The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

Best Guns For Home Defense

A PLETHORA OF OPTIONS, FROM SHOTGUNS TO HANDGUNS.

Narrowing down the best gun for home defense can feel overwhelming. Between the advice at the gun store, the people online, and your friend’s brother’s buddy who used to be a cop, it can feel like too much information.

I don’t want to add to that noise, so we’ll keep this short and simple. Covering the pros and cons of the major platforms while giving some recommendations for specific models to take a look at.

Hopefully, I can help you find the best gun for home defense.

EVERYTHING DEPENDS ON YOUR SITUATION

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to defending your home. Differences in budget, local laws, personal ability, personal preferences, and what type of home you have are simply too diverse to recommend just one weapon for everyone.

Ultimately, you’ll have to decide what is best for you. Hopefully, this will give you a great place to start. 

Research your local laws and be aware of any magazine or feature restrictions you might be under. While I won’t tell you what laws you should and shouldn’t follow, I would strongly recommend that you follow all relevant local firearm laws when choosing your home defense firearm.

hornady rapid safe night guard
Don't forget to take a look at any local safe storage laws. Also, read up on the Best Safes.

Even a legal shooting could land you in jail for a long time if the gun used was not legal.

You may also want to take a look at CCW Insurance. These plans usually cover the home also.

AMMO CHOICE MATTERS ALMOST AS MUCH AS FIREARM

While the firearm is the platform, the ammo is what gets the job done. A 12-gauge shotgun with 15 shells in the tube doesn’t do much good if you’re shooting glorified nerf shot. On the other hand, if you’re in an apartment building and empty a 30-round magazine of 5.56 NATO M855 green tip, the odds of you hitting someone on the other side of those walls go way, way up.

Ideally, you want ammo that will get the job done in putting down the threat but will also over-penetrate as little as possible.

From left to right a selection of 5.56 NATO: Barnes 62gr TSX VOR-TX; Black Hills 77gr Tipped Match King; Federal 62gr Fusion MSR; Hornady 75gr InterLock HD SBR; Nosler 64gr Defense Bonded Solid Base

Just like there is no magic firearm, there is no magic ammo. However, investing in quality ammo designed for home defense will go a long way to mitigate the problem.

This ammo is often not cheap. Regardless of what caliber you choose, it’s likely to be $1 per round at least.

That might seem like way too much, but if it’s a box or two of expensive ammo a couple of times per year Vs. accidentally killing someone you love on the other side of a bedroom wall, it’s worth it.

TRAIN, TRAIN, TRAIN

No matter what gun and what ammo you choose, train with it. Never stop training. Get to the range and drill. Attend classes. Take a critical look at your home and see where the corners are, find the blind spots, and make a plan for you and your family in the event of an incident. 

Take a class!

If you’re working on a budget, don’t forget to plan for classes and ammo with which to train.

You’ll be a lot better off with a Maverick 88 ($200), a shotgun class, and 1,000 shells of ammo to practice with than you will be with a Beretta 1301 ($1,200), no class, and 2 boxes of shells.

BEST GUN FOR HOME DEFENSE

AR-15

There is a LOT I can say about the AR-15 and home defense, but I’ll try to keep this concise.

First off, almost any brand and model of AR-15 is fine as long as you test the firearm with the ammo you want to use for HD and you’re sticking to generally milspec-ish rifles – no race guns or skeletonized craziness.

AR 15 Sling Cover
Can, optic, and a sling — very good ideas!

5.56 NATO and 300 Blackout are both great. If you can dedicate a suppressor to this, I would recommend 300 BLK. If you can’t, 5.56 NATO is my runner-up. Just be sure to use expanding subsonic ammo with the 300 BLK.

But why do you want an AR-15? Because it is by far the best home defense firearm ever made, and I will die on that hill.

The AR-15 is simple, reliable, easy to train with, customizable, able to be outfitted with every modern do-dad you can think of, lightweight, and very easy to master (we're talking accuracy here).

Even when it comes to overpenetration, 5.56 NATO goes through fewer layers of drywall than just about any other common option. 300 BLK subs go through almost as little.

AR-15s are inexpensive, common, and a true Goldilocks for home defense.

Springfield Armory Saint Edge PDW and EVAC PDW

If you have the interest and time, building your own AR-15 will let you really take advantage of the strengths of the system.

Buying off the shelf is easier, faster, and gives you a warranty to fall back on. 

For 300 BLK, I’d pick a middle-of-the-road option like the Ruger AR-556 in 300 BLK.

In 5.56 NATO you could just pick up a normal Ruger AR-556, or you might choose anything from a Springfield Saint to a Daniel Defense M4A1. Palmetto State Armory is a great option for limited budgets.

Pistol Caliber Carbine

There are a lot of people in the world that look down on Pistol Caliber Carbines for home defense, and I admit that, in ways, I’m one of them. But for the right people in the right situations, PCCs make a lot of sense.

While you can find PCCs in .380 ACP, .45 ACP, 10mm Auto, and even 5.7×28 FN, the vast majority of PCCs are in 9mm, and 9mm is where I’ll focus this.

The other calibers aren’t unviable, but they don’t really bring anything to the table we want. .380 ACP is very hard to find in a PCC, and I wouldn’t trust a Hi-Point with my life, .45 ACP and 10mm Auto over penetrates drywall a lot, and 5.7×28 FN is too expensive for most people to train with.

CMMG PCC

9mm penetrates more than 5.56 NATO or 300 BLK, but less than 00 Buckshot, it’s cheap to train with, easy to get, and the PCC options are super rich.

I would recommend a PCC in 9mm for anyone who wants an AR-15, but might not be able to physically handle an AR-15. While the recoil from 5.56/300 BLK isn’t much for most people, it still takes a decent amount of strength to run the charging handle effectively.

Those with arthritis or other physical issues might be unable to run an AR-15 well. For this, PCCs can help since they (normally) take less strength to operate. 

CZ Scorpion Micro
CZ Scorpion pistols

PCCs are also suitable for people that might not have a lot of firearm experience and want something almost as effective but less intimidating than an AR-15.

For a goldilocks choice, CZ Scorpion EVO series is a great pick-up. The carbine version is a little larger and out-of-the-box great. Add a red dot and a weapon light, and you’ll have a solid home defense set up. Or get the pistol version and throw a brace on it for a super compact package.

If you’re looking to really spend some money for a buy-once, cry-once – SIG Sauer MPX is the smoothest running PCC outside of custom-built competition guns.

9mm carbine MPX
SIG MPX

Shotgun

A classic option as the best gun for home defense and one that never goes out of style, a shotgun is about as close to a do-all gun as you can get. Pump action or semi-auto, both are great for defending the home with – but there are a lot of misconceptions and fudd lore.

To quickly cover the basics: You do need to aim a shotgun, pellet spread won’t turn a miss into a hit at HD ranges, 00 buck over penetrates drywall a lot – #4 buck is a better choice, 12ga and 20ga are perfectly fine, but 12ga is the standard. 20ga is not always better for smaller people since 20ga guns are normally smaller/lighter, thus making the recoil the same or worse than 12ga, depending on the exact model of shotgun.

Pile of shotguns shotgun shell holder shotgun accessories
Sidesaddle shell carriers are nice for making sure you have enough ammo to finish the fight.

If you’re interested in using a shotgun for home defense, I strongly recommend reading up about them first. There is a lot to talk about from what action to choose to what features are useful. Frankly, it’s more than I can cover in this small section.

If you want the cheat code, I’d choose Mossberg 940 Pro Tactical. Semi-auto, super reliable, awesome gun.

Mossberg 940 Pro Tactical

But if pump-action is what you’re looking for, the Mossberg 590A1 Magpul is an outstanding 9-shot option with upgraded furniture. 

Handgun

While a simple handgun might be what many Americans have for their home defense weapon, it’s honestly the last thing I recommend.

Handguns require more training to be good with, they have more room for error, and they most often are lacking in terms of force multiplication. 

Boresight Solutions Glock 17 with Aimpoint Acro and SureFire x300. Photo cred: Shane Ruiz

If you have a really tricked-out handgun, say a Glock 17 with red dot and extended magazines – that’s probably about 90% as effective as a PCC but still doesn't win the gold for best gun for home defense.

But if your handgun is a J-Frame 6-shot revolver in .38 Special, odds are someone breaking into your home will outgun you.

I don’t believe in a fair fight, and neither should you.

Shadow Systems Glock 19 Gen 4 Optic Ready Top End

That said, maybe this is your one and only gun, and you want to every day carry it also – in that case, a Glock 19 Gen 5 MOS gives you the option to add a red dot and white light and will give you a decent balance between home defense and concealed carry.

LOOSE ROUNDS

My hands-down recommendation for home defense is always the AR-15. That’s what I chose, and that’s what is probably best for most people. But don’t let my decision dictate what is right for you, consider all the options and if you can give them a try at the range before buying.

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