Handguns, Rifles, or Shotguns: Which Is the Best Home Defense Weapon for You?

Getting your house vandalized or broken into can be one of the scariest moments in your life. According to the Federal Bureau of investigation, there are about 2.5 million cases of burglary every year, and a break-in happens every 26 seconds in the US.  Moreover, 57.5% of such incidents involve violent or forced entry.

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With the frequency with that break-ins occur, it makes a good amount of sense to invest in some defensive measures to protect your home and your family. In today’s article, we are going to look at what type of fire alarm is best for home defense and look at some of the pros and cons that each type has.


Handguns are one of the most common types of firearms that are used in home defense. This is due to their small size, which makes for great maneuverability and ease of use.  However, they often lack the stopping power that is needed in high-stress situations where adrenaline can cause people to keep coming at you even when shot at. 

It isn’t uncommon to need several rounds to stop someone who is pumped up on adrenaline, and if they are on stimulant drugs like amphetamines, it makes the situation even worse. 

Ensuring that you land all your shots while you are trying to evade an intruder and stay safe yourself can be extremely difficult, even for experienced firearm users.

Handguns also have the disadvantage of being prone to overpenetration. This refers to when bullets have the ability to penetrate walls or other surfaces and hit unintended targets. The last thing you want to do is hit a family member hiding in another room. Another major disadvantage with pistols is that you are often limited by the number of rounds that can be carried. 

Popular handguns, such as the Glock-17, hold seventeen rounds with the standard magazine. Seventeen rounds should be fine for most low-risk situations, but even this can feel insufficient if you end up facing multiple intruders.

Remember, in the heat of the moment, you may not be able to locate spare magazines or have the time to fill up a fresh magazine. 

Nevertheless, a handgun does make sense if you are looking for a compact weapon and live in a relatively safe area where you aren’t likely to run into threats that require serious firepower. Visit here to find our picks for best home defense handguns, which include the SIG SAUER P226 MK25, the WALTHER PPQ M2, and the Glock 17.

Semi-Automatic Rifles

Semi-automatic rifles are also used in home defense as they provide a great combination of stopping power, accuracy, and ammunition capacity.

Most rifles come with 30-round magazines, which is more than enough to get the

job done. Defending against multiple intruders is much safer with a rifle, and most intruders get scared away quickly when they realize that you are packing some serious firepower.

Rifles are significantly more powerful than pistols, and you shouldn’t have any problems taking down even the most violent and aggressive intruders. 

Regardless of the type of intruder, you want to keep your distance and maintain clear lines of sight. If the size of your house is on the larger side, a rifle can very much work in your favor.

On the other hand, if you live in a cramped apartment, the size of most semi-automatic rifles makes it difficult to maneuver in tight corridors and rooms. 

It is also unsafe and difficult to store the weapon by your bedside as you would always need to worry about your children getting to it. This is why a lot of people prefer the convenience of a discreet handgun in a bedside drawer.

However, if you are able to find a solution to such constraints, a rifle can be a fantastic option. It does have similar over-penetration issues to a handgun, but rifle rounds have a tendency to lose energy quickly when encountering even slight resistance. This causes the rounds to destabilize and tumble, making overpenetration less of a concern when compared to handguns.

As for which rifles to pick? You really can’t go wrong with the AR-15. This is the same platform that the U.S. military uses for its M4 rifle, which is known for its stability, precision, and low recoil. The AR-15 models available to civilians lack the automatic fire option, which, to be fair, is insanely overkill for a home defense context.


Shotguns are widely regarded as the best home defense weapon in America. The sound of a 12 gauge shotgun being pumped is enough to stop most intruders in their tracks. The devastation that a 12 gauge shell can leave on the human body at close range is frightening.

Unlike handguns and rifles, where you often need to land multiple hits to bring down a person, a single blast from a shotgun is enough to drop most people instantly. 

The impact is often powerful enough to knock people back, breaking ribs from the blunt force, even if body armor was worn. (Unlikely in home intruder situations, but this fact is still good to know.)

Thus, the main advantage of a shotgun is its immense stopping power and simplistic operating mechanism. Shotguns also have a wide range of ammunition choices, which can negate the dangers of over-penetration if that is a concern.

However, there are some downsides. Firstly, shotguns aren’t that easy for women and children to operate due to the strength needed to handle the high recoil. 

It doesn’t hold as many rounds as a handgun or a rifle. Feeding shells one by one when you are stressed out can also quickly turn into a messy situation if you haven’t trained with the weapon enough.

Still, even with these downsides in mind, shotguns remain one of the best options when it comes to home defense. They are versatile and formidable weapons, and our recommendations include the Mossberg 590A1 and the Remington Model 860. If you have the cash to spend, the Benelli M4 is also a fantastic option.


Home defense is not a game to get excited about. It is an unfortunate reality that has become a necessity due to the high crime rates that many cities suffer from. 

Remember that responsible gun ownership involves adequate training for anyone who might need to use the firearm. It may not be you that ends up needing to protect the home. It could be your spouse or even your children. 

You also want to be aware of the consequences of using a firearm for home defense. Several states have stand-your-ground laws that permit deadly force in self-defense, but several still have murky conditions around how self-defense situations are judged. 

Ensure that you read up on your state’s laws to ensure you won’t be held liable for trying to protect your home and family.

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