Personal Defense

Home Defense: When Something Goes Bump in the Night…

Man holding handgun, handcuffs, cell phone, spare magazine and other medical supplies wearing his pajamas

Most people believe they are prepared for an illegal entry into their home in the middle of the night (or any time for that matter), but the truth is they are not even close to ready. Typically, most people are motivated by the rise in crime, so they go to the gun shop and buy the newest, plastic Ogre Slayer the salesman recommends for home defense.

They might go to the range once or twice, and of course, they believe they have become Audie Murphy. Hell! Who am I kidding? They don’t even know who Audie Murphy was. They keep the gun in the nightstand on their side of the bed, in a locked box with the ammunition separate, in another locked box in the dresser. If it is magazine fed, the mags are not loaded because they don’t want anyone to be able to get the mags and shoot the gun. The problem is, they can’t shoot the gun either. That’s pretty much the extent of how ‘preparedness’ plays out across America.

Go bag with supplies spread out, including handgun for home defense
My “Bump in the Night Bag” with only some of what it can carry on display.

Home Defense

Every night, people all over the country set the alarm and hop into bed for a sound uninterrupted night’s sleep. The odds of that being the case are pretty good for most Americans. But what if, just what if they are awakened by the glass breaking downstairs at 2:30 a.m. That’s the 64-thousand-dollar question, isn’t it? Chances are, the man of the house didn’t hear it, but his significant other did. She wakes him in a panicked whisper. Dufus! Dufus! Wake up! I heard something break downstairs and I think someone is in the house.

Dufus, being a good male partner, sits up, rubs the sleep from his eyes, and reaches to open the nightstand drawer. Extracting the 9mm Ogre Slayer, he fumbles with it trying to remember how it works. It’s dark in the room, and he can’t really see what he’s doing, but eventually he remembers how to hold it.

As he starts to move to the bedroom door, he hears more sounds coming from downstairs. It sounds like male voices talking. As he starts to exit the bedroom, he remembers the Ogre Slayer is not loaded, and the ammunition is in the dresser. As Dufus makes his way back to the dresser, Dimbeta is urging him to do something.

Dufus stubs his toe in the excitement and lets out a grunt of pain, dropping the Ogre Slayer on the floor. The intruders below hear the noise and realize the homeowners are home and awake, but they don’t seem to care. They keep breaking things and making noise. In frustration Dufus blurts out, “I have a gun and if you come up here, I will shoot you!” To which the home invaders just laugh. Without me relaying the entire set of circumstances that follow, suffice it to say things don’t turn out well for Dufus and Dimbeta.

Let’s now assume for the moment that they had been much better prepared with their glasses — if they need them to see — a loaded handgun, flashlight, phone, extra reloads as in loaded magazines or speed loaders, knife, an extra set of house and car keys, some medical supplies to attend to wounds, surgical gloves, hand cuffs or zip ties, and perhaps a non-lethal option such as a stun gun or pepper spray. That’s a good start, but did they give any thought as to how to secure and carry everything? Probably not. Whether you sleep in pajamas, your underwear, or in the buff, I don’t think you have enough pockets unless you are a marsupial. The chances of that being the case — outside of a TV commercial — are slim and none. What to do, what to do?

electronic hearing protection for shooting and home defense
A good set of electronic hearing protection should be the first thing you put on.

Be Prepared

Allow me to make some suggestions based on what I do, and how I teach my home defense class students to prepare for that bump in the night. The solution is actually quite simple. When you hear that bump in the night, the first thing I instruct my students to do is:

  1. Get out of bed.
  2. Put on their glasses, especially if they need them to see the front sight.
  3. And this may come as a surprise, put on a good set of electronic hearing protection, preferably a set with Bluetooth. This bit of advice will prove useful in more than one way.
    • It will increase your ability to identify and hear someone sneaking around.
    • Most important, if shots are fired it will protect your hearing. Shots fired in a small, enclosed space like a room or hallway will have the disorienting effect of a flash bang grenade, rendering anyone with unprotected hearing momentarily incapacitated at the very least. Additionally, if your headset has Bluetooth, you will be able to monitor the conversation your partner should be having with a police dispatcher.

The next thing to grab is my recommended solution to being able to secure and carry other essential gear.

Tan Tactical Tailor shoulder bag filled with emergency supplies for home defense
My “Bump in the Night Bag” loaded and ready to deploy in a home defense emergency.

Secure Your Gear

My recommended device goes by different names, but the item I used is made by Tactical Tailor. In its catalog, the one I use is part of its Hazard series of cases. Other manufacturers call them messenger bags, utility pouches, medical pouches, map cases, etc. Just remember, whichever one you get, ensure it has a shoulder strap.

I like mine because it has a second strap that can be secured around your waist so it’s not flapping around. It is a case that was designed to be slung over your shoulder and depending on whose product you buy, it should have separate compartments to conveniently carry everything you might need. Mine holds a back-up “loaded” handgun in a sewn in holster. When it is a 1911-type, it is cocked and locked.

Additionally, it carries extra magazines — speed loaders if I have a revolver stowed, two flashlights, extra magazines for my long gun, or shotgun shells if I am using a scatter gun. A small medical kit, knife, handcuffs, zip ties, cell phone, 4 surgical gloves, shooting glasses, and a spare set of house and automobile keys. The case I use from the Tactical Tailor is well designed and sturdy. It has a large pocket with a holster-like device that holds a handgun (butt up) with loops to hold your extra magazines.

Man in pajamas with emergency supplies bag, cell phone, and AR-15
See how much easier it is when you think it through ahead of time.

The pockets have dividers and ties to separate and secure your gear. In my case, my hearing protection is attached to the shoulder strap, so everything rides together. When I pick it up and throw it on, I have everything I need. All that is left for me to do is secure my long gun.

Final Thoughts

I’m sure that I don’t have to advise you of this, but I will. Don’t attempt to clear your house. Even if you went through some shooting school’s Shoot House. This is for real, with the potential of real bullets coming at you. You are alone without back up and surely you do not want to endanger yourself or your loved ones.

Without teammates, you can’t cover all the possible points where evil may lurk. My advice is to find the most defensible place in your master suite with good cover and concealment and wait for the intruders to come to you. Stay quiet. Don’t issue a challenge or rack the shotgun slide. If you do, you have relinquished your most precious ally, surprise. The bad guys should not know where you are until they see your muzzle flash.

Wait for law enforcement to arrive and let them clear the house. They are trained to do that. Remember to stay in communication with them until you have eyes on each other. Once you do, remember to secure your weapon, show them your hands, be respectful, follow their commands, and be appreciative of their service. As stated this is what I do and how I would act and is what I teach my students to do. I am sure that not everyone will agree, but that is what makes horse races.

Do you have a plan for when something goes bump in the night? Do you have a Bump in the Night bag? How do you prepare for a home defense scenario? Share your answers, tips, or recommended gear for home defense in the comment section.

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Comments (17)

  1. Mr. Aka,

    Good article, thank you. I ordered a pair of electronic earmuffs to keep beside my bed. I had often thought abut the noise from shooting indoors since I have hearing damage already. I’ll give them a try at the range.

    For improved home security, take a look at adding Defender door reinforcement locks to all entry doors. Cheap, easy to install, and add immeasurable security. They are hard to spot from outside. You literally have to batter the door down to get in. Give them a quick look and consideration.

  2. I read this article for ideas I may wish to incorporate in my current plan. I don’t believe in one size fits all as we need to think carefully about what will work best for us in our environment.
    The writer presents many ideas that cause us to think outside of the liitations we may currently have in place. That’s a good thing. Complacency is not.
    This writer also causes good comments from readers with additional perspectives. In the end, we are all the better for having read the article, exercised our gray matter and maybe picked up an idea or two.

  3. Some problems I see… This is a classic example of someone who knows nothing about my home, telling me what he would do, but it won’t work for me. I live in a single story, just less than 1600 square foot home. My son’s room is on the other side of the house, across the living room from the master bedroom. He is disabled, both physically and cognitively. After my wife, he is my next priority. If I were to retreat, he would be defenseless. Retreat means there would be NO ONE to protect him, as in that could be his death sentence. Oklahoma has a stand your ground law and there is no duty to retreat, nor will I. NOT an option! If someone breaks in, there are few avenues for retreat. The concept of retreat gets people killed. Retreat? Like Hell!

    Speaking of preparation, the author failed to mention one primary area of security in every house. There are too many people who fail to check the door strike plate and hinge screws on all entry doors whereby miscreants gain easy access. If your doors only have those short screws that come with the strike plate and hinges, (they barely secure the jamb to the molding, you know, ones usually put in by the builder) you are almost defenseless against a home invasion. A swift kick, the door flies open, and entry is immediate. Not fixing this, gives bad guys easy access in less time than it takes you to get your gun.

    In my house, all entry door strike plates and hinges have 3” screws securing hardware and doorframes to the studs in the walls. Hard to break into, and makes a lot of noise, giving me enough time to collect my weaponry. The steel front door can be broken down, as can the back door, but it will eat up time and be difficult. Window placement in my house is such that entry through them is possible, but again, difficult if one does not know the layout of my house. Entry via windows into my son’s room would be a challenge. That is by design.

    Another advantage, albeit 50 some years ago, I carried weapons in tactical situations. In my experience, extraneous gear will impair one’s mobility; those impediments are more pronounced in close quarters. Been there, done that. There was a reason we would shed our rucks first thing when there was incoming fire. You need to be able to maneuver; if a strap or sling snags, you’re toast.

    Hearing protection sounds good, but years ago, I spent time in the field NOT using hearing protection. I have hearing loss and tinnitus as a result, but I made it home. In the time it takes to put on the muffs, I could neutralize the threat or be killed. I can live with a bit more hearing loss if I am alive. I have some high dollar electronic muffs that I use when I’m hunting because I try to preserve what is left. Anything that takes time can kill you. Seen it too many times.

    Another advantage, my house may be small, but I know where to find cover. If someone breaks in, my wife will go to our bathroom with the 20 gauge and her cell phone to dial 911. Me? I have 1911, just like the old days. BTDT. I won’t do long guns for CQC, insufficient maneuverability in real CQ situations. Again, nothing to impede mobility. But, hey, you do you…

    As far as knives, knife fighting requires far more practice than what you should, but don’t, put in with your firearm. Speaking from experience here, I was trained; it is much harder than it looks and getting cut hurts, bad. BTDT. And untrained people frequently die trying to do that.

    Speaking of multiple magazines, the stats on home invasions show that there is rarely enough rounds fired to need multiple magazines. In most shootings in the US by civilians, this includes home invasions, seldom are more than a dozen rounds fired total. Odds are if more than one magazine is available, people resort to spray and pray. That results in significant collateral damage and occasionally dead family members. That doesn’t work for me.

  4. I had heard of leaving a dedicated 12ga. racked and ready for just such an occasion – that way all you gotta do is slowly/carefully/quietly click the safety off and wait. As for ammo, well, I guess that depends on your situation. I’m not opposed to it (keeping a shotgun ready), but I am opposed to doing midnight demolition and hurting anyone (kids, mother-in-law, etc..) who isn’t an invader.So to solve that, my setup is a cartoon-esque mouse trap hooked up to a 50BMG. Just kidding, of course – the mouse trap actually drops a piano once triggered.

    Overall, great read with plenty of things to consider for those of us who have some form or another of defense at home.

  5. Ed, per your advice, keeping electronic hearing protection and bright flashlight by my bed. Have to get more organized for the other items for my Bump in the Night bag.
    Nice reminder!

  6. I start with motion detector cameras with spotlights at all angles of the house, outside. Then an alarm system that covers all windows and doors to include glass breakage. Motion detectors and cameras inside the house, too. A medium sized, ferocious, very territorial German Pinscher. Then, an AR variant, 11.5 inch barrel pistol loaded with 30 rounds of Hornady Critical Defense FTX rounds, backed up by a Mossberg Shockwave shortie shotgun. Backed up by a Cond One ready 1911 with McCormick 10 round mag, backed up by an XDm in .45 acp with 13 rounds.

    Rick above said you don’t need 20 rounds unless you’re being attacked by a quad? At oh dark thirty and you hear sounds inside your house that you shouldn’t be hearing, how would you know how many intruders are inside? Do you grab the 10 round, 15 round or 20 round mag? But I digress. And I will keep my AR pistol loaded with 30. Better to have it…

    I like the idea of the ready bag. But do I really need all that stuff when my focus should be on keeping any intruder(s) in a negative position? My backup weaponry stay in the bedroom in case I have to hunker down in there. Otherwise, I go to just outside the bedroom (where I have cover and concealment and can scan two hallways, the kitchen, half the dining room and the patio sliding door, which is most of the open space besides the bedrooms and office, which need to use the hallway to get to my bedroom), with the AR at the ready, 1911 in a holster on my hip, the shottie on a single point sling on me. I have an electronic ear protector and I will have to rest it next to the bed so I remember to wear it if things go bump in the night.

    There is no good reason for an uninvited stranger to be inside my house setting off my alarm to get in. Anyone inside my house uninvited setting off the alarm is subject to deadly force as I value my family’s and my safety and lives. I have experienced an attempted home invasion. The sliding door had been opened two inches, pulling the two locks out of the frame. The door held shut because of a single quarter inch size bolt that had bent 90 degrees but jammed against the other door frame, holding the door closed. The whole family was awake, watching that door, my dad was armed with a WW2 era 1911 ready to protect us. Scary stuff. Be prepared.

  7. Great advice. A little more difficult with children in the house but, I agree an unloaded gun is worthless in this situation. As for the police… around here you shouldn’t count on them showing up!!

  8. Thank you, Mr. LaPorta,
    I am embarrassed to admit that there are some things in this article that I hadn’t thought about in terms of a ‘midnight scenario’. You have upped my in home preparedness and kicked me in the ass to get out there and do some more training.

  9. Keeping loaded guns to meat bad guys/intruders great idea but all modern magazines for handguns/long guns spring based . When you mag is loaded for year or two without being used the springs on mags May fail you. Instead of shooting efficiently they will barely spit bullets out. Loaded Revolver .45 caliber with great stoping power may be better solution

  10. You tell ’em, Joe.

    Yes, some are politically motivated and power hungry. But, many are just anti “ugly gun” (in their minds) and equate looks with a sinister function. They call them weapons of war. Could be. Might be some day a la 1776. Think they’d call muzzle-loaders “weapons of war?” Likely not even though they were.

    A modern-day sporting rifle would be very effective for use against intruders and OTHERS wanting to harm us. I suspect few of them will be prepared for a stream of incoming 5.56 rounds.

    The 1994 law (they called it a “ban”) is indicative of their thinking: “Ban” rifles with flash suppressors or bayonet mounts or whatever makes then sinister looking. When’s the last time you heard of anyone being stuck with a mounted bayonet? Didn’t even bother to “ban” bayonets! Just dumb as hell when it comes to the normal functions of a firearm. But, they did it anyway ’cause they were (still are) know-nothings. The 1994 list failed to include firearms that fired the same ammo, had the same capacity and functioned similarly to ARs and SKS-like rifles. Some guy named Bill sold quite a few of them. Still does.

    Dianne Feinstein still claims Americans don’t use the millions of such rifles they own. Again, ignorance. What’s more, if they’re not being used, then why worry about them? I call it the Boogie Man Syndrome – We just gotta do SOMETHING or the Boogie Man will get us! Who knows . . . maybe he will? I just hope he doesn’t spit ’em out!

  11. I have read all the aricles inbthis email. I would like the msrp’ on the AP5, the 9mm on the Savage Stance and the 12ga on the turkish guns.. plz

  12. In response to Jay’s comments on the “know nothings” wanting to ban the wrong weapon in order to save lives: we all know that is just political B.S. The real issue is that an oppressive political regime fears having it’s oppressed subjects armed in such a way that they can oppose them when all else fails. It happened in 1776 and look how that turned out. Our founding fathers REALLY knew what they were doing when they wrote the Second Amendment. Need I say more?

  13. My hearing is very bad and my wife has Alzheimer’s. If someone broke windows glass, I’d never hear it. I keep my 9mm in the nightstand by my bed.
    I set our house alarm every night and all perimeter doors are covered, but not breaking glass..
    My solution was to get a small yapping dog that will wake me if he hears a single sound like breaking glass.
    He’s smart and barks at strangers and things that go bump in the night.
    I hope I never have to test my plan, but I believe I’m prepared if someone try’s to break in.

  14. If just my wife and I are home I will wait for them to come to me if they get past my aboriginal quasi canine. If the grandkids are at the house- I will leap to the alert and get to their location. I actually wear pajamas when the kids are visiting LOL I suppose a commando old guy with a .45 guarded by a snarling Dingo may cause the adversary to go blind at least for the moment. If the lights dont- have a lot of lights including green light for predators who may invade the yard. Lady a few miles away had a coyote slip in the house. At least if a doper bites you you wont need rabies shots. I hope–
    Good thoughts and you are correct about folks who dont get it. They sure dont. All criminals are sociopaths and so are many politicians. But a psychopath is the most dangerous thin on two legs armed or not!
    The home invader may be more prepared than you are and if he is bold enough to have invaded an occupied dwelling be ready for a serious fight.

  15. Hiding in a defensive place is fine if it’s protected. But it also emboldens the invader or invaders and it give you less options for avoiding being attacked. Clearing a home isn’t for most people, including most law enforcement. But waiting for the bad guy to come for you isn’t the safest thing to do either. Being prepared mentally is the biggest thing. I have firearm training and have been shot at more the once. I have lived through a home invasion and detained one of the perps for law enforcement. The biggest thing is to keep your head, know your firearm and be proficient with it. Also keep you handgun at your side with your body slightly turned to that side. This allows you to keep the perp at arms length if he physically attacks you. It works and also makes you a slightly smaller target. This makes a handgun my first chose if someone is in my home and at close quarters. Also, unless you are being attacked by a quad you don’t need 20 rounds, or most of the other toys. Most of the advice on most things out there is hype and B.S.

  16. Yep, I’d say you’ve given this a lot of thought.

    Always thought it was odd for the “authorities” to suggest, demand or legislate that goofy locked-up-with-ammo-separate business without doing the same for car keys, matches, gas stoves, ladders or swimming pools. To my way of thinking, you should be in control of your family as well as your weapons. Which tends to handle all of the above. If not, maybe they should stick to baseball bats or only bring their arms out at bed time.

    Happy to see someone suggest having loaded firearms at the ready. Especially after seeing the female media-type ask the Highland Park PD if the shooter’s second gun was loaded. Quite often (not in this case), LEOs describe the perp as having had a LOADED gun. I always want someone to ask the LEO if his is loaded! (Barney Fife excepted.)

    Speaking of Barneys, isn’t it funny how so many know-nothings want to “BAN” modern sporting rifles? Wonder if they can read? Per Pew Research, in 2020, handguns were used 20 times as often as “assault weapons” in murders. Certainly not suggesting a handgun ban. Just trying to point out the ignorance of those who, in effect, want to ban storm drains to prevent drownings! If they’d only ban nutjobs, they could go a long way toward solving the mass shooting thing AND our political problems! Then again, for many of them, that would be political ‘suicide,’ wouldn’t it?

    To repurpose a line from “Jaws” – That’s SOME bad robe, Ed.

  17. My family has a plan in effect for a entry situation. The layout is good as we can cover from several angles. I really like the Tactical bag. It can carry all needed supplies. I’m thinking it may be a wise investment

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