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Best home defense weapon

lightkeeperlightkeeper MemberPosts: 168 Member
I've recently been asked by a lot of folks unfamiliar with firearms " what is the best gun for home defence".
Most of these are women or older people who may not be physically capable of using the 12ga. shotguns that I would typically recommend and are primarily looking to purchase just 1 weapon for this purpose.
I'd appreciate your comments.
«1345

Replies

  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 16,928 Senior Member
    Nothing wrong with a 20 gauge....
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • Zapp BraniganZapp Branigan Member Posts: 108 Member
    Get a revolver with a 4" barrel chambered for .357, if they are older and recoil sensitive .38 Specials will do just fine.
    Keep it simple,with a revolver you just grab and pull the trigger , no worries about what condition you left an automatic in, etc.
  • knitepoetknitepoet Senior Member Posts: 21,101 Senior Member
    Jayhawker wrote: »
    Nothing wrong with a 20 gauge....
    Get a revolver with a 4" barrel chambered for .357, if they are older and recoil sensitive .38 Specials will do just fine.
    Keep it simple,with a revolver you just grab and pull the trigger , no worries about what condition you left an automatic in, etc.
    Either of these choices would be fine IMO, though I'd lean more towards the shotgun. IME, people seem to learn how to shoot a long arms easier than handguns.
    Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates, Rule #37: There is no “overkill”. There is only “open fire” and “I need to reload”.


  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 8,267 Senior Member
    20 gauge and revolver - both good recommendations.

    One caveat to the revolver however - a lot of weaker and arthritic folks can have trouble with a double action trigger.

    For that matter, a lot of older and arthritic folks can have trouble working the slide on an automatic, or holding up ANY firearm that weighs more than three sheets of paper with a staple holding them together.

    Point being, there is no "best" answer here because of operator variability. I would, however, recommend a 12 or 20 gauge shotgun with low recoil ammo for anybody that can handle it - the notion being that a long gun is easier to aim, and that a even a .68 caliber 20 gauge is far more effective at close quarters than any handgun such lightweights could easily handle.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • NCFUBARNCFUBAR Senior Member Posts: 4,324 Senior Member
    First and foremost what they can handle the best and WILL TRAIN WITH when possible be it a revolver or shotgun or even a carbine.

    A pistol will work for most any dwelling be it an apartment or house with the the correct ammunition.

    A shotgun in 12 or 20 gauge (or even .410 if needed) also with a good HD ammo will do fine. The one thing I'd say is do not go with a pistol grip only type shotgun. They may look cool but being able to shoulder a shotgun makes it much more practical.

    Lastly a carbine has been coming up as a good choice lately for some home when using HD ammo like Hornady TAP that reduces barrier penetration if a round goes off target.

    So i guess my answer is there are variables that keep from saying there is one best ... you need to look at the person, their skill level, their home and budget for being able to shoot every so often to keep in practice.
    “The further a society drifts from truth ... the more it will hate those who speak it."
    - George Orwell
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    I think an AR-15 carbine in a pistol caliber is nice for home defense.
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • BPsniperBPsniper Banned Posts: 1,961 Senior Member
    First is a brain that works. After that, a weapon one is comfortable with, reliable with, and capable with. A .22lr that grandma is killer with beats the 12ga shotgun she can't pick up.

    My mom lives on a ranch and kills snakes, yotes, coons, foxes, and whatever else raids her chicken coop on almost a daily basis. She does all this with a Ruger Single-Six in .22 Mag I gave her years ago. It's what she uses. It's what she knows. And she's damn good with it. I wouldn't piss her off when she has it.
  • beartrackerbeartracker Senior Member Posts: 3,116 Senior Member
    My 45 ACP Witness, I like it, shoot great with it and have shot it so much I can naturally handle all aspects of it in total darkness. I am very comfortable with it, it is an extension of me and using it feels natural.
  • HKChrisHKChris New Member Posts: 15 New Member
    My mom is tiny and can't rack the slide of dad's HK USP compact let alone wield a shotgun. Her best bet is a revolver .
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    BPsniper wrote: »
    First is a brain that works. After that, a weapon one is comfortable with, reliable with, and capable with. A .22lr that grandma is killer with beats the 12ga shotgun she can't pick up.

    My mom lives on a ranch and kills snakes, yotes, coons, foxes, and whatever else raids her chicken coop on almost a daily basis. She does all this with a Ruger Single-Six in .22 Mag I gave her years ago. It's what she uses. It's what she knows. And she's damn good with it. I wouldn't piss her off when she has it.

    You best call Ma before you show up fer a visit and don't try sneaking up on her Chickens.:buff2:
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • NNNN Senior Member Posts: 24,720 Senior Member
    I think all these comments are great. I, also, think the reason for one to ask such a question in needed; was it idle conversation or a serious question.

    If you think they are serious, size them up and make your best suggestion base on your responses here, then suggest they find a LGS or range that teaches new shooters and has varied guns to try out.
    Shut up-----KAREN; OK Cynthia
  • Zapp BraniganZapp Branigan Member Posts: 108 Member
    I've recently been asked by a lot of folks unfamiliar with firearms " what is the best gun for home defence".
    Most of these are women or older people who may not be physically capable of using the 12ga. shotguns that I would typically recommend and are primarily looking to purchase just 1 weapon for this purpose.
    I'd appreciate your comments.

    OK there's nothing wrong with the suggestions I've seen so far but some of them don't seem to be considering the people you are talking about, i.e. women/older people who are not familiar with guns and are unlikely to spend a lot of time practicing with them. They want something they can buy, shoot a few times, then stick in their nightstand and forget about it for ??? years.
    Again, I believe a revolver is the best choice hands down. I'm trying to picture a frail old lady senior citizen grabbing a pump shotgun and going Rambo and it doesn't quite work, and an autoloader that requires a little knowledge and regular familiarization isn't what they need either.
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 16,928 Senior Member
    OK there's nothing wrong with the suggestions I've seen so far but some of them don't seem to be considering the people you are talking about, i.e. women/older people who are not familiar with guns and are unlikely to spend a lot of time practicing with them. They want something they can buy, shoot a few times, then stick in their nightstand and forget about it for ??? years.
    Again, I believe a revolver is the best choice hands down. I'm trying to picture a frail old lady senior citizen grabbing a pump shotgun and going Rambo and it doesn't quite work, and an autoloader that requires a little knowledge and regular familiarization isn't what they need either.

    I don't know....my Grandma was a frail little thing...with a 20 gauge SxS Hammergun...put paid to a LOT of varmints. BUT there is certainly nothing wrong with a revolver....all depends on the individual user.
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • Zapp BraniganZapp Branigan Member Posts: 108 Member
    Jayhawker wrote: »
    I don't know....my Grandma was a frail little thing...with a 20 gauge SxS Hammergun...put paid to a LOT of varmints. BUT there is certainly nothing wrong with a revolver....all depends on the individual user.

    meh....like I said, the OP's question was about elderly people NOT familiar with firearms, not your dear country Grandma that hunts varmints with a shotgun.
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    Facing down an opponent, you can't of course beat a shotgun, the most intimidating of all weapons in close range.

    But as for the best overall home defense weapon? I'd say a handgun, maybe a nice Ruger .357 w. 4" barrel, or maybe a .40 or .45 decent quality pistol.

    Reason being, even a short barrel shotgun takes some manouvering to turn and point, while a handgun is point and shoot. This is just a personal decision and other might prefer the shotgun or maybe a small size AR.

    And of course, practice is required for any firearm, regardless. But a handgun is usually kept in a more accessible spot, while a long gun will probably be in the closet. That's just human nature, where most folks won't have a long gun sitting next to their sofa. But they may instead have a zipper pouch with the pistol.

    The handgun is also a bit faster to present and point. I'm talking here about the average person, not necessarily someone who's a gun expert, highly trained.

    For example, my Springfield XD Tactical .45 is nicely nestled down to my left side in a cut-down pouch that fits between my recliner arm and cushion. The butt sticks up and I can drop my hand on it immediately. So I've got 13+1 rounds of +P .45apc available in seconds. In the bedroom, I've got my Springfield Loaded Stainless in an open pouch, right next to the bed. Either pistol I can grab very quickly, whereas a shotgun or rifle, I'd have to keep a bit out of the way so I wouldn't trip or step on it, so access would be slower.

    But bottom line, I think that learning to use a handgun is a bit easier and more "natural" than a long gun. That's just me, of course. Each to his own.
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 16,928 Senior Member
    meh....like I said, the OP's question was about elderly people NOT familiar with firearms, not your dear country Grandma that hunts varmints with a shotgun.

    Hey, you're the one who brought up frail old people and shotguns...I'm in agreement that the most suitable tool for a person, old, young or middle aged, that is unfamiliar with firearms and minimal training is a revolver...and lighten up on Grandma...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • Zapp BraniganZapp Branigan Member Posts: 108 Member
    Jayhawker wrote: »
    Hey, you're the one who brought up frail old people and shotguns...I'm in agreement that the most suitable tool for a person, old, young or middle aged, that is unfamiliar with firearms and minimal training is a revolver...and lighten up on Grandma...

    Uhhh...no, I'm NOT the one who brought up old people not familiar with firearms, it was a condition of the original poster.
  • lightkeeperlightkeeper Member Posts: 168 Member
    Thanks for all the input. There are always variables based on different factors. I knew when I asked the question that I'd get a lot of helpful,reasonable responses from folks at this site.
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    In deciding the best home defense weapon, we have to consider the whole picture. Yes, of course, a shotgun is the most effective and lethal if we only picture the final scene, the muzzle pointed at the intruder. But looking at the complete scenario, starting with hearing a suspicious noise and reacting quickly by retrieving a firearm, a handgun is faster overall. At least that's the way I see it.

    Understand, I don't discount the shotgun or even a smallish AR as a good weapon. It's just that it takes more practice and more planning to retrieve it, I think.
  • gunrunner428gunrunner428 Senior Member Posts: 1,018 Senior Member
    I would, with the circumstances laid out (elderly person, minimal familiarity or tendency to practice) add my vote for a solid, "duty-size" (not snub-nose or pocket) revolver in .357 Magnum, loaded as necessary with .38 +P or .38 standard-velocity HP ammo.

    A shotgun, while it certainly has its place, is difficult to maneuver in tight quarters, and despite advice to hunker down, keep the gun trained on the room's door, and wait for the police to arrive, most older folks I know aren't satisfied with doing that, but will likely (for better or for worse) slip through the house to double-check doors and windows, look for disturbed possessions, confirm if the noise they heard was a prowler, a tree branch hitting a window in the wind, or the cat knocking over a broom on its way to the litter box.

    A handgun makes it easy to move from room to room, keeping a hand free for balance, opening doors, flipping light switches, holding a flashlight (especially in the case of a power outage for any reason) and would likely in these circumstances be near at hand and ready to go, at least more so than any long gun. And it's difficult to answer the door with a shotgun in your hands when you're not sure if it's the paperboy collecting, a vagrant looking for a handout, or a home invader ready to cause mayhem, while a handgun can hide quite nicely, thank you, under today's newspaper.
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    If ya keep it in the back yard, be sure to abide by local animal leash ordinances :jester:


    rdon.jpg
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • SpkSpk Senior Member Posts: 3,969 Senior Member
    I've recently been asked by a lot of folks unfamiliar with firearms " what is the best gun for home defence".
    Most of these are women or older people who may not be physically capable of using the 12ga. shotguns that I would typically recommend and are primarily looking to purchase just 1 weapon for this purpose.
    I'd appreciate your comments.

    Let's see if I'm reading this right, we're talking about frail or older folk (recoil sensitive), not likely to practice a lot (unfamiliar with firearms) and not looking to spend a wad of cash (just 1 firearm). Is this about right?

    I don't know what best is but my frail, old mother who was arthritic and unfamiliar with firearms was a dead center shot with a Ruger 10/22 using 40 gr. minimags, add a 30 round mag and I think we might have another option on the table.

    JMHO
    Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience -- Mark Twain
    How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and [how] hard it is to undo that work again! -- Mark Twain

  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    Big Chief wrote: »
    If ya keep it in the back yard, be sure to abide by local animal leash ordinances :jester:


    rdon.jpg


    At least My dog is better looking !!!

    MyDogPatrickMcGee.jpg
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • Jack BurtonJack Burton Member Posts: 379 Member
    Also keep in mind a lever action rifle chambered for .357 / .38 spl, holds 9 rnds, and most cost under $500.
    Came for the fishing, stayed for the guns.
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    DoctorWho wrote: »
    At least My dog is better looking !!!

    MyDogPatrickMcGee.jpg

    I wouldn't wanna be attacked by either one:tooth::tooth:
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    Soon to hit the big seven-zero and have moderate arthritis myself. Don't know whether this makes me frail or elderly, ha ha, but I do have difficulty racking my Springfield XD and XDM .45s, have to strain at times. I "cheat" by inserting an empty mag, then racking the slide till it catches (I just don't have the strength or coordination any more to rack the slide with this somewhat strong spring and push up on the slide lock at the same time). Then I eject the empty mag, insert full, and drop the slide -- after it's locked, I can at least pull it back to the stop and let go. It's locking it open and pushing the latch at the same time I just can't do any more.

    My 1911s are however easier to cycle and I can do this without much difficulty.

    I have no trouble at all with my DA revolvers. Most good quality DA wheelguns have fairly easy trigger pulls. Still, I can understand the limitations for someone really infirm. I suppose that spirit being willing but flesh being vain, there's an upper limit where someone really cannot operate a firearm reliably, unfortunately.

    Some well known person, I think it was Gordon Liddy, said that a revolver was probably the better choice for older people, since trigger pull isn't all that difficult compared with racking the slide on a semiauto.

    Regardless, once I've got a loaded chamber, I'm hell on wheels, and can fire one handed, left or right, with decent accuracy, even with +P .45 ammo. I guess that's all it takes anyway. If 8 or more rounds from a .45 isn't enough, you'll probably be overrun by that time anyway.
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    When I was an active Instructor, there was a man that used to frequent the range / gun-store, He was paralyzed to the extent of only having the use of one arm.
    Yet He was able to shoot a 1911 and had a few rifles and shotguns.
    He had tried to get a N.Y.C. carry permit, and after a successful law suit obtained one, he was able to use his condition as "need".

    I was always encouraged by His positive attitude as a shooter and a winner.
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • gunrunner428gunrunner428 Senior Member Posts: 1,018 Senior Member
    There are always ways to get around the strength needed to cycle a semi-auto.

    The heavy-duty squared-front rear sights are an option, allowing any sharp corner (car window, table edge, even hooked on a sturdy belt) to provide resistance for the gun hand to push against. I recall an article in an old gun mag that detailed a quick and simple woodworking project for one-hand cycling of a 1911 (without full-length guide rod) that was a wooden block with a routed out groove that cradled the front portion of the lower slide, and enough length to set it on end on a table or bench and the shooter then pushed down with the grip, with the gun muzzle-down, to cycle the slide.
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    Correct, 428. I've occasionally used a table edge to rack the slide on my XD or XDM.

    I designed a disassembly rig, similar in action to cocking a crossbow with a goat's-foot lever, but never got around to getting someone to make it for me.
  • knitepoetknitepoet Senior Member Posts: 21,101 Senior Member
    samzhere wrote: »
    Soon to hit the big seven-zero and have moderate arthritis myself. Don't know whether this makes me frail or elderly, ha ha, but I do have difficulty racking my Springfield XD and XDM .45s, have to strain at times. I "cheat" by inserting an empty mag, then racking the slide till it catches (I just don't have the strength or coordination any more to rack the slide with this somewhat strong spring and push up on the slide lock at the same time). Then I eject the empty mag, insert full, and drop the slide -- after it's locked, I can at least pull it back to the stop and let go. It's locking it open and pushing the latch at the same time I just can't do any more.

    My 1911s are however easier to cycle and I can do this without much difficulty.
    <snip>

    Regardless, once I've got a loaded chamber, I'm hell on wheels, and can fire one handed, left or right, with decent accuracy, even with +P .45 ammo. I guess that's all it takes anyway. If 8 or more rounds from a .45 isn't enough, you'll probably be overrun by that time anyway.
    Sam, sounds like you're getting to the point where you might want to consider switching to wheelguns for your SD needs.

    I know... your semi-autos are 100% reliable and NEVER fail/jam or anything like that, HOWEVER "murphy" says, if it ever DOES jam, it's going to be at the exact time you need it to save your life, and you may or may not have the strength to fix the problem. murphy has a knack for jumping up to bite you in the butt at the ABSOLUTE worst time
    Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates, Rule #37: There is no “overkill”. There is only “open fire” and “I need to reload”.


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