When choosing a gun for securing your home, you must keep certain factors in mind. Former Marine-turned blogger Jeff Barnett lists five categories essential in a gun for protecting your home and family.
- Effectiveness: The weapon must stop an invader. The ubiquitous .22 caliber rifle does not pack enough punch to take down a human. Opinions vary on what caliber and force suffice, but .44 is more than enough.
- Overpenetration: The flipside of effectiveness, overpenetration refers to bullets that go further than you want. Excessive force is counterproductive to home security, as it endangers your family members in other rooms.
- Ammo Capacity: Even the best marksmen often need several shots to take down a target, and the typical homeowner is far from the best. Plus, he will be operating in a stressful, poorly lit situation, so ammo capacity becomes a factor.
- Reliability: Your security gun is for emergencies only, which means you can’t be expected to take it out and clean it every day. The gun must be ready to go when you need it, if it’s going to be effective at all.
- Cost: Don’t waste money getting a fancier gun than you need for such basic use, especially if you hope never to use the weapon.
Take your pick: Here is a guide to the best types of guns for home security needs:
Easy to aim, easy to use and intimidating, a shotgun is a great option for home security. Shotguns fire cartridges filled with shot, which spreads over distance, meaning shotguns require slightly less accuracy, because they hit a range the size of a softball rather than a pencil.
Furthermore, shotguns have a low risk of overpenetration, are relatively inexpensive (and can be bought used) and reliable, making them a good beginner’s gun.
A twelve-gauge pump action is the easiest shotgun to load and fire, and is remarkably accurate at short range. The Remington 870 is a home defense favorite, and you can’t beat the price at $150 used.
Shotguns are the best guns for home defense. Make sure you get the appropriate strength ammunition for home defense.
Handguns are small, which makes them a logical choice for home security, but they are harder to use than movies suggest. They are less powerful and more likely to overpenetrate than other options, and are much harder to aim accurately than shotguns.
The upshot is that modern handguns stay 100 percent functional for nearly an eternity, but at a starting price of $300, don’t compare to shotguns.
The Glock 17, the world’s most common law enforcement pistol, is a basic and reliable option in the handgun category.
Rifles are unwieldy, tricky at short range and far more powerful than required for in-home security. Their long barrels make them hard to aim within a house, and more likely to be grabbed and ripped from your arms by a burglar.
Carbines are lightweight rifles optimal for home defense. Coupled with frangible ammo that stops quickly upon contact, carbines can be a high-powered and intimidating option.
The best in the business is the AR-15 semi-automatic, also known as the .223/5.56mm Carbine. More expensive than handguns or shotguns, DPMS Panther makes these for $700.
Remember that guns are dangerous. In 2007 alone, 1,520 children died as a result of firearms. Lock your firearms and store them unloaded so that children cannot accidentally harm themselves or others.
The gun doesn’t fight the fight—the person firing the gun does. If you decide to purchase a gun for home security, make sure you undergo proper training for safe and accurate use, and practice with the gun from time to time. Finally, remember that a gun is never a preventative measure but a reactive one, so you should still consider security systems or other means of security.