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Selecting the Best Home Defense Weapon

Selecting the Best Home Defense Weaponhome_defenceThere are many opinions as to the best home defense weapon. At the gun shows we are asked regularly what we recommend; the answer is not quite so simple. Depending on the individual, the type of home, the specific scenario and a number of other factors the optimal weapon can vary. You need to consider the most likely entry points in your home; the front door, side window, sliding patio door etc. And then also think about where the fire fight may take place; what rooms are directly behind the attacker, are there windows that could bring the neighbors into the loop, could anyone come out of a bedroom and directly into the firing line etc. Ultimately whatever decision you make you have to understand and acknowledge the drawbacks that come along with your choice and plan accordingly.ManeuverabilityThe shotgun is the infamous home defense gun. The unmistakable sound of the pump action sends chills through many a would-be thief. The maiming capability of a trusty 12ga is well documented; it might not send the assailant flying across the room like in the movies however it will leave gaping wounds and heavy blood loss that will quickly incapacitate the attacker. But it is heavy, long and may be harder to manipulate in a CQB situation. There are agencies however that swear by a tactical-style shotgun so it can be hugely successful; you just have to ask yourself if you are as well trained and disciplined as the professionals. Think about the layout of your home; is it open plan or are there lots of corners and narrow walkways you have to navigate? If it is the latter, run a simulation. A shotgun is not a guaranteed one shot one kill firearm, especially against a drug-fueled maniac barreling down your hallway at 3 in the morning; practice fast follow-up shots to minimize the chances of the attacker getting to you before you can fire the second round off.The AR-15 has risen in popularity for home defense. More similar in size to the shotgun than a handgun, the AR can suffer some of the same drawbacks in maneuverability. There are however AR pistols and SBR options which are perhaps more suitable for CQB encounters and generally the weight of the rifle will be around 6lbs provided you haven’t gone completely tacticool. The light recoil definitely makes follow-up shots easy, and a nice optic will make for easy sight acquisition. Just ensure that your location will allow for easy movement and drawing capability of a longer firearm. As with the shotgun you must also consider storage. Can you safely keep it next to your bed with easy access, or does it need to go in a safe? Can you reach the gun before the intruder reaches you? Just something you need to consider..The handgun is the easiest firearm to maneuver; it’s light, compact and easy to fire one-handed. Not getting into a caliber debate but I do recommend 9mm or above for home defense. I would also recommend reaching for a compact or full size firearm. Leave your Glock 43 for carry; put your Glock 17 on the nightstand. Why? No loss of maneuverability but added benefits such as better recoil management for faster and more accurate follow-up shots and as we will now move on to, larger magazine capacity. With night sights and an attached tac-light you will be able to maneuver around the house with ease.Magazine CapacityThe lowest capacity of the options listed, a shotgun will have a 5-7 round tube capacity. Realistically this should be fine, but personally I prefer to have something I don’t need rather than need something I don’t have. Going a little further, you’re either semi-auto or pump-action. Pump-action is legendary, iconic and all round badass. In a home defense scenario however those deliberate actions could create vulnerability in follow-up shots; if you miss with the first shot and the attacker is coming at you, think about how long it will take to get that second shot ready. The shot pattern in CQB is also a lot tighter; it’s not quite as simple as “point in the general direction and pull the trigger”.Providing you don’t live in a communist state (where all of the crime occurs; coincidence?) the AR-15 has an excellent 30-round or more magazine capacity. Semi-automatic, the shots will just roll off the crisp trigger. You will never have a problem from a capacity perspective.Much like the AR-15 the compact and full-size handguns have a larger capacity; depending on the caliber, 12-19 rounds. You can also purchase extended magazines from a number of manufacturers that are upward of 20-30-rounds. I use an “extendo clip” and when asked why, I respond why not? I’m not trying to conceal it. I’m going to use it to protect the lives of my family if someone breaks into my home and puts them in danger. If the intruder is hyped up on PCP it may take more rounds to stop them; again I would rather have a few left over than be left needing a few more.    Over-PenetrationA good friend of mine once said, “Tom, you can never have too much penetration.” It was Jenna Jameson. Ok so she wasn’t really a good friend, but I do know her. Ok so I don’t know her, and maybe I was stretching the truth when I said she had said that to me; I would usually hit the mute button anyway so she could have said it at some point, but I digress.Over-penetration must be considered in your home defense setup. If you have children or other family members in various locations within the house, during a home invasion they could come into the fray and not be in the same area. A lot of rounds have the potential for over-penetration. Slugs can over-penetrate and also add the challenge of requiring better aim (it doesn’t hurt them if you miss I guess). Buckshot can also over-penetrate but would be my preference for a shotgun round; something designed for home defense. Still at risk, but less so now.The .223/5.56 rounds are also capable of over-penetration. However upon hitting its target it will generally deform, fragment (to a certain degree) and greatly slow. There are now home defense rounds specifically for ARs that, just like the others, attempt to mitigate some of the risk involved. Just understand the risk of over-penetration cannot be fully removed if the round is to maintain effective stopping power, in any caliber.The pistol rounds have shown historically a potential for over-penetration than any of the other rounds. Target rounds are the worst for this but even some types of hollow point have been known to “ball up” when coming into contact with walls inside the house. Hollow-point ammo is preferred however, and offers the best stopping power and devastating wound creation.You are all probably waiting with baited breath to see what I choose. Well sorry to disappoint but I use a combination. I have a handgun as my primary with the night sights and extended mag on the nightstand. I then have an AR-15 in a location I have designated as the last stand. No matter the scenario I have determined that I will always be able to reach it (unless I am killed, in which case my girl will have the AR ready to unload on a motherfucker). Again I ask, why not? I own all 3 styles of weapons; why can’t I have a home defense setup that actually allows me to make choices as the fight progresses? The internet always wants you to choose the best. But there is no single best weapon for home defense due to the varying factors that could be involved. Whatever you select, train with it, run drills and acknowledge its strengths and limitations in any given scenario. (TW)
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