Best weapon for home defense? The BOT wins again

This is why I love “The Box O’ Truth” website. Old_Painless does a lot of “put up or shut up” to really see how things work, how things will behave, and puts myths to the test. No, it’s not the most scientific of things, but he goes in with an open mind, willing to be surprised and have his stances changed if the evidence presents itself. It’s certainly better than a lot of people who just go on myth, on hearsay, and other Internet chest thumping “I read it on some forum so it must be true”.

The latest article? Educational Zone #143 – What is the best weapon for home defense?

I’ve written before about home defense tools and referred to the BOT for supporting evidence. Old_Painless doesn’t use this article as a way to spout his opinion, but rather to report on numerous FACTS about home defense weapons, specifically choosing between a handgun, a shotgun, or a carbine (rifle).

He talks about each weapon platform, the advantages and disadvantages they have. Plus he busts some common myths. He’s pretty sound throughout most of the article, and you’d do well to read it. I’m not going to reprint it here, go click and read.

I did want to comment on a few points.

* Pistol advantage of them being convenient. This is true and really the main (only?) reason for a handgun (vs. a long gun). He states how this convenience factor is good because you can carry them on your person. Very true. And that you can conceal them out in public. Also true. But that concealment isn’t a big factor in home defense. Strictly speaking, that’s true. But one consideration implied here is that because you can carry them on your person — you should. Even if you’re not licensed to carry them in public, you can carry them on your person in your home (tho check your local laws). Why do this? Because the most useful tool is the one you have when you need it. You cannot know when someone will bust down your door. Not everyone is able to have a gun spaced every 3 feet in their house. For most people, getting to a dedicated home defense gun will take some time, or maybe some planning and money to ensure enough are laid around the house in accessible places. Tho of course, if you have kids, that accessibility may have to be limited and that could also increase cost. All those precious seconds to get to the shotgun could be costly. But if you have the gun on your hip, you have it right here, right now, no time wasted.

A little story. A few days ago I was home alone. Sasha (our Kuvasz) was downstairs barking at something outside. She came up to my office and parked it in a way to say “Dad, there’s something down there”. I said “OK girl, let’s go check it out”. I let her go down the hallway in front of me. Usually she does not stop at the top of the stairs, but this time she stopped — and started barking. This was peculiar behavior. My immediate reaction? I drew my gun to a retention ready position. An instant later, my brain processed that the alarm wasn’t going off so no one should be in the house. Still, I kept my gun drawn and away we investigated. Turned out to be nothing of consequence, but still… I was set into a high degree of condition orange and didn’t have any time wasted going back to fetch my AR-15. Don’t just think of a handgun as a concealment piece. It’s a tool you can carry thus you should carry. A tool is only useful if you have it when you need it.

* Shotguns – ammo. Yes, the Federal FLITECONTROL is the only stuff worthy of consideration. See my investigation of shotgun ammo. Tom Givens prefers the 8 pellet 00 buck. I’ve been using 9 pellet but will probably switch to 8 once I run out of my supply.

If you can, get the low recoil version. If it’s not labeled as such, look at the velocity. The regular loads will be something like 1300-ish fps, and the low recoil is something like 1145 fps.

Oh, and perhaps a controversial stance but, while I personally prefer a pump action, it’s a more complex manual of arms. If you are selecting this weapon for someone who may not be willing to train that much, you might want to consider a semi-auto shotgun. They generally generate less recoil than a pump. Plus, the manual of arms is generally simpler: point and click, and click again, and click again. Sure if they malfunction it’s a bigger mess, but hopefully if you’re entrusting your life to this gun you’ve done the work to ensure it’s reliable and can feed through with a high degree of confidence. If you can get the low-recoil buck to work with it, great, but it may not cycle… so yes, you better do a lot of testing beforehand.

* Shotguns – reloading. After taking Rangemaster’s Defensive Shotgun course, you realize a big part of working a shotgun is reloading. Practice it. A lot. Get dummy rounds.

* “4. Myth – You should use the firearm you are most comfortable with.”

I’ll agree with his general premise here, because while we’re all most comfortable with a little .22, that’s not the most effective stopper thus you ought to get more comfortable with better systems.

But that said, we should accept that not everyone can work a big rifle or shotgun. Some little arthritic elderly woman may only be able to handle a little .22 pistol. If that’s all she can do, just make sure she gets a heck of a lot of practice with it. So sometimes “comfort” matters.

Really tho, that’s more a matter of ability than comfort. Old_Painless’ point is to not use “comfort” as an excuse, because getting seriously injured or killed will be much more uncomfortable.

Anyways, it’s a good article. Presents the facts well. Alas, I’m sure the myths and misinformation will still float around. But please, do your part to be informed and stop the spread of bad information opinion.

4 thoughts on “Best weapon for home defense? The BOT wins again

  1. Yes, having a gun on your hip is good to do when you are at home. It’s good as you pointed out because you don’t have to go running for your shotgun or ar-15 when something happens. Seconds do count. I think its also good to have a back up pistol on your person in case your rifle or shotgun jams or some other malfunction happens. Rifles not working? Throw it at him and pull out your pistol and shoot!

    Rick Saxby,
    Publisher, FightingPhilosophy.com

    • I totally agree!

      But, there is one thing you may be missing (that I too forgot until something happened to my sister’s home invasion). After court battle after court battle, the judge dismissed some charges against the invader due to lack of evidence. The police officers say that my sister could not prove he was the one who actually broke into the home (long story), and he got off on some charges. Since then, I have safeguarded my house with more than just a pistol – rather surveillance and other useful items. It may sound out of reach for the less-than-tech-savvy, but the things they have nowadays are so easy to use. I sleep better knowing I can capture on video if someone tries to break in to my home even if i am not home. It even allows me to capture on video if someone is breaking into my car.

      My whole thing anymore is don’t ever rely on just one self defense weapon – cuz you simply never know. Also, the law is tricky, and you could just have the same experience my sister had wherein she actually had to opay the invader for damages!…yeah, that’s no joke…sad, but true.

  2. While I’m not going to get down on the floor and rassle with anyone over it but Ol’ Painless ignores the chief advantage of a handgun for home defense, you can hide it behind your back while you answer the door. A homeowner who answers the door with a shotgun arouses neighborhood comment.

    My shotgun is there. So is my rifle. Yet if someone knocks on the door I pick up one of the handguns. If it’s ever a bad guy (other than the damned government) I’ll be retreating toward a long gun while making a certain amount of noise.

    • Indeed, which is why I added the commentary I did. Handguns are concealable and portable — their only advantage to long guns. Thus you can have it on you, hidden from view, but readily accessible wherever you are, whenever you need it.

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