Firearms

The Burglar Gun: Best Firearms for Dealing with Intruders

best burglar guns

A mistake that some folks make concerning criminals is thinking that they are folks like us that are having a bad day. All criminals are sociopaths.

In the general population, the percentage of true psychopaths is low, perhaps one in 1000, and most control their behavior, to an extent.

In prison, one-quarter to one-half of the violent inmates are psychopaths. Many burglars are under the influence of drugs.

Their behavior may be manic, hyper, and they have elevated blood pressure and blurred vision.

As an example, I had a rather unpleasant dealing with a fellow who mixed Ativan, Librium, Valium, Depakote and whatever else they could use (and survive).

These fellows also drop Benadryl, a normally beneficial drug, but not when taken in handfuls, to “even things out.”

Then, they may drink three full cups of coffee rapidly, with six-to-eight sugar packs in each cup.

Just imagine the effect — I was a police sergeant at the time and each of us ended up in the emergency room.

His injuries were more permanent than my own, but it took weeks to recover.

I suppose he is telling the story from his perspective somewhere at the moment, providing he has survived the interceding decade since this incident.

The point is, the danger is real and there are people in this world that will not hesitate to take your life in order to escape.

Others feel that causing human suffering in the form of various assaults is an enjoyable experience.

Burglar Gun History

By the same token, you must understand that personal defense is a deadly-serious business and you must be certain you are on both good legal and moral ground.

The only time you are justified in firing is when there is no choice and the actions of the adversary are so terrible that they must be stopped.

It must not matter morally or legally if the offender dies as a result of being stopped. A curious kid or a drunken neighbor arriving at the wrong home isn’t fair game.

The situation must be legitimate personal defense. Being in fear of your life is one thing, in danger for your life another.

Some folks panic way too soon over things that are a matter of course on a daily basis for some of us. That being said, you need a burglar gun.

The burglar gun has been a mainstay of citizens for several-hundred years, beginning with a blunderbuss.

Despite the general impression of rural folks as gun owners, the original burglar gun was generally advertised for city dwellers.

Specially designed short-barrel shotguns were marketed well into the 1930s.

Quite a few interesting burglar guns were outlawed by the firearms acts of 1934, such as short-barrel rifles and shotguns, and fully-automatic weapons, except in the case of reams of Federal paperwork.

Traditional shotgun burglar gun
The humble Rock Island Traditional 20-gauge is a great home defender.

Option #1: Shotguns

After quite a bit of study, it seems that there are many obvious answers to the burglar gun. The firearm must be both safe and accessible.

A firearm that may fire if dropped isn’t a good choice. A long gun should never be at the ready with a round in the chamber. It should be easily made ready.

While I feel that one of the fast-handling shotguns with an 18-inch barrel is a good choice, by the same token, every incident I am aware of in which a shotgun was used for home defense involved a 24 to 28-inch barrel sporting shotgun!

Just the same, both storage and deployment are easier with the shorter-barrel shotgun. A single-shot shotgun is inexpensive and may be kept at ready with the action open and chamber loaded.

Some feature a transfer-bar ignition and are among a few long arms safe to keep at home ready with the chamber loaded.

While a minimum standard for home defense, a single-shot shotgun loaded with buckshot hits harder than any handgun at close range.

The shotgun handles largely by feel. The shotgun swings naturally and hits are easy to come by at close range for those that practice.

While I prefer a 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun for most uses, the 20-gauge shotgun is a viable home defender with lighter recoil.

A good thing about pump-action shotguns is that a good, reliable pump-action shotgun is affordable.

A good choice in semi-automatic shotguns is one of the Turkish shotguns based on the Benelli models. They are reliable, if not as well finished as the Beretta and Benelli shotguns they are based on.

Just the same, they are excellent firearms and offer real value. The shotgun should be loaded with buckshot.

Lighter shot isn’t as effective, as it is designed to kill an animal weighing a few ounces. #1, #4 or #00 buckshot is well-suited to home defense.

In 20-gauge, #3 is generally the only buckshot available.

Pump-Action Shotgun
The pump-action shotgun is easily maintained.

Option #2: Rifles

The AR-15 is America’s rifle and a great home defender. If a takeover robbery or event of this type is a real threat — and for some it may be — a .223 rifle is a very capable choice for a burglar gun.

.223 rifle with soft-point ammunition will usually not over-penetrate a body and will break up on building material.

If you have an AR-15 rifle and do not wish to use a hard-kicking shotgun, then it is certainly an option. If proofed for reliability, a 9mm carbine may be another choice.

A rifle that has accounted for quite a few burglars in my home state is a .22-caliber rifle.

A reliable .22 semi-automatic rifle is easy to use well, accurate and offers a credible choice for the entire family.

Colt AR-15 Rifle
The Colt M4 is a standard by which all others are judged, you may just need one.

Option #3: Handguns

Handguns are the weapon of opportunity. They may be carried concealed and ready to answer a threat in an instant.

I do not consider the pistol to be a weapon to use to fight my way to a long gun, but a weapon to use to respond to and address an immediate threat.

When you are bedding down at night, a long gun is the more effective firearm to have at ready. The handgun that is carried during the day is usually set beside the bed at night.

However, there is no reason not to keep a dedicated home-defense firearm at ready that could not be easily concealed. The firearm must be secured in a gun safe when you are not home.

Long gun or handgun, the piece should be in the gun safe and then set up in the bedroom for night duty. Don’t neglect this drill or you may return home to face your own gun!

A longslide pistol, such as the GLOCK 34 9mm, is a fine choice for home defense. These firearms demonstrate greater velocity from their long barrel as a result of a full powder burn.

A longslide 9mm or .45 caliber handgun points well and offers good control. My personal longslide GLOCK wears XS RAM night sights.

It is loaded with the Federal 124-grain Hydra-Shok, a reliable performer. A full-size CZ 75 9mm is another good choice. A revolver is a good choice for many shooters.

The revolver has certain advantages in handling at close range, including the ability to place the barrel against the adversary’s body and keep firing.

A quality six-inch barrel .38 Special or .357 Magnum revolver is controllable, points like a finger and offers excellent hit probability.

The snub-nose .38 is a good choice for those dedicated to mastering the piece. I have known several women over the years that slept with a .38 under the pillow.

Once, a single woman working odd hours had awoken to a burglar at the foot her bed. A long gun or even a handgun that she could not have instantly deployed would have been worthless.

A revolver shoved between the mattress and box springs, butt out, or under the edge of the pillow, has allowed many a young woman and widow alike a good night’s sleep!

Please practice with what you deploy. Don’t waste an expensive and presently limited amount of ammunition on sloppy practice.

You never know when a detail you have missed might have saved your life. Practice hard with your burglar gun and practice close-range skills.

Four revolvers of different sizes
Any of these revolvers are good choices for home defense. The longer-barrel, heavy-frame revolvers are much easier to use well.

Another Option: Alarms

Alarms? If you are a sound sleeper you are lucky, this is good for your health.

Thank God I work at home, as I am plagued by hours of sleep interrupted by intervals of work, including one to three in the morning.

(It worked for Sandburg and it works for me.) Remember, snap awake quickly in case of danger!

Don’t run to check on a break-in and forget your gun, it has happened. Some type of alarm or warning is good to have.

Mine runs on four feet and has a 102.4 temperature. She is my granddaughter’s best friend, a Canine Lupus Dingo, not quite a dog but neither a wolf.

She is related to the Canaan dog, New Guinea Digger, Dingo or Carolina dog, classed as a Pariah dog.

I don’t know if this gentle creature would bite, but she has teeth. She alerts when UPS or FedEx shows up, and has a different bark for the children or for a stranger.

She doesn’t miss much. She will give a warning. During the day she often rests in a burrow she has dug in the backyard, it is in her genes, and crawls into the bedroom closet at night.

I have not had to train her at all, she is territorial. A smaller breed would be just as good an alarm.

A Giant Schnauzer or a German Sheppard are famously intelligent. Don’t mistreat them, give them love and they will not be dangerous, but they will be a good alarm.

Take home security seriously. The world is a dangerous place, all the more so for those that are unprepared.

What is your burglar gun? Why? Let us know in the comments section below!

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.


Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Handloader
Rifle Magazine
Handguns
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns



Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (72)

  1. All good food for thought here as in these “Not” normal times miscreants(to light a word, I know) will be more inclined to do mischief if not harm. Lotsa differing and conflicting ideas on the lighter loads of shotguns… that said I’ve an older,50’s model, 38 s&w at bedside w/a 9 hollow & 45 dumdum as backup. Never been in combat, or an inner city conflict zone but many years MA training and ex-marine sooo.. tho all may have a “plan” noone can say w/o experience what one will do in scenario. Thank you all for your thoughts and advice. Blessings to all and hopefully, lol, this too will pass.😏

  2. Lots of very good comments. The only thing I would take exception with is the empty chamber in a pump shotgun. The only sound a person who has broken into your home needs to hear is St Peter telling them “sorry wrong entrance”

  3. As a street cop was sent to a shooting the perp exited his vehicle and shot the victim across the single lane street not a road with lanes in both directions a single 10 foot roadway using a 410 shotgun striking the victim in the neck and head area victim was brought to the hospital patched up and released in 3 hours no problems at all this is not maybe or could be this happened 410 shotgun birdshot is made for the birds and will not work i have seen it close up in real life.

  4. My home defense is a very loud and territorlial Cocapoo, and a 1947 Colt Detective Spl. I load regular ball ammo. I have shot all my life and with the DS I am confident and proficient. Beauford(said Cocapoo) is the alarm, then it is up to me. Great article by the way.

  5. Purchased a Ruger SP 101 in .327 Federal Magnum. Six rounds of stopping power. My wife and I practice with .32 H&R Magnum and .32 Long rounds. Fun to shoot and not punishing at all. If you’re looking for a good wheel gun, this is it.

  6. S&W Shield .40 loaded with semi-jacketed hollow points, backed up by a Stevens single-shot12 ga 00 buck and a 75 lb pit bull. Being a retired copper and living out in the boonies, there’ve been a couple of occasions where some unscrupulous-looking mopes have wandered up the drive, to be greeted by Mr Smith and Mr Wesson as they reached for the doorknob on the back door. The stammering and looks on their faces were priceless.

  7. Range update. Had new shooter brother in law down, fam firing some of my long guns. Loaded him up with 12 g lead no. 2’s, quail promo 8’s and #4 buck.
    First shot of 2’s obliterated 15 inch pumpkin at 12 yds. Next two went into silhouette at 45. Most number 8 did not penetrate both sides of cardboard box, those striking the 1x uprights failed to stick in it. The 4 bucks striking upright blew right through.
    I stand by goose loads.

  8. I have a SA XD40 as well a Mossberg 300 w/18” barrel. Birdshot is loaded then #00 buckshot if they keep coming after birdshot. Purchased the XD40 this year once the world starting going to shit.

  9. Am I the only one who read this article (and it’s a great article) expecting to find out what the best firearms were for home defense? And not just, “shotgun, rifle, pistol… in that order.” LOL Unless I’m mistaken, I think the Glock 34 is the only specific firearm even mentioned.

  10. I notice that there are a lot of misconceptions about being in a firefight. I mentioned earlier that way back in the very early 70’s, I was an Army medic on a SAR/Recon team someplace overseas. The words “Long ago and Far Away” are very apropos here. When you are in that situation, your reality changes, what you see, what you hear, everything, even time changes, for some it stands still, for others, they remember nothing because it flashed by them.
    What you perceive happened probably will be refuted by others, or by a camera if there is one there to record the event. That is why the police use bodycams, they don’t remember many details of what happened. And, unfortunately, any bad habit you have picked up will become default behavior in that situation,. Also, you will probably have no memory of much of the event, until the dreams come to haunt you at night. Trust me on that.
    You can talk all day about what you can do on the range, but most of that goes out the window when the real thing happens.
    Many years ago, I lost friends because of small bad habits they picked up on the range and were not corrected. Those seemingly insignificant things cost them their lives. Some of them were seemingly very self-confident as they went into the field, never to return. Those who were fortunate learned from other peoples’ mistakes and did not repeat them.
    When I went into the Army, we were told that during WW1, there were 11 rounds expended for every enemy kill. In WW2, there were 110 rounds expended per kill, and 1100 rounds expended per kill in Korea. And it skyrocketed in Vietnam to well more than 10 times that. The reason for that is as firepower increased, the men expended more rounds with even less discretion than in previous generations. Having more firepower does not necessarily indicate accuracy, in fact, usually the opposite is true. “Spray and Pray” should not be your first choice. BTW, I have no idea what the rounds per kill are beyond the 70’s.
    One commenter thinks that if you fire all 6 rounds from a revolver, ” Odds are if you fire all 6 rapidly you hit maybe 3 or 4 times.”
    Too bad, that is not so. NYPD did a study on “Hit Ratio” and it showed that in none of their studied shootings from 1990 – 2000 was there a mean hit ratio greater than 25%, and that was in 1998. 2000 was a really bad year for them in that the mean hit average was 9%. Over the 11 years covered in the study the mean average was 15%. For those interested, you can find that data here (http://www.theppsc.org/Staff_Views/Aveni/OIS.pdf).
    About 20 years ago, there was a Police shooting in a restaurant in a gun fight with a suspected murderer. The number of rounds fired were in the high 30’s to low 40’s. All rounds were fired at a distance of less than 10 feet and less than half connected with the target. I knew all of the officers involved. Now, I still live in the Oklahoma City Metro Area and in the last 2 or 3 years there have been a number of police shootings where NO ONE was injured. This is more common than you think.
    There was a study of police shootings a number of years back and one thing that showed up in every one of the cases studied was that the officers each had their empty shell casings in their shirt pocket and they had no memory of how they got there.
    I hope none of you is faced with the choice to draw down on another human being, but if you do, I hope you have spent hours of preparation on the range and in finding a support system who can listen to you after the situation. Do NOT go it alone! As I said in my first post on this thread, there is a reason that 22 vets choose to take their own life almost every single day. Many of them tried to go it alone.

    1. Bo, your comments are spot-on, and thanks for sharing your perspective. There is a lot of misguided information on the Internet, and this could get someone killed. I was very fortunate with my fatal self-defense incident, and I’m convinced of Divine intervention, as I fired 5 and hit 4 with a Springfield Armory XD, sub-compact, in 40cal. The excellent Denver PD homicide detective on my case set the wheels in motion for some limited counseling services with their Victim Assistance Program and it was very helpful. Thankfully, my family was very supportive with the exception of one sister, an ultra-lib gun hater.

  11. An old 1905 Smith & Wesson revolver, chambered in the 32-20 Winchester rifle cartridge ,,,,The pistol and the technology is over 100 years old. If it were marketed today, I’m sure they would label it as a magnum blaster. I don’t think a burglar wants to cope with 6 shots of high speed soft lead.

  12. You gotta remember that during an invasion: you get your gun of any type fire away and the next thing you hear is RRRIIIINNNNGGG!!! Have a post about hearing protection in emergency situations.

    1. You know, I’ve never been in combat, nor had to fire a weapon in a home invasion situation, so I’m not sure this applies. But I have noticed that when I am deer hunting, and suddenly a running buck appears and I have to fire off a quick shot with my .30-30, I don’t know if it’s the adrenaline pumping or what, but under those conditions I do not get a ringing in my ears. If I were to fire it at the range without ear protection I certainly would.

    2. As i am already deaf in my left ear due to disease, that concerns me greatly. But, even if you have some kind of protection handy,you might not always have the time to use them, unfortunately.

  13. My home weapon of choice is my 357 Taurus revolver 4 inch barrel loaded with 38 rounds for my wife’s comfort. She’s way more sure of herself with the dependable revolver than her semi automatic kimber

  14. Well written article, I agree ANY firearm is better than no firearm. I have similar experiences as the author. Confronted dirtbags are hard to put down and avoidance at all costs should be your first Choice but can be unavoidable. My lawenforcement career was ended by such a physical altercation in the line of duty. A drugged up person doesn’t think or feel like you do and keeps going with injuries that will put others down. Ask yourself now – If you have no other choice but to shoot a burglar could you? Do you have the skills to do so? The most important thing in this article is PRACTICE shot placement shot alignment, sight picture. Know your firearm. PRACTICE like you want to in a fight. Most people miss because they don’t practice and you fall back to your training in a fight.

  15. I read a study done years ago by a detective. He had interviewed many burglars who were in prison. One of his questions was “What’s the scariest thing in your opinion when you’re in someone’s home.” He said the resounding answer… “The sound of someone racking a pump shotgun.” I personally keep a Mossberg with buckshot next to the bed and a P320 .40 with light on nightstand. I agree with those who say you must practice with the tools you plan on using. You will revert to your best level of training when the SHTF. You don’t want to have to think at that point. It should already be done in your mind. And as one said “You cannot put that round back.” So again get training and practice with the tools you have.

  16. I would never trust my self-defense to a 22LR. I’ve had too many of these go ‘click’ instead of ‘pow’, likely due to poor primer deposition. I survived a fatal self-defense incident at home over 6 years ago, permanently ending a career criminal’s vicious spree. A drug addict, he was still coming at me with 3 wounds from a Springfield Armory XD in 40cal. The final shot was pointblank to his chest and he went down. Not a good day!

  17. My son’s Carolina dog alerted to something in the back yard and was let loose. Whoever it was hit her with something like a crowbar and broke her back. If you dog alerts, don’t let her loose until you get your firearm and a 3-cell maglight and get out there ahead of her. A crowbar can be a deadly weapon and if presented as a credible and imminent threat of serious bodily harm, justifies deadly force. God, I wish I’d been there.

  18. S&W Governor , Winchester PDX 410 2.5″ , Hornady critical defense 410 , federal ooo buck 410 . have 20ga shot gun hard for me handle now older .

  19. I have a Pistol-grip Mossberg 500 Cruiser in .410. 18.25″ barrel. Hornaday makes a Critical Defense load with 2 31-cal balls and an FTX slug, and Remington makes a home defense load with 4 000 Buckshot balls. I used the Hornaday on a coyote – no contest. Took him down instantly.

  20. Pretty good article. My preferences are my dog, 9mm within reach (not chambered), 12 ga. pump not chambered, slide unlocked), the sound of a pump cycling is a wonderful thing especially in the dark. Bird shot is all you need, if they are outside the effective range real danger to you may be a stretch.

    Before these things are the considerations of where you live and who you allow into your home. You may not have the ability to pick your children’s friends but if you can’t control access to your own home you shouldn’t have any weapons anyway, they will only get stolen or used against you.

    Many people live on a schedule, fixed habits and patterns. Very dangerous, maybe even fatal. If your “patterns” are known they are exploitable by those with less honorable intentions. Think, plan, prepare & practice (a little). Over training in unrealistic ways breeds arrogance and it also can be fatal. later – jw

  21. A .40-caliber Springfield XD with night sights sits by my bed when I’m sleeping, and a shotgun is within easy reach once I’m standing. There’s a lot to be said for the dogs. That would certainly be the preferred outcome: Dog barks, light turns on inside the house, and would-be intruder flees. Be prepared for the worst , and hope for the best.

  22. Not to act like another “internet gun expert”, but in my shotgun experience, shot behaves like a soft slug at short ranges. The wadding is designed to contain the shot out of the muzzle in a “bunch”, and only after a certain distance does the wadding slow down from aerodynamic drag and separate from the shot load. The shot itself has more momentum than the wadding and experiences less drag because of its spherical shape (modern plastic wadding has the “wings” which open up into the direction of flight).

    That’s to say that bird shot fired at real short range, about five meters or less, doesn’t spread at all. At distances “across the living room”, the shot is still pretty much contained by the wadding, which is obvious when shooting at plywood / OSB. I think Hollywood has the public believing that shotguns just shower pellets all across a room in a huge arc, so you don’t have to aim when firing a shotgun (you always have to aim, responsible shooters all know).

    Another thing that shooting through plywood demonstrates is how big of a hole a bird shot load makes through even 3/4″-thick material. I agree with the people commenting that #7-1/2 or so bird shot loaded into a gun is not a joke.

    And the person who says that a man killed himself with birdshot and it was all stopped by the roof of his mouth… this is as believable as Biden getting more votes than Obama. Just the propellant gas expansion alone would cause trauma when holding the muzzle to the inside of one’s mouth.

  23. My three inch barreled, three inch magnum, Taurus Judge is my go to. It is an easy to operate double action revolver with low recoil using the .410 OOO buck I keep its five chambers loaded with. .410 OOO buck, five thirty six cal pellets in each tube. They will print in a twelve inch circle at twenty feet. Its size, weight, and soft rubber grips give it great balance and handling. I keep two speed loaders with .45 long colt for backup. I have over four decades of firearms training and experience with small arms of all calibers, makes, models and configurations. I have considered and trained with all manner of home protection firearms, rifle,shotgun and handgun. For my money the “Judge” is my primary.

  24. My Taurus Public Defender with 410 PDX 1 in the first three chambers and 45 Colt in the last two is a pretty effective weapon in close quarters. When purchased the gun shop owner said they may make it out of the house but not the yard.

  25. It is perplexing that in 2020 no one actually publishes data regarding penetration of walls from firearms.. Wallboard is cheap. Shiplap is cheap. In a single range session the questions could be answered. Stage multiple scenarios with bullet types, weapons and distances. Record the actual penetration to dispel rumors that are not factual. This is not rocket science.Opinions do not matter. Facts matter.
    Second. The best handgun is the one you can shoot. I find it difficult to fire a revolver accurately, rapidly with the first shot. A DA auto without a safety is a square revolver with every trigger pull identical. Why do Glocks work ? They are simple and reliable plus they carry a lot more ammo. I have carried a Kahr PM9 over 10 years. It has never failed and you just pull the trigger.
    You need to find your “Kahr ” Go to a range with an instructor if needed. Find the gun you are comfortable shooting and practice, practice, practice.

  26. A handgun is the best response to an in home situation, but there are so many variables that it’s difficult to prescribe a 1 size fits all solution. Handguns are easily used in close quarters which is the primary benefit.

    Revolvers offer SUBSTANTIAL benefits over semi-autos in a home defense situation. Revolvers are easy to work. In a very high stress situation such as a home invasion or stumbling into a burgler or a houseguest going psycho, there isn’t time to think or often time to recover from a mistake such as forgetting to flip the safety off. Revolvers also take the dust, grime and neglect typical of a house gun much better. Forget to clean it for 5 years no problem. A revolver that hasn’t been fired would have to be left in a pot of water for that long to become unreliable. A semi-auto that sits in a closet or night stand out of protective casing might or might not fire after that long without cleaning. Especially the 2nd round is likely to jam up.

    In a home defense situation, unless you are facing rioters or a gang that’s come to your door, rate of fire and round capacity are at best not important and can easily turn into a big negative. If you shoot an intruder 3 times, you are significantly less likely to be billed by a grand jury than if you shoot them 7 times and if you shoot them 10 times you are probably going to jail for a while. At the least being sued to oblivion. No jury not made up primarily of gun owners is going to buy that you needed 10 rds to take a burgler down. You fire until the threat is stopped. If you are using low caliber rounds that means you empty the mag. Even if you delivered a fatal shot with the 2nd round, you’ll have emptied the mag before the bad guy knows they are dead. Revolver only had 6 rounds. Odds are if you fire all 6 rapidly you hit maybe 3 or 4 times. That should be plenty to take care of the threat AND not seem like excessive use of force.

    The other problem with high capacity mags in a home defense situation is every round is going somewhere. The more rounds you fire, the more chances of hitting somebody other than your intended target. Especially since high capacity mags encourage spray and pray. If you have a 15 rd mag, almost everyone walks the gun on target and then hits them with everything they have. That’s a lot of lead going SOMEWHERE other than the target. It’s also a lot of lead in the target. Good in war, bad in self defense.

    Urban fighting is often from behind moderate cover. A round that cannot penetrate that cover, THEN penetrate thick clothing such as winter jackets THEN penetrate something vital is a risk of shooting somebody and just making them mad. Revolvers tend to have more oomph to them. Are better able to go through a thick exterior door and through a thick coat after that and still take out the bad guy.

    Over penetration is typically only a real concern if you are shooting into a crowd where innocents may be involved or in a dense urban area like an apartment complex. In a suburban environment, that round you miss with is probably going to have to pass through your walls, then a car, mailbox, tree, before hitting neighbor’s exterior walls and then becoming a risk. Even a .357 mag isn’t going to be very lethal without a seeing eye stray round that manages to doge all that, and still be high enough to penetrate a neighbor’s home and carry enough energy to be a serious threat. Shots fired out doors are a different story. If you fire rounds from the street or your front yard alot of that is negated and the elevation of the rounds is sufficient that it’ll clear most of those obstacles and pose a serious hazard to neighbors. Home defense inicidents rarely involve shots fired outside of the home. The bad guys and home owner exchange a breif 3 or 4 second burst of fire and the bad guys are running for the hills. The shocked home owner is cautiously working through the place to see if any threats exist before giving chase. By that time the bad guys are long gone.

    Cops have a real risk of shooting into crowds and in crowded urban areas like malls, apartment complexes, etc. So they want a round that isn’t going to overpenetrate. A home defense gun really doesn’t need to worry about that unless you are using a ..500 magnum or something like that or live in a large apartment complex.

    You want the opposite in home defense. Something that even if it doesn’t hit them scares the bejusus out of them. That makes a LOT of noise. The more noise the less the bad guys will want to stick around. The more psychological intimidation that gun will have.

    In the end psychological factors are a huge part of home defense. Lethal rounds rarely instantly disable somebody. Even with a .45 acp they may be fully capable of harm even though they have suffered a wound that will kill them in a few minutes no matter what medical care they recieve. You have to take the fight out of them. That means overcoming their adrenaline and aggressive mindset with something that scares them. Pop pop pop is often not enough to do this, and can easily have the opposite effect. BOOM such as a big bore hand gun or shotgun makes is far more likley to overcome their psychological defense and send them into flight rather than fight mode. Getting hit by a big bore gun not only does more real damage, but also has a bigger psychological impact (excuse the pun). The enemy is more likely to know they’ve been shot and the pain and trauma will be amplified by the psychological factors. Small bore wounds are often not even noticed or seem minor even if they are serious for long precious seconds. Long seconds the enemy is still a threat.

    Winning a gunfight is a matter of stacking the odds and rolling the dice. The most perfect gun with the most perfect round and perfect aim is never a sure thing. There is no sure thing in any fight. All you can do is stack the odds. In home defense. You want a super reliable weapon, as much energy as you can reasonable handle, you want it loud, if it’s a flame thrower all the better, and you want limited round capacity to prevent overkill. Most of all you want that weapon to be as simple to operate as humanly possible and good at the point and shoot technique that 99% of people in a real gunfight use.

    Wht you use for a concealed carry weapon will probably be different. Concealability, over penetration, weight, size and rate of fire become important factors. You still want reliability in a concealed carry weapon, but most of the other factors you may have to trade off for other factors. Sure it’d be nice to haul a .44 mag around, but is it practical for most people? Nope. Not many people could comfortably and easilly carry a .44 mag as concealed weapon. Nor would you want to fire into a crowd or in a retail store with such a powerful weapon. At home, in a rural environment where the neighbor is half a mile away a .44 mag makes an excellent night stand gun for many people. Others their bedroom might be on the opposite side of the house of their childrens and over penetration then does become a concern. A rural resident might encounter a bear or other large critter that is threatening children, pets or livestock and may not have time to break out a rifle. You damn sure don’t want to bring a 9mm to bear fight.

    So every situation is different. What is the best caliber will vary greatly. An 80 year old in a wheelchair might have trouble dealing with a .357 or a lady with really small hands might not be able to wrap her hands around a .45 acp. You might live in a large apartment with paper thin walls or 10 miles from the next house. In some homes the open display of a firearm would be a problem. Small children may be present and thus the safe storage of weapons becomes a critical factor. Way too many factors to consider and I think that would be the best angle to consider this from. What are YOUR capabilities, factors and needs, then go with the biggest bore that fits those requirements.

  27. “Quite a few interesting burglar guns were outlawed by the firearms acts of 1934, such as short-barrel rifles and shotguns, and fully-automatic weapons, except in the case of reams of Federal paperwork.” This statement is misleading.

    The National Firearms Act (NFA, 26 June 1934) did not outlaw any firearms. Rather, it subjected certain firearms – machineguns, short-barreled rifles/shotguns, and sound suppressors – to a $200 transfer tax. Some devices regulated under the NFA are subject to a $5 tax, e.g., an “Any Other Weapon”, a pistol-grip firearm that uses shotgun ammunition.

    In 1934, $200 was a huge amount, then equal to 40% of the average price of the three most popular cars sold in that year. The tax was challenged. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the legality of the tax (Sonzinsky v. United States, 300 US 506 (1937)).

    Since then, an NFA firearm changes hands only after payment of the $200 tax and the receipt by the firearms dealer of an approved Form 4, by which custody is transferred. On the Form 4 is a $200 tax stamp, which proves payment of the tax. The Form 4 is NOT a license. It is a receipt for a tax payment.

    The approval process takes many months. The buyer has to submit two Form 4s, with a passport-sized photo for each of the two forms and two fingerprint cards, so a background check can be done. The Form 4 ties the person named on the Form to the specified device.

    Any other person cannot lawfully possess the firearm. So, if the owner and a friend are at a shooting range, and the owner has to answer a call of nature, the owner must secure the firearm, so that the friend is not alone with the weapon accessible.

    Possession of an NFA device by a person other than the one to whom it is registered is a Federal felony.

    This is the regulatory regime that President-elect Biden wants to impose on all semi-automatic rifles. See: https://joebiden.com/gunsafety/ .

  28. Believe it or not, Bob, in the state of Kalifornia, anyone unknown to the homeowner(s), who is inside their home is considered to be there for the purpose of committing bodily harm, and therefore can have lethal force used against them.

  29. If your going to point a weapon at another human being and pull the trigger, they need to die. You don’t want them healing up and coming back for revenge. “Never point a gun at anything your not prepared to kill” is what my father used to say.

    Birdshot is a complete waste of breath. 00 buck or bigger, even slug. Birds don’t do drugs or wear Levi jackets. Birds don’t come prepared with their own guns. Birds don’t wear body armor. If your trying to protect you and your family from a serious threat, leave granny’s old salt loads and birdshot for another target. 12ga buck, slug, buck, slug, buck, slug will decimate an intruder. You don’t want them getting up or even telling there side of the story. If you’re not prepared to kill the intruder, then you should just let them do whatever they want.

    Glock 10mm hollow point is my night stand weapon. 15 rounds of that should be enough.

  30. Good article on defense guns. The accepted % of psychopaths in our society is 4%, way more than the 1 in a 1000 you say. I know a prison psychiatrist who said 90% of prisoners are psychopaths. Psychopaths are a subset of sociopaths and are born not made. Sociopaths are a mix but all have a genetic tendency toward antisocial behavior and make up8% or more of the population. Bottom line there are way more bad people than you think. Some are criminals, some are CEOs, some are lawyers, some are police, some are used car salesmen, etc. You can not trust them and expect them to behave in what you might think is a normal way. Some psychopaths will kill you if they think you look at them wrong if they think they can get away with it.

  31. Don’t underestimate “libs”. I’m one of those armed with my 20 gauge Mossberg 500 as my defensive weapon plus a pitbull and GSD and hubby with his Glock 17 and alarm system.
    “Conservatives” come try to burgle our house at your peril.😂 I prefer the buckshot spray as first round followed by slug to finish up.

  32. Instead of the overpenetration provided by large buckshot, I have decided on the use of Winchester blind side, a cube shaped shot designed for waterfowl for defense, as well as waterfowl. Devastating results, without the over-penetration risk. Bird shot is more of a deterrent, although many years ago my father dropped a deer with number 9 shot in the head at extremely close range. (Any size shot will act like a slug for a few feet out the muzzle)
    Buckshot out of a 410 pistol can be quite impressive without the velocities needed for over-pen as well, yet still a capable defense round.

  33. Almost every comment posted was well received and added to the knowledge database between my ears. I keep a Kimber 1911 full size next to the bed, ready to go with the safety on. I have practiced more times than I can count flipping the safety down as the gun gets gripped. There’s a 300 lumen StreamLight under the chin and a Crimson Trace green grips set installed with a Wilson Combat 8 round mag filled with Hornady Critical Defense. My practice distance at the range is 8 meters, a tad more than 25 feet. I have yet to need to use this finely made setup in a defense mode, only at the range. But I believe I am ready and pray I never need to find out.

  34. The best home defense weapon you can use is the one you personally can safely and reliably operate under duress and hit what you aim at. Otherwise your holding a real expensive noise maker and you’d be more effective with a baseball bat or a golf club. Or run as best you can.

    People always get into this debate on the notion of projectile size and knockdown power when discussing this topic which is interesting because a humble .22 placed correctly in your body will sit you right down in place as well.

    BTW for this article why was the “Other” category of firearms not mentioned or discussed? Not quite rifles and not quite pistols. They are usually even engraved with “Other” right on the receiver.

  35. In ’63, my huntin’ dog jumped on Dad’s bed at 2am, and whispered the word “Woof” in his ear. We had never had burglary, but Dad old G.I. and Cop, interpreted that as “Burglar”! He had 2-story walkout basement lake home, so intruder breaking in lower level door. Dad said to me 30.30 & he led to stairs with .30 M1 Carbine & 30 shot clip. Intruder just finishin’ up as had scribed circle on window, popped piece out, reached thru and unlocked door. Dad had free hand here as backdrop behind door was only the lake, so waited for Sherlock to come in, turn around facing Dad when Carbine barked an upside down 15 shot “U” on door surface around young cat burglar teen of color pissin’ his pants and crying like a baby. We had rash of similar burglaries there 60 miles W. of Detroit, so Mom called Police Chief. Chief arrived silent, asked burglar if would like to stay at his place or wait for the hard azz Sheriff? Burglar chose Chief who spirited him to City Lockup, didn’t file any charges on his guest and waited. Third day Perp #2 asked for info on Perp #1, and Perp #3 was out in the car!! Back in the day, Cops caught perps with smarts instead of tech!! All 3 got 10 years for burglary at night of an occupied dwelling. Dad and his Carbine got picture in paper w/old door to be replaced by insurance company although not even covered, ole Nellie D. Dog got steak cooked medium-rare just like she liked ’em! So .30 Carbine can be very effective burglar deterrent if you use it right….

  36. I have the dog and the shotgun and the revolver under the pillow. Both guns have lights on them. So many people have shot the wrong person in the dark as to be sadly way too common. One of the greatest modern improvements to auto handguns has been the light rail. A mounted light will give you a good aiming point as well. Bottom line, if you ever shoot anyone for any reason your life is over. Whether justified or not, by the time the authorities get done with you, you’ll wish you hadn’t survived.

  37. TA is 100% correct. 20 or 12 gauge with birdshot at “self-defense” ranges is more than adequate. Unlike the movies The lead shot pattern remains tight at such ranges transferring a lot of energy into your assailant. Having said this…. a high capacity rifle in a pistol caliber of AR is best in my humble opinion.

  38. As a supplement to all of the above, I would suggest thoughtful, safe and strategic staging of multiple burglar/intruder guns: whatever and however chosen. IMO, that would apply even if one goes around the house packing. Of course, before you leave the house unoccupied, lock ’em up.

  39. I believe in floodlights, cameras, door and window alarms, dogs; and I carry a P365 loaded with 12 plus 1 and safety on, on my hip or within reach 24/7, inside or outside my house. I have a Mossberg 590 Shockwave in 20 gauge next to my bed. I also have a Winchester pump shotgun in 12 gauge in the closet. Having a gun on my hip 24/7 fills the requirements of being prepared and having a gun when I need it. Two seconds to draw my gun from my hip beats any amount of time having to run to the bedroom or safe to get a gun when the threat is beating down the front or back door. I have a safe in my car for when I can’t legally carry into a building or store. I have a dedicated locked safe room where I keep an AR 15 with a loaded high capacity mag. Not paranoid, just prepared for eventualities. I also have fire alarms and CO2 detectors and fire extinguishers as part of being prepared for eventualities. As well as a first aid kit. My neighborhood, within one mile of my house, has seen an increase in home burglaries, carjacking in the driveway, and a couple of home invasions. Preparedness beats scrambling when the time comes.

  40. Have guns stashed in every room of the house, where we both can get to them. Everything from .22 to Ar15. Our “what was that” bedroom guns are a Walther.22 for her and a Ruger P95 for me. Mine has 147 gr JHP’s and a light, and has never had a malfunction in over 10 years, thank you Bill. Hers has HP’s and a light. Also, due to the popularity of home invasion crimes, I carry concealed in the house, for when 3 steps is 2 too many.

  41. I keep a Glock 20 next to my bed. I find that the fourth generation Glocks make the 10mm’s extra recoil negligible in comparison to a 9mm. It still holds a full magazine worth of ammunition 15+1 and delivers a hell of a lot more firepower into the target. In addition, i keep a Saiga 12 nearby with a reliable 20 round drum in it loaded with # 4 buckshot. I know some would say that is a little overkill, but hey i don’t think the single burglar scenario is as likely these days, and if your going to be invaded it’s best to prepare for multiple intruders. I disagree with using bird shot. Unless they are literally 5 feet away from you bird shot may just piss them off if they are wearing heavy clothing. Use buck shot # 4 it’s a good compromise if you live in a neighborhood and are worried about over-penetrating your walls. In addition, i would suggest always having a light on your weapon, it is imperative to identify your assailant before you shoot to make certain they are a serious threat to you. If they don’t have a gun you shouldn’t fire. Instead order them to stand down or leave and call the police. Don’t shoot them in the back either.
    I have been considering getting a dog. I used to have one she was great a German Shepard. But now i have cats. I just need a dog that honestly isn’t big enough to knock my very petite wife over, but will just wake me in the case of an intruder nonetheless. This is just one humble mans opinions have a great Thanksgiving everyone. Or the best one you can have during these times.

  42. As to bird shot, I certainly would not want to be on the receiving end of a 12 guage load of #7,6,4 or otherwise but remember Dick Cheney shot his hunting partner in the head with a 28 guage loaded for quail. That guy walked away. He may have been out of home defense range but the issue here is lethality. A deranged psychopath may just get pissed off at a load of 7 1/2 from a 410. I keep a 410 with Hornady critical defense rounds handy for my wife’s protection. She can manage it well.

  43. I have been teaching pistol craft as a martial art including shotgun and rifle for over 30 years. I’m also involved with several empty hand and knife disciplines. Training is the key for anyone wanting to become responsible for their own well being and for their loved ones.
    There are some good suggestions above regarding home defense, so I’ll just add two other suggestions. 1- Go to home depot, buy a dozen night lights, light up the dark areas of your home at night except your bedroom. You be the voice giving commands from the shadows. 2- If it’s possible do the paper work and get sound suppression for your firearm. Trust me you will need it when engaging indoors.

  44. Folks, split the difference on birdshot/buckshot. My leading two rounds are old 2 oz lead BB goose loads. I’ve dropped coyotes out to 40 yds with them. Hevy shot BB should be even mo’better. Follow ups are #1 buck because by then remaining combatants will be behind cover.

  45. We used to take turns all the time shooting each other with bird shoot as kids. Only a heavy coat and a trash can lis for defense..

  46. Finally acquired a Mossburg Shockwave, the ultimate home defense / burglar repellent. If racking the action isn’t enough to send an errant bad guy on the run, I have it loaded with a couple of #1 steel shot & a couple of 00 buckshot which should put down the most drug addled offender. We do live in a single-family home with brick all around the exterior on the 1st floor & neighbors that will respond if they hear the roar of a 12ga. going off.

  47. I agree, do penetration studies. .410 Buckshot will not go thru an average human body much less penetrate 2 walls. Then kill a neighbor. I have to respectfully disagree. Bird shot as a defender??? For Squirrels and such? Wow Really? But nothing was said about AR and over penetration… Biased. Like I said. Im out and… Really good luck! I wish you all the best, and thank you to all the vets for your service. Now I have to do a math test.

  48. “You can never go back”, is the truest and most sobering statement made so far, so thank you Bo, very good post and should be part of every conversation regarding home or personal defense, so much so I feel compelled by Bo’s comments to share my own story. Okay, I will open that it involves a black bear, so if you are a hunter – I have hunted/don’t hunt currently – you might not share my sentimentality for bears. So, here’s a cautionary tale regarding ammo and adrenaline turned into nightmares. Over the spring and into the summer we had problems with a sow and her cub tearing up our fruit trees: we cannot remove 20 fruit trees because the bears like them, we had to seek alternatives. Unfortunately in my state Fish and Game do not respond to nuisance bears unless they have attacked or harmed people: their position is is the bears belong to the area and removing one will invite others, its a the live-let-live position at F&G. Regarding our situation, the suggested 12 gauge riot (rubber) rounds. I have hunted to gain the skills, so I am not apposed to collecting game for food, not trophy’s. I have a ‘few’ firearms in my small collection, all are based on their designed use – all utilitarian to my needs. I purchased rubber game control rounds, practiced with them, they give me about a 250-350 foot effective range, I practiced with them, became proficient in hitting a pie plate etc. Waiting about a week, and moma with her yearling cub arrived. Here’s the lesson regarding ammo: I have slug ammo that has BLUE casings with a RED plug, and the riot/rubber slugs are RED (the tip is visible – they do not have a plug) and a BLUE casing…see where this might be going? In my haste and excitement I picked up the shotgun and checked the rounds, I determined and convinced myself that I had the WRONG ammo in it, ejected and reloaded: adrenaline is now up, I am nervous, bears are big and fast and I am on the ground level in my warehouse, ready to exit and aim. Yes, I swapped the rubber rounds for the slugs and exited the warehouse. With my wife watching from the deck of the house, I lined up on the cub (about 150-200lbs), perfectly sighted her right rump: BOOM, the ‘kick’ and the blood spewing from her wound all played out in stop motion (I still avoid the movie in my head and writing this is not easy), a few seconds pass, the bear is screaming now and trying to crawl away (theround shattered her spine/hips, she could not walk), my adrenaline pumped brain finally allowed the scene to come into focus: I yelled at my wife, “wrong f*king ammo, a few times, as I went into what I can call ‘kill mode’, I have enough firearms training and experience (aside from F-ing up the ammo), so I knew what needed to be done and to my wife’s credit she kept an eye on me, after fetching my 3030 as a back up (smart lady, tough as nails). I missed the first shot, I hit the bear again with the second – as she attempted to climb our pear tree, the final shot got her hart from the side: maybe 2 minutes in total for it all to play out. I was DAM lucky I loaded five slugs and not one slug then rubber. This is not a true-detective story about the ‘hero’ taking out a ‘criminal’ with his trusty 9mm, or a cowboy taking down his opponent then blowing the smoke off his six shooters barrel, this is about the visceral horrific scene and lasting nightmares I created with one sh*tty decision made in haste of mixing up ammo and taking a life, albeit a bear, who’s only crime was rolling around on our lawn, eating fallen fruit, on a warm summer day. It’s about not being able to ‘go back, ever’ as Bo clearly pointed out. It took several weeks for the ‘auto – movie’ to stop rolling in my head, and my wife’s! Hers was seeing the whole scene and never being exposed to that amount of weapon violence, she’s a bit tougher now, but we both agreed, we could have done without the lesson of 12g on an animal about the same size as a human, no exactly the same size as me at 200lbs. Never going back, it’s an extremely hard reality to face and I have no idea how life would have played out if that bear had been a human! The only diff, I would not be sending rubber down-range at a human, so at least I would not have the shock of hitting my target with lethal ammo while expecting a rubber slug. (NOT: my slug ammo now has SLUG written on the sides of the blue casings in red and blood-red tips painted on them)

  49. I agree with the Shotguns. AR…Well not protecting my house with it. Its probably the worst choice for home defense. 2800 ft per second to shoot 20 feet??? Really? And its complicated to operate when you have been startled out of sleep. Is it racked…? Is it loaded…? Is the safety off…? You are dead with an AR in your hand for the criminal to shoot your wife with… Hands down the best home defense gun on the market today is The Taurus Raging Judge Magnum. Its a 410 shotgun 45LC and Grizzly killer 454 Casull. Nobody talks of or even mentions Taurus. This is biased. Taurus are great guns, and have improved much in the last years. And now customer service is supposed to be much better. All it took was for some malfunctions to creep up and it was done for Taurus. All guns and manufacturers have issues from time to time. Can anyone say Colt? I have had over a thousand rounds down the throat of my Raging Judge 6 1/2 in. Not one problem. Not one misfire. Not one jam. Why? Because it is a Revolver. Hands down the most dependable home defense gun on the planet! And all around fun gun to shoot! Mows down everything in front of it. I will take my AR to the range and distance shooting its intended use. And keep my Revolver/Shotguns close to me at home. Automatics as home defenders when you absolutely need it to fire…NOW. Well you can take your chances with that. Not by my bed. And before anyone says ohh ahh well its just a .410. Let me take you on a ride with the Judge. Loaded with 000Buck. Faster than you can unload that Mag. I would have already punched down range 30 9mm sized balls at my dusted assailant. While you are still trying to clear a 15 round mag in that Auto. Listen to Ted Nugent on AR vs Shotgun in home defense. Well I hope this saves lives and some precious seconds when it matters most. Love all guns equally and include the best guns for their intended purposes.

  50. I have a DA .44 spc bedside. With small children, the bedside long gun just doesnt seem feasible.

    There is an alarm company sign in the yard and visible cameras set up.
    Perimeter is well lit, also motion sensor lights. I also work at home, and alternate parking my truck in the driveway or garage.
    Lastly, i know all my neighbors. We talk and watch out for each other. I think this is probably the most valuable preventative piece there is.

    Once we can move into the county (fingers crossed) this spring, a dog and goat are first on the list of acquisitions.

  51. Well very interesting thread ! but one thing left out is from what ive been told by many , the pump shot gun with no load chambered, because when an idiot breaks in and hears click click he knows the crap is about to hit the fan and turns and runs in most cases ! If not then you add holes to his center mass !!

  52. My EDC is a Taurus G2C that I practice with regularly and it’s on my nightstand every night. However, if I hear a bump in the night, I reach for the Sub-2000 propped against the nightstand. Both are loaded with Critical Defense rounds and have proven themselves very reliable at the range. My son is doing distance learning because of Covid so he has spent a lot of time practicing with the carbine and has access to it when I’m gone.

    As much as I love my guns, I’m not able to practice with them as much as I’d like. Range-time and ammo are expensive when you live paycheck to paycheck. I know that in a high-stress situation my shot placement will likely go to hell as my fine motor functions deteriorate. Honestly, I’d probably be more effective with one of my “battle-ready collectible” swords. I’ve even considered constructing a small ballistic shield to use in tandem with a gladius. I’ve spent countless hours practicing with both live and practice swords, sparring with partners and some of those sparring sessions have gotten rather intense with bruises, lumps and even a cracked rib once. (Yes, a polymer practice sword CAN crack a rib if you miss a block.)

    The way my house is laid out, slicing out of my bedroom to clear the 3 adjacent rooms is difficult. I know, I know, don’t take a knife (even a BIG one) to a gunfight. I have no plans to do that but I do need to find a way to practice more. Perhaps some of the laser snap-caps with the responsive targets.

  53. Excellent article.
    When defending your family in a life or death situation you have to keep shooting until the intruder drops. You need to consider any intruder in your home as s life or death situation. Keep in mind you can be killed by a dead man walking. The individual you have just shot, even with a direct shot to the heart, has up to 15 seconds to kill you before he passed out.

  54. Burtis

    With all due respect, .410 birdshot is fine for birds and squirrels, not motivated humans. Energy is less in a pistol than a shotgun. If you hit the target, over-penetration of walls is not a problem.

    Do some penetration tests and you may agree.

  55. I see comments on birdshot again- the best course is not to miss and put the load into the adversary. Buckshot will NOT penetrate a normal sized human and then two walls. If you miss, well, you cannot call the rounds back whatever they are. Chances are you are firing at a slight downward angle in most instances. I once investigated a case in which a person committed suicide with a 12 gauge loaded with birdshot, pulling the trigger with his toe, the gun in his mouth. Every single shot pellet save one was absorbed by his palate. The single tiny birdshot pellet penetrated to the center of his brain. His family said he was flopping on the floor for several minutes. A man is about the size of a deer and it takes the same amount of damage to anchor either. Gelatin testing has shown light shot is a very bad choice. It may not even penetrate a down jacket or a leather jacket. Small size #4 buckshot is a minimum.

  56. Not mentioned,but VERY important are:

    (1) Shotguns, even with #4 shot (vs #4 buckshot, which is much larger), is still horrible to be on the other end of at twenty-five feet; and,

    (2) That number four shot, unlike the rifle ammo and even pistol ammo, is not going to go through interior sheet-rock walls and exterior walls, endangering neighbors and people in the next five towns over,

  57. @ TERI ANNE
    Well said.
    And, as one vet to another, thank you for your service.
    Many years ago, probably close to 30, a friend of mine who was an Oklahoma City Cop told me the best home defense weapon he had seen was a 20 gauge pump shotgun loaded with #4 birdshot. He went on to say that he had seen this used multiple times over his career of many years as a law enforcement officer, and he thought it had been very effective in stopping everyone on whom he had seen it used. It was so effective that he bought a Mossberg 20 gauge for his wife to keep in the house when he was gone. He also recommended it to several of the other nurses in the ER in which I was working. I already had a Mossberg 20 gauge and, to this day, it is set up as he suggested for my wife to use.
    And, like you, he discouraged the use of any kind of buckshot as he had seen more than one case where there was overpenetration and innocents were injured, at least one of whom was not even in the same building where the incident occurred.
    As for me, I also have several 1911’s at the ready. One of them, is much like the one I carried as a medic on a SAR/Recon Team almost 50 years ago in some forgotten place where we were deployed overseas (it is unlike that one as it sports Crimson Trace grips.) Another one, my EDC, is Smith’s ProSeries version of the Officer’s Model. I know what each of those will do when the fan gets turned on and the room changes color.
    Thank you for mentioning the stress and immense pressure that comes with a live fire self-defense kind of situation. For years, I have tried to explain to people that it is virtually impossible to imagine what that situation is like and it changes people in ways they may or may not be able to deal with. Until one has walked that path, they have no idea what lies ahead.
    I have known more than a few people who almost lusted for the opportunity to go there, only to spend the rest of their lives trying to deal with the aftermath. To many, I have said, be as prepared as possible but do NOT desire it. You can never go back to what was before. That is but one reason that 22 vets choose to take their own life almost every single day.

  58. “all criminals are sociopaths” WIth new Biden Gun laws coming, there will be a lot of ‘us’ sociopaths walking around I guess.

    And yes, Dogs rule. If you can, have TWO. I’m very on top of house security, but always oversee that I have a pit mix and a rott mix, both rescues. Most neighbors don’t have anything. I have cameras, they don’t. Most are libs, so they likely don’t have firearm either. Path of least resistance is usually what they are going for.

    So add “Warning Bad Dog” Signs too!

  59. Amen to having a dog!

    As a “Senior Shooter”‘ like the idea of a 4″ – 6” DA revolver for a “nightstand gun”. But, I also have a .410 pump, and some of the new .410 “pistol” ammo. At one time, Mossberg had a .410 shotgun with a handguard having a built in light in their catalog. Even had a “spreader barrel”. BUT, Never found anyone that had even actually seen one.

    With the current “unpleasantness”, any gun that can be found, and works, is now a burglar gun.

  60. I disagree. I believe the best defensive weapon is the 410 revolver loaded with birdshot. With the heavier shot you may kill or harm your neighbor. At 20 ft, the birdshot will stop an intruder. Remember, the revolver requires no thinking, just pick it up and pull the trigger. Another good defensive weapon is the double action semi automatic. Have a hollow point round in chamber with the hammer down and the safety off. When needed, pick it up and pull the trigger. The first pull is a little hard but not enough that anyone would have trouble pulling it, then it can be fired simi automaticly. And there’s no wondering if the safety is on or how to release the safety. That hesitation could get you killed! And, it has. The less thinking in a hyper stressful situation, the sasfer you are.

  61. Bob, please cherish your dog while you can. We had one very much like her, who passed away last summer from cancer. She was a mixed breed, but looked like a Carolina dog. Best watchdog ever, and went into instant nanny-mode when my grandsons were born. She kept a better eye on them than their sleep-deprived parents. With her huge ears, I never had to worry about an intruder sneaking into our house.

  62. I am a 30 year Army veteran as well as marksmanship instructor, NRA instructor and teach Concealed Carry as well. I currently work selling firearms at a large sportspersons outlet and have had to advise otherwise ill advised individuals on what type of firearms to be used for home protection as well as concealed carry. Unless an individual is well versed in shooting a handgun they should never consider a handgun as a home defense firearm, nor should they consider it for a carry firearm. If you cannot accurately shoot a handgun under immense pressure you are better off running or hiding if you can rather than pulling out a handgun in which you now become the primary target for whomever the threat is. It is my humble opinion that a short barrel shotgun is the best home defense firearm, however I do not agree with the use of any buckshot loads for home defense. Buckshot loads will blow through two layers of wallboard dividing rooms or the outside of the home. In some cases it will continue through a second or possibly a third wall before stopping thus putting anyone or anything on the other sides of these walls in peril. At ranges associated with home defense I recommend trap/skeet loads with number 7 1/2 or 8 shot fired from any choke in any shotgun. At self defense ranges the shot will not appreciably spread out but remain a rather large concentration that will, if it hits the intruder will do considerable damage, yet not have the energy to blow through several walls. In conclusion my recommendation for the average homeowner who is not capable and comfortable with a handgun my number 1 choice is a shotgun loaded with trap/skeet loads. If a handgun is selected it should be fitted with a green laser sight set up so that the bullet fired hits the target at home defense distances.

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