The Best and Worst Home Defense Firearms

What is the best firearm for home defense?

You know how in the movies, a few would-be burglars break into the protagonist’s house, only for him to turn into John Rambo, pull out his assault rifle, and take them out without breaking a sweat?

That won’t happen in real life. Not only because close-quarters combat is much more complex than it seems but because so many people have the wrong home defense firearms for it.

In this article, I’ll take a look at the best and worst weapons you can use to protect yourself from a home invasion and see what you should actually do if you find yourself in that situation.

What Should You Do During a Home Invasion?

Let’s get one thing straight before we start discussing firearms.

Home invasions are a terrible occurrence, and nobody wants that to happen to them. Yet, they do happen, and you need to know what to do if somebody breaks into your house.

Your first instinct may be to grab your gun and chase them down, but this is actually the opposite of what you should do.

The best thing to do is gather all your family members and lock yourselves into a safe room. If you do not already have a designated safe room, choose a room with a functional lock (and a heavy door, if possible).

If you can get a firearm and/or a blunt weapon without making contact with the unwanted guests, do it. However, do not put yourself in danger just to get a gun.

Do all of this as quietly as possible, and once you’re in the safe room, call the police. Do not leave the safe room until the police come to get you out.

This is the safest way of surviving a home invasion for both you and your family.

However, let’s say that bad has gone to worse, and hiding isn’t an option for you. Let’s imagine you’re going to have to open fire on the invaders.

What are the best and the worst guns to have?

Handguns are a decent choice for home defense

Handguns – Good

Simply put – semi-automatic pistols are good, and revolvers are bad. Now, before all revolver-lovers out there come at me with pitchforks and torches, let me explain.

The reason semi-automatic pistols are better is because they have a higher rate of fire and larger magazines.

Having sixteen 9mm rounds in the mag is a much better option than having five .500 S&W rounds in the cylinder. From my experience, the difference in stopping power doesn’t justify the massive difference in quantity.

If you have a revolver, you’ll have to reload after firing 5-8 shots (depending on the revolver), and that’s just too much of a handicap.

Also, the time it takes to reload a semi-automatic handgun is laughably shorter than the time it takes to reload a revolver.

On top of all that – the semi-automatic handgun rate of fire is much higher, although that isn’t as nearly as important as magazine/cylinder size.

Don’t get me wrong – having a revolver is better than having nothing. I’d just rather have a semi-automatic in case of a home invasion.

Rifles of Any Kind – Bad

Sniper rifles, hunting rifles, assault rifles (with their questionable legality), carbines – they’re all bad weapons for a home invasion.

Again, I would say that I’d rather have an AR-15 than be unarmed, but that doesn’t make it a good choice.

Why? Because of its maneuverability.

Rifles have long barrels – that’s kind of the thing that defines them. Sniper rifles and hunting rifles are usually longer and heavier than carbines and assault rifles, but they’re all noticeably longer than (most) shotguns and handguns.

When you’re moving around close quarters, that lack of maneuverability is what’s going to get you killed.

You can’t turn quickly, you have to swing around a lot to take aim, and the weapon becomes heavy to hold after a while (although adrenaline usually takes care of that).

Semi-automatic handguns are a much better option for this reason alone.

If you want a good hybrid, look into the semi-automatic MP5 made by Heckler & Koch.

These guns are longer than handguns, and they’re two-handed, so they’re more accurate (in theory – in reality, that depends on the shooter), but they aren’t as nearly as long as rifles.

A short barrel shotgun is the best home defense firearm

Short-Barreled Shotguns – The Best Home Defense Firearms

Some shotguns, such as Winchester’s Model 1897, are great weapons, but they’re too long for CQB (Close Quarters Combat).

However, if you can get your hands on a short-barreled shotgun, you got yourself the best home invasion firearm money can buy.

Shotguns are more powerful than handguns (they’ll kill more-or-less anything they hit), and they’re designed to be fired at close-range targets, unlike rifles.

Combine that with the short barrels for maneuverability, and you have yourself the ultimate home invasion weapon.

Long-barreled shotguns are still a good option, but you’ll face the same maneuverability problems you’d have with a carbine.

The Benelli M4 is probably the best short-barreled shotgun in the world at this point, so that’s the one I’d recommend.

Final Thoughts

I will once again remind you not to engage the home invaders if possible – this is a last resort. But, as they say in the army, hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

If the worst does happen, now you know what are the best weapons firearms to have. Stay safe!

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Tom Lovric

Tom is a former military reconnaissance scout with three years of first-hand experience and extensive training in navigation, first aid, firearms maintenance, combat, and wilderness survival. He is also an avid hiker and all-around outdoorsman, with a lifetime of experience in the wild.

Aside from writing and sports, emergency preparedness is one of his biggest interests, and he’s a big believer in being ready for anything the world may throw at you.

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  1. Leam on August 6, 2023 at 12:08 pm

    Interesting that your argument against revolvers, somehow didn’t equally apply to your argument for shotguns. (Stopping power, reloading, and round quantity) … personally I agree with a magazine fed handgun indoors, for close range and movement. (.45 ACP seems an adequate balance of power and quantity, albiet damned loud in a room. LOL)

  2. Alan Koisti on August 7, 2023 at 10:51 pm

    Regarding handguns, a revolver may be a better fit for some women, or even guys. With a revolver if there is a misfire you simply pull the trigger again and fire the next round in the cylinder. With semi-auto pistol you have to pull the slide back to eject the bad round and load another into the chamber. This could be a hard thing for some people to accomplish as it requires a good grip to hold the slide in doing so. That is unless you have a newer pistol like the Ruger EZ pull. However, i do agree that the semi-auto is the better choice in most cases.

  3. David B on August 9, 2023 at 6:54 am

    Wrong. As a former police officer, the best kind of home defense firearm is the one you are most familiar with and comfortable using. My wife isn’t grabbing a short-barrel 12 gauge and putting accurate fire down range. She would with her company .357 S&W revolver. I’m comfortable using any firearm for home defense – handgun, semi-automatic rifle, such as an AR-15, or a shotgun – whatever I grab, I’m good with. Stop telling people the best gun is…..

  4. First Sergeant on September 18, 2023 at 7:04 pm

    The remark about revolvers being ‘bad’ is one of the dumbest comments ever in a firearms-related article. I have read some really terrible articles on this topic, but this has to be the worst. Author should be ashamed.

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