What’s the Best Gun for Home Defense? It’s not a Handgun, Shotgun, or AR-15…

Armed thieves entering a house and threatening man

In today’s world, there are countless firearms available for home defense. You will no doubt find many recommendations, especially for new shooters, whether you want them or not. The recommendations about which firearm makes the best home-defensive tool can really be confusing. I will readily admit that there are lots of choices, some better than others — depending on numerous variables that need to be considered.

Most people with average shooting experience consider a handgun to be the overall choice for home defense. Others say a 12 gauge shotgun is the ultimate tool for defending one’s domicile. And then there are those who argue the AR in one of its many configurations to be the king of the self-defense hill.

Para-Ordnance P12-45 with custom touches by Austin Behlert
A discontinued Para-Ordnance P12-45 with custom touches by the late Austin Behlert is one of the author’s carry choices.

Under specific conditions, I could make an argument for any of those. However, more often than not, none of those would be my first choice — especially for someone new to shooting. Let’s take a quick look at each platform and consider the realistic pros and cons before I make my recommendations.

The Handgun

The handgun gets the most press coverage, and for concealed carry, it is the most convenient choice. Although it is true that every creature that walks the earth has succumbed to a handgun, most of the handguns involved were specifically designed for hunting. Hunting handguns are most often beyond the skill of the average shooter. I know, I have hunted with handguns and have taken animals as large and dangerous as bears.

The truth is, and you can quote me: The chief asset of a handgun is its portability, not its power. If that is true, why would you choose a handgun to save your life? Wouldn’t you want the biggest and baddest gun this side of a 155 Howitzer to defend yourself?

There is no question that a handgun is easy to carry and conceal, because of its size and weight. Even, a full-size handgun — such as a 1911 — will carry and conceal on an average person without much effort. Handguns are relatively available in many makes, sizes, styles, calibers. They are also affordable compared to some other options.

So, why are they not number one on my recommendation list? Handguns require lots of time, practice, and dedication to learn to shoot well enough for you to depend on to save your life. Human nature being what it is, most folks go to the gun shop and buy the handgun the salesman convinces them is the magic ogre slayer.

Ed LaPorta with a trophy boar he took with a S&W Mod. 57, .41 Magnum
The author with a large Monterey County trophy boar he took with a S&W Mod. 57, .41 Magnum.

They take said handgun to the range once, put a box of ammo through it, take it home, stow it in the night table and believe they are Wyatt Earp. That may be scary but it’s true. As an instructor, it never ceases to amaze me how many people don’t think they need to practice or be trained. Just because Uncle Johnny took you rabbit hunting when you were a kid, doesn’t mean you know how to shoot — let alone survive a gunfight.

Because of the size and convenience of defensive handguns, their calibers and power are comparatively limited. The most popular defensive handgun calibers are: .380 ACP, .38 Special, 9mm, and .45 ACP. As I said, of the most popular calibers, not all the calibers are recommended for self-defense. The most popular platforms or type of handguns for self-defense are the double-action revolver and the semi-automatic pistol, in its various makes and configurations.

Revolvers are easy to operate and do not require much strength. However, revolvers can be difficult to shoot accurately and are more difficult to reload quickly. Also, keep in mind that they usually have only 5 or 6 rounds in the cylinder.

Smith and Wesson Model 686 double-action revolver
A Smith and Wesson Model 686 double-action revolver — always an excellent choice for any battery of firearms.

The automatic pistols, as a class, normally carry more ammunition in easily changed, removable magazines. Automatic pistols for the most part require significant hand strength to manipulate the slide and are more prone to malfunctions. Both platforms require exact shot placement under extreme stress to stop a lethal threat to your life or to your loved ones. Because it is difficult to manipulate, shoot accurately, and its limitation of power, a handgun would not be my first choice for a less experienced shooter… Especially if they do not put in the time necessary to become proficient.

The Shotgun

The next choice up on recommendations is the 12 gauge shotgun. As SFC Applegate would have said, “There Is No Doubt, In My Military Mind!!!,” that the 12 gauge shotgun is the most powerful option to choose. However, it’s a double-edged sword too.

Along with being the most powerful, it is — or can be — the most difficult to control in rapid fire. This is because of the significant amount of recoil generated by the double-ought buckshot or slugs on board. Additionally, the muzzle blast, consisting of both the flash and sound, can be extremely disorienting indoors.

side-by-side skeet shotgun broken open with smoke coming out of the barrels
A side-by-side skeet gun after ejecting shells ready to be reloaded.

As an aside at this point, I feel that I should mention something I teach my students to do when something goes bump in the night. The first thing they should reach for is their electronic hearing protection. Firearms discharged indoors can be disorienting to debilitating, kind of like a flash bang grenade.

Now back to shotguns. They are usually heavy in their tactical configurations requiring the use of both hands. The need for two hands makes opening doors, talking on the phone to law enforcement, and other administrative tasks very difficult to perform. This can lead to deadly situations.

If you use a lighter, better-balanced sporting arm such as a side-by-side or over/under, you only have two shots before a reload is required. That means you also need to carry that extra ammo someplace and most pajamas don’t have suitable pockets. If you decide on a scatter gun, I do not recommend anything smaller than 12 gauge and nothing smaller than #4 Buck for defensive purposes. Tactical shotguns are available in the manually cycled pump style and semi-automatics. For all the reasons stated above, a shotgun would not be my first choice for a less experienced shooter — especially for an in-home urban setting.

Remington 1100 semi-automatic shotgun with rifle sights and a spare shell in the buttstock
A Remington 1100 semi-automatic shotgun in its tactical configuration.

The AR Platform

Whether you call it an assault rifle, America’s Rifle, or correctly, the Armalite Rifle, the AR in its various configurations is extremely popular. That fact boggles my mind. I never liked it since it replaced the venerable M14 — America’s last great battle rifle, but that is a personal opinion. It is, after all, a .22 caliber that is illegal to hunt deer with in several states. And, you want your life to depend on it?

I won’t go into all the reasons why I am not a fan, but would someone please explain to me why the bayonet lug is considered a feature that makes it more deadly in California and other oppressive states? Putting a bayonet on an AR is like… well, I can’t think of anything as stupid or useless right now. In fact, the Army no longer teaches bayonet because the AR is so unwieldy.

Can you imagine executing a Long Thrust and Parry followed by a Vertical Butt Stroke? It’s impossible; I’ve tried it. BTW, I was in what was probably the last rotation of basic trainees at Fort Ord that had bayonet training. I qualified as a Bayonet Expert and have the badge to prove it.

Ed LaPorta at a shooting bench zeroing one of his AR-15s
The author at the bench zeroing one of his ARs. I said, “I didn’t like them.” I never said, “I didn’t know how to use them.”

Sorry, I got off track a bit there. As a home defensive choice, I don’t choose the AR for some of the same reasons that I don’t like the shotgun. It is heavy, awkward to operate and manipulate, has excessive muzzle blast — especially if it is fitted with a brake — and the flash will destroy any night vision you may have.

The AR also penetrates too many house and condo walls. So, the possibility for collateral damage increases exponentially. It would appear, there is no pleasing me… Aah! But I do have a preference….

My Choice

Some of you might recall an article published in this forum some time back regarding the M1 Carbine. Well, surprise, surprise… that 80-plus year “Ol’ Warhorse” is my first choice and my recommendation for the best urban defensive weapon that I give to all my new students. Here is why.

M1 Carbine rifle with Ultimak Rail with sight and light, sling and 30-round magazine
My perfect urban defense weapon slash zombie slayer complete with bayonet lug and bayonet. Take that California!

The M1 Carbine was built to withstand real world combat. With a modicum of care, the M1 Carbine will prove reliable and outlast years of use and abuse. Over 6 million were manufactured and used by well over 60 countries. It is lightweight at approximately 5.2 pounds, and easy for people of small stature and limited strength to shoot accurately and wield effectively. That means children, small women or men, the elderly, and infirmed all have a tool to defend themselves.

Although, it is true, that the M1 Carbine also sports a bayonet lug. However, a bayonet can be used correctly and effectively on it. It is not scary like it is on the AR. The M1 Carbine looks like any regular, non-threatening rifle made of wood and steel. It fires .30 Caliber ammunition that is more powerful than the .357 Magnum, which is considered the gold standard for self-defense handgun use.

Because of the 18-inch barrel, the muzzle flash of the carbine is much less than that of a handgun. As for the recoil, it is noticeable by its lack thereof. But do not be fooled by its good manners. Some of the new premium ammo for the Carbine with 110-grain bullets boast 2,000 fps with almost 1,000 foot-pounds of energy.

Bayonet lug on the barrel of an M1 Carbine rifle
Be afraid. Be very afraid… The dreaded bayonet lug!

That provides enough penetration to get to and damage the vitals but not so much as to cause the neighbors’ concern. Couple that with a 30-round magazine, and you are more than good to go. Even in states unfriendly to firearms, it is effective with 10-round magazines. It is also classified as a curio and a relic, and not considered an assault rifle thereby, making it easier to obtain in most places.

The M1 Carbine is easy for anyone to learn how to shoot accurately and is easy to maintain. Zillions of spare parts were made and are readily available, so fixing things is not an issue. Ammunition is common and available everywhere. With the addition of an Ultimak rail, red dot sights, and flashlights can be added — making it an even stronger choice.

The only fly in the ointment is knowing how to obtain one on the used market that has not been used and abused. I recently published an article on The Shooter’s Log that will show you how to find a good one, if you’re willing to put this old soldier’s recommendation to the test.

It’s unlikely that the majority the readers would have picked the M1 Carbine as their first choice for a home defense gun. Likewise, many of you have strong feeling about handguns, shotguns, and AR-15s for home defense, so let’s hear it. Why do you agree or disagree with the author’s choice of the M1 Carbine, and what firearm do you think is superior to the M1 Carbine and why? Share your answers in the comment section.

  • WW II soldier shooting a M1 Carbine in battle
  • Para-Ordnance P12-45 with custom touches by Austin Behlert
  • Smith and Wesson revolver is being reloaded with the aid of a speedloader
  • M1 Carbine rifle with Ultimak Rail with sight and light, sling and 30-round magazine
  • M-14 rifle with wood furniture, right profile
  • Remington 1100 semi-automatic shotgun with rifle sights and a spare shell in the buttstock
  • Ed LaPorta with a trophy boar he took with a S&W Mod. 57, .41 Magnum
  • Ed LaPorta at a shooting bench zeroing one of his AR-15s
  • side-by-side skeet shotgun broken open with smoke coming out of the barrels
  • Bayonet lug on the barrel of an M1 Carbine rifle
  • Smith and Wesson Model 686 double-action revolver
  • Ultimak Rail with sight and light
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 (127)

  1. An AR is objectively the best HD gun.

    A bayonet lug isn’t considered an illegal feature in California.

    My 14.5 AR weighs 6lb and is 26in in length. That’s not heavy OR awkward, versus the 35in of the M1. Good luck clearing rooms.

    The controls are more user friendly than the M1, reloading is easier too.

    Penetration of a 5.56 is less than a 12ga #00 buck. Recoil is minimal, and shooting def won’t destroy NODs.

    More aftermarket options. You can make it into any rifle you can imagine. It’s more customizable than the M1 ever will be.

    I wouldn’t expect a Fudd who bridges their optic to understand ARs very well.

  2. The .30 M-1 Carbine was designed for the Army in 1939 for combat troops like machine gunners, radio operators, etc. that otherwise would only have a 1911. M-1 Carbine was the “grandfather” of the PDWs. ~6 1/2 million Carbines latter, the Army was proven right. M-1 Carbines were latter cut down into an SBR, with a folding stock, for use in Viet Nam. As the original PDW, only an updated .30 Carbine bullet design would be required to improve its’ effectiveness. Alternative would be to bring back the 5.7 Spitfire (5.7×33) round, and then build M-1 Carbines in that caliber. Who would need the 5.7×28 if there were commercial 5.7 Spitfire rounds available again? With all the .30 Carbine brass floating around, handloaders can create their own 5.7×33 loads as well.

  3. The .30 Carbine was designed in 1939 by the US Army for use by some combat troops like machine gunners, radio operators, etc. These were the troops that would have been before only issued a 1911, so the .30 Carbine was the “grandfather” of PDWs. ~6 1/2 million guns latter, the Carbine proved to work out better than the Army had first thought. With a 110 gr. bullet at ~1950 fps, this is similar to a .357 mag round from a rifle, but in a much more PDW friendly package. The biggest drawback is that a better bullet (Hollow Point?) is needed to bring the .30 Carbine into the 21st century. A folding stock (where allowed) would be the only option I would consider as helpful.

  4. Another great article from Mr LaPorta. Cheers to the publisher for bringing in interesting writers. Always fun to see people’s reactions in the comments to an alternate take on topics like this.

  5. Excellent idea. The new Ruger pistol caliber carbines can accept Glock handgun magazines. Great flexibility and back-up play.

  6. A 410 derringer is still the best for home defense. Small, light, kills at close range and can be fired from the hip with fair accuracy (less than 20 ft) remember speed counts. A home invader is not waiting until you get your gun. Seconds count.

  7. Respectfully disagree. The AR platform is bigger and more versatile than the author believes. 5.56 and a 16 inch barrel, yes, horrible for home defense indoors. However, a 9 or 10 inch PCC in 9mm with 147gr rounds with a good brace is light, maneuverable, neither under or over powered, and by 10 inches, all the powder is burned, so flash is minimal. Likewise with 300BLK in a similar config, loaded with 208 or 220 grain sub-sonic rounds. the powder is done in 6 to 7 inches with a subsonic 7.62×35, and 9 or 10 with super-sonic (not great indoors).

  8. Fun article to read, and the author had good points about the disadvantages of each type of weapon. Everything has good and bad points. But an M1 Carbine? Really? My father was a tank crewman in Italy in WWII. He told me they were issued M1 Carbines in case they had to evac the tank (which he did have to do three times) because they were light and easy to store in the tank as well as carry while getting out. However, in every case he and the rest of the crew ditched their carbines first chance they got and obtained Garands because the M1 Carbine because they were underpowered and none of them wanted to depend on one in combat so no thanks. The wife and I have a 12 gauge and a couple of handguns next to our bed.

  9. I too have a M1 carbine and agreed with the author’s choice. For those who think the M1 carbine is not reliable, and this comment is true for all magazine fed fire arms, most failures are caused from bad magazines.

    Buy the way, the F F Legion liked the M1 carbine for jungle fire fights.

  10. Well, looks like BO covered all the bases, and like me has no love for the m1 Carbine either (It’s an insult to the real M1). Same goes for the .380 in my book. An instructor once told me he only reluctantly agrees with a .380 for carry, in the summer time, in a warm climate, because people wear thinner clothing then, but never in the winter when people wear heavy coats. While that makes some sense, there are choices out there, with more power, with ways to overcome recoil, like something as simple as a Hogue Grip, or sleeve, to better equalize your odds, AND they are probably less expensive than the m1 Carbine.

  11. I am going to agree with Paratrooper, who is a retired Army LTC. BTW, Sir, thank you for your service. As he said, The carbine was popular only among non-combat soldiers because it was light weight.” That statement says volumes and I have heard it before.

    I was an Army medic on a SAR/Recon team overseas some 50 years ago, and from there, I spent more than 30 years working various metropolitan ER’s. I am also an avid hunter and have taken no small number of deer and had some luck taking down elk. As a medic and ER nurse, I have seen more GSW’s with a number of calibers than anyone I know.

    I have never personally used an M1 Carbine, but I know its history, which was to provide shorter arms for NCO’s and company grade officers during WWII. I have known several people who used this weapon in overseas theaters years before I was even around and more than one person told me that it was better than nothing and worse than most other choices. For those that actually needed to use the weapon in combat, it was the last choice of all the vets I knew from WWII and Korea. I have known people who have used this carbine for deer and said it was passable at close range shots, i.e., less than 200 yards and that is pushing the envelope. Those vets persuaded me that there were much better choices for deer, much less for actual combat.

    I am always amazed at how people will select a weapon, any weapon, based on criteria that, in a real firefight, may get them killed and they become irate when someone who has actually been there attempts to insert some reality into the conversation and they get their panties in a wad. I have taken no small amount of slings and arrows for the same from people who have never even seen anyone shot with any caliber, let alone drawn a weapon on another person with the intent to shoot. I guess real life experience is trumped by hopes and desires in and for their chosen weapon.

    When I ask people for objective data, as far as how their choice of weapon has performed in real life and death situations (read firefight) I have frequently been met with great antipathy when I bring up my real life experience with various weapons and calibers that, in my professional experience, were found wanting when that weapon was called upon to provide something that it did NOT. It had one job and it failed, and not just once.

    Another thing that amazes me is how some people believe they know what is the best weapon for other people they don’t even know. They recommend things that they have never used in a real firefight as being effective with zero data to back up those assertions. My personal choice for a house gun, as well as personal carry, is one of several 1911’s (all in .45 ACP) that I own. Which one I use is dependent on the situation, such as where I am going, what I will be doing, etc. At home, my first choice will be a government model, elsewhere it may be a different one. That is me because I carried a government model when I was in the Army and I know the weapon, as well as what it can and cannot do. I recognize that it is not for everyone, my wife of 42 years cannot use it and that is fine. Neither could she use a 12 gauge, but a 20 gauge pump will work well and she can handle it.

    Weapons choice is a very personal decision and if someone wants to use whatever weapon for personal defense, I say, “Go for it.” The only caveat I would present is that there be data to support that choice. Too many people choose a weapon or caliber that has a poor performance history and then will attack those who try to tell them that that weapon has a less than reliable performance record when it comes to actual real life usage, as in leaves the shooter of that weapon dead because it failed to stop the attacker. I have been called names because I have related cases I have seen where the selected weapon by certain shooters was inadequate and resulted in the death of that shooter. No one could tell me of a real case where they had seen of the efficacy of the selected weapon or caliber, but discounted my experience because they wanted to believe, just like those people who died using those weapons. Sad!

  12. Great eye opening article. I ordered an M1 Carbine after reading another article written by this author on the M1. After reading this article, I’m now confident that I made the right choice. I hadn’t considered the M1, best weapon for home defense. Now I’m sure it will be next to my bed.

  13. A 410 double barrel derringer is the best From 00 to #4 buckshot. Any home invasion the shot is 20 ft or less. If you don’t stop it in the first few seconds your in big trouble 10 shots are never going to ber fired.

  14. While I do not disagree with the rationale for the author’s preferred choice. I will use his argument against using a handgun for home defense – ammo, and range time against the M1 Carbine. I will also use his points to advocate for a different option.

    With the current cost of ammo for the venerable M1 Carbine at 85 cents to a dollar a round and until recently it was hard to procure that caliber, for me anyway, at places like Academy Sports, etc., and getting a reliable M1 carbine of the used variety can be a challenge. For a good one can be relatively expensive. A quick internet search yielded few results and the ones I saw were for $1,800 – 2,000. I also remember a while back when the gun show market was glutted with military surplus M1 carbines from South Korea. They were in poor shape and not very reliable.

    Using the author’s valid points it may be wise to consider something like a 9mm carbine on an AR platform. Cost and availability of good quality ammunition have not been an issue even during the recent shortages. Reasonably priced and reliable models can be purchased for around $800 – 900. So an owner can afford to train with a weapon that is easy to use and maintain. Additionally, with the wide variety of attachments and the rail systems on most AR platforms common, it allows for the addition of a Tac Light and red dot optics. Both items greatly increase the reliability of a first-shot hit and more importantly enable the shooter to make sure of the target before firing. Thank you and have a great day, I really did enjoy the article and found the information to be helpful and informative.

  15. Wow would I use a 7.62 x 33 bullet inside my house for self defense. You said the bullet has more power than the 357 mag, made for shooting through cars. A revolver with 357 and my shot gun is all I will ever need, I am not going to war,

  16. M-14!!! I went thru Basic Training at
    Ft Polk,LA in August(!) with an M-14.
    Hot! Heavy! But Man I Loved Range
    Days! A simple device to learn and a
    joy for giving Repeatable Results! Then
    I had one most of the way thru
    Viet Nam(69). Reach out and TOUCH someone! Far better shot with the 14
    than the 16, by FAR! I’ve just purchased
    the Springfield Saint Edge ATC Elite for
    accuracy challenge, we’ll see what’s up
    with that! Heheheh….

  17. I love the idea of the M1 and would welcome any info regarding the best place to find one. Though Springfield Armory is making a new one now at $2000. a pop. I have an affinity for natural wood and kinda enjoy “going against the grain”.
    All the best!

  18. Great weapon. Good luck finding one. This article is only realistic for a very small slice of the population.

    The best weapon for home defense is the one that the individual can use competently and quickly. Affordability will also make proficiency more easily maintained.

    And safety is non-negotiable. Put a 9mm or 5.56 or .30cal in play in an apartment building and you are very serious at risk of injuring or killing neighbors separated only by drywall and 2x4s. If you live in the country maybe a rifle is the better choice. If you live in the suburbs maybe a 12 or 20 gauge with a load that doesn’t easily penetrate walls. I don’t know… situation dependent I guess. But I do know I’m not heading to the next gunshow to pick up a beautiful collectible and hope its been taken care of and then setting up a reload bench to manufacture the expensive ammunition.

    I’ll take my chances with the weapon I know and hopefully ammunition that doesn’t let my missed shots frag my family or neighbors.

    To each their own but this recommendation just seems impractical.

  19. I respectfully disagree with the author on this choice. The best choice for most people protecting and defending their home and property should be a 12ga. semi-auto shotgun with an 18 inch barrel. Your ammo selection should be either #1 Buckshot or #4 Buckshot, both of which are readily available on-line. I too have been a shooter for over 50 years. I chose my primary home protection firearm and ammunition for the following reasons: 1) Semi-auto feeds the rounds either by gas operation or are inertia driven meaning you do not have to “rack” the shell to load the next round. Doing so in a darkened room or external locations may give away your position to your adversary and each continuing round requires adjustment of stance if your an amateur or novice shooter;2) #1 Buck or #4 Buck provide more shot pellets toward your target than 00 Buck with a decreased likelihood that they will penetrate the walls of your home and endanger family members located in other rooms and finally : 3) an 18 inch barrel is legal in all 50 states and within federal firearms guidelines. A short barrel allows you, if necessary, to move room to room with some latitude entering doorways or halls. As my dad, who was a state trooper, use to say, “if you run out of rounds and miss your adversary,( and he’s bigger and doesn’t have a firearm) a short barreled shotgun makes a dandy club ! Remember, always park the shotgun barrel down with some kind of easily removable protective cap over the muzzle. Other considerations must be thought out if you have children living in or visiting your household. Safety and vigilance must go hand in hand.

  20. Ed, has been a friend of mine for several years, during which, I found him to be an expertise in weapons and tactical training. This is very well written and very concise and professional. He knows what he is talking about. This article should help people decide and understand the basic type weapons and their use and difference. He has years of experience in this field through both military and civilian life. I find this article most educational and informative. Looking forward for more of his articles and pictures as they are a guide to those entering or even already into weapons purchasing, usage and maintenance.

  21. The best gun for home defense will vary based on many many factors. There is no universal one size fits all. Would you seriously recommend a 70 year old grandma with no firearms experience to get an M1Carbine? The question should be: Whats the best gun for YOUR home defense? Each individual situation will vary. In some settings and for some people the M1 Carbine would be a fine choice. For others not so much. The trick is that you can have an arsenal of guns but if you don’t train with them regularly they will fail you. Rather, you will fail yourself for not keeping up your training. Best to have a weapon that any capable member of the household can pick up and use effectively with minimal training.

  22. More solid advice from Ed
    I’ll be picking up a M1 carbine
    …and keeping my electronic ear protection by the bed!
    Thanks for this article

  23. To me the M1 carbine is about the same as an AR. Bullet mfg need to come out with a self defense bullet that will hopefully not go all the way through a person. 12 gauge minimum. I believe a 20 gauge with buckshot or #4 shot will take care of anything. Shooting a 20 from the hip might cause hand or finger damage. I shot a turkey with a20 guade with #5 turkey load, not TSS. Killed him at at least once 45 yards

  24. It wouldn’t have been my first thought, but it really makes a lot of sense. I remember when these were pretty common at gun shows for 300 bucks. I should have scooped one up then. They’re not so common now.

  25. Before I read this article my choice of an outstanding home defense weapon is and has been since my service days, over 25 years ago, the M1 Carbine. That rifle with the folding stock is easy to maneuver in close quarters, accurate and easy to clear if there is a malfunction. I agree with the author on this one.

  26. I don’t agree here. A rifle or shotgun is to hard to place in a spot that makes it readily available. Most home invasions occur at night when people are in bed or if they occur in the daytime you may not be close to your weapon. If you run to get it the thief is usually not far behind. Almost all shot that occur are under 20 ft. Also done at great haste. Therefore a rifle or shotgun take to much time to get ready and point (not aim) so a handgun is by far the best under these circumstances. Now what kind of handgun. My choose is a double barrel derringer for 410 Ga. #00 buck shot. A shot gun at close range does not spread enough to give it preference over a rifle but a derringer spreads much more. #00 buck has as much energy as a 22. So think what it would be ;like to be hit with 7 22s at the same time or even 1 can still put you down. Yes you are limited to 2 shots but your not in a war its over in a couple seconds and one side wins.

  27. Hello Ed. Excellent article.
    I’m 68yrs old and asked my mother to purchase an M-1 for me when I was 14yrs old. She was a single mother who hunted with my Grd Father since she was a child. When I was 13 she bought me a Savage 22 over 20 gauge for Christmas and told me to bring home some meat. Bless her Soul.
    That 30 carbine went everywhere with me. I harvested cottontails, head shots, wild pigs and Calif Coastal Deer. Take that California! Coyotes and Bobcats in Montana. It’ll get the job done! Unfortunately, it was stolen from me by a so called friend. I’m still looking for him.
    I never thought of it as a home defense weapon but will be acquiring another which I know my wife can handle. Hope you don’t mind if I trick it out after your setup. I even have a bayonet.
    Thank you for waking me up and bringing back the memories of my youth. You are a true patriot.
    I also Thank you for your Service.
    God Bless You.

  28. IF it is reliable, then yes, an M1 carbine. Unlike the AR platform, there haven’t been magazine improvements, so the mags tend to cause a lot of malfunctions.

  29. My suggestion for the best self-defense weapon is one that is readily accessible and has a laser light to assist aiming because most of the situation at night time I am laying in bed without my glasses and to have to focus on a target in the middle of the night is very difficult but with my laser even without glasses I could put a spot on my target

  30. An M1 carbine is a good option. A Kel Tec Sub 2000 may be a better option. It is available in 9mm or 40cal and holds 33 rounds of 9 or 30 rounds of 40 when using Glock magazines. The Sub 2000 can be equipped lights and lasers as well. It is very accurate to 100 yards. The only problem is that it is blowback operated resulting in a noticeable recoil. The recoil can be reduced with a compensator. It weights about the same as an M1 Carbine and can be folded in half. Then there is the case for the 12 gauge shotgun or a large caliber pistol. Some of us are concerned about defense from 2 legged critters and large furry 4 legged critters. Anything smaller than a 44 magnum will not deter the predator. A 44mag. with a long barrel has very little recoil and you will not need more than six rounds. According to FBI reports the average shoots fired in an encounter with a bad actor is 1.5.
    Another thought. An assassin’s favorite, a 22lr. If you miss bad guy the 22 will penetrate walls an hurt an innocent person on the other side.

  31. Ever considered a lever gun? Easy to operate, many defensive calibers available, not likely to be banned by our ignorant administrators.

  32. I like how he thinks, but I don’t think many people are going to run out and buy an M1 for home defense. I think if you look at the stats and how many times someone defending themselves at home actually needs to fire, the number is 1-3. And I think grabbing a lit, red dot, easy to use hand gun is the best option. Grabbing an M1 and trying to get that ready is cumbersome and you probably don’t have enough time. I even think a Cruzer or Shockwave is a better option for the very reasons he doesn’t like them. Loud, scary, bright and not needed to be exactly on point when you’re half asleep is the very reason why it works. I do agree about the AR. Definitely not the best at 2am, but there’s something about racking that thing that would scare most soon-to-be-full-of-lead idiots. Great article and I think this topic is a personal preference situation. Whatever you choose, practice it until you master it. #2AEveryday

  33. I admit I was surprised by your choice of weapons but having shot the M-1 a lot and owning several, I am in complete agreement! Thanks for your analysis.

  34. I chose a tactical 20ga semi auto with 7 rounds and I added a flashlight with a squeeze switch on the pistol grip. I got it for my wife but of course if I’m home I’ll be the one to use it. I figure the light is blinding enough to disorient a bad guy, but most importantly it helps identity the target. It also acts a bit like a laser sight.

  35. OK I don’t think an M1 Carbine is a bad choice. You’ve made a lot of good points. But they are sure not cheap, and I want a good one. I’ve heard some things about the new ones, the Auto-Ordnance and the Inland, some things not good. Are the original M1’s the best way to go?

  36. When I was in high school in the fifty’s. I remember carbines in a barrel at the hardware store for “your choice” $15.00. Even had jungle carbines.

  37. Always thought maybe an M1A or a model 94 30\30. Haven’t really ever considered an M1 Carbine since I saw one blow up in my step dad’s face back in ‘69.

  38. The Public Defender is a better choice. It shoots .410 shotgun rounds without the cumbersome aspects of a rifle. Much easier to grab off a nightstand and pellets broaden the accuracy

  39. The M1 Carbine is a great choice for home defense. Light weight, easily maneuvered and, can fire follow up rounds quickly and accurately. My dad brought his home from Italy (sans firing pin) at the end of WW11. He traded his Garand for a GIs carbine who was rotating home. He said it was a much better weapon in the villages than the bigger heavier Garand. Also you could carry twice the amount of ammo for the same weight.

  40. No thanks, ill take either of my Valmet M76 or M78 both 7.62×51 / .308 over your M1 carbine in battle any day or night

  41. Hi,
    Good article and review. In regards to the M1 Carbine for me, I find of all the firearms I fire, the 2 M1Carbines I have used have jammed, failed to eject (FTE), failed to feed (FTF), failed to fire (FTF) the most. Basically, somewhat unreliable. Yes, could be the magazines, ammo, the firearms are always clean, ejector issues, so on. Doesn’t matter to me. I rank reliability very high in any self defense firearm.
    I have had the least FTF or basically zero FTF with my Glock handguns. Does not matter the ammo, magazine, basically dirty, so on.
    So, I trust my life to the most reliable choice for me. A firearm that always go bang when it is suppose to.
    Find a firearm for you that is completely reliable, and you are comfortable in using. That may just be your best choice.

  42. Your choice is valid and you defend it well. However, good luck finding ammo for it (especially hollow points to avoid over penetration in dry wall or the bad guy). A better choice…a 9mm carbine! Several options out there…Ruger, CZ and AR variants in 9mm. Plenty of ammo options and cheaper all around. But I did enjoy your article!

  43. Great article. The M1 has been my home defense choice since I got it from my father. A WW2 veteran. Have had it with me where ever I go for the last 50 years. Happy to say have never had to call upon it. But better to have and not need,than need and not have.

  44. A very interesting choice I don’t disagree with the reasoning for that choice I think the author might be trying to create some buzz from the handgun shotgun and ar proponents. The one you missed was the Pistol caliber Carbine on the same reasoning the pcc would fill the same roll with cheaper ammo and not a collectors item. I too am a fan of the m1 carbine but unlike years past prices of good serviceable carbines are getting pretty high. PCC’s can be had in a variety of calibers 357 and other revolver cartridges can be had in lever action carbine’s. Semi autos in everything from 9mm up to 10mm. I think the Ruger pccs would fill the role nicely.

  45. I agree that the M1Carbine is an ideal PDW, both in the home and on the road. It’s small enough to carry in the car, especially if you have the folding stock on the models issued to paratroopers. It is lightweight with minimal recoil. The only downside I see is that historically, finding ammunition was problem relative to other choices (9mm or 5.56mm). Now all ammunition is hard to find or expensive so I cannot say whether it is a better choice or not.

    My argument for the AR-15 Carbine (civilian equivalent of an M4) is that there is a performance difference in the ammunition. Momentum (I) is equal to (mass x velocity squared) I = mv^2. The smaller and lighter 5.56 round is generally clocked at 3000+ fps for standard loads and will impart ~30% more energy.

    The AR-15 buffer mechanism absorbs most of the recoil as well allowing faster follow-up shots, if needed.

    And there are also plenty of spare parts, performance mods, and a broad base of users that are familiar with the operation of the AR platform.

    I have carried an M1 Carbine as a PDW (especially during the “peaceful protests” of the summer of 2020) and agree with your assessment that it is a potent option.

    At the same time, if I really need something high powered, my M1 Garand and my more modern M1A1 are also excellent choices. Now we are talking high powered cartridges with excellent platforms for using them!

  46. A few DuckDuckGo searches for “reproduction M1” and “reproduction M1 carbine” seem to show a number of modern takes on the original design. Perhaps, maybe, the author doing some hard core high volume wear & tear testing on a few of the reproduction M1’s, just to see how they REALLY hold up compared to the originals, might be fun and informative for all of us penny pinching dreamers out here.

    A quick review of the above search results shows me names like “Auto-ordinance” and “Inland MFG” and so forth for the venerable M1 carbine. Are any of these worthy of the name and cost for potentially critical home-defense / community militia use? Enquiring minds want to know… The idea of a “non-assault-weapon” design (both legally and in appearance) in a .30 caliber that is as you say, more powerful that .357 Mag, sounds particularly interesting in these uncertain times. A light kicking accurate little rifle that would not be affected – at least initially – by constant anti-American efforts to disarm the population of any firearms as would be most suitable for their 2nd Amendment militia purposes, could be a very tempting choice right about now. Dammit, now there is something _else_ I want to spend even more money on! 🙂

    Thank you for encouraging your readers to think outside the box here, so to speak. I just don’t know if I can afford an M1 replica when I can’t feel at all certain about its suitability for potentially critical home defense use. If only there were some suitably well sponsored and experienced gun writers out there who could do all of the expensive hard core testing on those reproduction M1’s for us, and then give us the unvarnished truth of their hard earned results in well written and well illustrated articles. Imagine that happening HERE in future, perhaps, maybe? YOU have a lot of experience with the original design, which means we naturally want to know what YOU think of the reproductions and how well they compare to the originals, in YOUR direct experience. Younger writers simply lack the necessary long term hands-on experience for writing about these kinds of things. 🙂

  47. I respect your choice on the M1 carbine, but it wouldn’t be mine. I had an M1 carbine 30 years ago. It was very small and easy to manipulate. With the magazine removed it would disappear almost anywhere. A great little truck gun. Now for the con. Rate of fire was limited to about one round per second. Any faster and it would have failure to extract issues. My gunsmith said nothing was wrong with the rifle, that was just the way it was. I’ve heard the Govt has released several of the M1 carbines from storage and wonder if all of the new interest in the little rifle is more of a marketing event.

  48. I respect your choice on the M1 carbine, but it wouldn’t be mine. I had an M1 carbine 30 years ago. It was very small and easy to manipulate. With the magazine removed it would disappear almost anywhere. A great little truck gun. Now for the con. Rate of fire was limited to about one round per second. Any faster and it would have failure to extract issues. My gunsmith said nothing was wrong with the rifle, that was just the way it was. I’ve heard the Govt has released several of the M1 carbines from storage and wonder if all of the new interest in the little rifle is more of a marketing event.

  49. I agree. The Colt 1911 was a wonderful piece of engineering but your average GI literally could not hit the side of a barn with it, it is NOT an accurate weapon for self defense if you are not highly trained. But almost anybody can pick up an M1 Carbine and throw a lot of rounds in a pretty accurate direction, it’s about the size of a BB gun and it is not like any big rifle at all, certainly not like a shotgun with a long barrel which kicks and thus scares people to death and you have to crank rounds and such, etc. The carbine was a US Army success for the same reasons it is a good self defense weapon, powerful and easy to carry and shoot.

  50. I used the m1 carbine while serving in the USAF. Loved the weapon over others available at the time…
    Now my choice would be a carbine in 45ACP version… lighter, shorter a less recoil…
    Just my thought..

  51. Non concur. Not a good combat weapon and thus, not one on which to depend to protect life and family. M-1 Carbine is essentially a pistol cartridge, even though with a *longer barrel* benefit. As an advisor to South Vietnamese Ranger units 1964-65, I found that it was not well respected. Their tables of organization (which higher hq advisors wrote for them long before I arrived) had the Ranger rifle platoon with one BAR, then one third of the other Rangers in each platoon armed with M-1 Garand, one third M-1 Carbine, and one third M-1928 Thompson SMG. An absolute nightmare for ammo supply and resupply. In the open rice paddies the carbine did not have the range needed and in the jungle – – or even stands of bamboo in the villages and hamlets – – the projo was easily deflected or stopped by heavy vegetation. M-1 Garand and BAR had neither of those problems, and for close in work, most of those armed with carbine tried to trade it off for the Thompson, which was loved by all. Also, even at shorter ranges, carbine did not have the power to be a fight stopper. The VC who were shot several times by a carbine kept on fighting, usually until some other Ranger with M-1 Garand, BAR or Thompson put them down. There are better home defense options than the underpowered M-1 Carbine. It was developed and issued to rear echelon troops who would likely never see the enemy and who thus did not need an M-1 Garand.
    WW 2 Infantry Platoon Leaders and First Sergeants who were issued carbines soon changed to M-1 Garand. In Korea, those leaders obtained M-1 Garand or even M1928 Thompson SMG that we had given to the Nationalists, which were then captured by the ChiComs and captured again by our units from the Chinese after November 1950. The carbine was popular only among non-combat soldiers because it was light weight.
    Lieutenant Colonel, Infantry, US Army (Retired)

  52. I live in Commiefornia, so if anyone breaks into my house to kill me, I’ll just make him a sandwich and wait for the police to arrive.

  53. Until reading the last two articles I had not considered my carbine as a home defense weapon. It is nostalgic because my grandpa bought it for me 1963. (A straw purchase?). I wouldn’t want to see it go to the police if I did have to use it. Also unfortunately in Washington state there are enough xxxx to have voted for laws limiting magazine capacity to ten, as well as demanding firearms be locked up. So inspite of this, the 20 inch 870 12 gauge stays in the bedroom closet.

  54. One thing I always appreciate about Ed‘s articles is that, not only are his reasoning well thought out, but he thinks outside the box.
    Excellent job!

  55. I don’t vehemently disagree with the choice of the 30cal Carbine. I do however think there may be a better choice or two. I gave my wife a Remington tac20 gauge with shell carrier mount on the side. It’s short maneuverable and with the right load easy to handle with light recoil and a M6 light/laser on the dangerous end. Nothing fancy, but it’s something she can handle. For me 870dm tac12 loaded up with no 4 buck and a M6 light/layer. I got my extra clips in the beginning so I have 6 extra ones. I do think about my 300aac pistol left hand eject with 208gr Amax subsonic. It’s easy to handle another M6 light/layer, fairly light recoil and in an emergency I can fire it one handed or at least laid across my forearm. Practice practice practice, which also means familiarity with whatever you have to use will always be the key.

    Sincerely Yours

  56. I really enjoyed this article. I personally have a lever action Winchester 30-30 (a real 9one from the late 1800s that is in fine condition) and a lever action Henry in 308. I feel very confident with either one. Thank you for all the good work in keeping 2A alive and well.

  57. I have a Glock 22, 40 caliber with light and laser mounted below the muzzel in my nightstand. It has the power, the simplicity of operation and I fire it regularly. Interestingly enough from your article, I have never fired it in the dark without ear protection. As they say in Greece, Oopsa!

    Not anticipating any problems but definitely a lapse in my training.



  58. The M- Carbine has been slandered for generations, Since the end of WWII, Through Korea, and to Vietnam, Where I made my first real acquittance with it, abettly a M-2 but still a Carbine, We had to turn in our M-16 when we were not outside the wire or on guard duty, But being an farm boy, and having a couple of cousins who had already ben down range there, I fully understood Sir Charles, The VC didn’t play by our rules, so with in day or being assigned to my unit, Low and behold, a well worn but sound M-2 found a home in the side rails of my bunk, Fit there quite well and survived the occasional sweep for unsecured weapons. Now as for a fact, It was a bucking bronco with the rock and roll switch in the forward position, But in rapid fire is was quick and deadly, It pointed like a dream, the recoil was no problem, and with 5 30rd mags, It did everything I needed done at o-Dark Thirty when Sir Charles decided we had slept to long, and everyone was running for the arms room try to strap up ….. I do not know where the idea that id didn’t hit hard enough came from, But every time I put the holes where they belonged thing go real peaceful, Even Sir Charles seems to find another place to play wwhen the bullet holes spoil the game.

  59. Jeff Cooper himself (All heads bow) shot up house structures with the .223. Found it plenty frangible. He also found the .223 a good defense cartridge- although her preferred the M14 for battle use.

    Phillip K Sharpe and writers of the period were none too keen on the .30 carbine for battle use.
    Most in the Pacific theater had a better opinion of the carbine- using it at closer range against lightly clad troops.

    Noted NYPD gunfighter Jim Cirillo noted that the very busy stakeout squad used the .30 carbine and it was among the best, more effective long guns they had.

  60. They are NOT assault rifles- that is what the other side calls them.

    The .30 carbine is a first class home defense rifle, no problem there.
    Save that no quality examples have been manufactured in more than fifty years- the Plainfield,
    Universal, and Auto Ordnance guns are cheaper guns made to sell-
    carbine magazines and ammunition are very difficult to find. Speer Gold Dot and Hornady Critical Defense ammo out of production as far as I know, have not seen Winchester JSP in more than 10 years.

    Good gun, easily handled, excellent on all counts save for its unavailable status. When you find a quality example they cost more than a good AR 15- which is new, reliable, and has much better wound ballistics. Much less penetration as well proven a pretty frangible cartridge with widely available 55 JSP loads.

    To each is own.

  61. Great write up on M1 Carbine. Had an Inland carbine many years ago. Still relevant today for home defense. Usual criticism is from GIs comparing to M1 Garand. Thanks for a favorable report.

  62. My wife can’t hit the broad side of a barn at ten paces with a hand gun. But she’s deadly at fifty feet with my M1 carbine. Mine came home pre-‘43 so I haven’t put the lug on it yet.
    She couldn’t handle a 12 ga. However, she does just fine with a 20 ga pump. If you consider a 20 ga slug is a bit better than a 60 caliber, or single 0 gives you three 9 mm size pellets, it’ll get the job done.
    I believe the best choice is one you are both comfortable using.

  63. I have examples of the firearm types you mentioned, including a 1944 M-1 Carbine in fine shape, with new springs. A rather hot pistol round. I live in a low threat level area, what I have handy will depend on the threat level and will be adjusted as it changes.
    A suppressed pistol with a light, maybe a Laser too, could be a good choice for those proficient in same. You mentioned practice, I would also recommend some competition to add a little stress level.
    I like your mention of the effects of shooting a firearm in a confined space, most have not done that.
    An AR or shotgun will be brutal. Your first shot best be a good one.
    If there is “shake awake” electronic hearing protection, that would be the ticket.

  64. I learned to shoot military weapons at Ft. Dix NJ in 1963 we were still using M1’s when I got to my duty station they had begun issuing M14’s. I flat loved that rifle and own a mini 14 and love that gun as well. That is my choice for a home defense weapon, it has a 30 round magazine, as well as a small 5 round magazine. I have used it deer hunting and pig hunting on our ranch before we sold out a few years back. It is a very easy to handle weapon, without a bad kick, only a little one compared to my 30-06. I am in my 70’s so do not use that rifle any more. Have to admit I have never fired the M1 carbine, but then I am very happy to have this mini 14.

  65. I have a Taurus model 45Colt/410gauge and a 1911a1 for backup.The
    problems I have with ALL rifles,most pistols and shotguns is handing.
    Next is were the ball round travels to and then stops.As someone who
    has been involved pick your spot to protect yourself and family. I have
    nightmares from using a bayonet and an E/tool one very dark frightening night.Thanks to an old man.

  66. I really enjoyed this article, for many reasons. The first weapon I purchased after completing my time at The University of Parris Island, was a M1 Carbine, 41 years later.. I still have it and fire it as often as I can. It has been my most trusted and reliable weapon. I agree with your statement, that most people wouldn’t choose it as a self-defense weapon but I disagree, even with a 30 round magazine, it is light weight and very easy to handle in tight quarters….Thanks

  67. Don’t agree. M1 negatives:
    My wife couldn’t hit the other side of the room with ANY gun that is shooting a single projectile and missing the mark may send the bullet through several walls of the house, endangering others.

    My choice: A 20 ga. pump without the plug loaded with #4’s. Keep the chamber empty for safety…
    and I don’t think there are many cowardly burglars that have the b___s to continue their break-in after hearing the ratcheting of a pump shotgun chambering a round! Also notice that many of our military folks choose to carry a 12 ga. Mossberg pump with extended magazine.

  68. Finally!, somebody agrees with me on the M1 carbine as a home defense weapon. Its light, little recoil, not very loud,( I often shoot mine without ear protection, and easy for everybody to use. At 12 or so years old, I easily graduated from a Remington Rolling block in 22LR to an M1 carbine. Good for you guys. not fancy, not much bells and whistles but a damn good gun. Once my grandwolves get the hang of things with a 22, I’ll give them the carbine to shoot.

  69. Your article is the biggest piece of literary garbage I have read in a long, long time.
    The M-1 carbine has been considered to be low powered from its’ inception and is currently hard to find and way overpriced when you do.
    The only effective home defensive weapon is to pick a weapon you would be comfortable with and have EASY ACCESS to, logically a handgun, and then practice enough to become effective with it, and regularly practice afterword.
    The idea of a rifle, even a relatively short one like an AR with a bayonet on it is ridiculous for the average person!
    This article is a prime example of why 90% of articles like this are a waste of time to even read.

  70. Liked your article. I have had an M1 for over 20 years as my choice for home defense. It is very lightweight and can be fired with one hand if need be. My father bought this when he got out of the service and my mother even used it for dear hunting. It’s very capable of doing the job

  71. I have to agree. The first time I fired the carbine for record was on the assault range, and I easily fired Expert.

  72. Got an M1 carbine in the bedroom with 3 taped together 15 rnd mags, 2 up, one down, and 2 more in a pouch on the buttstock, all I have to do is grab it and I have a weapon and 75 rounds of ammo without carrying anything else. Have a bayonet for it too 🙂

  73. Bear spray is the best home defense weapon. Easier to use than any of the items you spoke about and just as accurate. After spraying, the Louisville slugger will render the intruder harmless. I’ll leave my guns in the case for true target practice at the range.

  74. Sorry to disagree but for me personally, I choose a one-handed defensive device (handgun) over anything requiring 2 hands for the “bump in the night” scenario. And further, I don’t want to have to think about the manual of arms at that time. I’m happier using the limited brain power available to determine WHO has bumped. If that proves to be a threat, the flashlight in my second hand will work with said brain to give instructions to the trigger finger. If the problem is not resolved with the six rounds available, well, at least I made ’em pay.

  75. Respectfully this was a poor explanation of why you choose the only gun you probably own. Why the picture of the man having sex with the Boar can’t be you, it’s too 1970s. I’m calling BS on this one

  76. I have one of each that you discussed. I agree that m1 carbine is much easier to handle and may be better for home defense. However, if shtf one would definitely want to have one of each.

  77. I always considered the M1 Carbine to be an under-powered battle weapon but a great self-defense implement. Granted, the Germans and the Japanese who were shot dead with them kind of contradicts me. During a nighttime bonsai attack, it would suit me just fine, though (I would prefer a 12 gage.). But when your enemy is pouring 8mm fire on you from 300 yards away I fear you would have to consider yourself unarmed. Stay Safe.

  78. I like a Winchester model 94 trapper in 44mag.. with a red dot sight for close quarter.. load it up with 44 special 200 grain Hornady xtp bullets… magazine holds about 10.. short light low recoil and hits hard..

  79. I have everything but the AR-15, after my experience in Vietnam with the M-16, you couldn’t give me anything that even resembles an AR-15, the Colt M-16 that I had would invariably jam when you needed it the most. I agree with the author, the M-1 carbine that was used by the paratroopers during WWII, would be an excellent choice for home defense, my dad brought one back with him after WWII, and my brother still has it to this day. You can literally drag the old .30 caliber M-1 carbine through the mud, and it will still function, it has very little recoil, and is probably the most reliable pick out of all of the other options, and the best thing about it, is the capacity, if you can’t get the job done with a 30 round magazine, it’s probably time to throw in the tpwel.

  80. I think you are right on, I have a M1 carbine under my bed. I know the rifle I used it and a M1 Grand in the military

  81. The M1 Carbine is an ideal home defense weapon if you live alone in a house that is isolated. Huge problem with rifles, carbines, and high power handguns is their penetration power, especially with respect to unintended targets. To bad for the individual that blazes away at a dangerous intruder with a carbine or AR and then find out that the perp has perished along with two kids next door. Frankly, I prefer a .38 snubby. Utterly easy to use, and 158 grains of lead amidships is very effective.

  82. “But do not be fooled by its good manners. Some of the new premium ammo for the Carbine with 110-grain bullets boast 2,000 fps with almost 1,000 foot-pounds of energy.”
    How many apartment and condo walls will 1,000 foot-pounds of energy penetrate?

  83. I have a 5/44 manufactured Inland M1 Carbine. After firing it and getting more familiar with its manual if arms, I now have it as one of my ready guns. I have it loaded with alternating 10 rounds of FMJ and 10 rounds of PSP. I like the carbine as it is small, easy to manipulate, and has good firepower. I didn’t put a bayonet on it as I have a three foot long razor sharp Assessing readily available instead.

    I also have three .357 pistols at my bedside. I think the blast and firepower if a .357 pistol inside a house could be a huge dissuader, a persuader. While I do not normally miss hitting targets out to 15 yards, even with rapid fire and/or double action firing, I prefer to start with the pistol because of the blast effect. I will have to get an electronic ear protector, as you mentioned.

    I have been shot at and understand how terrifying a blast can be. I wasn’t hit, but the trauma of seeing that flame coming out of the rifle muzzle and loud noise durected at me stays with me.

  84. I agree that the M-1 carbine is an excellent choice for home defense — if you can find one. It was created during WWII as a personal defense weapon for artillery men, combat engineers, and other support roles, as it had a greater range and capacity than the standard-issue Colt 1911 pistol but wasn’t as cumbersome as the M-1 Garand. As it has a wood stock, it doesn’t suffer the stigma of an “assault rifle.” The . 30 carbine cartridge zeros at 100 yards with adequate muzzle energy at that range to stop the bad guy; and self-defense ranges will be well within that distance, so the cartridge is enough without being too much. The rifle is short enough and light enough to maneuver around corners and furniture in the home. There are surplus stock-mounted magazine pouches (for the 15-round magazines) that hold two extra magazines, so the weapon is self-contained and practical for a bug-out. The only down-side — is finding one.

  85. The author makes some good points, but one he doesn’t cover is PRICE. A “shopper” can buy at least 2 of the other choices, in a reasonable sop to quality, for the cost of the “used” M1 carbine. So if you don’t positively need one for the handicapping he has outlined, think about spending the excess saved on little frills, such as food, for the upcoming food “shortage”.

  86. Very interesting and informative article. Its hard to argue with the expert. I would only add that if time permits to grab a handgun and stick it in my belt as well as the head set and carbine. . Big D, little ave

  87. Very interesting and informative article. Its hard to argue with the expert. I would only add that if time permits to grab a handgun and stick it in my belt as well as the head set and carbine. Well written Ed. Big D, little ave

  88. An M1, A+ choice, but too long to get around the corners and through the doors in my home. And the swing time to turn around with it is far longer than my preferred home defense.
    I have an FN5.7, easy one hand recoil, high capacity, and bullets tumble easily. Neighbors are far away if the bullets make it through a wall intact.

  89. Sure, we should all go out and chase a weapon that hasn’t been produced in what, 75 years?
    And no, ammo for this carbine is not everywhere. You certainly cannot depend it to be on your local gun shop shelve.

    Let’s get real, the best weapon for home defense depends on your tactical situation. Having spoken to those who “have been there, done that”, a high capacity semi-automatic pistol IS the best choice in CQC. Inside a small apartment to average sized house, anything bigger is just too unwieldy. If you’re defending a more rural sitting, sure, bring on the long or scatter gun. And bayonets, geez, that will make that old carbine way better when running down the hall way in the middle of the night…
    ANY firearm should be used only after the shooter has had sufficient and ongoing training and practice. The M1 carbine is a lovely little weapon, but the odd chambering and it’s collector status makes it an odd choice as THE home defense weapon.

  90. I had two uncles who were with the Marines in WWII. Both were wounded but came home afterwards. Somehow one of their Carbines ended up at home as well. I’ve always liked and wanted one after shooting the one they brought back with them. Even though the Military apparently didn’t like them, they were a very popular weapon according to my uncles. Finding one out here where i live isn’t a very easy thing to be done.

  91. Good article. Honestly I think the best gun for defense is the one in your hand that goes bang when you need it. But my choice is my Glock 17 (or any semi auto handgun). I feel that the trade off in decreased power is offset by lower recoil and quicker recovery on target. My wife is 67. She doesn’t care for shooting but reluctantly practices because, well because of all the reasons you said and because I make her. Under the Glock 17 in the bedside safe is a Glock 19. Same operation but fits her hand. And I/she doesn’t have to aim in the heat of the moment (or second). The mounted light follows the sites out to at least 25 feet so if the light beam is on the chest I/she can squeeze. And see the target to make sure it isn’t someone we shouldn’t shoot. A bad oops cant be taken back. My concern with long guns for inside home defense is the lack of quick maneuverability in halls and around corners. Just a personal concern. I’m a veteran but no combat time. I’m also an ER nurse. I’ve seen many gunshot wounds large and small caliber. It seems that once a bad guy is hit with any bullet they often (but not always) turn to defensive mode and run. I guess you can call it the “I didnt expect that” response. Most police involved shootings have multiple bullet wounds. The officer typically says that they have lots of training and time at the range but in that second they just squeeze until the bad guy is down so I assume that my family and I will probably do the same thing no matter how tough I think I am when I’m safe and watching tv. I just want to stop the bad guy and survive. My Glock (or any gun that shoots fast and goes bang) gives me that confidence.

  92. I like your choice and agree with you. Like you, I have several AR’s and don’t particularly care for that platform. Also, like you, I have an M1 Carbine. I replaced the rear sight with a mount for a red dot sight and put a flashlight mount underneath the barrel. I set it up for my wife. I prefer my Mossberg 500 with the 18.5-inch barrel. I do keep a 1911 .45 in a niche of my bed’s headboard. I liked the photo of the hog. I hunt with a S&W 657 .41 Magnum. And yes, the M14 was better than the M16, IMHO.

  93. Not a very convincing article.

    The author doesn’t know of or how to use speed loaders in revolvers?

  94. I have to agree with you about the M1 carbine. They are getting really hard to find and the ammo is getting expensive.

  95. The author is wrong on all accounts. There are very few M-1 rifles available and they are incredibly expensive. The best weapon for in-home defense in undoubtedly the Taurus Judge. I have one beside my bed. All my wife or I have to do is point it at the intruder, pull back the hammer and squeeze the trigger. Our first two to four shots we will plaster the intruder with #6 shotgun pellets in the face. If the idiot is still around the next shot will be a .45 slug.

    This gun is very easy and practical for shooters who are naturally afraid of guns. The shotguns shells will provide a wide spray so the shooter won’t miss their target with this weapon.

  96. I choose to have a pistol, two rifles, and two shotguns. We live in a very rural area and our bumps in the night could be 2 or 4 legged. Most of the above have lights attached. My wife has mobility issues but can still effectively use a 20 gauge shotgun. It’s a youth model that’s lightweight but with careful round selection is still more powerful than any handgun. While the M1 is not a bad choice they have short comings too. Number one being cost and 2 ammo is not readily available. Most available now days is FMJ and as my grandfather learned on Iwo Jima not a one shot stopper with ball ammo.

  97. I greatly enjoyed your article. I have always utilized my M1 carbine as a great “camp rifle” for many of the same reasons you mentioned, and will now be reconsidering it for home defense as well. I was wondering however, with the M1 Garand it is recommended NOT to use powerful modern loadings because of potential damage to the operating rod. Since you stated that “new premium ammo” delivers impressive performance, do you have any similar concerns about the M1 carbine.Thanks again for a great article.

  98. I agree with you completely. I became familiar with the Carbine in Viet Nam where it was used by the VC – apparently we gave them the rifles in WWII to fight the Japanese. Makes a very distinctive sound when fired. Of course I was armed with the M-16 so I never used the Carbine in combat but I was impressed with the size and reliability. Not as powerful as the M-1/M-14 but that power is not needed at close range. As soon as I returned to civilian life I purchased a M-1 Carbine from Plainfield Arms (new, built to the military standard except for the bayonet lug) and I still have it. Never needed it for defense but that is not the point. And I did replace the bayonet lug.

  99. I agree with you on ALL of the pros and cons of choices in home defense. Being x military (and 75 years old) the 12 gauge is a hand full and the flash bang comment is 100% true. I’d like to obtain a M1 but they are as rare as hen’s teeth and cost a fortune.
    My trade off is the “short” police style 12 gauge buck shot shells. In my mind, you probably will not get the opportunity for more that 2-3 shots in an in home fire fight unless you’re up against machine gun Kelly or Clint Eastwood.
    I would be interested in your take on these new short shells and police rounds popping up all over.
    I would also like to know the best place to look for an M1 that is affordable.
    G Jones

  100. Have one, have fire a few times, got a composite stock so as to save the original, great little rifle, accurate and very well made. Got mine for $200. Glad I bought when I did. Priced out of range now a days.

  101. I had an M1 Carbine many years ago, but sold it. I agree with your position that it would make an effective defense weapon. I do have what I consider to be a close 2nd. I have a wooden stocked Mini .30. It’s quick to manipulate, has a 30 round capacity and is highly reliable. I was wondering what the author has as an opinion of the .30 caliber Mini 30, as it relates to this article.

  102. Wow Ed! Really surprised at your choice. As a correct handed person, I too, am not a fan of the outdated AR in its standard form, although a properly ambidextrous configured AL works quite well for me. After qualifying with a Standard M-16, with hot brass down my shirt back, and C spots on my forhead, which explains why I am not a fan of the standard AR, however at a later date I got the opportunity to also qualify on the M1 carbine. After taking almost 30 minutes to get through the first, and only magazine I used, due to it being a absolute JAM-OMATIC, acquiring an M1 thumb in the process, developing a flinch when the operating bolt would block my right eye vision during cycling, at 25 yards not a single hole in the target, and ballistically inferior ballistics compared to its predecessor, the M1 carbine is number 1, on my list of firearms to NEVER own or EVER use again. The M1 carbine was without question the worst experience I have ever had with a firearm, and I certainly would NOT TRUST my life with it, as its only superiority may be to a baseball bat. No, I did not qualify that day either, as I surrendered it before it did me anymore harm, and have never forgotten what a horrible firearm it is. I would take the bayonet off, throw the firearm away, and improve my chance for survival. If there were ever a firearm that deserved to never leave the drawing table, the M1 carbine is it. But that is just my opinion, and experience. The bright side of the M1 Carbine is: It is probably a huge reason why there is so many wonderful optional choices out there today. 🙂

  103. I agree with you 100% on your choice for home defense. I had a good one many years ago until a “Friend” stole it from me, I hope one day to find him and get my M1 back one way or another, I’ve taken down everything from Gophers to 600# Black Bear with that little gun, also shoot 8″ group at 200 yds with the peep sight. now my go to home defense is the 45 and 9mm SCCY for back up

  104. I totally agree with the recommendation. I carried one in my Cobra in Nam, but admit that it was an M-2 that I sawed the barrel off at the handguard and the stock off at the pistol grip.
    With the now too long sling I made a swivel from a 2.75″ rocket box hinge and doubled the sling. I then taped three 30 round mags inside the sling and with two mags in the gun and three in the sling I had 150 rounds on the ” get outa’ Dodge” machine.

  105. Good article. What are your thoughts and recommendations on the current M1 carbines being manufactured? Have you tested and compared the new ones? What were the results?


  106. I like reliable with real stopping power. I have 2 in various strategic spots in my home. Ive always liked oldies but goodies i have a very nice Colt 1911A2 chambered in .40cal and my other is old ruger blackhawk revolver in .44 magnum. My 1911A2 didn’t come as .40cal its custom modified. i picked up a barrel, recoil spring,and 2 magazines to convert it to .40cal. It was a real coincidence that my friend Jerry a well known gun customizer in Portland had ordered the custom parts to mod a Colt A2 but the guy he ordered the parts for by the time the parts came in the guy had already sold the gun so he called me and made me an offer of $10 bucks over his cost for the conversion. I couldn’t pass that up so now its a .40cal and if i want it doesnt take that long to convert it back to .45 auto. It also has 1 other mod besides custom pearl grips. It has a selection for full auto and considering as a .40cal the clips hold 18 rounds that never gets old. Of course it empties the clip in about 3 seconds flat so anyone coming to put me in danger will have lots of holes.

  107. I found this article to be quite profound. This gun is a battle horse and often overlooked as an excellent “truck gun” or home self defense weapon. Thank you for resurrecting an American Icon!

  108. Good article, but have an issue with the bayonet lug in combat use.

    Yes it’s awkward, but if I am out of ammo I would be happy to keep some space between me and the bad guy.

    Finally, when did you earn that badge? I went to Basic in 92, had bayonet training and didn’t get a badge.

  109. In reference to m-1 carbine I love my weapon have a 1943 underwood and a new version both are very accurate and reliable wouldn’t trade for anything two of my favorite weapons

  110. The M1 is a good gun as you put it . I feel the AR is just All around a better system . More parts available , can make it your gun with accessories if you desire . Ammo is a bit easier to get even though rt now it is expensive . It is a good all around QCB or reach out weapon .

  111. I have two m1 carbines in excellent, pristine condition. I have the original storage sleeve, then clean kit and magazines for it.

    I also have an m2, fully automatic carbine for sale. Let’s make a deal!

    And yes, I have plenty of ammunition, although I have not fired the weapons in 10 years.

  112. The M-1 carbine is a great choice. Actually one of the weapons I learned on, a surplus WWII gun. Simple to operate and maintain and plenty accurate out to 100 meters if needed. Plenty of power without over-penetration. Modern counterparts include pistol caliber carbines, my fav being the .40 S&W Ruger. These weapons also provide multiple bullet options, including HPs.

  113. Totally respect the writer’s choice of an M1 carbine for home defense. Alas, this classic carbine exceeds my budgetary discretion. Meanwhile, I continue to rely confidently on my own S&W 686–seven-shot–to back up my pimped-out 12 gauge Mossberg.

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