What To Choose For Home Defense; Pepperspray, Shotguns, Pistols, or What?
IN HOME PERSONAL DEFENSE WEAPON & FIREARM CHOICES
In home weapons choices can be confusing! Individuals who do not shoot regularly and are not comfortable with guns are confronted by a number of choices when considering how to best defend their homes and families from an intruder.
There are a number of choices from big dogs to pepper spray, Tasers, and firearms. Professional crooks neutralize a large dog in under 10 seconds. And they often steal the dog as well as your other belongings.
Pepper spray is not much better, it is hard to conceal or store, goes bad, loses propellant and you just never know how much you are going to need. Tasers are great if bad guys come one to a box, if you can hit what you shoot at, they are charged up and ready to go when you need them and if you know what to do with the bad guy when you unplug him. In the cases of both of these non-lethal choices, you might just end up with one or more really mad bad guys on your hands.
Firearms are the common choice. What should you choose if you are not a range rat and you are not an expert with a firearm. There are an overwhelming number of choices, shotguns, rifles, and pistols (auto and revolver). So lets break them down;
Rifles: For the novice or moderately experienced, rifles are not necessarily a wise choice. They are too hard to handle and often too powerful. The ballistics are such that collateral damage can be severe. Even a .22 caliber rifle slug can travel close to a mile and is very fast and can be quite lethal. The sleeping child next door does not need to be a victim of your crisis.
That brings us to…
Shotguns: These are not a bad choice. There are a number of varieties available, ranging from the Saiga automatic on the AK47 frame, to the old stand by single barrel. The gauges range from .410 gauge to the .10 gauge. For the money, the Saiga 12 gauge may be the best choice. It can readily be purchased for around $500.00 and has a standard 10 shot magazine. There are a number of lethal and non-lethal munitions choices available, from Incendiary slugs, to bean bag rion-lethal slugs or rubber slugs. The second choice, gauge wise, would be the .410, because it has virtually the same range of ammo available. It should be noted that not every configuration of the semi-automatic Saiga is proper for home defense. You should get a short barrel, (16 inch is ideal). You can augment it with a folding stock for close quarters handling. My personal recommendation for the novice would be the .410 gauge due to less recoil and less power which reduces the likelihood of collateral damage. A pump gun, a semi auto or double barrel can be effective in the hands of a skilled user with the right munitions choice. The big advantage of the Saiga is the 10 shot magazine on a semi-automatic shotgun. You can layer your shells from #3 to #00 buck to slugs. Or you can layer a cocktail of exotic shells, which can be very effective. My back up choice would be a 12 gauge auto or pump with an open bore reduced barrel (18” or less based upon local laws) and a reduced pistol grip stock. This is commonly referred to as a “riot gun” configuration.
Now…since we are assuming an experience level of no better than “moderate”, I would only recommend a narrow spectrum of Pistols.
For the less than well practiced, I would not recommend a semi-automatic. Too much practice, cleaning and skill is required. They tend to be much harder to handle during times of stress. Even for the advanced shooter in the middle of the night when you are groggy, if you don’t shoot enough for the safety and slide to be instinctive, this can be a problem.
Revolvers are a pick up and shoot system that is fairly idiot proof. Caliber is important. Anything smaller than a .38 will probably not be effective. Magnum caliber guns (.357 & .44) may be too powerful for close quarters endangering your family members. .38 -.44 standard caliber guns should be fine. They should be economical and ammunition should be available in a number of types, which your local dealer can explain. One caution, is there are some super inexpensive .38 revolvers out there with floating firing pins, do not buy one of these. The pins break without warning leaving you defenseless
In addition there is one particular gun that we need to cover. It is a relatively new entry into the market. It is a Taurus Judge, a .45 long colt revolver that will also chamber .410 shotgun shells. It is a very interesting choice for the novice shooter. It has revolver reliability and shotgun ballistics. It is a five shot capacity that will allow for a combination of .45 long colts and .410 shells. The disadvantages to this weapon are three fold; 1) it has very serious recoil, 2) it only has 5 shots and 3) when shotgun shells are fired in it the brass expands and makes the shells harder to extract. There is no cure for the five shots except a back up gun or a fast reload. If you can handle the recoil, the chambers can be very slightly polished or milled by a gunsmith to alleviate the sticking problem. Then it becomes a very effective choice for a close quarters crisis. I recommend anyone considering this gun, to rent it and shoot it before choosing/buying it. For around $500.00 it is an interesting option.
My personal choice for a novice would be the Taurus Judge in the .45 & .410 configuration. Shotgun and pistol options in one package with fewer moving parts. In doing so let me say that I would not buy one for myself, but I shoot a lot. This is not a shooter’s gun, this is a specific purpose weapon that is really only suited for home defense, or novelty.
Having said that, most ranges rent guns. Your friends have guns, try before you buy and do your own research. You have to choose for your situation. I have given you a starting point.
Lastly even if it is only a lesson or two, get some basic training before you deploy a weapon in your home. You need to know how to be safe and what to expect. There is no substitute for instruction and practice.
Stay safe and be careful out there!