mm
If we are ever faced with a post-disaster situation, where you need to defend your home, one of the things you’ll need is firepower… lots of firepower. In that case, I set aside my Springfield and replace it with a Glock 17, 9mm.
Glocks are some of the most popular pistols out there, due to their reliability and ease of customization. This is a plus in a post-disaster world, where parts may be hard to come by. This is also why I’ve selected 9mm, as that is the most common pistol ammunition in the world. However, I prefer not to use 9mm as a home defense round, as it has much more penetrating power. This could cause it to go right through a target, hitting something beyond them.
My personal Glock 17 (Gen3) is heavily modified; with Crimson Trace laser and tactical light, tritium night sights , extended mag and slide releases, an extended mag well for faster loading, and I’ve changed out the trigger spring for 3.5 pounds of trigger pull. I also have a threaded barrel for a suppressor (often wrongly called a silencer), but put back in my stock barrel, once the Hearing Protection Act was shelved. Maybe some day…
The big advantage that the Glock gives me over my Springfield is that standard magazines hold 17 rounds; so three rounds ups my loadout to 52 shots. During a time of crisis, that greater penetrating power might be just what I need to hit a gang member shooting at me from behind a car.
Since we’re talking home defense, I’ve got to get at least one shotgun in here. The shotgun is a good choice for people who aren’t great shots, although dispersion in the short range you have in a home isn’t all that great.
The main reason I’ve selected the Kel-Tec KSG is that it was the first bullpup shotgun. That makes it even shorter than a tactical shotgun, making it much easier to maneuver in your home. This particular shotgun is made with twin selectable magazines, allowing you to load two different types of shells, giving you a choice when it’s time to shoot. Since Kel-Tec came out with the KSG, others have jumped on the bandwagon, coming out with their own versions, some of which can be said to be better, so you might want to check some head-to-head comparisons, before making your selection.
Now let me get controversial about this. First of all, I’d mount a reflex or holographic sight on the shotgun. While most people think of shotguns as “point and shoot” weapons, I wouldn’t want to be so cavalier in my home, where my family is likely to be present. I don’t want to take a chance on hitting a family member in the next room, if I miss the bad guys.
My other controversial thought is in loading the shotgun. Most people would say to load it with 00 buckshot and slugs. I’d agree with that, if I was using it in a tactical situation, such as clearing a building. But I’m not a cop and the only building I expect to clear is my own home, once again, with my family in it. So, I’d say it’s best to load it with #8 birdshot and #4 buckshot. The birdshot will still kill at close range and if it’s necessary to shoot farther, the #4 buckshot gives you as good a group as the 00, with less of a chance of shooting through as many walls.
Another option is to fill one of those magazines with one of the less-lethal shotgun shell options, such as beanbags. That can still put a bad guy down; but without the risk of killing him. There are advantages there, especially in dealing with the legal aftermath.
AR-15 – 5.57mm
Finally, I’d say that everyone should have an AR-15 in their personal arsenal. What kind of AR-15? I’ll leave that up to you. This is such a versatile platform, that there are a huge number of options on the market. I think I’ll avoid the impossible challenge of trying to pick one.
So why should you have an AR-15, besides it being the most-popular sport rifle there is? Because it’s the best self-defense option you can find, in a semi-automatic weapon. If push comes to shove and we all find ourselves in a Mad Max dystopia or a zombie apocalypse, the AR-15 is going to give you the best chance of protecting your family from an attacking gang, whether living or dead.
My personal AR-15 is chambered in 5.57mm (.223 caliber), which is a bit light, but I used that in the Army. If I were to go to any other caliber, it would be 7.62mm (.308 caliber). But I like the 5.57mm because it’s lighter weight to carry around. I’d go with the shortest barrel you can legally install, without an ATF permit, which means at least 18”, including the muzzle break or flash suppressor (if they are permanently attached, as in welded to the barrel).
How you configure your AR-15 is up to you, but probably the single most important thing to do is get good optics for it. I have a 1-4 power, low-light scope on mine. That decision was because my AR-15 is for use at longer range than my shotgun, so I felt a scope would be useful. If I didn’t have that, I’d have a holographic sight on it, perhaps the EOTech with the accompanying 4 power telescoping sight.
In addition to the optics, I’ve got a laser sight and tactical light mounted to my AR-15 for close-in work, should that be necessary. A good sling system is important as well, allowing you to switch rapidly from your rifle to your pistol.
Don’t Forget the Training
While having the right hardware to work with is an important part of defending home and family, it doesn’t hold a candle up to the need to know what you’re doing. Too many people think that you just stick the gun out there and pull the trigger, just like they do in the movies. How can you miss, right?
The truth is, it takes a lot of practice to become good with a gun, even more to become good with a gun in a self-defense situation. Get yourself a membership to your local shooting range and make good use of it. If you can, take some tactical training too, as you’ll learn invaluable skills you might need to have, if it ever turns real and you have to use those guns to defend your family.