At 1:32 in the video above, Captain Berz holds his hands out to demopnstrate the spread of pellets fired from a home defense shotgun. Uh, no. The spread differs according to the distance to the target, the ammo chosen and the gun. But unless you live in a Newport mansion (where a corridor can extend 50 yards), the spread’s gonna be a LOT smaller. Think . . .
the size of a softball. So can you miss a bad guy with a shotgun? Yes you can! Would that suck? Yes it would! Should you forget a shotgun for home defense? No! But . . .
Long guns require two hands. In a home defense scenario chances are you’re gonna need a “spare” hand to call the police, open doors, push kids out-of-the-way, pull kids to safety, turn on/off a light, etc. Also, Captain B’s right: it’s easier for a bad guy to grab a shotgun barrel than a handgun’s. Negotiating corners with bad guys in situ can be . . . problematic.
Captain Berz deals with retention issues at 5:20. Ish. His monologue assumes that the home owner gets a heads-up before the S hits the F. While I would never want to “clear” my house of bad guys, who knows what can happen? You might suddenly become aware that you’re in the middle of something nasty when you’re in the middle of something nasty, with friendlies in places that aren’t so friendly anymore. Go get ’em Tiger!
As for the AR option, Captain Berz rightly flags over-penetration issues. Absent something really hard or significantly squishy to impede its progress, a .22 travels a mile before it sleeps. Then again, a handgun round’s final destination can be equally worrying (mass being an important consideration in the penetration department). Depending on the calibers involved, a fragmenting rifle round (e.g., Winchester’s PDX1) may not be as dangerous as an FMJ handgun round. That’s without discussing hollow points or the supremacy of not missing in the first place.
All that said, Captain B. and I are are like-minded in his recommendation of a handgun for home defense. They’re relatively small and easy to manipulate, so you can get on with the other self-defense chores listed above. While we still haven’t resolved the shower carry conundrum, you can—and should—carry a handgun with you around the house. Not to put too fine a point on it, the best home defense gun is the one you have.
After admitting his Johnbrowningophilia, Captain Berz nails it: it doesn’t really matter which gun you use in a home defense situation—as long as you train to capitalize on its advantages and understand its limitations. At least I think that’s what he’s saying. I’m not 100 percent sure what “it doesn’t have to be tactical it just has to be practical” means. Anyway, it’s what I’m saying: the home defender’s mindset’s more important than his or her ballistic machinery.
Then again, what if you don’t train? Most gun owners view firearms as point and click. I mean, BOOM! What good is generic advice to train your brain for firearms facility given that most gun owners are more likely to scarf snacks than regularly drink from the cup marked tacticoolaid? As TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia are both armed and intelligent, I reckon that’s a different question. Let’s leave it for another day and address the question at hand: what’s the best gun for home defense?
The optimal home defense gun is . . . all three. To protect yourself and your loved ones at home you need two handguns (a relatively small one on your person and a relatively larger one by the bed), a shotgun (an 18″ barreled semi-auto in a predetermined defensive position) and your choice of a modern home black sporting rifle (what I like to call my “outside toy”).
That way you can deal with a smash and grab (home carry handgun), a bump in the night (full-size handgun), a “the cops will be here any minute” standoff (shotgun) and a “How many of these bastards are there?” invasion (AR-15). You wouldn’t ask a carpenter to build shelves with just a hammer would you? Well there you go.
OK, if I had to recommend one gun for home defense, it’s the largest handgun (without a frame-mounted safety, with night sights) in the largest caliber that you can shoot rapidly and accurately that you can carry comfortably around the house in a concealed holster. Oh, with the greatest capacity for that caliber.
For me, at the moment, that’s a . . . wait for it . . . Kahr PM9 in a Kydex RKBA holster. When my GLOCK 19 holster arrives and the night sights are affixed, that. Not to say I don’t have other options available. You?