How to Choose the Best Gun for Home Defense

This post may contain affiliate links. Buying something through these links doesn't cost you anything and helps support Know Prepare Survive. For some light reading, check out our affiliate disclosure.

What’s the Right Home Defense Gun For Me?

We are fortunate enough to live in a world where the police take care of our safety.

However, the average response time between a 911 call and their arrival at your home is at least 11 minutes.

During these eleven minutes, safety turns into survival, and the right for self-defense allows you to seek the power of the guns lawfully to protect yourself and your family.

best guns for home defense

While the standard course of action in an emergency situation is to secure the premises of one of rooms in your house and remain there until the police arrive, this may not always be possible.

Break-ins are highly unpredictable. You never know when they might happen or what you have at your disposal for self-defense.

That’s why one of the most common safety measures is to choose a gun that will be best for home defense.

Research the Law

research gun laws

Every state has a different set of laws that regard home invasion situations.

Before deciding to buy a self-defense weapon, you should check your state’s view on firearms.

If necessary, you may even consult a police officer able of answering all your questions.

The crucial thing you need to remember is that purchasing a gun should not be a spur of the moment decision. It should be well-researched and thought out.

Related: Concealed Carry Loophole

Handguns vs. Long Guns

Guns can be classified into two types: handguns and long guns.

Handguns are best in terms of accessibility and freedom of movement.

That means they could be the better choice in situations where you need to wield a weapon and carry your kid at the same time or perhaps hold a flashlight (if you have a tactical flashlight, use the brightest setting or strobe to blind the intruder).

Long guns, on the other hand, provide a higher stopping power, which means that the weapon has better chances of incapacitating the target.

However, they require both your hands for handling and the freedom of movement is, thus, limited. It is the better choice for long, open spaces.

Choosing a Handgun

There are many advantages to opting for a handgun.

First off, you can always take it with you, even in public as long as the weapon is not visible to the others. Be sure to check local concealed carry laws.

The size and weight of it make it easy to transport around the city. It’s light and nearly effortless to conceal in a shoulder, ankle, or small of back holster.

However, a limited size means a limited cartridge, which implies fewer and weaker follow-up shots in a potentially life-threatening conflict.

Selecting the Caliber

selecting the right caliber for gun

What is the ideal type of caliber is an ongoing debate among experts, so it’s best for you to test a few guns before choosing the one you feel most comfortable with.

What you should know is that there are two types of caliber.

Small ones, like .380 or 9mm, ensure better velocity of the bullet and reduce the recoil effect.

Large calibers, such as the .45 or 11mm, generate in lower speed but result in a harsher wound to the invader. That means they have a higher stopping power.

Related: Brave Response Concealed Carry Holster

What Size Handgun Should You Choose?

picking the right size hand gun

The trouble with frame sizes of handguns is the difference of opinion among the variety of gun manufacturers.

Each of them seems to talk a different language and a word that means something for a company has an entirely different meaning for another.

For example, what “compact weapon” means to one manufacturer, could mean “sub-compact” to another.

This leads to confusion when choosing the best gun for the average buyer.

In theory, there are four simple types of frames: sub-compact, compact, full size, and competition.

A mid-size handgun seems to be the most popular choice because of its versatility. It can be used in several situations.

However, for home defense matters, it is recommended you purchase a larger model.

Heavier guns will successfully diminish the recoil effect and allow faster follow-up shots.

Pistols vs. Revolvers

Pistol vs revolver

Pistols rely on large magazines which can carry between 5 and 33 bullets, and the easy reload system makes them better suited for faster shots.

However, even though it’s easy to reload, it doesn’t mean that it’s safe. It takes several steps and discipline to reload a pistol, and one wrong move might trigger a bullet by accident.

Moreover, the mechanism is prone to damage, so this weapon could fail you in the most unexpected situations.

On the other hand, revolvers have a basic mechanism that makes them more durable and popular.

The easy-to-use feature is safer and more suitable for beginners.

In addition, revolvers are designed for more powerful calibers which enable them to fire with greater strength.

On the downside, the cylinders can hold only up to eight bullets, and the reload process requires high dexterity if you want it done quickly in an emergency situation.

Choosing a Long Gun

long gun for home defense

Even though they lack the flexibility of handguns, long guns are superior in power and accuracy.

An average shooter can hit a target from 300 yards away, which eliminates the danger of getting too close to home invaders.

There are two types of long guns, which would be suitable for defense against intruders.

Related: Improve Your Accuracy with These Simple Hacks from a Green Beret


shotgun for home defense

A shotgun is a smoothbore gun that fires shell ammunition in various gauges.

It covers a larger radius in one shot, so precision is not a necessary skill.

One of the perks of owning a shotgun and using it for home defense is the fear factor.

Everybody recognizes the deadly look of such a weapon and nobody wants to be in an open confrontation with it.

Its presence alone might drive intruders away.

Another excellent feature of shotguns is the light shot.

This prevents the projectiles from penetrating the walls that can separate family members in your home, which means fewer chances of friendly fire.

Some states punish fatally shooting intruders in certain circumstances, even if they broke into your home.

So, a light but painful wound that incapacitates the burglar is enough to stay within legal limits.

It is a known fact that shotguns have little to no precision.

However, this doesn’t interfere with their reputation of an excellent home defense gun.

One shot spreads wildly around the target, which means it’s more likely to hit it, even for inexperienced users.


best gun home security

These long guns are the least appealing option for home defense, but it mainly depends on the circumstances.

They are ideal for deep impact and long range shots.

That’s why they are not a quality choice for urban areas, where neighbors are too close to risk misfiring a rifle.

However, they are an excellent option for the countryside, where houses are separated by several miles of barren terrain.

The bullet of a rifle is propelled with enough speed to not just create a fatal wound but to even destroy the tissue of the target entirely.

Its speed combined with the larger rifle cartridge makes it a deadly and fearsome gun.

The stopping power of the rifle is greater than a pistol or shotgun.

However, the limited maneuverability is a clear disadvantage because of its long length, which can give you away to home intruders before turning around corners or entering new rooms.

Moreover, the ammunition is much more expensive than the other weapons, which may have a significant impact on your budget if you consider practicing regularly.


Bigger doesn’t mean better.

In a home defense situation, you might want to consider solely injuring intruders enough to incapacitate them until the police arrive to handle the situation.

So, mid-sized guns with medium calibers could be the perfect fit for those circumstances.

However, everyone is different and has different tastes.

Your ability to aim should correspond with the type of gun you choose.

This is why it’s of the utmost importance to try and test several weapons before taking one home.

To find the best gun, you need to balance convenience with ease-of-use and understand your abilities to handle the size of the chosen weapon.

In the end, you need to be comfortable with it in an emergency situation.

Mike Jones is a full-time writer and contributing editor for GunsmithU. Always up to date on worldly events, he invests his efforts in community safety by sharing his knowledge about everything there is to know about owning a gun.

Mike Jones GunsmithU

Image source: 1, 2, 3

5 thoughts on “How to Choose the Best Gun for Home Defense”

  1. Thanks for your tip to choose a long gun so that you can shoot anyone who will try to hurt your family from far away. I also like how you said that handguns are a flexible weapon as well. My husband and I are looking to buy a gun from a gun store near us that we can use if we ever need to protect our family.

    • Hey Ashley,

      One more thing to keep in mind when you’re searching for a home defense gun is that walls don’t always stop bullets. So a larger caliber may sound better but it has the potential to injure someone in the next room as well.

  2. Thanks for the tips on choosing a long gun over a short gun. My uncle wants to make sure that he can keep his family safe. he is thinking about getting a gun online from a professional website.

  3. It is nice of you suggesting a long gun for better accuracy since they are superior in power. One of my brothers moved to a different neighborhood, and he wants to get a weapon. I’ll inform him about these so he can get a gun for his request.

  4. I had no idea that it was so easy to trigger a bullet by accident in a pistol. We’ve been considering purchasing a handgun for our home as a safety precaution so we were looking at small pistols but maybe we will get a revolver instead. That way we can have peace of mind with our home security with the benefit of it fitting in a small safe.


Leave a Comment


  • Super Bright 1,000 Lumens
  • 5 Modes (Low, Medium, High, Strobe, and SOS)
  • IP66 Rated – Durable Enough to Handle Any Situation 

*Inventory is limited, offer only good while supplies last