When it comes to defending your home, which type of firearm do you reach for? Do you opt for a handgun for its maneuverability and easy access? Or do you want the power of a rifle to back you up when strange noises downstairs awaken you in the dark of night? Some say the sound of a shotgun being racked is enough deterrent, but is it really?
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Weapon choice in the role of home defense is a hotly debated topic. This discussion is commonly talked about between friends and family over the dinner table and even argued among strangers over the internet (keyboard courage is a helluva drug). Details such as platform size and user proficiency, ammunition stopping power and overpenetration are all dissected and analyzed over and over again.
With so many strong and at times differing opinions about this topic, we decided to sit a group down at our Round Table to see which weapons they chose to defend their own homes with and why. Our Ballistic mag Round Table consists of a panel of experts ranging from military, law enforcement, trainers, competitors, gunsmiths and industry insiders who share their opinions on the many debatable topics in the firearms world (see Round Table: .45 ACP vs. 9mm in Ballistic Issue No. 1). Since everyone has different life experiences and knowledge, we like to mix things up with a diverse panel of experts in order to present different points of view and to encourage a healthy debate on each topic.
The multifaceted nature of the Round Table means that our experts will have differing opinions, which is a good thing. It is our hope that after all the opinions are read, you will come up with your own compelling reason to chose one (or more) weapon platform to defend your home and loved ones.
- Affiliation: Bravo Company USA, Inc. / Prior service USMC
- Position: Founder and CEO
- Home Defense Weapon of Choice: Rifle – BCM RECCE KMR
Why? A shotgun will not offer the precision I might need, and I am most proficient with a rifle versus a pistol. I am much faster and more accurate with a rifle, plus the additional capacity is an added bonus.
Aimpoint CompM4 – The optic is always left on at the ready, with brightness set for indoor lighting, and the batteries last for years. The folding front sight is deployed – if the optic fails, I can be very accurate at close distances with just the front sight. I use two tactical lights in case one of them fails. Identifying your target and background is critical, since 99.99 percent of the bumps in the night are a no-shoot scenario.
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A suppressor helps maintain situational awareness after the rifle is fired. I want to hear the movements of any other bad guys and/or locate and secure my family. I keep the sling strapped against the buttstock with a range band to be deployed when needed.
Top Shot Chris Cheng
- Affiliation: Pro Staff for Bass Pro Shops, Leupold and Salient Arms International
- Position: The History Channel’s Top Shot Champion
- Home Defense Weapon of Choice: Handgun – Glock 34
Why? I live in a San Francisco apartment with narrow hallways, and I’m in a semi-dense building with neighbors. Rifle rounds run the risk of penetrating through walls and causing collateral damage. Shotgun buckshot or birdshot are great home defense rounds, but a handgun is my home defense weapon of choice because I can maneuver around tight corners in my apartment more easily than with a long gun. I have a Glock 34 because that’s what I shoot in competition and know best. I have shot with it in the dark using lights and lasers, and I can manipulate a handgun in the dark from all my hours of practice. I have a SureFire X300 500-lumen flashlight that attaches easily to the Glock’s rail, and I also have a Crimson Trace Lasergrip onboard as well. In nighttime situations, 500 lumens will easily light things up, as well as disorient any intruders. The green laser allows me to focus on the target, since in a high-stress situation I want to make things as easy as possible for myself.
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I use a pistol because it has a higher capacity than your standard shotgun, since, of course, no one has ever said, “I wish I had less ammo.” Remember that everyone’s situation is different, and just because I prefer a pistol doesn’t necessarily mean a pistol is best for you. Consult a trained professional who can review your specific environment and needs.
Salient Arms International (SAI) Tier 1 package: gold-ion bonded barrel for improved strength, full frame stippling, 3-pound SAI trigger, slide porting and cuts, and many internal mods. Warren Tactical and Sevigny Performance fiber-optic sights. SureFire X300 500-lumen weapons light. Crimson Trace LG-637G Lasergrip.
- Affiliation: Armalite
- Position: Vice President of Product Management
- Home Defense Weapon of Choice: Handgun – Glock 23
Why? Accessibility. The best weapon for any defensive situation is the one you have, not the one you wish you had, or even the one you’d like to “fight your way to.” I keep my Armalite M15TAC16 pretty accessible, and I also have a very well-used Remington 870 within quick reach. The weapon that remains with me virtually continuously, though, happens to be a beat-up old Glock 23 with a set of tritium night sights. I’m fortunate to live in a very rural area, and my home comes with a long list of outdoor chores.
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My gun stays with me while I take care of those things. It gets dirty, rained on, scratched and generally beat on all day long, and I don’t care. I don’t mind carrying it, therefore I will carry it. All the time. Being in the gun business and as a lifelong enthusiast of all types of firearms, I appreciate and enjoy shooting a long list of prettier, more accurate, more ergonomic guns than the Glock, but I also don’t carry those when I’m cutting firewood or riding around the farm. I shoot several different models of Glock handguns quite regularly whether in the occasional USPSA or 3-Gun match or just shooting for fun. The familiarity of function from regular practice and constant carry is highly important for any defensive gun, so the Glock serves me well to carry all day and keep close by at night.
Tritium night sights from Trijicon.
- Affiliation: Retired USMC Infantry
- Home Defense Weapon of Choice: Handgun – 9mm Glock 19 with Unity Tactical ATOM Slide
Why? Over the years, my home defense weapon of choice has changed as my family has grown. In the past I used an assortment of differently configured ARs as home defense weapons, but after I had my daughter, projectiles overpenetrating my home’s interior walls became a huge concern
I understand that some might say using purpose-driven .223/5.56 ammo could mitigate the chance of those rounds overpenetrating an intended target, but since my kid is on the other side of that wall, I err on the side of caution. In the hand safe next to my bed I keep my EDC,a 9mm Glock.
The Glock has a Unity Tactical ATOM Slide, Trijicon RMR and SureFire X300, and the ammo I choose is Polycase’s Inceptor ARX. The Inceptor ARX is a polymer/copper projectile that has a devastating effect on soft tissue but doesn’t overpenetrate, and it fragments when it impacts hardened steel.
- Affiliation: Way of the Gun Performance Shooting
- Position: Owner/Instructor
- Home Defense Weapon of Choice: Rifle – AR-15
Why? I choose the AR-15 for several reasons. It is a very capable platform for home defense. With the right ammo, overpenetration is not an issue (I use Hornady). The AR-15 platform is much easier to shoot well than a pistol or shotgun. Pistols require time and training to master and maintain proficiency. I shoot a pistol almost every day and feel comfortable with my capabilities with the pistol, but that is not the case for my wife, as well as most readers’ family members. My take on shotguns is also based on the other family members who may need to use it. The weight and recoil of the shotgun can be a load for smaller-framed shooters. The AR-15 in my house is less than 6 pounds, and the recoil impulse is much more manageable. For all of these reasons, I feel that if the need arises for myself or someone in my family to defend us at home, the AR-15 is the best all-around tool for the job.
- Affiliation: US Army Veteran, Law Enforcement Officer
- Position: Police Officer
- Home Defense Weapon of Choice: Rifle – Daniel Defense Mk18
Why? The Mk18 gives me a proven, super-reliable platform capable of defeating any threat that I am likely to encounter in my home.
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There is a variety of excellent ammo choices available that will defeat soft body armor without posing an overpenetration risk to my family. My personal choice is the 77-grain SMK loaded by Black Hills. I use the Mk18 extensively at work, so having the common platform at home is a big plus.
On my home defense rifle I keep things pretty basic. I’ve added the Unity Tactical VTAC Micro Hub with fixed Iron Sight, SureFire M300V Scout Light and a VTAC MK2 Sling. I also use the excellent Geissele Super V Trigger. The Super V is reliable and effective, and since I also have one in my work rifle, it ensures consistent platform performance.
- Affiliation: Kimber Manufacturing
- Position: Trade Relations Manager
- Home Defense Weapon of Choice: Handgun – Currently the Stainless Ultra TLE II (LG) in .45 ACP, with two extra loaded mags.
Why? There are many factors that folks need to consider for home defense, such as space, wall penetration, etc., but this handgun is my go-to for immediate home defense. I am effective, efficient and comfortable with this 1911. This model is small yet powerful, and has the Crimson Trace Lasergrip and tritium night sights, which I feel are important for this purpose.
Among my other firearms, as a plan B and backup, I also keep a DDM4 with a light/laser combo and three loaded 30-round mags in the front of my safe if additional help is needed.
No special modifications; all my go-to features for this application come out of the box (frontstrap checkering, Crimson Trace Lasergrips and tritium night sights).
- Affiliation: Wilson Combat
- Position: Founder/President
- Home Defense Weapon of Choice: N/A- Varies.
Why? I don’t have a single home defense weapon of choice. I primarily shoot 1911s and Beretta 92s, so depending on which platform I’m doing most of my shooting with at the time, that’s the one I carry. Keep in mind I live in Texas and most of my travels only take me to Arkansas and/or Oklahoma (all free-America, gun-friendly states), so I carry 24/7 on my person.
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In addition, we live on a very rural ranch, so my situation is a lot different than that of someone living in an urban area. I also like to keep some sort of carbine in the bedroom too, so these are my normal personal protection/home defense weapons.
Handguns: Wilson Combat Ultralight Carry with a lightrail in 9mm or Beretta 92 Compact (customized by WC) in 9mm. One of these is on my person during waking hours, and I put a Streamlight on them for nightstand use when I go to bed. I choose these two weapons because they are handgun types I’m familiar with, shoot well and are the smallest I personally want as a primary self-defense weapon.
Carbine: My SHTF gun is a camo Wilson Combat Recon SR 14.7-inch Recon SR Tactical 5.56 with a Trijicon 1-4×24 Accupoint, but I also keep a Beretta Cx4 Storm 9mm carbine with a 30-round magazine and 1-4×24 scope in the bedroom too. The choice of the AR platform is pretty obvious, especially considering my rural location and the 9mm carbine is something Joyce (my wife) and I both shoot better than any handgun, along with ammunition compatibility with our handguns. Think of the Storm carbine as an inside-the-house weapon and the AR as an outside one, since we have a 150-yard field of fire from the house. As you can see, Joyce and I are pretty much standardized on 9mm. I have shot enough feral hogs with high-performance 9mm loads that I’m pretty confident with the terminal performance of the cartridge when a good modern bullet is combined with good shot placement, and you have higher ammunition capacity, which is never a bad idea. I’ve been shooting service/self-defense handguns since 1972, and can assure you a 9mm is a lot easier to shoot fast and accurate than a .40 or .45 and, heaven forbid, a .357 Sig.
The Round Table has spoken, and the verdict for the home defense weapon of choice as chosen by our panel of experts is the handgun, with rifle coming in a close second, only behind by a single vote. Handgun ended up with four votes and rifle with three, while shotgun took zero. It may be surprising that none of our experts chose shotgun as their primary home defense firearm. Familiarity and training with a particular weapon platform along with ammunition capacity, precision, maneuverability and ammunition choice were some of the factors that weighed heavily with our panel.
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We would like to hear from you about your home defense weapon of choice. Sound off on our Facebook page at: facebook.com/BallisticMagazine and let us know your home defense choice.