When it comes to protecting yourself and your family, it’s crucial that you have the proper defensive items to do that.
If a firearm is your weapon of choice, make sure it’s one that will work well if you need to use it at home. If you want our recommendation without reading this entire article, we suggest the short barreled AR-15 rifle in 300 AAC Blackout, 7.5in barrel. Additionally, we recommend getting a tactical light and laser for it, along with a sling and a 30 round magazine.
Variables to Consider Before Buying a Gun
When choosing a home defense weapon you need to remember a few variables.
- Bullet penetration
- Stopping power
Cost is simple – budget your firearm purchases and training. Typically, $500 will buy entry level firearms, while $3,000 will buy high end match weapons. Start low, and you can always sell your firearms to upgrade down the line.
Maneuverability depends on the size of your weapon. Pistols are great for small spaces, while rifles or shotguns are better for open spaces. Keep that in mind as you look to buy a home defense gun.
Bullet penetration and stopping power would seem to be equal, while they are instead nearly always inverted. 5.56 tumbles in drywall, while 9mm flies through. Yet rifle calibers tend to have much higher stopping power.
When not using you gun (which is likely more often than not), be sure you have a protective place to store it. Whether you decide to secure a gun in a gun case or dedicate space for a gun cabinet, evaluate the best location in your home to store it. If an intruder comes in the house, you want to be able to quickly access your weapon.
The Best Guns for Home Defense
Below are our top 5 guns that work well for home defense.
The AR-15 has a storied past. Developed in the 1950s, initially sold as a civilian hunting rifle under the Armalite corporation. Smaller calibers proved to be highly effective for short range rifles. The high velocity .22 caliber intermediate round excels in under 200 yards.
The AR-15 has excelled in short range, low weight, low recoil, however modern advancements in the AR’s design allows for plenty of rail space for accessories such as lights or lasers. The completely modular design allows AR-15s to be created in most calibers including shotgun shells, and pistol calibers.
Home Defense Carbine
The AR-15 can be configured to do nearly anything you want a firearm to do, making it a great option for home defense. Need a long range match rifle? Just swap the upper. Want a short range defensive carbine? Change the upper.
The other advantage of the AR-15 is the stopping power of a rifle cartridge. The 5.56x45mm or several other calibers that can be used with the AR-15, are massively more effective at first shot stops then a 9mm or even Buckshot.
The 5.56x45mm will tumble once it hits drywall, slowing the round and preventing overpenetration. If you have another preferred caliber, there is likely an AR that can shoot it.
Combine that feature with the ability to add a short barrel, ample room for accessories, and the inline recoil of the system, and you have one of, if not, the best home defense weapon.
The Case for the AR-15
The AR-15 is the Modern American Musket. Hunters and sportsman, as well as self defense instructors are advocating the AR-15 because of the ease of use and great features of the rifle. Until the US Army develops a new rifle for its service rifle, it will likely be the most common rifle sought out by soldiers in their civilian lives.
The P90 is a highly specialized Personal Defense Weapon. It is a pistol caliber with high magazine capacity. The P90 was created by FN Herstal to NATO specifications as a replacement for 9x19mm MP5s. The PDW needed to weigh under 6 lbs, carry a 20 round magazine, and have a caliber with greater stopping power than the 9mm.
The P90 excels as a personal defense weapon. Breaking down into 6 parts, it is easy to clean. The short barrel length (NFA) and bullpup design makes it very maneuverable in homes, along with vehicles. The 5.7x28mm round is offers great stopping power, high accuracy, and low recoil.
The P90 and the PS90 are highly effective PDWs, with plenty of space for accessories, ergonomic ambidextrous fire controls, and a 50 round standard magazine. It is all in a package designed to weigh less than a AR-15.
If you need more proof the P90 is effective, remember what gun used to guard the president.
9mm pistols are the most common handgun in the United States. They are cheap, effective, and light. In a home defense situation, pistol rounds are effective. Pistols are small, so they are easily concealed, stored, and maneuvered. Handguns require more training than a rifle to use effectively, but they can be used one handed which may be useful.
As with the guns mentioned above, it’s important that you learn how to properly use a pistol before needing it in a potentially threatening situation. And, when not using it, always be sure to have a safe gun storage solution.
Their small sizes allows greater maneuverability and makes them simple to keep in an apartment or home. A proper home defense pistol will be kept with a tactical light, with magazines loaded and ready in an easy to access location.
Finding the right pistol is difficult. It is like finding a good pair of boots – you need to see how it feels before you buy, because every type is different. Below are some great brands you should look at first.
The Austrian pistol maker uses a polymer design and a striker fired chamber for reliability. There are several models of glocks appropriate for home defense. Glock 17, 19, and 26 are great defense pistols that are an affordable cost.
The starting glock for anyone should be a 9mm, Glock 19. The Glock 19 has a strong reputation for reliability. A Glock as great features including a picatinny rail on the bottom of the slide for a light/laser combo. Glocks are easy to clean and feature unique iron sights. The aftermarket accessories for Glocks is another huge advantage. Finding Holsters, lasers, lights or suppressors is as simple as heading down to the local gun store.
Glocks are famed for their ruggedness. Special forces, law enforcement, and even hundreds of rappers trust their lives to Glocks. No matter the caliber, no matter the use, Glock makes premier handguns.
4. Colt 1911
For the majority of people the 1911 is not a viable concealed carry weapon. It is a full sized pistol, shooting 7 shots of heart stopping, jaw dropping .45. The Colt 45 has been the gun of choice for Americans for nearly a century. The 1911 has been the answer for stopping power since World War I.
A Colt 1911 or any other 1911 has pros and cons. The 1911 is one of the most comfortable firearms to use, especially for personal use. The heavy bullet recoils comfortably in your hand. 1911s with picatinny rails and even red dot rails are not uncommon. The 1911 from Springfield Armory, Colt, Wilson Combat are all great handguns.
The hundred year old design is may not be cutting edge, but it has remained basically unchanged from its inception. This provides a massive amount of parts and options for your 1911.
Shotguns have been used for hunting, combat, and home defense. Shotguns were petitioned by the Germans in World War I for being so effective as to be cruel and against the Geneva Convention, when used in the trenches of Europe.
Shotguns differ from pistols and rifles. The biggest differences are smooth bore barrels used with shells, and most shotguns use tube fed magazines. Shotguns are slower to reload, and most only hold 5-8 rounds. Shotguns are usually manually operated.
5. Remington 870
The most common shotgun is the US is the Remington 870. The 870 can be anything from Elmer Fudd’s shotgun to highly tactical shotguns used for breaching maneuvers. The 870 is capable of using a large amount of ammunition. From 3 ½ inch buck shot to salt rounds. Home-made defensive rounds should be used with caution, as they can be illegal in many jurisdiction.
Remington 870s fulfill the requirements for room for accessories with their strong after market. Lights, lasers, red-dots and even suppressors are made to be easily attached to the Remington 870.
Shotguns main drawbacks are their legally required length. Maneuvering a shotgun in a smaller home is difficult. Their lack of box magazines for quick reloads. The high recoil and noise in a enclosed area is deafening.
The drawbacks are often countered with the ease of aim, thanks to a large cone of fire. Unfortunately, people that fire a shotgun can attest to the lack of said cone within the confines of a house. It is usually better to equip with a rifle or pistol, but a shotgun is still better than nothing.
The Best Gun for you
The best gun for you may be an AR-15 or one of the pistols. You need to understand your plan and your training for your home defense, and then pick a gun that fits your reality.
No matter what firearm you choose, you must train with your weapon until you are confident in your ability to safely defend yourself and your home. Remember, buying a gun is only the first step.
JB | October 21, 2018
Good article. In a shtf situation where they are outside of your house I like the AR. What should be added to the shotgun section is “buckshot” shells. If the intruder is in the house it is the perfect round for a shotgun as you don’t have to be as exact and has a much higher gore factor than a slug. Also, learned from my prepper neighbor who’s a gun freak that the green laser has much better distance and is easier viewed than red lasers on any pistol/shotgun.
Rod | October 22, 2018
If your chosen firearm does not have an accessory rail, you can add a light or laser by getting an adapter that fits around the barrel. I have a couple of guns that use this and am very satisfied by their performance. I have both red and green lasers, but prefer the green. Also, if you have an AR-15 the article suggested changing the upper. You can make your rifle a 30 caliber by getting an upper in 300 BO. The BO uses the same magazines as the 5.56/.223, same bolt carrier group, but just has a larger chamber and bore. I have one of each; a 5.56 and a 300 BO.
Bill in Idaho | October 22, 2018
Thank You, Rod, for the ONLY Intelligent Suggestion for the AR-15 (or Copy). The AAC 300 Blackout is the IDEAL Choice. The 5.56/ .223 is Nearly Useless – Unless you hit someone or something after a couple of Ricochets or Tumbles – sad performance in 1967 And today. Bill
Greg VanDeVoort (retired 30 year Marine) | January 18, 2019
You don’t need an AR to protect your home. The Judge with alternating shot gun shells and .45 rounds works great. If I was going to shoot something at over 100 yards I’d want an AR., but not to keep next to my bed.
Phantom30 | January 22, 2019
see your 30 and raise you 20 more. The night stand pistol is the Springfield XD series of your choice, The tactile features for loaded and cocked are essential so you know your weapon status without looking or thinking during that first few seconds from sleep to awake. I use a Judge for Snake with No. 9 shot
Chip Payne | January 18, 2019
Also you should mention Gun Maintenance. Years ago I lived on a ranch in the Desert near Palm Springs. I was busy being young and didn’t take cafe of my pistol, didn’t clean it. One night a girl I knew brought over 3 characters who had just been released from Prison. They wanted to come in and “use my phone” of course I pulled my pistol and kept them at bay until they gave up entering my home and left. The next morning I decided to take target practice in the back yard in case they returned…. I chambered a round and “click” nothing happened. I had neglected cleaning and oiling so long the firing pin was rusted solid! Would not fire… If those criminals had called my bluff I would have been standing there with a useless piece of steel in my hand. CLEAN YOUR GUN! OIL YOUR GUN!
Phantom 30 | January 18, 2019
Family defense is much larger concept than defending against an intruder with nightstand pistol or under bed shotgun. SHTF family defense in daylight you want keep fight beyond assault rifle range using LR308 class in 6.5mm Creedmoor with 25 power scope. Night is NVGs on with IR Lasers using a 10.5” AR pistol in 300 blackout CQB scope. These two will do it for most situations.
Phantom 30 | January 18, 2019
I would not go with a 7.5″ AR pistol barrel, too much flame and noise at night. The 10.5″ will do it and still keep subsonic as such,. Single point sling is good. No flashlight, red or green lasers. They only make you the target, IR laser with NVGs work.
Rocket V | January 14, 2020
subsonic? what are you shooting a .22? won’t get subsonic with a 9mm or .223! you will with a .45. doubt you’ll be shooting .45 from a short barreled rifle? unless it a cheap Hi point or something like that.
Mike OFlynn | January 18, 2019
the real good thing about the shotgun, especially self loading shotguns, is that everybody has heard them load and know what it is and they really don’t want to come up against it
Dick R | January 18, 2019
Forget the AR 15. It’s an under powered rifle not good for much. Get a Colt? Ammo is expensive. Get a Taurus 9mm. Ammo cheap and very effective. As far as home defense, get a shotgun or a pistol that will fire .410 rounds like the Taurus Judge.
Teresa Whiffin | January 19, 2019
Hi mate l have been following you for sometime unfortunately for me l live in England and we cannot buy guns here wish we could we can buy Air guns but they are pretty useless when it comes to defence if you have any ideas that could help us please email
Phantom30 | January 20, 2019
Air Gun – Check out the report on Lewis and Clarke’s Expedition to explore the LA Purchase really worked well for them. Be creative
montana channing | January 20, 2019
all of these recommendations have one potentially FATAL flaw. without training and even with it, the average person will hesitate to kill another person no matter the circumstances. I can hear the vets and gun nuts yelling ” no problem – just kill the motherf****ers” but most will hesitate where a crazed intruder probably won’t. A gun won’t help you there and the presence of one is more likely to make the intruder shoot and ask questions after.
the solution – prep so you don’t get into most gun situations in the first place – lock houses, cars etc. anticipate 0roblems rather than getting stuck in one that you, with a weapon, may do harm to yourself and loved ones.
Phantom30 | January 21, 2019
(Vet yelling) Physical, emotional, and spiritual preparations are essential, or having a night stand pistol is pointless. Exodus 20:13 (NIV). You shall not murder – (kill with the malice of forethought). Ex 22:2-3. (Thief in the night). Numbers 35:19 (avenger of the blood). Romans 13:1-7 (men under authority, 2nd amendment). 2 Cor 10:3-6 (spiritual warfare). Understanding and resolving ethical issues may settle hesitance. Key part of preparedness training is having a commanding knowledge of the rules of engagement.
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